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Best wedges of 2021: Traditional

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With so much time dedicated to finding the right driver or set of irons, wedges often become an afterthought for many golfers—to the detriment of their own game. Wedges play a crucial role in helping save shots around the green, and more importantly, their performance is highly correlated to how well they fit you and your playing style.

At GolfWRX, to determine the 2021 best wedges and the categories, we compiled an expert panel of fitters to help you find out which of the 2021 wedges are best for your game.

This year, OEMs have continued to push the engineering envelope of wedge development with most of the focus directed to furthering performance gains through advanced manufacturing methods, weight distribution, and fittings opportunities. These fitting options are important because shots hit with your wedges play a key role in scoring and also saving strokes.

That being said, ultimately the best way to find your personal best wedges is to work with a professional fitter using a launch monitor. The difficult part is a lot of people don’t have easy access to fitters, launch monitors, and club builders—so at GolfWRX, we have done a lot of the work for you.

Join the discussion in the forums.

The methodology is simple: We want to give you the tools and information to go out and find what works best for you by offering recommendations for your individual wedge needs with insight and feedback from the people who work every single day to help golfers get peak performance out of their equipment.

Best wedges of 2021: How we did it

Before starting the process of building our best wedge survey, we reached out to our trusted fitters to discuss how they sort through the cornucopia of wedge options available to golfers, and the consensus was clear. The best fitters in the world see all the available options, analyze their performance traits and fitting potential, and pull from their internal database of knowledge and experience like a supercomputer when they are working with a golfer.

It’s essentially a decision tree derived from experience and boiled down to a starting point of options.

Modern wedges fit into two categories; traditional and game improvement. Both categories offer a lot of options but the wedges in each vary in their approaches to helping the target player. These are the best wedge categories we have developed to help you the reader determine what rankings are most important for you.

Best wedge of 2021: The categories

Best traditional wedge

Traditional wedges generally share similar exterior aesthetics, even though each manufacturer uses different techniques to shift mass and improve spin, along with consistency.  Traditional wedges also usually come in a variety of bounce and sole grind options to help golfers pick what will work best for them based on their technique, regular course conditions, and preferred look.

Just because wedge design doesn’t appear to have changed that much in the last 50 years doesn’t mean you won’t see a big benefit to finding the right ones for you.

Best game improvement wedge

Wedge forgiveness is less so tied to overall MOI (a measurement of forgiveness) and more specifically linked to helping golfers with the most difficult and frustrating shots they will face on the course. Whether it be chipping around a green or just escaping a sand trap in one shot, these game improvement wedges and their designs provide the best opportunity to help you save shots where you struggle.

Join the discussion in the forums.

Best wedges of 2021: Meet the fitters

Nick Sherburne: Founder, Club Champion
Clare Cornelius: Fitter,
 Cool Clubs
Eric Johnson: Fitter, True Spec Golf
Shaun Fagan: Fitter, True Spec Golf
Kirk Oguri: PGA Professional/ Club Specialist, Pete’s Golf
Sue O’Connor: Fitter, Cool Clubs 
Scott Felix: Owner, Felix Club Works
Mark Knapp: Club Fitter, Carls Golfland
Ryan Johnson: Club Fitter, Carls Golfland
Eric Hensler: Manager & Fitter, 
Miles of Golf
Brad Coffield: Fitter Carls Golfland
Nick Waterworth: Fitter, Haggin Oaks Golf Super Shop
Adam White: Co-Founder & Director of Club Fitting, Measured Golf
Scott Anderson: VP of Sales, Fitter, True Spec Golf
Matthew Sim: Director of Operations, Modern Golf
Ian Fraser: CEO & Founder, Tour Experience Golf
Mike Martysiewicz: Director of Club Fitting & Building, Tour Experience Golf
Shawn Zawodni: Fitter, Miles of Golf
Ben Giunta: Owner, The Tour Van

Best wedges 2021: Traditional

best wedges 2021

Titleist Vokey Design SM8

Their story: 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 about offering state-of-the-art technology alongside tour-proven consistency to give golfers more control than ever before.  The biggest overhaul to Vokey wedge design since the introduction of Spin Milled grooves is the “out of head” center of gravity (CoG), with the 58 to 62-degree wedges having tungsten placed in the toe to push CoG more forward and out of the head into a space beyond the face of the club to offer more rotational control.

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 wedges

From the fitters

  • When it comes to wedges, Titleist and Vokey set the standard for bounce, grind, and finish options, which is why so many golfers and fitters gravitate towards them. The other thing that I have found is they have done a really good job explaining bounce and grinds to consumers, so even if you can’t go see a fitter you make sure you are picking your best option.
  • Vokey wedges can fit any golfer that wants a classic-looking wedge that offers performance. For those who love customization, you can go absolutely nuts with the wedge works program.
  • Pure performance you can trust.

For more photos/info, read our launch piece and check out this forum thread.

