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Bridgestone West Coast Design Wedge

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Fast facts:  This is one great lob wedge.

The Bridgestone West Coast Design Liquid Copper (WCD LC) 60 degree wedge is an upgraded version following Bridgestone’s Tour inspired West Coast Design wedge series. The WCD LC is cast from soft 8620 mild carbon steel, has a precision-milled face and precise double-stamped U-grooves, and is coated with a proprietary Liquid Copper finish. The shaft is True Temper Dynamic Gold. The rest of the specs are at the end of this article.

The first challenge of reviewing this wedge was trying to forget the stroke and feel of all the wedges I have ever known. But then again, I thought, I have learned many lessons from those past wedges. So I will apply that experience to assess the merits of this mysterious new wedge, this Bridgestone West Coast Design (WCD) with its enigmatic Liquid Copper veneer.

From the start, I was caught in a quandary, for the technological philosophy behind the Liquid Copper coating is that it will eventually wear off, allowing the club to rust and produce more ball-gripping control. So, I asked myself, is the “real” wedge the pristine new product with its golden brown sheen, or is it the club after a few dozen rounds, with its copper erased by blades of rough and its rusty face open to the sun?

I couldn’t decide whether this was really one wedge, or two. Here is my conclusion: this review is Part I of my relationship with the wedge in its new, virgin state. Part II will appear a bit later in the season, when my golf game isn’t so rusty, but the wedge is.

Appearance

It really is quite stunning when new. The head is a classic shape, the color is…odd for me. I’d never used a copper-looking club before, and from the start I felt comfortable with this one. I don’t like a lot of off-set, and this club pleased my picky eye with a smooth line from hosel to club head. I’m 6’3”, and even from my height I could clearly see the milled face and no-nonsense grooves. The top edge isn’t thick or thin, but meant for business. And it’s leading edge rested low enough to the ground for a sense that a ball could be plucked from most any lie.

The club feels a bit lighter than my previous wedges. I honestly couldn’t discover whether it was the overall balance, or actual club head weight. Perhaps it’s the shaft. Ultimately, I came to appreciate the brilliance of its weight in combination with its features. Those comments are below.

You’ll notice a mark in the finish over the West Coast logo…a reminder that perhaps the wedge wears a disguise, like Cinderella. (Nothing, however, happened at midnight.)

Performance

First, I noticed that the WCD felt light. I wasn’t sure whether this was good or bad. I ultimately deduced that this was a very good thing indeed because I soon discovered that I could more easily control any shot that popped into my brain to attempt. I wasn’t restricted by the heft of a lead weight on the end of the stick, like some wedges feel. This WCD wedge felt more a like a chopping knife than a heavy cleaver (do you cooks know what I mean?). Whether the blade was open or square or even closed, the club felt balanced and in control throughout the swing. (FYI: My current lob wedge feels toe-heavy when open.) So with the WCD, I could approach my ball in the cabbage and slice and dice with restrained abandon.

This club is what clubs around the green should be – versatile. It won’t hit the ball for you. It demands as much from you as you do from it. Meaning you have to have a little skill with shot manipulation. If you do, you’ll be rewarded. Center hits are pure and predictable, with great spin and traction, plus a little lower ball flight for that bounce-and-grab pitch. Mishits off the toe or top are not so pure or forgiving, as they end up weak and short. Good players know how to take advantage of feedback like that.

This wedge flaunts what its maker calls Variable Bounce Technology. That means that there is less bounce at the toe and heel sole area to allow for a true lob shot from virtually any shaggy or tight lie. When the blade is laid open, it looks nearly flat and confident and ready for action.

Bridgestone says that the WCD wedges were engineered specifically with input from tour players like Stuart Appleby. I don’t doubt this for a second, because experienced players will know how to manipulate the shot-making of a club like this, but high-handicappers will get frustrated because only pure hits strike gold.

