titleist-sm7-wedge-review

Titleist SM7 Wedges Review

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I have played Vokey wedges for the past 4 years. The feel and design are both very familiar to me, which is why I was really excited to take a look at the new Titleist lineup. And, since I’m due for an update to my wedges, I was really glad I took the opportunity to meet with a Product Specialist.

A big thanks to Rick Barlament, one of Titleist’s fantastic Product Specialists, for meeting me at the Golf Club at Newcastle in Bellevue, Washington, for a one-on-one session taking a closer look at the Titleist SM7 wedges. I’ll explain in greater detail why meeting with a specialist is so important, but first, let’s take a look at the wedges themselves.

Titleist-SM7-Wedges

Overview

The SM7 lineup comes in lofts ranging from 46°-62° and features the F, K, L, M, and S grinds that were offered in the SM6 lineup. There is also a new grind addition to the SM7 lineup, the high loft, high bounce D grind. The D grind is designed for better players who want more bounce to go along with the same kind of shot making versatility of the M grind.

If you’ve been playing the SM6 wedges, one thing to note is some of the bounce/grind combinations have shifted slightly. The K grind now has a 14° bounce and the 46° and 48° F grind wedges now have 10° of bounce.

Progressive Center of Gravity

Typically, a lower lofted wedge (like a lower lofted iron) would have a center of gravity higher on the club face and as the lofts increase the CG would drop. In wedges, the CG is positioned well beneath the impact location in higher lofted wedges and limited player’s ability to control distance and trajectory.

Hitting higher on the clubface is not a characteristic limited to amateur golfers. Even Tour players would say to Bob Vokey that they tended to strike the ball higher on the face in their high lofted wedges and were sacrificing feel and playability. So, instead of fighting it or adding design elements that would keep with traditional wedge design, he embraced that feedback and did something that, quite literally, flipped traditional wedge design on its head.

Titleist-SM7-Center-of-Gravity

When Bob designed the SM6 he reversed the thinking on wedge design and moved the center of gravity higher on the clubface in the higher lofted wedges and lower on the club face for the stronger lofts. This means that the SM6, and now the SM7, have re-positioned the CG in all the lofts so that it always sits behind the impact point, dramatically improving distance and trajectory control for players of all abilities.

Spin Milled Grooves

The clubface features Titleist’s Parallel Face Texture and a distinct groove design which they say results in superior spin and control on all wedge shots. The lower lofted wedges (46°-54°) have narrower, deeper grooves, and the higher lofted wedges (56°-62°) have wider, shallower grooves. Unique to each finish, their spin milled process guarantees the sharpest, most consistent groove edges.

Grinds and Bounce

When picking out your wedges, it is important to understand the turf interaction characteristics of each grind and what playing style they are designed for, then compare those characteristics to your game and typical playing conditions.

A player in the Pacific Northwest or on the Eastern Seaboard may want to put higher bounce wedges into their bag due to the amount of rainfall these regions receives every year; whereas, a player in the desert or arid climates like Texas and the Southwest may want to opt for lower bounce wedges that will cleanly pick the ball off the hard, compacted turf. A good rule of thumb for grinds is that the fuller the grind the more forgiving the club.

All the SM7 grinds are designed to assist or allow a player in making a specific type of shot. For example, the S grind is based on Steve Stricker’s feedback and mechanics. His stroke keeps the clubface very square, thus the S grind is designed to give players with simple mechanics a wedge that has a bit more versatility than a full soled grind like the F grind. The M grind on the other hand is designed for players who love to rotate the face open and shut to manufacture shots.

Titleist-SM7-D-Grind
D Grind
High measured bounce and crescent shape, full versatility.
Titleist-SM7-F-Grind
F Grind
Full sole grind designed primarily for full swings and square shots.
Titleist-SM7-K-Grind
K Grind
The highest bounce in the lineup is also the most forgiving grind.
Titleist-SM7-L-Grind
L Grind
Narrow crescent shape for max versatility around the greens.
Titleist-SM7-M-Grind
M Grind
Vokey’s favorite. Designed to manipulate the face.
Titleist-SM7-S-Grind
S Grind
Designed for square faced shots. More versatile than F grind.

