Wedges

wedges featured image

You drive for show. You putt for dough. But what about those tricky shots around the green that, more times than not, we fail to get up and down? Why has this become such an overlooked portion of our game? The pros put in an incredible amount of time on their short game and greenside shots – some estimate well over 50% of their practice time – perhaps it should be a focus for you too. The next time you are left with a dicey pitch shot to salvage the round of a lifetime, you’ll be thankful you put in your time. Of course, a great short game requires the right tools and the information below provides a snapshot of the hottest new wedges available.

Titleist Vokey SM6

Titleist Vokey SM6
Folks, Titleist did it again. There’s a reason their Vokey SM6 wedge is the preferred choice among PGA Tour professionals. The game of golf continues evolving, driven, in part, by equipment innovation. Titleist keeps pushing the envelope with their wedge technology and the SM6 wedges offer an array of benefits, which we can narrow down to three specific components: center of gravity (COG), groove design, and grind. The center of gravity is determined by a specific loft-to-weight ratio. There’s the lower-lofted wedges (PW, GW), mid-loft (SW), and high-loft (LW). This COG technology combats loft variations by realigning the club face’s center of gravity to promote consistent, predictable shot-making.
When it comes to delicate pitch shots, spin is king. The Vokey SM6 wedges feature TX4 groove technology. The low-loft wedges (46°-54°) are designed with narrower, deeper grooves. Whereas, the high-loft wedges (56°-62°) have wider, shallower grooves to help stick it close from anywhere around the green.
Furthermore, the SM6 wedges are offered with 5 different grind options: F grind, M grind, S grind, K grind, and L grind. Each one is designed to work with a golfer’s particular style of play and from various turf conditions. Consult with a golf professional to identify the best choice for your particular style of play.

callaway md3 milled 1

Callaway MD3
The newly designed MD3 wedges have three different grinds (W, S, C) as well as Callaway’s Progressive Groove Optimization. The W-Grind offers a wider sole, ideal for bunker play, soft course conditions, and players with steep swing planes. The S-grind is the most versatile of the three, created with just about every course condition in mind and recommended for both steep and shallow swingers alike. Finally, we have the C-Grind, meant for firm course conditions and players with shallow, around-the-body swing planes. The Progressive Groove Optimization is engineered with a 3-groove design to make spin consistency between irons and wedges more reliable. The Pitching and Gap Wedges include 30V grooves, which cater to steeper angles of attack; the 20V grooves are ideal for bunker play; the 5V grooves in the lob wedge caters to those delicate, short-sided greenside shots, when stopping the ball on a dime is imperative.

Cleveland_RTX_2r

Cleveland RTX2.0/CB
When Cleveland began designing the RTX 2.0 wedges, they aimed to solve a common pain point: Shots from 125 yards and in. With the likes of Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley, and Hideki Matsuyama providing expert intel, the Cleveland RTX 2.0 wedges are considered the perfect antidote to a struggling mid-range game for golfers of all skill levels. Cleveland’s Rotex Face Technology continues to expand shot making possibilities to boot. With 15% sharper grooves compared to last year’s model, and the roughest face pattern permissible within USGA guidelines, you can rely on predictable spin, shot after shot. The grind design is engineered to provide a perfect combination of versatility and dependability, though I can’t say I would recommend this particular model for players with significantly steep or shallow swing paths. It is much better suited for players with neutral swing paths.

Taylor Made EF

TaylorMade Tour Preferred EF
Like all other wedge manufacturers on this list, TaylorMade emphasizes the significant effects of groove design on shot-making. In fact, this is where TaylorMade differentiates its wedges from the competition’s. By taking a different approach to the traditional groove design, TaylorMade has effectively created a niche in the wedge manufacturing market. For the most part, grooves are created on a clubface by milling (or cutting) them into the face or they have been cast with the grooves as part of the die, or mold. TaylorMade has gone against tradition and developed an electroforming process to create grooves. For non-chemists out there, this innovative “milling” technique translates into sharper grooves and increased club longevity. If you’re looking to improve your spin around the greens and want a long-lasting wedge, consider TaylorMade’s Tour Preferred EF model, the juggernaut of wedges.

Ping Glide Wedger

Ping Glide
Ping took a similar approach to TaylorMade when designing their Glide wedge, but instead of focusing on groove design, Ping created a fully custom club. From the grip, down to the club face, these wedges are a fully integrated “system” designed for greater consistency. In addition, Ping’s proprietary Gorge Groove Technology promotes consistent shot trajectory and spin for every loft. The Ping Glide wedges are available with four different soles: Thin, Wide, Standard, and EYE2. The thin sole caters to firm conditions and shallow swing paths; the wide sole was made for softer conditions and steeper swing paths; the standard sole provides the best of both worlds (soft/firm conditions, as well as a variety of swing paths); the EYE2, with its throwback name, also provides the best of both worlds and promises to improve bunker play.

Mizuno S5

Mizuno S5
Mizuno took a craftsman’s approach when designing their S5 wedges, which feature a unique Silhouette profile. With PGA professional Luke Donald providing expert input, these wedges offer two sole grinds to get up and down from all angles and lies. Mizuno’s technology offers Quad Cut CNC milled grooves to promote spin. S5 wedges come in 25 different loft and bounce options, ensuring all distance possibilities are accounted for. Furthermore, the S5 wedges offer grinds complimentary to their high and low bounce options: High bounce (15% sole grind) and low bounce (25% sole grind). The grind compliments the bounce by allowing the high bounce version to play higher and the low bounce to play lower.

