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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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Whats in the Bag

Jason Kokrak WITB 2021 (May)

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

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green 6.5 80 TX

7-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max (21 degrees)

Irons: PXG Gen4 ST Prototype (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: PXG 0311 Sugar Daddy (52),  Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (56-14F, 60-08M)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Bettinardi Studio Stock 38
Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GT

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride MCC (Black/White)

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Phil Mickelson’s bag: How it compares to past wins at Colonial

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Editor’s note: We filed this piece for PGATour.com’s Equipment Report

Following his improbable PGA Championship triumph, Phil Mickelson is right back in the thick of the action. Twice a champion at Colonial Country Club, Mickelson returns for the Charles Schwab Challenge.

The 50-year-old’s current setup has certainly changed from the artillery he chose early in his career.

Indeed, the equipment landscape itself is entirely different than it was when Mickelson won his first of now 45 PGA TOUR events (as an amateur) in 1991! Titanium drivers were only beginning to show up on TOUR in Lefty’s early years, and Mickelson’s longtime sponsor, Callaway, didn’t release the Great Big Bertha until 1995.

The history of modern golf equipment has literally played out in Mickelson’s bag as a professional.

The differences in Mickelson’s current setup compared to 2000, when he won the first of his two Charles Schwab Challenges, are immediately apparent. His Yonex Super A.D.X. driver was a fraction of the size of his 450 cc Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond. Mickelson has been leaning on a TaylorMade Original One Mini Driver as his second fairway wood this season – the total amount of technology in his two Yonex fairway woods of 2000, or even his Callaway FT-5 driver and FT Tour 3-wood of 2008, is the difference between the Ford Model T and the Ford GT.

Interestingly, Mickelson played Ping Eye 2 wedges throughout his early years and had a 60-degree Eye 2 in the bag for his 2000 win at Colonial. One look at his current PM Grind wedges, and it’s clear the Eye 2 shaping was the original inspiration for the design Mickelson and Callaway engineers continue to refine.

Also notable on the similarities front: the 8802-style heel-shafted blade putter Mickelson has preferred throughout most of his career was present in the bag for both victories and will be in Phil’s hands this week as well. In 2000, Mickelson gamed a custom Bettinardi blade. In 2008, it was the same Odyssey “Phil Mickelson” blade shape that he won with at last week’s PGA Championship.

Check out Mickelson’s WITBs for his 2000 and 2008 wins at Colonial and what he has in the bag this week.

2000

Driver: Yonex Super A.D.X. (8 degrees)
Shaft: Yonex PM Proto

3-wood: Yonex Super A.D.X. (13 degrees)
Shaft: Yonex PM Proto

Irons: Yonex Super A.D.X. Tour Forged (2-PW)
Shafts: Precision Rifle 7.0

Wedges: Yonex PM Forged (56), Ping Eye 2 (60)
Shafts: PM 7.0, Eye2 X100

Putter: Bettinardi PM Blade

Ball: Titleist Professional 100

Read the full piece here.

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Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (05/28/21): TaylorMade P770 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 TaylorMade P770 irons (4-PW) $950.

From the seller: (@Tvverall): “First up is a mint set of TaylorMade P770 Irons 4-P, Standard L/L/L, KB Tour 120 Stiff. These saw 2 rounds, and a handful of range sessions. They are great clubs, they just simply did not work for me as my fitting would have suggested. I have the original box from TM and will ship in that. Asking $950.”

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: TaylorMade P770 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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