Club: Cleveland Smart Sole wedges
Price: $119.99 steel; $129.99 graphite
Specs: 33.125 inches with 42 degrees of loft (C) / 35.25 inches with 58 degrees of loft (S)
Cleveland updated the Smart Sole wedges to make it easier for high-handicap golfers and inexperienced players to chip, pitch and escape bunkers regardless of the quality of their technique.
The pros on TV make escaping greenside bunkers look easy, and they seldom chunk chip shots or blade the ball across the green like a 25-handicap golfer might. To help players who struggle to hit basic short-game shots, Cleveland developed the first Smart Sole wedges many years ago and now has released the third generation of these shot-savers.
The Cleveland Smart Sole C is designed specifically for chipping. Its loft, 42 degrees, is about the same as a 9-iron or pitching wedge that comes in a max game-improvement iron set, but it is just 33.125 inches long, which is shorter than most putters. By making the club shorter than a typical iron with that loft, it should be easier to feel the head during the chipping stroke and control the face, Cleveland said.
To help golfers make solid contact more often, Cleveland gave the Smart Sole C wedge a three-tiered sole design that is extremely wide. From fairway lies, the fringe or rough, golfers should be able to make a simple chipping swing without worrying about the club digging into the turf, because the leading edge has been rounded and the sole is designed to skim over the grass and keep the head moving.
To enhance feel, Cleveland shifted some of the weight from the hosel into the toe, which shifts the center of gravity closer to the center of the hitting area.
The Smart Sole S is ideally suited to help players who struggle in greenside bunkers. It is slightly shorter than a standard sand wedge, and it has 58 degrees of loft, which should make it easier for golfers to hit the ball over a bunker lip and land softly.
Like the Smart Sole C wedge, it has an extremely wide tri-tiered sole. The sole’s width, combined with its curvature (camber) and significant bounce, should help the head work through sand and thick rough without digging or slowing down abruptly through impact.