Callaway MD5 Jaws

Their story: With the MD5 Jaws wedges, Callaway changed the shape of the grooves to increase spin and total control. The end result is the MD5 Jaws spins over 10 percent more on shots hit around the green compared to the Callaway MD4 and launches lower by one degree.

Beyond the grooves, Callaway and the wedge team re-evaluated the whole shape and profile of the MD5 Jaws, along with the grind options. As the trend of more players swapping their stock pitching wedges for wedges that match the lower end of the bag (up to 45-46 degrees). Callaway designers decided to reshape the lower lofted wedges from 46-56 degrees to have a smaller profile and flow better from the lowest to highest loft in the wedge set. Don’t think this is just for looks either—smaller heads allow for more concentrated mass and with a smaller shape comes better workability.

From the fitters

  • Callaway stepped way up with the MD5 wedges, and the Jaws groove is only part of the story with these. To me, the biggest thing is how they shaped them to create a really nice transition from a pitching wedge or even 9-iron. These are the best wedges they have ever made.
  • They look great and spin a lot on partial shots hit inside 60 yards, which for most golfers is a trouble zone.
  • The MD5 wedges don’t get enough credit for the number of bounce and loft options they offer, but it’s right up there with Titleist and Cleveland. The other thing that is really cool is the Callaway customs program to get extra stamping and cavity dots.

For more photos/info, read our launch piece and check out this forum thread.

Cleveland RTX ZipCore

Their story: The Cleveland RTX ZipCore wedges feature a low-density “ZipCore” in the hosel of the wedge head to shift the center of gravity higher and towards the toe to boost what Cleveland is calling High-Low MOI. What this means is you get less spin rate variance (aka better spin robustness) on shots hit both higher and lower on the face. This also creates greater control over launch, which leads to better distance control.

The wedges also feature UltiZip Grooves which are 11 percent sharper and 7.3 percent deeper than previous generations, while also being 7.4 percent closer together for more groove contact area. The RTX Zipcore wedges are offered in a large variety of grind and bounce options to help golfers find the best fit for their game and playing conditions.

From the fitters

  • The ZipCore wedges feel great and they really nailed it with the shaping. I realize that when it comes to wedges in this category, there isn’t much that separates one from the next, but it’s the little transitions around the head and the sole that make these my personal favorite.
  • You get a bunch of grind and bounce options, which is exactly what golfers are looking for with a traditional wedge.
  • The Tour Rack custom program that is offered by Cleveland is as close to working with your own custom wedge grinder as it gets, and for the discerning player who wants to be dialed in for their playing conditions, it’s hard to beat.

For more photos/info, read our launch piece and check out this forum thread.

TaylorMade MG2

Their story: The TaylorMade MG2 wedges feature ZTP Raw Grooves designed to offer sharper, deeper, and narrower grooves with a sharper radius, which aims to allow players to create more friction between the clubface and the ball for maximum greenside spin. The other standout features of the MG2 wedges are the raw face designed for optimal spin, along with CNC milled sole grinds allowing them to be accurately and consistently replicated wedge after wedge.

Compared to previous generations TaylorMade increased the face thickness of the head from 5.1 mm to 6.5 mm in for a new “Thick-Thin” head design to create a solid, positive feel at impact and optimized center of gravity.

From the fitters

  • The MG2 wedges have a slightly higher toe that gives them a compact classic look, and you really get the best of both worlds with the raw face/low maintenance chrome and a glare-reducing raw face.
  • These wedges feel really good and spin a lot.
  • Although these wedges might not offer all the bounce and grind options as some of the others in the market, they do offer the TW sand and lob wedge grinds, which are beyond versatile.

For more photos/info, read our launch piece and check out this forum thread.

Mizuno T-20

Their story: Just like with the MP-20 iron, engineers brought a more extreme CG (center of gravity) shifting philosophy to the Mizuno T20 wedges to relocate the CG throughout the set and change the sweet spot height. This allowed the engineers to alter the launch and spin precisely for each loft.

Also, for the T20 wedges, Mizuno engineers took a concept from the high-performance tire world and introduced perpendicular laser-etched micro-grooves to channel moisture away faster than conventional parallel ones. This directional “tread” has proven to increase spin on shots especially in conditions with moisture up to 1,200 rpm (on a 60-yard shot). All of these refinements—CG, micro-grooves, and reconfigured scoring lines—add up to one thing: more control and improved shotmaking with your wedges.

From the fitters

  • For the traditional wedge consumer who wants a forged head, it’s basically Mizuno or Ping Glide (Forged) wedges, and Mizuno offers a lot more when it comes to options including finishes. Also, whereas other companies charge extra for a raw finish, Mizuno offers it at no additional cost.
  • What gets overlooked is Mizuno wedges offer a lot of technology when it comes to their grooves to help retain spin in wet conditions.
  • I really like that they build their wedge matrix around having an option for every single loft. It’s no secret that it involves simply bending wedges to spec and using a badge, but for golfers who don’t want to have to remember what their wedges are tweaked to, it’s quite smart.

