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From a Fitter: Everything you need to know about wedge shafts

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This is such a dark corner of the golf industry that I truly believe needs a lot of work. Hopefully, this article can shed some light on wedge shafts for you.

I will mention some standards, explain some of my experience, and hopefully, help you make some good choices.

Linking back to the first article on aspects of a wedge that I target when fitting, I place a lot of weight on the style, bounce, grind, and loft/lie/length to get my wedge fitting started. As we move into shaft options, I look at crossing T’s and dotting I’s to ensure a player enjoys their new wedge setup.

We carry a bunch of shaft options built into different heads. As yet we do not have a consistent way to swap shafts in wedges during a session that still allows them to play at a reasonable swing weight and perform as we would like. Moving forward, I will be looking to explore this area to see if we can deliver better service and experience.

Generic standards for wedge shaft setup

  • Dynamic Gold “wedge flex”
  • Matching exactly the same shaft in your irons to your wedges
  • A slightly heavier shaft in your wedges
  • Putting an 8-iron shaft in your wedges
  • Using a wedge-specific shaft

During an iron fitting, we see a lot of variables in flight and feel, this is mainly because we use 6-irons as our demo clubs. When clients are hitting 6-iron shots, they are often looking for max carry, flight, and shot-shaping ability. This leads to hitting a lot of full swings and placing the shaft under a decent amount of load, therefore, we see some notable changes when we swap shafts. This will not show up as drastically in wedges as we are not always trying to hit the full shot. 

As we get into wedge fitting, I discuss with my clients in-depth what they use each wedge for, how far they hit them, what is the most common shot they play, what are the most common bad shots, how does the ball react on the green and what shots do they feel they need in the bag. Basically, trying to get a good overview of their game in a short period. In very few cases do players mention the ‘full shot’ lets them down? Often players say they are more comfortable hitting “softer shots” or 3/4 swings, this gives them the flight/shot that they require on a regular basis and the niche shots and consistency lets them down.

Logic here says to me, you probably do not want exactly the same shaft in the irons all the way down to the lob wedge when you are hitting soft shots 95 percent of the time. When I look at shaft specs, I am trying to build a shaft that can easily put up with the stress of a full shot and handle a softer shot without feeling blunt (for all clubs in the bag).

When I merge this process into wedges, the only wedge a “matching iron” shaft seems to be applicable (for the majority) is the gap wedge or the wedge that is predominantly a full-swing club. This is the club you hit full and maybe knock-down shots with, but you’re rarely trying to hit “flicky” spinning shots. (Those shots are why you also have a sand and/or lob wedge in the bag).

It would then make sense that if you are rarely hitting any full shots with your sand wedge or lob wedge, you probably want a softer golf shaft in those (as they are not trying to put up with your “flat out” swing), still ensuring the shaft does not feel ‘blunt’ or hard work to play around the greens with.

This is not a one size fits all theory, but I think a lot of players would have success even thinking about their wedge shaft layout in this way.

As an example: Personally, I am playing True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue 120g X100 flex iron shafts. I hit a lot of full shots with my 50 and 54, so I have chosen to play the DG 120TI X100 shaft exactly the same way in those two clubs. My 60-degree however, I rarely hit the full shot, so I feel need it a little softer in stiffness, but I need the weight to get my tempo correct and to give me more control to hit lower shots. For this club, I play the Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue. I chose this shaft as the profile is very close to my iron shaft but it is 13g heavier and has a slightly softer tip section, which I feel gives me a little better response.

Please see the S3 shaft profile comparison below

(I am very lucky to have the S3 shaft data, it gives me an apples-to-apples comparison of shaft profiles and weights and make wedge shaft selection a lot easier).

I also wanted to capture some data to highlight the difference wedge shafts have as simply as possible. Below is a graph showing a PGA pro’s shot grouping with a few shaft options. His 6-iron speed is about 94mph, and he has a sharp back-swing to down-swing ratio. This would put him at the quick end of people I fit. This generally means the player enjoys stiffer shafts, stiff style profiles, high swingweight, high total/shaft weight (and again not in all cases).

He tested three shafts all in the same wedge head, with the same length, loft, and lie.

Please see the grouping below

The three shafts tested were: Nippon Modus 105 Wedge specific, Dynamic Gold Wedge flex and Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400.

In no way am I trying to demonstrate the DG S400 is the best shaft for wedges, but in this group of data all that shows up is, the stiffest profile, heaviest shaft (of the test group) gave the player the tightest grouping for his 55-degree wedge shot. His explanation was that he felt the club’s position in the swing better and the strike through the turf was much more consistent, producing more consistent land zones with the DG S400. This small test shows that the wedge shaft alone has an impact even for a skilled golfer.

