Most big US brands spoil the Japanese golfer by providing not only the same models the rest of the world gets, but also Japan market specific models. Every brand does it to some extent, including Titleist, Callaway, Nike, Ping and probably most of all in the last decade, Taylormade. Recently though, we've seen a bit of a reduction in Japan market only forged irons and wedges from TM, though this year has seen TM Japan release a forged Driver. Enter the all new Taylormade ATV wedge, a well thought out and radical departure from traditional wedge designs, which creates a whole new versatility level of performance. Taylormade decided to release a cast stainless steel ATV globally (including Japan) and a Japan only ATV forged Carbon Steel model.
I had already seen and previewed the forged ATV wedge at the Japan Golf Fair back in February. But with its release last week, I decided to get a pair to test out. I won't go into extreme detail about the features of the ATV as the design is essentially the same as the global stainless steel model. The main differences are of course that the Japan model is forged carbon steel and features a plated IP finish.
Usually different wedges have different grinds depending on the players type of swing as well varying soles for the different conditions or course types and intended shots. The ATV aims to do it all, with an ultra versatile sole that works in all conditions and for all kinds of shots. The ATV achieves this with a wider more forgiving sole that has a very advanced multi grind. The bottom of the sole which they call the ATV channel is convex (rounded inwards rather than outwards like most wedges) which reduces friction and contact with the turf and trailing and leading edge relief allow for clean entry and exit from any condition. The large amount of heel relief allow for the wedge to be opened up in any lie, whether it be in the bunkers or for a lob shot. Because of this multi grind versatility, there in fact is only one bounce, which is 8 degrees, for all the lofts.
I lie the dark IP finish and he contrasting face and the head while not compact is not oversized either, its face is handsome and the lines flow well. Viewing the face from its profile you can see the slightly rounded leading edge which again adds ease of use and allows the wedge to properly get under the ball for more pure impact. The feel of a wedge or iron after all not only depends on its materials but also how well a player can strike the ball consistently in the sweet spot to achieve that pure feel we all want. The design of a wedge plays a bit role here and the ATV does its part.
At address you can see how well the contrasting face and head frames the ball. The neck is rather straight and the roundness of the face you see in its profile actually appears teardrop like at address though the top line is not complete straight. This slight curvature actually flows well with the neck, toe and rounded leading edge. The ATV sets up well and indeed very eye pleasing and that is the first step to hitting a good shot.
There are certainly tons of great wedges, especially forged ones here in Japan, to choose from. I really liked hitting the ATV Forged, it gave me a sense of confidence and its versatility allowed me to put my focus on aim and distance control rather than my swing and the conditions of the course. With the wide sole and almost pocket like back face, the CG seems to be quite low on the ATV and this allows the ball to easily get up in the air. The trajectory matched with the milled face and soft forged carbon steel allow for very good bite. I need all the help I can get usually to create back spin but I was stopping shots on a dime with the ATV. Up and straight down and stop. Chipping, bunker shots, lob shots all worked with the one single 56* I was testing, as the multi sole proved its worth in various lies and shot types. I've decided to bag a 50 and 56 combo for a few rounds to see how they fit in on the lush and tricky courses here in Chiba. If there was a negative to be picky about it would probably be price. Compared to the stainless model, its quite a bit more expensive which is typical for a forged wedge here in Japan (see Vokey Forged). For many paying the premium for a forged club is worth every penny but for others it may not be. As always it will come down to each individuals budget. If cost is not an objective for top notch versatile wedge, the the Taylormade Japan ATV Carbon Steel forged wedge is certainly worth considering. Its here in the pro shop and shipping now!