Nearly twenty years after The USGA’s failed legal battle with Ping founder Karsten Solheim over square grooves, the rule makers have chosen to revisit the issue. They now propose to reduce overall groove volume and edge sharpness to impede Tour pros’ ability to produce spinning, biting approaches from any and all conditions. (Weekend golfers would likely notice little change in how their shots check or release on greens.) More lawsuits are possible, but even if modern wedges (such as the ones reviewed here) are deemed nonconforming in the next few years, those that you purchase today will be grandfathered in for a long time to come.
Cleveland CG12 With the CG12, Cleveland returns to the head shape of its classic 588 series, moving away from the Carbon Metal Matrix face design of its more recent CG10 line, which wasn’t to everyone’s taste. But it’s hard not to like the box-shaped "zip" grooves of the CG12, touted as the largest and most precisely milled ever in a Cleveland wedge. The added channel volume helps steer more grass and dirt away from the ball, which allows for more contact with the clubface and thus better spin. It’s available in sixteen loft and bounce combinations and in chrome and black-pearl finishes. $109. Call 800-999-6263 or visit clevelandgolf.com.
Hot Stix Stats: Cleveland CG12
Fairway: Spin Rate 4,208 rpm and Launch Angle degrees 36.01
Rough: Spin Rate 4,215 rpm and Launch Angle degrees 32.18
About hot stix stats For this issue, Hot Stix Golf (480-513-1333, hotstixgolf.com) measured the average launch and spin of these wedges at its outdoor test facility. All were fifty-six-degree models, tested by a golf pro hitting shots on a Trackman launch monitor.
Ping Tour-W This teardrop-shaped model features tungsten weighting in the toe to stabilize the club at impact, and the black elastomer custom-tuning port across the back enables the center of gravity (CG) to be moved lower and forward, complementing the reduced offset and promoting proper clubhead rotation. The hosel notch allows the lie angle to be adjusted more readily. $125. Call 800-474-6434 or visit pinggolf.com.
Hot Stix Stats: Ping Tour-W
Fairway: Spin Rate 3,808 rpm and Launch Angle degrees 40.60
Rough: Spin Rate 4,812 rpm and Launch Angle degrees 31.20
Srixon WG-706 Jim Furyk plays this club in a raw finish, but we mortals can only buy the satin version (though it, too, does a nice job of reducing glare). Forged from soft carbon steel, the WG-706’s U-grooves—which conform to the proposed USGA regulations—can make even a Pro V1x feel like a balata. And a trimmed-back trailing edge makes flop shots a breeze. $169. Call 888-477-4966 or visit srixon.com.
Hot Stix Stats: Srixon WG-706
Fairway: Spin Rate 5,054 rpm and Launch Angle degrees 33.36
Rough: Spin Rate 5,576 rpm and Launch Angle degrees 29.08
Nike SV Tour Black Satin If the SV’s rich satin finish doesn’t provide enough temptation to play it, then its clean lines and shaping just might. It’s a nicely weighted wedge, just heavy enough to feel throughout your swing, and the milled face seems to generate consistent spin. The SV comes in five loft/bounce combinations, from fifty-two to sixty degrees. $120. Call 888-799-6453 or visit nikegolf.com.
Hot Stix Stats: Nike SV Tour Black Satin
Fairway: Spin Rate 4,509 rpm and Launch Angle degrees 35.88
Rough: Spin Rate 3,726 rpm and Launch Angle degrees 31.94
Tour Edge Exotics Extreme Spin Tour Edge continues to bring technical innovation and high-quality fit and finish to its Exotics line. This thin-faced wedge stands out for its adjustability. Players can alter the weight of the club through the port in the lower rear, which houses a two-, four- or six-gram screw. These screws change the swingweight from D-6 to D-8, a difference that experienced golfers will definitely feel. $129. Call 800-515-3343 or visit exoticsgolf.com.
Hot Stix Stats: Tour Edge Exotics Extreme Spin
Fairway: Spin Rate 4,743 rpm and Launch Angle degrees 34.96
Rough: Spin Rate 4,630 rpm and Launch Angle degrees 30.84
Solus Golf Series 7.1 The company’s 4.1 series from 2004 had a cult following, and the new 7.1 wedges are a major upgrade aesthetically. What hasn’t changed is the versatile crescent-cut sole, which, along with its lowered leading edge, allows you to open the clubface as much as desired without skulling shots or catching the heel on the turf. Essentially, you use the club’s bounce only when it’s needed. The 7.1 series is available in three lofts. $130. Call 866-467-6587 or visit solusgolf.com.
Hot Stix Stats: Solus Golf Series 7.1
Fairway: Spin Rate 4,751 rpm and Launch Angle degrees 40.18
Rough: Spin Rate 4,009 rpm and Launch Angle degrees 31.96
Sun mountain H2o Tech Brave souls who enjoy taking their chances on the winter weather at Bandon Dunes would do well to consider Sun Mountain’s waterproof H2O Tech, which features zippers with taped seams (see inset) and water-repellent neoprene on the underside of the shoulder straps. $230. Call 800-227-9224 or visit sunmountain.com.
Adams BUL 5000 Driver Adams Golf’s latest should appeal to players who are interested in the forgiveness of a high-MOI driver but find square heads off-putting. (The BUL 5000 is more, well, bulbous.) And unlike the flat sound produced by square drivers, this one rings a bit truer. But sound aside, its titanium cup-face construction delivers plenty of pop. $299. Call 800-709-6142 or visit adamsgolf.com.
Titleist NXT tour and NXT Extreme Titleist finally resorted to "extreme" measures to dispel any confusion regarding the difference between the old NXT and NXT Tour. The Extreme, which replaces the NXT, is a two-piece, Surlyn-covered distance ball; the Tour is a three-piece with a softer Fusablend cover. $34/Extreme; $40/Tour. Call 800-225-8500 or visit titleist.com.