CARLSBAD, Calif. – TaylorMade has new wedges with the name ATV, which makes sense because the company is calling them all-terrain wedges.
The idea behind these wedges is simple: TaylorMade wanted to design wedges that could be used expertly from tight lies, heavy grass or sand.
This isn’t as easy as it might sound. Most wedges have dominate personalities — they perform better off the turf, or else they produce better results from the sand. Designing a wedge to do both has been a major challenge ever since Gene Sarazen invented the modern sand wedge.
Justin Rose played a role in the ATV story, because it was Rose, a TaylorMade staff player, who continually asked for a wedge that would inspire confidence from the tightest lie or the softest bunker.
“We’ve never done very good with wedges,” said TaylorMade vice president Sean Toulon. “We really wanted to do something special with the ATV.”
Added noted instructor Jim Flick, who is employed by TaylorMade: “I think it’s the most innovative product we’ve ever done.”
So what exactly did TaylorMade do? First, according to Toulon, the company drew inspiration from the Ping Eye2 lob wedge of the 1980s. That Ping wedge became famous for both its looks and its performance.
What TaylorMade tried to do with the ATV was rethink and reinvent the wedge. Golfers who look closely at the sole will see a small channel, or concave indentation, just behind the leading edge. This channel accomplishes two things: It allows the leading edge to sit close to the turf for shots off tight lies, and it isolates the bounce in the middle of the sole for effective sand play.
Those who look closely at the ATV will see generous sole relief (a smoothing of the surface area) at both the heel and toe. Heel relief allows golfers to open the blade for flop shots or short cut-across shots.
Toe relief? Yes, absolutely. Some touring pros like to stand the wedge on its toe and make a full outside-in swing that produces a high, dead shot with very little roll.
TaylorMade literature will tell golfers they can use different areas of the face for different shots, and this is true. The ATV is a large-headed, wide-soled wedge that encourages golfers to attempt a variety of shots.
Available in lofts of 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60 and 64, the ATV is made of 304 stainless steel and easily can be bent to alter the loft or lie. The retail cost of the wedges is $119.99. Stock components are the KBS Tour wedge shaft and the Lamkin Performance Plus 3Gen wedge grip.
Bounce on wedges is a mysterious subject, and few golfers understand the terminology. Broadly speaking, a wedge with more bounce (evidenced by an angled or curved sole) will displace more sand and thus is a good choice for a sand club. A wedge with 12 degrees or more of bounce generally is considered ideal for sand. From a tight lie, though, such a wedge often will bounce off the turf rather than slide underneath the ball.
One other factor is important in determining how a wedge will perform: the width of the sole. A wide-soled wedge effectively will increase the bounce of a wedge.
With the ATV, TaylorMade has so many angles present on the sole that it has decided not to publish bounce numbers for the wedges. This is a departure from the common practice of listing bounce numbers for today’s wedges.
This implies a certain amount of trust on the part of golfers. If TaylorMade is correct, the wedges can be used from all types of lies. One highly visible yardstick will be the number of touring pros who switch to the new wedges.
The grooves on the ATV wedges produce a generous amount of spin. Although the U.S. Golf Association will not comment on clubs that are submitted for approval, Golfweek has learned that the ATV caused some consternation among USGA technicians.
Upon initial inspection, the USGA definitely asked TaylorMade to soften the grooves. Regardless of their potency, any grooves on any club will wear down with use.
The ATV wedges, with a cosmetic combination of polished and satin steel, are intended to be eye-catching. Following the success of TaylorMade metalwoods, irons and putters, wedges are the last piece of the equipment puzzle for the company.
Although no golfer wants to hit a ball into terrain that is better suited to cross-country vehicles than golf clubs, the ATV wedge seeks notoriety as golf’s version of the all-turf, all-sand, all-everything golf instrument.