If you have looked at changing your wedges over the last few years, you may have noticed that big, full-grooved heads are steadily gaining popularity and the design has been adopted by a couple of different brands.
Callaway was the first such manufacturer to really push this new high-toed design with their PM Grind, which was said to have been built to the specifications of short game master Phil Mickelson. Then came TaylorMade, now into the second generation of its aptly named Hi-Toe wedge model.
For 2019 the model is being referred to as the Big Foot, thanks to a new super wide sole with 15° of bounce.
What's It All About?
The idea of wedges of this shape is that they have a couple of extra benefits in comparison to a traditional shape. Firstly, having a larger face and more grooves on the face improves the performance of your shot when the ball isn't struck from the centre.
This is said to be especially useful when playing from the rough or out of a b bunker, when it is more likely that you catch balls higher or lower on the face, as it minimises the impact of such a strike.
The other bonus with these wedges is that they allow you more freedom to manipulate the face, because it means that the club has more face to travel over when opened up, giving you a little more forgiveness and extra spin on these types of shots compared with a traditional wedge.
Big Foot adds to that by sporting a huge surface area on the sole with 15° of bounce for better forgiveness and playability. This 'super wide sole' allows for more options around the green and is suited to a variety of different lies and terrains.
TaylorMade Hi-Toe Big Foot Wedge (top) with a C-Grind sole and 15° of bounce
This C-Grind sole also has an anti-dig leading edge which means that it is ideal for use from the sand, and it stays low through impact for extra playability.
One of the most striking features on the Hi-Toe wedges are the cutout CG pockets on the sole, which are even larger on the Big Foot this time around. They are there to make up for the extra weight added to the toe, resulting in a balanced head weight.
Finally, the Hi-Toe design itself has been made 5mm bigger this year, which pushes the centre of gravity up a little to suit golfers' strike tendencies and produce a lower launch with more spin.
TaylorMade Hi-Toe Big Foot (top) compared with the 2018 Hi-Toe model (bottom)
We have one of the best wedge line-ups on the market but realised that there was still one golfer out there that wasn't catered for. With Big Foot we know have a game improvement wedge that's easier to play regardless of course conditions, especially for those who struggle out of bunkers.
The Hi-Toe family of wedges now cover every aspect of the game; versatility, playability and game improvement.
Bill Price, Senior Direction of Product Creation for Putters and Wedges, TaylorMade
I took the Big Foot Wedge down to Withington Golf Club to put it through its paces in three specific areas - pitching from the fairway, trying to get up and down from around the green, and executing greenside bunker shots.
Of course, all good wedges give you plenty of spin and so I headed to The Range in Manchester to put the Big Foot on their launch monitor, to make sure that it performed as expected.
TaylorMade Milled Grind Hi-Toe Big Foot Wedge Review
When I first put the Big Foot down by the ball I noticed that the head did look visibly larger than last year's model, although I was pleased to see that there was still minimal offset unlike what you get on Callaway's PM Grind wedge.
The rusty finish looks good to begin with but I am not sure that it would be my preferred choice, as it begins to mark up almost immediately and makes your wedge look older than it really is. This is personal preference, a lot of golfers will like the rusty finish.
However I would say that the new coating on the face is an improvement on the original Hi-Toe, and it actually helped to frame the ball up quite nicely too.
I focused on four main areas during my testing - pitching, bunker shots, chips from rough and chips from tighter lies on the fairway.
First off, the Big Foot was fantastic from bunkers. The wide sole and extra bounce made it so easy to get the ball up and out no matter what the lie is like, and the extra grooves give you plenty of spin too. If you struggle from the sand, definitely go and try one.
From the rough around the green I was also very impressed. The bigger, full-grooved face was more forgiving than a normal club so even if the ball pops on you, it still stays nice and consistent.
I can think of one time in particular on a par 3 where I had missed the green to the left and the ball was sitting up on the top of the rough. Usually I would have been worried about going under the ball and getting that weak one which pops up, but the full face and high toe means that this is not really an issue.
Regardless of where you hit it on the face you're going to get a bit of spin and more consistency.
When pitching however, I just couldn't really get used to the bigger shape. It seemed a lot larger than even last year's Hi-Toe, and whilst the super wide sole certainly has its benefits, I wasn't a massive fan of how it sat down by the ball when addressing it from 50 yards out and further.
I couldn't help but think that I was going to struggle to hit down on the ball and get that punchy controlled flight.
For a golfer to have success with their wedges they need to be confident enough to commit to the shot that they are trying to pull off. If you don't like the look and feel of the club then the results are bound to suffer.
A general theme I found with the Hi-Toe wedge was that it produced a consistently higher flight than I was used to, as I usually carry three traditional-shaped wedges.
Whilst this was useful for bunker shots or shots around the green where the ball needs to stop quickly, it is also useful to be able to hit lower pitch shots when required and I found this difficult to achieve even from the fairway.
At The Range, I hit shots with both the Big Foot and the 2018 Hi-Toe wedge to see what changes TaylorMade had made.
Whilst I was a little surprised that the ball flight was a little lower with the Big Foot, having struggled to control it on the course, I was really impressed with the high spin numbers when hitting just a 50 yard pitch. Shifting the centre of gravity a little higher this year seems to have worked well.
TaylorMade Milled Grind Hi-Toe Big Foot Wedge Verdict
I like the Big Foot wedge, and I think it is a club that nearly all golfers can use with success. Tour players including Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson have used Hi-Toe wedges, proving that they are not just game-improvement clubs.
However, the new wide sole on the Big Foot is perfect for those golfers who struggle with bunker play and getting their wedges up in the air easily.
I have to say that around the greens it was one of the easiest wedges I have ever used and so it could really suit the higher handicapper golfers out there. If you can get used to the different look and the name, the Big Foot could be a game-changer.
Would I Use It?
Unlike the first generation Hi-Toe, the Big Foot is only available in 58 and 60 degrees, and I think that is a good decision by TaylorMade as I could only really see myself using this as a lob wedge. The Big Foot specialises from the sand and in the rough around the green, and whilst it is serviceable for pitching and longer shots, I don't think you'd want to be using it to pitch consistently.
I would probably stick with a traditional-style wedge in the gap and sand lofts, and then throw in a Big Foot lob wedge to really give me that extra help around the greens for the tougher shots.
I don't like to use a lob wedge for pitching anyway so the issues on the longer shots wouldn't deter me, as I know I'm getting an advantage over my playing partners when I do miss the green.
- The best wedge I have used for greenside bunker shots
- Forgiving wide sole
- Good out of thick rough
- Some people will hate the look
- Adjusting ball flight seemed a little more difficult - everything wanted to go quite high
- Another finish/colourway option would be nice