ClubTest: Wedges

Monday February 26th, 2007
Greg Lord

Bridgestone 33 Black Satin Forged
$159

We tested 52 degree loft/8 degree bounce, 56 degree/12 degree, 60 degree/8 degree with True Temper Dynamic Gold stiff-flex steel shaft

The company line "Exceptionally soft feel. The long hosel raises the center of gravity and produces a high-spin, low-trajectory shot for optimum control"

Our testers say The Bridgestone J33s created a lot of converts. "It's the best wedge you've never tried," said Kirk Fischer (handicap 7). "It's easy to flop, pitch, spin, run or chip." Most agreed this is a true player's wedge, which means it's more about performance than forgiveness. "They feel like blades," said Rich Sullivan (12). "Better players will embrace these wedges because they're pure and stable on center hits, but harsh with some sting on mis-hits." Kevin DiNapoli (19) agreed: "Chinchilla-like soft feel at impact. But too little backspin seems to limit control." Just about everyone found the J33s to be handsome devils. "The soft radius on the leading edge and thin top line look great at address, and the black finish adds to its charm--even if the finish does wear off quickly," said Jim Perzan (9).

Additional Comments:

"The J33 is right at home with touchy finesse shots."
-Hoai Hoang (8)

"Loft for loft, they don't seem to carry quite as far as others."
-Roger Liau (17)

"Feels like a perfectly roasted marshmallow, soft in the center and crisp on the edges"
-Randy Rochefort (12)

Cleveland CG11
$149

We tested 50 degree loft/8 degree bounce, 52 degree/10 degree, 54 degree/12 degree, 56 degree/14 degree, 60 degree/12 degree with True Temper Dynamic Gold wedge-flex steel shaft

The company line "The CG11 offers comparable spin and ball flight to its predecessor--the CG10--but more forgiveness"

Our testers say "Cleveland is synonymous with playability and these don't disappoint," said Lee Neisler (handicap 2). Mike Nastasi (7) added, "Shots land like a butterfly with sore feet." Our lower handicappers felt that the cavityback CG11s offered a little more help on mis-hits than comparable clubs. "They don't make a bad shot great but they do lessen the penalty," said Randy Rochefort (2). But some higher handicappers weren't convinced. "I don't find them to be any more or less forgiving," said Jim Esther (20). The cavity also impacted feel. "The perimeter weighting and newer metal alloy virtually eliminate any sting on mis-hits," said Hoai Hoang (8). Rochefort confirmed that, saying, "It's odd that bad swings feel good at impact.

Additional Comments:

"Distance and accuracy don't suffer on off-center hits."
-Rich Sullivan (12)

"The heavy head lets me know exactly where it is during the swing."
-Michael Kaye (14)

"On full swings, I can feel the ball working up the face for serious backspin."
-Kirk Fischer (7)

Taylor Made Rac Black TP
$150

We tested 52 degree loft/8 degree bounce, 54 degree/10 degree, 56 degree/12 degree, 58 degree/8 degree, 60 degree/6 degree with True Temper Dynamic Gold wedge-flex steel shaft

The company line "Same teardrop shape as the original Rac Black wedge with three key additions: deep 'Y-cutter' grooves, which grip the ball better; a reconfigured sole grind allows for more versatility; and larger "feel pockets" behind the clubface, which minimize unwanted vibrations."

Our testers say The new features paid big dividends for this wedge, particularly in the playability department. Roger Liau (handicap 17) said, "They're magnificent. When I said 'Bite!' It asked 'How hard?'" Jim Esther (20) concurred: "Tremendous spin despite my lack of swing speed. Are these grooves legal?" [They are.] And the Rac Black TP is versatile, too. "The sole can handle any lie," said Doug Lair (10). "I can turn down the toe and make it run or pinch it to make the ball dance." Testers also dug Rac's looks. "The no-glare finish is just my style," said Randy Rochefort (2).

Additional Comments:

"The gunmetal head with a slight cavity is very attractive."
-Michael Kaye (14)

"The ball sticks the landing like an Olympic ski jumper."
-Kevin DiNapoli (19)

"A soft, crisp feel and an ultra-stable head made me feel like Houdini around the greens."
-Jim Perzan (9)

Ping Tour Black Nickel
$115

We tested 50 degree loft/10 degree bounce, 54 degree/12.5 degree, 56 degree/13 degree, 60 degree/14 degree with Ping CS Lite steel shaft

The company line "A black nickel chrome finish creates higher spin rates for improved control, and a rounder sole profile allows golfers to set the clubhead in several positions to play a variety of shots."

Our testers say Most guys said they could execute just about any shot with these wedges. Which helps to explain why the Ping Tour earned top honors. "I hit nice high flops, low running chips, soft-landing bunker shots and knockdowns into the wind," said Rich Sullivan (12). Jim Perzan (9) echoed, "It's adaptable to any lie and the spin control is dialed in for accuracy." But a few testers would have preferred more spin from the Pings. "They're more ideal for bump-and-run shots than for throwing darts," says Don Skeahan (20). The soft rounded head grabbed the attention of Kirk Fischer (7). "It's comforting," he said, "but the antithesis of the angular Pings." The wedge earned its highest marks for forgiveness and distance control. "It's seamless on the short grass and tears through rough without wavering," said Roger Liau (17). Rich Bernstein (15) added, "A nice heavy feel for stability through impact." Lee Neisler (2) was sold on the Pings, too. "A perfect feel, like slicing butter at contact," he said. "Ship them to my home when we're done."

Additional Comments:

"Ping loyalists looking for more touch and feel on their shots have a winner here."
-Hoai Hoang (8)

"Use your imagination and away you go. Easy to finesse from all sorts of lies."
-Jim Esther (20)

"Center hits feel effortless--these get it done from all conditions."
-Kevin DiNapoli (19)

How we did it

Our club testers spent one full day with each of the four models. Testers evaluated clubs on the range and the course, where they played flop shots over greenside bunkers, chips from just off the green, sand shots and half-wedges from the fairway and the rough.

Where we did it: Grand Cypress resort in Orlando, Fl.

How they stack up: Testers voted on their faves using a 100-point scale. Our star system rewards the top picks

Club Bridgestone J33 Black Satin Forged Cleveland CG11 TaylorMade Rac Vlack Tip Ping Tour Black Nickel
Look 4 stars 3 stars 5 stars 4 stars
Feel 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars
Playability 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars
Forgiveness 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars
Distance 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars
Total Performance 3.5 stars 3.5 stars 4 stars 4.5 stars

*Ratings 5 Stars
Excellet
4 Stars
Very Good
3 Stars
Good
2 Stars
Average
1 Star
Poor

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