The most interesting club in Brooks Koepka’s bag will surprise you
FORT WORTH, TX — Before Brooks Koepka turned into a human Howitzer and started winning major championships in bunches, he was a wiry college grad just trying to make enough scratch and a name for himself on the European Tour’s developmental circuit.
It was during the summer of 2012 while playing in England, Italy, Norway and Kazakhstan that Koepka learned some valuable lessons about his equipment — particularly the lob wedge he was carrying at the time.
Coming from Florida, where course conditions were practically pristine, Koepka found himself tackling rock-hard fairways and uber-tight lies around the greens on a regular basis. Recognizing a reduction in bounce on his lob wedge could be beneficial — less bounce allows the leading edge to sit tightly against the turf for consistent contact on firm conditions — Koepka began working with a lower bounce Titleist Vokey TVD M-Grind.
“When we first started making TVD’s, they were really low bounce,” said Vokey Tour rep Aaron Dill, who has worked closely with Koepka on his wedges over the years. “They’ve evolved over time to a little bit different shape, grooves, sole evolution. But as the wedge continued to evolve, we had some players ask for even less bounce, which brought about the TVD M-Grind L that Brooks picked up.”
The forward bounce on a standard low bounce TVD M-Grind is measured at 40 degrees, which comes out to 10 degrees of bounce. While that number might be sufficient for some players, Koepka wanted to take the lob wedge to another level.
“He took things a step further for sure and we went down to 36 [degrees forward bounce] and reduced the camber,” Dill said. “What he essentially ended up creating is this low bounce skid plate. He wanted to figure out that perfect bounce and how he wanted it to feel going through the turf, and being a low bounce guy, that wedge offers him a ton of versatility around the greens.”
Koepka may be built like a strong safety and possess the tools to pummel a golf ball into the stratosphere, but it’s his touch around the greens that has carried him for stretches during major championship victories.
“Everyone wants to talk about his length, but he’s got some terrific hands and delivers the wedge impeccably,” said Dill, who makes Koepka anywhere from four to six lob wedges per season. “He’s able to get away with having very little bounce because of his short game prowess.”
So how much bounce are we talking on Koepka’s lob wedge? It’s somewhere in the four-degree range, a number that’s rarely seen on even the lowest of low bounce lob wedges.
“When you talk about someone who has quick speed through the ground, they want to feel that slippery motion through the turf,” Dill said. “More bounce tends to make things slow down a little bit and feel sticky. For Brooks, he just wants to go through the ground as quick as possible.”
As for why Koepka continues to play an old SM4 head instead of having his highly technical grind transferred to an SM7, the decision comes down to comfort.
“What I’ve learned over the years from working with Brooks is that he doesn’t change anything,” Dill said. “So if I go to him and say, ‘We made you this wedge, but it’s modern, he might kind of take a step back and say he doesn’t want to do that. We try and keep his exact same model on hand at all times because we want to keep him happy.”
Dill confirmed discussions have been made about modernizing Koepka’s wedge, but only one other player he works with uses the same lob wedge model: former PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang. And Yang’s wedge is a custom job as well.
As for the rest of Koepka’s wedge setup, it’s night and day from the lob wedge. His Vokey SM7 Raw 52-12S and 56-10S are stock right out of the drawer and require very little work. Koepka tends to use the other two wedges for full shots and rarely has to manipulate the face, something he does all the time with the lob wedge.
“If you asked Brooks what the most dominant short game wedge is in his bag, I’m sure he’d say the 60,” Dill said. “It’s the one club he can really get creative with when he needs to in certain situations.”
It’s because of Koepka’s creativity and the trust he has in the wedge that he was able to come out on top once again at a major championship. Not bad for a lob wedge born years ago on the European Tour’s developmental circuit.
To receive GOLF’s all-new newsletters, subscribe for free here.