Biggest Wedge Innovation?
First of all, thanks to all of you for the suggestions for a new name for "The Wedge Guy" column. I'm getting some great ones, and plenty to make me smile. Let's keep this going for a while.
In Friday's column, I took to task the complete lack of innovation in the wedge category, and a few of you called me on that. So, to help you understand why I claim that this is the most stagnant category in the equipment industry, let me share this little story:
An avid golfer is in a coma for 25 years. His family has been told he will never come out of it, so over time they sell all his belongings, including all his golf clubs and periphery gear. But miraculously, one day he snaps out of his coma and acts like nothing happened. He tells his family the first thing he'd like to do is go play golf, so they explain that they sold all his stuff, but would treat him to a shopping spree at Edwin Watts Golf. So off he goes.As I said, in my personal club collection, I have wedges from the 1950s, 60s and 70s that you'd be hard pressed to distinguish from modern offerings if they were re-chromed and treated with contemporary graphics. To learn more about why I think it's time for an overhaul of the short end of our sets, please listen to a podcast I just did with Tom Brassell, host of Edwin Watts Golf Better program — find and listen here.
But if you don't agree, I'd like for you all to share with me your thoughts about what you consider to be the biggest advancements in wedge design and manufacture, or any other aspect of the wedge category you'd like to address. Give us all your opinion about the feature(s) in modern wedges that have done for your scoring range performance what titanium did for your tee shots, what the modern ball has done for distance or what hybrids have done for your long club success.
I'm eager to read what you have to say.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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Matt McGee says:
I've got nothing. I was going to be cute and say, "The grips are nice," but I recently bought a vintage putter with a nice leather grip on it that's as good as anything in my bag.
I guess my question would be this: If I, when I'm hitting my wedges well, can put a golf ball within tap-in distance of a hole, then what sort of technological improvement would I even wish for in the golf club? Maybe something with an alarm in it that would go off when my alignment is wrong, or that knows when I'm going to fail to follow through when I swing? I think it's possible that there are only so many improvements to be made in some areas, although I'm sure the companies selling the next "new and improved" model of everything would disagree.
The last technological advancement in wedges was Gene Sarazen creating the sand wedge!!! Wait, I'm sorry Terry, it was SCOR Golf creating the Scoring System!!! You are correct Terry - it is time!!!
thing with wedges is that there's really nothing you can do to them OTHER than turf interaction. the job of the wedge is to hit the ball close to the hole from a closer distance. It's job is not solely to give you distance, but rather accuracy and ease of use. For that reason, there's not a lot that can be done. Taylormade did what they could with the face, making it replaceable - which offers you sharp grooves and a new face when yours becomes less than playable. Other manufacturers do the opposite making the club out of non-chromed finish so it rusts and becomes more abrasive - putting more spin on the ball and helping control. Terry (with others) has gone the route of developing a unique sole design i.e. turf interaction.
Basically, if it ain't broke, dont' fix it - but you CAN tweak it. Truth be told - no two wedges on tour are the same. The instant they're purchased (or provided) the wedges get re-ground, lead taped, and beat to heck. Just look at Mickelson's bag.
Lately i've been noticing that i'm unable to hit a higher shot off a tight lie with my wedges. This is because i purchased them before the 4161 series and had them bent to the proper loft. This increased the bounce on the bottom so i have a whole lot of it. Gonna take a belt grinder to it and put a little tape on the back to take a couple degrees off of the bounce.
I wish the xFT wedge had gotten a bigger push from TM, and caught on. I have one (56*) and I love it. I thought the idea of being able to drop $40 and have what amounts to a brand new wedge was great. Unfortunately, they didn't fly off the shelves, and that was that. I'd draw a parrallel between the xFT and Sony's Minidisc (anyone remember those?). Awesome idea, perfect for most people, but it just never caught on... though Sony did give minidisc a better chance than TM did with the xFT.
I don't see a major difference between a cambered sole and the SCOR V sole, other than marketing.
