Custom Fit Wedges

Every club in a serious golfers bag should be custom fit and custom fit wedges are no exception. Custom-fit putters have been discussed in-depth and we aim to provide a similar no-holds-barred look at the current market in the wedge space – with a focus on custom fit wedges.

Key Elements of a Custom Wedge Fitting

Your wedges and putter combined account for more shots in an average round than any other. If you’re looking to score better, the quickest gains can be made by becoming more proficient with these clubs and custom fit wedges will help.

It has been estimated that for an average golfer, as many as 40 stokes come in the form of putts and another 19 being full and partial shots with your wedges. That equates to 59 of 96 shots taken with those three to five clubs or over 60% of your score reliant upon those clubs! (A 4-minute video by Dave Pelz explains the importance of these clubs.)

Dynamic Vs Static Fitting

This should go without saying but you need to be fit for more than the length from your wrist to the floor and hand size. You need to swing the clubs and not just full swings – 3/4 and 1/2 shots are fundamentally a part of how you use a wedge and should part and parcel of purchasing custom fit wedges.

Custom Wedge Fitting: Off Mats or Grass?

Mats are fine for a basic fitting but mats can affect ball flight, launch angle and spin rates – incredibly important numbers when it comes to your wedges. Using Trackman (Ryan Johnson & Gerg Mathewson) analysed the difference and found that balls hit off mats launched higher, span less and carried more. If your trying to dial in your wedges for scoring on the course, gathering data from grass seems like the soundest choice. This is not to say a studio fit cannot work when buying custom fit wedges, just a real-world fit is ideal.

Golf Balls

Range balls are designed to take a beating… despite being the most hit ball in golf, the Pinnacle Practice should never leave the range. A recent report from Today’s Golfer showed higher ball speed, higher launch, significantly less spin, and longer carry with a range ball vs a 5 piece premium urethane tour ball. If your buying custom fit wedges, make sure you get fit with the ball (or equivalent) you usually play.

Out of Sand?

If you’re being fit at a range or facility with a practice bunker, it may well be worth asking to hit a few out of the bunker. With two bunker shots on average a round, wouldn’t it be a novel idea to see how it performs before you buy it? If the fitter has the option, no doubt he would want you to try before you buy your custom fit wedges.

New Vs Old

I am always impressed with a fitter who isn’t in a hurry to make a sale. In my opinion, you should be sold kit only if you need it or it makes you a better golfer. If you just really want it, that is simply your decision to buy it. It may mean you pay for the fitter’s time to show you that what you have is as good as the new shiny toy you’ve been told you need. The ability to compare your new custom fit wedges against your old wedges is one of the surest ways to have confidence you’ve upgraded and not simply spent money.

Key Elements of a Wedge Fitting Summary

Fundamentally, a custom wedge fitting should be a dynamic fitting, off grass (if possible), using proper balls (preferably your gamers) which can show an improvement in performance. Hitting a few range balls off mats is the worst combination you could choose if you wanted to take the shots from a fitting to the course.

Custom Fit Wedge Elements

Wedges are just an extension of your irons, right? Not quite. Wedges are usually used for partial shots as opposed to full shots and many use different stances when hitting wedge shots. We take a brief look at just some of the elements needed when purchasing custom fit wedges.

Wedge Lie

As mentioned previously, due to the inherent differences in the way wedges are used in comparison with irons, one must not rely upon the lie measurements of irons. A lie board is a very effective way to see how the wedge is being used dynamically. While grips, length, and shaft flex can carry over from the irons, lie is an often overlooked but essential part of getting dialed in for custom fit wedges.

Wedge Lofts

The majority of golfers will already be carrying a Pitching Wedge (PW) from their iron set. They’ve probably purchased a Sand Wedge (SW) and maybe even added a Lob Wedge (LW). If their iron lofts are jacked, they’ve probably added a Gap (Approach) Wedge (GW/ AW). A typical golfer will have usually game three to four wedges. Some may have as many as five and short-set players may have only one! Custom fit wedges will make sure your gapping is right and your wedge set aligns with the rest of your bag.

Wedges & Bounce

Bounce is part and parcel of the marketing spin from wedge manufacturers. In every WITB story and stamped on most wedges is the bounce. The intriguing thing is there is no universal standard for measuring it. In addition, the measurement is interdependent upon grind (sole shape) and sole width. With even the definition of bounce is difficult to pin down and no consensus as to what it is, bounce is to a certain extent simply marketing hype. The only way to know you’ve got it right is to be custom fit.

