The Death of High-Loft Wedges?
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unless you've been living in a cave deep in the mountains of Afghanistan, you are aware that the Rules of Golf that define the groove geometry on irons and wedges is in the middle of changing. After 1/1/2011, we manufacturers will have to forever change the shape, depth and spacing of grooves, as defined in the Rules of Golf by the USGA and R&A. Essentially, new wedges and irons will have slightly less groove volume per inch of face, and those grooves will have radiused edges, rather than the sharp "ball-eating" edges we’ve been accustomed to the past few years.
The question remains as to what effect this will have on the average golfer, but the impact on tour scoring – which was the target of this rule change – appears to have been minimal. This column is in response to the question I received this past week from Scott S. regarding the impact on the 64* wedge specifically:
"Recently there have been a couple of popular instructors insist that the 64 degree wedge costs most amateurs strokes, rather than save them. And Peter Kostis recently said that with the new groove changes the 64 is dead. Your thoughts on these two topics and your opinion on the 64 in general would be awesome."Well, Scott, I’m in complete agreement with Kostis on both these points. I see golfers have lots of trouble with most 60s, and that would just be aggravated by the additional loft of a 64 or more. Lob wedges take lots of practice time to master if you want them to save you strokes rather than cost you. Few golf courses have greens that are so fast and firm that we really need that extra loft, and controlling shot trajectories and spin on higher-loft wedges is a skill that takes time to learn – time most of us won’t invest in our short games.
Now, I fully expect to hear from a lot of readers who absolutely love their lob wedges, and that’s great, because I’m addressing trends here, not specific golfer cases. But in my observation, most golfers are much better with their 55-58 sand wedges around the greens and could really benefit greatly from a 53-55 degree “mid-wedge” as their primary scoring tool. This is going to be even truer with the new groove geometry on the 2011 wedges.
At EIDOLON, our testing and observation with golfers of all skill levels is that the new groove geometry really isn’t going to have that great an impact. From clean fairway lies and shots of 60 yards or more, clubhead speed takes care of spin for most players. From the rough . . . yes, you will see more of a “flyer” trajectory and distance, but not that bad. Around the greens on shorter shots, most golfers experienced only a slight difference in the spin and roll-out of these little pitches and chips. What we did notice, and have measured, is the fact that a slightly lower loft actually generates more spin with the new grooves. That’s because as loft increases, the ball tends to slide up the face more than with current grooves and their sharp edges. So, we found our test golfers actually getting better spin with wedges in the 56-60 degree range than with those of 62-64 degrees. And some – mostly mid- to high-handicappers – got improved spin performance with the “mid” wedges of 53-55 degrees than with their sand wedges.
That would cause us to believe that the higher-loft wedges are going to become less and less popular, as they will become even harder for typical recreational golfers to master to any degree of shotmaking consistency. By the way, the “what’s in the bag” reporting on tour players is showing more and more having a 58* as their highest lofted wedge, rather than a 60*. Food for thought . . .
Thanks for your question, Scott, and congrats on winning this week’s FREE EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge.
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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So the real question now is, will Scott S. pick a 60* lob wedge and get it customized to 62*? :)
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