Along with the buzz about the release, Jeremy discusses the phenomenal reception the SM6 has gotten on tour and the importance of gapping and being custom fit for these wedges.
Our Worldwide Golf Shops fitting experts are standing by to begin fitting you for these wedges on Friday, March 11, the national release date.
Tom Brassell: Welcome to Golf Better at Worldwide Golf Shops. Episode 197. Hello everyone Tom Brassell here as we creep up on the 200 mark here at Golf Better. Our special guest joins us today from out in California. He is the Director of Marketing for the wedge division of Titleist Golf. Boy he has a busy busy weekend this weekend. Joining us, Mr. Jeremy Stone. Jeremy, thanks so much man. Great to have you.
Jeremy Stone: Tom, thanks so much for having me and an early congratulations as you approach 200.
Tom Brassell: Yeah, it’s hard to believe. We’ve got to figure out who’s going to be on that 200. On the 100th we had Edwin Watts himself, and Alice Cooper, so …
Jeremy Stone: How about that.
Tom Brassell: Yeah, a man that loves music who’s a golfer and a man who loves golf who’s a musician so it kind of worked out well. Hey, this is a big big weekend. Obviously the SM6 is being launched virtually as we air this. I’ve been around a while. You’ve been around awhile. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so much buzz around one of the Vokey Wedges or wedge lines as this one. Am I wrong?
Jeremy Stone: No. You’re exactly right. This one has really taken a life of it’s own. We were incredibly proud of SM5. It was the best performing wedge on the professional tours. It was an incredible seller in all of your golf shops and golf shops around the world. Our biggest challenge is how do you top a wedge as successful as SM5? That’s really where the R & D team worked their magic. They have really outdone themselves with SM6. It introduces technology that has not been seen in the wedge category, a progressive center of gravity. I’m sure a lot of folks have heard of center of gravity in other products but it has not been a huge talking point amongst wedges. We really think that on top of the grinds that Vokey has fine tuned over the last 20-25 years this progressive center of gravity is going to take the performance of the wedge category to the next level. When you see tour players adopting a new wedge as quickly and actively as they have with SM6, you really get some validation about just how good this product is in all players hands.
Tom Brassell: What are the tour players saying about it? Obviously the low center of gravity or the changing in center of gravity. Like you said, it’s been on drivers, and fairways, and hybrids but hasn’t been emphasized here before. What is that really bringing to them?
Jeremy Stone: Certainly. The tour players have been incredibly receptive to the technology that’s in SM6. In particular, they’ve had a couple of key pieces of feedback. The first is around feel. Feel is so critical for these players. When you align the center of gravity with the impact position, it creates a solid or softer feel depending on the player. That’s exactly what they’ve been telling us about these wedges. The other benefit they’re really seeing from the center of gravity being aligned with the impact position is the ability to control trajectory. For players out on tour to hit their number, they need to be able to hit it high. They need to be able to hit it low, it’s all dependent on the conditions that they’re playing in. When you give them a wedge that enables them to control their trajectory both higher and lower more easily they’re going to be incredibly excited. Jimmy Walker, specifically talked about being able to flight his 60 a little bit lower. Some of the other players talked about the ability to put a Vokey 46 or 48 degree pitching wedge in the bag because it gave them a little bit more versatility around the greens as well as some really incredible trajectory control going into the greens.
Tom Brassell: Let me bring up two terms that come up and it’s with the tour players too but it’s with the average players is gapping and fitting. Some of your players that might not be a low handicap player, they might think that, “Oh I don’t need to be fit. I don’t need that at all.” That’s probably the opposite. They’re the ones that really do need to be fit.
Jeremy Stone: I agree completely. Tour players, they’re unique. They’re so incredibly talented that they could probably play with any wedge we gave them. That’s because great players, they’ll move their hands, they’ll adjust the wedge to create their own bounce. Now of course, our tour players take the time to select the right wedge because that’s going to give them the most versatility and the most shots into and around the greens. For the rest of us, it is critical to be fit because what happens is, our swing type is going to dictate how much bounce we need on the wedge. If we properly select the right wedge it’s going to give us those shots that we may not already have if we’re not fit for the wedge or if we’re just selecting a new 56 by loft only.
