Golfers dubbed 2010 the “Year of the Wedge” after golf’s governing bodies decreed a reduction in the width and sharpness of grooves so it would be harder for players to spin shots out of the rough. Equipment makers were given 12 months to switch production entirely to clubs made under the new specifications. As wedge performance would be affected more than any other club in the bag, companies expected a run on old wedges, as golfers worried about losing that ability to stop shots out of the rough.
To be sure, the rules allow them still to buy clubs with the old specifications for as long as they are available at retail. And while golfers on the major pro Tours had to begin playing equipment with the new grooves at the start of 2010, elite amateurs competing in top events do not have to change for a few more years – and recreational golfers have until 2024.
That’s a lot of time. But no one can be sure exactly how long certain wedge and iron models will be found in stores or pro shops once clubmakers stop making them at the end of 2010. Nor can they know when clubs made with certain specifications with regards to bounce, loft, swing weight and length will sell out. So, golfers have indeed gone on something of a wedge bender, making sure they do not come up short.
One of the best sellers during that time has been the CG15 from Cleveland Golf. Introduced last fall, it utilizes four, laser-milled lines between each groove on the clubface to create surface roughness in an effort to optimize ball-to-face friction and maximize spin. In addition, the CG15 features Cleveland’s patented Zip Groove technology, which enables the clubmaker to mill each groove in the clubface to maximum conforming dimensions.
Company officials say they are able to maintain the absolute integrity of those grooves through the application of a proprietary coating for protection during the sand blasting process. That helps assure players that the groove volume of their wedges is optimized to channel more debris at impact than traditional grooves. More spin is generated as a result.
Cleveland Golf brand manager Chuck Thiry says the company “has had a record-breaking wedge year, thanks to the CG15.” But what happens once manufacturers have to stop making clubs with the more aggressive square grooves?
“Obviously, retailers will continue to sell our original CG15 wedges, so long as they have them in stock,” Thiry says. “And we will introduce a new version of the CG15, with Tour Zip Grooves that conform to the Rules of Golf. Otherwise, they will be just like the CG15s we are selling today.”