Wedges – The Unsung Heroes of Your Golf Bag

They are the unsung heroes.
You can drive for show and putt for dough and stick the irons all you’d like.
Truth is, the wedge is arguably the most valuable club in the bag, used in a variety of situations ranging from necessary bailout to setting up a much-needed birdie to rescuing from bunkers and thick rough or saving a round-altering par.

And this crop of wedges is grooved and grinded and milled in dozens of manners, creating for a smorgasbord of customizations tailored specifically to whatever type of game each golfer players. There are wedges for swings steep and shallow, for diggers and pickers, for bunkers and deep rough, fairways and fringe.

Callaway MD3 Milled

In a word, the Callaway MD3 can be described as groovy. Not in the Austin Powers sense, but in the sense that this wedge features three different types of grooves for three different lofts. The lower lofts feature more narrow grooves, while the middle lofts have steeper grooves to create spin on full swings, should you need one, and the highest lofts – think 56-60 degrees – are wide grooves to give you feel around the green.

Beyond the grooves, too, are what Callaway is calling three separate “grinds.” There is the “W-Grind” which is supposedly ideal for softer conditions, bunkers, or for players with steeper swings.
The “S-Grind” is, as Callaway states, “great for a wide range of conditions, shot types, and swings.” When in doubt, it seems, go for the “S-Grind.”

Last, there’s the “C-Grind,” which is the counter to the W. It’s made for firmer conditions and a variety of shots, whether it be opening the face for a little extra loft or closing it for a punch-and-run with some spin.

Cleveland RTX-3 Blade/CB

No wedge list could be complete without an appearance from Cleveland, that bastion of short-game necessities. No company has dominated the wedge game like Cleveland, and its latest edition, the RTX-3, is another in a long line of fine short-game tools.

Consistency is key when it comes to touch around the greens, and Cleveland focused on manufacturing a club that produces consistent spin, distance and feel, doing so by moving the balance closer to the heel. Nine grams were removed from the hosel and redistributed to the head of the club, which shifted the center of gravity more towards the middle of the clubface.

As for the club’s eponym, the “Rotex” face – hence, the RTX – it is in its third generation, and Cleveland has rolled out a new micro-milling pattern, which it claims optimizes spin performance, not just in volume of spin but in its consistency as well.

Ping Glide

Aside from Callaway’s Mack Daddy wedge, Ping may have the best name of the lot with the Glide. It has similar features to both the MT3 and the RTX, namely in that it offers multiple grooves and sole options, only in even more abundance than its two competitors.

The grooves have sharper edges, an improvement from the original Glide to the Glide 2.0, which produces more spin – reportedly up to 400 rpm. Generally, more spin is favorable to those who like putting a little finesse on the ball, and if spin is something you enjoy as a player, the Glide may be the wedge to put in the bag.

What differentiates the Glide from most other wedges not named Vokey is that it offers four grinds as opposed to three or even two.

Players can opt for the “SS Grind” which Ping describes as “ideal for moderate attack angles and divots. Fits most golfers.” It is, simply, Ping’s one size fits all grind.

Then there is the WS, TS, and ES grinds. The WS is catered to steep swingers, the TS for the shot-makers, and the ES for optimal bunker performance. Given that menu, it might not be the worst idea to carry a few different grinds.

Titleist Vokey SM6

The Vokey series has been around seemingly as long as wedges themselves. The eponym of wedge guru Bob Vokey, this has been Titleist’s bread and butter when it comes to short game tools.
How much the Vokeys can continue to be improved is tough to say, but Titleist claims it has advanced its wedge game, improving in “precise distance gapping, shot versatility and maximum spin.”

One of the originals in spin-milled grooves, the SM6 features a new parallel face structure, which supposedly produces a sharper, more consistent edge in the grooves.

Of course, the Vokey offers an abundance of different grinds, which is why you can find a number of players with multiple Vokeys in a single bag. They have wedges for the shallow swinger, the steep swinger, the sweeper, the neutral. They have wedges for bunkers, wedges for finesse, wedges for the layman, wedges for the digger and divot maker.

There is, per usual, a wedge for every type of golfer in the Vokey arsenal.

Mizuno S5

The first thought that comes to mind when standing over the S5 is, simply, round. Unlike the S4, the latest in the Mizuno wedges is a little larger, significantly rounder, and therefore more forgiving.

This is a wedge with mass appeal, as the size and forgiveness will find a market for high-handicappers, but let us not forget that this is a Mizuno club – the elite ranks can use it quite well, too.

There are up to 15 – 15! – different lofts, enough to make even Phil Mickelson, the man of many wedges, raise an eyebrow. Adding to the customization options are five grinds and grooves that fit each loft.

