With the average player driving the ball further than ever before, many golfers are looking to their short game as an area where they can see a real improvement on their scorecard. With this in mind, we preview the latest putters and wedges on the market.
The short game can sometimes be overlooked in favour of drivers and irons, but with the majority of shots in a round taking place within 29 yards of the hole it is clearly an area which has a considerable impact on a finishing scorecard. With research from Sports Marketing Surveys Inc showing that by far the most common point of purchase for a putter is a pro shop rather than other sources such as online (35 percent of males bought their putter from a pro shop last year and 50 percent of all women golfers) this is clearly an area that pros should be targeting.
Another potential area of sales is the custom fitting of wedges. Dave Pelz, who has been named as one of the 25 most influential instructors of the 20th century, told GOLF RETAILING magazine last year that, “Every wedge should be fitted to your body and swing, and fitted wedges will make the short game a lot easier.” When clients enter your shop custom fitting their wedges is a real sales opportunity – whether the clubs are ordered through you or you simply provide the right specifications for them. With these facts in mind, we cover the latest putters and wedges available to the market that hopefully will bring you increased retail sales.
Switchback Incorporating custom fit options and tour proven technology, the Switchback delivers individually tailored performance in an ‘anser’ style blade design. Underpinned by Rife’s trademarked technology, the Switchback has added an extra layer of customisation. With adjustable weights off the bumpers of the toe and heel the Switchback offers weight options from 375 to 415 grams. For those preferring to promote a curved swing path, weights can be mixed for a total weight of 395 grams with a bias to either side.
The adjustable weighting in the Switchback XL adds another custom fit option to Rife’s Lie-Aline custom fitting system. When purchased in store, the double bend shaft can be easily adjusted by the retailer to the perfect lie angle for the golfer’s set up. The matching of the white sight line and the notch in the back of the face gives the golfer a repeatable stance with the sole of the putter flat to the floor. RRP: £149.99; more at www.rifegolf.com
588 RTX 2.0 wedges Versatility is the key objective that Cleveland Golf set out to achieve with their latest 588 RTX 2.0 wedges. They offer an impressive number of options and interchangeable wedges designed to meet the needs of all abilities. These options mean players can be custom fitted according to loft/length, lie, bounce, shaft flex, head shape, grip and finish with no upcharge on wedges that are custom made for their game.
Custom fitting is performed in three stages, starting with distance gapping. The 588 RTX 2.0 offers nine lofts ranging from 46 to 64 degrees and the player needs to know how far they hit their wedges to determine the gaps for that vital 125 yards in. Once hitting lengths have been mapped, it’s a case of selecting the most appropriate club head type, loft and shaft to help achieve the consistency of shot length required.
Next comes bounce fitting, where the three dot bounce system determines how the sole of the club reacts when a shot is hit. It is relevant to the natural swing path and the typical conditions of the golf courses played, such as the turf soil firmness and typical grass length. Last but not least is custom options and fitting where the appropriate lie angle, shaft length and grips are determined, culminating in a unique set of wedges customised to match any game. RRP: £109.00; more at: www.clevelandgolf.com/UK_wedges
Tour Preferred EF Wedge The Tour Preferred EF wedge combines technological advancements with the meticulous craftsmanship of renowned club designer Clay Long in a tour-validated wedge that delivers long-lasting high-spin performance. TaylorMade’s Tour Preferred EF wedge is highlighted by the introduction of a proprietary electroformed (EF) nickel cobalt face.
The incredibly thin face insert (.25mm thick) is created by a process that begins with the ionization of nickel and cobalt in an electrolytic solution. The charged ions are then deposited directly onto a master plate containing the design of the grooved and micro textured surface. Using electroforming, TaylorMade engineers are able to yield consistent, ultra-precise groove geometry among the most detailed ever created. Nickel cobalt is remarkably wear-resistant and durable, 50 percent harder than Carbon steel. While substantially harder, the Tour Preferred EF wedge retains an incredibly soft feel from the 1025 Carbon steel body, resulting in a blend of feel and performance. RRP: EF £119
TaylorMade Daddy Long Legs+ Putter The DLL+ putter features the new SuperStroke XL 2.0 grip with 125 gram counter weight and a True Temper lightweight steel shaft to counterbalance for stability during the stroke. The DLL+ puts 200 percent more weight above the hands to raise the balance point two inches to allow greater control of the heavier head. Combine this new balance point with the 8856 MOI of the DLL+ head creates the most stable overall putter TaylorMade says it has ever created.
