Using the data collected from a wedge testing session last summer I’m going to illustrate a few key points that might help improve your wedge game through choice and maintenance of equipment.
A group of wedges (56º) from a variety of manufacturers were tested from a distance of 70 yards from two types of lies, tight fairway and 2 inch rough. Spin rate and launch angle were measured using a Foresight GC2, the wedges required a minimum number of 5 shots from which the averages and standard deviation were taken. A spin retention value was also calculated to measure the diminishing performance from the rough.
The average spin rate from 70 yards on a tight lie was 7130rpm but the variance went from a low of 3573rpm to a high of 8910rpm, as you can see from the mean average the drop in performance from a low performing wedge was significantly greater than the gain from a high performing wedge. The higher performing wedges tended to have a better quality of milling, score lines and extra grooves to provide that advantage.
The correlation between launch angle and spin rate was somewhat linear, for example the lowest spinning wedges were around the 4000 mark and launched at 32º. Wedges spinning at 5000rpm launched at 30º, 6000rpm at 28º all the way to the high 8000’s launching at 24º. Club delivery was very consistent throughout illustrating the importance of friction to launch.
Spin retention from the rough was quite revealing with the average wedge maintaining 30% of it’s fairway spin number when being hit from 2” rough. The top performers in this category maintained approx 50% while the poor performers only maintained approx 20%.
Combining these two parameters gives a good idea of which wedges are the overall top performers and should you get chance to test wedges on a launch monitor of some kind are two measures I’d recommend looking at.
We also conducted a test comparing year old wedges of the same type versus brand new, the old had seen a couple of dozen rounds and some range use but nothing excessive. The spin loss and related higher launch was significant at over 50%.
If you’re going to work towards a tour calibre wedge game it’s vital that you equip yourself properly, if you don’t it will be impossible to control launch, spin effecting trajectory leading to poor distance control.