Wedges are an interesting category as it often can be difficult for a manufacturer to come up with a technology story that resonates with consumers. TaylorMade was able to make some inroads with its original Milled Grind and Milled Grind Hi-Toe wedges, and now is seeking to expand on an already solid idea with its Milled Grind 2 and intriguingly named Milled Grind Hi-Toe Big Foot wedges.
“We have a good foundation and we’re building off it instead of jumping around and trying lots of different things,” said Brian Bazzell, TaylorMade’s vice president of product creation. “Now we’re landing on some good spots and building off them.”
Bazzell said there were three things it was important to get right in a wedge design: spin, feel and precision. The Milled Grind process already delivered on the precision on the leading edge and sole design, but in player testing the feedback was the feel could be a little better and players will always take more spin if they can get it.
To address feel, the company opted for a new raw face design, forgoing chrome plating. Long a favorite of tour players, the new raw head provides a couple of advantages. In addition to a slightly softer feel and less glare at address, there is an added consistency to a raw head.
“When you have more layers, it’s more difficult to hit your tolerances because the layers stack up,” said Bazzell. “Without that extra layer, we are able to target a more aggressive groove design because we don’t have to worry about tolerances. That allows us to start with a better edge that offsets the faster degradation of the grooves due to not having the chrome layer. It removes a variable, which is important.”
The new ZTP raw grooves have a narrower width, deeper depth and sharper edge radius, which combine with a new laser etching between the grooves to deliver more spin. The laser edging helps produce a surface roughness that helps prevent the ball from skidding up the face. The design is based heavily on the groove design for Tiger Woods and adds one to two more grooves from the original Milled Grind based on the wedge loft. According to Bazzell, the benefit can be as much as 200 rpms additional spin from the original Milled Grind wedge.
To address feel, a new thick-thin design was utilized. Using a design optimization tool previously only used in metalwoods and irons, TaylorMade discovered that having a thicker backing and thinner outer area boosted the quality of the sound and feel. The face thickness increased to 6.5 millimeters from 5.1mm and the topline was reduced to 4.5mm. A TPU insert in the rear cavity helped reduce some of the added weight from the thicker head while delivering vibration damping.
The wedges come in lofts ranging from 50 to 60 degrees in two-degree increments. Along with the standard bounce sole, there is a C-grind low bounce option in the 54- through 60-degree models.
Available in satin chrome and matte black, the new Milled Grind 2 wedges sell for $170 each. The shaft is True temper’s S200 and the grip is Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet Burgundy 360.
Along with the Milled Grind 2, the company also is introducing a line extension to its Hi-Toe wedges with the Hi-Toe Big Foot. As the name suggests, the wedge boasts a very wide sole, providing, in effect, a super-game improvement wedge option for players who suffer grief around the greens. In addition to the wide, asymmetric C-grind sole with 15 degrees of bounce, the center of gravity has been moved more toward the toe, where most everyday players tend to hit shots with their wedges. The sole design also has an anti-dig leading edge design that is blunter and beveled with more bounce toward the toe apex.
Available in 58 and 60 degrees, the Hi-Toe Big Foot wedges ($170) come with KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 115 steel shafts or UST Recoil (65 grams with SmacWrap) in graphite.