Perspective being largely individual, depending on which way you happen to lean, the Callaway PM Grind wedge was either inspired by, or a blatant rip-off of, the PING Eye 2 wedge. I prefer to look at in evolutionary terms. The utility of the design is open for discussion, but the design was certainly more extreme than the PING original.
If you’re like Callaway, you might say its development spawned a new wedge category.
The equipment industry being what it is, it wasn’t any real surprise that after Callaway launched its original PM Grind, Tour Edge was quick to follow with its own version. The primary selling point of the Rally wedge was its $99 price tag. It took TaylorMade a bit longer, and while the Hi-Toe is an inarguably derivative of the PM Grind, it was also a case of necessity. The last thing any equipment brand wants is its staffers putting competitors gear in their bags. TaylorMade guys with Callaway wedges in the bag, well that’s just unacceptable.
The 2019 PM GRIND Wedge
The competition evolved, and so Callaway must evolve too. Billed as a collaboration or I suppose, more aptly, another collaboration between legendary wedge designer Rodger Cleveland and Phil Mickelson, for 2019 Callaway is releasing an updated version of its PM Grind wedge.
According to Callaway, the focus of the new design is to make it easier to hit the three short game shots that Phil believes every golfer needs.
Those three shots:
- The Knockdown – Low flying, high spinning pin-seeker
- Hit & Check – Short pitch that hits, bounces once or twice and stops
- The “Phlop” – Guys, no. I’ll give you that the flop is a high-flying, steep-landing, and quick-stopping shot, but it existed long before Phil Mickelson. You don’t get to PH this thing and make it your own. Boo on the marketing wizard behind that one.
With a goal of improving performance on those specific shots, Callaway made some specific design changes to achieve the desired result.
Offset Groove-In-Groove Technology
With last year’s Mack Daddy 4, Callaway introduced what it calls micro-positive ridges. Not entirely unique to Callaway (most manufacturers have some form of the technology), it’s easy to understand why the company calls it groove-in-groove technology.
What’s different with the PM Grind is that Callaway has offset the micro-grooves at a 20°. The contention is that the offset grooves help increase spin when the wedge is laid open – and if you’re going to put a PM Grind in the bag, the perfectly reasonable assumption is that you’re going to lay it open on the reg.
Callaway is claiming that offset groove-in-groove technology provides 12% more spin on lob shots. That’s a significant amount, though we’d be remiss not to point out that the number is based on robot testing, which almost invariably means off a tee in perfectly dry conditions. Whether or not that translates to the golf course remains to be seen.
Increased Offset and Higher Toe
Let’s start with the higher toe because it’s more straightforward. Callaway made the toe higher. Got it?
I guess that means its PM Grind-IER. To make that feasible, Callaway pulled some weight out the sole. The result is an even higher center of gravity, which promotes a flatter, spinnier trajectory. Callaway adds that a larger toe creates more high face hitting area (as with the original, grooves cover nearly 100% of the face), which makes hitting lob shots out of high grass easier.
The bit about added offset…I have mixed feelings. From a purely technical standpoint, adding offset makes it easier to move the ball back while positioning your hands more forward. The idea is to put you in a better position to hit the knockdown and to an extent, the hit and check.
That’s all well and good, but the issue as I see it is that the original PM Grind already presented with a massive amount offset. I suspect that was as much visual as it is measurable, but, to me anyway, the elongated toe section increased the appearance of offset. The updated design compounds, what for me, is an issue. Call it offset-in-offset technology. It’s almost certainly a personal thing – and if tour players are bagging the same wedge, I may be overthinking it – but I suspect the additional offset is going to be a deal-breaker for some. Though I suspect it could just as well be a selling point for others.
The 2019 PM Grind sees the previous U-Grind sole swapped with a C-Grind. As with any wedge grind, your mileage will vary, but the argument for the C-Grind is one of versatility (and perhaps popularity). Solid contact from any lie – that’s largely the extent of your why.
The updated model retains the aggressive sole radius. It sits rounder than a typical wedge. Again, it’s one of those love it or hate it design features. I’m definitely in the love it camp as to my eyes it presets the leading edge under the ball. It’s a confidence booster on tight lies.
Callaway claims the PM Grind wedge in the world to hit a flop shot with, and while I admittedly lack any supporting quantitative data, I tend to agree. I did a fairly extensive review of the original and found it to be silly easy to hit high from virtually any lie.
That said, what’s conspicuously absent in Callaway’s media materials are any specific claims about full shot performance. It’s perhaps telling that unlike TaylorMade, Callaway isn’t offering the PM Grind in gap wedge lofts. 54° is as low as it goes, and that makes sense.
My feeling was that the weakness of the original PM grind was full shot performance, and I’d wager that will be the case here as well. The strength of the offering is its performance on shots where you need to manipulate the face or, for whatever reason, intentionally miss the center of the face. Most of us don’t do that with our gap wedges. Plenty of us do with our sand wedges. At lob wedge lofts; if you’re like me, you probably hit fewer full shots than you do clever stuff around the green. That clever stuff is where the PM Grind shines.
So, with that in mind, I’ll begrudgingly concede that Callaway’s position of the PM Grind as a new kind of wedge isn’t totally off base. I’d analogize it as the driving iron of the short game. It’s not for everyone, but it does things other wedges can’t, and in the right hands, it’s definitely not without value.
The 2019 Callaway PM Grind Wedge is available in lofts of 54°, 56°, 58°, 60°, and 64°. As a quick aside, while I wouldn’t advise it for everyday play, the 64° PM Grind is just silly fun to mess with around the green.
The stock shaft is the KBS Hi-Rev 2.0. Lamkin’s UTX Grip is standard. All lofts are available in both right and left-handed versions. Finish options include Platinum Chrome (shown) and Tour Grey.
Retail price is $159.99. Availability begins 2/15/19.