Company Profile: Wedgewood Golf
By Kiel Christianson,
Michael Wanchena, founder and CEO of Wedgewood Golf, was playing his usual weekly round of golf several years ago, when yet another low, thin long-iron shot pushed him over the edge. In that moment of pure frustration known only to golfers, he had an epiphany: Build a club with the loft and shaft length of an iron, but the head-shape of a wood, with plenty of weight to get the ball up in the air. Mr. Wanchenas moment of clarity resulted in not just one club, but a whole company Wedgewood Golf.
Club manufacturers have apparently just realized that most golfers share Mr. Wanchenas frustrations. As such, they are sidling up to mid- to high-handicappers like high school cheerleaders who have just realized that the AV geeks are all extremely wealthy. From Taylor Made to Cobra, big-name equipment companies are doing their best to pry some Franklins from the hands of average duffers like you and me by offering one or two utility clubs.
What makes Wedgewood unique is that it has two lines of clubs, ranging in loft from 16-degrees to 44-degrees, designed specifically to replace the irons of players who simply cannot get consistent results from them. Wedgewood even has a Ladies Series, with lengths, lofts, and kickpoints ideally suited to the generally lower clubhead speed of women golfers.
Wedgewoods sticks are not utility clubs or escape clubs they are every-day, every-shot clubs, which just happen to work from any lie. To best use these clubs, you should swing as if you were using a real iron a firm, descending blow. The modified fairway wood-shaped head, with its cut-out back and low center of gravity, imparts serious backspin to the ball and gets it up in a hurry. The result? Towering, majestic shots that travel a very long way, yet come down as softly as if they were landing in a bowl of mashed potatoes (without the annoying splatter).
Who uses these clubs? Lets clear the air immediately: If you chortle with delight every time you get the opportunity to work your long irons, these clubs probably arent for you. The increased backspin these clubs generate means less workability. But even if you control your long irons well, yet would like some more distance on those increasingly long par 3s, one of the lower-lofted Wedgewoods could be right for you.
According to Jason Nygren, Direct of Promotions and Special Events at Wedgewood (the company sponsors many benefits and par-3 challenges), Wedgewood designed its Original Series (22-44 degrees loft) for mid- to high-handicappers, figuring to get lots of business from seniors and beginners. The low-handicappers started showing interest. And earlier this year, when the company introduced the new Gold IR Series line, complete with maraging steel faces and nickel-wound graphite shafts with lower kickpoints, even a couple of touring pros replaced a couple of long irons," says Nygren.
On the course, this 19-degree club is perfect for long-ish par 3s with small-ish greens. You know, the holes that just have Ish! written all over them for many players. During a round at High Pointe Golf Club outside Traverse City, MI, I used the Wedgewood to good effect on the 199-yard 4th and the 217-yard 17th. On the 4th, which is a classic redan par 3 (read the course review to find out what that means) with a 6-foot deep front bunker, 4-foot deep back bunkers, and a raised-and-crowned green, I hit the Wedgewood a bit thin and thought I was hosed.
You can imagine my relief when I got closer to the blind putting surface and saw my ball on the back of it, directly behind the pin. Even though I hit it thin, the club had put enough backspin on the ball to create a quarter-inch deep ballmark on the front of the green and stop the ball two feet short of rolling into the back pot-bunker. My 3-iron, hit thin, would have burrowed into the front bunker. My 5-wood would have run over the back.
Everyone weve had test the Wedgewood has loved the feel. And they all had a nemesis par-3 in mind where they wanted to use it. The point of all this: We would like to thank Mr. Wanchena for playing so poorly with his long irons and coming up with the iron replacement idea in the first place. Desperation is the mother of innovation, after all.