Today we have the A-GRIND V2 Wedge the second wedge from A-GRIND to be released which happens to look very similar to the original. How is it different? The new V2 Wedge is made of Sanyo Steel from Japan which is a special S25C that has a carbon content of only 0.24% the purpose of this is to improve the feel at impact. We have not experienced anything noticeable where a player would say wow what type of metal is this? but we do think this wedge feels awesome at impact. The grind remains unchanged from it’s predecessor a tried and true sole grind that works with low bounce and minimal camber with a slight leading edge relief to help you open it up the face. Ready for more photos and info? Follow the jump….
Introducing SEVEN 577 Series Wedges | Creating wedges for the most part is an easy process but for SEVEN and this particular wedge it was 2 years in the making, We needed to work directly with the foundry, grind house, and finishing company this is essential to us to control every variable for now and into the future. No manufacturing agents were used to produce our products as many brands do, every detail is extremely important to us.
For those of you not familiar with SEVEN it’s been a brand that has been very secretive on TourSpecGolf we needed to establish the proper foundation to create designs consistently and to our standard, and that standard is very high. We pull from the collective feedback of our most discerning customers and listen to what our target player truly desires. The result is this…
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In recent years Taylormade Japan has slowed it’s pace a tad when it comes to releasing Japan market only specific models but we are still lucky enough to get a taste here and there. Back in late spring several online golf communities and blogs noticed a new prototype putter being used on the PGA tour, a neo-mallet with a huge ring for a body. This putter was aptly named the arc1 by Taylormade and we all began to wonder at what point TM would release this putter to the public if ever. Fast forward to late summer when Taylormade announced that Japan would be he retail test market for the arc1 which is not surprising considering TM has been known to release more unorthodox and technology testing type of products here before anywhere else (or only here in many cases). It’s been nearly a month since the arc1 has come out and I was able to finally get a demo from TM Japan to try out.
You have to give TM credit for daring to be different in designing something they believe to make a functional difference in a golfer’s putter game. A more radical design can sometimes take the risk of being called ugly because it’s different and that certainly was the case earlier this years as photos of the tour prototypes began surfacing. Cries around the web proclaimed it to be ugly and something out of Star Trek along the lines of the Starship Enterprise – and that’s whatever one said when TM first showed off it’s spider putter years ago. (Though in my opinion, the arc1 is more deserving of the Starship Enterprise comparison.) Truth be told though, TM is not the first one to create a mallet putter that looks like a hole. Many years ago Mizuno created a line called the Draino putters in which the 100 model looks eerily similar. Even Odyssey’s Marxman putter has similar ring to it but looking at the arc1, the execution of TM’s design is probably the best of all.
Looks of any club is certainly subjective and a personal preference and many times we see clubs “grow on us”. I’ll be honest when I say that I didn’t mind the looks when I first got the putter. If one can get over the looks, the primary concern is of course does this design help make putts. Looks aside, one thing TM did get right with the arc1 is the head weight. The majority of golfers want a heavier head. In all the years I worked at TSG, I never once had a customer come to me to make or find a LIGHTER putter head. All the talk about head weight and it’s affect on greens of different speeds is certainly valid, but in the end, I’m a believer that a heavier head stabilizes my stroke and gives me a much more consistent feel and direction than a head I cannot feel. The combination of the arc1’s SUS304 ring and 220g aluminum body result in a very healthy 385g (give or take 2-3g for variance) head. I very much like the weight in my hands and with this heavy head, at all the lengths offered by TM 32″ 33″ 34″ 34.5″ 36.5″ you can expect a nice had heavy feeling swing weight. Keep in mind though to keep swing weight from going overboard in the 34.5″ and 36.5″ lengths, TM has countered the balance with heavier 130g TM Smart arc Grips. The 32″ 33″ and 34″ come with a 63g TM Winn arc Grip and the 33″ and 34″ also have an option of the 103 Super Stroke Mid Slim 2.0R. My demo is a 34″ with Winn arc Grip so the swing weight is right up there around E9.5.
