Wedge Fitting and the Web: PING’s Stake in the Ground
Golf Wedges

Wedge Fitting and the Web: PING’s Stake in the Ground

Support our Mission. We independently test each product we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

Wedge Fitting and the Web: PING’s Stake in the Ground

Wedge fitting is important. Can we agree on that?

Good. Now Let’s get this on the table right away so there’s no confusion.

The absolutely, positively and unreservedly best way to get fitted for wedges is in person, outdoors, on a range, around a practice green and in a practice bunker under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable and experienced wedge fitter.

I know it’s the internet and all but I’d be shocked if anyone could argue effectively with that declaration.

Effectively is the keyword.

PING Wedge Fitting

Here’s something else I hope we can agree on: properly fitted golf equipment can raise the level of your game.

That doesn’t mean a custom-fitted driver and irons with the most expensive shafts will instantly turn a 20-handicap into a low single-digit golfer. It does mean that properly fitted gear can help anyone play better golf.

Coaching and practice improve the archer, which raises the ceiling. The right gear raises the floor.

Statistically speaking, however, wedges (along with hybrids) are the clubs you’re least likely to be fitted for. That’s a problem.

But is it a problem you can solve using the worldwide web?

PING Wedge fitting

Why Is Wedge Fitting Important?

Numbers don’t lie. Most of us don’t get fitted for our wedges. Sadly, the higher your handicap, the more that is to your detriment.

“The actual results from a wedge fitting are probably magnified more for the everyday player than the elite player,” says Jacob Clarke, PING’s Senior Design Engineer and Tour wedge fitter. “Give an elite player anything off the rack and they may not play their best with it but they’ll still play some darned good golf.

“But for the average player, if you give them a T-Grind and they really need a W-Grind, we’re having a very different conversation.”

PING wedge grind options.

As mentioned, full-blown wedge fittings are hard to find. Depending on your geography, it could be impossible. Add a seemingly dizzying array of sole grind and bounce options and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We wind up going for whatever’s in the middle.

Bringing wedge fitting to the masses is one of the equipment trends in 2024. Vokey, Callaway, Cleveland and TaylorMade, the top four in wedge market share, all have wedge fitting programs on their websites. PING badly wants a seat at the wedge table and believes its new S159 wedges and its new WebFit Wedge app might be the ticket.

A PING S159 E Grind wedge

Crashing the Wedge Fitting Party

Before diving into PING’s WebFit Wedge app (technically, it’s a tool on PING’s website), let’s discuss exactly what a wedge fitting does for you. Clarke is PING’s go-to wedge guy. He’s fitted Victor Hovland, Corey Conners and other PING staffers, along with high-handicappers with the chipping heebie-jeebies.

“What we’re doing with different grinds is trying to control your vertical impact location on the face,” Clarke tells MyGolfSpy. “It’s a combination of how the player delivers the club, what that player wants the club to do and a little bit of course conditions.”

PING wedge fitting

Clarke says wedge fitting starts greenside because that’s where you’ll see the biggest difference in sole grind performance. Technically speaking, you want to see ball contact around the third and fourth grooves, maybe a touch higher if you open the face.

“All we’re doing with all those different grinds is trying to get that strike around groove three or four because it gives you the best combination of height and spin,” he says. “If you hit it lower, you’ll get more spin but your launch angle and landing angle will be so flat you won’t have any stopping power.”

Tour players will wear out grooves three and four. But for we mere mortals, the right grind helps our mishits by controlling impact location and minimizing variation up and down the face.

PING S159 Wedges

“Perfect shots work out great but the small misses aren’t horrible,” explains Clarke. “If you hit one a little chunky, it’ll still come out in a similar window and might roll out a little farther. It’ll still be acceptable. With Tour players, misses are maybe by a groove or two. With general consumers, we’re trying to solve the same problem. It’s just the level of precision isn’t the same.”

What If I Have the Wrong Grind?

Call them the chip yips, the short game heebie-jeebies or the dreaded “chili-dips.” They happen to the best of us and the rest of us.

They’re usually followed by an I suck at chipping moan and a few expletives.

Sure, technique has plenty to do with it, but so does the wrong tool for the job.

“If there’s a massive difference between your good shots and your bad shots, that’s probably a good indicator of an ill-fitting wedge,” says Clarke.

PING S 159 T-grind wedge

You can talk about archer, arrow, practice and lessons all you want but remember we’re talking about raising the floor, not the ceiling.

“If I gave you a $500 pen and had you sign your name and then gave you an old crayon to sign your name, they’ll look different, but you’d still recognize your name,” Clarke explains. “Your signature is your signature. When we find a sole that matches up with your signature, that’s when you’ll find more consistent results, even if turf conditions or other elements change.”

That means if the sole matches your signature, you’ll still mishit shots. You just won’t want to set your clubs on fire.

“You’re raising the bar on your bad shots,” says Clarke. “Instead of chunking it and advancing the ball maybe six inches, you’ll clank it out on the green in the general direction of the cup.”

