A lot of the focus with recent versions of the Titleist Vokey wedges has been on lofts and grinds and the need to get fitted to match your swing type and the loft gaps in your bag.
With the Titleist Vokey SM6 wedges that theme continues and in order to simplify the range some of the more specialised grinds have been removed.
If you read my review of the SM5 fitting I did with Bob Vokey, then you will understand why this is the case. As Bob likes to say, "bounce is your friend" and what I took from our time together was that we all should have as much bounce as our swings can take.
I ended up with the fuller F and K grinds which did make life easier and really for the majority of golfers this will be true too, provided you have the right ball and hand position when you set up for each shot.
The lower bounce grinds like the T grind are really for highly skilled players in certain tour conditions and I think it is the right thing for Titleist to remove it from the SM6 options available to the public as it clarifies the range.
If you really want something specifically low bounce then the TVD custom wedge service Vokey offers will still do that for you. This still leaves you with a wide range of lofts and bounces from 46 to 62 degrees in the SM6 range to choose from.
Trajectory control is the latest buzzword amongst the specialist wedge manufacturers and it is something Vokey has been working on for the last 6 years. The key was to get the benefits of aligning the Centre of Gravity (CG) location with the impact point within the traditional teardrop profile that he knows tour players prefer.
The way Vokey has done this is a wholesale restructure of the SM6 head design starting with changing the shape of the muscle back according to the loft of the club.
This affects the CG location, moving it higher up the face of the club as the loft increases to keep it behind the impact point. You need this because as you add loft the ball strikes the face further up.
In the SM5 the CG height went from being higher than the AP2 set pitching wedge in the 46° to 54° and it ended up below it on the lob wedges.
In the SM6 the CG continues at the same level from 46° to 52° and then it moves up slightly for the 54° and 56° lofts before going to its highest point for the 58° lofts and higher.
Having the CG closer to the impact point will create more consistent distance control and flights and Vokey says that players will have more control and be able to dictate the shape of the shot more than before, when the design of the club did most of the dictating.
The design of the muscle back varies depending on the loft. The lower lofts up to 52° have a relatively straighter face and the ball is usually struck lower on them than the higher lofts. Therefore the CG needs to be lowered and this is achieved in part by moving weight to the bottom of the head by thinning out the top of the muscle.
In between at 54° and 56° there are no changes to the shape from the SM5 as you can see on the 54° F grind below.
On the higher lofts from 58° upwards the strikes are higher on the face and the angle of the head means the CG needs to be moved up and this is achieved by thinning out the centre section of the muscle back and adding weight to the top.
What Vokey has also used to vary the CG position is the hosel length and depending on the loft, it varied quite a lot. On the lower lofts like the 50°, the difference of the shorter SM6 hosel was quite marked, whereas on the higher lofts it was much smaller and by the lob wedges it was almost the same.
The differences hosel length, and hence the varying amount of weight that is in the hosel, is balanced out by the shaping of the muscle back towards the toe and this maintains the MOI of the head.
The final piece of the CG jigsaw is the head size which gets progressively larger as you go up in loft. Compared to the SM5, the SM6 lower lofts are a little bit smaller and the higher lofts are a little larger, but still keeping the same profile as before.
I am all for increasing head size, but the smaller head size on the lower lofts like the 50° below is quite noticeable and just on the right side of being too small, although it could make some higher handicappers a little jumpy.
However, it is this combination of progressive head size, hosel length and muscle back design that Vokey has used to move the CG position vertically and horizontally so that it is closer to the impact position. These are quite significant changes in Titleist’s theory of wedge design and the SM6 is definitely more revolution than evolution.
There are also some very small lateral movements in CG across the face of around 2mm as you go through the set, but you are unlikely to pick that up. You may also struggle to see the very slight 'falling to the left' shot bias that tour players prefer with their wedges to get better control into the wind. This can also be affected by lie angle so if your shots are going one way or the other consistently then go visit a Titleist fitter to get them adjusted.
It was hard to notice any real differences in shot length or flight between the SM5 and SM6 as the launch conditions are almost identical. Where the hosel length and muscle back change is larger, then the feel and sound was possibly a little different to the SM5, but in a good way. If the theory works then you should be hitting the face closer to the CG location so that would have this effect as well as creating more consistent distances.
One does not really feel better than the other here as this will come into the realm of personal preference. Once you played enough with the SM6 then you get used to it, but it probably means you should check you are comfortable with this if you are planning to mix and match SM5 and SM6 models in your set.
The grip from the face was just as good and Titleist say that they have enhanced the face with some new TX4 grooves. Like before the grooves are thinner and deeper in the 46° to 54° lofts and wider and shallower in the 56° to 62° lofts to optimise performance.
Instead of milling lines between the grooves, the SM6 features five mini groove lines to increase the roughness of the face and hence the spin.
Out of the fairways they will generate around the same levels of spin, but Titleist say that from the rough they have seen gains of around 200rpm. You should also be more consistent from the longer grass with the higher lofts when you hit the club high on the face. With the higher CG there should be less loss of ball speed and therefore the ball is more likely to go the full distance than before.
As cast wedges go, the feel from the SM6 is excellent and the grind options really work well. Try them all out but I think most golfers should end up in the F grind for most lofts. Please pick up the K grind in the lob wedges as the wider sole is not as high bounce as it looks and gives way more margin for error and really makes the game easier.
Finishes are big in wedges and as well as the matte Tour Chrome and Jet Black options there is also a Tour Silver. I am a little sad to see this replace the Gold Nickel finish from the SM5 range, but it is also a classy finish.
You can pimp you wedge a step further if you order direct from a Titleist stockist by having letters stamped in a variety of patterns on the back of the wedges, just like they do on tour. Hard to resist.
Overall the Vokey SM6 is another classy wedge from Titleist and the CG location changes do make sense technically. There is a marginal improvement in feel and even with the slightly smaller headed lower lofts, the forgiveness was very good for this style of club.
The choice of grinds is well thought through and there are plenty of options and I really would encourage you to compare grinds by hitting from grass and lean towards the highest bounce you can play with, especially that K grind.