Should You Consider a "Tour Grind" Wedge?
A conversation with a customer this week got me thinking about the segment of the wedge offering from major companies 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.

I’ll be really blunt on this. Don’t Do It.

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 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 tour.

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, even if you are a low single-digit player, 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? And finally . . .

  4. Would you challenge Tiger or Phil to a $100 a shot up-and-down contest if you had the chance?
The key is to buy wedges that are tailored to your game, and blend to the irons you play. And better yet, that are custom-fitted to you. That’s the way to achieve the optimum assistance from the wedges that earn their way into your bag.

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[ comments ]
Banker85 says:
so what is the difference between their clubs and ours? I get that we are nothing to the pros with a wedge in our hands, but are the "tour grind" wedges that hard to play with? WHY?
ajdaddy says:
I think the tour grind wedges have part of the bounce taken away so that you can play different shots. In our case, bounce is our friend! A lot of it is knowing how to use or take away the bounce so that you can hit a lot of different shots, which the pros know how to do. We're probably better off hitting more of a 'standard' shot and learning how to use the bounce to score better.
Kurt the Knife says:
I get it.

I'm not worthy.

Now can I have a free wedge?
Agustin says:
@Banker85 - Tour grind = lower bounce = less forgiveness. For most of us more bounce is recommended to prevent digging in bunker shots and to help minimize the effects of fat shots in fairways and rough
onedollarwed says:
I'm using 3 wedges with markedly different bounce angles. After about a year of figuring out which wedge to use with which loft/lie/ball flight, I'm now pretty confident and it was well worth it. The main goal was to maximize reward and minimize risk on every shot. I've largely done that, but am nowhere close to any kind of professional level. I don't back up shots on purpose, and try to avoid flops. I also rarely play in deep pro rough and average less than one bunker shot per round - which means no practice from the sand either. You'll know when you outgrow your clubs because you'll be trying to hit shots that can't be done with your equipment. You can't shred on a 1920s Martin.
coojofresh says:
good article, but what i do not agree with is the thought that people cannot sniff pga tour pros. they had to not be good at some point. they had to not be good at some point. now i would like to practice hard and mabye i can buy a “Tour Grind” wedge lol.
cjgiant says:
I agree with WG on the aspect that the pros are light years above your average player around the greens (including putting). I would find it interesting if the differences in the two wedge types is so significant that a scratch golfer would be hurt significantly by using the tour style.

I have read a bunch of WG articles, and he gives a lot of advice revolving around the concept of doing what you can to improve your average/consistent game, which I have interpreted to mean improve your score. As such, I can see that a higher handicap player might suffer from worse bad shots. But is a tour-grind wedge that difficult that it takes daily workout sessions to use? About how many strokes would you think using the "inappropriate" style of wedge cost a person?
TeT says:
I use low bounce on everything and although an open face takes care of alot of the things that bounce does, I still suffer in the bunkers and deep stuff because of using low bounce. Most places I play, a tight lie also means hard and bounce does not work good of of hard lies.
georgelohr says:
Wedge Guy, you are kinda wrong. Isn't there a difference between "tour grind" and "personal/custom grind"? Tour grind being a pro knock off and personal/custom grind being made to fit YOU. You have stated over and over "get fit for clubs, don't buy of the rack". This should extend all the way down to the sole grind of wedges. If it works better than "standard", do it!
onedollarwed says:
I hope you'll enjoy this Rock n' Roll analogy. Guitar catalogs are filled with guitars made to the specs of various "pros." This is nothing new, and often just a gimmick that a name guitarist signs off on - Clapton, Hammet, Slash, Blackmore, Beck, etc. You could even get an Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster at one time that had the very divergent scalloped fretboard, Hendrix upside down guitar, etc.
Fact: most great guitarists have specialized set ups which are regularly tweaked, repaired, modified, hot-rodded by their tech crews, friends, or selves.
Fact: these same name guitarists probably know little of capacitor impedance, tube rectifiers, or microscopic fret tuning, but can instantly notice the smallest changes as it impacts their sound or playability.
Fact: most names guitarists use a variety of axes despite whatever endorsements they get. When guys record albums, they often borrow, rent, or steal equipment used only on that album.
onedollarwed says:
So, like in a tour grind, it would be cool to have some club with a certain pro's specs as an anecdote, but if it's tuned to their specs...? Which specs? Their 2005 setup? Their 1999 grind. Their June lie angle? And if any of us play at the pro level, should Phil or Tiger start playing with our specs? Should Hunter use Phils grind? I have a good number of guitars - acoustic and electric - and over the years I've modified them for more diverse applications - the pink paisley Tele set up with heavy strings, single coil, and strings up high for slide playing. The BC Rich has light strings, low frets for bend and shred. Now if some beginner comes along and wants to shred on the 70s Guild 12-string set up for open chords in DADGAD tuning, they'll be completely stumped and unable to play a note. It took years of collecting and modifying gear to arrive at the various set-ups matched to ideal and high-performance use. With golf clubs, and especially wedges, it's just not as obvious.
Agustin says:
Last week I purchased a Titleist Vokey 64° with an 8° bounce. It also has a particular grind to it. Not sure if this would classify as a "Tour Grind" or not. After my fist round with it here's my take. I love it from 80 to 90 yds. This was what I was looking for on full swings. It complement my Eidolon 52° and my Cleveland 58° DSG. The only problem is the 20' of backspin I got on both full shots I took with it. The first one rolling out of the green and into the 1st cut of rough. I have to be careful when attacking the ball in a steep angle. This club will not bounce and will dig so fat shots must be avoided at all costs. Eventually I will get a matching set of wedges (same brad). Currently I'm comparing between the 3 and will choose the one that fits my swing better.
Agustin says:
Bottom line, know the bounce in your wedges and understand their strenghts and weaknesses; what they were designed to do. For example, do not use a high bounce wedge in firm sand with a shallow swing... The club will bounce off teh sand and you will top the ball. Do not play the ball forward and attack the ball in a steep angle with a low bounce wedge, if you catch it fat the ball will go nowhere.

Study and understand your swing, then pick the right equipment for you. Finally, when you are on the course and need to rely on your short game, chose the shot that matches your swing, ability and equipment and you'll do fine most of the time.

Now if I could only find some consistency maybe I could break out of my current slump... Man, is golf humbling. :(
twood says:
let me guess... bottom line, buy and eidolon wedge?
Tim Horan says:
It really is quite simple...If you want to play the same swing and ball position with all of your wedges and all of your shots you are going to need to buy differing bounce wedges (possibly no room anymore for hybrids in your bag). If you change angle of attack, ball position(same thing generally)open/ close the face to vary your shots, with practice you probably don;t need to worry too much about Tour Grinds. I will say (without wishing to be a toady here)Eidolon's dual bounce is probably the best "all-rounder" allowing a range of shots to be made without seriously having to compromise.
wedgeguy says:
Thanks for the kudos to EIDOLON, guys. To "cujofresh", my point was that the tour pros spend and have spent so much time on their short games, they have developed skills to an almost unimagineable level. To georgelohr, my point is that it's difficult to get a personal grind for a golfer who does not have "tour-like" skills, and plays the same kind of turf all the time. And to all, remember that if/when conditions change, the tour guys can go into the vans and get new wedges on a moment's notice . . . FREE. We have to have wedges that can handle anything the courses throw at us. No matter what wedge you are thinking of adding to your bag, it has to work anywhere, anytime. And if you are demo-ing a wedge, put it through that kind of thorough test.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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