Sexy is as sexy does, and one can say – on this final day of the decade – that Wilson Golf did indeed get its sexy on in 2019.
If the Staff Model blades didn’t make your heart do the Lambada well, to steal a line from the old Louis Jordan song: Jack, you dead.
Woodland’s Cinderella-story win at Pebble just added to the Staff Model sexy. This November Wilson added Utility irons to the Staff Model stable, and today they’re bringing a new date – actually two new dates – to your New Year’s Eve Short Game bash.
Staff Model Wedges
The new Wilson Staff Model wedges will replace the now three-year-old PMP line with two distinct offerings: a standard, blade-style wedge, and a High-Toe option. As for sole grinds, you can have any grind and bounce you want, as long as it’s one of those two.
The PMP, on the other hand, had three distinct grinds which, when combined with loft-bending, offered 97 different loft/bounce combinations – a feature/benefit heavily touted when PMP was released. That’s a lot of options and, in hindsight, may have been too many. The standard Staff Model wedge features a relatively thin, Tour-type grind while the new HT (for High-Toe) wedge features a much wider sole for partial shot versatility. Obviously, if you adjust the loft on either, bounce will change, but the grinds you see are the grinds you get.
The standard Staff Model wedge is forged 8620 carbon steel, which is actually a rough casting that’s then forged into the final head shape. It may – may – feel a wee bit firmer than, say, a 1025 forging, but most players will have a hard time telling the difference. You will find it a bit more durable, which in a wedge isn’t a bad thing.
The Staff Model HT is a 431 stainless steel casting and, like other High Toe wedges, features full-face grooves which provide up to 40% more groove area on the face which, in a wedge designed for creativity around the green, isn’t a bad thing either.
Technically, you can probably trace the High Toe wedge style back to the Ping Eye 2, but Callaway made it a thing again in 2015 with the Mack Daddy PM grind for Phil Mickelson. Six months later, Tour Edge put out a copy, and it didn’t take long before TaylorMade joined the action with Hi-Toe.
“For most people, High Toe isn’t designed to be a full swing club,” Jon Pergande, Wilson’s R&D chief, tells MyGolfSpy. “It’s really made for around the green flexibility, something we can feel confident about getting under the ball with, popping it up in the air out of short rough as well on a tight lie in front of the green.”
A High Toe wedge is helpful for any shot you might want an opened up face: sand shots, delicate chips or pitches that you want to hit and check and because the large face and high toe tend to raise the CG higher than standard wedges (which can lower trajectory and increase spin), the occasional knockdown. That said, High Toe is most beneficial in higher lofts, and Wilson is offering the Staff Model HT’s in three lofts only: 56-, 60- and 64-degrees.
“The first of our guys to request the High Toe was Padraig Harrington,” says Pergande. “He’s bagging one now. We’re working on something for Gary Woodland – he prefers a higher toe and wider sole, with a little more bounce built-in.”
Wilson’s offering the standard Staff Model wedge in the full loft spectrum, from 48- to 60-degrees, in 2-degree increments.
“When you get to the 54 and 56, we do have some extra mass higher in the back of the wedge,” says Pergande. “That mass elevates the center of gravity to ensure maximum control and spin to make the higher lofts more playable on full shots. That’s less of a concern with the lower lofted wedges.”
Groovy Kind of Love
Wilson has been on a three-year product cycle for wedges for a while now, and while the company doesn’t have catchy nicknames like Jaws, Rotex, or Mac Daddy, it’s Raw PMP wedge performed very well in the most recent Most Wanted Wedge test. As far as grooves go, the new Staff Models are getting a bit of a makeover.
The PMP grooves were, comparatively speaking, wide and deep with fairly wide spacing. The new Staff Models, however, feature a denser groove pattern, with narrower grooves. That means more grooves on the face to grab the ball.
You’ll also see a hint of rotational milling on the face of the standard Staff Model wedge.
“We mill the faces flat prior to putting in the score lines,” says Pergande. “The mill pattern remnant helps with a slower speed collision with the ball like you’d have with a half or partial shot. The roughness on the face to grab into the ball and provide more control on those shots.”
Wilson doesn’t go into stuff like hydrophobicity or Hydroflow Micro Grooves to deal with moisture, preferring to let the microlines do their job.
“As soon as any material comes between the ball and the face – particularly water – that’s where the score lines and the milling come in,” says Pergande. “The microlines are like treads on a tire. You have to find even the smallest avenues for water to get squeezed away, otherwise, you’ll hydroplane a ball, and you’ll get uncontrollable flyers.”
Specs, Price, and Availability
The standard Staff Model wedge will be available on 48-, 50-, 52-, 54-, 56-, 58- and 60-degree models for righties, and 52-, 56- and 60-degree models for lefties. The Golf Pride Tour velvet grip is stock, as is the True Temper Dynamic Gold 120 shaft.
“We want to keep the weight down to make it more playable,” says Pergande. “Steel shafts are tending lighter and lighter anyway, and we didn’t feel like we needed anything in the 130-ish neighborhood.”
As mentioned, the Staff Model HT wedges come in 56-, 60- and 64-degrees, with the same grip and shaft.
Wilson is pricing the Staff Model wedges pretty competitively at $129.99 – a relative bargain when compared to everything from the Mizuno T20 at $150 to the Callaway MD5 jaws at $160 and the TaylorMade Milled Grind at $170. Cleveland’s RTX-4 and the Vokey SM-7 both list at $140 to $160, but both are currently discounted and are due for replacement in 2020.
The Staff Model wedges will be in stores and on Wilson’s website starting February 3rd.