If ever given the chance, look closely at a Tour player’s wedges. You will notice that they don’t look anything like what is in your bag. They are custom built to a specific set of playing needs, and the evidence is the way the soles and leading edges are ground.
For the most part, such Tour level adjustments have been available only to the best players. Now, Titleist is making them available to everyone. Bob Vokey, wedge guru to the stars, launched a new HandGround program on Vokey.com in mid-December.
Vokey has been a club builder since 1976 and worked for a variety of manufacturers before joining Titleist in 1996 to work on the company’s 975D driver. Later, Titleist wanted to enter the high-performance wedge market and Vokey was chosen to head up that project. He has always said he has the best research and development environment in the world — the PGA Tour.
Vokey listened to Tour players and absorbed what players wanted out of their wedges. Some of those characteristics made their way over the years into stock wedges that Titleist produced under Vokey’s name. But for the most part, Tour players come to Vokey for custom grinds.
Now, those grinds are available to everyone in the HandGround program. Nearly all aspects of the leading edge and sole of wedges are related to turf interaction. Tour players have material ground off the wedges to fit their personal playing characteristics.
In the HandGround program, players can get performance adjustments that include a pre-worn leading edge, smooth grind lines, heel relief and trailing edge relief.
The HandGround option is currently available on all Vokey SM7 Raw models, allowing players to take an existing grind and change it to a different one. For F, K and L Grind wedges, golfers have the option to make specific grind selections:
- F Grind: Make it an S Grind. For example, golfers who prefer their 52.12 F gap wedge to have a touch more versatility greenside may enjoy this option.
- K Grind: Make it a J Grind (heel and trailing edge relief)
- L Grind: Make it an A Grind (smooth the grind lines).
At first glance, this program would seem to be for expert players and certainly they qualify. But mid-handicappers can benefit, as well. Wedges and drivers are the most important clubs in the bag and every player should have what’s best for them.
The most important aspect is that players be fitted for wedges by an expert fitter and that they hit a number of different wedge shots in a variety of conditions. That not only pertains to mid-handicappers but to better players, as well.
Vokey will oversee the entire HandGround process and has trained two clubmakers to perform most of the HandGround orders. From time to time, Vokey will grind HandGround orders himself.
“This takes me back to my roots — one player at a time, one wedge at a time, crafting the sole to the player's exact specifications,” Vokey said.
The SM7 Raw wedges — including BV Wings grip and 10-character stamping — start at $195. There is an additional $75 charge for HandGround services, and a maximum of two adjustments per wedge.
Mike Purkey has written about golf for more than 30 years for a number of publications, including Golf Magazine. He lives in Charlotte, N.C.