The Glide 3.0 line offers 4 distinct options
I use sand wedges like I use my car. I usually put on a lot of miles, drive it into the ground and wait too long to trade it in.
Being thrifty — that’s the word I prefer — has a downside. I was reminded of that when a pair of new Ping Glide 3.0 sand wedges arrived on my doorstep, all shiny and sleek. For a thrifty golfer like me, it’s a minor high just to have a club in the bag that has virginal grooves, no dents or rust and a new grip.
There is nothing better than fresh grooves and by fresh grooves, I mean new wedges. A new driver? Sure, that can be thrilling but after the first few big bashes, I turn back into Mr. Aerosol as my familiar user-error moves return.
A new putter? Once in a green moon, magic happens at first sight but sooner or later the clock strikes midnight—and you know it will—and my placebo-boosted stroke reverts to yippie-ki-yay-Mother-Putter. You know what I mean.
But fresh grooves? Ahh. That thrill lasts far longer than a new-car smell. And the improved stopping power from fresh grooves is a pleasant surprise and yet another reminder that, yeah, wedges are golf tools that should be replaced frequently. I should probably floss more often, too.
So why on earth would I five years to replace my sand wedges? Dumb, dumb, dumb. Did I say five years? It might have been longer.
I was hooked on the Ping Glide 3.0 sand wedges after just two rounds. On the second hole of my first round, I holed an unlikely downhill chip from left of the green at a Pittsburgh area public course. The first bounce had just enough check to take speed off the ball and allow it to rattle in off the pin. The next day at a different course, I sank a 45-yard approach shot on a short par-4 hole for eagle. That’s something I haven’t done in months.
I hit some clunkers, too. I bladed one, chunked one and while warming up, shanked one. On the good shots, the Glide 3.0 wedges made me look like I knew what I was doing. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t.
That’s the power of fresh grooves.
I wanted to demo Ping’s Glide 3.0 sand wedge because Ping, always among the leaders in the wedge category, made some subtle improvements.
One notable change was the weight. Wedges going lighter may be a new trend. Ping made the Glide 3.0 wedges 15 grams lighter than its Glide 2.0 models — the weight reduction was shared by the grip, shaft and head. Tour player Bubba Watson’s Ping lob wedge, for instance, has a super-lightweight swing weight, something you wouldn’t expect.
“On shorter shots around the green, a lighter system allows players to be more aggressive with their techniques,” said Jacob Clarke, the Ping engineer who designed the Glide 3.0 system.
Three other small things on the Ping Glide 3.0 aren’t small at all. The grips are longer, something Ping has done for several years. The longer grip lets you choke farther down the shaft before reaching metal (or graphite) for out-of-the-ordinary shots, a nice touch.
Another smart idea is three V-shaped markers on the grip’s bottom half. They help me be consistent with my hand placement. For instance, I figured out that if I choke down to the second grip marker, my full swing with the 60-degree sand wedge goes about 70 yards. I used to estimate that choking down an inch knocked off ten yards off my shots. It was just an estimate. Ping’s markers are a clever Distance-for-Dummies way to control yardages instead of guessing.
Finally, the higher-lofted wedges have an extra half-groove at the bottom of the face for extra spin, which couldn’t hurt.
The Ping Glide 3.0 wedges come in four distinct models. Odds are, you’re right for the SS grind. “That’s our meat-and-potatoes grind,” Clarke said. “It will fit most players.”
The SS (Standard Sole) grind has a moderate amount of bounce (that’s a measure of much the club’s leading edge wants to dig into the ground or sand at impact), and a leading edge that sits low. It’s versatile and a club that most golfers can use in any conditions. The SS grind is what I’m trying out.
The TS is for Thin Sole, for use by skilled players like the pros. It has a thin sole and not much bounce. That’s what PGA and LPGA tour players want. “The guys and gals want to see the leading edge hugging the ground when they open the blade,” Clarke said. “You and I dread the shot from a tight lie to a close pin. I can dump it or blade it into next week. The pros have confidence in that shot when their leading edge is close to the ground because they have great technique.”
The WS grind stands for Wide Sole. Its sole widens in the toe section to become bulbous. Does this wedge make me look fat? Not you, just your sole. This club is for beginners and less-skilled players. From the sand, the WS grind’s wide toe lets the heel get in the sand first and help splash the ball out.
The fourth Glide 3.0 option is a re-imagining of the Ping Eye2 wedge. Ping Eye2 clubs may be the most iconic irons of the last 50 years.
“We have some Ping staff players on PGA Tour Champions who are still using Eye2 wedges,” Clarke said. “That was an awesome club.”
Clarke found some old Eye2 wedges at Ping headquarters and used a 3D scanner on them, then imported that data into CAD (computer-aided design) software to create a precise model to work from.
“At address, the new grind has the same face profile and sole design as the original Eye2,” Clarke said. “This club is what’s so cool about Ping. Nothing is ever perfect. Even though the Eye2 had so much success, it was OK for us to think, How can we improve on it with current technology? We’re really excited to bring it back.”
The Glide 3.0 wedges have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $160 with steel shafts, $180 with graphite.
I haven’t tried the Eye2 grind but that has a definite allure. First, though, I’ve got to put some miles on these Glide 3.0 SS wedges. I don’t think I’ll be ready to trade in until the end of next summer but who knows? Fresh grooves are like milk shakes. They’re always good.