Who’d win in a fight between Bigfoot and Jaws?
It’s an absurd question on the order of what kind of bear is best?, but thanks to golf equipment industry heavyweights TaylorMade and Callaway, it’s the sort of thing that may bounce around your head as you consider your next wedge purchase.
Maybe it’s just me. Either way, thanks for that.
Your brief history lesson: Last month TaylorMade introduced the Bigfoot Hi-Toe wedge, the company’s first foray into the wide sole game improvement wedge space. Bigfoot is a bit of a blend between Callaway’s Sure Out and PM Grind (Hi-Toe) offerings. The latter being a far more belated answer to the PING’s Eye2 wedge in what is now the hi(gh) toe, full face grooves wedge category. Not to be outdone in the slightly less competitive wedges named after mythical creatures category, Callaway is bringing back JAWS as a key piece of the story with its new MD5 series of wedges. As coincidence would have it, Callaway’s latest JAWS sequel arrives almost exactly ten years after the original.
Quite a bit has changed in the last 10 years. Once upon a time, Callaway was an also-ran in the wedge category. Within the last year, however, Callaway says it has overtaken Cleveland as the #2 wedge maker in the market (Vokey remains a solid #1). For what it’s worth, Callaway typically relies on dollar share as its key retail metric. Regardless, Callaway has become a serious player in the wedge space.
The latest release itself features mostly boilerplate for the wedge category. Storylines are centered around grooves and grinds with some interesting bits around grips, shafts, and custom options thrown in for good measure. As you’d expect from a mainstream Callaway wedge, the design credit largely goes to Roger Cleveland. More wedge history: For legal reasons Mr. Cleveland can’t put his name on his Callaway designs (the last time Callaway tried it, lawyers got involved), which is why you’ll find his alternative signature, •R•, stamped on the hosel.
With more background than we probably needed out of the way, let’s get into the details of the Callaway JAWS MD5 Wedge.
The Most Aggressive Groove in Golf
Callaway says the JAWS MD5 offers the most aggressive groove in golf. How’s that for getting right to the point? The grooves are the reason why the JAWS name is back. The suggestion is that JAWS offers more bite because it provides more spin. And while it remains to be seen if the claim will hold up against the market as a whole, in Callaway’s player testing in dry conditions versus MD4, the JAWS wedge saw an increase of 500 RPM spin, and a 1° decrease in launch angle. Both good things with wedges. Callaway’s numbers come from 40-yard shots, and while that might seem short, as you get closer to the green, you’ll often find significant performance differences between wedges.
The additional spin comes by way of an updated groove design. The MD4 featured a 5° sidewall with a wider radius (think of it as more rounded lip), while the MD5 features a 37° sidewall (20° on lofts of 52° or less) with a much sharper radius. As is nearly always the case with wedge grooves, Callaway says the new groove is at the edge of the USGA limit.
According to Callaway, the new groove is difficult to machine. It takes a full 10 minutes to mill each face. To maintain precision, consistency, whatever you want to call it, Callaway says the cutter is changed after every 15 faces. That’s not the highest rate in the industry, but it’s probably significantly better than the worst, and likely why Callaway says JAWS MD5 offers the tightest tolerances it has ever achieved.
…And that makes it worth discussing one of the unpleasant realities of wedge making.
The cutters…the little wheels that machine wedge grooves wear out, and they wear out pretty quickly at that. Unless the change rate for the cutter is exceptionally high, the grooves on the last wedge cut aren’t going to be nearly as clean (I suppose you could say sharp) as they were on the first wedge cut. Golfers more or less have to rely on frequent-enough cutter changes, tight tolerances, and failing that, the luck of the draw. The larger point is that while changing a cutter wheel might not sound like a big deal, it’s one of those areas where tighter tolerances can have a significant impact.
As with other recent Callaway wedge offerings, the JAWS MD5 features Callaway Groove in Groove technology. As a fun bit of trivia, the addition of Groove in Groove creates 84 different points of impact on each wedge face. Of more practical use is the increased spin in wet conditions. Callaway says Groove in Groove preserves upwards of 800 RPM of spin, while maintaining lower launch. The benefit is particularly pronounced from 85 yards an in where Groove in Groove helps the ball to hop and stop, instead of bounce, skip, and disappear off the back of the green.
To Shred or Not to Shred
Before we move on to shapes and grinds, I want to take a moment to address some of the mythology that exists in the world of wedges. While none of us like seeing our golf balls torn to shreds, plenty believe that a chewed-up golf ball is a sign of a wedge that’s doing what it's supposed to. The reality is that if your wedge grooves are chewing up your golf balls, something isn’t right. Very often, it means the grooves aren’t doing their job. Instead of grabbing the ball and imparting spin, the groove is doing more of a grip and slide thing. It’s the sliding action that causes the shearing at impact, and that’s not what you want. It’s going to happen from time to time with any wedge, but if it’s a frequent occurrence, you’re either using a ball with poor cover durability, or the grooves on your wedges aren’t what they should be.
