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|The millwork on the G.R.I.P. wedges is incredibly precise. (Courtesy G.R.I.P.)|
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Does this sound familiar?
Your buddy rips a big drive, then chunks his wedge approach from 120, skulls a pitch across the green, fluffs one onto the edge of the putting surface and three-putts.
Nothing like carding a snowman from the middle of the fairway to make a guy quit golf and start drinking.
As commonplace as this scenario is, it is remarkable that more golfers don't pay due attention to their scoring clubs - i.e. their wedges. Think of your wedges like a world-class chef thinks about his knives. You wouldn't catch Emeril carving a roast chicken with a butter knife, would you?
One reason golfers neglect wedges is that they mistakenly think all wedges are created equal. Another is that wedges can seem expensive - odd, considering that average golfers use them more than their far more expensive drivers.
The best bang for the wedge-buyer's buck we've run across recently is offered by a Massachusetts company called Golf Research in Play (G.R.I.P.), maker of a line of computer numerical control (CNC) milled wedges that retail for an almost unheard of bargain price of $50 each.
G.R.I.P. bills the unique milling process used in its wedges as the source of considerable spin and control. Along with the standard grooves, tiny, barely visible patterns of grooves are milled across the entire clubface. The effect is, in essence, "instant rust" - the all-over spin-imparting roughness that real "players" often achieved by leaving their wedges out in the rain and allowing them to rust over.
For the 52-degree gap wedge, G.R.I.P. does a "light-pressure" one-way milling, presumably to promote a lower trajectory, less spin and more carry from farther out.
The 56-degree sand wedge is milled with a "medium-pressure" one-way milling, which imparts more spin, while the 60-degree lob wedge is given a "specialized" two-way milling, imparting the most spin possible and associated high trajectory.
The very soft 8620 mild carbon steel from which the heads are cast combines with the unique milling to create excellent feel. Feedback is exceptional, and you feel the difference between off-center and center-struck contact immediately in your hands.
The dark gray "smoke-plating" finish of the G.R.I.P. wedges is pleasing to the eye, and the performance is pleasing all the way around. The 305-gram clubhead weight of each of the wedges felt a bit light for my taste, but this could easily be altered with a small piece of lead tape.
As advertised, these wedges controlled spin very well - almost too well on two occasions when I played a bump-and-run with the 52-degree gap wedge and the ball checked up rather than releasing.
One issue is how the tiny grooves covering the face of these wedges will hold up. Given that the metal used in casting the clubs is rather soft, it is possible that better players who consistently strike the ball in the sweetspot might see those small grooves wear down over time. It is hard to say for certain, however. It is also imperative that you keep the faces clean to get the full benefit of the advanced milling.
All things considered, G.R.I.P. wedges represent arguably the best value for the money in the world of scoring clubs. At just $50 per club, most golfers can afford to buy a full set and practice various shots with each, to see which combination of loft, bounce and milling suits which situations.
After all, you need more than a good wedge or two (or three) to stop wasting shots around the green. You need to know how to use those wedges too.
Golf Research in Play
P.O. Box 567
Grafton, MA 01509
June 27, 2006
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.
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