“One of the first things I discovered when I took my research to the Tour was that players needed more loft to combat the speed of modern greens,” says Golf Magazine’s technical and short-game consultant, Dave Pelz. “I built my first 60-degree lob wedge for Tom Kite in 1979. He carried it along with his sand and pitching wedges during the ’80 season and quickly became regarded as one of the world’s best wedge players.” In 1981, Kite captured the Vardon Trophy and the money title — the three-wedge era had officially begun.
Through the 1980s and ’90s, Tour greens continued to roll faster. “My research on the short game near the end of the last decade concluded that pros required even more loft to stop the ball quickly,” says Pelz. “One of the cornerstones of my teaching philosophy has always been that the closer you chip and pitch the ball to the hole, the more putts you’ll make. The obvious strategy, then, was to create the 64-degree X-wedge, which I did and offered to Tour players in the early 2000s.”
More than 40 players on Tour now carry four wedges, including Phil Mickelson. “Much has been made of Phil’s tendency to carry two drivers, but he also carries four wedges — including an X-wedge — that helps his scoring,” says Pelz. “My advice is to follow his lead and give an X-wedge a test run. You don’t need to adjust your technique to get the most out of it. Just keep accelerating through impact like you do with any of your wedges and you’ll produce the highest softest shots you’ve ever hit. They’ll stop quickly by the pin, too, giving you the best chance of making your first putt.”