By Alex Gallemore
Putting and chipping are the two areas that can make a scorecard and save a round. Having the right wedge is just as important as having the right putter. Though it’s easier said than done, and I’ve never totally understood the importance of bounce and grinds. So I called on Stuart Taylor, who fits Vokey wedges in the UAE for Titleist’s regional distributor, to explain things in layman’s terms and see if I can finally figure it all out.
Vokey wedges come in a variety of grinds and bounces which I find hard to understand. Could you simply explain the best way of finding which one suits my game the best?
Stuart: Like a putter, once you get the mechanics of the club to work best for your game, then the rest is feel-related. So to figure out the right grind and finish we simply get you to test them all and monitor your feedback.
So what is the grind?
Stuart: The grind is everything. It’s the bounce, the sole width and the way the sole is cambered, so it’s really important how that interacts with the turf.
The player’s high bounce wedge. High measured bounce with the crescent shape of the M Grind for shot making versatility.
Full sole designed primarily for full swings & square face shots. Due to this design, it is the only grind available in 46°-52°, with the 54° and 56° F Grind being the most played SW on the PGA Tour.
The highest bounce wedge in the lineup, the K Grind is the ultimate bunker club and the most forgiving wedge in the lineup for all shots.
When I’m nervous I find that I get quite steep and I have a lot of shaft lean, which leads to quite a few chunked chips close to the green.
Stuart: Being able to access this feedback enables me to pinpoint your weakness much sooner and find a wedge that can build confidence. The grain in the UAE is challenging – even for the professionals– and many switch grinds to deal with the various lies out here when they come to compete. Bounce is your friend, as it prevents the leading edge from digging too deep into the turf too much.
You put a wedge in my hand and the first thing I noticed was the sound at impact and the way it just gripped.
Stuart: That’s because when you struck it through the turf the pinch point was more suited for your technique and that gave you the confidence and the feedback. I noticed that when you played wedges with a narrow soul-width you tended to decelerate and ‘chunk’ the chips, or they just came up way too short.
So what did we end up with?
Stuart: In the 60 degrees you liked the K grind, which gave you a bit of sole width and more forgiveness. You noticed that it wasn’t digging for you and you could feel that you were hitting into the turf, especially the shots into the grain and it was just travelling through. You also seemed to like the S grind because you felt you could get at the ball a bit more, which resulted in more check and control. You instantly started to fly the ball closer to the flag and your confidence grew, as the grouping was vastly improved.
The L Grind features a narrow crescent shape allowing maximum green side versatility, but it is the least forgiving wedge in the lineup.
Voke’s favorite, the M grind is designed for players that like to rotate the club face open and shut to manufacture shots around the green.
Design based on feedback from Steve Stricker, the S is best for square faced shots with a touch more versatility than the F Grind. Simple mechanics are best with this wedge.
What’s the difference between K and S?
Stuart: The sole width on the K is a lot wider. If you look at the true bounce angle, it hasn’t got a massive amount of bounce but it’s the width of the sole that is giving you the forgiveness. The S grind has the trailing edge shaved off. Bob Vokey has come up with all the different types of grinds over the years that the players have asked for and it’s their feedback that has led Titleist into making these grinds.
Would you say my characteristics are similar to golfers in the UAE?
Stuart: People can get nervous. I play a lot of Pro-Ams and you can see when a player gets a chip on a tight lie, especially the grainy ones, they just freeze, as they have no confidence with the shot. That was exactly what you were doing at the beginning, but just by getting the right grind for those shots you were knocking them close.
So would you say the best thing to do when getting fitted is to try them all?
Stuart: Yes definitely – give them all a try. Bob Vokey just puts it in your hands to get your feedback straight away and from that you can immediately feel if it is the one for you. He gives them the “aha” moment where you just know it works. You did it yourself when you found the one you liked and you could tell that it felt comfortable and gave you confidence. The grainy lies out in Dubai are really tough, so to have that confidence to strike through with speed is going to make your chipping a lot more consistent.