Today I’ll just take a quick look at the new MB-5000WC forged wedge from Miura Giken. I have them as heads only so unfortunately I won’t be shafting them up, so this will be more a look at their design and aesthetics. Miura is not one to release new models at a rapid pace here in Japan, each model is carefully thought out and tested before going into production. The last wedge they released, the WMF-06 which I took a brief look at here, was in itself quite a radical design for Miura, stepping away from the traditional. Ten months later, Miura Giken has unveiled the MB-5000WC which on the surface looks much more simple than the WMF-06.
At first glance, the placement of the logos and branding seems much cleaner which makes the beautiful satin finish stand out even more. While the WMF-06 was a chrome brushed satin head, the new MB-5000WC appears almost white satin like. The finish looks great. On closer inspection though what really stands out is the smoothly curved back face of each wedge which is what Miura dubs its Hollow Back Design.
It’s been a while since I have dropped by Gold’s Factory and in the mean time, Gold’s has grown more popular than ever, especially here in Japan where their brand has received major publicity in most major golf magazines. Being featured in Golf Digest Japan, Alba, Even Golf, Waggle as well as top enthusiast magazine Choice, has really enhanced Gold’s Factory and Master Sasaya’s reputation as savvy putter and wedge creator and modifier. So when Sasaya-san contacted me last week asking me to drop by to talk about his new wedge and to grind a set based on my feedback I was very happy to oblige.
As you all know I get to take lots of pictures and test golf clubs mostly at home here in Kiminomori so it was nice to be able to pack up the camera and head out to Tokyo to shoot some pictures in a work shop rather than my backyard or at the range/golf course. I arrived at Gold’s Factory located deep in the heart of Nakajuku in Itabashi just after 10am and right away Sasaya-san pulled out a box of raw forged heads to show me. We talked a bit about wedge manufacturing and how a hand grind wedge from Gold’s Factory differs from a mass produced wedge which most mainstream brands produce. Sasaya-san explained to me this new hand grind wedge is forged from JIS SS400 in Himeji and is now being produced by Gold’s Factory with CNC machined conforming R&A grooves. For those not familiar with SS400, its equivalent hardness is about S18C. Raw heads are delivered at heavy 338g weights allowing for major customized grinding to each customer specifications. The new hand grind wedge also features a very fine CNC machined face milling, this milling can be varied from fine to deep.
One of the cool clubs that really caught our eye back at the Japan Golf Fair was the ONOFF Labospec wedge specially made for top Japanese pro Shingo Katayama. Last week ONOFF sent me a sample for testing and I was able to spend some range time with it as well as a round out at Katsuura Country Club so here is a brief review. Katayama who played Ping Eye wedges early in his career requested a similar style wedge as homage to the Ping eye. Onoff created the new Limited Labospec wedge W358 and decided on ST22 steel as the material. ONOFF wanted a wedge with the durability of stainless steel but the soft feel of a forged club. ST22 is softer than typical cast stainless irons and wedges but it does not need to be forged. It can also be bent and adjusted like a forged club. The W358 is a 59* wedge and named 358 due to featuring a 3.5mm height cavity and 8* of bounce.
The 59* W358 in fact has 10* of bounce at its highest point but due to a multi grind sole, sits at address with 8* of bounce. The two stand out characteristics of the W358 are the head’s unorthodox shape and its wider than normal sole. Katayama has always been a strong believer that one can never have enough forgiveness, as a pro or an average golfer. He was one of the first tour pros in Japan to play graphite shafts in his irons and while he has the choice of playing ONOFF’s athlete model Type S or Black driver, he always plays the Red driver or Type D. The sole of the Labospec W358 while wide for easy bunker use and play on lusher fairways has a very versatile grind with multiple relief, allowing for the head to also excel in tighter lies and be opened up when necessary.
Its Ping Eye inspired shape may take getting used to for some but the design is rather effective. The very high toe creates a lot of real estate for the better player to work the ball thus creating more spin control. Yet again the rounded leading edge and offset create plenty of forgiveness and allow a player cleaner impact in various lies which result in more accurate shots and more spin.
Speaking of spin, the wedge performs admirably. The USGA conforming grooves are made to the limit allowed and the sand blasted face is micro milled for lots of additional friction and bite. I really appreciated its versatile sole. I used the wedge in bunkers of couse but also on short chips, approaches 75y or so in and even for a lob shot. In all cases, and no matter how I addressed the ball, the wedge kept its face and score lines squarely aimed at the target. The wider sole excelled in the sand and I was in and out of bunkers without any stress including one bunker that was as deep as I am tall. Just opened up the face, swung away and out it came.