One other remarkable thing for me about this club is that when I hit the ball I could sense the clubface gripping the ball. This, for me anyway, is unusual. Normally, if I hit the ball and hear a nice snick and feel virtually nothing, that’s the best feedback I could get. Until now. Now, I absolutely have the sensation of the ball spinning more, similar to a baseball pitcher who feels a curve ball leave his fingertips. My first 40-yard shot sucked back three feet, which is something I never do. According to Bridgestone, this wedge is supposed to impart a little more spin than the previous West Coast wedges. The club performed predictably well in both tall and shorter grass, as well as out of sand.

Facts of the face: WCD wedges undergo a precision milling process that cuts more consistently shaped and spaced U-Grooves. The milled U-Grooves are designed to produce higher and more consistent backspin from all varieties of lies and turf conditions. Although, Bridgestone says that when you mill a face, it actually decreases full-shot spin, but increases spin around the green. I didn’t see this difference, which for me is a good thing.

To wrap this up I want to say that I generally have great success when I first make an acquaintance with a club, especially drivers, putters, and wedges. But there is no denying that this club has tremendous feel for educated hands and immense potential to be a star in the bag.

Here are specs, straight from Bridgestone.

Loft: 60*
Lie: 64*
Length: 35”
Swing Weight: D5
Bounce: 10.5
Variable Bounce Technology: creates low bounce on the heel and toe sole areas.
Classic head shape designed through C.A.D. system in conjunction with Tour staff
CNC Milled U-Grooves increases groove volume, maximizing spin
CNC Milled Face
8620 Mild Carbon Steel for enhance feel
True Temper® Dynamic® Gold shaft
Golf Pride Tour Velvet grip
List price $119

Now, go hit ‘em.

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Tim Schoch got hooked on golf by his uncle, a golf course superintendent, who gave him a set of hickory sticks he'd dredged from the bottom of the course's lake. Tim would later caddy for the private nine-holer, waiting with the other boys in the stifling caddy shack until one of the portly hacker members grunted in his direction then heaped two bags of clubs and three hours of verbal abuse on his shoulders, all for $5 per bag and a quarter tip. Tim loved it. Tim is a writer, editor, humorist, copywriter and marketing professional, and author of 10 novels and dozens of magazine stories. He occasionally blogs about golf at www.golferblogger.com and creative writing on the blog found at www.TimWriter.com. He wrote for GolfWRX eight years ago, and is happy to be back. Tim's been on eBay since 1998. Currently, Tim and his wife run two eBay shops: www.doubleTvintage.com and www.DejaGolf.com.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Roddy

    Oct 5, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Hi Guys. Just here to express my views on how i think Kiradech Aphibarnrat is probably one of the greatest golfers of the game at this time. I think he will make top 10 in th world next year and will win 2 out of the 4 majors next year! what are your views on Kiradech Aphibarnrat?

  2. Bill

    Jan 15, 2009 at 2:32 am

    Great wedges! Got the LC 54 & 60 tweaked to a low bounce 58 so I could drop a wedge and add a long iron. Love ’em. Tons of spin and longer than my previous wedges. Great for chipping close in and flops out of deep grass are a cinch. Only ‘problem’ is those curly shavings off the cover from the extra sharp grooves. I easily wear my ball out in one round but that is a small price to pay for the strokes saved. Get ’em and never look back.

  3. G. W. Greupner

    Aug 3, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I purchased the 58 deg. WC wedge in May. It is everything stated in the review and then some. It is a great tool for around the green and the combination of TTDG wedge shaft, the variable bounce and the milled face/grooves, I have gained a lot of short game confidence.

  4. mitch

    May 3, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Bridgestone seems to be coming up with some highly competitive clubs:irons, woodds and now these wcd wedges…i havent got a chance to try any of there clubs yet, but i would definately look for this company to have some innovative and very stylish technology in the next few seasons…and most likely rival the top brands….

