Black Satin Cleveland Smart Sole 4 Wedges – Key Takeaways
- Cleveland Smart Sole 4 Wedges get a black satin finish.
- “C” for Chipper, “G” for Gap, “S” for Sand
- $119 steel, $129 graphite
- At retail March 4
What’s new with the new Black Satin Cleveland Smart Sole 4 wedges? The answer, like beauty, is skin deep. It’s a new PVD black satin finish for Cleveland’s current iteration of specialty wedges.
From a tech standpoint, there isn’t anything new to talk about. But these silly-easy-to-use wedges do tend to be a tad polarizing. For some reason, super-wide-soled chippers or sand irons really get into the craw of the GET LESSONS crowd. A very small portion of this article will address the new finish, but the rest of it?
Well, the pot is just sitting there begging to be stirred.
Black Satin Cleveland Smart Sole 4 Wedges
Since its introduction in 2013, the Cleveland Smart Sole wedge lineup has been on a three-year lifecycle. That means we likely won’t see Smart Sole 5 until this time next year. And Cleveland, like other OEMs, loves giving its products a late lifecycle kick in the pants with a new finish.
PVD gets a bad rap but don’t get the idea it’ll wear off after a couple of range sessions. We’ve said it before but it bears repeating: PVD—Physical Vapor Deposition—may not be as premium as Diamond Black Metal or QPQ but it does last.
As for the wedges themselves, you have C, G and S: C is for the 42-degree chipper, G the 50-degree gap and S the 58-degree sand.
Wedge Tech 101
In terms of wedge technology, the Black Satin Cleveland Smart Sole 4 wedges are as basic as they come. The defining feature is a super-wide, three-tiered sole. The first tier is similar to any traditional wedge and is the part of the wedge you’ll engage on any square, full-on shot. The second tier is the widest part of the sole. It helps getting through the rough or sand without stubbing or digging. The third tier offers a small amount of trailing-edge relief.
Cleveland also includes its unique Feel Balancing Technology in Smart Sole. The idea is to move the center of gravity closer to the sweet spot for better feel. Cleveland does this by drilling out some material in the hosel which shifts the CG away from the hosel and closer to the center.
You won’t find any ROTEX face milling on the Smart Sole wedges but you will find CNC precision-milled grooves. The target golfer isn’t looking to back the ball up 10 feet but they do need predictable performance.
Up, Out and On
Keep in mind the target golfer isn’t going to be opening up the face, flopping or any other crazy-creative shots around the green. Those shots aren’t in his or her arsenal. The 58-degree S is designed for one purpose: get the freaking ball out of the freaking trap. It has enough loft to get the ball out on a full, aggressive swing. You can use it for other shots around the green but its mojo works best in the sand.
Cleveland’s own testing shows handicappers 12 and up are 50 percent more likely to get the ball out of the bunker with a Smart Sole and 30 percent more likely to land the ball on the green.
For what it’s worth, we tested the concept ourselves back in 2017.
The C is shorter and more upright than the S or the G. Its design forces you to put your hands a little forward and forces better chipping posture and alignment. You still need touch with the C but at least you make progress toward the hole.
And one thing we learned during range sessions: the C is not a one trick pony. It’s a 42-degree club and, even though it doesn’t look it, it’s remarkably useful on full shots.
The G is, obviously, a tweener. The target golfer is more likely than not to be hitting an approach from the rough. And that’s where the three-tiered sole can help.
Yeah, But GET LESSONS!
Or maybe, how about we understand there’s a sizable community of golfers out there who play this game—get ready—just for fun. They’re not going to “get lessons.” They’re not going to practice four or five times a week, either. And breaking 80 (or even 90) is either a distant memory or a current pipe dream.
Golf is their game, too. And if there’s a club or three for the weekend warrior that takes some of the frustration out of the game and helps them enjoy themselves a bit more, it harms no one.
To wit, I submit to you a quote from this very website, written nearly nine years ago by one T. Covey upon the release of the original Cleveland Smart Sole wedges:
“Forced to confront my own hypocrisy, I’ve chosen to climb down off my high horse and stop being a sanctimonious d-bag long enough to take a closer look at the Smart Sole Wedge.”
-Tony Covey, Oct 2013
Meet Rod and Gene
I don’t know of anyone who has more fun playing golf than two of my favorite golf partners, Rod and Gene. They engage in the bloodiest of matches and both have advanced degrees in the fine art of Trash Talk. The stakes may only be a two-dollar nassau but they compete like it’s for the UFC-MMA title. Especially when one of them needs to hole a three-footer for a 10 to halve the hole.
Both Viet Nam vets are in their 70s and breaking 100 is an official event. When it comes to having fun, however, both guys play to a plus handicap. Smart Sole wedges are made for golfers like Rod and Gene.
I’ve seen Rod take four shots in a bunker before just tossing his ball onto the green. And still win the hole from Gene. Would it hurt anyone if Rod were to use a Smart Sole sand iron? Other than Gene, I mean.
And I’ve seen Gene no more than 20 feet off the green go chili-dip, chili-dip, skull, chili-dip, foot-wedge before getting on the green. And still win the hole. A nice, wide-flanged chipper might just even things up with Rod and his sand iron.
And not for nothing, any self-aware eight- to 12-handicapper struggling through the chip/sand yips has thought about Smart Sole-like tools. Admit it. It’s OK. Golf will still love you.
According to the R&A, there are over 66 million golfers on this big round ball of ours. Only a precious few do it for a living. The rest of us have our own reasons for playing and “for fun” is as valid a reason as any.
Black Satin Cleveland Smart Sole 4 Wedges: Specs, Price and Availability
One of the tenets of Smart Sole is simplicity. As mentioned, you can have any loft you want—as long as it’s either a 42-degree C, a 50-degree G or a 58-degree S.
And Triple Sole is your only grind option.
Cleveland’s stock shafts are pretty benign, as well. They’re listed as the 130-gram Smart Sole Steel and the 106-gram Graphite Wedge. The women’s model comes with Cleveland’s 59-gram Action Ultralite graphite shaft. The Smart Sole player may not be a candidate for a custom wedge fitting.
The Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 is the stock men’s grip while the undersized, 42-gram Golf Pride Tour Wrap Microsuede is stock on the women’s models.
And give Cleveland credit for knowing its audience. Pricing on the Smart Sole wedge series hasn’t changed since 2017. Steel will retail for $119.99 while graphite will sell for $129.99.
The Black Satin Cleveland Smart Sole 4 wedges will hit retail on March 4.
For more information, visit the Cleveland website.