Five wedges to enhance short-game control, golf wedges, golf equipment

1 of 7 Robert Beck/SI
Spin Control Five new wedges designed to enhance your short-game control. New regulations on conforming grooves take effect next January for pros like Phil Mickelson (it'll be 2014 for high-level amateurs and 2024 for "casual" players). Specifically, the cross sectional area must have a smaller width and depth, and groove-edge sharpness must be rounder than current U-grooves. So how does it affect you? Starting in 2011, companies must only make clubs with the "new" groove. (Firms can sell an existing model next year until it's out of stock.) Casual players should consider the following options: Stick with your current wedges; stock up on wedges (like the ones here) that feature existing U-grooves; or switch to wedges with new-for-2010 grooves that produce less "bite" on shots from the rough.
2 of 7 Schecter Lee
Adams Idea a30S Chipper $89, steel; adamsgolf.com Tim Reed, VP of R&D:"Our goal with this is simply to make it easier to get the ball on the green and consistently closer to the hole. It's about adding a versatile club to your bag that you can rely on every time you play." How it works: Obviously, this isn't your classic wedge. We suggest you stroke it like a putter to tackle an array of greenside shots. The hybrid-like head has a broad cambered sole to help it glide across the ground with little disturbance. The club comes in a single loft (37°, similar to an 8-iron). A bright white alignment aid, extra-long Winn grip (choke down without grabbing the steel shaft) and the firm's "Boxer" weighting technology add to its user-friendliness.
3 of 7 Schecter Lee
Callaway X-Forged $109, chrome finish; $119, vintage finish; callawaygolf.com Roger Cleveland, Chief Designer, R&D: "X-Forged wedges feature our 'C-Grind' sole, a popular grind on Tour that relieves the heel, toe and trailing edge. Our 'Mack Daddy' grooves are also the biggest, nastiest ones out there." How it works: The forged carbon steel heads have material shaved away in the heel, toe and back edge to produce a "C-shaped" sole. This limits turf interaction and enables you to lay the face open while keeping the leading edge snug to the ground. "Mack Daddy" grooves have the maximum permissible depth and width, for optimal spin, trajectory and distance control (in 52°, 54°, 56°, 58°, 60°, 62° and 64° lofts).
4 of 7 Schecter Lee
Nike Victory Red Forged $109, steel; nikegolf.com Tom Stites, Director of Product Creation: "The inspiration for VR Forged comes from years of designing wedges, as well as what we learn from Tiger and our Tour staff. We put these things together and marry them with the craftsmanship we have from 20-plus years of experience." How it works: Better players will appreciate the look and feel of these forged carbon steel heads. Aggressive "high rev" grooves are milled to the Rules limit for increased shot control. The versatile, Tour-inspired heel grind allows for plenty of shotmaking from various lies.
5 of 7 Schecter Lee
Ping Tour-W TS $109, steel; pinggolf.com Mike Nicolette, Senior Design Engineer:"The Tour-W TS plays like our current Tour-W in the square playing position. Performance differences occur, however, when you rotate the clubface open. On these shots, the leading edge of the Tour-W TS stays tighter (closer) to the ground, for more consistent contact." How it works: The TS (for "thin sole") gives you more freedom to play finesse shots. (At the same time, however, thin-soled clubs require greater shot precision.) A 13-gram tungsten toe weight combines with the tall, heavy hosel to shift weight farther to the heel and toe. The net effect is increased inertia, which allows the head to remain steady through impact. The black thermoplastic plug (3 to 28 grams) is used to control swingweight. Comes in 58°, 60° and 64° lofts.
6 of 7 Schecter Lee
Scratch 1018 $149, steel; scratchgolf.com Ari Techner, President and CEO: "Our forged wedges (made from 1018 carbon steel) are the softest in golf. We custom-fit based on swing type (sweeper/slider, driver/slider or digger/driver) as determined by your angle of attack and divot." How it works: Scratch Golf offers two sole grinds for each swing type. One grind is for lower-lofted wedges that typically aren't laid open. A second grind, for higher lofts, allows you to open up the face on bunker or flop shots. (The fitting process pays little attention to turf conditions.) Driver/slider swings, for instance, produce small to medium divots, require moderate bounce [see the club pictured below], a medium sole and moderate camber.
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Our exclusive research partner, Hot Stix Golf, robot-tested the five models in this article, with the clubs making the same consistent backswing (comparable to one-quarter swings). Results show the measured backspin (in revolutions per minute) for each 56° wedge. Note: We included the Adams Idea a3OS Chipper despite its lower (37°) loft. Hot Stix Golf is the largest independent clubfitting lab in the country. It provides Tour-level club fitting services to professionals and amateurs of all abilities. To learn more, visit hotstixgolf.com or call 877-513-1333. More Equipment: • Buyer's Guide: Wedges • Iron & Wedge Home Page • The Shop Blog