By Terry Koehler, President and Designer, Eidolon Golf Ever since
Gene Sarazen built up the bottom of a niblick to make the first sand wedge, golfers have been confused about “bounce.” What is it? How does it work? And how much is enough?
Let’s set the record straight. First, bounce refers to the configuration of the golf club’s sole. With the club soled, and the shaft not angled either forward or backward, the bounce angle defines the geometry between the plane of the turf and the backward angle of the sole away from the leading edge. Bounce is defined as the downward angle from the leading edge of the club to the trailing edge of the sole; the actual amount of bounce in degrees, combined with the width of the sole, is what helps the club perform through the sand and turf.
Woods and long irons typically have zero or even negative bounce, so that the trailing edge can be swept away from the ball without snagging the turf. As the set progresses through the middle irons, where the golfer’s angle of attack gets steeper, club designers typically begin to build in a few degrees of bounce to help the club get through the turf with a minimum of sod removal.
As you get into the wedges, the bounce angles become much more pronounced so that the swing path can be more steep to impart backspin to the ball, while keeping the club from digging in too deeply. And that’s where the seemingly endless options of bounce angles available on the market make wedge buying confusing for the golfer.
The two largest wedge producers, Titleist® and Cleveland® make almost 200 different models between them. Add in all the other wedge makers and the golfer is facing thousands of choices. Low bounce, high bounce, “tour sole” and so on, all have their reason for existence, but also their limitations. Let’s examine each.
Low bounce/high bounce. Generally speaking, the greater the bounce angle in the sole of a wedge, the higher off the turf the leading edge will be at address and impact. High bounce wedges, generally those with 10 degrees of bounce or more, prove to be much more forgiving from normal and light sand and from rough. Low bounce wedges, typically with 5-8 degrees of bounce, are typically better performers from tight lies and firmer turf, and wet sand, as they have less tendency to skip off of the surface, resulting in a skulled shot.
Tour Sole refers to a very low bounce wedge that also has had some of the bounce ground off at the heel and toe. This kind of grind is favored by PGA tour players, who have the luxury of playing off of very close cut fairways, and consistently firm sand from hole to hole and event to event. They also have the benefit of extraordinary levels of skill and talent honed through thousands of hours of practice. Even the better amateur should really shy away from these kinds of wedges, unless of course, your game is such that you would not hesitate to tee it up with Phil and Tiger in a $1,000-per-hole match.
How do you choose? Besides the major brands there are a number of companies offering some interesting wedge technology. At Eidolon Golf, we offer our patented “V-SOLE” technology, where we incorporate two distinctive bounce angles in the sole of each wedge, so that you get the playing benefit of both low and high bounce wedges in each club. Other companies have interesting variations of wedge soles that might interest you as well.
The only way you can know for sure if a wedge will do all that you ask of it, is to put it into play for a few rounds. Hit shots from all kinds of lies that you normally encounter on your home course, and those you might encounter when you travel. If a demo isn’t available, pass on that brand or model.
Wedges are your most trusted scoring tools, so make your decision on what wedges to play one of your most researched. Your short game will thank you for it. A former executive of Ben Hogan Co. and Reid Lockhart Golf, Terry Koehler is the president of Eidolon Golf, where he is also the chief designer of the V-SOLE wedges and new e1 putters. His golf industry career spans almost 25 years, and he has been awarded five golf club patents. To learn more about Eidolon Golf and its patented V-SOLE wedges, visit www.eidolongolf.com