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Whats in the Bag

WITB Time Machine: Tiger Woods’ 2008 U.S. Open WITB

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Driver: Nike SasQuatch Tour 460 (7.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana White 83 TX

3-wood: Nike SasQuatch2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana Blue 103 TX

5-wood: Nike SasQuatch2 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana Blue 103 TX

Irons: Nike Forged Blade (3-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Nike Pro Combo (56 degrees), Nike SV (60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS

Ball: Nike One Platinum

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

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Sweet Spot? Triple Play? Examining the Callaway Apex combo set options

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The combo set is not a new concept, and Callaway has been doing de-facto combo sets for a number of iron generations.

However, with the Apex 21 line of irons, Callaway decided to take the combo concept to another level, making a major investment in tooling and precisely calibrating loft, life, bounce, and blending in the Apex 21 irons to allow for uniform set makeup.

For Callaway, it was a serious endeavor and a thoughtful effort at the front end to design a family of irons for ease of combination, rather than an assemblage of combinations at the back end.

“With the rise of custom fitting, we knew we wanted to go beyond just a traditional combo set. By creating dedicated models and specialized tooling, we are making the transition to combo sets a seamless experience. It shows our dedication and leadership position in irons.”

–Dave Neville, Sr. Director, Brand & Product Management

Callaway offers a “menu” of four combo sets using ingredients from the Apex iron family — Apex DCB, Apex 21, Apex Pro 21, Apex MB.

Michael Vrska, Callaway’s Director of Custom Fitting & Player Performance, says the decision to offer four sets in general and their specific makeups was arrived at after lengthy discussions with the company’s network of fitters and the R&D team, as well as a close look at past iron sales and custom fitting data.

“Working with the R&D team to understand how they thought the different AI face designs, sole configurations, specs and other design details could be best blended together started the process, but working with our National Fitters Board and other top club fitters across the country was key to creating the four sets. We then used custom sales data and additional feedback from our internal fitting team to fine tune. I’m proud of the work we did and it’s been exciting to see positive the feedback from golfers about these new fitting options.” — Michael Vrska, Callaway’s Director of Custom Fitting & Player Performance

Sweet Spot

The first of Callaway’s four combo sets is targeted toward players who need more help in the long irons, the “Sweet Spot” combo features the Apex DCB in 4 and 5-irons and Apex 21 in 6-AW. It’s designed to offer maximum distance and forgiveness in the longest irons.

Mixed

According to Callaway, the “Mixed” set player is generally a mid-handicap who struggles to hit long irons but doesn’t want to replace long irons with hybrids. The Mixed includes Apex 21 in 3 through 7-irons and Apex Pro in 8-iron through A-wedge.

Triple Play

The “Triple Play” generally appeals to a similar player as the Mixed but one with a preference for more technology and a more compact look at address in the scoring clubs. It features Apex DCB (4-5), Apex 21 (6-9) and Apex Pro (PW-AW).

Player

Offering true blades in the scoring clubs, the “Player” combo set, appropriately, is designed for the better player. Outfitted with taper tip shafts throughout, the Player set is composed of Apex Pro irons in 3-7 and Apex MB in 8-AW.

The most popular of the new Callaway combo sets, according to Neville, is the Apex Mixed. The Mixed, again, features the Apex 21 in 3 through 7-iron and the Apex Pro in 8-iron through A-wedge.

Roughly 15 percent of Callaway’s full iron set orders are for combo sets. But with the embrace of customization generally, the continued growth of custom fitting, and fitters familiarizing themselves with the new “menu” — and who is best suited for each “dish” — that percentage will grow.

Ultimately, the Callaway combo set options — and the introduction of the Apex DCB — are evidence of the company’s commitment to offering not only viable irons but an optimal set makeup for every golfer.

For more details, and answers to the questions we know WRXers want to ask, we spoke with Michael Vrska.

GolfWRX: For the combo set, how does adjusting the lofts weak or strong affect the bounce? Will it affect playability?

MV: For the Apex Pro heads in the Mixed and Triple Play sets we actually do separate tooling for those, so the lofts are adjusted independently from bounce during the design phase. For the other Apex heads in the other combo sets we need to bend to get loft dialed in, we limit that to one degree so turf interaction differences are minimized. And remember, loft and bounce changes are a one-to-one ratio. One degree stronger loft equals one degree less bounce and vice versa.