Custom Fit Wedges Grinds & Sole Shape

Grinds are particularly important for a more advanced player. Their skill combined with a properly fit wedge can help with pulling off finesse shots. The grind allows for the manipulation of the clubface on a variety of lies and circumstances. When buying custom fit wedges, sole grinds are one of the most important factors to consider. For a proper wedge sole grind geek out, click here.

Sole Width

Previously we spoke about the interdependency of sole width and bounce. This is where the term ‘effective bounce’ has been introduced. The wider the sole the higher the ‘effective bounce’. Sole width is a catalyst for bounce -making it more or less potent.

This is seen with the Srixon Z 945 irons that had between 17* and 20* of bounce. Combined with a narrow sole it was playable and the amount of bounce was not a factor. Introduce a wider sole and the ‘effect’ of bounce would be much more pronounced.

Wedge Grooves

Grooves were a hot topic leading up to January 1, 2010. From this date, the R&A and USGA limited the groove volume and edge sharpness on clubs with lofts higher than 25*. Hence, every club manufactured after this date must conform to these standards. If your buying new wedges today, every manufacture is producing edges on the limit of what is acceptable.

The next big date regarding wedges is January 1, 2024, when all golfers are required to be playing clubs that conform. If you’re not playing in competitions or bothered about an official handicap you have nothing to worry about. If you do, either game wedges manufactured from 2010 onwards or get fit for new wedges.

Hosel

Weight distribution is a primary way for most manufacturers to see gains with better distribution of weight in the clubhead. A shortened hosel allows the manufacture to use the weight gained from there and use it more effectively elsewhere. It also allows the centre of gravity to be moved from the hosel more to the centre of the clubhead.

Cavity

Most golfers use cavity back irons but were forced into blades when they got to their wedges. Recently, cavity-backed wedges have become more commonplace and an additional product the large OEM’s are now offering.

Wedge Shafts

Many simply use the same shaft from their irons. For a long time, a heavier shaft was the choice of many as it gave more feedback and flattened trajectory. Today, there are specialist wedge shafts in all sorts of profiles. At this part of the fitting, feel becomes important and the watchful eye of a skilled fitter will ensure you find one that feels the part and fits.

Custom Fit Wedges – Elements Summary

Dynamic fitting with a knowledgeable fitter is the best way to get a set of wedges that serve your needs. Bounce is a fool’s errand much the same as shaft manufacturers’ flex designations. There are at least three other variables that need to be evaluated along with bounce to make it a meaningful aspect of choosing a wedge. Additionally, all manufacturers machine grooves on the legal limit of the R&A and USGA’s allowances – so don’t get caught up in the marketing hype of ‘sharper’ or ‘zippier’ grooves. Sole grinds are massively important and equally so is the wedge shaft. The wedge set is as much a set as an iron set – see it as such and you’ll be well on your way to better scoring!

Best Wedges 2021

Every year brings with it innovation and new products. Wedges are probably the most used in the bag and the need for replacement is required more than any other club. Let’s take a look at the current offerings a try to cut through the jargon and see what’s really being hyped. No matter how good new wedges are, you’ll probably be better off having custom fit wedges than buying off the rack.

Callaway Jaws MD5

Callaway relies on wedge guru Roger Cleveland for the design of its wedges. The current lineup is the fifth iteration known as Jaws. Other than aesthetics, the latest model has added ‘micro features’ to the face.

Steel: 8620 Mild Carbon Steel
Finish: Two – Chrome or Satin
Shaft(s): True Temper Tour Issue 115 (Steel) or Project X Catalyst 80 (Graphite)
Grip(s): Lamkin UTX
Grind(s): Five – C, S, X, W & Low Bounce W (T Grind available on some models)
Cost: £149. £30 upcharge opens up options for premium shafts, grips, colours, and stamping.
Point of Difference: Not much to see here… The PM is Phil Mickelson’s wedge offered to the public.

Fitting: 8 questions online and you can purchase the wedges the algorithm thinks are best for you. At the Callaway National Performance Centre (Surrey & St Andrews), fittings for wedges and putters are not available.

Cleveland RTX ZipCore

Cleveland is a legend in the wedge space and at one point had complete dominance with its’ 588 wedges. The current flagship wedge is the RTX Zipcore.

Steel: 8620 Mild Carbon Steel
Finish: Three – Black, Satin & Raw
Shaft(s): True Temper Dynamic Gold Spinner Wedge Shaft
Grip(s): Golf Pride Tour Velvet
Grind(s): Three – Low, Mid & Full
Cost: £129
Point of Difference: Zipcore technology takes dead weight from the hosel and moves it into the head and along with it the centre of gravity. UltiZip adds two more grooves to the face and three more grooves between each larger groove.

