Get In the Groove

By Rob Sauerhaft

Get in the Groove

How often do you change your wedges? Each year? Every five years? Never? Wedges are such personal clubs. When you find a good one, the last thing you want to do is replace it. I had an H&B PowerBilt sand wedge as a youngster. Basically, I wore out the grooves. But I kept playing it, maybe misguidedly, after it lost some of its stopping power. That’s because I believed  I could get up-and-down from anywhere with it.

Wedge grooves are a lot like car tires. Through repeated use, the grooves eventually wear down and performance suffers. Both Titleist and Golf Digest magazine ran tests recently to determine the effects on your game between new wedge grooves and worn ones. Titleist set up the company’s swing robot to hit 60-yard shots while Golf Digest conducted player testing from 40 yards and in. Here’s a closer look at both studies, and what you can learn from them. 

GET IN THE GROOVE

A pair of independent studies show huge performance differences in wedges with brand-new grooves versus old, worn ones.

By Rob Sauerhaft

TITLEIST STUDY: 60-yard shot

HOW THEY TESTED:

The company’s wedge robot hit 60-yard shots off artificial turf “to minimize the variables that may influence results.” All shots were struck using a Titleist Vokey SM6 56° with 14° bounce and Titleist Pro V1 ball. In preparation for the test, Titleist face-mapped several golfers’ wedges to better understand groove depths, dimensions and the average wear pattern based on number of rounds played. Then, the company recreated the average depths and dimensions in three test sets. One set had brand new grooves, another had grooves played for 75 rounds, and the third version had grooves with 125 rounds of play.

TITLEIST STUDY 60 yard shot results

FINDINGS:

  • Sixty-yard shots hit with brand-new grooves from the “fairway” spin 10% more than with “75-round” grooves, and 24% more than with “125-round” grooves.
  • With the most worn grooves (125 rounds), shots roll out on the putting green 2.4 times farther (24 feet vs. 10 feet) than those with new grooves. Again, these are well-struck shots from a clean “fairway” lie. The differences might even be greater with lesser contact or more challenging lies.
  • Five-hundred bunker shots are roughly equivalent to 75 rounds of play, and 1,000 bunker shots are roughly equivalent to 125 rounds.

How can you determine if a wedge doesn’t spin the ball enough? “There are three tell-tale signs,” says Kevin Tassistro, Director of Wedge Development for Titleist. “The launch angle goes up, you’ll see a decrease in stopping power on the green, and the carry distance is shortened during tests with Tour pros.” In this test, the launch angle increased by 2° with the most worn (125-round) grooves and shots rolled out quite a bit. Even though the ball launches higher (it rolls up the face), shots carry a shorter distance. This is borne out during testing with Tour pros. “Once you get to 75 rounds of play, you’re going to lose spin and it’s time to consider a new set of wedges with fresh grooves,” says Jeremy Stone, Director of Marketing, Vokey Wedges. Here’s something else to consider: Titleist wedges go through a heat treatment process to increase groove edge durability. So, it’s possible that some other models would show an even larger performance decline by 75 rounds.

How are your wedges faring? Since grooves wear down so gradually, you might not be acutely aware of the club’s declining performance. Now could be a good time to get checked out at your local Club Champion studio. One of the company’s certified master fitters can assist in determining whether you’re due for a new ride. And, with so many options in loft, bounce angle and sole grind, a proper fitting can pave the way to some pretty impressive results. Schedule a Club Champion fitting online or call 888-340-7820.

GOLF DIGEST STUDY: 40 YARDS AND IN

Originally published in the March 2018 issue, their research confirms that fresh grooves produce significantly more spin on short shots around the green.

HOW THEY TESTED:

A scratch golfer hit 12 shots from various distances and turf conditions. Using a new Titleist Vokey SM7 wedge and four-year old Titleist Vokey SM5 (that had normal use), the tester hit three different types of shots. He used a 54° wedge to hit 40-yard pitches from the fairway, and 40-yard pitches from light rough. He also used a 58° wedge on 18-yard pitch shots from the fairway. The test ball was Bridgestone’s Tour B330S. Both the fairway and light rough were real grass. Any shot that stopped farther than 15 feet from the hole was replayed. This was an indicator the player either swung too hard, too soft or made non-typical contact.

TITLEIST STUDY 60 yard shot results

FINDINGS:

  • As much as new grooves effect 60-yard shots, the impact could even be more pronounced on shots closer to the green.
  • The new wedge grooves spin it 64% more out of light rough. That’s right—using the older, worn equipment sacrifices the most spin (percentage-wise) where you need it most.

According to Mike Johnson, Golf Digest’s equipment editor, “Investing in your short game is a wise play and seeing the amount of improvement with fresh grooves should send those with older wedges to their nearest golf shop seeking replacements.”

How are your wedges faring? Since grooves wear down so gradually, you might not be acutely aware of the club’s declining performance. Now could be a good time to get checked out at your local Club Champion studio. One of the company’s certified master fitters can assist in determining whether you’re due for a new ride. And, with so many options in loft, bounce angle and sole grind, a proper fitting can pave the way to some pretty impressive results. Schedule a Club Champion fitting online or call 888-340-7820.