Don’t be afraid of bounce! It is your best friend, you just may not know it. Playing your best means making the right decisions on every shot, and that process starts when you come to Pro Golf Discount to purchase a new club.

You should ask yourself: “What conditions do I usually play in? How steeply do I attack the golf ball? What is my skill level?” These are all important factors in determining which wedge grind and bounce combination is correct for you. And, no matter what bounce you choose, your setup ultimately determines the effective bounce of each shot.

Finishes

The SM7 comes in 3 different finishes, Tour Chrome, Brushed Steel and Jet Black. A lot of manufacturers have a dark or black wedge into their lineups, but they typically use a fill paint on the back and sole of the blade. The jet black SM7 is completely blacked out and looks incredible! It is a raw finish, so for those of you who don’t want a wedge that might show some rust after a season, you may want to stick with the Tour Chrome or Brushed Steel finishes. One thing to note is that Titleist has brought down the shine on the Tour Chrome finish so that it is not quite as bright as the SM6 Tour Chrome finish.

Titleist-SM7-Tour-Chrome
Tour Chrome
Titleist-SM7-Brushed-Steel
Brushed Steel
Titleist-SM7-Jet-Black
Jet Black

My Results

The only true way to know which wedges (like all clubs really) are best for you is to go and hit them off of grass and feel the interaction each grind and bounce has with the turf and what kind of shot it produces. To prove my point of how valuable proper fitting is; during my testing, Rick grabbed three wedges (M – 56.08, S – 56.10 & F – 56.14) and had me hit 1 shot with each from a firm, yet damp lie at a bucket about 12 yards away. You may think, “they are all 56° wedges, how different can they really be?” Well, the answer is a lot.

(Remember, the following results are specific to my swing and the conditions I tested these wedges in, your personal results may produce vastly different results and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.)

The M grind came off the face low and I could feel the blade wanting to dig a little bit due to the 8° of bounce. The ball hit short and ran out a little past the bucket. I would probably need to open the blade a bit to get a better turf interaction and to get the ball up quicker and landing softer.

The S grind felt a good deal nicer going through the turf and popped the ball up a bit more with 10° of bounce, it landed softer but still ran a little past the bucket. I didn’t mind the result at all, and on a short shot like that I could feel the S grind blade working through the turf well because the clubface stayed square.

The F grind, at 14° of bounce was magnificent. I know what you are thinking, “14° of bounce!? All my friends told me never to buy a club with that high of a bounce.” But, remember when I said bounce is your best friend and you just don’t know it? Well it is. Even on a short little 12-yard shot, the leading edge of the F grind slid under the ball nicely, the bounce did not let the club dig into the turf too deep and the ball popped up into the air and landed softly next to the bucket. Tap in time.

I also hit a series of fuller swings out of various lies and everything I felt in the 12-yard shot was accentuated on these full swings, further driving home the importance of proper fitting and hitting wedges out of grass as versus just off mats.

Titleist-SM7-Loft-Grind-Bounce-chart

Final Thoughts

The goal is to hit full shots with our woods and irons whenever possible, but that isn’t always a luxury we have with our putter and our wedges. Wedges are some of the most important clubs in your bag and are often the club used in situations that can make or break the round. Much like the putter, wedges are clubs that are based entirely in touch and feel, and that is completely subjective.

In all three short shots I could feel the weight of the club behind the ball. The strikes were clean. The only difference being how the turf interacted with the different grinds and bounces.

I prefer a “sharp” leading edge as opposed to a rounded one, and the leading edge on all the SM7 grinds fit my eye. The bounce is hidden masterfully and the fuller grind soles do not stick out like a game improvement iron sole at all. Lastly, I didn’t have to overly dig into the turf to get any of the bounces to work. Although, if I really needed to thump down I believe I could do so with just about all the grind and bounce combinations (in most conditions) and still produce solid results.

This is why I think meeting with a knowledgeable Product Specialist is so important with wedges. No two players swings are alike and what may be right for one golfer may be completely incorrect for their playing partner. A specialist will be able to diagnose your swing quickly and have all the options to try. They may also give you some advice that differs from your buddies and put something in your hands that you would never dream of trying. It could mean the difference between lowering that personal best round or not.

