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Equipment

Cleveland's tour-only wedges now for sale

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By Mike Stachura

In this era of widely available high-tech custom fitting, personalized accents on nearly every club in the bag and even drivers that can be built to colors matching your favorite football team, it is increasingly easy to experience what it's like to be a tour player. Now, Cleveland Golf is offering not merely the opportunity to be treated like a tour player, they're literally selling special versions of their wedges originally made only to be used by tour players. 

Certainly "tour-only" products have been available in select ways and on ebay for years, but Cleveland is making a specific effort with its new Tour Rack wedges to offer exclusive limited editions of its wedges that were made only for tour players' use. According to the company, these clubs previously never would have been available to the general public, but were set aside literally on a rack at the company's headquarters in Huntington Beach, Ca. (Having seen the boxes of heads before myself, I believe the expression "kid in a candy store" would be a fair assessment.) As Cleveland's Keith Patterson says, "These are wedges we allow our Tour guys access to, and if they love it, it goes in their bags." 

The company expects there likely will be a few different models of these wedges introduced periodically, but for now they will remain in limited edition (just 300 have been made) and only sold at highly selective locations, not on the company's website (call 800-999-6263 for participating shops). The Tour Rack Limited Edition No. 38 ($250) will be available in 56- and 60-degree models.

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Gear & Equipment

Vokey's SM5 wedge line turns blue

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By Mike Stachura

Increasingly in today's equipment landscape what used to be thought of as special and reserved only for elite players and extreme gearheads is now nearly as accessible as a polo shirt with an Augusta National logo. In short, if it's desired, everyone will be able to get it. 

Case in point is Thursday's announcement that Titleist will begin offering a new Limited Edition Vokey Spin Milled 5 Indigo wedge. The line extension incorporates the design technology of the SM5 line in a blue PVD finish that previously was only available through the Vokey Wedgeworks site and only in the 400 series Vokey wedges. 

"People went crazy for them," veteran Titleist wedge designer Bob Vokey said. "We took them to the PGA Show this year and everyone was gravitating towards the Indigo finish and asking us when we would offer it in SM5. Even some of the tour guys saw it and loved it, so we've decided to put out a limited release." 

It is available in two of the Vokey line's mid-bounce grinds, M and S, in 54, 56, 58 and 60 degrees. Like all SM5 models, it features a revamped groove that's 7 percent larger in volume for improved control on shots from the rough. The finish will wear over time, but will not rust. 

The Vokey Design SM5 Indigo wedges are available for a limited time through vokey.com ($185).

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Gear & Equipment

Renegar builds off past success with Rx14 wedges

By Mike Stachura

loop-renegar-wedge-518.jpgAt first glance, the appearance of the Renegar Rx14 wedges seems no different than that of the Rx12. On one hand, that's a good thing, because the distinctive cut-out sole design still offers the low leading edge and high center of gravity of the original. On the other hand, that's missing the rest of the story.

The Rx14 ($145) as deeper grooves that veteran designer Bob Renegar says increase spin by 3 percent. It's also cast from 303 stainless steel for a softer feel. Finally, the club's overall weight is 12 to 14 grams lighter.

But Renegar, whose work on the unique design dates to 1993, isn't done yet. Next up are plans for a new five-step forged version called the RxF that offers a completely custom-built four-wedge set matched for any number of parameters, including swingweight, static weight, length, balance point and lie angle.

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Gear & Equipment

Tour-player input drives design of Callaway's Mack Daddy 2 tour grind wedges

By E. Michael Johnson

When you work with as many tour players as Roger Cleveland, you’re bound to hear a few suggestions that will help you in your club design. Things such as a high toe. Or a straighter leading edge. Or a grind where the relief is ground from the heel and toe areas of the sole to help get the leading edge under the ball.

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Cleveland took all those suggestions and added them to the technologies of Callaway’s Mack Daddy 2 wedge line to create the Mack Daddy 2 Tour Grind. The wedge, forged from 1020 carbon steel, has the same large grooves and surface-roughness pattern as its predecessor.

The wedge is available in two finishes: chrome and slate. Lofts range from 52 to 60 degrees in 2-degree increments. Among those using the club ($130 each) on the PGA Tour are Patrick Reed, Matt Every and Freddie Jacobson.

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Golf & Business

Naturally 11-year-old Lucy Li will play some blinged-out clubs at the Women's Open (Video)

By E. MIchael Johnson

loop-lucy-li-wedges-350.jpgWhen 11-year-old amateur Lucy Li tees it up at the U.S. Women's Open, she won't be playing for money, but she'll have some pricey clubs in her bag.

Li carries a trio of wedges and a putter from Edel Golf. The 5-foot-tall Li was fit in Orlando in January, and the test results suggested she use 52-, 56- and 60-degree wedges with a "driver" grind, and a shaft that is an inch less than standard. The putter is Edel's Deschutes model at 32 inches long with a "pixl" insert and 2 degrees of loft.

The middle-schooler added personal touches, too, having her name stamped in purple with additional dots, circles and hearts engraved.

On the putter, her name is engraved on the toe and filled with pink paint.

All told, those clubs would cost more than $1,000. Hopefully she got a raise in her allowance.

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Golf Digest equipment editor Mike Stachura discussed Li's clubs, and the state of golf equipment today, in a weekly appearance on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive".




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Gear & Equipment

A latest reason to think Rory McIlroy has a shot at the upcoming U.S. Open

By Ryan Herrington

Certainly Rory McIlroy's recent form is reason to consider him a potential contender at the U.S. Open. But given the tricky short-game shots that will be needed at Pinehurst No. 2, a recent equipment change might be an intangible that makes the Northern Irishman a favorite in a few weeks.

