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OUR JOB IS YOUR GAME
Let’s not mince words. You’re going to miss greens. Don’t sweat it; the best players in the world do too. The point is that, while you’ll hit plenty of full wedge shots throughout a round and a season, you’re going to hit significantly more wedge shots from 100-yards and in. That’s why it’s essential that you have the right tools in your bag to execute those precarious shots around the green. Your wedges will often be the determining factor in whether you save par or pencil in a bigger number.
We’ve said it before; every club in your bag should have a purpose, and it’s no different with your wedges. The right wedges will complement your game and help you shoot lower scores.
So, how do you know what is truly right for you?
Several factors like loft, bounce, sole grind, and even the shaft impact how a wedge will perform in the variety of situations you’ll face during a round of golf. The best way to ensure you have the right wedges is to get fit.
Our 2019 Most Wanted Wedge Test should serve as a guide to help steer you in the right direction towards optimal performance.
Most Wanted: Honma TW-W4
2019 Most Wanted Wedge Performance Chart
Every test presents an opportunity to evolve both our protocols and the way we present the data. For this year’s wedge test, we eliminated the 15-yard portion and added a wet vs. dry comparison. On the display side, we’re presenting the results using a 100-point system. We hope that simplifying will make things a bit easier for readers to understand.
The data you see below represents the performance breakdown for the three scenarios in our 2019 Most Wanted Wedge Test (Full Shots, 40-yard shots, and Wet vs. Dry Spin Retention). We use a weighted scoring system with Full Shots and 40-yard shots accounting for 40% each (80% of the total score). Spin Retention accounts for the final 20%.
- The Most Wanted Wedge of 2019, the Honma TW-W4 wedge, did not finish at the top in any of the test scenarios but was a strong performer across the board.
- The Callaway MD5 Jaws and TaylorMade Milled Grind 2 Wedges were not included in our 2019 Test as neither was available at the time of testing.
- To that end, be aware that TaylorMade’s Milled Grind Wedge tested is the prior model.
- The Wilson FG Tour PMP was the only raw finish wedge tested.
WEDGE BUYING CONSIDERATIONS
Performance should be your primary concern when buying a new wedge, but there are some additional things to consider before making your purchasing decision.
Whether you’re swinging full or trying to control a 3/4 or 1/2 shot, distance control is everything inside 100 yards. When you pull a wedge, you should be able to trust that the ball will go the distance you need it to. It’s imperative that you can not only cover any distance but control trajectory and hit whatever shot the course necessitates.
With that in mind, properly gapping your wedges is essential. Many golfers carry just three wedges (pitch, gap, and sand), while others add a lob wedge to the mix. Determining the right lofts starts with knowing the loft of the shortest set iron in the bag. While there is no standard for wedge gaps, 4° to 5° is typical. Be aware that if your iron lofts have gotten stronger, you may need to adjust your wedge lofts accordingly. While it wasn’t that long ago that 52°, 56°, and 60° was the most common arrangement of gap, sand, and lob wedge, many golfers are now moving to 50°, 54°, and 58°. As with anything else, you should go with what works for you.
Wedge bounce is the angle created between the leading edge of your wedge and the lowest point of the sole (trailing edge). It’s is the part of the sole that makes first contact with ground as your club impacts ball. Wedges with high bounce have a leading edge that sits higher off the ground at address. Conversely, a low bounce wedge will typically sit closer to the ground. Aligning wedge bounce with both the turf conditions (soft, firm) you’ll face on course, and how you deliver the club at impact promotes optimal contact, control, and spin.
Low bounce wedges (4°-6°) are generally a better fit for what is often described as sweepers – golfers with shallow attack angles. Low bounce wedges can also be beneficial in firm or dry conditions. High bounce wedges (more than 10°) are ideal for diggers – golfers with steep attack angles. High bounce is also ideal in soft conditions, including bunkers with light, fluffy sand.
If you’re not sure which bounce is right for you, a mid bounce wedge is the safest option, though we always recommend taking the time to get fit for your wedges. For brands who take a one-bounce-fits-all approach, it’s almost invariably a mid-bounce option. That’s fine, but we’d be remiss not to point out that most wedge designers will tell you that bounce is your friend, and that golfers often choose less bounce than they should.