Feel wise, the wedge is softer than some cast models but not mushy soft. It provides soft (soft enough to feel the ball compress on full shots) but solid feedback and you know exactly where you are hitting it on the face, ie picking it low on the face to bring trajectory down or running it right up the face for more spin and stopping power. I think its a good looking wedge, from the cavity side, its very slick, while at address it is shape may take getting used to but its gray matte finish is a plus. ONOFF is offering a very small amount of the Labospec Shingo Katayama W358 Wedges to the public and all custom built by their Labospec department for each customer who orders. It certainly is versatile enough and unique enough that I have ordered one for my bag. Get yours here while they last!
So I’ve actually had a new Dance with Dragon 60* forged wedge here for the last couple of months. The new DWD wedge is made by one of Japan’s true grinding masters, Masahiro Tomaru of Grind Studio. When I first received the wedge for testing I noticed that the 60* had a very high 10* bounce. I thought it would be interesting to try this “lob” wedge out as a sand wedge.
Just to give some background on Tomaru-san, he was an aspiring pro golfer and from 18 years of age to 22 he worked hard at trying to pass the pro test (as Q-school is called in Japan) to become a professional golfer on tour. Tomaru-san came to the realization that making the tour was to high a mountain to climb so he instead joined Dunlop (Sri Sports as we know it today) in the golf sales department hoping to expand his golf background. As Sri grew, Tomaru-san wanted to move into golf club design, where his real passion lay however, Dunlop had no vacancies there so he left at age 25 and went to Fourteen Golf. At Fourteen, Tomaru-san spent 11 years fine tuning his skills as a club designer and craftsman. He was responsible for most of Fourteen’s irons designs as well as credit as the creator of the MT-28 wedge. In case you didn’t notice, MT = Masahiro Tomaru.
Tomaru-san decided to leave Fourteen to start his own company called Grind Studio. At first he also lent a hand at designing wedges for other top Japanese brands including the still sought after Royal Collection DB Forged wedge (Double Bounce). This wedge has a cult following for its tour like grind and shape and was made in very few numbers, each hand ground by Tomaru-san and stamped with a small “T” on the toe face. Tomaru-san went on to focus on his Grind Studio brand and as a one man brand personally hand made every GS wedge and iron to spec. GS has a huge cult following in Japan as well as heavy top amateur usage as well as some pros on the Japan tour. Because of this, Tomaru-san spends more than 60% of the year grinding for pros and top amateurs only, so getting his services for a custom wedge is quite rare. Dance with Dragoj however wanted one of the best so they had Tomaru-san create and grind their newest wedge.
There are two finishes available, a satin and raw black, as well as 4 lofts. Lofts are marked on the sole and by a “fleur de lis” mark to indicate loft (the 60* above has 4 x fleur de lis). I received the raw black model and as you can see the finish will wear especially since I used the 60 in the sand. You can see the black finish rub off and the wedge does require minor maintenance like keeping moisture off and being wiped dry after shots. The wedge itself has a wonderful shape to it and Tomaru-san always does a great job on the grind and the neck and top line. It sets up wonderfully at address and opens up easily thanks to a lot of heel and trailing edge relief.
The top line is rather sharp and straight and the higher toe allows for more control and workability. The sole itself has a blunt and slightly rounded leading edge. The trailing edge allows for very clean exit from any turf and as you can see from the image below there is quite a bit of heel relief. With an open face, this wedge still points easily at the target.
Depending on who you are and how you look at it, a 60* wedge can be a very versatile club. There are players who rely on it as a complimentary club, for the occasional flop shot or as they are usually called lob shot, and then there are those who rely on it for everything including bunker play. Looking at the DWD 60*, its certainly a good looking club that sets up well. The back face may be busy for some especially on the 60 which has those 4 x fleur de lis marks that indicate the 60*. I think they could have dropped these for a cleaner design especially since the loft is already marked on the sole. Feel wise the wedge is crisp and you can feel the ball compress on the face and spin off. It is not mushy soft but soft enough and spin is on par with most conforming groove wedges. For bounce, many may think 10* is a bit high for chip shots and short approaches from the fairway but it really depends on the players type of swing and the course this wedge is used on. Most 60* wedges seem to have bounces that range between 4 and 8* to suit a variety of players.
