Related: Watch Dubuisson make his great desert saves
Normally that might sound a bit odd. But in case you forgot, Dubuisson is the guy who produced those memorable (and multiple) saves from the desert during his WGC-Accenture Match Play title match against Jason Day. The club Dubuisson used for those shots was a 58-degree Titleist Vokey TVD K-grind with 6 degrees bounce, so naturally that was the club Dill went to work on.
And work it was. Normally stamping a club with a name or initials is a relatively quick task, but for the cactus Dill needed to hand stamp each one of the little dots (a close look at the photo of the wedge reveals approximately 200 dots, maybe more) that made up the shape of the prickly plant. Add in the time it took to do the green paintfill, and it added up to more than an hour that Dill spent on the club.
Fields: Dubuisson adjusts to the limelight
"It was an idea the guys came up with almost immediately after he hit those shots out of the desert," said David Neville, marketing manager for Titleist Vokey wedges. When Victor saw the finished cactus he said, 'Very nice . . . very nice.' "
Dill still had work to do, though. Since Dubuisson's wedges are one-half inch longer than standard, the extra length made the swingweight too heavy. To bring it back down, Dill drilled a pair of weight ports in the back, dropping 3 to 4 grams of weight and bringing the swingweight to Dubuisson's preferred D5.
As with most tour players who are waiting for work to be done on their sticks, Dubuisson had time to tell some stories to the guys in the van. "We asked him what he was thinking as he was getting ready to hit those shots," Neville said. "He told us he just wanted to play fast."
Photo courtesy of Titleist
Face facts: Bob Vokey (right) discusses wedge design on the range.
What if you could spend three hours with Bob Vokey, the longtime wedge designer for Titleist? Better yet, what if you could experience a three-hour wedge fitting with the master craftsman, then have him build wedges to your specifications? Now through 2014, anyone willing to spend $1,050 can have all of that.
As part of the Bob Vokey Hand Ground Experience at the Acushnet test facility in Oceanside, Calif., Vokey will take notes on grinds, bounce angles, yardage gaps and more. Then he'll build three wedges meeting your specs, including tour-only models. You can book one of these fittings by calling WedgeWorks customer service at 888-305-0582.
All yours: The options for customization are plentiful.
Cleveland golf, which has offered personalization options through its My Custom Wedge program for two years, is launching My Custom Wedge 2.0, featuring the new 588 Forged RTX wedges and a redesigned website that includes a gallery for golfers to share their designs. If you're the kind of person who knows what type of specs and paintfill colors you want, it likely will take you no more than seven or eight minutes to design a wedge.
Among the options: black pearl or raw finish, 24 grind combinations, seven logos, 20 paintfill colors and five "skins." Grip, shaft, length, loft and lie angle options also are available. The starting price is $150, but expect closer to $210 if you seek any true customization such as a skin and any personalized engraving. More info.
It has been more than four years since golf's ruling bodies set new limits on grooves to reduce the amount of spin produced by wedges. Since then, manufacturers large and small have been trying to get some, if not all, of that lost spin back. Here are four of the latest efforts.
Spin cycle: The latest from Nike, Renegar, Miura and Cobra. Photos courtesy of the companies
Nike's VR Forged wedges come in three new sole grinds: a standard grind based on Tiger Woods' preferences, a "dual narrow" (inspired by Paul Casey) and a "dual wide" (inspired by Francesco Molinari). The retooled Renegar Rx12 utilizes new heel relief to improve turf interaction on lob shots and other shots from tight lies. Also, a bead-blast finish is designed to improve face friction. Miura's New Series wedges feature the company's trademark precision forging process, with a revised sole grind and graduated offset (more on lower lofts, less on higher lofts). Cobra is releasing a limited-edition 8620 carbon-steel, nickel-plated Tour Trusty wedge with graphics created by Rickie Fowler. The milling pattern on the face is designed to maximize surface roughness.
If you're in the market for a Mother's Day gift, a giveaway from Wilson could make your mom a happy camper.
Send a tweet or upload a photo to Instagram, tagged with #FGTourTC, along with your favorite memory of your mom, and Wilson will choose one winner for its limited edition pink 60-degree FG Tour TC wedge.
Wilson says it's the only pink version of its FG Tour wedge line made.
Send a tweet or upload an Instagram photo with a memory of your mother, grandmother, aunt or mentor and this pink-colored wedge could be yours.
Here's a look at its specs:
--Loft: 60 degrees
--Bounce: 10 degrees
--Length: 34 1/2 inches (one inch shorter than its in-line version)
--Grip: A pink Lamkin R.E.L. 3 GENFollow @s_hennesseyGD
It's probably no coincidence that Graeme McDowell, the PGA Tour's leader in the "scrambling" statistic, won at Harbour Town Golf Links, where small greens test wedge play.
Here are the tour's five-best scramblers this year -- ranked by percentage of times they get up and down for par or better -- and their highest-lofted wedges.
