Martin Hopley
By Martin Hopley

When it comes to wedges, the Vokey name stands out as one of the best. I met up with the man himself to find out what makes the perfect wedge and then experience first-hand how a Vokey wedge fitting can get the right loft and grind in your hands.

Hi Bob. What is the key to wedge design for you?

There are three key things I look for and the first is the head profile. The profile has to look very pleasing to the eye, because one of the first things a player does when I take one out of my bag is set it down and it has to look good. And not just in the playing position, but also if you want to roll it open a little bit too. It’s got to give them the confidence that it’s going to hit the shot they want to hit, so that’s the first key.

The second key thing is that I like to get the right bounce. Bounce is a combination of the grind, the sole width and the camber of the sole.

From there once you have blended that in, the hosel has to look just right. Again for the playing position whether square or open. It has to blend in with the leading edge to create the right look.

It has to look good not just to my eye, but I also run it by a lot of other professionals on Tour and I will tweak according to their feedback.

Of course then you have to have the right selection of lofts, but then it’s the blend of everything together with all the little nuances that come with each model’s design.

How do you decide that you need a new grind and what it should be?

All these grinds came about by working with all the best players in the world over the years and they would ask me to do a certain thing on a particular wedges. When I first brought wedges out, they were prototypes and they basically had a flat wide sole and I would grind from there.

As I would grind it to a particular player’s preference for the types of shot they want to hit. The next thing I know another player would see this grind being used and ask “What do you have there?” and the player would say “Go see Voke, he’ll get you one”. Then another one would do this, and another and it sort of just progresses.

When I had 25 tour players wanting this grind then I let club pro’s hit it, our testing staff hit it and if they thought it was pretty good then we created a prototype, we make a tool for it then we went into production.

Titleist Vokey SM7 Wedge

Is there a certain number of players or pro requesting a grind that is a benchmark for getting it produced?

It’s funny, you know, it has to have all of the elements because there are certain wedges that are what I call multi-dimensional. There are certain wedges that have more versatility and they’re the ones that go in the line.

That just comes from a grind being out on the tour for maybe one year, maybe for ten years, that’s how we basically arrive at our decision. We’ll sit down and say which wedge do we want, which criteria is missing from our range, which one has the right bounce combinations.

Titleist Vokey SM7 Wedge

We may have maybe 20 lob wedges but only a certain amount of sand wedges so you can’t put them all in the range. You have to sit back and say which ones do we want and which ones do we need. That’s the fun of it!

How many more grinds are you working on behind the scenes at any one time?

On average I would say we always have a minimum of 5 or 6 grinds going on at the same time as prototypes and usually it is more than that. It’s not stop!

In the Vokey SM7 there is a new D grind, so tell me how that came about?

If you look at the D grind it has the crescent shape of the M grind, which is one of the originals and one of my favourites as it is a versatile grind.

Titleist Vokey SM7 Wedge

The D grind has the same versatility but has a little more bounce on it for use in softer conditions and softer sand.

One thing I noticed between the SM6 and SM7 models was that the sole is slightly wider on the SM7, so why is that?

The feedback we got from the Tour was that they wanted a little more resistance through impact so on SM7 we made it a little bit wider to increase the effective bounce of the sole.

Titleist Vokey SM7 Wedge

In my Vokey SM7 review I felt that you could almost come ‘down’ a grind or bounce from SM6 to SM7 as a result, so is that what you are experiencing with other players?

Well it’s the versatility it gives a lot of people. It’s going to depend on the player but having the wider sole gives us the flexibility to find a grind across the 23 models that we have in SM7 when they go to one of our wedge fitting sessions.

What is important about your Titleist fitting sessions?

The key thing is that you can get the right loft gaps and see and hear how each grind performs in the course conditions you usually play in.

What tips would you give to amateurs who might not be able to get to wedge fitting session?

First off you want to have between 4° to 6° loft gaps between each wedge. Set pitching wedges have got so strong over the year that I hate to see a set wedge that could be as low as 43° with a sand wedge at 56° so there is a gap there. So if your set wedge if 44° you should be looking at wedges at 48°, 52°, 56° and 60° for example.

Then the type of grind that is going to suit their swing type and course conditions. If they are playing in soft conditions favour a little bit more bounce, and in firm conditions then a little less bounce.

Titleist Vokey SM7 Wedge

Is bounce dictated by condition or swing?

It’s a combination of both. A more upright swinger could use a little more bounce because of the nature of the decent of the strike. If you are more shallow you get away with a little less bounce. That's some tips, however it's best to talk to your pro or an in store fitter and they will hopefully get you the right set up. You don’t them to walk up and pick some of the rack just because it looks pretty because it may not work for the type of shots you want to hit. Try and get right because that is the most important thing.

Thanks Bob. As I found out in the video on this page, fitting is the key

Yes we had a fun time doing that to get the right lofts and bounces for you. Great talking with you again.

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