Best Wedges: Performance
The best clubs in each category of the Hot List reflect excellence in an array of criteria, as judged by our player testing. For wedges, our testers had a lot to consider when determining the performance value of a club. How does it work on full swings? How easily can it extricate the ball from the sand? Does it provide the kind of aggressive grab one desires when hitting delicate chips and pitches from around the green? These individual lists provide a way to identify the performance within the category. Here you’ll see how 32 players evaluated wedges, based on each player's interpretation of the criterion of Performance, with each achieving a minimum of 4.5 stars from our players in that area.
Golfers dream of sucking the ball back like they’re playing walk the dog with a yo-yo. Callaway’s groove design is an effort to get players there. A 37-degree wall angle enhances the sharpness of the groove edge for extra grab on full shots. Micro-milled grooves between the regular grooves are milled at a 20-degree angle, helping spin on greenside shots. The variable-length hosels on the sand and lob wedges help control trajectory and improve forgiveness. Tungsten—used for the first time in a Callaway wedge—helps position the center of gravity in the middle of the face for enhanced control and feel.
In 2017, Cleveland said that because 84 percent of everyday golfers were playing cavity-back irons, it made little sense to play with a wedge that didn’t match the rest of the irons in the bag. That led to the development of the wider-soled, cavity-back CBX wedge. Since then, the line has built on the original premise, adding more features along the way. The latest is the introduction of a loft-dependent face finish that increases friction at impact and combines with sharper, tighter spaced grooves for more spin.
When you have a proven winner, the temptation is to make modest improvements and move on. Not with these wedges. The amount of weight removed from the lower heel and replaced with the company’s ZipCore compound is nearly double from last year. The compound is a quarter of the weight of the steel it replaces, saving 21 grams that has been moved elsewhere to position the center of gravity toward the toe. This slightly increases the moment of inertia in the heel-toe and high-low directions to help mis-hits.
The T24 line has a thinner topline, shorter, more compact blade lengths and heads that transition in shape depending on loft compared to the T23. A straight-line look on the lower, full-swing lofts (for easier transition from the short irons) moves to more of a rounded look on the higher lofts to emphasize shot-making finesse (open-face shots in particular). Throughout though, the T24 maintains the classic teardrop shape better players prefer. Two new groove designs that are specific to higher and lower lofts provide more opportunity for the groove edges to interact with the ball for maximum spin.
With 25 stock options and six sole grinds, Ping wants to help as many kinds of swings as possible deliver the club efficiently through the turf. Spin is another important area of emphasis. The design of the grooves changes depending on the loft. Lower lofts feature volume to channel maximum debris on full shots. Grooves on the lower lofts (54 to 62 degrees) are tightly spaced so that the edges contact the ball cleanly. Throw in a friction-adding face blast, and you get more bite than an angry Rottweiler.
A clean design from groove to sole, the latest Milled Grind benefits from the machined sole shaping of its predecessors with enhanced spin. The grooves are the same as the Milled Grind 3 but have laser-etched diagonals on the flat areas between each score line to increase spin on partial shots and reduce spin loss in wet or dewy conditions. Redistributing weight to the perimeter on the higher lofts improves feel. Increasing the thickness of the flange in an area in line with the center of the face enhances sound and feel.
The new SM10 line is beyond complete with plenty of options for those savvy enough to get fit for wedges. The center-of-gravity location received particular attention. The smaller profile and shorter hosel lengths (on lofts 46 to 52) help drive the CG low to make the transition from short irons easier. In the 54- through 62-degree models, the CG has moved up, forward and toward the center to promote a lower, more controlled flight. The “spin milled” grooves have been updated and when combined with a texture between the grooves increase spin by as much as 300 revolutions per minute.