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Wedge Bounce and Grind: What it is and Why it Matters

Jun. 18, 2007     By     Comments (36)

Players preparing for this year's U.S. Open made a rush on the equipment vans to come up with wedges with little bounce and fresh grooves. Here's why.

Bag DropAs we saw this weekend, Oakmont Country Club proved itself capable of growing some of the toughest, most gnarly, luscious grass this side of Kentucky. So while some are calling Oakmont the true victor this year, I think it might have been modern agronomy that really won.

To deal with the combination of deep, thick rough as well as the extremely tight lies on fairways and in the runoff areas around some greens, players had to resort to wedges that could more easily cut through the thick stuff and not bounce off the tightly mowed turf and blade the ball (as happened to Tiger at the third hole Sunday).

Many opted to use wedges with less bounce and a grind that produced a sharper leading edge. Here's what that means and why you might consider doing the same depending on the courses you play.

Bounce
When Gene Sarazen soldered a flange to the bottom of his niblick to create the first sand wedge, he was creating what we now call bounce. Bounce is the angle of the sole measured against a horizontal line (the ground) when the club is in the address position and the shaft is vertical.

The more bounce there is, the higher the leading edge is off the ground when the club is held in its square position. It's expressed in degrees and really matters most in higher lofted clubs. A set of irons might have one degree of bounce in the 3-iron that gradually increases to seven or eight degrees in the pitching wedge.

Gap and lob wedges generally carry six to eight degrees of bounce while sand wedges usually have somewhere between 12 and 14 degrees of bounce. That's because the more bounce there is, the more the bottom of the club acts like the bow of a boat to prevent the club from digging into the ground or the sand.

That wonderful "thump" you hear when a pro hits a sand shot is the sound of the bounce on the sole of the club making the first contact with the sand and not the leading edge digging in.

Grind
Bounce is pretty easy to see and understand (and we have a little more here if you'd really like to know more). But things get tricky once you move a wedge from its normal address position. Generally speaking, opening the blade presents more bounce, closing it down less bounce.

To alter and fine-tune that dynamic, we come to the "grind." And here we have to address two more terms: radius and camber. Radius is the gradual curve of the leading edge as you look down at the head in the address position. Camber is the curve of the sole from the leading to trailing edge.

Many "players" irons in the past like old Hogans and MacGregors were designed with a very straight leading edge. But today, most irons have a slight radius that makes them a little friendlier out of rough and tighter lies.

When it comes to camber, a lot of pros will grind a little off the leading and trailing edges of iron soles to create a "rounder" shape that cuts down on drag and reduces bounce.

Grinding the sole of wedges has become something of an art form that people like Bob Vokey at Titleist have popularized and perfected. I won't pretend to understand all the variations they make available to touring pros, but I do know it can matter greatly to skilled players.

Some like the sole ground down near the heel so that when they lay the club open the bounce doesn't increase as much. Some want a little more radius so the club face looks closer to the ball.

Eidolon Vsole Illustration
This illustration from the Eidolon web site is a good one to show not just their proprietary "V-Sole" grind, but the difference between low and high bounce wedges.

Grind can get so creative it can be patented. Eidolon Golf is a small specialty wedge manufacturer that's come up with a grind they call a V-Sole. Basically the main part of the sole has a low bounce while the leading ¼" of the sole has a very aggressive bounce so the leading edge can't dig into turf. Perhaps one of these days we can review them for you.

Making Choices
Fortunately, we today have many, many more choices in wedges we can buy off the rack than even just a few years ago. Even better, the leading wedge makers like Titleist, Cleveland, and even Callaway are making multiple lofts available with different bounces.

I have two 58° Vokey spin-milled wedges, one with 8° bounce, one with 12°. I use the 8° at my home course because of the firm sand in the bunkers. When I travel to a course with more powdery sand, the 12° goes in the bag. Interestingly, the grind and sole width on the two wedges is different.

Course and condition specific wedges may be a strategy you want to consider. Tight lies, hard turf, and firm bunkers suggest low bounce wedges. Soft turf, fluffy lies, and soft sand call for more bounce.

In the End…
I doubt we'll ever know what the bounce or grind was on the wedge Tiger used on Oakmont's third hole yesterday. But knowing the result, we can guess he could have used less bounce in that situation. While few of us have access to custom grinds, we can make choices in bounce to help us avoid that dreaded bladed wedge or the bunker shot where the club sticks into the sand.

Posted in: Bag Drop Comments (36)

Discussion

  1. Mike Kornreich says:

    Thank you for a very informative article. I've been very frustrated sculling (blading) a number of my approaches from the fairway with my gap wedge. The medium bounce on my CG-10 may be the culprit. I'll look into it..Thanks again

  2. Tim Glover says:

    "I use the 8° at my home course because of the firm sand in the bunkers. When I travel to a course with more powdery sand, the 12° goes in the bag."

