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Best wedges of 2021: Game improvement

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With so much time dedicated to finding the right driver or a 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.

In 2021, 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 shots.

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.

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 esthetics, 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 then preference for look.

Just because wedge design hasn’t appeared 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.

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: Game improvement

Callaway Mack Daddy CB

Their story: The Mack Daddy CB wedges feature two sole grinds. In the lower lofts, a full sole provides iron-like turf interaction with moderate bounce. In the mid and higher lofts, a modified W Grind is designed to enhance bounce in order to add forgiveness out of bunkers and thick rough. The modified W Grind is also designed with a low leading edge if you need to open the face.

The Mack Daddy CB wedges also feature the newest JAWS grooves with increased edge sharpness to provide maximum grip and spin from all types of lies.

From the fitters

  • The Mack Daddy CB is a really nice option for players that want a stand-alone wedge but still need more help than something traditional like an MD5. It’s not quite as soft feeling as other wedges in this category but super forgiving on off-center strikes which makes up for that.
  • The Mack Daddy CB is an extremely easy-to-hit wedge but still offers some versatility for times when you need to manipulate it around the greens.
  • It has a nice large face with a wide sole design—if you miss a lot of wedges because you hit them chunky this could be your savior around the green.

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

Cleveland CBX 2

Their story: The Cleveland CBX wedges have a lot of technology to help make the short game easier. First, they have a Hollow-Cavity Design to maximize perimeter weighting for increased forgiveness around the entire face and to enhance the feel of the cavity back design they also have a Gelback TPU Insert which reduces vibration for a pure feel at impact.

The CBX wedges also have Cleveland’s Rotex Face to deliver the company’s sharpest Tour Zip Grooves and most aggressive face milling. This improves spin in all conditions, especially on half shots, and around the green when moisture is present.

From the fitters

  • This is the best cavity back wedge ever! It’s completely game-changing for some of the higher handicap golfers that I work with that struggle with their wedges—and that’s most of them.
  • Grooves all over the face help create extra spin on mis-hits, especially out of deeper rough when it’s more likely to hit one higher on the face towards the toe. Were not talking thousands of RPMs but every little bit helps keep the ball on the green.
  • The size of the clubface, the head weight, sole design, and bounce, have been a great configuration for a lot of high handicap players and beginners. It is a great all-around wedge for full swings and around the green versatility.

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

Mizuno ES21

Their story: To get the most of the Mizuno E21’s performance, engineers relocated mass higher and deeper in the head by using a hollow body construction. The E21 wedge brings together a 1025 Grain Flow forged boron face and hosel with a 431 Stainless steel back to maintain the soft and solid feel Mizuno is known for while also increasing groove durability.

Speaking of grooves the ES21 wedges use the same perpendicular laser-etched micro-grooves as the Mizuno T20’s to channel moisture away faster than conventional parallel ones. They also come in both a narrow and wide sole option, but unlike with irons where a wide sole is generally reserved for game improvement clubs, the wide sole models of the E21 have been configured for maximum versatility while still being “anti-chunk”.

From the fitters

  • By doing what they did with the center of gravity, Mizuno helps the wedge maintain spin when hit outside of just the middle—this is a big help, especially out of the fluffy lies.
  • Looks are deceiving. From the address position, you wouldn’t know this wedge had such a thick top line, so as much as it is a game improvement design, I suggest any player looking for extra consistency to give this a try.
  • Neutral CG placement makes this a closer fit for more golfers than most other wedges. Incredibly versatile sole design works very well for steeper attack angles, but also for more of a neutral delivery style. Easy to lay the face open and create higher effective bounce from the bunkers or gnarly lies around the green.

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

Ping Glide 3.0

Their story: The Ping Glide 3.0 wedges leverage multi-material construction that combines a 431 stainless steel head with a soft elastomer Custom Tuning Port (CTP) insert. The volume of the CTP allows for a larger insert covering more of the back of the face, resulting in activation of the elastomer at impact in a bid to produce a soft yet solid feel. The cavity design and larger CTP also expand the perimeter weighting to increase the MOI and position the center of gravity higher in order to provide lower-launching, and higher-spinning trajectories for more control.

The Glide 3.0 wedges also feature wheel-cut grooves for a sharper edge radius, which is designed to increase interaction with the ball at impact—resulting in more friction for maximum spin and trajectory control.

