The Mizuno S18 wedge replaces the previous S5 and signals a move towards year based numbering as this will be the wedge for the 2018 season and beyond.
Mizuno are one of the few companies to forge their wedges and the reason most are cast is that wedges have a harder life playing out of coarser materials such as sand and the grooves usually last longer when cast.
However like the Mizuno T7 wedges, the S18 are forged from a stronger Grain Flowed Forged 1025 Boron Steel that means they can strengthen the grooves whilst keeping the forged feel.
As before the Quad Cut grooves in the 54 to 62 degree heads are wider and deeper than the lower lofts in order to allow dirt and moisture that they are more likely to encounter to be channelled away so that the face makes better contact with the ball.
The S18 feels very good as a result with good grip around the greens and out of the sand and the bounce seemed more on the number than some previous Mizuno wedges.
Part of the improved feel is due to the variable centre of gravity (CG) heights that apply throughout the range.
This is very en vogue at present and the idea is to move the CG as the loft changes so that it is positioned right behind the impact point on the face.
On the lower lofts that have a relatively straighter face at impact it needs to be lower, whereas in the higher lofts where there is a flatter face angle at impact means it needs to be higher up.
The S18 wedges have a different design to the previous Mizuno S5 wedges with a narrower channel that is lower down on the back of the head.
However Mizuno has also added more weight to the top half of the muscle back on the higher lofted S18 wedges and this should also mean any strikes high on the face from deep rough will go a little further.
Sometimes designers use the hosel length to achieve this effect, but with the Mizuno S18 the hosels are all the same length. They are a little longer than most anyway so that also helps raise the CG point as more weight is above the impact point on the club head.
There is also a little more of a heel and toe grind on the S18 than the S5 which has more of a straight trailing edge grind.
This gives it a little more versatility for those who like to open or close the face without taking away too much of the effect of the bounce.
At address it sits very well and the heads are slightly smaller than the previous S5 model, which may put off some of the mid handicappers that the S5 reached.
They are still bigger than the T7 so better players will probably like the extra margin for error whilst still having would could be legitimately described as a players' wedge.
The S18 wedges comes in a range of 8 lofts from 46 to 62 degrees in 2 degree increments and the lofts and bounces are set up to enable the heads to be bent to the odd numbered lofts if you prefer.
You can get the S18 in a Chrome or Black IP finish which will wear a little over time to reveal the chrome underneath. It's maybe a shame the blue finish of the S5 and T7 has gone as it made the Mizuno wedges stand out in the market, but the black looks equally as sleek.
Overall the Mizuno S18 wedge delivers for look, feel and performance and with that more mid-sized wedge profile will be a good premium wedge choice for single figure handicappers.