In the end, wedges all come down to personal preference, but there is a reason that more pros on Tour play Vokey wedges than any other wedges and the margin isn’t even close. The Titleist SM7 lineup offers a wide range of lofts, grinds, bounces and finishes that are designed to fit all styles of play and conditions. I definitely suggest putting these wedges right to the top of your list of clubs to try this spring!

10 Best Public Golf Courses – Washington State

By | Golf News, Uncategorized | One Comment

With the start of a new year comes resolutions. New goals to set forth and conquer. One of my resolutions for 2017 (and hopefully a few of yours too) is to play more golf. We are so lucky to live in a state that boasts so many world class golf courses, most of which are open to the public. With copious options to choose from, where does one start? I’ve combed through the most unique, highest awarded, best value, and overall playability of all public courses in Washington to help you decide. Here is my list for the 10 best public golf courses in Washington State. Get out there and try these gems!

apple-tree-golf-course-yakima

10. Apple Tree (Yakima, WA)

Well known for its apple shaped island green, Apple Tree Golf Course is fun yet challenging. The course layout weaves thru acres of apple trees. Once secluded, the course’s charming appeal brought with it increased development. Regardless of recent growth, it’s still a must try Washington course! Apple Tree offers discounts for local Yakima residents as well as discounts for senior and junior golfers. Apple Tree also offers the option of renting a GolfBoard. Speaking from personal experience, these things are a ton of fun if you haven’t tried them yet.

Standard Rates

  • Primetime (Mon-Thurs): $43 Resident / $58 Non-Resident
  • Primetime (Fri-Sun): $58 Resident / $73 Non-Resident
  • Twilight (Mon-Thurs): $29
  • Twilight (Fri-Sun): $35

 

bear-mountain-ranch-golf-course

9. Bear Mountain Ranch (Chelan, WA)

A beautiful scenic course located in Chelan, WA boasts stunning views of Lake Chelan, surrounding vineyards, and rugged canyons. Expect to find elevated tee boxes, blind shots, and maybe an eagle opportunity. Golf carts come with built-in GPS systems and are included in the price. Spring season rates run from April 15th thru May 12th and can save you $20-$30 off your round.

Spring Rates (4/15 – 5/12)

  • Public (Mon-Thurs): $59
  • Public (Fri-Sun): $69
  • Public (Twilight): $49

Standard Rates (5/13 – 10/15)

  • Public (Mon-Thurs): $79
  • Public (Fri-Sun): $99
  • Public (Twilight): $49
  • Public (Twilight Weekend): $59

 

palouse-ridge-golf-course

8. Palouse Ridge (Pullman, WA)

Nestled into the gentle rolling hills of the Washington State University campus in Pullman you’ll find the 7,308-yard links style Palouse Ridge Golf Club. This track was inspired by the classic designs of Scotland courses where the game of golf was born in the 15th century. Thick fescue frames the well maintained, clean cut fairways. Miss the fairway here and the fescue will make you pay! A challenging track with stunning views to boot. The practice facilities were well maintained; a grass range is always appreciated.

Standard Rates

  • Non-Resident: $99
  • Resident: $55
  • Twilight: $45
  • Senior: $45
  • Student: $40 Junior: $20

 

home-course-dupont-wa

7. The Home Course (Dupont, WA)

Owned and operated by the Washington State Golf Association and the Pacific Northwest Golf Association, The Home Course in Dupont is both affordable and beautiful. It boasts panoramic views of the Olympics, Mount Rainier, and the Puget Sound. A flat layout makes this course a great choice for those who like walking 18-holes. Expect a few blind tee shots and quick greens. Golfers who are WSGA members and have an active GHIN are eligible for reduced rates. Students and seniors also qualify for reduced rates.

