For some people, retirement is the end of the journey. For others, it’s merely a rest stop.
For Terry Koehler – aka The Wedge Guy – retirement didn’t take.
You probably know Koehler as the man who resurrected the Ben Hogan brand in 2014, only to see it file for bankruptcy in 2017. For others, you know Koehler as the spirit animal behind the innovative, and popular, SCOR and Eidolon wedge companies. Well, Koehler is back with a new project, the Edison wedge company.
And like the company’s namesake, Koehler believes the new Edison wedge offers a better idea.
A Wedge For The Rest Of Us
“Regardless of handicap, 80% of golfers say they hit their full swing wedges and short irons too high,” Koehler tells MyGolfSpy. “80% also say their wedge shots come up short more often than long, and 80% say they don’t get the kind of spin they’d like.”
The problem, says Koehler, is partly you, but it’s partly the wedge you’re using. No matter how much the recreational golfer practices or takes lessons, golf isn’t his job. It is, however, a Tour player’s job, and conventional wedges are designed for Tour players, not you.
“If you look at a Tour player’s wedge, they have a dime-sized wear mark on the bottom five grooves. That’s where they hit it,” says Koehler. “They play tight fairways, and they practice their asses off to be able to do that. If you look at an amateur’s wedge, he has a half-dollar size wear mark three to five grooves higher than that. He’s playing fluffier fairways and he’s releasing the clubhead ahead of his hands. He can’t trap the ball, so it goes high, and it floats with minimal spin.”
That, says Koehler, is mostly the result of traditional wedge design that features a low center of gravity. Golf Club Design 101 says low CG does two things to any club: increase launch angles and reduce spin. Tour players have the skills to work with that reality and make the ball spin how and when they want. We mere mortals aren’t in that same league. Koehler says his new Edison Forged wedge tackles that problem head-on.
“The simple physics of my golf club design is I raised mass dramatically up the back of the club. Technically, it’s thicker at the bottom because there’s a big sole down there, but the difference in thickness between the third groove and the twelfth groove is the smallest difference of any wedge in golf.”
In simple terms, there’s more meat higher on the bone, resulting in a higher center of gravity.
Moving the CG more toe-ward and higher on the face isn’t anything new. Koehler himself started the trend back in 1995 with Reid Lockhart and later with his Eidolon, SCOR, and Ben Hogan TK 15 wedges, while Cleveland’s CBX wedges have larger faces, cavitybacks, and a more toe-ward CG. Vokey, among others, has been adjusting CG over the past several iterations and for a good reason: a higher CG increases spin and improves, for lack of a better term, forgiveness on full wedge shots.
“Golf clubs have a smash factor – the efficiency of clubhead speed to ball speed,” says Koehler. “On a conventional wedge, you’ll see a center hit smash factor of 1.14 to 1.15. But move impact around a half an inch up, down, heel or toe, and you may see a smash factor of 1.18 when you catch it low. Catch it high or on the toe, it might go as low as .92 or .97 – that’s a 15, maybe 20 percent fall in smash factor. It’s physically impossible for the ball to go as far. That’s simple math.”
Koehler says robot testing done on the Edison wedges show a smash factor ranging from a high of 1.14 on the screws to a low of 1.08 in that half-inch up-down/heel-toe area. The result, anywhere from a 35 to 70 percent tighter long-short dispersion compared to conventional, Tour-design wedges.
Legit or Hocum?
When you talk with Terry Koehler, you get a hefty dose of The Wedge Guy, but you also get a side dish of Preston Tucker with a dash – if you’re cynical – of P.T. Barnum. He’s had a long history in golf and has many friends and several, uh, not-friends, but one thing you can say, his wedges have always performed. SCOR was dissolved when Hogan re-emerged, but there are still hard-core SCOR-ites on the MyGolfSpy Community Forum.
With that, it’s important to remember Edison’s test data comes from Edison. MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted Testing will take a deeper dive into performance.
Trust, but verify.
Along with a more consistent smash factor, Koehler’s robot testing shows his Edison wedge produces a lower launch angle, longer average distance, and much higher spin when compared to conventional Tour wedges and game improvement wedges, at a recreational golfer’s clubhead speed of 75 mph.
Sounds revolutionary. Game-changing, even. And that begs the question, why didn’t anybody think of this before? Koehler says there are three reasons why wedges really haven’t evolved much over the past 30 years – other than more sole grinds and more sophisticated groove and face treatments.
“It’s historically the lowest priced club on the rack,” he says. “Putters are $250 to $500, drivers are now $500, and wedges are now $150, and they’re bought one at a time. Second, it’s a million unit a year category at the lowest price, versus 2.5 million units a year of $500 drivers, 2.5 million units a year of $400 putters, and 800,000 to a million units a year of irons sets. The economics of it doesn’t cause companies to say we’re really going to emphasize wedges.”
The third element, says Koehler, is Tour players.