Terry's main innovation is the wedges going all the way up to 41 degrees. So I don't think the wedges themselves are changed, just the ability to buy identical wedges in single degree increments through a larger range of lofts.
Paying $40 for what amounts to a new wedge.....that mjaber, is the reason your wish never came true. Planned obsolesceince is key to the new golf club industry.
I have SMT Durometer wedges, which I like.. Spin milled faces and available in the bounces I like. Nice shape to the blade, and I have ground the soles to my liking. The composite insert in the hosel core that is there to reduce vibration & create a softer feel is definitely innovative, in my books. But not a big deal to me. I wanted to add a low-bounce 48* to fit into my rotation and could not get an SMT, so I looked at brands that fit the shape, weight, grind of the Durometers. Got a new Bridgestone West Coast Design for $48 that I got used to in about one round. I suspect shaft differences are more impactful than the subtle differences between similar wedges.
birdieXris is correct about turf interaction. I think the biggest innovation is the V-sole or the multiple cuts some wedges have these days. Before I got my Eidolon wedges, I had been looking at Solus wedges and they had a similar philosophy about the versatility of their wedges. I bought into their marketing but I was too cheap to get them at that time. I'm glad because I discovered the Eidolons. I can't wait until they wear out so I can get the 4161's.
I am surprise to still see some of us avid readers of Terry's column calling 4161 wedges.
I consider biggest advancement in wedge is the how it is marketed. Terry you are so right, it really hasn't changed in last 20-30 years, yet, somehow manufactures are able to sell it each and every new season.
Well, that is some good marketing...hide the loft, and market it as longer hitting club, rather than accurate club.
Genius marketing. That's what has changed in this very competitive field.
4161 is a game changer...looking at this so called wedge category into something new.
I like that some manufacturers are offering wedges not only in choice of lofts but also different bounces and sole grinds to suit the golfers.
OK, I've pulled out my oldest wedges.
A) The Ben Hogan Equalizer, Bounce Sole 1+. The weight is low and centered - the perimeter of the club has been thinned so it's all behind the ball. Very flat sole. Original "exclusive design" grip - grooved rubber, now like bakelite. typical steel shaft.
B) The Arnold Palmer Tru-Matic (sn#US4R30), also flat low sole, muscle back. Original Golf Pride "pro only" grip w/tooth pattern. This club has a unique aluminum shaft "Arnold Palmer by ALCOA golf company" with no graduations. Feels almost stiffer than the other steel ones.
C) Spalding SDX100 "century soles" (sn#10972), all the weight is across the bottom here with the lofted area quite thin. The sole appears to be slightly rounded and the ball contact area is clearly testured or stippled. Maybe it's pitted or acid etched - no grinding. Same steel shaft.
D) The Alliance Powerbuilt wedge has a one piece metal hosel, a triangular shaped head, a widow's peak muscle back, a matte finished contact area and the same steel shaft.
E) My Vokey's seemed to offer some advance as they are rusty, have grinding marks on the face, have degree markings, and label the bounce angles for enhanced specific usage. My 60deg Vokey also seems to have a compound sole "grind."
F) I now enjoy a matched and blended quartet of Eidolon clubs with V-sole technology, SCOR grips, The lengths, lies, weights, flex is all blended to my MP60's: a solid combination.
Kurt the Knife says:
I still like "Scorface"
Sorry for being skeptic, you have been saying the wedges today look very similar to those in the 1950s. Of course, the story is made up to emphasize your point. It never really happened. For young-ish golfers like me (age 31) have never seen a 1950 wedge, let alone played one. Can you post some comparison pictures?
I think the biggest innovation in wedges are the CNC milled face and the grooves. Like jrbizzle, I don't see any difference between V-sole and cambered sole other than a marketing thing.
Jerry Barber "Spur Wedge"---- www.ebay.com/itm/Jerry-Barber-Golden-Touch-52-He
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