There are however always exceptions to theories (especially in golf!)

When I have a player using, for example, C-Taper 130 X or Dynamic Gold X100 in their irons it is tough to find a profile that matches closely that is heavier and not any stiffer. In these cases, I tend to have them play the same shaft all the way down to their LW, but I try to increase swing weight and decrease FM in the niche shot wedges (SW and LW). This can just mean adding head weight to soften the shaft a little, or sometimes soft-stepping the product to get some ‘feel’ back. 

The key take-away points

  • Think about the shots you play with your wedges most and how hard you hit them
  • Think about linking your shafts to your irons, but they do not always have to match
  • Test options and measure: grouping, turf interaction and flight consistency
  • Try and break down if the ‘”feel” of stiffness or weight help or hinder you making a consistent swing/strike
  • Don’t just settle with the shaft the wedges come with… unless they match in with your setup!

Getting all the information in one article is always tough, and I hate generalizing, so feel free to shoot me some questions—I like to try to help and also hear your experience and ideas when I can!

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Jack Gilbert is currently a Master Club/ Putter Fitter and Builder at Cool Clubs Australia, with 10 years experience in the industry. Day to day he is fitting and helping players from beginners to Major winning golfers and everywhere in between. Jack helps produce specific Putter Studio designs, alongside R&D for club fitting technology. He has played in the U.K and U.S.A as a Collegiate Golfer. In the last decade he has worked out of London, Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne and has been publishing content for Cool Clubs Australia since the company's inception. His content focuses on club fitting, club/shaft design and technology advancements.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. bl

    Feb 11, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    Great article!

    But…. that test seems fishy. You tried a really poorly fit shaft vs. an okay shaft vs. a properly fit one to prove the properly fit one is better?

    • Jack

      Feb 13, 2020 at 10:10 pm

      Hi BL,
      This was to prove my point that you do need to think about a wedge shafts.
      Do not just grab anything. Make an effort to get something that helps you get better results.
      This article is not about the shafts that were selected, it is demonstrating there is a variable here.

  2. Marc Boghosian

    Feb 7, 2020 at 8:03 am

    Jack – might be a stupid question but what kind of affect would hard/soft stepping the shafts have? ie hard stepped shafts in irons, with the same shaft soft stepped in wedges

    • Jack Gilbert

      Feb 13, 2020 at 10:14 pm

      Definitely not stupid.
      HS or SS give the player the option to play the same weight shaft slightly stiffer or softer than maybe they are playing.
      My experience as a general rule is: Too soft and the player may loose strike consistency and dispersion widens up…. Too stiff and it can feel a bit “blunt” / there can be implications on spin.

  3. Chris

    Jan 23, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    Great article Jack. I play X100 in my irons 4 thru Gap wedge, and was recommended the Modus Wedge 125 last year. I noticed a great improvement, hitting the ball closer to the hole and able to control my trajectory much better throughout the year. My question is why did you use the Modus Wedge 105 shaft with your pro player in the example, and not use the heavier 115 (122g) or 125 (133g) options. Also wondering which iron shafts your pro player is using in his set. Thanks.

    • Pg

      Feb 1, 2020 at 11:52 am

      He cherry picked a lightweight shaft to prove his point.

    • Jack Gilbert

      Feb 13, 2020 at 10:16 pm

      Hi Chris,
      I was not trying to demonstrate the performance of a specific product in this segment, just trying to highlight that there is a reasonable difference in wedge shafts that can have positive and negative effects.

  4. Rickey Di Dio

    Jan 21, 2020 at 10:48 am

    While I appreciate what you are trying to do, there are a few things I would like to point out. Your data size is too small and your data has to been “cleaned”. There are 3 shots in your chart that would be classified as outliers. Remove those and the charts get very similar. I work with players on bag analysis and club gapping. If we are hitting 7 irons and a player hits one fat that only carries 110 yards, that shot is thrown out of the “probable average carry distance”.

  5. Lars Mountgoaschen

    Jan 20, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    I was not aware that the X100 profile was like the S300/S400 profile as you seem to indicate in your EI graph….(?) I thought the s300/s400 has a stiff tip & softer butt compared (relative to profile) of the X100. In fact I still have the EI data by inch increments somewhere.

    You seemed to contradict yourself by choosing a heavier shaft in your wedge, you state you need the weight for your tempo(?) – why would you choose such a significantly heavier shaft to maintain your tempo?

    Generally with wedges the most sure bet is to use an 8 iron shaft and soft-step. This retains the same shaft profile ‘DNA’ for the player through the set and keeps weight within a tight parameter.

  6. Speedy

    Jan 20, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    For 56 and 60 wedges, I like S400, D4, Tour Velvet Midsize.

