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Titleist Vokey SM8 wedges: Leading with performance

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Say “Vokey” to any golfer and they will instantaneously know you are talking about wedges. The name Vokey, along with Titleist, is synonymous with performance. In 2020, Vokey is introducing its most performance-driven line yet, the Vokey SM8 wedges.

Built on the foundation of what were already the number one wedges on the PGA Tour, Vokey SM8’s take precision and control to the next level thanks to refined shapes, cosmetics, sole grinds, and for the first time, multi-material technology to improve performance.

2020 Vokey SM8 wedges: How did we get here?

Vokey wedges are the standard by which wedges are judged by most golfers, similar to the way new golf balls are often compared to the Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x. Dating all the way back to the original Spin Milled wedges, Titleist has lead the way with spin performance and quality club after club. This comes from the fact that each and every single wedge manufactured is tested for groove dimensions before ever being built.

Titleist believes that there are three key performance factors that golfers should consider when choosing new wedges

  • Distance and trajectory control
  • Shot versatility, in varying conditions
  • Spin depreciation and groove wear over time

Distance control is important for reasons I probably shouldn’t have to explain, and as golfers get into their wedges, the old mindset of just getting 52, 56, and 60-degree wedges to make sure you have all the shots is out the window. Golfers now have to consider where they transition from their irons to wedges and the lofts are of those clubs, which means if you have a 44 to 45-degree pitching wedge, grabbing that conventional 52 might not be the best idea. This is exactly why Titleist decided to put the lofts of its pitching wedges on the bottom of the T-Series irons: to better help golfers make good gapping decisions.

Loft decisions also rely on the type of shots players hit with each club, because if you are only taking full swings with your gap wedge and sand wedges, then those lofts need to reflect those shot choices and the desired distance goals. The shortest wedge can then become a specialty club built for versatility, and this is where grinds come in.

Wedges need to be the most versatile clubs in any golfer’s bag because of the variety of shots hit with them; from full swings to short touch shots around greens, they have to offer absolute control to help players not only score but also recover under diverse conditions.

This is why player dynamics, shot choice, and conditions play such a big role in selecting the proper short game tools, and as far as options go, Vokey wedges offer the most off-the-shelf options in the game.

Spin equals stopping power. As mentioned earlier, not only do Vokey grooves get pushed to the limit, but thanks to extremely high-quality control standards all the way up the manufacturing chain, you can be assured that you are going to get spin control shot after, which also leads to improved trajectory control. Less traction leads to less spin and higher launch, and as much as that might be helpful with a driver, it’s the last thing you want in a wedge.

What’s new with Vokey SM8 wedges

For the new Vokey SM8 wedges, performance is about creating better short game tools for golfers of all skill levels, shot after shot. It’s not about chasing an elusive spin number or building a wedge designed with a single task in mind, it’s about offering state-of-the-art technology alongside tour-proven consistency to give golfers more control than ever before.

“Out of head” center of gravity and multi-material construction

This is the biggest overhaul to Vokey wedge design since the introduction of Spin Milled grooves. For the first time in North America (there have been multi-material wedges made for the Japan market), the 58 to 62-degree wedges will have tungsten placed in the toe to push Center of Gravity more forward and out of the head into a space beyond the face of the club to offer more rotational control. When asked why the tungsten is kept hidden and is not a visible technology in the wedge, we were told: “it’s to keep with the classic styling associated with Vokey Designs.”

It might seem counterproductive to put tungsten in the toe of a wedge when a higher center of gravity has been proven to offer more trajectory control in higher lofted clubs, but the engineers at Titleist balanced out this toe mass by increasing hosel length to raise CG and MOI. These design tweaks create a seven-percent higher MOI than SM7 with even great vertical stability, too.

The rest of the Vokey line beyond the highest lofts still feature the proven center of gravity shifting to aid in trajectory control but now in a more subtle looks package.

The face and grooves

The Vokey Spin Milled groove design has not changed since Vokey began offering variable depth and width designs depending on loft. Tolerances continue to get pushed, but since the design was already at the limit, it’s now more about being able to replicate rather than search for an elusive few hundred RPM.

When talking about those extra RPMs gained by potential tool and radius changes, Titleist likes to use the analogy of a pencil. You can sharpen a pencil to an absolute point, but the first thing you are going to notice when you start to use that pencil is how quickly that extremely sharp point dulls back to a “standard” sharpness. This relates directly to groove radius and Titleist’s philosophy to offer maximum spin for the life of the wedge, not just those first five rounds of golf, because unlike PGA Tour players, regular golfers can’t just wander into a tour van and ask for a new lob wedge every week.

vokey-sm8-wedge-face-2

Titleist also extends the life of the grooves with a centralized heat treatment to the face of all the wedges to harden the metal without negatively affecting feel.

