For higher-handicap golfers, hitting wedge shots can be stressful, and playing sand shots from greenside bunkers can be downright terrifying.
Complicating things even further is that many of the wedges available to golfers today are shaped like a traditional blade, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence for the players who need it most.
On the plus side, many game-improvement iron sets are now being offered with more lofted wedges, but in terms of specialized wedges that have been designed to help high-handicappers address specific weaknesses, there simply aren’t a ton of options.
Cleveland Golf, however, is one company that has devoted significant time and resources to the development of wedges specifically for players who need substantial help around the greens.
“As a company, we believe that you shouldn’t just design a tour wedge and then force every golfer to play that, so we have a much broader offering,” said John Rae, Srixon/Cleveland Golf Vice President of Research and Development.
As part of its current wedge lineup, Cleveland is offering Smart Sole 2.0 wedges, which come in “S” and “C” designs, with the S standing for sand and the C standing for chipper.
As one might expect based on those descriptions, the Smart Sole C has been designed specifically to help players chip the ball more successfully, while the Smart Sole S has been designed specifically to help players get out of the sand. And those are two areas that a lot of higher-handicap players and/or beginners have a difficult time with.
We asked Rae to talk a little bit more about each of those unique options.
“The (S Wedge) is, for lack of a better word, a one-trick pony,” he said. “It’s really, really good at that one trick, though. If you’re a golfer who’s struggling to get out of bunkers, this is the club for you. It’s going to get you out … give you a good, soft landing every time.”
Keying the performance of the Smart Sole S wedge, which features 58 degrees of loft and a lie angle of 64 degrees, is its unique sole design. More specifically, the sole has been significantly widened to provide maximum forgiveness in terms of sand and turf interaction.
Additionally, a Feel Plaque has been positioned behind the clubface, which in addition to dampening vibrations for improved feel at impact also allows weight to be moved to the perimeter of the clubhead to further increase forgiveness on mis-hits.
As far as the Smart Sole C is concerned, Rae said, “The C is for that golfer who just struggles with chipping around the greens. That C Wedge will allow (them) to get good contact, get consistent contact, and get closer to the hole.”
One of the unique design elements that makes the Smart Sole C so effective is its upright lie angle, which at 66 degrees helps players set up to the ball when chipping more like they would when putting, which helps promote cleaner contact.
The C Wedge also makes it easier for players to get their hands ahead of the ball address, which also helps improve contact. It comes standard at 34 inches, more typically the length of a putter than a wedge, and has 42 degrees of loft, which would correlate most closely to a 9-iron.
And like the S Wedge, the C’s sole shape enables better turf interaction, and its Feel Plaque also improves forgiveness on mis-hits and feel at impact.
Also noteworthy as it relates to both wedges is that they are USGA conforming and completely legal for tournament play.