  7. golfraven

    Jan 19, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    I play the same shaft in my wedges as in irons (Modus 105 regular although 1/4 inch shorter, even down to the wedges). Works fine for me.

  8. Paddy

    Jan 18, 2020 at 11:37 pm

    Would you suggest Masterfit shafts for my Mizuno wedges?

  9. Mike

    Jan 18, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    i have always read that most pros use a stiff shaft, TT S400, which is softer than their usual X200 that they use in their irons, in their wedges. Yet almost all wedge shafts sold are the same S400 that is obviously stiffer than most golfers out there need. Most average golfers HAVE to use stiff shafts, even though the vast majority of golfers do not swing the club well enough to use stiff shafts. That is probably why everyone has a bunch of wedges in their garage that just did not feel right! I wised up and put a lightweight steel regular flex shaft in my forged Vokey and love it.

    • Josh

      Jan 20, 2020 at 8:22 am

      FYI Vokey wedges are not forged. They are cast.

      • MS

        Jan 20, 2020 at 4:51 pm

        Not true. I’ve been using forged Vokeys for the past 8 years. They are made only in/for Japanese domestic market, but can be easily delivered to the US via specialized online sellers. I’m in my 4th set of Vokeys now, worth it.

  10. MG

    Jan 18, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Serious question: How can a “wedge flex” s200 play much different than an s400? It’s only a 3 gram weight difference. I don’t see how anyone except (maybe) a tour player could notice a difference.

    • Hugh B. Gnecks

      Jan 18, 2020 at 6:38 pm

      Say it with me……
      MAR-KET-ING!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jack Gilbert

      Jan 20, 2020 at 3:22 am

      I do not believe there would be a wild difference.
      I just used a Tour issue S400 in my lob wedge because I could. I had the wedge as a head without a shaft, so I opted for the S400. If I had fit someone into DG 120 shafts I would have recommended “stock” dynamic gold wedge shaft as their most economical and best performing option.

    • Dan

      Jan 20, 2020 at 11:54 am

      Im a 45yr old former scratch player and I absolutely notice the diff between s200 and s400. Personally I couldn’t feel the head with an S400. Just my $.02

  11. JB

    Jan 18, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    I think you can go ahead and say that TI DG S400 is the best wedge shaft on the market. I thought Cleveland made a great decision when they made this the stock option in their RTX wedges.

  12. Alex

    Jan 18, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    X100 4-9 S400 46 50 55 59. Could probably go either way and used to have x100 in PW and GW. When I switched to all vokey wedges I just went S400 throughout cause they all look the same. I like the feel in them.

  13. 24Linc

    Jan 18, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Great article by Jack. My take away is try different shafts for your wedges but keep the weight similar or slightly heavier than your iron shafts and use slightly softer shafts for wedges that’s used primarily finess shots. Makes great sense.
    My question would be do you see any benefit of using slightly lighter shafts in wedges? Also how currently many iron sets have stock steel shafts of around 90g but still use s200 as a stock wedge?shaft how that would influence the players since the s200 would be quite a bit heavier and also stiffer say comparing to the AMT Red s300.

    • Jack Gilbert

      Jan 20, 2020 at 3:33 am

      Thanks 24Linc,
      You’re right people that are playing 70g graphite for example probably need lighter shafts in their wedges, such as 80g. They would probably not enjoy a DG wedge shaft as it would be labored and probably feel blunt and hard to get “feel” from (I see this a lot when players getting great results with light graphite try to demo heavy steel wedge shafts). It’s all relative to the best iron shaft.
      I have not had much success with using lighter shafts in wedges compared to irons as the swing weight can be hard to balance correctly and the shaft is often a fair amount softer which can result in inconsistent striking.
      e.g playing 100g KBS Reg iron shafts – either play the same in the wedges maybe a Hi rev 115g but do not drop down to the KB90 as this will probably be too soft.
      There is no one size fits all formula and there are always anomalies (that’s why I do a bunch of testing with my clients) but I hope this helps.

  14. Brian

    Jan 18, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Great article Jack, you’ve keyed in on something that has continued to bother myself as for getting fitted with wedges. Everyone preaches get fitted but everywhere I “get fitted” for wedges the default on shaft is ALWAYS the stock “wedges offering.” Seems to partially hurt the “fit process” of wedges in my mind.
    As a side question, and as it relates to you play of 120g X100 flex in your irons…….may I ask what are your typical 6 or 7 iron numbers? I ask as I’ve not been fit for my Modus 120 Stiff flex in my irons, my 6 iron trackman numbers are 91-93mph and have questioned the playing the same shafts you are playing currently.
    Great article and we thank you!