Grind, finish, and custom options

titleist-vokey-sm8-wedges

Constant refinement is the name of game, and the SM8’s featured Vokey’s six tour-proven sole grinds—F, S, M, K, L, and D—to allow golfers of all skill levels to be expertly fit for their swing types, shot-making preferences, and course conditions. The wedge bounce matrix has changed too, with Titleist eliminating the 58-degree L grind, adding 54 and 56-degree D grind options for more higher bounce versatility.

The new SM8’s will come stock in Jet Black, Brushed Steel, and Tour Chrome, with the option for Raw available through custom order. Raw is the biggest news since it is normally reserved exclusively for tour and Wedge Works—and at an upcharge.

Last but not least, the most obvious design change is the overall aesthetics of the SM8 versus any previous Vokey design. The top half of the back of the wedge is entirely blank, and except for small script on the hosel, the name Titleist has been left off.

Call it modern minimalism mixed with the respect that Titleist has for Bob Vokey and the product that bears his name. What this canvas comprised of soft steel also allows is even more customization. Titleist hasn’t given any further details on what this could mean from a consumer standpoint, but it’s likely to be revealed through the Wedge Works program. For the artisan and at-home wedge stampers alike, this means, now more than ever before, you can customize too.

New Vokey SM8’s will retail for $159.99 in all finishes with custom upgrades available through Titleist Custom order.

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Ryan Barath is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Pingback: GolfWRX Members Choice: Best wedge of 2021 – GolfWRX

  2. DS

    Jan 22, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    I got fitted for SM6s and Cleveland RTX3s on consecutive days. I want to hit my lob wedge with a full swing and despite the Vokey 58 degree spinning the ball like it had Velcro on it (super impressive stopping power), I could not hit any of them consistently with a full swing. I figured the sweet spot was just too small for my ability. The Clevelands have been solid from day 1.

  3. Pelling

    Jan 22, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    It’s Boron, you moron!

  4. Paulo

    Jan 22, 2020 at 4:00 am

    Is it just me or do these look a lot like the Old mizuno t5 Wedges ?

    • Pelling

      Jan 22, 2020 at 4:50 pm

      The Mizuno MP T5 are the best wedges! You can get them new on EBay for about $40 per club, KSouth is the seller, top rated. I stocked up, can’t beat them, 1025 E mild carbon steel!

  5. Larry Coop

    Jan 21, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Tried them in 56 and 60, hit them solid. The weight is nice. But oh, feel is hard, in cold weather almost unbearable. Vokey’s are now a thing of the past. He needs the Japan “Cold Forged” in USA. All companies have grinds, all have good grooves. Softer and better products out there. Bob, you need a better 8620 metal.

  6. Carolinagolf

    Jan 21, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    Had a chance to try the SM8 and the new Cleveland’s at demo day today. Man those Cleveland’s are unreal. I think they will be the wedges of 2020. SM8 just didn’t have a great feel

  7. clubhofosho

    Jan 21, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    Any idea if the raw version will be made available to the lefty population?

  8. CrashTestDummy

    Jan 21, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Still waiting for a 56 K-Grind with 8-10 degrees of bounce.

  9. Jerry Kluger

    Jan 21, 2020 at 10:33 am

    I remember a few years back that a Golf WRX member was fitted by Bob Vokey at his facility and at that time he was told that a high bounce wedge is a better solution in firm conditions. This seemed counter-intutive at the time and certainly surprised the person being fitted as well as comments by others on Golf WRX. Looking at the chart for the new wedges, it appears that they are now recommending low bounce wedges for firm conditions. Does anyone else have the same recollection and perhaps confusion?

  10. Mike Larson

    Jan 21, 2020 at 10:19 am

    Vokey’s have felt so harsh and clicky since the SM4’s And lost their feel…..why can’t he get back what he had with the sm2’s? Callaway, Mizuno, and PXG (hate to say it) have it figured out. Sure wish Voke could use a softer metal.

    • Skip

      Jan 21, 2020 at 4:39 pm

      I work on Vokeys all the time and agree with your assessment.

  11. AndyfromNC

    Jan 21, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Not saying any previous gen of the V wedges didn’t look good….but man, these look fantastic!!!!!

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Equipment

GolfWRX Members Choice: Best wedge of 2021

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What is the best wedge in 2021? At GolfWRX, we take great pride in our online community and the cumulative knowledge and experience of our members. Needless to say, that extends to their GolfWRXers views on the best wedge of 2021.

The bedrock of GolfWRX.com is the community of passionate and knowledgable golfers in our forums, and we put endless trust in the opinions of our GolfWRX members—the most knowledgeable community of golfers on the internet. No other group of golfers in the world tests golf clubs as frequently or as extensively, nor is armed with such in-depth information about the latest technology.