I would say two things. First, I guarantee that every single player would benefit and will feel the difference between the grinds of new Vokey SM6 wedges if they hit them side by side. Two they’re going to realize the benefits of a properly fit wedge right away. We talk about the ability, and Vokey talks about the ability for a player to maintain or improve their go to shot. At the same time, perhaps take their weakest shot and improve it by properly selecting the right grind. The other part you talked about there was distance gapping. I think that a lot of folks don’t realize that iron sets particularly, 8 irons, 9 irons, pitching wedges are getting stronger in loft. The traditional wedge set has for many years been a 52, 56, 60 degree gapping. While the wedges themselves have a really good 4 degree loft increment between them, there may be a really large gap between their gap wedge and their pitching wedge. That could create a big gap in their game and an inability to hit a certain distance shot. One, it’s great to evaluate your equipment and two it’s great to have the ability to properly select the proper loft gapping. Vokey always recommends 4 to 6 degrees of loft between your wedges, which will result in 10 to 15 yards of gap between your clubs. That’s going to give you more full shots and fewer times that you’re going to have to hit that really uncomfortable half swing shot.
Tom Brassell: Well the one thing I remember when I spoke with Vokey, I guess it was about 7 years ago or so, and we had him on the podcast, he said the first thing he will look at a player and determine, when he’s doing a wedge fitting, is not the ground they play on. It’s not the swing … Well it has a little bit to do with swing paths, but he’ll say … It’s so funny but it’s so obvious. He goes, “Are you a digger or are you a slider?” Meaning are you digging and taking earth size Fred Flintstone divots or are you sliding through the ball? A lot of your swing is going to determine, and you don’t know unless you have a professional looking at you.
Jeremy Stone: That’s exactly right. A professional certified fitter can help you identify your swing type if you’re not sure. People often think, a low bounce wedge is really for a better player and a high bounce wedge is for a higher handicap player. That myth couldn’t be further from the truth. A guy like Jason Dufner is playing high bounce wedges throughout his whole set. A guy like Justin Thomas, 2 very talented wedge players are playing our highest bounce offering in both the sand wedge and the loft wedge. As you mentioned perfectly, the first thing you need to do is identify your swing type. Your swing will travel with you. If you play on a golf course that has firm bunkers, well those firm bunkers aren’t going to travel with you if you go somewhere else to play golf but your swing will. Vokey, always tells someone, “Your swing’s going to travel with you so we’re going to use your swing type to determine the right grind and then if we have 2 that might be performing very similarly, we’ll let course conditions be a tie breaker in your selection process.”
Tom Brassell: That last thing you want to do is take the wedge in your bag which is a 56, a 52, and a 60 and go grab the same ones. Even if you’re hitting your wedges good. Go make sure, right? Go make sure that you’ve got the right thing for you.
Jeremy Stone: Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with confirming what you might already know. There’s nothing that feels better than when you show up and they fit you into exactly what you have because it’s confirming you’ve made some good choices. With SM6 in shops tomorrow or on March 11th, there’s a huge opportunity to upgrade your technology as well. In addition to being properly fit for the grind there’s some key technological advances that we’re making in the wedge category that I think are going to help a lot of golfers.
Tom Brassell: Jeremy thank you so much for your time. You’ve got a busy busy weekend. You had us today. Michael Breed yesterday. Who knows what’s going on the next few days, you’re all over the place.
Jeremy Stone: It’s going to be a really fun week. We have a busy dance schedule coming up here, but it’s a lot of fun. We’re really looking forward to starting to get some consumer feedback from these wedges. We’re excited to hear what they have to say.
Tom Brassell: Thanks Jeremy.
Jeremy Stone: Thank you so much.
Tom Brassell: That’s right the SM6 wedges hit all locations, all Worldwide Golf Shop stores on March the 11th. That’s Roger Dunn, The Golf Mart, Golfer’s Warehouse, Van’s Golf Shops, Uinta Golf, and Edwin Watt’s Golf. Make sure to get out there and get fit. That’s the only way to know for sure, one if you have the right wedges in your bag now and also two the best, absolute best wedges for your game in the wedge fitting professionals are at world wide golf shops.
Thanks so much to Jeremy Stone of Titleist for joining us and to you our listeners. We’ll do it again next time when we have another episode of Golf Better at Worldwide Golf Shops.
So long everyone.