Typically a 60* wedge used as a sand wedge might be considered for more advanced players however in the past few weeks I’ve learned to use the 60* out of the bunkers and it works. 10* of bounce is adequate for the soft sand conditions and still works on the lush fairways here in Japan. Higher bounce can actually be more forgiving for average golfers especially ones who have a tendency to dig. There are after all many 52* and even 50* Japanese model approach wedges that also have 10* of bounce. For tight lies and hardpan it will be harder to keep the leading edge down to the ground due to the bounce so sweeping type players and more advance players may find the bounce too high especially if they play on those kind of courses with compacted soil.
Overall I’ve been happy with the wedge and it has been very versatile for me. From 50-60 yards and in its pretty much the 60* unless I need to pitch and run. I’m satisfied with the looks, feel and spin. The finish or lack thereof since it is raw does wear and some may not like the weathered look but I like it as it looks well “used”. Others can simply opt for the satin version. Of course you can also go for the more traditional type of sand wedge lofts as a 56/10 and 58/10 are also available. Everyone is different and there are so many possibilities when it comes to wedges and the setup each individual carries. The 60* worked for me even as a sand wedge but how about you?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Royal Collection clubs and wedges. RC compared to most brands is a very small company with only 20 employees dedicated to designing and producing golf clubs that look great and perform great. While Royal Collection is probably best know for their woods and utilities, they are no slouch when it comes to releasing quality irons and wedges.
About 5 years ago the original DB Forged became quite a cult classic among enthusiast golfers. Designed and grinded by Masahiro Tomaru (now owner of Grind Studio and former creator of Fourteen’s MT-28 series of wedges) the DB Forged was treasured among better players looking for premium feel, spin and a versatile grind. While Tomaru-san may no longer be involved with RC’s new 2011 DB Forged, RC looks to have released another winner. DB stands for Dent Back and as you can see from the wedges cavity, there is an area of the cavity that is dented in. What this does is allows RC to move the weight and CG higher in the wedge to create a more spin heavy stronger and stable trajectory.
Very well designed all around…
The new DB Forged has a very nice shape with minimal offset. It was originally released as a two wedge prototype set with raw finish. These sets sold out very very quickly and RC proceeded to release a retail model, one with a nickel chrome finish and one with a black finish. All the DB Forged wedges are forged from premium S20C steel by Endo. Another key characteristic of the new DB Forged is its grind/sole. RC sought to make a very versatile grind by creating lots of toe and heel relief as well as huge trailing edge relief. This allows for the wedge to really get under the ball in all different kinds of lies and situations and allows for the wedge to be closed or opened easily for higher trajectory shots or lower pitch and runs all while aiming straight at the pin.
I had been using a 52 and 58 setup but I found the need for a change as my Titliest VG3 Forged PW has a very strong loft of 44*. This left me with a very big 8* gap between my PW and 52*. I found myself using the PW with 3/4 and 1/2 swings to fill in the yardage gap. I decided to go with a 50 and 56* which would create a more consistent 6* gap between my PW AW and SW. I love a wedge with a long flowing neck, less offset and a tear drop like shape and that is what the DB Forged has. However as an average golfer, I do not necessarily have the swing speed or technique to generate as much backspin as I would like, especially with new conforming grooves. This is another reason why I looked at the DB Forged as my gamers this season as their faces are milled to add additional bite to its USGA conforming grooves.
Clean pure impact…
The DB Forged do have higher bounces ie my wedges are 50/8 and 56/13 however I’d say the bounce is just right as the sole is not overly wide or rounded. Its specs are well suited for the lush courses here in Japan and the soft sand in the bunkers. I took the DB Forged out to a neighboring short course which specializes in allowing players to practice approaches from 120y and in across its 10 holes. Two key things stood out for me, the ability for the wedge to easily get under the ball thanks to its rounded leading edge and the soft but not mushy feel. Direction is very good and even with the high bounce, setting up the 56 for a higher flop shot or a pitch and run were easily doable thanks to its grind and narrow sole. Spin is as good as any conforming wedge I’ve tried and I really love how the black head frames the ball. On full wedge shots you are not punished for missing the sweet spot though feel can suffer if you hit it too much towards the toe. The 13* bounce on the 56 was great for slicing through the powdery sand and control distance out of the bunkers.