GolfWRX: For the higher handicapper, is it more effective to have short irons that launch higher and land steeper, or is there a method to bringing down trajectory?

MV: For higher handicaps with slower swing speeds, they typically don’t generate a lot of spin on their own, so yes, descent angle and peak height are optimized so the player can still carry the ball far enough and limit roll out, though spin is still a factor to that player in terms of ball flight. On the other hand, some higher handicap players swing very fast and generate a lot of spin, but controlling that spin or having consistent contact may be more of their issue. And this is a good example of why we don’t like to fit for handicap, but we strongly recommend players get fit for their club delivery and ball flight. There are many different ways to become a 19-handicap, or a 2-handicap for that matter.

GolfWRX: For players who are married to taper tip shafts like Dynamic Gold. How do those shafts work in parallel hosels?

MV: Taper tip shafts work great in parallel hosels for those that want that. We can assemble taper tip shafts in both taper and parallel hosels and there are some players who love a shaft model that is only available in a taper tip. It doesn’t work the other way though. Parallel tip shafts do not work in taper tip hosels without boring them out, which is not something we generally recommend at it can negatively impact the structural integrity of the hosel.

GolfWRX: How do you optimize spin with the higher launching faster heads? Is it addressed through descent angle?

MV: Descent angle certainly matters, but we don’t like to put too much focus on any one single factor. For every player type and iron set we look at speed, launch angle, descent angle, peak height and spin to maximize distance, with proper gapping, and also to make sure iron shots will hold the green. There is no one size fits all answer to that. It’s why we offer multiple Apex sets, multiple Apex combo sets and recommend all golfers get fit.

 

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Equipment

Dustin Johnson using a mini-driver at the 2021 U.S. Open?, Mickelson spotted with new TaylorMade mini-driver

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In our forums, our members have been commenting on a potentially significant change to Dustin Johnson’s equipment setup at the 2021 U.S. Open.

Per TaylorMade Rep Chris Trott’s Instagram, included in DJ’s build sheet for this week is a mini driver with an LA Golf shaft, as well as a 15.5 degree Sim Max HL driver.

@trottiegolf

Phil Mickelson’s TaylorMade Original One mini-driver has received plenty of attention recently, as the 50-year-old utilized the club so effectively on his way to winning the 2021 PGA Championship.

In a twist, however, Lefty was spotted on Monday at Torrey Pines using TaylorMade’s latest 300 Series Mini driver which hit the USGA conforming list last month. 

Speaking to media on Monday about the utilization of a mini-driver this week, Mickelson said

“Just a 2-wood. I call it a 2-wood but it’s a mini driver. Just a 2-wood. I think at least half, if not a fraction more, of tee shots will be with that club just because the way the fairways are a little bit firmer than Farmers.

The ball runs out and it gets down there to a pretty good spot. There’s a lot of holes where it kind of turns or tightens, and I don’t really want to get to that spot. If you look at 4, you get it down too far and it starts to pinch in by the canyon. You look at the contour on 7, how much that fairway pitches. I really don’t want to get it down there.

That 2-wood, I’ll call it, seems to fit the right yardage on a lot of those holes for me.”

Our members have been speculating on the potential use of a mini-driver for DJ at Torrey and whether the move could be inspired by Phil, as the World Number One goes in search of his second U.S. Open title.

  • CCUgolfer23: “Would be interesting to see this combo since his driving last week wasn’t great.”
  • bladehunter: “Doesn’t look like a driver. Or it’s a secondary driver. Like Phil, 44 inches is a 3 wood these days.”
  • Valtiel: “DJ quite notably uses a pretty short 3-wood though, especially for his height. 42.75″ I believe. Also almost always higher lofted, 16-17*. I wonder if this is maybe something for him to turn over and goes further than his 3w?”

Check out the full discussion here.

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