    I started carrying 4 wedges (46* PW, 50.08 Gap, 54.14 Sand, 58.08 Lob) because it gives me the right option no matter what lie I have. And, I have noticed that I can encounter firm sand and soft sand, tight lies and fluffy lies on the same course on the same day.

  3. Ray says:

    One Wedge you might want to throw in there for comparison is the Solus Wedge. I was becoming very frustrated with having to spend money on multiple wedges of the same loft and different bounces and then having to guess which ones to put in your bag that day only to find out that guessed wrong. I purchased a 56º Solus hoping it would be even 1/2 as good as they advertise on TV. Turns out, it's everything they say and more. Based on my success with the 56º I also added a 61º and will soon be adding a 51º.

    I have yet to find a situation where these wedges have not worked perfectly for me. Hard Pan or Soft Fairways, Firm or Fluffy Bunkers, etc. Gone are the days of Skulling it off a tight lie or digging into a fluffy bunker.

  4. Kankle J says:

    i just recieved my vokey design 58* and 8* of bounce, do u think this bounce angle will cause more fat or flubbed chips and pitches? i hope not! :cry: :???:

  5. rennie says:

    Very interesting, but now i am really confused. I play on a course that has very tight lies on the fairway and around the greens and the traps are very hard. I suppose very low bounce would be the answer. I have been having trouble with my cleveland 52 and 60 unless the ball is sitting up.

  6. Brian Lutz says:

    I got a vokey sm54.10 and sm60.08. They are GREAT wedges, but i think the sole is too long. I used to have a vokey special grind 60V, so I'm thinking about grinding the back edge of both of the wedges. Not too much though. What do you think? :?:

  7. chuck says:

    to be honest, its not the paintbrush, its the painter, catch my drift? People buy into the golf market just like they're supposed to, with their wallets open. I have a scoring avg of 73.4, I use 2 wedges, an old Walter Hagen pitching wedge, which I use for bump and run shots around the greens, and my 120 distance, and a vokey 58 degree for 90 and in, and short shots i need spin on. Get to know your equipment, stop buying things thinking it will make you better.

    Painter, not the paintbrush

    I can probably out drive most of you with an old persimmons driver i have, I hit it 275 on the fly

  8. J says:

    Hey Chuck,
    Do you find yourself alone on the course a lot? it should be pretty obvious to you why no one wants to play with you.
    I could wipe up any course with you. I'm a plus 4 and a PGA member. There is no need to be such an ass. Why dont you go somewhere else where no one wants to listen to you,,,,like your local driving range.

  9. Jerod says:

    Ditto.

  10. Hertz says:

    Looks like J's got your number Chuckie!

  11. Fred says:

    reckon Chuck has a point - we focus a lot on consumption, but the primary message seems to be pretty pompous and abrasive so a useful message gets lost once the readers hackle raise.

    Chuck is probably better to be playing alone and outdriving himself :)

  12. chuck says:

    no my cousin is a tour player, so I am lucky enough to play with a lot of talent. I may not fit in with you, "plus 4" talent, but I have fun with the guys I fit in with.

  13. A says:

    to be honest, its not the paintbrush, its the painter, catch my drift? People buy into the golf market just like they're supposed to, with their wallets open. I have a scoring avg of 73.4, I use 2 wedges, an old Walter Hagen pitching wedge, which I use for bump and run shots around the greens, and my 120 distance, and a vokey 58 degree for 90 and in, and short shots i need spin on. Get to know your equipment, stop buying things thinking it will make you better.

    Painter, not the paintbrush

    I can probably out drive most of you with an old persimmons driver i have, I hit it 275 on the fly

    Well Chuck, if you knew what you were talking about, you'd know that grinds are not about purchasing equipment, they are about getting a WRXer to shape it to your swing style, typical playing conditions, and personal feel and preference.

    If a painter is trying to paint a canvas portrait with a fat house painting brush, the likelihood of screwing it up becomes much more realistic. tight lies require a closer leading edge. For those of us who enjoy shooting par, grinds are a great option for revitalizing equipment.

    P.S. In his prime, Bobby Jones was whacking a permission driver 230 max...

  14. tom buthead says:

    anyone know how to adjust bounce angle on 58 deg 8 deg bounce vokey find myself thinning the ball too much something which i never did with my ping zing 2 sw. play off 7 so can,t afford to squander shots.

  15. Greg Clements says:

    I absolutely love reading some of these "no holds barred" comments. Apart from being positively hilarious they are very educational. Nice to know what the good golfers think. I am a bit of an equipment junkie myself so I can relate to what Chuck says - he has a good point.

