When it comes to wedge design and the short game, you won't find a more passionate expert than Master Craftsman Bob Vokey.
So we decided to go to the source and catch up with the Voke on a few of his favorite topics: bounce, grinds and wedge fitting.
Team Titleist (TT): Bob, you’re always talking about bounce and saying "bounce is your friend." What exactly do you mean by that?
Bob Vokey (BV): I say bounce is your friend because it provides forgiveness on all types of wedge shots. Let me explain first what bounce is: it’s the angle between the leading edge and lowest point on the sole. If you look at a wedge, the trailing edge is lower than the leading edge. This is the bounce angle.
TT: What about "effective bounce?" How is that different from bounce angle?
BV: The effective bounce is a little more art than science. It’s how the wedge will play around the greens. It takes into consideration not just the bounce angle, but the sole width, the camber, and the sole grind.
TT: You’re famous for your Tour Grinds. What exactly is a grind and what does it do for the wedge?
BV: The grind is the relief and contour that is ground into the sole of the wedge. A grind can provide shotmaking opportunities around the greens. For example, our M grind soles allow you to open the face of the wedge without the leading edge coming off the ground. We have all kinds of sole grinds, which we designate with a letter.
TT: Which sole grind is the most popular and which is your personal favorite?
BV: Well, the S grind which came from my work with Steve Stricker, that’s been extremely popular on the 60.07 and 58.09 models. It just fits a lot of players. My favorite is probably the M grind, because that was the one that started it all.
TT: Which bounce and grind do you recommend for the weekend golfer?
BV: Well, you should definitely be fit by an authorized Titleist fitter. It’s the only way to truly know which wedge works for you.
TT: Why is wedge fitting so important?
BV: Think of most amateur golfers. They only hit 6 - 8 greens in a round, if they are having a good day. So on the majority of holes, you are going to be using a wedge. And wedges are required to hit so many different shots - bunker shots, fairway shots, lob shots, little pitches. Wedges need to be versatile and every player is different. It’s never one size fits all for wedges. That’s why we have so many options.
TT: What is involved with a wedge fitting?
BV: Our wedge fittings have two main aspects: bounce fitting and yardage gapping. In the bounce fitting portion, we figure out your swing type. Most players fit into one of three types: slider/sweeper, neutral, or driver/digger. That will help us recommend some bounce options to try. I always make sure when I am fitting someone that they also take the recommended sand wedge to the bunker. You need enough bounce to get out the bunker every time.
TT: What about yardage gapping?
BV: It’s becoming even more critical because pitching wedges are getting stronger in loft. Many pitching wedges are 45º or even 44º. So if your next wedge is a 56º sand wedge, there is a huge gap in there. It could be 30 yards. Ideally, wedge gaps would be 10-15 yards.
TT: So is the 52º, 56º, 60º combo becoming obsolete?
BV: Well, not obsolete but we are fitting more players into 50º, 54º, 58º set compositions. It just makes sense if you have 44º or 45º pitching wedge. That way you will have a nice yardage gap between the pitching and sand wedge.
TT: How many wedges should I carry?
BV: It really depends on your overall set make up, but almost every Tour player carries at least 3 wedges. Wedges are your scoring clubs. We’ve found that most amateurs can’t dial back a wedge. It’s very hard for them to hit a half wedge or ¾ wedge. So having an extra wedge that you can swing full is going to help lower your scores.
TT: Any final fitting advice Voke?
BV: Go see your local PGA pro! It will really help your wedge game.