Wedges

Published:

The most useful scoring club is also the least durable, so it’s the one many of us change most often...

For the first time in Hot List history, we awarded medals to clubs that aren’t the best performers. We’re talking about wedges. This year we evaluated only wedges whose grooves conform to the new condition of competition in the Rules of Golf. Though clubmakers could manufacture the more aggressive U-like grooves until December 31, 2010 – and therefore wedges with these grooves will likely be available in golf shops throughout much of 2011 – we want to look forward.

Our guiding question in deciding this year’s list of 10 wedges was: Which products created clever and effective configurations to overcome the rule change? The new grooves, which were in play on professional tours in 2010, have a smaller total volume and reduced edge sharpness. The goal, the R&A says, is “to reduce spin on shots played from the rough by highly skilled golfers, and thereby restore the challenge of shots played from the rough to the green.”

Whether this will result in a greater emphasis on driving accuracy or in a reduction of driving distance (two areas many believed would be affected by the new statute) has yet to be seen. Certainly tour players seemed to adjust quickly in 2010.

The plan is to implement the rule on grooves for elite-amateur events in 2014, and for all golfers no sooner than 2024. So you could stockpile old-groove wedges and parcel out their use in the coming years. If you wish to do so, we refer you to last year’s wedge Hot List (below). We also predict stores will sell the old wedges alongside the new ones through at least the first half of the year.

The principle that we’re playing the same game (just with less talent) as the world’s best appeals to us. We encourage all golfers to consider the same. We’re also excited by the prospect of leaving fewer chip shots short.

TESTED: HOW THE NEW-GROOVE WEDGES WILL AFFECT YOU

Our test was simple. Using identical 56-degree wedges (one with the new V-like grooves and one with the old U-like grooves), a scratch golfer hit 10 balls each for a 100-yard full-swing shot, a 40-yard pitch, a flop shot from rough, and a greenside bunker shot. There was no difference on bunker shots, but the old-groove wedges produced more spin on the 100-yarder (10 per cent), the 40-yarder (10 per cent) and the flop shot (45 per cent). Still, it’s possible the new conforming wedges could be more forgiving for you. That’s because most average golfers hit approaches short of the flag, and shots with new-groove wedges are more likely to release towards the hole.

CALLAWAY X SERIES JAWS CC
GOLD AWARD

CLEVELAND CG15 (TOUR ZIP)
GOLD AWARD

CLEVELAND CG16
GOLD AWARD

SCRATCH 8620-USA
GOLD AWARD

TAYLORMADE TPXFT
GOLD AWARD

TITLEIST VOKEY DESIGN SPIN MILLED C-C
GOLD AWARD

MIZUNO MP T-11
SILVER AWARD

NIKE VR PRO FORGED
SILVER AWARD

PING TOUR-S
SILVER AWARD