Fitting: There are two options in the UK – one in Oxfordshire and one in Surrey. Wedges are fit with Trackman and Srixon AD333 balls for shaft, grip, bounce, and grind.

Cobra King MIM Wedge & King Cobra Wedge

Cobra is doing things differently. They’ve followed Edel’s footsteps into the single-length market and are printing putters like National Custom. Their next innovation is metal injection molded wedges.

Steel: 304 Stainless (MIM) Undisclosed (King Cobra)
Finish: One
Shaft(s): KBS Hi-Rev
Grip(s): Lamkin Crossline
Grind(s): Three – Versatile, WideLow & Classic.
Cost: £109
Point of Difference: 100% injection molded. Progressive grooves with narrower deeper grooves on 50*-54* wedges and wider shallower grooves on 56*-60* wedges. Connect Technology. (MIM) Full face grooves on King Cobra wedges on lofts 56-60*. Connect Technology. (King Cobra)

Fitting: None.

Mizuno T20

With the quality of Mizuno’s iron forgings amongst the best, it is curious that their wedges don’t get more attention.

Steel: Boron infused 1020
Finish: Three – Satin, Blue & Raw (S only available on 45-53* with M&C Grinds available on 54-62*)
Shaft(s): True Temper, KBS, Nippon options available.
Grip(s): Golf Pride & Lamkin
Grind(s): Three – S, M & C
Cost: £139
Point of Difference: Nothing discernable.

Fitting: If you want the total package, a day with the tour team will set you back £500. The other option is the DNA Swing analyzer at most retailers. A middle-of-the-road option lies at Performance Centres which are run independently.

Ping Glide

Ping is best known for its Anser putters and more recently the quality of its drivers.

Steel: 8620 Carbon Steel
Finish: Three – Satin, Blue & Raw (S only available on 45-53* with M&C Grinds available on 54-62*)
Shaft(s): Ping’s OEM or True Temper, KBS, Nippon options available.
Grip(s): Golf Pride
Grind(s): None -no alternatives offered.
Cost: £129
Point of Difference: Nothing discernable except the fact there are no grind options.

Fitting: A visit to Ping’s European Fitting Centre is your best bet but there is no information on wedge fittings available.

PXG 0311 Forged Wedges & 0311 Milled Wedges

PXG is a premium brand that offers two variants.

Steel: 8620 Carbon Steel (Forged & Milled)
Finish: One (Forged) Two (Milled)
Shaft(s): One (True Temper Elevate)
Grip(s): PXG
Grind(s): None (Forged) Two (Milled)
Cost: £199 (Forged) £675 (Milled)
Point of Difference: There are no options available in the Forged range and all upgrades are charged. 100 % CNC milled wedge… for £675!

Fitting: A fitting event is your best bet but there are limited options.

TaylorMade Milled Grind (MG2) & Hi-Toe (HT)

Taylormade isn’t known for its wedges but its stable of tour pro’s lend to its credibility.

Steel: Not Disclosed
Finish: Two (MG2 – Chrome & Black) & Four (HT – Copper, Black, Chrome & Raw)
Shaft(s): True Temper (MG2) True Temper & KBS (HT)
Grip(s): Golf Pride
Grind(s): None (MG) & Three (HT – Standard, 4 Way and ATV)
Cost: £189
Point of Difference: The TPU insert reduces vibration. The Hi-Toe RAW Big Foot Wedge is a direct competitor to the Callaway PM Grind and features full-face grooves. You can also buy Tiger Woods wedge. The curious thing about grinds is three are available in the range but only the 58* & 60* wedges have the option of either the 4-Way or ATV. The rest are stock…

Fitting: There are no custom fitting options.

Vokey Design SM8

Perhaps the most trusted name in wedges. Bob Vokey dethroned Roger Cleveland of the title and has never looked back.

Steel: Not Disclosed
Finish: Four (Chrome, Brushed, Black & Raw)
Shaft(s): True Temper
Grip(s): Golf Pride
Grind(s): Six (F, M, S, D, K, L)
Cost: £139
Point of Difference: Similar to Cobra progressive grooves with narrower deeper grooves are found on 46*-54* wedges and wider shallower grooves on 56*-62* wedges. Progressive centre of gravity is also altered on wedges in the 46*-52*, 54*-56* and 58*-62* offerings.

Fitting: The Wedgeworks customisation is superb. Stamping, paint fill, engraving, ferrules, shaft bands and shaft etching are all options. At the National Fitting Centre in St Ives, you can be fit for Vokey wedges in an hour-long appointment from £35.

