Though Cleveland Golf is one of the iconic names in wedge design, the folks who produce the company's famous sticks aren't resting on their laurels.
For years Cleveland has offered the widest range of loft and bounce configurations in the industry, making every effort to offer a wedge that fits any player's needs. But since swing characteristics and playing conditions vary so widely, fitting players to the proper wedge has never been a simple affair.
To makes things as easy as possible for golfers, Cleveland's R&D department partnered with Swingbyte to produce a Wedge Analyzer that incorporates a motional analysis sensor. Weighing about 1 ounce, the device attaches to a fitting club and sends key data via Bluetooth to a computer or mobile device through a 3-D rendering. Characteristics like angle of attack, shaft lean at impact, and typical playing conditions are then utilized to determine the optimum sole grind, bounce, loft combination, and model (cavity back or blade) for the fitting subject. The technology also provides a visual image for the player's swing to help explain what's happening and why the specific wedge prescription is best for them.
To further explain the importance of getting the right wedge for your game and how the system works we recently caught up with Adam Sheldon, brand manager at Cleveland Golf, for a quick five questions.
How difficult was it to develop the Wedge Analyzer and why did you undertake such a complicated project?
We set out to design the RTX 2.0 series and came up with a great offering that includes a huge variety of loft and bounce options as well as a choice of blade or cavity back models. We did a lot of research and found consumers were not well educated when it came to wedge fitting and had little idea of how to choose the right model for their game. We wanted something that made it as easy as possible for players to find the right wedge and honed in on the Swingbyte analysis tool. It's unique because it measures how the club moves during the swing rather than how the ball flies. With a couple of swings we can identify attack angle and shaft lean, which is what you need to determine bounce and grind options. It's a unique way to fit and extremely simple for the consumer.
Why is it so important for the average player to get fitted for wedges?
If you go to the range you'll see people pounding balls with their driver but you only use that club a dozen or so times a round. 65% of shots in a typical round of golf are from 125 yards or less so it's pretty obvious that a significant part of your score depends on your wedge play on approach shots and around the green. It's a critical part of the game and having the right tools can make a big difference in terms of scoring. We'd like to see a lot more players taking their wedges more seriously than they do.
What does Cleveland's Wedge Analyzer tell people that they don't already know?
I could stump the vast majority of average golfers by asking them the loft of their pitching wedge. Nobody seems to know this relatively simple fact and have no idea how to start building their wedge set. At one time most pitching wedges were 48-degrees but those days are long gone and many game improvement iron sets feature a pitching wedge with around 45-degrees of loft. Loft gapping is critical to solid wedge play and our system takes the guesswork out by providing the appropriate wedge gaps to match any set of irons. We've compiled a comprehensive database that allows any player to figure out what they need. And because we offer both muscleback and cavity back models, as well as a graphite shaft option, we can make sure anyone can get a set of wedges that fits seamlessly into their iron set.
What's the biggest challenge when trying to educate players on the importance of wedge fitting?
The biggest thing is trying to open people's minds about fitting. If you can get someone to keep track of his or her shots during a round they would be shocked at how many shots they play in the scoring zone with their wedges. It's arguably the most important part of a player's bag, but very few people get it right. Once a player understands how their wedge play affects their scoring they want to get properly fit. We give players just about every option they need including bounce, loft, sole grind, shaft type and flex, and even allow them to customize the look of their wedges if they desire. All they have to do is give the Wedge Analyzer a quick try and they'll not only learn a lot about their swing but will also find out what clubs they need to optimize their scoring opportunities.
How can players find a location with the Wedge Analyzer and how do they go about getting fit?
The Wedge Analyzer is available at all Cleveland big box locations and also at our scoring clinics. Players can go to clevelandgolf.com and use the locator to find the nearest location or scoring clinic that's convenient to their home. Once you find a location, it just takes a couple of swings to find out how the club interacts with the ground with your particular technique. The bounce recommendation is based on angle of attack and shaft lean as well as some other basic questions the fitter on site will ask like typical playing conditions, shot preferences, the loft of your pitching wedge, and few other items. Within five minutes you'll have a much better understanding of your swing and what wedge design best suits your game. And since the system is designed to work indoors it can be done any time of year.