This month sees Cleveland’s new range of wedges, the 588 RTX 2.0 available to the public in both Tour Satin and Black Satin Finishes. GOLF RETAILING headed to The Srixon/Cleveland Centre of Excellence at Studley Wood Golf Club in Oxfordshire, to meet one of the UK’s top custom fitters – Martin Conner, UK fitting technician and fitting day manager for Srixon & Cleveland. Words by Miles Bossom
MB – Martin how long have you been working in the golf industry?
MC – Pretty much all my working life. I served for nine years at Taylor Made and have been with Srixon/Cleveland for over three years now.
MB – Cleveland offer numerous options when it comes to fitting a player with wedges. How many wedges would you advise the average club player to carry?
MC – As a kind of Cleveland philosophy we aim for a minimum of three wedges but probably four. You tend to find players have bigger gaps from 125 yards in, when I do my fitting I find players can have about twenty yards gap between each of their wedges. They may have a few hybrids and a couple of fairway woods in their bag and they will have only fifteen yards between these clubs. On an average 65% of all golf shots occur within 125 yards which means it is a lot more important filling the gaps further down the bag in the scoring clubs and getting your short game dialled in.
MB – With so much talk about spin, players at all levels are becoming more aware of the need to replace wedges at regular intervals for optimum performance. How often do tour players tend to replace their wedges and what advice would you offer the avid club golfer?
MC – On tour the fitting trucks are well used. The Builders may have 30 or so players queuing to replace or adjust their clubs whether that be irons, wedges or whatever but the difference is that the pros can visit the truck pretty much every week. The club golfer doesn’t have that luxury.
Of course the spin doesn’t come from the grooves themselves. They are there to remove debris and moisture to get the ball onto the face of the wedge but it is the roughness of the face that imparts the spin. If a player is worried that his grooves aren’t as effective then they should certainly be thinking that the face is worn. I would suggest that a golfer playing every week should change his wedges every two to three years.
MB – With the current restrictions on groove depth how much more can be done to improve wedge performance?
MC – With the development of the Cleveland Tour Zip grooves we have given the grooves steeper walls and made them sharper in order to cut through and remove more of the debris but it is the laser and micro milling- Rotex pattern on the face which is advancing the wedge to the next level. Our aim is to get the most surface roughness possible across our entire wedge range and we are at the maximum the USGA will allow with the RTX 2.0.
MB – Should a retailer advise a customer to buy different wedges for the different ground conditions offered by say links or parkland courses? Will it make a difference to a club golfer?
MC – Club golfers may not be able to afford to buy a number of different wedges for different grounds, they may also not be as consistent as professionals and therefore they may thin some shots and fat others therefore having numerous wedges with different bounce variants may not always be necessary. A standard bounce option will probably cover most eventualities but it really depends on the individual golfer’s swing and shot selection . The idea of the custom fit is to match the wedge with the golfer and help them improve their game, however and wherever they play.
MB – Studley Wood is one of two Centres Of Excellence, the other being at Rockliffe Hall. What makes this place ideal for a wedge fitting?
MC – The facility is ideal because I get customers to use the mat in the studio for hitting full shots to get the yardages using the Foresight GC2 or Trackman, the grass in front of the studio to look at their angle of attack and divots patterns and we use the fringes of the chipping green and a bunker to look at the entire range of shots a player may play with his wedges which helps me with selecting the right bounce options. Many fittings may take place by simply hitting balls from mats and that doesn’t give as accurate picture of what the player needs.
MB – How can Cleveland help Pro shops sell more wedges?
MC – Well if they choose to stock Cleveland we have two hundred CG fit solutions in the UK market. These come with ten wedge heads and ten shafts which will give the customer the opportunity to try both the Black Satin and Tour Satin finishes and both the blade and the cavity back options along with different bounce options. The cart is free of charge to the professional and each of our regional account managers has an allocation, so providing the pro does a pre book with us there is a chance he could get one.
MB – The CG fit solution covers wedges but what about the rest of the range?
MC – We also have a full ‘Elite Fitting Cart’ which doesn’t offer as many shaft options because it also includes our irons and driver. So if a pro wants to stock our entire range they have the opportunity to request one of around one hundred of these carts allowing him to offer a full custom fit service throughout the bag.
MB – How do you suggest a wedge fitting should be conducted?
MC – I always start getting a customer to hit a number of full shots with their own pitching wedge to get some initial yardages and then I will aim to gap the wedges from there. I aim for the gap wedge to be between eight and twelve yards behind the pitching wedge and the same between that and the sand wedge. I personally don’t like people hitting full shots with the lob wedge so I don’t look at too many full shots with the lob wedge. The gapping is done by looking at different lofts or different heads for example the cavity back will give a bit more than the blade and obviously we offer a lot of different shaft options which can also alter the distance. Typically I will also look for between three and six degrees gap between each wedge.
We then look at bounce this should suit two things – the player’s game followed by typical course conditions. The divot pattern tells me a lot about the type of ball striker the person is. I certainly don’t advocate the same bounce being used throughout the wedges. You can have a low bounce in one club for use around the green and Lob shots and full bounce in another for use on full and bunker shots and in fact three different bounces across your wedges if that is what your game requires.
After this I look at the customisation of your wedge. With this I consider lie angle, the length of the club and grip selection and size.
MB – How can a club pro/retailer benefit from using the Cleveland Srixon Fitting Centres?
MC – If a retailer doesn’t have one of our fitting carts he can send his customer to either of our centres for a full or specific club fitting. The customer pays the centre a fitting fee of £25 and will leave with the full specification required. He then places the order through his retailer so that he gets the correct clubs and the retailer retains the business. It’s a win-win.
For further information www.clevelandgolf.com