It’s a complicated way of saying that the S5 – however many of them you’d like in your bag – will be a fit for virtually all distances and circumstances in which you’d typically pull out a wedge.

Hodge Park Brings Fun and Beauty to the Game

As the old adage goes: A bad day on the golf course beats a good day in the office. If you disagree, you’re either playing the wrong sport, or (much more likely) you need to revisit your course(s)-of-choice. Because, for every time this fickle game brings us to the brink of insanity, there’s a silver-lining waiting to be seen. In golf, this silver lining comes in the form of perspective. Without perspective, the beauty that this game exudes will never be realized. This is where the old adage rings true. No matter how poorly you’re playing, take a moment to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings, and let me know how the view compares to the inside of your office cubicle. If the world famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, dabbled in golf course design, I imagine his courses would resemble a stretch of land in Kansas City that so perfectly blends in with the surrounding environment, it’s as if Mother Nature laid the blueprint herself. For those in need of a little perspective, allow me to introduce Hodge Park Golf Course—the silver lining in the Midwest.

Hodge Park

Hodge Park Golf Course is more than just an 18-hole layout; it’s a scenic getaway: With three lakes, a creek, beautifully manicured zoysia fairways, bent grass greens, blue grass rough, rolling undulations, and natural wildlife to boot. The experience is a golfer’s dream come true. But don’t let the surrounding beauty lull you into serenity. The course–while playable for golfers of all skill levels—is far from a walk in the park.

Hodge Park is a par 71 and offers three tee boxes to choose from: (in descending order of distance) Blue, White, and Red (Ladies’ Tees). Golfers should play from a distance that suits their particular skill level. Here’s a quick rundown of each tee box’s distance/level of difficulty: The Blue tees play 6,181 yards; the White tees, 5,707 yards; and the Red tees, 5,293 yards. The slope (a measure of difficulty) for each: 117, 110, and 115 (respectively).

Course features to note: 10 out of the 18 holes feature some degree of “dogleg”, which forces players to keep the ball center-cut from tee to green. The rolling undulations create an added challenge for most shots—on the fairway and long grass alike. Pay close attention to your stance at address: Is the ball above your feet or below? Downhill lie or uphill? If undulations had a voice, they’d likely chant “OB” in middle of your downswing. Pace yourself on the first four holes, because the fifth is the #1 handicap for all three tee boxes. To say this hole is a challenging par 4 would be a huge understatement. From the Blue tees, it plays 446 yards—lengthy by a majority of golfers’ standards. Though this is one of the straighter holes on the course, you’re forced to keep the ball on the fairway, or risk finding yourself in an unplayable position to go at the green. Leave this hole with a par, and you can call it a successful round before you even approach the 6th hole.

Hodge Park

Aside from a great golfing experience, the course offers a variety of special deals to provide a bigger bang for your buck, though their regular rates hardly break the bank. For reference, playing Monday-Friday will cost $24 to walk, $40 to ride. Aside from their standard rates, Hodge Park offers three specific “specials” to aid in providing the best golfing experience for players of all skill levels (they even offer a special rate for non-golfers). The below information can be found by visiting Hodge Park’s RATES page on their site:

Parent Junior Special after 6:30 Monday – Thursday, after 5pm Fri-Sun. $13 for parent and $13 for Junior ages 17 and under

Player Development Special after 6pm Monday – Sunday after 5pm Friday – Sunday. $19 per player (Special rate for new players and their friends, includes the cart. New players are defined as anyone who can’t break 100 for 18 holes or 50 for nine holes)

​Spectators rider fee $15 for eighteen holes, $ 9 for 9 holes can putt or chip, Juniors 10-12 junior fee of $15, ride for free. All players are expected to keep a four hour pace for 18 holes, or 2 hour pace for nine holes. Onesomes have no privileges to play through, twosomes, threesomes and foursomes do. Food and beverages must be bought at the clubhouse.

Hodge Park

The course offers added value by providing a plethora of services and amenities, offering more of a private country club feel than that of your run-of-the-mill public golf course. Added services and amenities include: Individual and group lessons by their dedicated PGA Professional, junior programs, a driving range, two putting and one chipping green, club fitting, club rentals, handicap trackers, a fully stocked pro shop, snack shop, and lockers. Stay in the know on upcoming events for the 2017 season by checking in on their special events page.

As is the case with any notable course, it’s all about the experience. Hodge Park offers an experience that every golfer should witness. Beauty aside, the course has clearly made an effort to provide a country club “feel”, and, in my humble opinion, they did just that. If I haven’t made you a believer, the course certainly will. Your day job isn’t going anywhere, and neither is your cubicle. Step out for a day, and experience golf the way it was meant to be played. Experience Hodge Park Golf Course.