We're already into the second month of 2012 and I haven't finished the recap yet for 2011's best clubs at TSG. I've been swamped with the new site launch and getting ready for the Japan Golf Fair as well as helping many golfers get their 2012 bags in order. As I had mentioned in part 1, Tourspecgolf probably sells the widest range of equipment of any store and that goes for even top Japanese based local outfits. With many top end premium boutique brands, to famous mainstream brands to smaller budget brands, there is something for every playing level and budget. Many demanding golf enthusiasts shop here and what they buy is very reflective of what is not only the most popular but also what is top performing. We should always keep in mind though, not every club is for every golfer. We are all different in swing styles and handicaps and finding the right fit doesn't always mean simply buying what is most popular. Its about finding the right fit for each individual. Today I'll look at what were (and still are) the most popular clubs of the last 14 months or so here at TSG.
There are so many great wedges to choose from coming out of Japan. This is both a good and bad thing, good because we all love to have choice and bad because we can't make up our minds which wedge to get! One thing is for sure is that the forged wedges rule the roost here and is one of the reasons why many customers around the world turn to TSG for the ultimate in soft feel and awesome spin. The only cast wedge to ever make make a dent in yearly wedge rankings has been the Vokey TVD and its past 3 iterations. Otherwise, you can pretty much count on every popular wedge being forged. Some of the best selling and most popular wedges this year include the Royal Collection DB Forged, forged at Endo from S20C and with very versatile performance and wonderful feel, the Fourteen MT-28 V5 Forged, with its taper blade and beautiful no frills shape at address as well as great spin, Yururi's Forged Tour Wedge which excels in tight lies and provides amazing spin control. However 2 wedges pretty much dominated the top and continue to do so even into 2012.
Yururi Gekku Raw Forged Wedge
The premium forged Gekku Raw wedge has long been a popular seller even before 2011. This year it seemed to make a big comeback as people seemed to come to appreciate its one of a kind look much more. Compared to other wedges it can be purchased as heads only, and is the lowest priced of all Yururi wedges which all play a factor in its popularity. 2011 also saw many golfers going out of their way to find non conforming sharp grooves which all play into the hand of the Gekku Raw. The Gekku Raw is the oldest wedge model in the current Yururi lineup but as a classic it still exudes superb looks, quality and performance. What makes it stand out from many mass produced wedges these days is it's grainy black appearance and the fact that every Gekku head is grinded and finished individually by hand. One would think a raw unplated wedge that is not buffed smooth would look like a rough stone, but on the contrary the Gekku has always looked like a work of art. By looking at the wedge you can tell the grinder's skill. Yururi has told me as well sometimes they can tell which of their grinders did which head due to signature style of grinding for each grinder meaning each Gekku Raw wedge is truly unique in small ways.
I'm pretty much copying what I wrote about the Gekku back in the summer when I already began noticing its revival, there is no need to re-write what has already been said. A great feeling wedge is not only about what type of steel it uses and how it was produced ie cast of forged. The design of the head plays a huge part into how a wedge ends up feeling. The grind of a wedge can dictate what kind of impact you get though various conditions. Yururi attention to the Gekku's grinding is very obvious and can be seen all around the head. Leading edge and trailing edge relief allow for easy entry and exit from the turf, heel relief allows a player to open up the wedge and still keep the face aimed at the target and careful grinding of the neck make it flow seamlessly into the wedges top line. Many of these aspects allow a player to create wonderful feel and spin and reap the benefits of this soft forged head. Finally another reason why the Gekky Raw is so popular is its wide variety of lofts. In this day and age with so many different iron and wedge setups available, I can't understand why so many brands will limit themselves by releasing a wedge with 2 lofts options. People ant variety and the Gekku gives it with 41* 45* 49* 53* 57* and 61* heads AND 49* 53* 57* and 61* as LEFT Handed models! This is why the Gekku Raw outold pretty much every wedge in 2011 until...
Titleist Japan Vokey Forged
Let's face it, when many of us think about wedges the name Vokey pops up. There are many Titleist fans around the world and top pros (even under contract with other brands) who swear by their Vokeys. So when Titleist Japan announced a Vokey Forged wedge for the Japanese market late last fall... all hell broke loose... literally. The Endo forged S20C wedge was a hit long before it was even released with tons of pre orders not only through TSG from global customers but all throughout Japan from many who live and die by their Vokey wedges. At launch towards the end of October, only a handful of customers were lucky enough to get in on the first batch before Titleist ran out of clubs. In the following months we have had many many orders, more than any other wedge by far, but unfortunately with customers waiting for quite a long time while Titleist caught up to demand (at this point the wait is still 4-8 weeks for standard spec and custom orders).
So does the Vokey Forged live up to its demand? It seems so as feedback I get from customers as well as testing I have done (review here) say this is one versatile wedge with very good feel and very good spin. Lofts ranging from 46* to 62* in 2* increments are available making for very versatile wedge combinations in everyone's bag. Bounce ranges from 8-10* on all the wedges meaning, its not really a low bounce wedge nor is it a high bounce wedge. The design of the Vokey's grind and sole make it versatile so with its medium bounce numbers it can actually perform well in a variety of conditions and with different swing types. The new Vokey Forged features a combination R and M Grind (on the 54 56 58 60 and 62*) with a pre worn leading edge. The M grind results in trailing edge relief as well as heel relief allowing for more control type shots and deft touch around the greens when opening up the face of the wedge. The leading and trailing edge also produce clean entry and exit through a variety of turf conditions and in fact create a thinner sole area for usage in tighter lies. The 46 48 50 and 52* also feature a pre worn leading edge but the sole is flatter and in turn a bit wider to allow for full shots and less digging. Unlike the non conforming grooves of the Yururi, the Vokey Forged Wedges do possess USGA Conforming grooves with 17 double pressed score lines more tightly bunched together for more spin. A spin milled face adds more bite and spin control across the entire face and helps keep spin up even on partial swings. Its undoubtedly one good looking wedge with versatile performance to boot.
So the Yururi Gekku Raw pretty much dominated most of the year until Halloween came around and the Vokey Forged pretty much blew all other wedges out of the sand to dominate demand even up to today (and who knows for how much longer - though there seems to be no slow down and people seem willing to wait for their orders). The truth is there are many amazing wedges out there and key points people look for when they come to TSG is soft forged feel, great spin and most of all versatility. Versatility is a major purchasing factor especially for the average golfer or recreational player which most of us all. We can't always make the same swing, we can't always land in the same place, we end up in all kinds of lies and our game is nowhere near perfect. A versatile wedge can be a life saver. We have been very lucky that there are many amazing forged wedges coming out of Japan that are very versatile and this year will be no different as we look forward to new releases at the Golf Fair. Look for a nice forged versatile wedge that fits your swing and playing level and you will go a long way towards bringing down your score. As always we're here to help if you need recommendations!