NEW – Vokey Forged Wedges – Japan

Posted By thetokyogolfer

Omotesando in Tokyo is a beautiful tree lined avenue which provides a sensory overload concerning all things retail. Fashion boutiques, high end flagship retail stores are in abundance in this area commonly known as harajuku. Just a stones throw from the crowds of Omotesando is my golfing mecca, Acushnet Japan. The head office of Acushnet is not a retail store but is the like Willie Wonkas chocolate factory for golfers. It is the most unbelievable showroom that not only houses all of the Achusnet worldwide products but also the exotic Japan domestic gear as well. I was invited into the inner sanctum just a few months ago and for a golf tragic like me was the opprortunity I could not pass on.

I was lucky enough to meet with Tomomitsu Ikeda (Acushnet Club division) and Mari Yamashita (Marketing and PR, golf gear and Apparel) to chat about the recent Vokey Forged Japan exclusive wedges as well as the Titleist 718 TMB iron set which has already been released in Japan.

Tomomitsu Ikeda (Who goes by the name Tommy) and Mari gave me a very thoughtful and interesting perspective on what drove Acushnet to decide on making a Vokey Wedge so different to the current Vokey SM6 that is available worldwide. The Japanese market dictates that the Vokey wedges be a a different breed of Vokey wedge yet still fits into what Bob Vokey believes is essential to great wedges and amazing wedge play.

Bob Vokey’s Mandate

Bob Vokey believes that distance control and consistent trajectory are the ultimate ingredients in great Wedge play. The newest Vokey editions in both the SM6 and the Forged Wedge created for the Japan market have a new progressive Centre of Gravity (COG) which is the new ingredient in making sure his mantra is adheared to.

What Does This Mean?

In basic terms these wedges have more weight in the bottom of the pitching wedges, weight in the middle of the mid lofted wedges and more weight at the top of the lofted wedges. This makes the trajectory and maximum height of all the wedges quite similar which controls distance and gives a better feel off the clubface.

The SM6 models have either added or taken away more steel where necessary to position the COG behind the hitting area. It’s a very simple yet effective way yet gives the club a slightly busy appearance as can be seen in the photo below.

The Vokey Design Forged Wedge at a Glance

The Japanese version of the Vokey wedge is a forged offering compared to the SM6 which is made of 8620 cast steel . The market in Japan prefers a forged head in its wedges which means a slightly softer feel, sound and more expensive price tag. I get the feeling that in essence there is a belief that it also has a higher form of craftsmanship which is adored throughout Japan in many other forms. The heads have a slightly sharper profile than the SM6 and also include Vokeys new COG technology yet still keeping the clean, simple and fluid lines of past wedges.

The diagram below shows the internal weighting system that Vokey designed in order to keep the wedges looking more traditional than the SM6.

Design and Technology

The process starts with forging the wedges into a finished product. The first step was to cut the face away from the rest of the club. Next was a process of once again cutting two areas of weight out of the clubhead. This weight was replaced with titanium ( a very light weight ) and tungsten ( a heavier weight ) depending on what loft the club was. The lower lofted clubs have more weight placed in the bottom and the higher lofts with more weight placed near the top. Bob Vokey said that higher lofter clubs tend to make the ball run up the face and therefore more weight should be placed higher up the face. Once this is completed the face was then forged back in place where amazingly you cannot tell the process had even taken place. The new technology was all inside with the clean lines intact.

Sole Grinds, Shaft Options, and Specifications

One thing that is really confusing for golfers is what loft should I get and what sole grind is right for me. Bob Vokey has 5 different grinds in the SM6 with 21 loft/sole grind options. Japan has decided to go with 3 grinds and only 9 loft/sole grind options which makes finding the easiest combination a lot less stressful. All of the wedges come with mid to high bounce options which is perfect for the tight, firm conditions that are played in Japan. Typically this is what 95% of golfers should be using anyway as it stops the club digging into the turf to much. The Vokey designed forged Wedge also has left handed options and comes in either the satin finish or the black PVD finish. The grooves are the same TX-4 grooves used in the SM6 with a parallel milling.

F GRIND – Has a full sole with a moderate amount of sole camber and radius. Its ideal for full shots from the turf and for those who tend to swing steeply.

K GRIND – Has a wide full sole with a larger camber. It’s the ultimate bunker club being easy to play from a variety of lies.

M GRIND – Has a mid bounce grind and is for players who play shots around the green with a variety of different face positions.

Shaft Options

The Vokey designed forged wedge comes in a number of shaft options as can be seen below. One of Acushnets greatest strengths is that they cater for the ladies market with a Diamana VF ladies shaft now being offered.

My Opinion

The Vokey Design forged wedge is the best wedge I have used for all the right reasons. It has great shelf appeal, feels and sounds great off the face and controls the trajectory because of the new COG technology built within the club. The forged head and the process that this new wedge goes through before it become the finished product is extraordinary and the price tag is only slightly more than the SM6 and worth every cent, especially to those who are real Titleist devotees or to the wedge connoisseur.

There is one area that really stands out and it comes in the form of the leading edge. I have stood over hundreds of wedges over the years and there have been very few that I have liked, especially in terms of the shape of the leading edge. The round almost onset look of some wedges leading edges gives me such a negative feeling that I almost can`t bare to swing the club away. The leading edge of the Vokey designed forged wedge is a very similar look to the rest of the Titleist iron lineup. The Titleist MB to the AP1 all have some degree of offset yet the leading edge is quite straight and this continues with the Vokey Designed Forged wedges. The other great thing about these Japanese offerings is that they have a slightly softer leading edge. The SM6 is a great wedge but has the slightly rounded onset appearance which can easily be seen in the photo below.

The Vokey designed forged wedge and the Vokey SM6 below. Its very to notice that the leading edge of the First photo (Vokey Designed Forged wedge) is straighter and more offset whereas the SM6 clearly is a rounder profile and an onset appearance. The best example is the third photo of the Forged PVD finished club whose leading edge is very straight and clearly offset.

IN CONCLUSION

Being lucky enough to try these wedges has given me the opportunity to dispel rumours that are often found in online discussion boards. Sometimes the misinformation is only due to information being lost in translation as the information about Japanese Titlesit clubs are always written in Japanese and therefore sometimes misunderstood. Being a golf professional and working in Japan has given me this wonderful opportunity to pass on any information about the Titlesit clubs, balls, apparel or anything under the Japan Acushnet umbrella.

If you have any questions or queries on how to get your hands on these clubs then please email me at the address below.

Thanks for reading.

Joe@thetokyogolfer.com

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