From the fitters

  • Even though the Glide is on the “smaller” side when it comes to being a game improvement wedge it maintains all the cavity back benefits while also feeling great.
  • What separates the Glide 3.0 wedges in this category is the loft and grind options that are available, including the ES—Eye sole—design.
  • It really is a players wedge that also happens to offer game improvement benefits, which makes it so versatile.

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

TaylorMade Hi-Toe Bigfoot

Their story: The TaylorMade Hi-Toe Bigfoot wedges offer a thin topline paired with the extra mass behind the hitting area and redistributed away from the flange to raise the center of gravity and increase spin. The hollow ports save unnecessary mass, which allows the wedge’s sole to be made wider without sacrificing the performance gained by the CG location.

Much like the better player-orientated MG2 wedges, the Bigfoot wedges come with a milled sole to eliminates variance created by hand grinding and finishing, and raw faces to keep the wedge spinning to its maximum potential through its lifespan.

From the fitters

  • Thanks in part to the larger effective hitting area, full face grooves & neutral/toe biased CG it works really well for a lot of golfers.
  • The Big Foot wedge almost makes it feel like cheating for the less skilled golfer around the greens. Loft up hit down, and don’t worry about much else.

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

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Equipment

What is the benefit of using a wedge instead of PW or GW from the iron set? – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the pros and cons of using a pitching or gap wedge from an iron set. WRXer ‘jpark0221’ kicks off the thread, asking:

“What is the benefit of doing this instead of using PW from the iron set, which is essentially 10i? I see a lot of pros using wedges from different brands (e.g. Vokey) instead of PW from the same set.”

And our members have been sharing their thoughts 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.

  • North Butte: “The only way you’ll know is try a different (specialty) wedge instead of the one marked P and see how it works. Give it a couple of dozen rounds, you can’t really tell whether a wedge has an advantage until you get used to playing various shots with it. My point being…they play those wedges because it’s what works best for their game. And you ought to play what works best for your game too. Your best choice won’t necessarily be the same type of club as someone else’s.”
  • Jc0: “If you look a little closer, you’ll notice that most pros who have a specialty 46/48 wedge usually play cavity backs. The speciality wedge is more blade-like to allow a little more control and the ability to play shots a little easier than the PW that matches their set would provide. If a pro plays blades, they usually have the same blade for PW.”
  • PureStrikes54: “Flighting shots lower, getting additional spin for stopping power and to hit it shorter, and minimizing the chance of hitting flier moon balls you can sometimes get with even players cavity irons. At that level, very few players want to be hitting their pitching wedge more than 150 yards. The wedge is a scoring club and is almost always being used to hit knockdowns to tweener yardages.”

Entire Thread: “What is the benefit of using a wedge instead of PW or GW from the iron set?

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Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (12/7/22): Nike VR Pro Combo CB irons

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At GolfWRX, 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 – buying and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a set of Nike VR Pro Combo CB irons

From the seller (@bdawg983): “Nike VR Pro Combo CB irons 4-PW. They have Project X 5.5 flex steel shafts and Golf Pride Tour Velvet Midsize grips. Project X shaft bands have been removed. 4 and 5 are standard length, 38.5 and 38. They have P stamped on the hosel. 6-PW are .5 inch short (37, 36.5, 36, 35.5, 35). Played the last few seasons. They have A stamped on the hosel. A few dings and groove wear from regular play, but no browning. $300.”

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Nike VR Pro Combo CB 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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TaylorMade unveils all-new P770, P7MC, and P7MB irons

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TaylorMade Golf has today announced the latest evolution of its acclaimed P700 Series with the all-new P770, P7MC, and P7MB irons.

TaylorMade P770 Irons

The all-new P770 irons feature a thinner top line, less offset in long irons, and a shorter blade length when compared to the P790. With its hollow body construction and forged L-Face, the 2022 P770 is designed to provide elevated distance, forgiveness, and excellent feel in a smaller sized head.

The P770 features FLTD CG, a strategic design that positions the center of gravity (CG) lowest in long irons and progressively shifts it higher throughout the set to the shorter, weaker lofted irons. The tungsten weighting scheme in the long and middle irons has been redesigned, shifting more weight to the longer irons’ low tungsten mass and a reduction in the middle irons’ tungsten, resulting in an ascending CG through the set.

The aim behind the FLTD CG strategic design is to create easier launch and playability in the long irons while optimizing trajectory and spin in the scoring clubs. 

The P770 irons feature SpeedFoam Air, a technology introduced in 2021 with the launch of the P790. SpeedFoam Air dampens sound and strategically supports the face with a material 69 percent less dense than SpeedFoam, which was seen in the prior generation of the P770.