    Aussie Hacker

  16. Wondering says:

    How does the width of the sole affect the grind. Is it better if it is more narrow?

  17. Jason says:

    I'd like to whack both of you over the skull with your permission drivers. Get back on topic. You both had valid points...

    Chuck- that equipment doesn't buy a quality swing. Good point, but nobody is impressed with 275, regardless of the driver. Why don't you tell us your club head speed instead.

    Besides, the real Chuck (Chuck Norris) can out drive anyone - using a toothpick.

    "A" - that consistent quality ball strikers can benefit from various bounce and grind designs. points taken

    But lets face it, 90% of amateur golfers spend too much money on equipment and not enough on lessons or practicing proper swing mechanics.

  18. Matt says:

    Well, 275 on the fly with an old persimmon is pretty good. Chuck - I have some old persimmon woods to sell you if you need any.

  19. Steve says:

    whoever said golf isn't competitive. Chuck, I don't golf but my 12y/o hits 210-220 and avg in the 80's from the whites maybe someday he will be as good as you. ;-)

  20. Thomas says:

    Nice article, sometimes we forget how much the nuance of the game makes a difference when trying to get from a 10 to a 5, and these little gems help. My only comment is that don't let the tour players be the only ones with "access" to grind. A $50 bench grinder, some safety goggles and an old wedge is the perfect mix for some trial and error grinding. Then you can make your own wedges match your swing, course and preference!!
    Go make some sparks!!! and be careful :twisted:

  21. Bryan Johnston says:

    Never thought too much about bounce and grinds until recently when I won a taylormade 56* sandwedge z groove with 8* bounce at a local tournament. The obvious difference to my existing sandwedge is the flange width 25 mm for the existing v. 17mm for the new one. (old one has 12* bounce)WHAT a difference this has made to my short game. Now carry both in the bag. New wedge for tight lies/hard sand old one for fluffy sand and lies. Sorry Chuck I also play off a 4 and never thought I would change what has always worked but, this has made a big difference and boy, does that new wedge spin it!

  22. Lee says:

    In regard to bounce angles, most better and Tour players will grind relief on the leading edge..to prevent digging and also to help self locate centerline of the ball

    They will also grind relief along the leading edge from toe to heel

    there are two types of bounce angles, a dynamic and a static.

    A dynamic bounce angle is where the angle comes flush with the leading edge and can be a cause for fat and/or thin shots, or needing to chop your way out of the rough

    A Dnamic bounce is much like a river barge that must plow its way through water via force

    A Static bounce is much like the bow on a speed boat that parts the water and away from the resistance...this grind also reduces skulled, fat and/or thin shots and helps when your ball lands in a divot

    A Static grind is a very versatile grind which is used more and more by Tour players..not to be confused with the static bounce angle, even though a static grind begins with a static angle.

    The patented sole on Feel Golf's wedges and irons are good example of what a static grind is and what it accomplishes in all types of lie's and agronomy. Can be seen on feelgolf.net

  23. Eric says:

    I use a 47* 10 a 52* 12 and a 58* 10 and I love my set up. Couldn't be happier.

  24. Chuck says:

    Wow, haven't been on this site in a while, didn't realize all the feedback I've gotten over the months. It's funny how negative people are, and how critical they are over comments, my post was never meant to be a literal sense of "using a house painting brush", it's a metaphor meaning a great golfer can make a shot with almost any club, within reason for all you critics out there, and people nowadays rely too much on new equipment, instead of their form, and technique. I wasn't comparing cock size either, mine's just bigger if you wana go there too J , that's fine if you think I'm a "hack," I have fun playing, and play in about 15 pro ams a year with my cousin on tour, so your heckling doesn't effect me, but it's funny to see that it has such an effect on the regulars out there too, have fun golfing, it's what it's all about.

  25. SkydiveBob says:

    Extremely Informative and an easy read. Thanks for the info. bp

  26. Jeff Wilcox says:

    In the UK I took up golf at around 40 years of age in 180 with a starting handicap of 24. I struggled to break 90 until I spent hours in the garden chipping and pitching a with a 48 degree wedge: opening and closing the face. I taught myself to lob over trees and punch the same club under the trees. Within 18 months I was playing off 13, scored a gross of 77 and regularly played down to single figures. I found by opening or closing the face I could score quite well from around 120 yards in and even from the fringe. By using only one wedge I knew it well and became very confident with it. It is easier to know one club than several.

    The point I am making is that it is the player who is more important than the equipment. I read about Seve and how he practised almost every shot with a 3 iron, even out of bunkers.

