If you watch a lot of PGA Tour golf on television, you see something every amateur wishes he could do, but few can reliably achieve: the ball lands on a green, seems to pause for a second and then spins dramatically back from its landing spot. Not only does it take a lot of skill and clubhead speed, you need a wedge that's new enough that the ball-grabbing grooves on its face haven't worn off. But look in most amateurs' golf bags, and among the standard clubs—a brand new driver utilizing the latest technology and a vintage putter with some quirk to it because "I putt better with it"—you'll find a rusted, scratched, opened-face 56-degree sand wedge that appears to have been left in the backyard all winter. While the face may seem to have grooves, in reality, it is pretty smooth; you can still hit with it, but forget the spin thing.
Jesse Ortiz and short-game guru Dave Pelz are trying to change not only what amateurs carry in their bags, but do it in such a way that players won't have to do what most pros do two or three times a season: change their wedges or have them re-grooved. Ortiz, who designs clubs for the Bobby Jones line of golf equipment, and Pelz agreed to work together to create a new line of wedges.
The wedge series comes in four different degrees of loft: 52 degree, known as a gap wedge; 56 degree, or the standard sand wedge; 60 degree, or lob wedge; and the slightly less common 64 degree. The 56- and 60-degree wedges also come with two different bounces, standard and low. But according to Ortiz, the naming conventions are where the similarities with other wedges stop. The wedge's body is cast from a soft stainless steel, and then pockets and channels are milled into the face to accommodate a face insert, which is made of a high-tech alloy normally used in industrial machine bearings and valves, known as Carpenter 440XH. The channels also allow more weight to be put in the sole of the club, thus creating a lower center of gravity, which most experts believe enhances the forgiveness of a club and renders a higher trajectory. The alloy face meets all United States Golf Association regulations, and, according to Ortiz, should retain its texture properties for years, instead of just months.
The wedges retail for $149 each, and they join the current line of Bobby Jones drivers and hybrid clubs.
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