So How Does PING’s WebFit Wedge App Help?

As we said, the unquestioned best wedge fitting is – say it with me – in person, outdoors, on a range, around a practice green and in a practice bunker under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable and experienced wedge fitter.

But OEMs realize most of us don’t have access to that level of fitting. Or they don’t want the expense or they’re simply intimidated by the process. They are trying, though. OEMs are providing retailers with detailed point-of-purchase signage explaining wedge grinds and bounce options and how to choose the right one for your game.

PING includes a QR code on its S159 wedge signage and on the wedge itself that takes you to its WebFit Wedge app on its website. From there, says PING, the app will whittle all the loft, bounce and grind options down to one or two for you within maybe 90 seconds.

Two minutes if you dawdle.

“What we wanted to do is to put Jacob Clarke’s brain into this app,” says Marty Jertson, PING VP of Fitting and Performance. “We’re not asking about your current wedge. We’re starting from Ground Zero and taking you through a journey, educating you along the way.”

Find the right S159 wedgesgrinds using PING's wedge fitting app

The challenge with wedge fitting is to make a complex process simple while not making it simplistic or “dumbing it down.”

“It really starts with empathy for the customer,” explains Jertson. “They want to know why the results are what they are. They don’t want some black box telling them to use these because we said so.”

Wedge Fitting From Your Couch?

There, or anywhere else you have some quiet phone time.

The app starts with a short promotional video for the new PING S159 wedges (you can skip it if you want) before getting down to business.

PING WebFit Wedge app.

Step One asks for your average score to assess your skill level. Step Two asks for your pitching wedge carry distance. The app uses that number plus data from thousands of shots collected at the PING Proving Grounds and a proprietary algorithm to predict carry distance for the rest of your wedges.

Next, it asks for your highest-lofted wedge to determine proper gapping. If you answer, “I don’t know,” the app will assume 58 degrees.

PING WebFit Wedge app

Next up is one of those questions that’s easy to answer if you play in Arizona but a little dicey anywhere else: your typical turf condition. Narrow soles are generally paired best with firm, dry conditions (like Arizona) while wider, high-bounce soles work best in wet or soft conditions. If you’re not sure, or if your turf conditions vary, the one in the middle will suffice. The next question asks about typical sand conditions, again to determine whether a narrow or wider sole is your best choice. Soft sand will go with a wider sole, firm sand will go with a narrower one.

The last few questions finalize the fit. The app wants to know what your typical wedge divot looks like (it has pictures) and whether you like to open the face or play it square on pitch shots. If you’re an open-face player, you’ll likely see a lower bounce option. A square-face player will see higher bounce options.

Finalizing The Fit

The penultimate step is ball position. A middle-back ball position indicates shaft lean, leading to a higher bounce selection for ideal turf interaction.

Lastly, the app asks for your highest priority for your most lofted wedge. No ranking, no choosing two or three, just one highest priority.

PING WebFit Wedge app

Once that’s done, the app will give you two grind choices for your highest lofted wedge.

“If you walk into a store and there are six grinds to choose from, you likely won’t know where to start,” says Clarke. “No one is going to try all six grinds. The app gives you a primary and a secondary to try. You can then go hit a few shots and even off a mat, you can actually feel if it’s hitting the right spot. If you’re not bouncing it into the ball, you’re not hitting it high on the face.”

As mentioned, the app tells you why it chose what it chose and which grind might be better in specific situations. Additionally, while the app fits you for your highest lofted wedge, it also fills out your wedge set and provides you with projected carry distances and gapping, based on the pitching wedge carry distance you provided in Step Two.

“Gapping is a problem people have that they don’t know they have,” says Jertson. “If you come up short or long, most of time golfers think it’s their fault.”

How Accurate Can a Wedge Fitting Web App Be?

That depends on the data that created the if/then algorithms. It also depends on how much detail the app asks you to input. But in the case of web-based wedge fitting, more isn’t necessarily better.

“Don’t ask enough questions and you won’t get enough information to make a good recommendation,” says Clarke. “But if you ask too many people get lost and quit.”

PING’s goal was to make the process quick and painless, two to three minutes, tops. To make sure it could accurately do that, Jertson says they started at the range.

PING WebFit Wedge app

“We had everybody here, our engineers, employees, everyone, go through a live wedge fitting. Then we had them go play golf to make sure it was right for them on the golf course.”

Jertson’s team then developed the questions to correlate to that user group. The final step was to create the algorithms.

“It’s a very detailed and nuanced tool. We distilled it down to the most important questions that correlate most to actual performance.”

PING S159 wedges are available in multiple grinds

Will It Make a Difference for PING?

Excuse the cliché but that remains to be seen. As mentioned, Vokey, Cleveland, Callaway and TaylorMade all have web-based wedge fitting tools, each providing varying levels of detail. Those four OEMs all have seats at the wedge market-share head table, with PING on the outside looking in.

