WE TESTED: 52°/8°, 52°/12°, 54°/11°, 54°/14°, 56°/11°, 56°/14°, 58°/9°, 58°/12°, 60°/4°, 60°/7° with True Temper Dynamic Gold S200 steel shaft
KEY TECHNOLOGIES: The SM4 (the “SM” stands for “Spin Milled”) has milled grooves for maximum allowable spin on full shots, while a milled, micro-edge face texture aids performance (creates spin) on partial swings. A special heattreatment process strengthens the metal in the clubface without affecting feel to increase groove durability and maintain maximum spin.
OUR TESTERS SAY: One of the top-rated models. Strong in all categories.
PLAYABILITY: Sharp leading edge effectively digs through rough, sand and all trouble lies; equally good from the fairway on full shots or around the greens.
DISTANCE CONTROL: One of the best wedges on full swings—repeatable results on solid strikes; predictable spin and trajectory on greenside shots.
FEEL: Soft and smooth through impact, easy to swing; slightly lighter weight is great for short shots around the green.
LOOK: Sets up square behind ball and instills confidence on all types of shots.
A few testers say it’s not appreciably better than the current Vokey wedges to warrant a change.
From Golf Magazine (December, 2011)
Inspired by the 2010 USGA rule limiting groove volume and edge sharpness, SM4 (“Spin Milled”) wedges are built with 17 individually made grooves. (More grooves mean that more edges contact the ball.) Each groove is inspected at the factory to ensure that it doesn’t exceed USGA limits. The 8620 carbon steel construction helps create a clubface that can be CNC-machined until it’s totally flat, has maximum face roughness (within the Rules of Golf), and can be heat treated to increase groove durability. Available in five sole grinds and three finish options (tour chrome, black nickel or oil can).
From Golf.com (August 31, 2011)
When it comes to wedges, the name of the game is spin, and thanks to the USGA's 2010 groove-rule changes, the clubs in stores today don't generate as much of it. The USGA mandated that today's grooves can't be as sharp or as deep as the old grooves, but Titleist says that players will generate a lot more spin with its new wedge—the fourth generation of the Vokey Design Spin Mill (SM4)—than its previous conforming-groove offerings.
While the tiny grooves that roughen the surface of Titleist's Spin Mill series remain, three major modifications built into the SM4 wedges should give golfers more greenside control.
The company's previous Condition of Competition (C-C) groove stayed comfortably within the USGA's sharpness limits, but the new SM4 groove is literally at the USGA sharpness limit. For that reason, every Titleist SM4 wedge made will be tested in the factory to ensure it doesn't exceed the USGA limit. Not every 100th wedge or just the wedges made for stars like Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker, Nick Watney and Geoff Ogilvy. Titleist will test every single SM4 wedge.
Titleist has not only made the SM4's grooves sharper, but the company has added more of them. Old Spin Mill wedges had 14 grooves, but the SM4 wedges have 17. Increasing the number of grooves creates more spin, but research showed Bob Vokey and the rest of Titleist's wedge team that too many grooves spaced too closely together actually decreased spin. The magic number is 17, the company said.
Finally, Titleist says a heat treatment applied to the SM4's face increases the durability of the groove edges without changing the feel. After hitting 400 bunker shots in a test, wedges that received the heat-treated created about 1,200 rpm more than wedges that had not.
The SM4 wedges, which will be offered with five different sole grinds and lofts ranging from 46° to 64°, have a slightly lower ball flight when compared with Titleist's Spin Milled C-C wedges. To make the transition from your irons to wedges easier, the leading edge of the stronger-lofted SM4 offerings (46°-54°) are more square, while the high-lofted clubs feature a more-rounded leading edge.
The Titleist SM4 wedges will be available starting Nov. 15 in three different finishes—Tour Chrome, Black Nickel and Oil Can—for about $130.