The grind matters. In simple terms, the grind describes the overall shape of the sole. Removing material from heal and toe (common in M and C grinds) can help lower the effective bounce, allowing the leading edge to sit closer to the ground while adding versatility to open the face to hit a greater variety of shots. In nearly every manufacturer’s lineup, individual grinds are limited to a few select lofts, and availability will vary based on the bounce (and sole width). The grind is an undervalued and often overlooked aspect of wedge fitting.
The shaft you play in your driver and irons matters. It’s no different for the wedges. If you’ve purchased new wedges before, you’ve likely seen the shaft label read wedge. This may be confusing to most, but the flex on a wedge flex shaft is actually stiff. Most wedge shafts will have a weight that’s similar (though sometimes heavier) than most irons shafts – between 115 and 130 grams.
The options for wedge shafts are limitless. The leading shaft manufacturers all offer specialty wedge shafts, and some club OEMs provide those shafts as a stock offering in their wedge lineups. Some golfers choose to match their wedge shafts to their iron shafts. Some will go lighter and softer (more spin), while others will go heavier and stiffer (lower trajectory). Unfortunately, there is no universal right answer. It’s an area where we encourage plenty of on-course experimentation.
We understand that for average golfers, there is something magical about seeing a ball fly past the flag and then spin back several feet. While it can be fun to create Pro-level spin now and again, most average golfers don’t possess the trajectory and spin control that the pros do. When you’re choosing the right wedges for your game, don’t focus entirely on maximizing spin. Instead, look for impact consistency and trajectory control. The more consistent your impact, the more predictable the results will be. When it comes to lowering your scores, maximizing consistency matters significantly more than maximizing spin.
ONE to Consider - Cobra KING ONE Black
While a longer than conventional length wedge may be unappealing to many golfers, don't overlook the Cobra KING ONE Black wedge during your next fitting. Coming in at 4th place overall, the KING ONE produced exceptional performance in all scenarios.
The idea behind the ONE Length line for Cobra is to build everything to the length of a 7-iron, which keeps your setup and swing consistent for every club in the set. It may take some getting used to the length, feel, and trajectory, of longer wedges, but the numbers don't lie. ONE Length could be right for you.
During each test, we look for trends that provide insights into where the market is moving, as well as what noteworthy changes manufacturers have made to improve year-over-year performance. We also solicit feedback from our testers. We want to understand what they liked, what they didn’t like, and why. We want to reemphasize that, while we do collect and share noteworthy portions of this subjective feedback, it does not factor in our rankings.
Trends and Tweaks
While every wedge manufacturer claims some flavor of proprietary groove technology, a few companies are taking a different approach to spin. One of the top performers in our 2019 Wedge Test, the PING Glide 3.0, features a Hydropearl finish. The hydrophobic finish prevents beading and encourages moisture to roll off the face. Mizuno’s unique take is what it calls Hydroflow Microgrooves; a vertical milling pattern that adds friction, while channeling water off the face. Our results suggest both technologies work as Mizuno and PING wedges performed exceptionally well in the wet vs. dry potion of the test.
Some manufacturers utilize what’s called a progressive center of gravity (CG). The location of what’s commonly referred to as the sweet spot changes based on the loft of the wedge – and in some cases, based on the sole grind of the wedge as well. Not everyone agrees on how best to implement progressive designs. Some companies raise the center of gravity as loft increases (lower, more penetrating trajectory), while others lower the CG as loft increases. In both cases, the goal is to optimize trajectory and performance for each loft.
It’s not a new trend, but several manufacturers offer a raw finish, which is, for all intents and purposes, a quick-wearing finish, or a lack of finish entirely. Raw wedges are popular on tour – often for their low glare characteristics, and many average golfers choose raw wedges because of the perception that rust adds spin.
It’s not the rust; it’s the lack of plating. While some companies, like Vokey, mitigate the issue better than others (Vokey cuts grooves differently based on the finish), when a coating is applied to a wedge, it can shallow the groove and soften the edge radii. That’s a recipe for diminished performance, especially when moisture is added to the equation.
It’s true that the Wilson FG Tour PMP Raw performed exceptionally well in wet testing, that isn’t attributable to rust, but rather the lack of plating. We’d also be remiss not to mention that Wilson has been talking-up its groove technology (particularly performance inside 100-yards) for years. It’s perhaps time everyone paid a bit closer attention.
