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Golf club review: Grooving with the new, high-spin Cleveland CG 12 wedge

Tim McDonaldBy Tim McDonald,
Cleveland CG 12 Wedge
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The good thing is that the new CG 12 helps with spin and doesn't chew up balls as badly as some other wedges do. (Courtesy Cleveland Golf)

Cleveland Golf loves its wedges, and so do many golfers. From its highly-regarded 588 Gunmetal wedges on up to the CG 11, Cleveland has invested quite a bit in its long line of the short golf clubs.

Now the company has its newest, high-spin wedge, the CG 12, in both chrome and black pearl.

The big deal these days in wedges, actually for a few years, is spin rate. You see the PGA Tour pros do it on TV, you want to show your buddies you can do it, too.

All the golf club major manufacturers have their patented groove technologies, all designed to get that ball spinning back to the hole like it's on a string. With Cleveland, it's called Zip grooves technology.

But, first, we should recognize that there is quite a bit of debate about this, even outright controversy.

Some pro golfers insist it's the ball that's the key element in spin. The USGA doesn't think so, and its research thus far has shown today's modern golf balls will spin just as much if not more from the rough when struck with modern, machine-grooved wedges than old wedges and balls would from a good, fairway lie.

But - and this is a big but - this trend is found to be almost the sole province of pros and other highly-skilled players.

The USGA is considering a rule that would limit groove technology. Don't worry if you're a mid-handicapper and just bought one of these high-tech wedges. The rule would not go into effect for at least a decade and then would cover players at the highest levels in competitions.

Now, back to the CG 12. The CG 12's grooves are milled to the "maximum conforming dimensions" and are coupled with what Cleveland calls its "innovative plating process."

Cleveland says the CG 12s are its most "consistent, precise and visible wedge technology to date."

There are three "bounce options" (the bounce angle involves the angle of the sole to the relative to the ground).

Low bounce is designed for tight lies and firm turf conditions, and geared toward players who have a shallower attack angle through impact. High bounce is for soft turf conditions and bunkers, for golfers with an extremely steep attack angle. Then, there's the standard for those who fall somewhere in between.

I test drove the CG 12 with a 56 degree loft. The loft complements the other two wedges I have in the bag, the standard, 52-degree pitching wedge made by MacGregor and a 60 degree made by Magique.

I used it extensively on the driving range and under course conditions, and found it to be an extremely reliable and consistent club, even when measured against my extremely unreliable and inconsistent swing.

I didn't get as much spin on the ball as I expected, but I have to give this a qualifier in that it could be, in part, due to my swing. There are those, and I agree with them, who say the swing is the most crucial element in spin, even with modern technology. The ball must be compressed in order to make it spin: you can easily hear the compression at the point of impact.

It's something I've been working hard at with varying degrees of success, and with the CG 12 I could only describe my success rate as slightly above average. When I felt that my swing was good enough to produce spin - when I felt and heard that compression - the CG 12 generally did what I asked of it. On a number of occasions, I was able to hit above the hole and spin it back close.

Others who have used the club have said the same thing. The good thing is that the CG 12 doesn't chew up balls as badly as some other wedges do.

The CG 12 has a suggested manufacturer's retail price of a little more than $100. I would recommend this club for that price, but more importantly I would recommend you work on your "spin swing."

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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