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Equipment

GolfWRX Spotted: 2021 Mizuno ST-Z and ST-X drivers on USGA Conforming List

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When it comes to drivers, Mizuno isn’t usually the company that comes to the top of mind for many golfers, but starting with the ST-190, and then the ST-200 series in 2020, they have quickly changed the perception of their metal woods thanks to wins on tour and more players choosing to put them in play—most recently Brandt Snedeker as a non-contracted player.

This morning, with the update of the USGA and R&A conforming equipment lists, we are getting a sneak peek at what Mizuno will have in store for 2021 with the release of the ST-Z and ST-X drivers.

What we know

Based on the information provided in the USGA submission by Mizuno, the ST-X will only be available in right-handed (10.5 and 12-degree lofts), while the ST-Z will be available in both right (9.5  and 10.5 degrees) and left-handed (9.5 degrees only).

ST-Z

Based on the images from the USGA list and our experience with the Mizuno product line, it appears that the ST-Z is the next step in the evolution of the standard ST200 with no adjustable CG but with a customizable weight in the back of the head.

We haven’t seen any images of a moveable weight driver in this new ST series, so it could be that the G-woods are getting phased out in favor of more internally biased weighting, but since those types of drivers often take a bit more time to get just right, it could be a matter of time before a “G” type driver hits the list.

As for technology, it has Mizuno’s standard wave to create flexibility behind the face, an adjustable hosel, and based on the images, more carbon fiber used around the head compared to previous generations, especially on the sole. I would also expect to hear a new face material or design story to complete the package and to boost MOI and ball speed.

ST-X

Based on the image from the USGA list and our experience, it appears that the ST-X is the next step in the evolution of the ST200-X driver, which is the lighter weight, more upright, and draw-biased driver from Mizuno. Don’t think draw bias always means it’s for higher handicaps either, because Mizuno staff player Chris Kirk got along very nicely with his out on the Korn Ferry and PGA Tours in 2020, including a win.

The tell-tale sign is the more heel biased weight in the back of the driver and what looks to be some sort of textured area to create “visible technology” towards the heel of the clubhead.

Beyond being draw-biased, when it comes to technology, it shares a lot of similarities to the ST-Z with Mizuno’s standing wave to create flexibility behind the face, an adjustable hosel, and more carbon fiber used around the head compared to previous generations, especially on the sole, and in the case of the ST-X, on the sole.

We don’t have any information on the release of these new drivers, but considering Mizuno didn’t adjust product release schedules in 2020, I would imagine it will be doing the same in 2021, and we can expect to hear more about these ST drivers either late 2020 or early into 2021.

To see what other golfers are saying about the newly spotted Mizuno ST-Z and ST-X drivers, check out the GolfWRX forums and join the discussion: GolfWRX – New Mizuno drivers spotted on USGA Conforming List

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Equipment

5 hybrid vs 5 iron – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the logic behind removing their 5 iron from their bag. WRXer ‘rwl’ asks whether any fellow members have experiences doing so, and WRXers have been sharing their thoughts and experiences in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • RobertL.: “I replaced my 5 iron with a 5 hybrid. I find it far easier to hit than my 5 iron. I also took my 6 iron out of the bag, so now my longest iron is a 7. I now carry a 3, 4, and 5 hybrid since they’re so much easier to hit than long irons. Makes a big difference for this senior golfer.”
  • JohnKHawk: “For last 2 seasons I’ve played with a Cobra F9 5 hybrid. It’s 24 degrees & gaps perfectly between Cobra OS 3-4 hybrid at 20.5 degrees & Apex19 6 iron which is 26.5 degrees. The 5 iron was just getting to be to undependable. Misses with the 5 hybrid were more playable than the 5 iron. Use what works best for your game.”
  • Abe21599: “Never a bad idea to have both a 5i and 5h options in the trunk, just gotta watch lofts.”
  • nitram: “I know it sounds so “old man” but if you want to make a change in your 5-iron slot and can’t seem to get along with a hybrid, give the 9-wood a try. You may be pleasantly surprised.”

Entire Thread: “5 hybrid vs 5 iron”

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Whats in the Bag

Jason Kokrak’s winning WITB: 2020 CJ Cup

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Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees @8.5)
Shaft: Accra TZ5 85 M5 Proto 

3-wood: TaylorMade M5 (15 degrees @14.5)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 80

Irons: PXG 0311T Gen2 (3-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (52-12F, 56-14F, 60-08M)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Bettinardi Studio Stock 38

  • F.I.T. Face
  • 303 Stainless Steel
  • 358 grams

Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GTR 1.0

(Image c/o Bettinardi)

Grips: Golf Pride MCC Black/White

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

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WITB

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