Top Wedges to Lower Your Score

Choosing the right wedge can be a daunting task; there are so many factors to consider. First, there are club attributes: size and shape; sole grinds that affect how the clubhead gets through the turf; textured clubfaces with precisely-engineered grooves to impact spin; shock-absorbing materials that play a role in feel and sound. Of course, selecting the right lofts to achieve consistent distance gaps between clubs is also important. It also helps to understand how you swing the club. Many players hit down steeply on the ball with a wedge and take deep divots (they’re referred to as “diggers”), while “sweepers” take shallow divots or no divot at all. In addition, the condition of the course (soft or firm) matters to what type of wedges you should play. There’s a lot to think about!

Having a basic understanding of the “ins and outs” can help the selection process, particularly since the top companies on golf build their wedges to complement specific swing types, shots, and playing conditions. Keep this in mind: Wedges have different sole curvatures and weight distribution. Many higher lofts, for example, have extra weighting positioned high in the head (hidden in plain sight) to produce a lower, flatter ball flight that’s easy to control in windy conditions. Regardless of loft, the proper tool for the job moves through the turf in an efficient manner, leading to solid contact and a repeatable trajectory. 

The point is, there’s no shortage of wonderful wedge designs to choose from. Do some research before buying, because having an ill-fitted wedge means you won’t get all the benefits from these high-tech instruments. Go ahead and talk to the team members at your local Golf Galaxy store. Learn what you can about the best models and get fitted for the ones you choose. Soon enough, you’ll be a short-game wizard saving strokes from anywhere on the course. 

Callaway JAWS MD5 

These babies can make the ball dance, whether it be on full-swing shots or little ones closer to the green. The “JAWS” groove, which is a holdover from the previous model, takes control on full-swing shots, while angled micro-grooves on the face prove their worth on open-faced shots like lobs and flops. 

Made from a mild carbon steel, the JAWS MD5 has two primary sole designs. The S-Grind, a medium-width sole with a moderate amount of metal shaved off the heel, will complement most swing types and turf conditions. The W-Grind, a wider sole with a lot of curvature (camber) from front-to-back, is for players with steeper swings or soft course conditions.

TaylorMade Milled Grind 3.0 

All wedge grooves will eventually wear down due to repeated use, so the majority of wedges are designed with chrome plating so grooves can maintain their shape for longer and limit the degradation caused by dirt, rain, etc. However, the Milled Grind 3 (MG3) features an un-plated clubface. Why? A “raw” face has no issues with glare on sunny days, plus, some players believe the face feels softer. Chrome or no chrome, the MG3 has ridges on the face between the grooves to help with spin. The ridges create a textured, abrasive pattern designed to grab the ball for more control on finesse shots.

In addition, the MG3’s weighting contributes to lower-launching shots that spin more than the previous model. Choose from three bounce options: Players with a sweeping swing should use Low Bounce; Standard Bounce; or High Bounce, for softer conditions and players who hit down steeply.

 

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Titleist Vokey SM9  

Groove durability can be an issue in wedges. Titleist uses a heat-treatment process that helps the SM9 maintain consistent spin qualities for more shots. The groove dimensions vary by loft, in order to fit the required shot and swing type. For example, the 46° to 54° lofts have narrower, deeper grooves for full swings; 56° to 62° have wider, shallower ones for partial swings. Of course, the micro-grooves impart spin, too. 

The SM9 comes in six sole grinds to fit a range of swings or playing conditions. In the D grind, metal is removed from the heel, toe and back edge of the sole. The wedge also has high bounce (the angle formed by the leading edge and the lowest part of the sole) to benefit those golfers who hit down hard into the ground or like to try shots with an open clubface.

PING Glide 4.0 

Feast your eyes on a wedge that delivers loads of feedback. The carbon steel head combines with an elastomer insert behind the hitting area for a soft, buttery impact feel. The clubface and grooves are milled to ensure a consistent product from club to club. In the lower lofts (46°, 50° and 52°), the grooves are engineered to max out spin on full shots while different dimensions in the 54° to 60° boost spin on more delicate shots. The gritty finish on the face creates friction (spin), which proves useful particularly in wet conditions. There are four sole grinds, including one that’s a throwback—the E grind, which looks similar to the one used in the iconic Ping Eye2 sand wedge with high-toe design.

TaylorMade Hi Toe 

The relatively unconventional head shape (high toe) and copper finish help this wedge stand out from the crowd. The high-toe design raises the club’s center of gravity (CG), which is intended to produce higher-spinning shots with a lower, more controlled flight. 

The grooves extend across the entire clubface in the higher-lofted heads (56° to 62°) but not the stronger-lofted ones. Many golfers get a confidence boost knowing the grooves extend to the edge when dealing with shots that require an open clubface and cutting across the ball. Made from soft 8620-carbon steel, the Hi-Toe comes in high bounce, standard bounce, or a low-bounce option that’s ideally-suited for firm course conditions and players who shallow out their swing at the ball.

Cleveland CBX Zipcore 

Think of the CBX ZipCore as a “game-improvement” cavity-back wedge so, yes, players should expect more stability and forgiveness than a traditional blade-style model. In order to improve the club’s mass properties, the company took weight out of the hosel and heel and redistributed it higher and toward the toe. In addition, the soft TPU (plastic) insert behind the face adds a level of smoothness at impact. 

The wide sole comes in three grinds (shapes), with one grind per loft because the company’s developed sole shapes to accompany specific shots and lofts. The V-shape (44° to 52°) is for full swings with a square clubface; the S-shape (54° and 56°) is for bunker play and open-faced shots; and, the C-shape (58° and 60°) is handy on open-faced shots as well as others requiring a nimble wedge.

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