Titleist Vokey SM9 wedges: What you need to know
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The new Titleist Vokey SM9 features the first redesigned groove on a Titleist wedge in six years along with a progressive center-of-gravity position to help assist flight and control, particularly with higher lofts. The wedge comes in 23 loft/bounce options covering six sole grinds.
AVAILABILITY/PRICING: The Titleist Vokey SM9 wedges are available for pre-order through golf shops and Vokey.com beginning Feb. 17 and are scheduled to be in stores on March 11. Three finishes are available. Price is $179 per wedge. A number of custom options including toe engraving, stamping and custom paintfills are available via the company’s WedgeWorks program.
THE DEEP DIVE: It would be easy to look at the extensive loft/bounce/grind lineup of Titleist’s new Vokey SM9 wedges and surmise the company is just trying to cover as many bases as possible. That might be true, but it is with a distinct purpose.
“Grinds are a performance technology,” says master craftsman Bob Vokey. “Finding which one is right for you has a direct impact on your short game and score. It takes some education. You need to know how you swing, what conditions you play in most often and understanding how various grinds can benefit you. Remember, your swing travels with you.”
As such, the new SM9 offers six grind options with a total of 23 different models ranging in lofts from 46 to 62 degrees.
That’s a lot of options, so where to start? According to Vokey, the optimum area for a ball to contact a wedge is between the second and fifth scoreline. Doing so tends to produce a lower, more controllable flight with high spin. Strikes above the fifth scoreline have a tendency to launch higher and fly shorter with less spin. Hence the need to determine the proper grind to ensure the best contact and turf interaction, particularly on the shots you hit most often. If you’re unsure, Vokey offers a starting point recommendation: go with more bounce in the sand wedge and less bounce on the lob wedge.
“It’s important to realize that you probably don’t need the same grind for all your wedges. You use a 50-degree gap wedge a lot differently than your sand wedge and your sand wedge differently from your lob wedge,” notes Vokey. Additional help can be found on the Vokey wedge selector at Vokey.com.
Vokey is fond of saying the PGA Tour is “the best R&D team I could ask for,” and input from those who play for pay was taken into consideration. Their desire was fairly straightforward—don’t mess with the SM8 but a little lower flight with some added spin would be nice.
To that end, the SM9 maintains the center-of-gravity position in front of the face that assists squaring the clubhead at impact. However, the CG has been slightly raised in the vertical direction by adding weight higher up in the clubhead (which is essentially invisible to the eye thanks to a tapered area at the rear of the toe). Progressive hosel lengths also help raise the CG, particularly in the higher lofts, to help prevent those shots from ballooning in the air, instead producing a lower, more controllable flight—or exactly what you want when pinseeking.
Spin consistency was addressed as well with the first groove revision since the SM6. A new “spin milled” cutting process is employed using a cutter that creates the entire scoreline instead of a partial scoreline. The result is tighter manufacturing tolerances for a more consistent scoreline edge radius, allowing the grooves to be sharper and closer to the USGA limit. The edge radius is rounded so the edge lasts longer. That, coupled with a heat-treatment process, helps with spin retention. Micro-grooves are cut between the grooves to add spin on partial shots.
The Titleist Vokey SM9 wedges are available for pre-order through golf shops and Vokey.com beginning Feb. 17 and are scheduled to be in stores on March 11. Three finishes—brushed steel, tour chrome and jet black—are available. Price is $179 per wedge. A number of custom options including a raw version, toe engraving, stamping and custom paintfills are available via the company’s WedgeWorks program.