Toy Box: Vokey Spin Milled wedges, Cameron putters

OCEANSIDE, Calif. – Titleist is about to unveil seven new Scotty Cameron putters and an entire line of Vokey Spin Milled wedges with smaller grooves.

The putters will be introduced Oct. 15, with the wedges following Nov. 1.

The Cameron putters include four new California Series putters and three additions to the Studio Select Series. The new Vokey wedges come with good news for Spin Milled fans: Every Vokey Spin Milled wedge model will be available with 2010 grooves that meet the USGA’s new standards for reduced spin.

photo

Titleist Vokey Spin Milled C-C Wedge

This means that every loft, bounce and sole grind will be replicated in a version that has the new grooves.

For equipment makers such as Titleist, 2010 will be the last year in which both the current grooves and new grooves will be manufactured simultaneously. Starting in 2011, all wedges produced by manufacturers must have the new grooves.

There will be three easy ways to identify the new wedges. The new ones will have a “C-C” (condition of competition) engraved on the hosel, feature gold paint in the circular Spin Milled logo (the current wedges have red paint) and carry a prominent sticker on the clubface at retail.

Then there is performance. Dan Stone, who heads Titleist’s club-design team, said almost every golfer will hit the new wedges higher. That’s because the reconfigured grooves will not hold the ball a fraction of a second longer on the face (which produces a lower trajectory). Without traction, the ball tends to slide up the face.

From the fairway, Stone said full shots with both wedges would produce similar results. However, golfers should see a difference in two areas:

• On shots from moderate to heavy rough, the ball likely will carry farther, spin less and run farther after it lands. The amount of spin loss and runout will depend on the grass, the lie and the player’s swing.

• Less-than-full wedge shots “could be more difficult to control,” Stone said, “and we may see more tour players actually laying up to a distance that leaves them a full shot.”

Stone also said some players might need to change loft and bounce angle on their wedges. This is because a wedge with smaller grooves might not perform anything like a similar wedge with big grooves.

It is likely that more players will rely on a higher, softer trajectory, rather than spin, to stop their greenside pitch shots. Such a strategy may lead them to use higher-lofted wedges.

Some players may find the new grooves more to their liking.

“There are players who don’t need as much spin,” said Chris McGinley, vice president of golf-club marketing for Titleist. “They generate enough spin on their own. Davis Love doesn’t even use Spin Milled wedges. He uses standard-groove wedges. These guys will not have much of a transition at all.”

Possible benefits: Without excess spin, getting to back pins should be easier. Furthermore, spin could be more consistent. There shouldn’t be as many dramatic spinners that race away from the hole.

One thing seems certain: As big grooves disappear, so will the phenomenon of grooves that shear the covers off of golf balls.

Another important change with the new groove regulations is that groove edges must be rounded and not sharp. In addition to reducing spin, that should eliminate golf-ball shearing.

Along with the putters and wedges, Titleist is expected to release four updated iron designs – AP1, AP2, MB and CB – by Nov. 1. The new versions of the AP1 and AP2, like their predecessors, will have 2010 conforming grooves. But the next generation models will feel better than the originals, the company said, because of something called a “tuned feel insert.”

The new AP2 will have 1 degree less bounce in the short irons, and the completely redesigned

AP1 will feature a thinner face that produces more ball speed, Titleist officials said.

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