For more photos/info, read our launch piece and check out this forum thread.

Join the discussion in the forums.

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Equipment

Blade vs cavity back style wedges – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing wedge style preferences. WRXer ‘Jjfcpa’ is curious to see what style is used by the majority of members and why, and WRXers have been sharing their thoughts on both types.

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.

  • cwik: “I play blade wedges personally. I don’t see any benefit from CB style wedges around the green or on partial wedge shots. I guess they could provide some help on full swing mis-hits, but I’ve never seen an improvement in overall scores when playing CB’s throughout the bag. The addition of CB wedges is unlikely to produce any scoring benefits for me over time as well.”
  • aaronpoling: “I played SM7’s, then went to MD 4’s, and have settled on CBX 2’s. I play G25’s so going with a CB wedge made sense to me. Both the SM7’s and MD 4’s were great feeling, but I needed something more forgiving, and while they don’t feel as great as the other, they are good!”
  • cactusgolf: “I can shank, thin, or fat any wedge. I’m just that good. I’ve played both CB wedges (CBX-type) and now my Callaway MD3s since they came out. I really haven’t noticed a noticeable benefit to playing one over the other as long as the bounce is right for the type of course and how I deliver the club to the ball.”
  • texas_tom: “I was just looking into this. I settled on a 50 degree GW CBX2 for pitch shots and bump and run and heavy grass. I have Vokey 54/58 for the “finesse” Lob and high soft shots. Of course, I blade the crap out of most of those, so I use my cbx more and more. I think the CBX has a higher swingweight? It definitely feels like it, I don’t feel as flippy with it.”

Entire Thread: “Blade vs cavity back style wedges”

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Equipment

Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (07/2/21): (Made for Tony Finau) Piretti Handstamped Matera Elite putter

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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 a 1 of 1 (Made for Tony Finau) Piretti Handstamped Matera Elite putter.

 

From the seller: (@Kaexo): “For sale only, no trades. I wanted to like it and use it for awhile but just can’t putt with it. It was originally made for Tony Finau and can be confirmed by Mike the owner of Piretti. Very light wear on the sole but Overall excellent condition. Only weight set is the blank aluminum which makes it 355g. 34″. 355g. 70? Lie. 2.5? loft. Black Piretti standard grip Full disclosure: I am out of town and won’t be able to ship until likely Friday next week but will try to do it sooner. $1200 OBO fedex insured.”

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: 1 of 1 (Made for Tony Finau) Piretti Handstamped Matera Elite putter.

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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Driver Reviews

GolfWRX Spotlight: Tour Edge Exotics C721 driver

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Tour Edge’s Exotics line of high-end golf clubs has been known for excellent fairway wood and hybrid performance over the years. The Chicago-based company has been consistently putting out high-quality products, and golfers are really taking notice. The new line of C721 drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids take yet another big leap forward from last year’s EXS line. 

The new C721 driver takes a lot of technology from the 2020 EXS line and further refines and expands on it. I know it is a little cliche when companies say every model is their best ever, but Tour Edge is 100 percent right this time.

When unboxing the C721 the first thing I noticed was the much-improved looks and shape over the previous Tour Edge drivers. The biggest change to my eye is the added bulge, giving a more rounded and softened topline.

The overall shape of the C721 is slightly stretched from front to back, giving it just a hint of a triangular look. The Ridgeback is a titanium spine flanked by two carbon fiber wings that add stability and forgiveness to the head, but they can also work together and an additional aiming device to ensure you are lined up down the center of the fairway. 

Getting the C721 out on the course is where you really start to appreciate all the technology that went into this driver. Well-struck shots are very long, very boring, and will hang with anything out on the market today. Center contact is rewarded with a long and very low spin shot that is just fun to hit.

The sound and feel are very solid, you can really feel the ball compress on the face as it leaves at high speed. The sound is more of a muted crack and much quieter than I anticipated. If you practice on an enclosed range your ears will thank you for your choice in drivers. Shots hit away from the center of the face retain a lot of ball speed and stay online really well.

My miss is low on the heel and those misses stayed in the air fairly well and went a good ways. Shots hit down on the heel or higher on the toe side still stay online really well due to the Ridgeback spine and rear weight. The C721 is just slightly higher than mid-launch for me, but the low spinning head never allowed my shots to balloon or rise even into the wind. I do wish the face was just a touch deeper as I had to play with my tee height in order to find the optimal setup. The better players will enjoy the neutral weighting and there seems to be very minimal draw built into the driver.

Overall, the Tour Edge Exotics C721 driver is a great club that will probably be overlooked by too many golfers. If you are looking for added distance, a lot of forgiveness and want to keep some money in your pocket, then you should seriously take a look at Tour Edge.

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