Custom Fit Edel SMS Wedges

Edel is known for its putters, wedges, and single-length irons. The Edel SMS wedges are a new offering from Edel that builds on the innovative original wedge that was the brainchild of Mike Adams & David Edel. They are the most elegant solution regarding custom fit wedges.

Steel: 1025 Japanese Carbon Steel
Finish: One
Shaft(s): Nippon & KBS as standard
Grip(s): Golf Pride Tour Velvet
Grind(s): Four (C, D, T, V)
Cost: £225 to £249
Point of Difference: Edel pioneered being custom fit for grinds, extended grooves on the clubface, a shortened hosel add wedge custom fitting for the common man. All of these innovations are now being used and adopted by the larger OEM’s. The latest innovation is moveable weight ports to dial in fit. Loft, Grind, Lie, and Length are available options on every custom fit wedge.

Fitting: Every Edel SMS wedge is custom fit by one of its Certified Fitters.

Best Wedges 2021 Summary

At the end of the day, you can buy wedges off the rack, catch lightning in a bottle and find the right wedge for you. Your best bet is to buy custom fit wedges. If that’s the case, which is the best?

OEM’s Custom Fit Wedge Summary

Straight away, Callaway, Cobra, Ping, and Taylormade are crossed off the list with no apparent appetite for proper custom fit wedges. Cleveland does better with a proper fitting but is limited when it comes to shaft offerings. A Tour Truck Fitting is £500 plus equipment costs with Mizuno and this looks dear until you see milled wedges from PXG for £675. Disappointingly the PXG wedges have very limited grind, shaft, and grip options available. Vokey is in the extreme with customisation and grinds. However, it is quite difficult to get a proper in-person fitting unless you’re ready to visit Bob for a day in America or settle for an hour-long appointment in St Ives.

Best Custom Fit Wedge Option

From the offerings we’ve compared, the conclusion for custom fit wedges is Edel. Once again, Edel has taken a segment of the market that has been paid only lip service and devised not only a fitting methodology but a product that corresponds to it perfectly.

Custom Fit Wedges & Steel – What’s the Deal?

The choice of steel in your custom fit wedge depends on whether a wedge is cast, forged or molded. Let’s dispel the myths and clear up the confusion:

Stainless Steel

304 Stainless Steel – Cobra

Cobra is the only manufacturer to use stainless steel and injection modeling allows it to happen. 304 Stainless contains Iron, Chromium, Nickel, Manganese, Silicon, and Carbon. You would see this steel used in kitchen appliances where its counterpart, 316 Stainless Steel, would be found more in medical environments.

Carbon Steel

1020 Carbon Steel – Mizuno
1025 Carbon Steel – Edel

Carbon steels are identified by a 10 followed by two digits – with the last two digits referring to the carbon content. The lower the number the softer the steel. The ‘ingredients’ include Iron, Manganese, Carbon, Sulfur, and Phosphorous. 1020 and 1025 Carbon Steels are commonly found in forgings.

Steel Alloy

8620 Steel Alloy – Callaway, Cleveland, Ping, PXG, Taylor Made, (Vokey – Unconfirmed)

8620 Steel Alloy is known for its toughness and wear resistance. You’ll come across this alloy in many machine applications including your vehicle. The ingredients list includes Iron, Manganese, Nickel, Chromium, Silicon, Molybdenum, Carbon, Sulphur, and Phosphorous.

Custom Fit Wedges & Steel

Can you tell the difference between a cast wedge, forged wedge or injection molded wedge – that’s for you to decide. What is plain to see is the carbon steels are softer than the stainless and steel allow alternatives and that will influence wear.

Custom Fit Wedges

The conclusion of the matter is the best option if you’re in the market for custom fit wedges is Edel Golf. Of course, we are biased but if one can prove to us otherwise this is the only logical conclusion. Edel doesn’t lead every category… Cobra is doing some interesting injection molding and is a new direction for production in wedges. Vokey offers customization in the Wedgeworks program you won’t find anywhere else.

However, overall for what really matters, custom fit Edel SMS Wedges are the only current manufacturer that offers 48* to 60* wedges with four grinds for every loft. The lie can be adjusted 9* and length can be adjusted in eleven 1/2″ increments. There are 15 standard shaft options that you can be custom fit for on the day. They are also the only manufacturer using adjustable weight to dial in the fit. Custom paint fill, stamping and BB&F Ferrules can be ordered for a nominal upcharge.

FURTHER READING ABOUT EDEL SMS WEDGES

For a down-to-earth explanation of wedge sets, click here

For a proper geek out on wedge grinds, click here

To see what the industry is saying about the new Edel SMS Custom Fit Wedges, click here

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