A wedge is a wedge, is a wedge, is a wedge. Give or take a few exceptions, modern wedges all have a pretty strong lineage back to the original Cleveland 588 which, for their part, were inspired by classic Wilson wedges, which, of course, were refinements of Gene Sarazen’s original sand wedge design.
There are exceptions. The Ping Eye 2 was totally different from anything that had come before it, and was the inspiration for many of the modern wedge sole designs. You can say its DNA is in the Ping Glide ES wedges. In the 90s, the Alien wedge changed the game for a segment of golfers and variations of that design still help plenty of club golfers escape the sand today.
In recent years we’ve had a bit of weight put high to raise the centre of gravity, but that’s been mostly the extent of it. Nothing dramatic.
TaylorMade tried offering replaceable grooves, and while that was nice for Tour pros, it never really caught on at retail.
Bruce Sizemore has probably been the most inventive in recent times; his MORE wedges are certainly original. But despite all their adjustability, and we’re talking loft, bounce and sole grind, all independently from one another, it just didn’t perform any better than anything else we’ve hit. And with looks even a mother wouldn’t love, it needed to perform.
Even with the recent PXG wedges, what $600 a pop gets you is a classically designed wedge made in an expensive manner. There aren’t any technological advances in the design. They don’t even have any TPE.
It’s been a long-winded journey getting there, but what we’re saying is that these new Vega Alcor Tour wedges actually appear to offer a true performance benefit. We mentioned raising the centre of gravity before. That helps to flight wedge shots lower with more spin, but the effects are often marginal because it’s difficult to move any appreciable amount of mass higher in the head.
With Vega’s two-piece design we can see the potential for a real, noticeable difference. The body is forged in Japan from carbon steel. It is a Vega iron, so we wouldn’t expect anything less. Still, Vega has never looked quite like this before.
The Alcor Tour is a new wedge in the Vega Star range, which features multi-material club designs. The big story here is that sole. We’re so used to Tungsten being thrown around willy-nilly in golf club design to get the weight down low, that it’s both surprising and refreshing that Vega has done the opposite with the Alcor Tour wedges.
To raise the weight they’ve used a lightweight titanium sole plate. The sole plate weighs 40 grams, which allows more weight to be put high in the head. And when you look at the side profile, that high toe area appears significantly thicker than other designs. The design removes weight from the heel as well, which on paper suggests a significantly higher CG than any other wedge in the market. Some clever beveling ensures the top line doesn’t appear thick behind the ball.
The big selling point of the Ti sole plate is that it’s interchangeable. The wedge can be configured with a low bounce, mid bounce or high bounce sole plate. Buy all three, and you have one wedge that can be adjusted for the conditions of any golf course.
Call us intrigued.
Versatility Comes at a Cost
We’ve not hit them as yet, so while performance is TBD, we love the departure from the status quo of wedge design. These Alcor Tour wedges aren’t cheap. With an RRP of £249 (around $375) with one soleplate, or £329 (around $490) for the wedge with all three sole plates, the Alcor Tour will put a dent in your pocket. The cost may explain why the big manufacturers haven’t attempted anything similar, as you aren’t likely to sell a huge volume of product at that price point – and that’s exactly the thinking that has limited wedge design to what amounts to a simple rehashing of a club designed in 1932.