How many decades have I been sniveling and whining about my short game here on this golf blog? 2? 3? I seriously have a better chance of getting a 4-iron close to the pin from 210 yards with a tree in my backswing, than I do chipping. That happened this past weekend. Thanks to Bombtech Golf I will be dropping a bomb on my short game and starting over with three new wedges.
Bombtech is famous for their Grenade driver which I reviewed a while back. It’s a great driver. Now they’re offering wedges which are very sharp looking. What’s crazy is that these wedges are priced at $99 for ALL THREE right now, instead of $99 each.
If these wedges can help improve my short game even a tiny bit, I’ll win that $99 in bets and the clubs will pay for themselves! Haha.
Can you buy a game? Most golfers seem to think so. For $99 it could be worth a shot, pun intended. Stay tuned for my (hopefully positive) review soon.
This past week I experienced a bit of an embarrassing learning experience while golfing with fellow golf blogger John Duval of IntoTheGrain.com. We were playing at Soldier Hollow Golf Course here in Heber, Utah, which had been getting pounded by rain and even hail. The bunkers (known by some as sand traps) had been compacted and not maintenanced. So that meant the sand in them was extremely hard and even had a bit of a crusty layer on the top.
On one of the six, yes six, par-3’s on the Silver Course, I had trouble getting out. I kept blading shots and line-driving them into the lip. Luckily for John the lip stopped one of them, or my ball might have killed him, or at least caused severe eye damage. Inside joke there. Like the extremely intelligent golfer I am, I kept trying the same shot and getting the same result, blading shots into the lip. After a few of them I picked the damn ball up with my hand and threw it at the hole. That was the shot of the day.
A couple of holes later on yet another par-3 I was again in a greenside bunker. This time a bunker quite short of the green, about 20 yards. Instead of sand wedge I chose lob wedge. I got out of the first bunker no problem, but went into the 2nd one. Lob wedge again from the 2nd one was no problem onto the green.
The Reader’s Digest version of the lesson was that out of crusty, hard, compacted sand my lob wedge was a better choice than my sand wedge. Why? The design between those two clubs in my particular bag is quite different.
My sand wedge, and the majority of most sand wedges has a lot of bounce. The bounce comes from the sole of the club, or the bottom line which is what touches the ground when a golfer is holding the club in position before a shot. This area of the club head can be flat, rounded, v-shaped, or custom ground into all sorts of shapes. The shape of bottom of the club produces a certain amount of bounce. Most common in sand wedges is about 10-12 degrees, quite a bit of bounce.
Why a lot of bounce? In regular sand which isn’t hard like the sand I described above, a club will go into the sand and dig or burrow in. This can stop the club or severely slow it down. A club which is decelerating in sand will not produce a good shot. This is why most amateur golfers hit fat shots in the sand, and the ball only goes a foot or two, leaving them another sand shot. The bounce of the sand wedge helps the club deflect off the sand and prevents it from digging in. This way the club travels through quickly and gets the ball in the air and out of the bunker.
Bounce and hard sand? So if the sand is extremely compacted and hard, the design of the sand wedge will make the club bounce far too much. The club will not go under the sand. Instead it will bounce up and the leading edge of the club, or blade, will hit the ball. This is called “blading a shot” and is what produces the line-drive shots I was hitting into the lip.
Lesson one is that clubs with a lot of bounce are generally not a good idea in hard sand or on very hard ground.
My current lob wedge has quite a different design or “grind” on the sole of the club compared to my sand wedge. Rather than 10 degrees of bounce, it has only four. This is not a lot of bounce at all. When I switched to the lob wedge in the 2nd trap, the club did not bounce in the sand. It went under the ball without going back up too soon from impacting the sand. Therefore I did not blade the shots. The first shot didn’t travel far enough because of the loft of the club and how hard I swung it, but the ball got out of the crusty sand with no problem at all.
Conversely a lob wedge or club like mine with a small amount of bounce may not be a great club selection for an average golfer who is hitting out of soft sand. The club will not bounce off the sand but will dig in, producing a fat shot which will come up short.
Lesson two is that clubs with very little bounce are a good idea for compacted sand or very hard ground.
Left: 56 degree sand wedge with 10 degrees bounce | Right: 60 degree lob wedge with 4 degrees bounce
Look at the image above. Left is my sand wedge and right is my lob wedge. The green line shows the leading edge of the face. The pink line shows the bounce. You can see that the sand has much more mass and the angle of the sole (between the pink and green lines) is much higher. That’s the bounce!
Lesson three from this experience which I learned, probably re-learned, is to not be too lazy to go get the right club. Once I hit that first bouncy bladed sand shot into the lip I knew the ground was too hard and the sand wedge was the wrong club. I should have gone to my bag and gotten my lob wedge before taking another swing. Instead I was too lazy to go get another club. The result was a big number and loss of hole.
If it were a tournament or important situation other than a casual round, I would have changed clubs.