1. McDowell's 58-degree Cleveland 588 RTX Forged has lasermilling between its "tour zip" grooves.
2. The sole on Justin Rose's 58-degree TaylorMade ATV is designed to keep the leading edge closer to the ground.
3. Charles Howell III's 58-degree Mizuno MP T-4 has wider, shallower grooves than lowerlofted versions.
4. Brandt Snedeker's Bridgestone J40 60-degree wedge has low bounce in the heel and toe.
5. Chris Kirk's 58-degree Callaway Mack Daddy 2 is a prototype with a new sole designed by Roger Cleveland.
Augusta National has long had a reputation as a course ruled by bombers who demolish the par 5s by going for them in two and making easy birdies and the occasional eagle. Ten years ago, however, Mike Weir won the Masters with a decidedly different philosophy -- one that called for a heavy reliance on his wedge game.
"Going for it in two is not always a bargain depending on the pin position," said Weir. "There are places where you can get a wedge closer than you can a long putt on those greens."
In 2003 Weir hit the par 5s in two just once (actually, zero times technically as the one instance he went for it in two the ball ended up on the fringe). Still, he played the holes in 10 under for the week. Among the key shots was one on No. 15 in the final round when he laid up short of the water and knocked a sand wedge to four feet, leading to a critical birdie.
At the Masters wedge play takes on a new dimension and importance. Sure, the scoring clubs are always critical, but when the field hits just 60.1 percent of the greens in regulation (as it did last year -- 12th fewest of all the courses on tour), making sure you have clubs that work around and into the greens is critical.
Accordingly, players have been readying their wedges for Augusta National for weeks. But unlike past years, there has been less grinding work done on the clubs. "We've been seeing more players looking for new wedges that match their current gamers, but with fresh grooves," said Mike Taylor, Nike's master model maker for wedges. One reason is the Masters used to present significantly different conditions than other tour layouts. Now more courses have tight, firm turf so the need to modify grinds is less. But since the groove rule was adopted in 2010, players have been looking for fresh grooves more often.
Fresh grooves weren't always sought for the Masters. In fact, before the groove rule players would often get new wedges weeks in advance in order to dull the grooves a bit prior to Augusta. There were two reasons, both of them having to do with excess spin. First, grabby grooves not only would spin the ball back too much on the fast and firm putting surfaces, but extra spin from fresh grooves often meant the ball would balloon, the added spin sometimes eating up as much as five yards in lost distance. For players who make their living by being precise with yardages, that's a non-starter.
Messing around with new grinds can be a risk. Altering a wedge's bounce may help it play better off the turf, but it can affect how it performs out of the sand too. There's also the inexact science of grinding a wedge. "There's no such thing as the perfect wedge," said Bob Vokey, Titleist's wedge master craftsman. "It doesn't exist. That's why I prefer to creep up on a grind instead of just taking a bunch off at first. It's like a haircut -- you can always take more off, but you can't put it back on."
As such, the attention has shifted from grinds to proper loft gaps, with a number of players asking for very specific lofts. A 52-degree wedge might be bent to 51 degrees or a 60-degree bent to 61 degrees. The pros know Augusta National well and know exactly the distances they need to hit these clubs.
Of course, sometimes players go beyond the normal limits. Like 153 yards. That was the distance of Bubba Watson's all-world shot from the right trees on Augusta National's 10th hole that led to his playoff win over Louis Oosthuizen last year. That shot was struck with a 52-degree gap wedge. Not exactly the same type of finesse Weir used with his wedges a decade ago, but the result was the same: a green jacket.
D.A. POINTS // SMother knows best
The Ping Anser is one of golf's most enduring putter designs. Just ask D.A. Points. At the Shell Houston Open, Points returned to an Anser putter made in the 1980s that he said he originally took out of his mother's golf bag when he was 11 or 12. According to Ping, Points sent the putter to them seven or eight years ago to be refurbished, including the addition of tungsten weights in the heel and sole areas to make the club heavier and more balanced.
"It's just a really good-looking putter, and I brought it with me this week because I just had been putting so bad," said Points after an opening-round 64. "I thought maybe I'll pull this old putter out of the garage and maybe it will have some magic in it." The club had plenty of magic during Points' opening-round 64, when he had 23 putts. For the week Points ranked 10th in strokes gained/putting en route to his second PGA Tour victory. As for whether or not Mom will be asking for the club back, Points said, "She might now. I've had it for a long time. I think she's been praying so badly for me to make some putts, she's probably happy for me to have it."
PING Tour Gorge
PRICE: $130 (Lofts: seven, ranging from 47 to 60 degrees)
D.A. Points hit critical pitch shots on the 71st and 72nd holes with these wedges that feature deeper, sharper-edged grooves than previous Ping wedges.