Notes from the Testing Pool
- The highest-rated wedge for combined looks, feel, and alignment was the Cobra KING MIM wedge. By using Metal Injection Molding, Cobra says it’s able to manufacture a wedge with near-perfect precision every time. The finished product requires minimal post-process and no hand polishing. Testers praised the shape of the wedge and the exceptionally soft feel off the face.
- The highest-rated overall for feel was the Bridgestone Tour B XW-1 wedge. The wedge is forged from 1020 carbon steel, which is among the softest materials used for forging. That’s likely a significant reason why these wedges were rated so highly for feel.
- Other wedges rated highly for feel were the PING Glide 3.0 and Titleist SM7 wedges. With a larger elastomer custom tuning port, the feel of the Glide 3.0 improved significantly from its predecessor. The perennial performer, Titleist’s Vokey wedges are year-in and year-out one among the highest-rated wedges in our testing.
- Top-rated for looks this year were the PING Glide 3.0, the Cleveland RTX4, and the Miura Milled Tour wedges.
- The year’s test featured three distinctly shaped offerings – the TaylorMade Hi-Toe, PING Glide 3.0 Eye2, and Callaway PM Grind. While these designs aren’t without their place, the feedback was mixed. None received poor ratings for feel, but the test group was split about 50/50 on the shaping. Many testers prefer a more traditional rounded wedge shape.
- As with any test completed at MyGolfSpy, we’ll inevitably receive negative feedback on any given club. This year, the test group rated the Tommy Armour Over N’ Out 2.0 and the Cobra KING ONE wedges poorly for looks, feel, and alignment. The longer shaft length may have played a role in the latter.
Best in Wet Conditions - PING GLIDE 3.0 Wedges
The reality of golf is that you're going to play in a variety of conditions. Whether it's the morning dew during your 7 AM tee time, an afternoon shower, or rough that's a little lusher than you'd like, moisture is always a factor on the golf course.
Our 2019 testing revealed some stark performance differences from club to club when water gets in your grooves, but not every wedge is affected equally. The Glide 3.0's Hydropearl Finish - a hydrophobic (water-repelling) coating that PING developed, encourages water to roll out of your grooves and off the face of the club. The best part is that it works as advertised. Our testing showed that, while the worst performing wedges in wet conditions lost nearly 60% of its dry spin, the PING Glide 3.0 wedges lost only 10%. That can be the difference between a 3-foot put and a 13-foot putt.
2019 Most Wanted Wedge Data
To filter and compare by club, use the drop-down list and checkboxes to select the only the wedges you wish to compare.
Raised Toe Designs Aren't for Everyone
We're inclined to describe designs like the Callaway PM Grind, TaylorMade Hi-Toe as extreme niche offerings. These outliers in the wedge category have their place, but they're not for everyone. For most golfers, the bad will outweigh the good.
The upside is that raised toe designs make it possible to hit shots that you likely couldn't with any other wedge - at higher lofts they can be nothing short of magic. The tradeoff is that, for average golfers, they often make the kind of shots you hit a dozen times a round (sometimes more) significantly more difficult than they need to be. That's the devil in a design where the raised toe raises the center of gravity'; making the wedge itself a bit more challenging to hit while creating a feel that's fundamentally different than the other clubs in your bag.
While we're not opposed to golfers putting these designs in their bag, the caveat is often a risk-reward scenario that requires plenty of practice before the reward begins to outweigh the risk. Proceed with caution.
2019 Most Wanted Wet Wedge Test
During each test we complete at MyGolfSpy, we typically learn something new. When that knowledge enables us to improve our testing methodologies, we do. Our 2019 Ball Test Buyer’s Guide revealed some shocking changes in spin rates and launch angles when moisture is introduced into the impact equation.
That’s why in 2019, we are introducing an industry-first comprehensive head-to-head wet/dry wedge test. For this portion of the test, ten testers to hit shots from 60-yards in both dry and wet conditions. To simulate wet conditions, we saturated the ground and spritzed both the wedge face and the ball.
The data collected during this portion of the test revealed some of the most pronounced performance differences we’ve ever seen.
