Master wedge craftsmen Bob Vokey and Aaron Dill spend countless hours each week on the grinding wheel at PGA Tour events getting wedges built to the exact specifications for some of the best players in the world.
Until recently, requests to smooth out grinding lines or add custom heel or trailing edge relief, beyond what’s currently offered on retail versions, wasn’t a possibility unless you carried a Tour card.
But with the introduction of Vokey’s new HandGround program, many of those limitations have been removed for the recreational player. Currently available with SM7 Raw — one of the most popular models on Tour — it’s now possible to request tour-level customizations, including additional heel relief, Vokey’s tour grind and a pre-worn leading edge.
“This takes me back to my roots — one player at a time, one wedge at a time, crafting the sole to the player’s exact specifications,” Vokey said.
Over the past year, Vokey has personally trained two grinders (Pedro Olivares-Cruz and Marino Diego) — Olivares-Cruz has spent 15 years in the tour department grinding wedges with Vokey — on performance and profile adjustments he’s implemented from working with players for more than 20 years. Some of those adjustments have turned into special grinds or personal touches in the current wedge lineup.
According to Titleist, Vokey will oversee the new HandGround program located in a new workspace adjacent to the Titleist Tour Department, inside the company’s headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif.
While the plan is to have Olivares-Cruz and Diego handle the bulk of the wedge workload coming through the shop, Vokey will still handle grind orders when time permits.
The program allows for a maximum of two adjustments per SM7 Raw wedge from a list of options. Many of the options offered come from the same list of performance adjustments tour players make on a regular basis — like matching a grind to turf conditions or a unique swing type.
Performance adjustments include a pre-worn leading edge to reduce effective bounce, which is beneficial for firm turf conditions or shallow swing types. Grind lines can be smoothed out to produce a better feel through the ground at impact, while heel and/or trailing edge relief reduce the possibility of the sole catching through the turf.
Profile adjustments (head shape) can be made as well and include a semi-square leading edge, thin top line and tour grind. Having a semi-square leading edge — the leading edge is straightened and made parallel to the first groove — can assist with alignment on pitch shots. A beveled topline is also offered to give the head a thinner appearance at address, particularly on the pitching and gap wedges. And for those considering Vokey’s tour grind, the profile has a softer look with rounded edges that eliminate sharp lines or edges on the head.
“This grind is for the player who likes a pleasing look,” Vokey said of the tour grind. “He doesn’t like the toe jutting out, leading edge jutting out. He likes a little softer topline with no sharp edges.”
Along with profile and performance adjustments, golfers also have the option to alter specific grinds. Vokey’s F Grind can be turned into an S Grind for those who want additional greenside versatility. Trailing and heel relief is available on the K Grind to make it perform more like a J Grind; the grind angles can also be softened on the L Grind to make it an A Grind.
Vokey’s HandGround starts at $195 per wedge — including BV Wings grip and 10-character stamping — with an additional $75 charge for HandGround services.