Last time around the Vokey SM6 was designed around positioning the Centre of Gravity (CG) more centrally so that you would have better feel and consistency. Now with the Vokey SM7, Titleist are taking this to the next level with a further refinement of the heads.
It's all about getting the balance right in more ways than one, with the lower lofts concentrating weight more in the sole and the higher lofts aiming to move it up towards the toe in order to position the CG right behind the impact point.
The more loft you have, the higher up the face the ball will strike the face, therefore the higher the CG has to be. You can see how this changes as you go through the lofts as the higher lofts have a channel across the back below an enhanced muscle at the top, the middle lofts are pretty much as before and the top of the muscle on the lower lofts is thinned out.
The main visual difference is that the shape of the muscle on the back of the heads now curves the opposite way to the SM6.
There is also the horizontal position of the CG, which is affected by a large lump of metal known as the hosel. In the past this meant that the CG was located between the heel and the centre, so in the SM6 Vokey moved the CG across by varying the length of the hosel and the face size to get the right balance.
In the Vokey SM7 in the higher and lower lofts, the hosel lengths are shorter than their equivalents in the SM6 and vary according to the loft.
The middle lofts around 54° that don't have a variable muscle back seem to have the same hosel length as before so the overall head design is loft specific.
This moves the CG further out towards the centre of the face and the soles are a little wider on SM7 compared to SM6, presumably to accommodate the weight coming down from the hosel.
As usual with Vokey wedges there is a wide range of grinds across the lofts from 46° to 62° to choose from depending on your swing and level of ability.
With the wider sole, this means that the bounces, which are the same as SM6, are spread across a wider area so if you were a certain grind before, you may find that this changes in SM7.
Read Interview With Aaron Dill
Titleist SM7 Wedge Fitting Review
As before I went through the Titleist wedge fitting process at their National Fitting Centre at Craigielaw in Scotland and if you want more details on how this works read about my session with Bob Vokey that I did previously.
It basically involves working out the correct loft gapping using Trackman and then hitting from short grass, rough and bunkers to get the right grinds to suit your game. I can't emphasise strongly enough how hitting from turf and sand is critical to understanding how the different grinds react to your swing so that you get the right bounce as the difference between the right and wrong grind is night and day.
Taking my set wedge with me and then working out the distance gaps re-affirmed that my current lofts of 50°, 54° and 58° were still the best for giving 10 yard distance gaps.
Previously in the 50° I had gone for the 8° bounce F grind, which is Titleist's fullest grind and the only grind they do in the 46° to 52° lofts.
In 50° and 52° there are still the 8° and 12° bounce options, but from the fairway on full shots the lower bounce was still the best for me as it went through the turf more easily and gave more consistent distances.
With the different sole width, the SM7 did feel as if it had slightly less effective bounce than the SM6 and sat a little closer to the ground, but that apart it was everything you expect from a Vokey wedge.
In the 54° SM6 I had also gone for the 14° bounce F grind, but this time around the F did not fare as well as the 10° S grind, which surprised me a little because of the 'bounce is your friend' message Bob Vokey had drilled into me.
The S was the winner from the fairway but in the sand the 8° bounce M grind became a contender as the extra heel and toe relief made opening up the face easier.
However from the longer grass the M did not cut it as the higher bounce of the S performed better, although it was not as good from the rough as the higher bounce F.
So I had the F winning from rough, the S from the fairway and a tie between S and M from the sand depending on how open the face was.
The 54° will be my go to pitching club though, so the S was the choice as the fairway takes priority and I can open the face to add bounce from the longer grass so it plays like an F and use my 58° from the sand.
On to the 58° and this is where the widest range of grinds is available. As well as S and M there is the 4° L grind which is similar to the M but with less bounce.
It is a great club for slipping under the ball, but this is more for expert players who want to vary the face angle at impact, so most amateurs should steer clear as it is likely to just skip through the surface and give inconsistent results otherwise.
Titleist SM7 Wedge Introduces D Grind
In the SM5 and SM6 ranges, the 14° K grind has been my secret weapon and I have been telling anyone who would listen that this is one of the most forgiving wedges around.
The bounce might appear high, but it is spread over a wide sole so it plays a little easier and this gives you such a wide margin for error, especially from grass around the green.
The SM6 K maybe could have been better on full shots and the SM7 K grind was good without being great. Enter the new grind for the SM7 family which is the 12° D grind that is available on 58° and 60° lofts.
It is basically a wider M grind with more bounce and the extra heel and toe relief made it more playable on full shots and a little better from the sand than the K. Around the green it could be played straight or opened up, so it was more versatile, but maybe less idiot proof than the forgiving K.
Given that this loft would be my bunker club and also my 'get out of jail by going vertical' wedge, it was with a bit of a heavy heart that I opted for D over K because it just was better at both of these for me.
The other reason for going for D, was that I had to have the 58° grind that was the best out of sand, as the choice of the 54° S based on its fairway performance rather than its sand performance meant that I had to cover this base.
Titleist SM7 Wedge Summary
And this is what the SM7 range comes down too. It feels like there were maybe a few more compromises involved in creating a set of wedges than the SM6.
The grinds seem more specialised than before so were better in most situations than SM6, but maybe not as much of an all-rounder as before. Therefore getting the right blend of loft and grinds to cover all distances, lies and types of shots is even more important now.
The face has been improved by using a more precise method of Spin Milling the grooves in the Tour Chrome and Brushed Steel versions of the heads as they are plated rather than raw. Titleist are only claiming an extra 100rpm as a result of this change, so it is neither here nor there really in the big scheme of things.
However the Vokeys are usually very good at creating spin due to the shape of the TX4 grooves with the micro milling patterns in between.
The numbers are now on the toe of the clubs and as well as the two steel finishes there is also a Jet Black that is effectively a raw head and the black on black colour scheme of the writing looks pretty cool.
If you go through the Titleist custom fitting program you can also pimp your wedge with the same shaft as your iron set, which I would recommend doing, adjust lie, select grips and even have them personalised for that tour look, which never grows old on me.
In summary compared to SM6 the SM7 offers another development on the CG placement design and this did maybe change the way the club sat and how it felt, even though the swing weight and actual weight is the same as before.
Certain grinds have improved their performance and maybe the wider sole means you can come 'down' a grind in bounce to gain a little more versatility, which is effectively what happened during my fitting. It would also be possible to blend in SM7 with SM6 if you had a particular grind that was better for you in one than the other as the head sizes are very similar.
So with all the choice available you will have lots of bounces to make friends with.