SPIN IS LOST WHEN MOISTURE IS INTRODUCED
Golf is a game of ever-changing variables. One minute you could be teeing off under sunny skies, and by the back nine, you’re breaking out the umbrella and rain gear. The ability to control your golf ball during the variety of situations you’ll face during the round is crucial to shooting lower scores. When moisture enters the equation, spin is reduced significantly. Moisture between the club and ball, whether from rain, dew, or thick grass, is almost inevitable during a round of golf, and the wetter it gets, the less your ball is going to spin.
This year we tested at 60-yards in both wet and dry conditions. The results, well, we’ll let you see in the data table for yourself below. While the average wedge lost about 35% of its dry spin, the worst-performing wedges in wet conditions saw an alarming 60% reduction in spin. The good news is, however, that the best performing wedges under wet conditions only saw a drop off of only around 10% in the spin rate. It’s unlikely that many of us have been fit for wedges (or any other club for that matter) in wet conditions, but you might want to start thinking about the performance of your wedges in all conditions.
LAUNCH INCREASES IN WET CONDITIONS
Just as spin rate decreases with the introduction of moisture, launch angle is altered as well. When moisture gets between the dimples of a golf ball and inside the grooves of your wedge, friction is lost, and the golf ball skids up the face, increasing the launch angle considerably.
Across the testing pool, the average increase in launch angle was 5.4°, with the most significant increase being upwards of 9°. Whether you’re in the fairway or rough, there may be cases where you’ll need to keep the ball low – having a wedge that allows you to flight the ball in any condition isn’t going to hurt your score one bit.
THE TECH IS REAL
Despite these alarming changes in spin rate and launch angle, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. Manufacturers like PING and Mizuno do a demonstrably better job of maintaining consistent performance in wet conditions.
PING utilizes a Hydropearl finish that acts much like the tire of a car in that it works to disperse water from the grooves. What we’re left with is the top-performing wedge in terms of spin retention in wet conditions. Another strong performer in the wet/dry portion of our testing was the Mizuno T20 wedge with its Hyrdroflow Microgrooves. These wedges finished 1st, 2nd (PING), and 4th (Mizuno) respectively in the wet wedge portion of our testing.
RAW FINISHES MAY HELP RETAIN SPIN
An interesting result that warrants further study is the performance of Wilson’s FG Tour PMP Raw wedge in wet testing. The only raw wedge in this test, The Wilson PMP retained 79% of its dry spin. Whether that’s the result of the raw finish, Wilson’s grooves, or a combination of the two isn’t entirely clear. What we can say is that, in wet conditions, the Wilson wedge retained spin better than every other wedge not made by PING.
2019 Most Wanted Wedge Wet vs. Dry Data
To filter and compare by club, use the drop-down list and checkboxes to select the only the wedges you wish to compare.
2019 Most Wanted Wedge Measurements
|Club||Loft (deg.)||Lie (deg.)||Length (in.)||Swing Weight (D)
|Bettinardi H2 303 SS|
|Bridgestone Tour B XW-1|
|Callaway PM Grind|
|Cobra KING Black|
|Cobra KING MIM|
|Cobra KING ONE Black|
|Miura Milled Tour|
|PING Glide 3.0|
|PING Glide 3.0 Eye2|
|Sub 70 Forged Black|
|TaylorMade Hi Toe|
|TaylorMade Milled Grind '18|
|Titleist Vokey SM7|
|Tommy Armour Over N' Out 2.0|
|Tommy Armour VCG|
|Wilson FG Tour Raw|
* denotes measured value vs. manufacturer’s stated spec.
EXPERT TIP - The Grind Matters
Wedge grinds - the shape of the sole in combination with the manipulation or removal of material from that sole - unlock versatility and playability while optimizing short game performance.
Fitting the golfer to the grind is an essential part of wedge fitting, and it's where many wedge manufacturers fall short of fully servicing the golfer. While every grind in a lineup increases fitting opportunities, it also increases manufacturing costs, which is why many brands offer only a single grind across all lofts, or a single grind at each loft.
That's not fitting, it's rolling the dice, or at best, playing to the middle to the exclusion of everyone else. When the grind is an integral part of a wedge fitting, golfers often see significant improvement in their short games.
While single and limited bounce lineups are designed to work well-enough, golfers serious about unlocking their full short game potential should gravitate to brands like Vokey, Callaway, and PING, who offer a variety of bounce/grind combinations at each loft.
BUYING NEW WEDGES
Q: How often should I buy new wedges?