The new design of the DDL+ features updated styling with a matte black finish with a new non-glare tour satin grey finish and contrasting alignment lines for confidence at address. The rough surface of the insert also softens the sound at impact, delivering more auditory feedback preferred by better players. RRP: DLL+ £199 More at: www.taylormadegolf.co.uk
Titleist Vokey Design SM5 Wedges The new Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled SM5 wedges provide a distinct performance advantage through new, deeper TX3 grooves, tour-driven shapes and an extensive range of bounce and grind options. The Titleist Vokey Design SM5 Wedges are available in three distinct finishes. RRP: £103
Scotty Cameron Golo New Scotty Cameron Golo mallet putters are advanced, innovative multi-material designs featuring a lightweight aluminium face-sole core surrounded by a stainless steel frame that delivers improved MOI for increased stability and forgiveness. RRP: for standard model is £279, £315 for Dual Balance Model. More at: www.titleist.co.uk
Glide ES The new Glide ES (Eye Sole) wedge combines the technology of the original Eye2 sand wedge, including the tapered hosel and scooped sole, with the high-performance features of the Glide design to add another versatile choice for improved play from bunkers and around the green. It joins the Glide standard sole (SS), thin sole (TS), and wide sole (WS), creating 16 loft and sole combinations to suit a player’s swing and most common turf conditions.
The Glide ES features a scooped sole that offers versatility on full and partial shots from all conditions, especially bunkers. The tapered hosel is smaller, leading into the face to decrease the cross section for less drag through the sand. A 24 degree sidewall and tighter radius in the grooves optimise spin on chips and pitches. The chrome-plated 431 stainless steel head repels moisture to create more friction for improved spin and consistency in wet conditions and lies in the rough. Glide wedges are engineered from the hands down to provide short-game performance and trajectory control on shots of every length. The proprietary Dyla-wedge grip is ¾ of an inch longer to encourage gripping down to control ball flight. RRP: £110, rising to £125 with a graphite shaft.
Method Converge and Method Matter putters Nike Golf’s two new families of putters both feature an innovative self-fitting system to help any golfer find the best-fit putter for his or her game. The essence of a consistent putt is to get the face of the club square to the ball at impact and Nike has designed a simple self-fitting system to help players with this. RTS provides a four-step process starting with the athlete’s natural stance at address.
The Nike Method Converge comes in four distinct styles (B1-01, M1-08, S1-12, S2-12). Method technology features a RZN material, the same RZN used in the Nike RZN golf balls. Nike club designers utilised some of the findings from the golf ball team and applied it to the face of the putter to give it a softer feel and faster forward roll.
A RZN layer between 304 stainless steel actively manages forgiveness resulting in ten percent tighter dispersion. A ‘T’ shaped alignment aid helps find the proper address position. The Method Matter putters also feature a tour-proven RZN Groove insert that softens feel and delivers faster forward roll. There are four classic shapes (B1-07, B2-01, M4-12, M5-12) designed with input from tour athletes. RRP Method Converge: £129.99; RRP Method Matter: £99.99.
Golf Engage Wedges With three sole grinds made from the hands of Master Craftsman Mike Taylor, the new Nike Golf Engage wedges are designed to help athletes both score and escape adverse conditions on the course.
To better engage the club, ball and athlete, Nike engineers followed a similar design that is utilised in the Nike Vapor family of clubs, Modern Muscle. Modern Muscle shifts the centre of gravity to promote stability and consistent turf interaction in even the worst of playing conditions.
The Nike Engage wedges are available in three distinct sole grinds: Toe Dual Sole, Square Sole and Toe Sweep. The Nike Engage wedges are precision milled with X3X grooves to deliver maximum spin on full shots. The grooves have more volume and sharper edges to deliver a more consistent shot in any condition as well as a more consistent ball flight. RRP: £99.99; more at: www.nike.com
S5 Wedge Mizuno’s latest S5 wedges have been precision-engineered to spin a little magic into the wedge game courtesy of a new blue IP finish that’s designed to wear over time without reducing the durability of the plating itself. The S5 wedges will also be available in Mizuno’s White Satin finish.
The S5’s have a midsize profile, with sharply visible and versatile sole grinds. These grinds have been designed to fuel the golfer’s imagination and creativity around the greens, keeping all options open from a wide variety of lies. The profile and sole grinds combine with a slightly rounded leading edge that allows the wedges to be opened or closed while still aligned to target for maximum adaptability.
The demands of full-wedge and greenside shots are very different, so the S5 wedges are designed to provide high spin right across the loft range thanks to Quad Cut Grooves, which are CNC-milled after forging to ensure every wedge sits just inside R&A and USGA limits. Wider shallower grooves from 54 to 62 degrees, and deeper narrower grooves from 49 to 53 degrees ensure maximum spin on both full and partial shots for ultimate control, feel and workability. RRP: £110; more at golf.mizunoeurope.com
Wilson Staff Infinite Putter This new putter range is composed of four head shapes featuring counter-balancing technology, which places more weight in the grips to move the balance point closer to the hands for a more stable stroke on the greens.
The Chicago-based brand has also named the two blades and two mallet styles after landmarks in its home city: Windy City, Michigan Avenue, Grant Park and South Side. The name features on the sole of the putters, which are presented in a smoke-grey PVD finish.
Each putter head features horizontal and vertical sight lines to simplify alignment and the deep, doubled-milled face promotes consistent impact, roll and distance control. Oversize grips, which weigh 104 grams compared to heads ranging from 355 and 365 grams, further quieten the hands and limit unwanted rotation during the stroke
In addition to these four models, the Infinite series includes the Windy City putter in a citron-coloured women’s option, designed to fit female specifications and characteristics.
RRP: £79; More at: www.wilsonstaff.com