Standard Rates

  • Non-Associate (Mon-Thurs): $35
  • Non-Associate (Fri-Sun): $45
  • Non-Associate Twilight (Mon-Thurs): $27
  • Non-Associate Twilight (Fri-Sun): $30

 

druids-glen-golf-course

6. Druids Glen (Covington, WA)

Surrounded by 230-acres of second growth forest with spectacular views of Mount Rainier as a backdrop, Druids Glen is a golfer’s paradise. This 7,146-yard course features nine lakes and over 60 well placed bunkers. The course can be quite challenging from the back tees, don’t bite off more than you can chew. You won’t find any short scoreable par-3s here, I found them to play quite long. Overall, Druids Glen presents a challenging but fair test for the average golfer. It’s one of the best values you’ll find for a public course in the state.

Standard Rates

  • Public (Mon-Fri): $34
  • Public (Sat-Sun): $43
  • Twilight (Mon-Fri): $21
  • Twilight (Sat-Sun): $26
  • Senior/Ladies (Mon-Fri): $28

 

white-horse-golf-course

5. White Horse (Kingston, WA)

For those golfers who reside in Kitsap County and its surrounding area, you may want to give White Horse a visit. Seattle golfers can also take advantage of their free shuttle that runs from the Kingston Ferry Dock directly to the course. A quiet peaceful setting, the course is encompassed by an old growth wooded forest of Fir, Cedar, and Pine trees. Keep your eye out for Bald Eagles overhead and other PNW wildlife. Since being purchased by the Suquamish Tribe in 2010, improvements were made to help make the course more enjoyable for players of all skill levels. The greens roll pure and the fairways are well maintained. Be mindful of the sneaky trouble that may lurk around the greens. White Horse offers by far the best rates we found for junior golfers. GolfBoards are also available here to rent.

Standard Rates

  • Regular (Mon-Thurs): $45
  • Regular (Sat-Sun-Holidays): $50-$60 depending on time of day
  • Twilight (Mon-Fri): $25
  • Twilight (Sat-Sun): $29
  • Senior (Mon-Thurs): $45
  • Junior: $10

 

salish-cliffs-golf-course

4. Salish Cliffs (Shelton, WA)

This secluded course in Shelton surrounded by dense forestry with over 600 feet of elevation changes, offers stunning views of Kamilche Valley as well as world class golf. The course is very well maintained and their facilities are top notch. Expect to find Titleist NXT Tour range balls available for your practice sessions. Their rental clubs are also top of the line. Titleist 716 irons, 915 metal woods, Vokey wedges, scotty Cameron putter, and half dozen Pro V1 custom logo golf balls are available to rent for $60. The course layout is challenging and requires decent ball striking skills. If you miss the fairway, hope that you’ll find it. Thick tree lines, dense shrubbery, and thick rough will make you pay if you struggle with your driver. The greens are well groomed, incredibly smooth, and speedy. It’s extremely important to land on the same level as the flag, the undulating greens can be quite tricky to judge. One of the best courses to play in Washington, but it’s also one of the more expensive courses on this list.

Rates

  • Demand Based Pricing: Prices will vary by season, day of the week, time of day, and days in advance booked

 

wine-valley-golf-course

3. Wine Valley (Walla Walla, WA)

This links style course in Walla Walla fits in beautifully with its surroundings. Thick fescue frames the wide, firm fairways. The bunkers can easily turn a good hole bad and are not to be messed with. The course plays hard and fast, be sure to factor in the roll into all of your shots. Play it safe when hitting your approach shots. Missing to the wrong side of the green or finding a deep bunker could be detrimental to your score. A fun course that plays to the strengths of those with strong course management skills.

Standard Rates

  • Standard (Mon-Thurs): $85
  • Standard (Fri-Sun): $100
  • Twilight (Mon-Thurs): $65
  • Twilight (Fri-Sun): $80
  • Local Rate (Tues/Sat or Sun): $55/$65

 

gamble-sands-golf-course

2. Gamble Sands (Brewster, WA)

Stunning views of the Columbia River at every turn combined with world class golf places Gamble Sands near the top of our list. Without a doubt, Gamble Sands is one of the most scenic courses in Washington. Caddies are available here and you’ll need them for your many blind shots. In the traditional links style, the course plays firm with wide open fairways and oversized greens. Sandy terrain of the high desert and fine fescue can be found with an errant shot. Gamble Sands isn’t excessively punishing, it’s built for the average golfer whose there to have a good time. Take advantage of those reduced rates in the spring and make a day trip out of it.