PING knows it’s not the first name you think of for wedges or even the fourth. That’s not due to performance, however. PING’s previous wedge model, the Glide 4.0, scored top-10 finishes in the last two MyGolfSpy Most Wanted tests. Overall results were decent enough but the Glide did set new standards in wet condition testing, actually increasing spin when wet. The new S159 uses the same PING Hydropearl finish so it’s reasonable to presume continued high performance there. This year’s testing will tell us more.

When designing the S159 wedges, PING relied more on PGA Tour feedback than it had in the past. The result is six different grinds and 25 different loft and grind combinations. With all those choices, the PING WebFit Wedge tool can help a golfer make sense of it all.

“We whittle it down and give you a rank ordered one-two combo that you can try,” says Jertson. “If you don’t have a chance to try them, you can go with the top choice. There’s a very good probability it will work for you.”

This article was written in partnership with PING.

For You

For You

First Look
Jun 12, 2024
Want a Personal Shopper? Try Short Par 4
Drivers
Jun 11, 2024
Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver
Putters
Jun 11, 2024
Triple Black Evnroll 38 Tour Spec Putters
John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John is an aging, yet avid golfer, writer, 6-point-something handicapper living back home in New England after a 22-year exile in Minnesota. He loves telling stories, writing about golf and golf travel, and enjoys classic golf equipment. “The only thing a golfer needs is more daylight.” - BenHogan

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba





    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

      Duane Martin

      4 weeks ago

      I will disagree and argue the point of…. “The absolutely, positively and unreservedly best way to get fitted for wedges is in person, outdoors, on a range, around a practice green and in a practice bunker under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable and experienced wedge fitter.”
      And my argument is this…. If you’re getting fitted at the driving range using range balls, for any club, you are not getting fit correctly.
      You will be 100X better off indoors, with computer data from Trackman, using the ball you usually play with…. rather than outside with range balls.

      Reply

      Vito

      4 weeks ago

      This is the best statement in this article. “Coaching and practice improve the archer, which raises the ceiling. The right gear raises the floor.” The only caveat I’ll add is the 25 handicap needs the coaching and practice to get a reasonable good and consistent swing. Until he achieves that a fitting may be a waste of time.

      Reply

      Andrew the Great!

      4 weeks ago

      “The absolutely, positively and unreservedly best way to get fitted for wedges is in person, outdoors, on a range, around a practice green and in a practice bunker under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable and experienced wedge fitter.” I won’t try to argue, effectively or otherwise, with that, but I will argue that that is an almost impossible paradigm for the vast, vast majority of amateur golfers to find available.

      Reply

      Yummy

      4 weeks ago

      For 35 years I thought I was a bad player because I could never chip little ones around the greens or pitch 50 yard shots, I would always end up shaking or flapping the face as the ball goes almost 90 degrees 😅 away from me, and that’s after being “fitted” even in recent years by real fitters at the nice courses around real practice chipping greens with the best of equipment. It didn’t help. That’s getting myself measured by most of these manufacturers, wrist to floor, check strike patterns on face, launch and spin, shaft flex, shaft weight, lofts and grinds and lie angles. Yup.
      I would still have these weird shots that show up out of nowhere. Of course I would hit some nice ones now and again, but the mystery shot would show up out of nowhere.

      One day, I thought I would try somebody else’s club who was chipping really well. And Lo and behold, I could not miss.
      I also tried some of them chippers, and I did just as well with those!
      And I figured it out:
      My wedges had all been too FLAT – regardless of what the fitters had measured, regardless of what the launch monitors showed – when it came to those little shots around the green, my wedges were too flat and I was getting the toe caught too much and the face was flapping open.
      I looked at those other clubs I borrowed and they were 3 to 4 degrees more upright than mine.

      I bent mine like those others and ever since, I can’t miss. For 5 years now I’m the greatest short game dude

      Reply

      Gary Kirkner

      4 weeks ago

      For most amateurs, they play in various turf and sand conditions. To accomodate these different settings, middle of the road grinds normally apply.

      Reply

      Chappy

      4 weeks ago

      The gapping on the web tool is junk. They don’t even bother to ask for the loft of the PW. It suggest a 7 degree gap in my PW to gap wedge. Doesn’t seem like it accounts for stronger lofted PWs. If you had Ping 430s they’d be suggesting a 9 degree gap.

      Reply

      BH

      4 weeks ago

      That E grind makes me throw up in my mouth a lil… I’m glad they have it for those that grew up with this kind of club though. If Ping’s wedges were priced slightly lower than the competition (even $10), they would get more looks.

      Reply

    Leave A Reply

    required
    required
    required (your email address will not be published)

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    First Look
    Jun 12, 2024
    Want a Personal Shopper? Try Short Par 4
    Drivers
    Jun 11, 2024
    Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver
    Putters
    Jun 11, 2024
    Triple Black Evnroll 38 Tour Spec Putters