You can see the full results for the best wedge of 2021, as well as additional comments, in the forums.

Best wedge of 2021: The top 5

1. Vokey SM8

What Titleist says: “SM8 features a reimagined progressive center of gravity, which produces the most accurate and forgiving Vokey wedge yet. Using tungsten weights and varied hosel lengths, the Vokey R&D team has moved the CG outside of the wedge head and placed it in front of the face, resulting in increased MOI and exceptional feel.”

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • @B_Of_H: “Much more forgiving on toe hits than any wedge I’ve played.”
  • jetmetch879: “SM8 is hard to beat. Just my opinion. I know there are a ton of great options out there, but for me, Vokey just always performs the best.”

You can read what other golfers are saying about the SM8 wedge in the GolfWRX forums, and see our launch piece here.

2. Cleveland RTX ZipCore

What Cleveland says: “So we tore our flagship RTX wedge down to its core and rebuilt it from the inside out. Introducing RTX ZipCore. The ZipCore is a low-density material at the heart of RTX. It’s an inside-to-out solution that’s elegant in form and function, with unprecedented results.”

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • @rchera3: “I have the RTX Zip Core 54.10 and 58.06 and love them! I hit the SM8 also and did not like them as much as the RTX Zip Core.”
  • @smvolkma: “Great turf interaction with the mid grinds. I went with a modus 115, and the feel is wonderful.”

You can read what other golfers are saying about the RTX ZipCore wedge in the GolfWRX forums, and see our launch piece here.

3. Callaway MD5 Jaws

What Callaway says: “JAWS MD5 Wedges are crafted by Callaway Chief Designer Roger Cleveland with total performance: premium shapes, striking finishes, outstanding feel, unique versatility and exceptional spin.”

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • @ajestrada2: “Love the Jaws MD5 wedges; I have a 50/10 S and a 54/10 S to go along with my PM grind 60 (my favorite club btw)”
  • @BM13: “Absolutely love the MD5. Checks off every box from look, feel, spin, versatility. Have a couple in Chrome 48s & 52s plus a couple Raw 56x & 60x.”

You can read what other golfers are saying about the MD5 Jaws wedge in the GolfWRX forums, and see our launch piece here.

4. Ping Glide 3.0

What Ping says: “PING engineers took a grip-to-grind approach, redesigning every component of the new Glide 3.0 wedges to create a higher-spinning, more forgiving, softer-feeling, lighter overall design. They blend a players-style look at address with game-improvement performance.”

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • @jaygolf37: “Picked up my 3.0 Eye 2’s today. Amazing feel and versatility. Love them.”
  • @braincramp52: “My 50 degree 3.0 is the only club in my bag that I can call a “can’t miss”club.”

You can read what other golfers are saying about the Glide 3.0 wedge in the GolfWRX forums, and see our launch piece here.

5. TaylorMade Hi-Toe Raw

What TaylorMade says: “Two proven TaylorMade technologies have merged into a single new design. Introducing Hi-Toe RAW, combining the full-face scoring lines and expanded toe area of Hi-Toe with RAW Face Technology. This unique wedge is designed for increased spin, precision and feel whether you’re taking full swings on your approach or playing finesse shots around the green.”

You can read what other golfers are saying about the Hi-Toe Raw in the GolfWRX forums, and see our launch piece here.

You can see the full results for the best wedge of 2021, as well as additional comments, in the forums.

 

 

 

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Justin Thomas switches putters at the Scottish Open

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Justin Thomas is in action across the pond this week at the Scottish Open and has changed Scotty Cameron putters as he bids to halt a poor run of form on the greens.

The 28-year-old has been gaming a Scotty Cameron X5.5 Tour Prototype in 2021, but a week before the year’s final major, Thomas has swapped it out for a Scotty Cameron custom knuckle neck Phantom X5.

The putter features less toe hang than JT’s previous flat-stick and has been very effective so far in Scotland, with Thomas in contention after holing his longest putt of 2021, this 90-foot bomb for eagle on Thursday.

Thomas ranks outside the top 100 in Strokes Gained: Putting in 2021, and he’ll be hoping the new gamer is the spark needed to propel him to his second major next week at Royal St. Georges.

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Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (07/9/21): Mizuno MP-14 irons

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At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buy and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for Mizuno MP-14 irons.

From the seller (@willsmithpro): “Mizuno MP-14, 4-PW, KBS C-Taper Lite x-stiff Cerakote coated, Grip Master Roo, brown grips standard size, golf garage brushed copper, standard loft length, lie $900.00.”

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Mizuno MP-14 irons

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

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