Rates

  • Spring (Mon-Thurs): $100
  • Spring (Fri-Sat): $110
  • Spring Twilight (Mon-Thurs): $85
  • Spring Twilight (Fri-Sat): $95
  • Regular Rates (Mon-Thurs): $125
  • Regular Rates (Fri-Sat): $150
  • Regular Rates Twilight (Mon-Thurs): $100
  • Regular Rates Twilight (Fri-Sat): $125

 

chambers-bay-golf-course

1. Chambers Bay (University Place, WA)

Home of the 2015 US Open, built upon a sand and gravel mine, Chambers Bay is rich in history. Chambers offers sweeping views of the Puget Sound and surrounding islands. Considered by many to be the best and most challenging links style course in the state. Vast changes in elevation make this course a tough one to walk. Caddies are available upon request and provide excellent knowledge of the course. There are several different tee options available for all skill levels. Don’t let your ego dictate your tee choice or you may be struggling to reach the green in regulation. Ball striking and course management skills are key factors to scoring well here. Rates vary by season here so take advantage of those nice days before peak season for a great deal.

Current Rates

  • Pierce County Resident/Military (Jan-Feb): $69
  • Pierce County Resident/Military (March): $75-$89
  • WA Resident (Jan-Feb): $89
  • WA Resident (March): $95-$109
  • Juniors under 14 free with paying adult

Product Spotlight: Srixon

By | Equipment Reviews, Golf News | No Comments

Srixon has developed very tidy, yet efficient lineup of drivers, fairways, irons, and hybrids. The new Z 355 series of drivers, fairways, hybrids and irons are geared mainly towards Game Improvement players. However, they still offer some other great options that cover players of all abilities. The Z 945 Irons and the Z 745 Driver tend to be a bit more Tour driven, while I found that their fairways and hybrids will cover players all abilities. Srixon chose a high gloss black colorway as the theme which give these clubs a clean and rich look. It is worth giving a try to the High Balanced Shaft Technology.

Srixon Z 745 Driver


Z 745 Driver Address
Z 745 Driver
Z 745 Driver Face
Z 745 Driver Toe

Club Tested: Z 745 Driver Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage HBP Black 60; Flex: Stiff; Loft: 9.5°

The Takeaway

The Z 745 Driver is a compact 430cc head. It features Dual Speed Technology which maximizes a player’s rotational efficiency while delivering more kinetic energy at impact. The advanced construction of the titanium face creates a larger sweet spot, increased COR and maximizes ball speeds. The larger sweet spot is due in part to the thinner heel and toe sections in all the Srixon Z series Woods. Srixon says the sweet spots are up to 35% larger than the previous generation. A 12-way hosel and an adjustable sole weight give players the ability to tune this driver to your optimal launch and spin.

Who’s It For?

This compact driver is for skilled players who like a penetrating launch and to work the ball with maximum distance.

Final Take

The Z 745 Driver is definitely more of a player’s club. The ball flight is very penetrating with a mid-launch angle. The gloss black head sports a slightly deeper face giving this club head a compact look. The feel was not quite as good as the shots were. Meaning, the ball went much better than the feedback to my hands felt. The ability to change the weight will help stronger players dial in their spin and launch angle numbers.

Srixon Z 545 Driver


Z 545 Driver Address
Z 545 Driver
Z 545 Driver Face
Z 545 Driver Toe

Club Tested: Z 545 Driver Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage HBP Black 60; Flex: Stiff; Loft: 9.5°

The Takeaway

The Z 545 Driver has a 460cc head featuring Dual Speed Technology which maximizes a player’s rotational efficiency while also delivering more kinetic energy at impact. The advanced construction of the titanium face creates a larger sweet spot, increased COR and maximizes ball speeds. The larger sweet spot is due in part to the thinner heel and toe sections in all the Srixon Z series Woods. Srixon says the sweet spots are up to 35% larger than the previous generation. A 12-way hosel and an adjustable sole weight give players the ability to tune this driver to your optimal launch and spin.

Who’s It For?