    As Trevino once said when a spectator said, "That was lucky Lee", "Yeah, it's funny but I find the more I practice the luckier I get."
    The reason these top guys are so good is their application, their dedication to mastering, manouvering and controlling a golf ball. The most important tools in golf are hands and feet but club manufacturers don't sell those. Golf is like the fashion trade, it has to be kept alive with new products.

    Of course it's not only hands and feet but a peaceful state-of-mind that is vital: nice calm concentration. I seem to think Tiger meditates. His Mum is Thai after all.

    Keep spending lads, it's good for business and the economy.

  27. Jeff Wilcox says:

    Apologies, I missed out the 9. 180 should of course read 1980.

  28. For more than 30 years, I've been alternating two Prosimmon sand wedges which can't have more than one degree of bounce. One has the grooves almost worn out now. I discovered these clubs were brilliant for hardpan sand traps and tight fairway lies. Short range, up to about 50 metres. Useless for thick rough or heavy sand, so I also carry a conventional high bounce sand iron.
    Quite a few matchplay opponents were left lamenting when I'd chip or explode the Prosimmon to gimme distance. Just shows, sometimes there is nothing new under the sun.

  29. Tool says:

    @Chuck..
    You seem to be the negative one, and seem to latch on to your "cousin." nobody cares about the entourage. And what are you talking about when you say your used to being heckled. Why would a nobody golfer get heckled!? You probably should get some new wedges, and a modern driver. It may help you become better, less bitter person.

  30. Perry says:

    Geez, guys. Chuck was absolutely spot on. You may want to shoot the messenger but if we spent 1/2 of what we do on equipment on lessons and practice balls we all would be much better golfers.

    Get over this "better equipment is all I need to be great" syndrome you all have. Fact is if they paid us to play the game we could worry about equipment. Until that happens get a life and head to your teaching pro.

  31. The Senior Senior says:

    Can't say I can agree with Chuck. If it wasn't for more forgiving heads and shafts, I'd have stopped playing 10 years ago with arthritic hand pain issues. Certainly can't manage any steel shafts, with the exception of a putter.

    Unfortunately, lessons don't do anything for me. I need a new body. Playing off an 8 handicap at age 67. That's on three tough courses.

    Forgive me if I'm sceptical concerning Chuck's distance claims with a persimmon driver. Effectively, he is claiming to fly the ball as far with a persimmon wood as Greg Norman in his prime. Most modern golf balls would shatter a persimmon head with the swing speed required for 275 metres. However, there are a few logical explanations for this distance with the equipment:

    1/ Teeing off 150 metres above the fairway,

    2/ Teeing off on the edge of a frozen lake, a la Titanic Thompson, a renowned hustler,

    3/ Taking enough steroids to choke an elephant,

    4/ Smoking some high quality pot.

    Sorry Chuck - I think you may be prone to exaggeration. A pity, because there's some useful advice among the dross.

    Regards,

    The Senior Senior

  32. Josh says:

    Oh Chuck,
    You are soooooo good. Wish I could be just like you. I want to browse the internet all day and try to disrupt informative golf conversations with bitterness and cock size references (I bet your cousin's is bigger) Get a clue man. I guess arrogance is bliss. Oh and by the way, I hit a consistent 310 with my R9 and I suck at golf so I'm thinking with your "raw talent" and and a driver that wasn't made before St. Andrews, you could probably hit 600 yards all day. Thanks for being such a tool

  33. Andre says:

    Chuck I am a blind golfer and not sure what kind of driver I have. But my sight caddie says I hit it over 300-well I pay him like 200 a round.

  34. Nate says:

    Chuck is a tool! The newer the technology, the better the golf equipment. The better the golf equipment, the better your going to play. The more you learn about what different clubs can do with different lofts and bounces on different lies, the more your going to improve your game when using these clubs for all the different lies.

  35. Keith says:

    Where Chuck went wrong was to generalize about equipment. Now if he had spoken about one manufacturer versus another, and the kudos associated with 'the big names', he may have gotten a more sympathetic response.

    However, any artisan will spout at length about using 'the correct tool for the job'. I have wasted many many hours attempting to complete a job with the wrong tool, only to have it done in a flash when I finally conceded and buought the right tool! Tight lies need a low bounce, and fluffy lies need high bounce. That applies to mere mortals and pros alike.

    And yes, a highly talented individual with time to practice probably can teach himself to achieve with 'less than optimum' equipment. But meanwhile us talentless working saps need all the help we can get!

    Me? I'm looking for a new set of wedges because the SpinDoctor I aquired second-hand off Noah has lost its spin, and I find it helpful to read up on the technicalities before I purchase because I can't afford to get it wrong, and I need all the help I can get!

  1. [... As we saw this weekend, Oakmont Country Club proved itself capable of growing some of the toughest, most gnarly, luscious grass this side of Kentucky. So while some are calling ...]

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