Next time you find yourself in a bunker, look at the sand and get a feel for it with your feet. Is it hard? Is it soft? Now you may have a better idea which of your clubs is the best choice. If by chance you choose the wrong club, don’t hesitate to take a few more seconds to grab the correct club and save some strokes.
Golf gearhead drool warning. Have a bib ready for this one. I just got in some fantastic looking wedges from Harry Taylor Golf.
Harry Taylor Golf Wedges
Previously, Harry Taylor was a club designer at TaylorMade, Mizuno, and Founders Club. He’s now making his own wedges and as you can see by the images I’ve shot, they look sweet.
Harry Taylor Golf Wedges
I’ve got a full set of these wedges to test: 52-56-60. These are going straight in the bag and I will start hitting them next week, weather permitting. As I do with all of my golf club reviews, I’ll be spending a lot of time playing these on the course before I post my detailed review. Until then, enjoy these pics and check out the Harry Taylor Golf website.
Harry Taylor Golf Wedges
I’ve started the first sentence of this review then deleted it several times, trying to find a witty way saying I have a new gamer 56 degree (sand) wedge. I don’t want to sound like every hack golf writer/blogger who has a new gamer every week. You know the ones: “this is the best (insert golf club here) I’ve ever hit!” Then next week they write a review about another one and say the same thing. My previous 56 degree wedge has been in my bag since 2006. Yes TWO THOUSAND AND SIX. That’s nine years for those of you counting at home. What’s even more remarkable is the number of wedges which have had the opportunity to dethrone it. I’ll be doing a WITG piece on those who didn’t make the cut soon: “what’s in the garage?”
So what is the new wedge which has been able to take a position in my bag that at least a dozen others have not been able to achieve? It is the new Mizuno MP-T5 5610. The 56 in 5610 is the number of degrees. The 10 in 5610 represents the degrees of bounce on the sole of the club.
Mizuno Golf MP-T5 5610 Wedge – click to zoom
The MP-T5 wedges are “grain flow forged.” Forging is the most popular process for higher end clubs, and clubs which have more feel to them. The other process is casting, which in my opinion produces clubs which have no feel, or basically feel the same on every shot. The metal used in the forging of this wedge is 1025 E pure select mild carbon steel. This is a soft steel, if there is such a thing. The softness gives the player control and feel.
The grooves in the MP-T5 are “quad cut,” milled out of the face with a CNC milling machine. This produces a lot of surface area on the face, giving the wedge more biting power and therefore more control via more spin.
Mizuno provides all sorts of options when they custom build the wedge for their players (at no extra charge I might add). There are 25 loft/bounce options for every possible swing style and condition.
Mizuno offers a True Temper Dynamic Gold “Wedge” flex shaft as its stock option and that’s the shaft in my test unit. There are roughly 15 other custom shaft options available.
This wedge combines a white satin finish with some great artwork and a very classy shape. The white satin to me is more of a matte-silver finish, which I really like. No distracting glare from the sun.
Mizuno MP-T5 Wedge
I don’t have the Black Ion Steel unit so I cant speak much about it, other than it looks fantastic.
I would never switch out a sand wedge which has been in my bag for NINE years to one which doesn’t have great feel. I adjusted to the wonderful feel of this wedge much quicker than I thought I would. I can tell exactly where I’ve made contact on the club face via the club’s “feedback” sound and feel.
On the Course
If you’re looking for computerized Iron Byron testing results with a TrackMan and exact spin rates, launch angles… check another site. My reviews are all hands-on, on the course. I can’t help wondering when that Iron Byron guy will finally find the right club for his perfect swing anyway. I don’t hit it perfect every time, and neither does anyone else, except Iron Byron.
Technical stuff and looks aside, the on-the-course performance is the most important factor. The first shot I hit, and no I didn’t bother hitting the range first, was a thrill. I was 96 yards from a front pin on the 10th hole at my home course Bonneville. The green is elevated (the right green for those of you who know the course) and anything short is in long rough. Oddly, this particular green has no fringe.
My shot hit right next to the pin, dead on line. It bounced a few feet past and spun back to about two feet. I made the ticklish birdie putt. I have hit many similar triumphant shots with the MP-T5 wedge. I find my accuracy around 100-110 is quite good.
Check out the milling on the face…
The real game changer for me (and “game changer” is a phrase that I really don’t like using) is in chipping. I’ve been using my 60 degree wedge for chipping around the greens, but thought I would try this 56 instead. The contact I’m getting is so much better. I think the added bounce is making a big difference as my 60 is very low bounce. The chipping has been much improved. Not great, but much improved. I’ll still use the lob for flops.
Finally, in the sand I’ve had some great results. My previous 56 was very good out of the sand and I wasn’t sure I’d ever find another wedge as good. The jury is still out as I haven’t hit enough green-side bunkers to really know, but so far so good.
The $129.99 retail Mizuno MP-T5 5610 is a fantastic sand wedge. Whether I’m hitting full shots from 100-110, sand shots, or chipping around the green, it performs as good or better than any other 56 I’ve tried. And I’ve tried more than a few. Just look in my garage.