Get in the Groove sm

GET IN THE GROOVE

A pair of independent studies show huge performance differences in wedges with brand-new grooves versus old, worn ones.

By Rob Sauerhaft

How often do you change your wedges? Each year? Every five years? Never? Wedges are such personal clubs. When you find a good one, the last thing you want to do is replace it. I had an H&B PowerBilt sand wedge as a youngster. Basically, I wore out the grooves. But I kept playing it, maybe misguidedly, after it lost some of its stopping power. That’s because I believed I could get up-and-down from anywhere with it.

Wedge grooves are a lot like car tires. Through repeated use, the grooves eventually wear down and performance suffers. Both Titleist and Golf Digest magazine ran tests recently to determine the effects on your game between new wedge grooves and worn ones. Titleist set up the company’s swing robot to hit 60-yard shots while Golf Digest conducted player testing from 40 yards and in. Here’s a closer look at both studies, and what you can learn from them. 

TITLEIST STUDY:
60-YARD SHOT

HOW THEY TESTED:

The company’s wedge robot hit 60-yard shots off artificial turf “to minimize the variables that may influence results.” All shots were struck using a Titleist Vokey SM6 56° with 14° bounce and Titleist Pro V1 ball. In preparation for the test, Titleist face-mapped several golfers’ wedges to better understand groove depths, dimensions and the average wear pattern based on number of rounds played. Then, the company recreated the average depths and dimensions in three test sets. One set had brand new grooves, another had grooves played for 75 rounds, and the third version had grooves with 125 rounds of play.

TITLEIST STUDY 60 yard shot results

FINDINGS:

  • Sixty-yard shots hit with brand-new grooves from the “fairway” spin 10% more than with “75-round” grooves, and 24% more than with “125-round” grooves.
  • With the most worn grooves (125 rounds), shots roll out on the putting green 2.4 times farther (24 feet vs. 10 feet) than those with new grooves. Again, these are well-struck shots from a clean “fairway” lie. The differences might even be greater with lesser contact or more challenging lies.
  • Five-hundred bunker shots are roughly equivalent to 75 rounds of play, and 1,000 bunker shots are roughly equivalent to 125 rounds.

How can you determine if a wedge doesn’t spin the ball enough? “There are three tell-tale signs,” says Kevin Tassistro, Director of Wedge Development for Titleist. “The launch angle goes up, you’ll see a decrease in stopping power on the green, and the carry distance is shortened during tests with Tour pros.” In this test, the launch angle increased by 2° with the most worn (125-round) grooves and shots rolled out quite a bit. Even though the ball launches higher (it rolls up the face), shots carry a shorter distance. This is borne out during testing with Tour pros. “Once you get to 75 rounds of play, you’re going to lose spin and it’s time to consider a new set of wedges with fresh grooves,” says Jeremy Stone, Director of Marketing, Vokey Wedges. Here’s something else to consider: Titleist wedges go through a heat treatment process to increase groove edge durability. So, it’s possible that some other models would show an even larger performance decline by 75 rounds.

How are your wedges faring? Since grooves wear down so gradually, you might not be acutely aware of the club’s declining performance. Now could be a good time to get checked out at your local Club Champion studio. One of the company’s certified master fitters can assist in determining whether you’re due for a new ride. And, with so many options in loft, bounce angle and sole grind, a proper fitting can pave the way to some pretty impressive results. Schedule a Club Champion fitting online or call 888-340-7820.

GOLF DIGEST STUDY:
40 YARDS AND IN

Originally published in the March 2018 issue, their research confirms that fresh grooves produce significantly more spin on short shots around the green.

 

HOW THEY TESTED:

A scratch golfer hit 12 shots from various distances and turf conditions. Using a new Titleist Vokey SM7 wedge and four-year old Titleist Vokey SM5 (that had normal use), the tester hit three different types of shots. He used a 54° wedge to hit 40-yard pitches from the fairway, and 40-yard pitches from light rough. He also used a 58° wedge on 18-yard pitch shots from the fairway. The test ball was Bridgestone’s Tour B330S. Both the fairway and light rough were real grass. Any shot that stopped farther than 15 feet from the hole was replayed. This was an indicator the player either swung too hard, too soft or made non-typical contact.

GOLF DIGEST STUDY

FINDINGS:

  • As much as new grooves effect 60-yard shots, the impact could even be more pronounced on shots closer to the green.
  • The new wedge grooves spin it 64% more out of light rough. That’s right—using the older, worn equipment sacrifices the most spin (percentage-wise) where you need it most.

According to Mike Johnson, Golf Digest’s equipment editor, “Investing in your short game is a wise play and seeing the amount of improvement with fresh grooves should send those with older wedges to their nearest golf shop seeking replacements.”

How are your wedges faring? Since grooves wear down so gradually, you might not be acutely aware of the club’s declining performance. Now could be a good time to get checked out at your local Club Champion studio. One of the company’s certified master fitters can assist in determining whether you’re due for a new ride. And, with so many options in loft, bounce angle and sole grind, a proper fitting can pave the way to some pretty impressive results. Schedule a Club Champion fitting online or call 888-340-7820.

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