Written By: Tony Covey
I suppose that as far as wedge stories go, there’s a bit more to the tale of the PING Glide wedge than most. That said, I will concede that much of what I’ll discuss here today is, in one form or another, common to nearly every new wedge narrative.
For this new model, PING wanted to take a fresh look at everything that goes into a wedge. So as you might expect, we’re going to talk about tour player feedback, refined shapes, new materials, sole designs, and of course, new grooves, but the most compelling part of the Glide wedge’s story starts in a most unusual place.
Actually, let’s skip right to Wikipedia.
And so here comes your relevant background.
As various finish options for the Glide wedge were being kicked around, PING’s engineers were tasking with using the one that performed best.
Best performing finish?
Most of us likely think of clubhead finish strictly as a cosmetic thing. I gravitate to darker, low glare options. I know some of you love the copper look, and a few of you believe that a rusty club makes the ball spin more.
It really doesn’t matter what you or I happen to believe about our individual preferences, because the guys at PING developed a series of experiments designed to determine if any of their finish options offered an actual quantifiable performance advantage. By the way, this is the kind of thing PING’s engineering team classifies as fun.
This is where hydrophobicity enters the discussion.
What PING found was that their smooth chrome plating was actually more hydrophobic; more repellent to water. In practical terms; when conditions are wet, moisture spreads away from the cover of the ball and the face of a smooth chrome wedge faster than it does with the other finishes PING tested.
The net result is a 30% increase in spin, and a reduced occurrence of fliers. Again, we’re talking about damp conditions, moderate to severe rough, and other situations that put moisture between the ball and clubface.
30 percent. That’s significant.
In my time in the golf industry, this wasn’t just the most detailed conversation I’ve had about hydrophobicity, it’s the only time the word has ever come up.
PING finds improvements in unexpected places, and again, turning over this particular rock was apparently fun.
The Rest of the Glide Story
PING’s story is that the new Glide wedges were engineered from the hands down. What that really means is that their team assumed little while looking to make improvements in every aspect of their wedge design.
As many wedge stories do, this one starts with feedback from tour players.
PING spent a lot of time filming the wedge swings of their tour staff members to gain a better understanding of where they had performance gaps.
What PING learned isn’t much different from what you and I already know…even if we don’t realize that we know it. There’s an instantly recognizable feeling that results from using the bounce – the skidplate – of the club correctly.
“You feel the sole thump the ground”, says Marty Jertson. ”At impact you get this feeling of perfect balance, like the club is gliding through the turf”.
Gliding. I see what you did there.
For the less Zen among us, what Marty’s talking about are those shots that just feel right…the ones we know are going to spin like a tour pro hit them.
Fitting Starts at the Ground
A good bit of how those shots materialize comes from turf interaction, and turf interaction starts with the sole.
You’re no doubt familiar with various wedge fitting techniques – bounce, grind, digger, driver, sweeper, etc. It’s all related, it’s all important, but it can also be extremely complex.
To help simplify things for the average golfer while still keeping the fitting aspect meaningful, PING’s approach to putting the golfer in the right Glide wedge focuses on sole width.
The Glide wedge comes in 3 models; a standard sole (SS), thin sole (TS), and Wide Sole (WS). Not all sole designs are available in all lofts (for example, the TS model isn’t available below 58°), but the idea is that between the three widths and thirteen total loft/sole combinations, the golfer will be able to find his best fit based on his technique.
First, it’s important to understand that the thinner the sole, the more the club will naturally want to dig.
If you have a shallow angle of attack (the guys who just nip the grass with their wedges) or regularly play from firmer fairways and bunkers, you’d likely do well with the TS or SS designs.
You could probably figure this next part out on your own, but the Wide Sole (WS) design is basically for the other guys. If you have a steep angle of attack, take monster divots, or generally play in softer conditions, your game is made for the Wide Sole model.
The WS design produces less downward, and more forward force at impact. Not only does this help prevent digging, it also offers more forgiveness for the less skilled golfer whose impact timing might be less than Zen-like.
Worth a mention, I suppose; while the Wide Sole models will have lower measured (actual) bounce, the effective bounce will be higher. For all intents and purposes, bounce equals forgiveness.
Other Glide Improvements
As with most new club releases, the PING Glide Wedge comes with its own laundry list of improvements.
Softer Leading Edge – PING has rounded the leading edge radius to help prevent digging.
Increased Offset – I know, we’re all super-awesome golfers, and most super-awesome golfers hate offset. So yeah, PING has increased offset, however, thanks to smoother transition from the hosel, you probably won’t notice.
Intelligent Groove Design – That’s actually my phrase (it’s technically not Trademarked or anything), and it’s not unique to PING. What it means is that PING has optimized the grooves on wedges with lofts from 47°-54° for full shots, while 56°-60° models have grooves with steeper sidewalls (24° compared to 16°) designed to promote more spin on pitches and chips.
Chrome Plated 431 Stainless Steel – The hydrophobic nature of PING’s smooth chrome finish should, by now, be legendary, but it’s also worth a mention that PING is using a softer 431 material in the Glide wedge.
Increased Static Weight – The Glide wedge comes stock with a 118 gram CFS wedge. While swing weights will actually be lower in the 56°-60° models, the higher static weight helps provide a stable feel and lower ballflight.
New Dyla-Wedge Grip – The new grip, which definitely shares some similarities with Lamkin’s wedge grip, is ¾” longer than a standard grip. It has 3 distinct thumb markings to encourage golfers to choke down while developing consistent, repeatable hand placement.
Pricing, Specs, and Availability
The PING Glide wedge is available in standard sole (SS), thin sole (TS), and wide sole (WS), with a combined 13 loft/sole options:
SS: 47º, 50º, 52º, 54º, 56º, 58º, 60º
TS: 58º, 60º
WS: 54º, 56º, 58º, 60º
Shipping to retailers in February, the PING Glide wedge has a MSR of $140 (steel ) and $160 (graphite).