Lee Westwood changed to a Ping Scottsdale TR Anser B putter at the Shell Houston Open. The club comes with an adjustable-length shaft, which Westwood set at 38 inches. Westwood, however, does not anchor the longer-than-standard putter. The extra length merely provides a heavier weight that Westwood prefers. ... Friday in Houston Phil Mickelson ditched his driver and instead employed two 3-woods. Mickelson's second 3-wood was Callaway's new X Hot 3Deep model, which he used primarily off the tee. Mickelson continued with the dual 3-wood strategy for the weekend, finishing T-16 while ranking 40th and T-66 in driving distance and accuracy, respectively. Lefty also hinted that he had a "special club" he was considering for the Masters. ... At the Chiangmai Golf Classic in Thailand, Ernie Els took a break from his belly putter, using a conventional-length Odyssey Black Series i #1 model. The club featured a prototype version of Boccieri Golf's Secret Grip -- a grip that weighs approximately 155 grams (most putter grips are in the 50- to 60-gram range) to provide a counterbalancing effect to assist stability during the stroke. Els, however, said the putter would not be in the bag at the Masters, as he feels the greens are too fast for him to control the short putter. ... Although Ryo Ishikawa putts with a conventional-length putter, he practices with a belly-length model. Having become accustomed to the heavier rubber grip and wanting to maintain the same feel as with his practice putter, the Japanese star uses a Golf Pride B-140 flat front 21-inch mid-grip cut down to 13 inches on his Odyssey putter for competition.
On Thursday of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Phil Mickelson hit a tee shot on the 17th hole at TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral that came to rest on a cartpath 30 yards from the green, 50 yards from the hole. After weighing whether to take a drop, Lefty opted for the choice most knew he would.
Play it as it lies.
Photo by Getty Images
The move proved wise, as Mickelson clipped the ball off the paved surface with his Callaway X Forged 60-degree wedge and saw it trickle to nine feet from the hole, leading to birdie. Afterward, during an interview on Golf Channel, Mickelson explained the shot with characteristic swagger.
"It's a very easy shot," said Mickelson. "You'd have to be an idiot to open the clubface. You're adding bounce, and there is no way you're going to get the club under the ball. So I square up the face, and then the ball is going to come out five yards longer than normal, and the reason is at impact the club normally, in grass, is working down, but there is no way that is going to happen on the cartpath. ... Because of that the ball tends to pop up in the air quicker. ... I hit the path first, so the club actually worked up at impact, and that's why the ball popped up and went five yards farther."
OK, got all that?
Over the years Mickelson has offered explanations that sometimes raise an eyebrow or two. But in this instance his account of the shot makes perfect sense.
"Compared to a shot from grass, one off a cartpath will have a slightly lower impact location on the face as well as a slightly more level angle of attack," said Dr. Alan Hocknell, Callaway's senior VP of research and development. "The lower impact location is partly responsible for the added ball speed, and there will be less spin and a higher launch if the angle of attack is flatter." In other words, Mickelson's shot had the characteristics of a good tee shot -- high launch and low spin -- because the club was traveling on a horizontal path at impact instead of a downward path.
Mickelson's assertion it was an easier shot because he had green to work with also rang true. Because the shot had less spin, it was going to run out after it landed. If there had been less green to work with, it would have been difficult for Mickelson to get the shot close.
Mickelson's reasoning for squaring the clubface also was sound. Those familiar with the concept of bounce know that, as a general rule, lush or wet courses require wedges with more bounce while less bounce is desirable for those playing on firm terrain, the reason being that bounce elevates the leading edge of the club when it impacts the turf. When conditions are firm -- and you can't get much firmer than a cartpath -- too much bounce can lead to the club skipping off the ground with the leading edge striking the ball higher than desired, resulting in a thin or skulled shot. In some ways Mickelson was simply applying the theory many players use at the Masters and British Open, when they change to wedges with less bounce because of the firm conditions.
At the conclusion of his Golf Channel interview, Mickelson was asked if he honestly thought an amateur could play the same shot.
"Well now that they know how to do it, absolutely," said Mickelson.
Now you know why it works too.
Wedge issue: Vokey's TVD-K has many, many options.
Want to look like a tour player but lack a PGA Tour card? Titleist's new Vokey Design TVD-K wedges ($160 and up) let you add a variety of personal touches. The wedge comes in three loft/bounce combinations (56/12, 58/10 and 60/10) as well as two new finishes: California Chrome and Graphite Ion (pictured). The coolest feature of the TVD-K is the sole.
The design is based on Bob Vokey's work with Adam Scott, Jason Dufner and Ben Crane. The 56-degree has a wider, more cambered sole (better for use in the sand) than any wedge in Vokey's SM4 line. The 58- and 60-degree models have more bounce to help those who tend to dig into the turf. Everything from the aesthetic (toe engraving, personalized stamping, paint fill, shafts, ferrules and shaft bands) to the practical (grip, shaft and length/lie options) can be customized, leaving your inner tour player completely satisfied. More info.