June 24, 2015

About Face

How wedges regained their edge

When the USGA rolled back the rules on grooves starting in 2010, the fear was that the ability to get short shots close to the hole would suffer. But five years later, the data suggests otherwise. The PGA Tour averages for scoring, proximity to the hole from the rough and scrambling (even at U.S. Opens) are all slightly better than before the rule change (which restricted a groove's volume and edge sharpness). Sure, tour players have adapted, but designers have, too, rethinking head shapes, surface roughness and sole grinds. Here are six interesting examples.

1. CALLAWAY MACK DADDY 2 PM GRIND

Phil Mickelson's input led to the high-toe shape and grooves all across the face for more friction on flop shots. PRICE: $130

2. CLEVELAND RTX 2.0 WIDE SOLE

It has the standard 2.0's sharp groove and friction elements, but the big bottom mixes less bounce with more stability through the turf. PRICE: $150

3. TAYLORMADE TOUR PREFERRED EF

Instead of a cutting tool, designers chose an electro-chemical process to form sharper edges on a durable nickel-cobalt face insert. PRICE: $160

4. BEN HOGAN TK-15

The variety of lofts (every single degree from 48 to 63) is bolstered by a sole with more bounce on the front and less on the back. PRICE: $150

5. TITLEIST VOKEY DESIGN SM5 RAW

The raw finish is preferred on tour for its reduced glare. Now it's a consumer choice, along with custom stamping. PRICE: $180

6. WILSON STAFF FG TOUR TC

The gun-blue finish grabs the eye, but the milled groove's angled walls and laser-etched lines between grooves will better grab the ball. PRICE: $110