The wedge technology is out there, no doubt about it. Now, it’s a matter of finding the right option for your game. Consult with your local golf professional to weigh the pros and cons for all wedge models. Once you find your wedge, practice, practice, and practice some more. Then, stick it close, tap it in, and repeat.

A Golfing Getaway – Innsbrook Public Golf Course

Innsbrook

At most public golf courses after the round, you and your buddies may hang out in the clubhouse or the bar and grill, reliving the perfect drive you had on number 11 … and then laughing about the four putt that left you with the unfortunate double bogey. After a bit, you’ll head home.

But at the Innsbrook Public Golf Course and Resort, the day doesn’t have to end at the clubhouse. You can relive the round back at the condominium with your friends before you take the family to a summer concert or to an evening of canoeing.

“It’s like going on vacation each time you pull through the gates here,” says Kevin Corn, PGA Head Golf Professional.

Innsbrook, located about 45 minutes west of St. Louis, offers a variety of activities in a vacation setting, along with condominiums for guest lodging. And included on the 7,500-acre property is an 18-hole public golf course.

Innsbrook

Corn says the course hosts 22,000 to 24,000 golf rounds per year. And the players represent both people who drive out for the day just to play golf, as well as those who are staying at or attending a meeting at the resort and choose to play golf as an activity during their free time.

“We actually get a pretty good mix,” he says. “Players from the local area drive out for the day and play too.”

The par-70 course plays 6,527 yards from the back tees. Five sets of tees are available, with the forward tees yielding a course that plays 5,056 yards.

“It’s fun to play regardless of the skill level,” Corn says. “The superintendent and his crew have done a great job prepping the course, and it shows.”

Innsbrook

One of the most memorable stretches of the Innsbrook course runs from holes 13 through 16, where the course’s number one, three, and five handicap holes reside. But it’s the view and layout of those holes that will stick in your mind.

“Number 13 has the lake along the fairway,” Corn says. “And then number 16, when you’re standing on the tee box, you can look at Lake Aspen in the distance. In that spot, the view from there really defines Innsbrook, at least while you’re on the course.”

Number 13 is a 522-yard par-5 from the back tees, challenging players with the water hazard along the left. Number 14 is the number one handicap hole, a 417-yard par-4 from the back tees with a slight dogleg to the right. Number 15 is a par-3 where players must play over a lake to the green, ranging in distance from 162 yards at the back tees to 102 yards at the front tees. And the gorgeous 16th hole is a 424-yard par-4 from the back tees.

“I don’t know that we have a signature hole,” Corn says. “We have a signature view really.”

Innsbrook

Players who haven’t visited Innsbrook lately will be impressed with the updates made to the course and the resort. Two years ago, course management remodeled the Aspen Center, where conferences, weddings, and other events occur. Last year, they remodeled the clubhouse, the bar and grill, the patio deck that overlooks the 18th hole, the course’s irrigation system, and the golf shop. Further remodeling is scheduled this summer at the course.

“The course is really a primary focus with all the changes we made,” Corn says. “It hasn’t been all about improving the overall condition of the resort. We wanted to increase the playability and make it more fun for the average player.”

Corn says Innsbrook has more water on the course than most St. Louis area courses, although not all of the water is in play.

“There’s more than 100 lakes on the property, and plenty of water all around,” he says. “A good portion of the lakes are in play, although there’s quite a bit that don’t come into play. The water ties into the whole Innsbrook theme. It fits in well, especially when you think back to number 16 and the view that you see there. It’s so pretty.”

Innsbrook

The resort’s non-golf activities make full use of the lakes that aren’t in use on the golf course. Guests can participate in canoeing, horseback riding, sailing, hiking, a lazy river, a children’s playground, and many other activities. Resort guests choose to come to Innsbrook for a variety of reasons, but Corn says many of them end up playing golf at some point.

“Sometimes they’re here for golf,” he says. “Sometimes they’re here for a family trip. Sometimes they’re here for weddings. Sometimes it’s for meetings. But when you look at the diversity of what we have to do on the property, there’s just so many different things people can do, it really broadens who can enjoy their time at Innsbrook.”

Holding a wedding at Innsbrook is a popular endeavor for guests, Corn says. The area for weddings offers Lake Aspen in the background, creating an amazing setting. Wedding guests can spend the night on the property, which is convenient.

Business meetings are common at Innsbrook too, as meeting organizers enjoy giving attendees plenty of options for enjoying their free time at the resort.

Innsbrook

“When a group has meetings in the morning at Innsbrook, it’s not like a lot of places where there’s only one thing to do in the afternoon,” Corn says.

For those golfers not staying at the resort, Corn says the best way to make a tee time is through the course’s web site, where dynamic pricing is in effect.

Those who want to play more often can take advantage of Innsbrook’s various season pass programs. Options include weekday play annual passes, one where golfers only pay a cart fee each time they play and another one where the cart fee, greens fee, and range balls fees are all covered by the annual pass fee. Season passes that include weekend and holiday play are available for single players, couples, and families, as well as for players who prefer to walk versus having a riding cart.

For more information, check out their website at http://www.innsbrook-resort.com/golf or call 636-928-3366 ext 9203.