Before his win at last week's BMW PGA Championship, McIlroy put a 59-degree Nike VR X3X Toe Sweep wedge into play. McIlroy told GolfDigest.com on Monday that the club's design helps hit slide through the rough more easily, which at any other U.S. Open would be of great advantage. However, the course setup at Pinehurst will be notable for its lack of rough.

Still, having a club that can easily slide under the ball and hold on Pinehurst's fabled crowned greens could prove invaluable in his major quest

Our equipment editor, Mike Johnson, elaborated more on the switch Wednesday morning during his appearance on Golf Channel's Morning Drive.


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Gear & Equipment

An equipment company that's forging a reputation on the PGA Tour

By E. Michael Johnson

Fourteen Golf might not be all that well known among everyday golfers, but PGA Tour pros have taken notice of the full-line equipment maker. Two weeks ago at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, 21 of its wedges were in play.

The company's latest introduction only bolsters its already worthy lineup of short-game clubs. The DJ-11 features a cavity-back design to distribute weight to the clubhead's perimeter and a wide sole to mitigate the penalty on mis-hits.

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The new wedge borrows the company's reverse-taper design, with a thicker upper-blade area that raises the center of gravity for a more penetrating ball flight. The forged wedges ($185) come in seven loft/bounce options and have a semi-gooseneck hosel to help the face square.

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Gear & Equipment

The new club in Rory's bag that helped him win at Wentworth

By E. Michael Johnson

loop-rory-mcilroy-wedge-300.jpgWhen Rory McIlroy signed his mega deal with Nike last year, everyone had an opinion on his choice of bats and ball. Of course, the only opinion that really matters is that of McIlory himself. In a conversation with GolfDigest.com on Monday, McIlroy discussed some of the key clubs in his bag during his win at the BMW PGA Championship.

You put the new Nike VR X3X Toe Sweep wedge in this week, a 59-degree (pictured). What appealed to you about that club to make the change?
The Toe Sweep is something I've been messing around with for a while and I felt like last week was a good time to put it in play. The one thing I really like about it is how well it goes through the rough. Some of those shots on the way in Sunday were key up and downs. The chip-in on 10 and the flop shot that I played on 14, those two were out of the rough. The way the club is designed it feels that it slides through that longer grass really easily and the ball comes out that much better for me. If there was one area of my game that I needed to improve this year it was probably scrambling, and this wedge helped a lot this week with that.

Getting the right ball/driver combination is a big key and you've done some experimenting. What is it about the VRS Covert 2.0 and RZN Black pairing that works for you?
This driver, the Covert 2.0, actually spins a little more than the original Covert, and that's a good thing for me. With how I like to shape the ball from right to left I want to see that ball stand in the air for a bit so it was good to get a little more spin. I know some guys like to be on the lower side of spin, 2,100, 2,200 [rpms]. That's great on TrackMan and great on the range and everything, but when you're out on the golf course it never hurts to have a little more spin. It's nice to hit it long and maximize your distance, but I like to be on the higher side of spin because I feel like I can keep my ball flight a little tighter. Out on the golf course with the length that I'm hitting it, it's key for me to hit fairways. But I have picked up some ball speed with this ball-and-driver combination that I've been using for about eight months now. Driving the ball well is the foundation for my game, and whenever I'm driving it well I generally tend to produce good results. It's been a huge improvement.

How key is the driver shaft in that equation?
I'm using a Mitsubishi Kuro Kage shaft. The thing about shafts is that it really is a process of elimination. You try a lot and you trust the guys you work with that they're going to come to you with some good options that will produce what you like to see with your ball flight. I used the Diamana for a while and that worked well, but I felt like that shaft with the new driver head was spinning a little too low for me so we went to the Kuro Kage and I saw the spin rate come up just slightly, which I felt was more playable. Obviously shaft is very important and there are so many shafts out there that there's a lot of trial and error, but eventually you're going to find the right one that fits you and this one does.

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Gear & Equipment

Tour Edge goes a little less exotic but no less cool with CB PROs wedge

By Mike Stachura

Tour Edge's Exotics line has long been about bringing new materials and manufacturing techniques to traditional-looking club designs. Its new CB PROs wedges, however, employ the familiar to go with the fanciful.

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The material is well-proven carbon steel, and the manufacturing technique—this is the company's first forged wedge—is the oldest in the game. Yet the face of the club ($100, available in lofts of 50, 52, 54, 56 and 60 degrees) is definitely New Age through the use of a redesigned groove that is deeper than previous Exotics wedges.

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Additionally, the club utilizes enhanced surface roughness through two laser-etched micro-grooves between each full groove. "We saw about 10-20 percent more spin on the shortest shots," says company founder and chief designer Dave Glod. "We found two micro etchings added more spin than three or four."

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Gear & Equipment

Titleist offers new models, grinds in Vokey TVD wedges

By Mike Stachura

Ideas for Titleist wedge guru Bob Vokey become real on the grinding wheel. The latest updates are to the Vokey TVD (tour van design) line. New models include the TVD-M grind, with a crescent-shape, mid-bounce sole, and the TVD-K, with a wider, more cambered sole.

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Compared with Vokey's recently launched SM5 line, the TVD-K grind sole isn't as wide, and the TVD-M has more effective bounce. Both grinds use the same TX3 grooves found on the SM5 wedges, which have more depth for better spin and distance control.

The TVD models are available at the WedgeWorks Exclusives line on vokey.com ($160).


 

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July 28, 2014

GolfWorld Monday

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