Vokey wedges 'push the envelope'

By Global Golf PostNovember 22, 2011, 8:10 pm

Rules changes are never easy matters for golf equipment manufacturers, and the decision a couple of years ago by the USGA and R&A to limit groove volume and the sharpness of the edges in wedges was no exception. Clubmakers had to scramble to roll out models that would conform to the new “Condition of Competition” requirements. And that created some problems.

“Our number-one priority at the time was to protect our players,” says Steve Pelisek, general manager for Titleist golf clubs. “We had to ensure that 100 percent of the Vokey wedges used in competition would comply with the new regulations. So, we were not able to pursue as aggressively as we might have wanted the outer ‘line in the sand’ the ruling bodies had established.”

In other words, Titleist took a conservative approach the first time it made Vokey wedges under the C-C limits. Better to be safe than sorry.

Now that it has had more time to figure out ways to work within those regulatory parameters, however, Titleist officials say they have been able to take things right up to the limits with its wedges. And the new Vokey Design SM4s are the result of those efforts.

What Titleist did, Pelisek says, was invest heavily in machinery and scoreline measurement technology for ultra-precise face and groove cutting as well as an inspection process to ensure conformance. Through that process, each groove is evaluated using computer-guided plotting technology in which a sensored stylus is piloted to trace the groove contours.

Three-dimensional coordinates are recorded, and the data is then translated into measurements of the groove’s total volume and edge radii as well as surface roughness, so each wedge can be manufactured at the conforming limit.

“We can now push the envelope on performance, giving players the highest possible spin and trajectory control without any risk of non-compliance,” says Dan Stone, vice-president of research and development for Titleist golf clubs.

Made of soft 8620-carbon steel and a heat-treated face, the Vokey Design SM4 wedges are available in 21 loft and bounce combinations and five different sole grinds. Each features 17 individually cut grooves, up from 14 in previous iterations. According to Vokey, that gives the clubs a more tightly packed groove configuration for better spin and trajectory control.

“Those additional scorelines give us more teeth on the ball, but they do not impart so much spin that you lose versatility and shot control when accessing a middle-to-back pin,” he says. “I honestly think this pattern strikes a perfect balance.”

It also helps knowing just how precisely each one is grooved.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: