2002: A quick spin on wedges

Maybe I’m the Lone Ranger, but I’ve never liked wedges that cause golf balls to spin backward like crazy. I have a term for these infidels: spinaroo wedges.

Only God and Bob Tway know how many majors Greg Norman lost because of short-iron and wedge shots that spun off greens.

Norman, now 47, will never again play a lead role on the major stage. This is sad, because in his prime he would have benefited more than anyone from what we now are seeing – a new generation of smart-spin wedges.

These smart-spin wedges do something the old spinaroos didn’t: They produce shots that bounce once and spin to a stop.

It is no coincidence that Nike, TaylorMade, Callaway, Ping and Orlimar are offering new wedge designs. Cleveland and Titleist, who sell more wedges than anyone else, have expanded their wedge lines greatly the last few years.

And I haven’t even mentioned Mizuno and Ben Hogan, two of my favorite wedge manufacturers. The selection of top-quality wedges is staggering.

Sure, Norman was a victim of the Tour Edition and other spin-happy golf balls. Contemporary wedges are a response to the development of the modern golf ball – the firmer, solid-core, multi-piece, double-covered ball that is used by virtually all leading professionals and amateurs.

The object of today’s wedge, says Dave Pelz, who has designed four Pelz wedges being marketed by Orlimar, is “to get a set of wedges where all of them feel the same and all of them cause the ball to react the same way on the green.”

This is easier said than done, but it is happening. Consider the new MB wedges from Ping. The release of these versatile wedges, with a distinct bevel across the sole, marks the first time Ping has introduced a stand-alone line of wedges. All previous Ping wedges, from the Eye2 to the i3, were designed to accompany a set of irons.

Wedges, many with milled faces and milled grooves, are precision instruments. Be assured: New wedges perform more consistently than old wedges.

The days of the touring pro who wore a nickel-sized indention in the face of his sand wedge are gone. Vijay Singh is on record as saying he changes his Cleveland wedges before every major.

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