It’s great to hit a soaring drive down the fairway and most golfers are aware of the best way to maximize distance and control is by matching the driver and ball to their swing. But a driver is only used 14 times during a round while the shorter, scoring shots under 150-yards may occur every hole so they deserve attention as well.
Golf balls are made with different performance characteristics to consider. Some, usually categorized as tour-quality, have urethane
covers and multiple layers to better provide distance off the tee plus control spin and distance on scoring shots. Others with firmer ionomer or Surlyn covers have large cores and are made more for just delivering pure distance. They spin much less than tour balls and thus are more difficult to control on the shorter shots around the green. Others while having ionomer covers, have a third layer or mantle that give improved spin control in contrast to distance balls. High performance or tour-quality golf balls sell for $40 or more per dozen while distance balls retail for $25 per dozen or less. Prices of the multi-layer ionomer-cover balls fall somewhere in between.
The wedges you carry should have lofts that “gap” properly starting with the pitching wedge and increasing usually in four-degree
increments through the sand wedge. If the pitching wedge, which mostly likely came with your iron set, is 46 degrees adding wedges of 50, 54 and 58 degrees should cover the distances needed for the scoring shots. The grooves and bounce on your wedges are another important consideration though. Wedges with less loft have relatively deep and narrow grooves and higher lofts somewhat shallower and wider grooves. Bounce is misunderstood by many but the profile or grind of a wedge’s sole should match the playing conditions most often encountered. Higher bounce wedges usually produce the best results when the turf is soft and from the sand and lower bounce wedges work best when conditions are firm.
As we have said often before, to best match the golf balls and the wedges you play to your game, consult a PGA Professional, she or he has the answers.
The best of the new golf balls:
The B330 series has a new core material and high friction surface coating on the cover. The B330-RX is for swing speeds below 105mph and the B330-RXS above.
• Urethane Cover
• Three-piece construction
• $40 dozen
The Chrome Soft has an added fourth layer, namely a second firmer outer core, and retains last year’s low compression
inner core and soft cover.
• Urethane Cover
• Four-piece construction
• $40 dozen
The makers of the original hollow metal core ball have the new Caliber model which has a rubber-like layer surrounding
the metal core. Ionomer cover with 80 compression.
• Surlyn Cover
• Three-piece construction
• $30 dozen
My Tour Ball has a thermoset cast cover with a low compression
core while Snell’s Get Sum ball is a distance ball designed for control around the green.
My Tour Ball
The new Soft Feel gets a softer feel from a lower compression
core and thinner cover. The 324 dimple pattern is reconfigured for lower drag for this 60 compression ball.
These balls are high quality without the huge price tag. Each of the seven models with a precise dimple pattern designed for different levels of golfers;
Cast Urethane cover
The Vibe is for mid to high trajectory and swing speeds between 75mph and 95mph with a soft feel and control on short shots.
The newest DUO golf ball is the Urethane is 55 compression
joining the 29 and 35 compression models. It has a new 362 seamless dimple pattern.
Wedges we like for this season:
Ben Hogan Golf
The Ben Hogan TK, though not a strictly new model, has weight evenly across the back of the clubhead, a V-Sole grind and loft-specific weighting to help controlling distance. Available in lofts between 48 degrees (bounce – 18 degrees leading edge and 4 degrees trailing edge) and 63 degrees (bounce -35 degrees leading edge and 6 degrees trailing edge). Forged with six-step process from 1025 carbon steel with CNC milled faces. Priced at $149 each.
This year the MD3 models are the third iteration of the Mack Daddy line and come which a choice of three sole grinds and three groove designs. Callaway engineers headed by Roger Cleveland solicited Tour player input and specifically made the MD3s to be used in a variety of conditions. All are priced at $130 with the W-Grind having a wider sole for softer conditions and bunkers. The S-Grind accommodates a variety of shot types and attack angles while the C-Grind works best on firm turf with lots of heel and toe relief.
Just announced the new RTX-3 line with a blade and cavity back. All make use of Cleveland’s new “Feel Balancing Technology” that moves the center of gravity closer to the clubface’s center impact area to decrease vibration and give the head more stability. The RTX-3 Blade also has three new V-shape sole grinds for more leading edge bounce so the clubhead gets through the turf more easily giving a crisper feel and improved speed to increase spin on the ball. Cleveland also has improved their Rotex face design first seen on the 588 wedges in 2012. Grooves have been made with a deeper, narrower U-shape profile and the 2-pass micro milling is adapted according to wedge loft. Low loft wedges (46 to 52 degrees) have a straighter pattern, best for full shots, and the higher lofts (54 to 64 degrees) have a more angled pattern to help when the face is opened for flop shot trajectory.
The RTX-3 Blades offer the choice of finishes between Black Satin, Tour Satin and Tour Raw. The RTX-3 Cavity Back and Women’s RTX-3 Cavity Back come only in Tour Satin. All will in stores Sept.16 at $130.
The King wedge offers three grinds all made from 8629 carbon steel in a new muscle back design that has been vibration tuned. The Widelow grind is for shots close to the green and from bunkers while the Classic grind has a thinner sole to accommodate different turf conditions. The Versatile grind has a softer leading edge with heel and toe relief. Clubfaces are CNC milled and surface roughness has been improved for more control by helping give more spin. Pricing is $119.
Fourteen has made a name for themselves in the club business with their wedges and the new RM-22 ($185) is the latest example. Designed with better players in mind there several features such as heel relief, a clubhead with their reverse muscle design and an aggressive leading edge. Three sole grinds are available: standard, the Bumper which has steep negative bounce on the leading edge and the wider Delta. Available in lofts from 41 degrees to 60 degrees and priced at $185 in chrome or black finish.
Tour Edge Golf
The company best known for fairway woods and hybrids is pushing to make a bigger name in irons and the new Rally wedges are a good example of owner David Glod’s creative design. They are a high-toe configuration that allows the face to be opened when a high trajectory-soft landing shot is required with a cambered sole to keep the head from digging in too much. Rally wedges are priced at $80 with the stock KBS Tour Black Nickel shaft or $100 with the UST Mamiya Recoil graphite shaft.
Wilson FG Tour PMP (Precision Milled Performance) wedges feature HM Grooves with eleven laser etched lines between them to aid in spinning the ball on shorter shots. Three sole designs are available – Traditional, Tour Grind, and Wide – and two finishes – Tour Frosted ($100) and Gun Blue PVD ($120). The PMP wedges can also be customized with different stampings and paint fill through Wilson Golf’s custom department. There are 97 sole, loft and bounce combinations so each player can have just the one for his game and the conditions at his course.