Are your wedges custom fitted or selected? It’s the primary question posed by Edel Golf and the driving force behind its new SMS (Swing Match System) wedge line.
Maybe semantics aren’t your thing. However, Edel believes the difference between what it offers and, well, pretty much everything else, is monumental.
Is it a bold assertion? You bet. But the story supporting Edel’s stance offers some rather intriguing talking points. We’ll break it down for you. Hold, please.
It’s been a long time coming. In fact, one could reasonably argue that it’s been nearly 90 years since any seismic shift in wedge design. While taking a flying lesson from Howard Hughes, Gene Sarazen noted how the tail of the plane functioned, specifically during takeoff. The result was a homespun “sand” wedge with a flange design that immediately changed how golfers played out of bunkers.
I’m not ignoring the myriad improvements made in the decades since Sarazen’s aircraft-inspired creation. But I’m hard-pressed to pin down any single wedge release as truly historical. I’m talking iconic like PING’s perimeter-weighted irons or Titleist’s release of the first ProV1 in October 2000.
Consumer complacency is a reality. Golfers demand (and buy) rapid technological advancements in metalwoods. It’s why some manufactures have an R&D budget that pushes $40 million annually.
But when it comes to putters and, to a lesser degree, wedges? Not so much. The need for something new and techy isn’t as present. Maybe that’s why wedges in 2021 don’t appear visually all that different from Wilson’s old R-90.
Product and Process
For Edel, the product (wedge) and process (fitting) are inseparable. One doesn’t exist without the other. To be fair, it’s also a point of differentiation Edel leverages as a way to maintain a healthy distance from other companies.
The 2021 SMS wedge features Swing Match Weighting, four distinct grinds, full-face scoring lines and a diamond-pattern face texture. Compared to other wedges on the market, it’s likely the moveable weights are what most golfers will notice first. And they represent a good bit of Edel’s marketing focus. That said, like any well-engineered club, it’s how each piece supports the overall design that ultimately matters most.
Edel has always promoted a unique approach to fitting. This starts and ends with founder David Edel whose stance is rooted in a biomechanical understanding of each golfer. Arm length, wingspan and arm-fold patters all help determine the proper equipment specs. With the Edel SMS wedge, moveable weights introduce an additional fitting variable, one which Edel believes gives him the self-proclaimed “world’s best” wedge fitting system.
What’s Really Different?
Edel’s tagline that the SMS wedge is the “first wedge fit for your swing” is perhaps an oversimplification. Ultimately, it’s not just your swing that determines the best fit. Every golfer’s swing has a unique DNA. However, when it comes to a precise fitting, club specifications are a two-way street. That is to say, you won’t swing every club the same way. If it’s too heavy, you’ll make compensations. Too light? It might be hard to find control.
The concept of fitting a wedge to a golfer’s swing is relatively commonplace. I mean, it seems as obvious as selecting a glove based on the size of your hand.
But, with the Edel SMS wedge, the story centers around the specific process by which a wedge is matched to the golfer’s swing.
As they say, when looking for details, expect to find demons. Or something like that.
The three interchangeable weights on the wedge flange are the visual technology that best represents Edel’s Swing Match Weighting system.
Listing to David Edel explain it all, one could be convinced that it’s a complex fitting paradigm that rivals my high-school calculus experience. Which is to say, hours of confusion interspersed with brief moments of clarity.
And while the biomechanical underpinnings are innately more complex, it’s really a basic template. Edel believes every golfer fits into one of three swing types: cover, side-on or under. Put another way: steep, neutral or shallow.
That bit is probably something you’ve run into once or twice before. But the twist is that Edel believes golfers can unlock better performance by matching weight locations to their individual swing type.
Citing internal testing, Edel found that 80 percent of tested golfers saw the best spin numbers with the heaviest weight not in the center location. Players with steeper swings (cover golfers) tended to do best with the heaviest weight in the heel. Conversely, shallower swings (under golfers) did better with the weight in the toe.
The net result, according to Edel, is a 44-percent improvement in overall accuracy. That number includes both carry distance and left/right dispersion.
While the moveable weights are main course, four grinds (D,V,T,C) serve as tasty side dishes.
The Edel SMS wedge is offered in even-numbered lofts (48 to 60 degrees) with all four grinds available in each loft. From an inventory and SKU management perspective, it’s a veritable nightmare. But for fitters and golf gearheads, it’s an all-you-can-eat hibachi buffet.
In order from steep to shallow:
D-Grind (Double Bounce) – The other three grinds feature a letter that more or less tells you what the grind is supposed to do. The D-Grind, however, doesn’t. So, left to my own devices, I’m calling it the “Double Bounce” grind.
To clarify, the D-Grind gives the golfer two different bounce surfaces. When addressed with a square face, it’s a high-bounce wedge. In addition, if the golfer opens the face, it accesses a secondary, extremely high-bounce surface. Generally, this could be beneficial in sandy/soft bunkers or touchy green-side shots from high rough.
V-Grind (V-sole) – The V-shaped sole is still a high-bounce surface and is relatively similar to Edel’s DVR grind on previous models. The V-Grind sets a lot of bounce closer to the leading edge which should allow the club to engage and move through the turf relatively quickly.
T-Grind (Triple Sole) – The T-Grind is a slightly more complex design with three surfaces. The leading edge is high-bounce while substantial heel relief and a lower-bounce crescent-shaped surface allow the golfer to open the face while maintaining the same bounce at address. Effectively, the sole of the club should produce similar turf interaction whether the face is square or open.
C-Grind (Cambered) – The C-Grind offers the widest sole and least amount of bounce. It’s likely best for the player who prefers to play a variety of shots around the green and can manipulate the face to do so. It’s also likely to be a good option for golfers who prefer to carry a lower-bounce lob wedge and higher-bounce sand wedge. Or vice versa.
You won’t see a single bounce number attached to any Edel SMS wedge. The reason, as stated by Edel, is that the number isn’t accurate. Even worse is the term “effective bounce.” When discussing bounce (acute angle between the ground and leading edge), Edel says you have to consider, at minimum, the following: What part of the sole do you use to measure it? What is the role of sole width? Depending on how the golfer intends to use the wedge, which measurements would be most beneficial to know? Leading edge? Amount of heel/toe relief? Trailing edge? You get the picture.
Whether you buy what Edel’s selling or not, the fact remains that leading wedge manufacturers have long operated under the premise of “design for what golfers need but stamp what they want to see.” It’s no different than the practice of vanity driver lofting where companies might stamp 8° or 9° on the heel but the actual loft is typically one to two degrees higher.
Other Features and Benefits
The Edel SMS wedge is forged from 1025 carbon steel. Every sole/bounce configuration is CNC milled to maintain precise specifications. The wedges also feature full-face grooves with a laser-engraved surface texture. The purpose is to help generate and retain spin on partial shots or in wet conditions.
The stock shaft is the Nippon Modus Wedge shaft. Additionally, Edel fitters will have access to an array of custom shaft options.
Like I said at the start, whether it’s consumer complacency or something else entirely, the wedge category is ripe for substantive change. If Sarazen were alive today, I’d wager a steak dinner that he’d be shocked to see that his 1931 shaping is still relevant.
That isn’t to say that the current suite of wedges is somehow less than or lacking in performance. At the same time, I’d think every company firmly believes its next generation of wedges will somehow be better than the current one.
With the SMS wedge, Edel is somewhere between optimistic and promising clear improvement for every golfer. Edel isn’t short on confidence but the proof isn’t in the pudding. It’s in the eating, right?
For more information, visit Edel’s website. And, as always, tell us what you think.