TaylorMade says the chemical process used to produce the face insert in its new Tour Preferred EF wedges makes the grooves sharper, more durable and more consistent.
Grooves traditionally have been either milled into a club’s face or cast, but TaylorMade has developed an electroforming process to create grooves. First, nickel and cobalt are ionized in an electrolytic solution. Then the charged ions in that solution are deposited directly onto a master plate containing the design of the grooved and micro-textured surface.
“The process actually plates nickel and cobalt onto this master model, which is like a sheet about the size of a piece of paper,” said Clay Long, TaylorMade’s director of product creation for putters and wedges. “Then the nickel cobalt is lifted up and off of the master, so what you’ve got is a plate that has taken the form of the master.”
The final nickel cobalt sheet is .25 millimeters thick, and after it is laser-cut into shape, the finished insert is affixed to the head using an adhesive.
Long said the grooves created in this electroforming process are more consistent because the milling tools normally used to make grooves naturally wear and dull over time.
“Once the master model is machined, we have no tolerances to worry about,” Long said.
Typically a company must account for manufacturing tolerances to ensure each club stays within USGA limits.
“The actual groove tolerances are closer and the edges are sharper, because there are no tolerances that you have to build into it because of the machining process. Every groove is like it’s been machined with a brand-new cutter,” Long said
Long also said the nickel cobalt is about 50 times harder than the carbon steel used to make the rest of the Tour Preferred EF wedges, so the grooves dull much more slowly. The dark PVD finish will wear off in areas where golfers tend to make contact, exposing the golden-colored face plate, but the grooves will remain sharp.
“They are going to last and last and last,” Long said. “And compared to carbon steel, it’s going to be almost like they are never going to wear out.”
That makes them appealing to pros like Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia, who have put Tour Preferred EF wedges in the bag.
Long said that he would not be surprised if many PGA Tour pros were able to use the same Tour Preferred EF wedges for an entire season, instead of replacing sand and lob wedges three or four times a year.
The Tour Preferred EF wedges will be available in the traditional Tour Grind and a reshaped ATV Grind that boasts a slightly narrower sole than the original ATV wedge. The Tour Grind will be available in 47-, 50-, 52-, 54-, 56-, 58-, 60- and 62-degree models with bounce options from 8 to 15 degrees; the ATV grind will be available in lofts of 52-, 54-, 56-, 58- and 60-degree versions.
Arriving in stores on April 10, all the of the wedges will come standard with KBS Tour shafts for $159.99.