What's Up With "Tour Grind" Wedges ?
This post was triggered by a call from one of our EIDOLON Certified WedgeFitters, who was asking for help with a customer who thought he wanted his wedges ground like the “PM (Phil Mickelson) Grind” that Callaway is offering on their wedges.
That got me thinking about the segment of the wedge proliferation that falls under the category “Tour Grind”, “Personal Grind” or other such names. What it refers to is the supposed availability to purchase wedges from Titleist, Cleveland and other major companies that are ground to the personal specs of their PGA Tour professionals.
Let’s examine that carefully, because in my opinion, buying one of these wedges is the WORST thing you could do for your short game.
Here’s why I believe that:
In my nearly 30 years in the industry, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with a number of tour professionals, and trust me, these guys and girls have golf games you and I cannot remotely relate to.
Their skills with a golf club . . . and what they can feel a golf club doing throughout their swings, through the turf, and in contact with the ball . . . is nothing short of amazing.
I can assure you that the very best short game at your club would not be even close to the very worst one on the PGA, LPGA, Champions or Nationwide tours.
As an example, Ben Hogan once said that to hit the ball low into the wind, he tried to hit the ball “on the second groove” ! Can you imagine ?
And once Ben Crenshaw told me he didn’t want his wedge to spin the ball – he wanted to control the spin himself. And then he proceeded to hit four different shots with a sand wedge to a flag about 80 yards away.
He hit one behind the hole and backed it up about 5 feet. The next was hit to the front of the green and released to the hole, running about 20 feet. Then one that hit about ten feet short of the hole, made one big hop and stopped in its tracks. And finally, he hit a bump-and-run that hit well short of the green and rolled at least 50 feet to stop within a one-putt range ! And all these were hit with the same sand wedge !
Professional golfers spend hours and hours with their wedges, hitting all kinds of shots from all kinds of lies . . . every day ! And they’ve done that since they were teenagers. Their skills are honed to a level you can’t even imagine. These golfers also play the very finest courses, in the very finest conditions week in and week out.
Their fairways are cropped to 3/16” and their bunkers are watered to be of consistent texture (firm and tight). Their wedges are ground to very exact specifications to accommodate their exquisite sense of touch and the conditions they enjoy. In other words, their wedges are designed NOT to get in their way.
In contrast, you need wedges that offer you a measure of game improvement. You want all the spin you can get. You want and need wedges that won’t stick in the turf in a tight lie, but will offer you lots of help/bounce when you are in the bunkers. Your fairways are likely to be much fluffier than a tour course, but with very tight areas where cart and foot traffic are heavier. And your bunkers are softer and completely inconsistent from course to course, and probably from hole to hole !
So, here’s my acid test for whether you should consider a “ Tour Grind ” type wedge:
1. Do you spend at least two hours a day practicing wedge shots of all kinds ?
2. Does your course superintendent moisten your bunkers each morning so that they will be firm and the ball won’t plug ?
3. Do you know exactly what trajectory each and every wedge shot you hit will take ?
4. Would you challenge Tiger or Phil to a $100 a shot up-and-down contest if you had the chance ?
So, there’s my opinion on these kinds of wedges for all of us amateur golfers. And don’t buy any wedge unless you can try it out for a few rounds first, whether it’s a demo or you can return it for a full refund if it isn’t what you want and need.
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[ comments ]
Jack Waddell says:
You are the man! You have hit on exactly the problem. The pros we watch on TV (at every level including the LPGA, the Nationwide, the PGA Tour, and especially the Champions Tour) have spent their entire life honing their skills to a level we mortals can't comprehend.
"Tour issue" and "special grind" are a joke as they relate to anybody without an equipment contract. That means me. And I'll add that I want wedges that work for me in the conditions I find... the powdered sugar of newly-refurbished bunkers as well as the hard packed sand I find on my home course in the Spring.
There's just too much trying to emulate the pros when none of us have the talent or the time to do so.
Golf is hard. I want equipment that makes it a tad easier.
I discussed this very topic yesterday in my presentation to the Michigan Chapter of the Professional Clubmakers Society. The widely varying turf conditions of our courses, and our need for help in getting the club through the turf efficiently from all of them, led me to develop my patented V-SOLE for wedges that is the hallmark of the EIDOLON line. We know this configuration is the best wedge sole in the business and our less-than-one-percent return rate from customer is testament to that. I don't get commercial on this blog, but I do know that all of you will love our wedges. If you decide to visit our site -- www.bestwedge.com -- please accept my offer of a 10% discount to all "thewedgeguy" readers and your friends. Just place your order and put "TWG" in the field marked "Discount Code" at checkout.
rhyan simpson says:
im a 6 handicap club repair guy in plano texas i agree with alot you say but i have a tour issue driver and five wood play mp 60s and just put a tour grind on my spin mills they work much better than previously in texas we have really tight lies and i just took all the bounce off and played today without practice and got up and down all day
If it works, then by all means, use it. My point was that "tour grind" wedges are not for most golfers. And you might find that if the course gets wet, or if the bunkers are soft, or if you travel to many different courses, you might find that grind to be a hindrance to good shotmaking. Just might . . . .
In the long run it does not matter what your wedge specs are as long as you have one for every type if lie you could get. Any individual wedge spec will only be great for one type or group of shots and lies. After my PW I have 3 more wedges as do most folk nowadays. One has 8 degrees bounce one 12 and the lob 4. I have hated the 12 so much ( can't open without raising edge, rubbish off dense lie) that I copied the pm grind and removed lots off the trailing edge, last chance before I bought another wedge. Awesome result, just as playable in the sand but so much more consistent in all other areas. I may do this to the other clubs.
I think that the less bounce you have the more responsible you can be for the shot, which is not good for some people!
Again, go with what works. At EIDOLON, that was to develop a patented sole design that combines high and low bounce into each of our four lofts. We get rave reviews from high handicappers and scratch players alike, and there are very few golf clubs that earn that acclaim. We are quite proud.
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