For JAWS MD5, Callaway has refined its head shapes just a bit. The 58°-64° are largely the same, but pitch, gap, and sand wedge lofts are a bit more compact. The radius of the leading edge has been straightened a bit, and it gets tighter as loft increases to help it sit more under the ball at address, particularly for golfers who like to open the face. It’s a look that some golfers love and others, well, not so much. Regardless of your personal preference, the intent of the change is to provide increased playability while offering a smoother transition from the irons to the wedges, especially for those who might carry an MD wedge instead of the set wedge.
5 Grinds? 🤔
Callaway says the JAWS MD5 is available in 5 distinct grinds, though there’s an argument to be made that we’re only really talking about 3, maybe 4 grind options.
The S-Grind is the stock mid-bounce offering. It’s the safe play, especially for those who aren’t prone to manipulating the face around the green. If you’re unsure which grind to buy, and can’t or won’t get properly fit for your wedges, it’s your best bet. The S-Grind is available in every loft.
The C-Grind is Callaway’s low bounce option. With reduced bounce and increased heel relief (compared to previous versions) along with some toe relief, it’s well-suited to golfers looking for the versatility to open the face around the green. C-Grinds typically work well for golfers who are shallower into the ball or who play in dry conditions. The C-Grind is available from 54° to 60°
The X-Grind is, for all intents and purposes, a high bounce C-Grind. The main point of differentiation is the X-Grind’s wider sole, which provides C-Grind-like playability for golfers who are steeper into the ball or play in soft conditions. The X-Grind is available in 58° and 60°.
The W-Grind is available in both Low (new) and High(er) bounce options. The W is similar to a C-Grind without the trailing edge relief. It offers a wider, more “Sure Out-like” sole without the excessive bulk. The new Low Bounce option came at the request of Tour players. Specifically, Callaway staffers asked for a wedge that offered more versatility (often code for heel and toe releif) around the green, while still allowing them to employ the entire bounce on full shots. The W-Grind is available from 50° to 60° (12° bounce), with low bounce options (8°) also available at 58° and 60°.
Does a low bounce option in two lofts qualify as an entirely different grind?
Haggle among yourselves.
A Final Word on Bounce
Most wedge designers are fond of saying that “bounce is your friend.” To that end, it’s worth pointing out that the highest bounce wedge in the JAWS MD5 lineup is 12°. By nearly any other manufacturer’s standard, Callaway’s high bounce is just mid, maybe mid-high bounce. Along the same lines, Callaway’s lowest bounce option is 8°, which, at best, is on the high end of low.
It’s absolutely true that details are easily lost in the conversation between static and effective bounce, and frankly, a good bit of bounce specification is arbitrary at best, but given that Callaway is billing JAWS MD5 as it’s most complete wedge lineup ever, it’s at least a little disconcerting that entire stated bounce range across all lofts is all of 4°. On paper, that’s not a ton of variety within the lineup.
The JAWS MD5 will be offered in two finish options – Platinum Chrome and Tour Grey. The Chrome is more or less what you’d expect from chrome. The Tour Grey is a bit of a glossy black, and IMO, is a considerable improvement over the MD4’s flat black. Callaway claims both finishes are durable.
More Custom Options
JAWS MD5 wedges will be available through Callaway Customs. There are two customization changes worth noting. The first is that this time around, there will be 10 paintfill zones and more color choices. Secondly, Callaway has also added the ability to select one of 4 Emojis to be stamped on your wedges. I’ve joked that the day will come when I’m writing stories with nothing but Emojis. We’ve got a little ways to go yet, but I feel like this brings me a step closer to emoji-geddon.
Stock Grips and Shafts
The stock shaft offerings in the JAWS MD5 are a True Temper Tour Issue 115 Blue/Silver (steel) and Project X Catalyst 80 (graphite). As always, there are plenty of no upcharge offerings, but the bigger news here is there’s no upcharge for the stock graphite offering.
The stock grip is a modified Lamkin UTX (Black/Blue). The version Callaway is using is cord-free and offers a softer feel. I’m personally not a fan, but as with the shafts, we can all choose something different. It’s also blue, which is nice.
The JAWS MD5 will also be available in a Women’s specific offering. Loft/Grind combinations are limited to 52, 56, and 60-degree W-Grind offerings only. The stock shaft is a UST Recoil Wedge, while the stock grip is a Lamkin Women’s Comfort (Black/Blue)
Price and Availability
Retail price for the Callaway JAWS MD5 Wedge is $159.99. Fitting/Pre-Sale begins on 9/13 with full retail availability kicking in on 9/20
For more information, visit CallawayGolf.com.