Overall I like this wedge and look forward to gaming it this year. My only concern which I cannot measure yet is the durability of the black finish. So far so good as I wiped it off after each shot and it looked again like new unlike some black finishes where your first shot practically removes the finish. If you are the type of player that does not care for maintenance and doesn’t want to worry about long term wear, you’re probably better off going with the nickel chrome model. I should note my wedges came with Nippon 950GH Stiff and DG s200 is also a standard shaft. RC will do custom orders including all Nippon models like the new Modus 3 and DG shafts and graphite as well. Once again RC has put together another club that looks great, feels great and so far performs very admirably.
You can check it out here in the pro shop.
Crazy has announced a few new products which are very exciting for those Crazy fans and those who have always wanted to play Crazy. Crazy has long focused on making models that really excel for the faster swinger and harder power hitter. Many mere mortals get left out of the mix and have trouble finding the right Crazy shaft and flex to match a slower or more down to earth swing. Because of this Crazy has announced their all new Royal Decoration line. The Royal Decoration is a super lightweight sub 50 gram (46-48g) shaft made for ladies, seniors and slower to average swingers who want the ultimate distance shaft. Available in Black, Red or Blue this shaft is mid kicking with mid to higher torque for lots of feel. I’ll be talking on Monday with Crazy to find out more about the shaft including what grade carbon it uses and its actual design.
Another exciting release will be the new Toyoshima Crazy Wedge. Toyoshima-san has long worked on the Japanese tour, grinding wedges for various pros and now has created the next generation of Crazy forged wedges the CC-B 104 Special. This hand grinded and hand polished wedge will be available in 52 and 58* lofts with Crazy Black Wedge shaft. I took some pictures of the actual release wedge above as well as some of the prototype tester they had on hand at the Crazy Factory. The Wedge features a wonderful tear drop shape and straight neck and looks awesome with the simple black Crazy shaft.
We’ll be taking pre orders soon for the wedges as they are very limited and expect to be sold out very quickly. The new Royal Decoration will be added to the TSG pro shop this week along with a new TJ-46 Nero HIGH KICK shaft for those wanting low spin in a low launch shaft. We’ll also be adding the limited edition 80t iron shafts and doing a post on our visit to the Crazy Factory along with great video footage by Chris.
Titleist’s Vokey TVD wedge, has been one of the most popular wedges in Japan over the last couple of years. 2011 calls for a brand new model, the Vokey TVD-R C-C wedge. The TVD-R is being released in very limited numbers in the US, one loft at a time, while in Japan it has been released as a full retail model with a choice of 7 lofts and custom shafts as well.
The new TVD-R features a new grind from Bob Vokey call the “R” Grind. The R Grind is a modified TVD grind featuring a pre worn leading edge which allows for easy in and easy out clearance through the turf. The crescent shaped bounce surface is narrowed and cambered for shot making along with tour proven heel toe and trailing edge relief to create more pure impact. Like previous TVD models, the TVD-R features a spin milled face for maximum spin and C-C grooves (Condition of Competition conforming grooves) for tournament play.
The TVD-R is currently available in 48/8, 50/9, 52/10, 54/11, 56/12, 58/10, 60/9, 62/8 lofts and bounces. The standard shafts are DG S200 and Nippon NS Pro 950 Stiff. Those faster and stronger swingers will appreciate the TVD-R with DG S200 as swing weight is D3 for 48 50 and 52* lofts and D5 for 54 56 58 60 and 62* lofts. Shaft options from Titleist Japan’s custom workshop include KBS Tour, Project X, DGHL and SL, Nippon 850gh and 750gh and Titleist Motore Graphite. All optional shafts are special orders which will take 3 weeks.
The new TVD-R has begun shipping now and we’ve added it to the TSG pro shop. Keep in mind that Titleist has a huge following in Japan and like the VG3 Forged irons demand will be huge so get yours now!