December 16, 2007
STREET PRICE $110WEBSITE: clevelandgolf.comTECH STORYThe CG12 features milled "zip" grooves that have 25 percent more volume than previous Cleveland wedges. The 0-degree angle to the sidewalls of each groove provides the extra volume and creates a crisper groove edge to improve spin. A special plating process during the final sandblasting maintains the consistency of the groove depth.PLAYER COMMENTS"It was easy out of the thick grass. Even on mis-hits there was great trajectory and consistency... Has a smooth move through the sand and is versatile on chip shots. It performed well from any lie. Consistent spin and balance... I love the way it sets up to the ball. Superior feel; it really grabs the ball. Chipping with it is just as good as you'd expect. Easy to control distance and height."HOTAn impressive bit of manufacturing that translates just as impressively into performance. Unmatched variety in its 16 loft/bounce options.NOTWatch out for excessive spin on full shots on the lower-lofted models.
STREET PRICE $110WEBSITE: clevelandgolf.comTECH STORY Featuring the same zip-groove technology as the CG12, the user-friendlier CG14 has a visco-elastic-polymer insert in its back cavity to soften vibration. In addition, it has just a hint of offset to accommodate a more forceful downward stroke through the turf.PLAYER COMMENTS"Cleveland is the Lamborghini of wedges. It looks really good in the sand, and the weight is well-balanced. Nice spin and biting action around the green... It did everything I tried to do... Very soft at impact. Excellent out of the sand, and I'm a terrible bunker player -- just easy to hit every time. I love the soft, forged feel. Works very well around the green, from thick and short grass. The clubhead comes out of any condition perfectly."HOTIn truth, a lot of players might feel more comfortable with this, the junior partner in the Cleveland wedge firm. It seems easier to launch, the feel is softer, and the grooves live up to their name.NOTFewer loft/bounce options than CG12. Why?
TITLEIST VOKEY DESIGN SPIN MILLED
STREET PRICE $120WEBSITE: titleist.comTECH STORYDesigners use a circular-saw type of cutting tool to mill grooves in the 8620 mild carbon-steel head. The result is more precise depths than ordinary wedges. The steep sidewall angle features 30 percent more groove volume than previous wedges. The intent is to maintain spin from the rough and wetter lies.PLAYER COMMENTS"Whoa -- great feel and softness out of the sand. Just feels like I can control it from any situation: sand, chips, full shots. Nothing not to love here... This is the essence of a wedge. It instills confidence. A real workhorse and does everything you ask. Easy to control distance out of the bunker and good control on chips. It's the Muhammad Ali of golf clubs... It makes going through the sand a breeze."HOTAs much a standard as the Ping Anser is in putters, this defines what a wedge should be. Bonus: The length, loft and lie angle can be adjusted for any of the eight wedges offered in this line. Two finishes is a plus, too.NOTLike a lot of sharper-edged wedges, it can eat the soft, thin-covered balls in a single bite.
STREET PRICE $110WEBSITE: callawaygolf.comTECH STORYForged from 1020 carbon steel, the 56- through 64-degree models feature wide and deep grooves to help boost spin and control. Designers tightened the heel-to-toe radius to improve versatility in shotmaking around the green. The C-shape sole grind provides smoother turf interaction when opening the clubface. Comes in the usual chrome or a rustable "vintage" finish.PLAYER COMMENTS"Shots really checked nicely. Very easy to manipulate for different shots and different lies... Excellent spin. Bounce is perfect for just about any job... My goodness, this performs so well out of the sand. The sole configuration allows you to lay it open as much as you want without bouncing it off the turf, making it ideal for flop shots."HOTThe regular tweaks to these wedges, not the least of which is the sole grind, continue to improve them. Philly Mick wannabes take note: four options at 60 degrees or higher.NOTOnly one bounce option at 56 degrees seems odd, if not deficient.
STREET PRICE $110WEBSITE: mizunousa.comTECH STORYTo make its wedges buttery soft, Mizuno constructs them from the same 1025E mild carbon-steel alloy used in its forged irons. The 1025E has less phosphorous and sulphur and therefore can be made to feel softer. The C-shape sole grind is designed to provide more relief in the heel and toe for better turf interaction. The teardrop shape is designed to make it easier to maneuver.PLAYER COMMENTS"It was so easy extracting shots from the sand, and the trajectory on the full shots was a little lower than the others, which I actually liked. Could easily put this in play... Real playable out of the high grass. Hits the low sizzle shot better than any wedge out there... Has a nice, muted feel -- good for controlled aggression."HOTNobody does forging like Mizuno. We like the look of the two finishes a lot better than other attempts, too, and the teardrop head shape is as comfortable and reliable as your favorite rain vest.NOTWould like more loft-bounce combos, and the odd-numbered lower lofts are confusing.
NIKE SV TOUR
STREET PRICE $100WEBSITE: nikegolf.comTECH STORYNike's staff of tour players contributed to the design of the SV Tour. The wedge uses a cast construction from soft 8620 carbon steel (45 percent softer than 17-4). Its machined flat face is designed to improve ball-flight consistency and control ball compression at impact.PLAYER COMMENTS"Out of the sand this pops it straight up and out every time... The spinniest of all the wedges on full shots, which really appeals to me. But it's not as if it's an out-of-control, rip-it-back-off-the-green spin... Chips so pure it's almost like lag putting... Great weighting, feel and balance. Getting through the turf wasn't an issue."HOTIt doesn't take a lot of fireworks to make a solid wedge.NOTThere appears to be no especially new or cool groove technology, and compared with the field, there's a woeful dearth of loft/bounce options on the black satin model, which has only three and none less than 52 degrees. Also, just three choices for left-handers.
STREET PRICE $110WEBSITE: pinggolf.comTECH STORYStarting with a head size and shape that good players prefer, the Ping Tour-W also incorporates elements for forgiveness and control. The use of a light polymer-filled insert with a tungsten weight in the toe is designed to position the CG low and to control the rotation of the head.PLAYER COMMENTS"Small and sleek. Real confident with this. Like you can hole a chip at any time. Great in the bunker, too... Good spin, good bite. The bounce is big, and it slides through the sand. It's creamy... I found this to have the best balance of all the wedges. And it's so traditional in shape that you would never know it's a Ping... You can't have it all with any one wedge, but this one has the most."HOTOne of the most technologically savvy wedges out there (three separate materials in the head), and the performance is just as strong. Two finishes and 13 loft/bounce options are very impressive, too.NOTGrooves are milled but don't break new ground, if that's your thing.
TAYLORMADE RAC SATIN TP
STREET PRICE $110WEBSITE: taylormadegolf.comTECH STORYRadiused pockets in the back of the face help dampen vibrations for better feel. The Y-cutter milled groove yields 3 to 4 percent more spin than the company's previous groove. Because of the softly radiused leading edge and the heel-and-toe relief grind on the sole, opening and closing the face at address is more aesthetically appealing.PLAYER COMMENTS"Leading edge is nice, crisp... Grabby. Really zipped back from full fairway shots... Love the control. It's like a putter with loft. And through the sand there's no resistance... The ball really got up when I tried flop shots. That was impressive. Never felt like I couldn't pull that shot off."HOTYou might not understand rac technology even with a scientist as your caddie (it stands for relative amplitude coefficient, or vibration control), but the truth is, these wedges have a residence on Main Street in Feel City, U.S.A.NOTThis tech-rific company hasn't significantly enhanced its groove technology in two-plus years. Limited loft/bounce options, too.