The Z 545 is for the “all-ability” players that demand maximum distance in a mid-high launch driver from a full size, more forgiving shape.

Final Take

I prefer the 460cc head shape over the 430cc because it provided me a lot more confidence at address. I also enjoyed the more low-back CG on the Z 545 compared to the low-forward CG on the Z 745. The CG of the Z 545 increased the launch angle and provided me with more forgiveness on mishits. However, the feedback off the strike did not confirm what I saw with my eyes, which was excellent distance from a mid-high penetrating launch.

Srixon Z F45 Fairway Wood


Z F45 Fairway Wood Address
Z F45 Fairway Wood
Z F45 Fairway Wood Face
Z F45 Fairway Wood Toe

Club Tested: Z F45 3 Wood Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Black HBP 60; Flex: Stiff; Loft: 15°

The Takeaway

Like the drivers the fairway woods offer Dual Speed Technology. This maximizes the player’s rotational efficiency while also delivering more kinetic energy at impact. Steel Cup Face made of an ultra-hot HT1770 maraging steel raised the C.O.R. by 15 points maximizing ball speeds. The larger sweet spot is due in part to the thinner heel and toe sections in all the Srixon Z series Woods. Srixon says the sweet spots are up to 35% larger than the previous generation.

Who’s It For?

The Z F45 fairway wood will fit the needs of a very large range of players, but it is more on the players side than higher handicapper.

Final Take

The Z F45 head shape is on the smaller more rounded side, but with a larger face area from heel to toe has that same rich look. With the more forward CG, the 15 degree head produced shots that looked more like 13 degrees of launch and with stunning distance. Those that have any issues getting the ball up might opt for a higher loft and play that as your 3 wood. I definitely found myself surprised by the demo with this club. Might be one of the lowest launch, and longest 3 woods that I have ever tested!

Srixon Z H45 Hybrid


Z H45 Hybrid Address
Z H45 Hybrid
Z H45 Hybrid Face
Z H45 Hybrid Toe

Club Tested: Z H45 Hybrid Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Black 70; Flex: Stiff; Loft: 19°

The Takeaway

Similar to the drivers and fairways, the hybrids incorporate much of the same technology. Dual Speed, Variable Face Thickness, Maraging Steel Face, along with a lower CG to promote a higher, more penetrating launch. Srixon redesigned the hybrid club head shapes for smoother turf interaction and a more confident look at address.

Who’s It For?

Like the Z F45 fairway wood, this hybrid is for all abilities of players, but it falls more on the players side of the spectrum than the higher handicap side.

Final Take

This nonadjustable hybrid presents a very nice shape and size. At address I could see a slight offset which gave me the typical impression of a slightly closed face angle as most nonadjustable hybrids do. The ball flight was more on the mid to mid-high trajectory with a very solid feel. I really like when hybrids are simple and easy to swing. The Z H45 is all of that.

Srixon Z 945 Irons


Z 945 Irons
Z 945 Irons Address
Z 945 Irons Face
Z 945 Irons Toe

Club Tested: 6 Iron Shaft: KBS Tour 120; Flex: Stiff; Loft: 29°

The Takeaway

Forged from 1020 Carbon Steel (with a lower Carbon Content compared to many key competitors) the Z series irons are high–strength while also exceptionally responsive and smooth at impact. Tour V.T. sole enhances turf interaction and trajectory control by increasing leading bounce and decreasing trailing bounce. A “V” is created in the sole profile that has been proven to reduce the turf resistance and tighten shot dispersion. The tungsten weight in the toe moves the CG to a more centeral location. Laser milling on the face ads surface roughness for additional spin and trajectory control in all conditions.

Who’s It For?

The traditional muscle back design, thin top line and more compact shape is for the most demanding and high level players who want control and workability.

Final Take

This classic players club was a bit demanding for me even though I did find the sweet spot often. When looking for a players iron, the Z 945 Irons have the looks (compact, thin top line) and a soft feel that I found very workable. As with most players clubs, I saw increased launch angles due to a higher degrees of loft compared to the larger cavity back clubs. The Tungsten weight insert is becoming more common in these types of irons and has given engineers the ability to move weight to a more central CG location.


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