In addition to the added speed made possible by the thinnest P770 face TaylorMade has produced, the Thru-SlotSpeed Pocket and Inverted Cone Technology aim to help unlock increased ball speed across the face and forgiveness low in the face, where mishits happen most commonly.

“P700 Series irons need to be technical, elegant and timeless and the new P·770 design has all of that in spades. We wanted to take as much performance and hide it on the inside of the iron to where you look at it and it looks like a clean and classic iron with the pearl satin chrome finish and hint of mirror on the toe. On the inside, the technology we have poured in to this iron creates a product that we believe is truly one of one in this space.” – Matt Bovee, Director, Irons Product Creation

Specs, Availability & Pricing

  • Specs: P770 is offered in 3-PW/AW and comes equipped with KBS Tour Steel shafts (X130g, S 120g) as well as Golf Pride Z-Grip 360 in Grey/Black
  • Availability: Pre-order on December 6 at TaylorMadeGolf.com and at retail beginning January 20, 2023
  • Pricing: $1299 USD (steel) and $1499 USD (graphite)

TaylorMade P7MC Irons

The tour-inspired P7MC iron features minimal offset and perimeter weighting.

A narrow sole and tight leading edge aims to ensure consistency through the turf, while TaylorMade’s Compact Grain Forging process uses 2,000 tons of pressure, more than double the industry standard, with the additional force giving TaylorMade engineers precision control at a micro level, producing a tighter grain structure for the best possible feel and strength properties.

Compact Grain Forging seeks to deliver a refined composition inside and out, with the sophisticated craftsmanship coming to life with a satin finish and forged “Metal-T” within the cavity back.

Per TaylorMade, precision in P7MC is paramount, which is why the face of this iron is continued to be machined. Machining the face aims to ensure precision and quality with TaylorMade’s most aggressive score line geometry for exacting shot making.

“There’s no better feeling than a solidly hit forged iron. For pure ball strikers, the consistency of P7MC rivals anything in the marketplace today and has been a favorite among skilled golfers. For players who choose to combo, our cohesive design language allows you to seamlessly pair it with either P770 or P7MB. No two golfers play the game exactly alike, and one of the things I love about our P·700 Series family is the ability for golfers to personalize a set to match their needs and maintain aesthetic unity.” – Matt Bovee, TaylorMade Golf, Irons Product Creation

Specs, Availability & Pricing

  • Specs: P7MC is offered in 3-PW and come equipped with KBS Tour Steel shafts (X130g, S 120g) as well as Golf Pride Z-Grip 360 in Grey/Black
  • Availability: Pre-order on December 6 at TaylorMade Golf.com and at retail beginning January 20, 2023
  • Pricing: $1299 USD (steel) and $1499 USD (graphite) as seven-piece sets

TaylorMade P7MB Irons

As a result of detailed feedback from testing with Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa, the P7MB features a shorter blade length, brand new sole geometry, and progressive offset to create a minimalist profile that’s designed to control shot shape and trajectory.

The sole of P7MB is one millimeter narrower than the previous generation, meaning TaylorMade engineers had to add slightly more bounce to the leading edge which creates a completely different sensation through the turf. Total effective bounce is a combination of sole width and bounce angle, which engineers were able to perfect by increasing the bounce angle to keep the sole from getting caught in the turf.

The shorter blade length of P7MB allowed TaylorMade engineers to create an updated backbar using symmetrical geometry. This allows for more mass to be positioned directly behind the face to support the point of impact and elevate feel.

In addition, the P7MB also features the Compact Grain Forging and machined face and grooves that are also seen in the P7MC irons.

“The narrower sole width of P7MB is a direct result of testing and feedback from Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa and our TaylorMade Tour pros. Rory and Collin worked with us to identify the right sole geometry and bounce to match what they were looking for and we perfected that with P7MB. Having two of the best players in the world being a driving force behind the design of this iron have us extremely excited to bring it to the marketplace.” – Matt Bovee, Director, Irons Product Creation

Specs, Availability & Pricing

  • Specs: P7MB is offered in 3-PW and come equipped with KBS Tour Steel shafts (X130g, S 120g) as well as Golf Pride Z-Grip 360 in Grey/Black
  • Availability: Pre-order on December 6 at TaylorMade Golf.com and at retail beginning January 20, 2023
  • Pricing: $1299 USD (steel) and $1499 USD (graphite) as seven-piece sets
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