A: Your wedges will take a beating from the various elements you’re bound to face on the golf course. When was the last time you replaced your wedges? A test completed by Titleist shows that after about 75 rounds of golf, the groove wear becomes significant enough to affect performance. That being said, assess your own game to make sure you’re replacing your wedges often enough. For tour pros, that’s several times a year, for the rest of us, not so much (though many of us should replace annually). While developments in wedge technology are not groundbreaking from year to year, ensuring your grooves are fresh is one of the easiest ways to maintain consistency.
Q: How do I determine the right wedges for me?
A: The best way to determine which wedges are best for your game is to participate in a professional fitting. Many golf clubs and golf shops offer the resources necessary to dial-in your wedges. If you don’t have access to professional fitting, use this test as a guide to help narrow down your demo list. While few fitters offer it, given the variety of shots you’ll need to hit with your wedges, you’ll ideally be fit from a variety of lie conditions, including bunkers.
If you’re going for a self-fit, make sure to analyze your game to ensure proper to provide consistent yardage gapping from club to club. From there, understand your angle of attack, divot size, and typical playing conditions to make the proper selection on wedge bounce and grind. Remember that if you play in soft conditions, wedges with high bounce are useful. And just the opposite if you play in firm conditions, look to low bounce. If you’re not sure what bounce is right, a mid-bounce option is your safest bet.
Q: Does the shaft matter?
A: Absolutely. While changes to spin and launch and spin differences are rarely massive, shaft changes frequently lead to improved accuracy, tighter dispersion, and higher overall consistency.
Q: What should I look for when testing wedges?
A: While golfers have been conditioned to consider wedge spin to the exclusion of nearly everything else, we always recommended looking at the little numbers and looking for small circles. The spinniest wedge is not always going to be your best wedge. When comparing metrics like launch angle and spin rates, be sure to look at your standard deviations (the small numbers usually found under the big ones on the data screen).
Smaller numbers mean better consistency, which will usually benefit your score more than an extra yard or two. Similarly, look for tighter dispersion ellipses (small circles). We can’t understate the importance of consistency with wedges. If you have the option, introduce moisture into your testing process. Your wedges must perform well regardless of whether you’re in wet or dry conditions.
How We Test
Our Mission is to help you find the best wedges for your game.
We are 100% independent and unbiased, and we always put the #ConsumerFirst.
About Our Testers
Our pool of testers consists of 20 golfers with handicaps ranging from plus to the high single digits. As a group, they span a broad range of swing characteristics (head speed, attack angle, etc.).
Over the course of several sessions, each golfer is required to hit 10-12 "good" shots with each club. Club order is randomized on a per tester basis.
Limiting Variables and Gathering Data Reliably
Crunching the Numbers
Before determining our rankings, we identify and remove outliers using a proprietary detection methodology.
To arrive at our final results, we calculate the averages of key metrics (ball speed, distance, dispersion, etc.), while also considering the standard deviation and the statistical reliability of those values.
For more detailed information on our test process, visit our How We Test Page.
Q: How are the wedges in the test fit to each golfer?
A: We use a fitting process that we call fit from stock. Wedges are fitted to each tester using the stock, no up-charge options from each manufacturer. We test a 56° sand wedge of each model submitted. While there are no wedges in our testing that feature adjustability, we fit to flex for each tester in the pool. Occasionally manufacturers will send multiple wedges with different stock shafts that we can utilize to improve launch conditions.
Q: How is the Most Wanted Wedge Determined
A: To determine the Most Wanted Wedge, we collect performance metrics with Foresight GCQuad Launch Monitors. To determine our overall rankings for full and 40-yard shots, we utilize a proprietary methodology that considers the statistical reliability of a Strokes Gained metric across the entire pool of testers. To determine the rankings for the wet portion of the test, we looked at how much spin was retained in wet testing. The full and 40-yard portions of the test each accounted for 40% of the overall score (80% total), while the wet portion accounts for 20% of the overall score.
Q: How is the “Highest Spinning” Wedge determined?
A: To determine the highest spinning wedge, we consider the average backspin across the test pool along with the statistical reliability of that data. We also considered the amount of spin lost during the wet portion of the test, eliminating any wedge where wet spin degradation was significantly below average.
Q: How much does subjective feedback like looks, sound, and feel factor into your rankings?
A: ZERO. Our rankings are based purely on launch monitor data and quantifiable performance metrics.