“Roger Cleveland and Bob Vokey can eat my lunch when it comes to working with Tour players,” he says. “I’ve worked with Tour players enough to know I don’t want anything to do with those guys. They can feel stuff on a golf club you can barely even measure.”
Tour players want specific things from wedges; specifically, they don’t want the club to spin the ball, they want to spin the ball.
“If I forced Justin Thomas, as an example, to play my wedges, he couldn’t make it on the Korn Ferry Tour,” says Koehler. “I’m going to destroy the thousands of hours of practice where he’s learned to hit the ball a little on the toe to make it do this, a little high to make it do that, and a little low to make it do something else. Those guys do that on purpose.”
“But for a recreational golfer, the guy with the 75 MPH wedge clubhead speed, I’m giving him 60- to 90-percent more spin than a Vokey or a Callaway, and he wants it. “
Groovy, With Sole
CG location is more influential in producing spin at higher clubhead speeds, much more so than grooves. At slower speeds, you need more coefficient of friction. Here, too, Koehler says Edison is taking a slightly different approach.
“Some of the others are putting wider, deeper grooves on their high lofts. I’m putting narrower, closer spaced grooves in the high lofts to try to get one or two more groove edges on the golf ball to give you some spin around the greens at low clubhead speeds, that little 10-foot pitch over the collar.”
You’ll also see some rotational milling on the Edison’s face, as well as an X-pattern face texture to increase the coefficient of friction, especially when wet.
“If I wanted to make the ideal wet weather wedge, I’d put grooves that are twice as wide and twice as deep on the golf club,” says Koehler. “But I can’t do that and have a conforming golf club. It’s all about how much moisture can I channel away so I can get contact between the ball and the face.”
If you’re worried about wedge wear, Edison says it’s using something called Durable Chrome plating, which Koehler says is twice as thick as the standard chrome plating used on wedges, so it should, in theory, wear more slowly. Again, the trust but verify motto applies.
As with Eidolon, SCOR, and Hogan, the Edison wedge will offer only one sole grind option: the latest iteration of Koehler’s patented V-Sole, which combines high and low bounce into one sole. The rear portion of the sole is low bounce for tight lies, firm turf, and shallow swing paths, while the front portion is higher bounce for softer lies and steeper swings.
Even though it’s well documented that bounce is your friend, Koehler insists it’s virtually impossible to fit for bounce accurately.
“I’m a heretic when it comes to bounce fitting,” he says. “Golfers tell me they play different turf conditions from shot to shot, from round to round. They tell me their divots are sometimes shallow, sometimes deep. How can I fit any of those golfers for bounce? A good tailor can measure you and make you a suit that fits. But what if you wake up one day and you’re a 42 short and, by mid-afternoon, you’re a 44 long? How am I gonna make you a suit? I can’t!”
The 500 Club
Koehler is 67, and his post-Hogan semi-retirement has apparently run its course.
“I’m doing Edison because I realized I’m not done yet,” he says. “I have ideas for making wedges better, for making golfers better.”
Edison is very much a start-up program. Full production isn’t expected to start until late March or early April, but Koehler is seeding the market with something called the 500 Club.
“We’re taking orders now for the first 500 sets,” he says. They’re specially marked 1 to 500. We’re going to give you a little package of Edison swag as well, and we’ll give you Ambassador cards, where you can share your experiences with others.”
The limited-edition offering includes three 1020 forged wedges in two different loft profiles (49-53-57 or 51-55-59) that can be bent one-degree week or strong. KBS Tour 120, 105, 90, and TGI 80 graphite are your shaft options in either stiff or regular, and the Golf Pride MCC Plus 4 grip is standard. There is no extra charge for length and lie adjustments, and the first 500 sets are selling for $537 on Edison’s website. Ultimately, Edison wedges will be sold individually in odd-numbered lofts, from 45- to 63-degrees, and will sell for $179 each.
Full disclosure, we have not tried the Edison wedges, and the only pictures we have are the ones provided by Edison, so our own testing is a must. That said, despite Koehler’s street cred as a wedge designer, $179 for a sight-unseen wedge is a bit of a leap of faith, is it not?
“If you unbox them and don’t like them, box them right back up and send them back and you’ll get a full refund,” says Koehler. “If you play them for 60 days and you decide you don’t like them, send them back, and I’ll buy you the wedges you want.”
Koehler’s Hogan venture didn’t end well, so starting small with no expectations feels like a lesson learned.
“Hindsight is 20-20 if you’ve been paying attention, and I’ve been paying attention,” he says. “The thing that’s always haunted me is the business side of the business. Managing overhead, managing employees – that doesn’t float my boat. But I have an operational partner. It floats his boat.”
“I don’t have grandiose plans of slaying any giants,” Koehler adds. “You don’t slay giants in this business because the giants have all the money. I don’t have any children, and this is a way to give back and stay engaged. I don’t want to just ride out to pasture.”