Written By: Tony Covey
If you follow Callaway Golf on Facebook or Twitter, today’s announcement of the Mack Daddy 2 wedge is basically old news. Sure, you’re probably getting the details for the first time, but the pics…the most important part of any club release…Callaway has been posting those for a while now, so chances are the existence of the Mack Daddy 2 wedge isn’t coming as a complete surprise.
Big Grooves To Fill
Roger Cleveland’s name is on a lot of wedges. There’s well…that other golf company, and then there’s the work he’s done since he joined Callaway. The dude has got a serious rep in the wedge game. He’s a legend.
He’s not alone. Callaway’s Mack Daddy grooves, they’ve got a rep of their own, and while I’m all for nostalgia, Callaway’s got no business recycling the name, if it can’t live up to the original.
Arguably the greatest chewer of the golf ball in the history of once-legal wedges, Callaway’s original Mack Daddy grooves are so fierce the company still uses them to test golf ball durability.
Will the sequel be half as mean?
Technical Blah Blah Blah
With the new Mack Daddy 2 lineup, it’s all about options. Callaway offered a standard grind and a C-Grind for a number of years, but for the Mack Daddy they’re offering a Phil Mickelson-inspired U-Grind as well.
The Standard Grind – Well…relatively ordinary. There’s visible curvature (radius) to the leading edge, but it’s not as extreme as some other designs. There is some heel relief as well, but it’s a grind best suited for firmer conditions and the guy who keeps the wedge face square at address.
C-Grind -By now familiar to many of you, the versatile C-Grind features visible heel and toe relief. The design is well suited for a variety of conditions and players who frequently open up the face as it helps the leading edge sit closer to the ground on those type of shots.
U-Grind – According to Callaway, the Phil Mickelson-inspired U-Grind increases dynamic bounce (actual bounce at impact) without increasing static bounce. It has a concave sole, and the tightest radius of the 3 grinds. As you’d expect from a Mickelson-inspired wedge, there’s plenty of versatility to play a variety of shots. Callaway didn’t provide any samples of the U-grind, so I can’t really comment on the design or its functionality. Frankly, I’m a little bitter about it.
As they’ve done over the past several iterations of their wedges, Callaway is offering the MD2 in both low glare Satin Chrome, and the awesome Slate finished that first appeared in the X Forged Jaws CC wedge. Like the Vintage finish available in the original X Forged wedge, the Slate finish will wear and rust over time.
Retail price for both finishes is $119.00
While Callaway is billing the Mac Daddy 2 as being inspired by the original X Forged, it’s definitely a more modern take on the classic tear drop shape. It’s more rounded than some may like, and the face is definitely taller than those found on the classic wedges of yore. Who else misses yore?
It’s a bit odd when you’re looking at it without the context of a golf ball in front of it, but for better or worse, it’s what more and more wedges look like these days. I don’t love it, but I don’t exactly get a vote either.
Getting the Mojo Back
Ever the since the USGA spoiled the fun and put limits on grooves, the OEMs have been trying to find ways to get their mojo (for our purposes, mojo means spin) back.
The first go around for Callaway and others basically involved adding more grooves and packing them tighter together. It worked, but only a little.
The latest trend in the industry is to add additional face milling, or micro grooves, with the idea that they can help rev up the RPMs. Cleveland is doing it, Nike is doing it, Wilson is doing it, you get the point…everybody is doing it, and with the Mack Daddy 2 wedge, Callaway is joining the micro groove party.
Fresh out of the plastic you’ll immediately notice the wedges have an almost sandpaper-like texture. That’s the micro grooves. Callaway’s explanation is that they basically condition the face to add roughness after the micro grooves wear off…and they most definitely do wear off.
Take a look at the before and then the after photo of the 56° wedge I spent some time with out on the range. After less than 50 balls, the majority half swings, there is visible wear to the micro grooves. The texture is disappearing…quickly. They’re definitely not designed to last forever.
Different Grooves for Different Lofts
You might recall that when Mizuno released their MP-T11 wedge one of the features that different lofts utilized different groove patterns. It makes plenty of sense…higher lofted wedges are used differently than lower lofted ones, and Mizuno found that what works for higher lofted clubs isn’t ideal for lower lofted ones, and vice versa.
Apparently the Callaway R&D team found some truth in the logic as they’ve done something similar with the Mack Daddy 2 wedges.
Lofts of 56° and above have what Callaway is calling a 5V groove. It’s 29% larger than the 20V groove found on the previous wedge. All of this works out to a wedge that Callaway says provides 25% more spin on full shots.
If you’re wondering about the find print, here it is:
The lower lofted wedges have smaller grooves which are designed to not produce quite as much spin on their own. Clubhead speed and loft take care of that.
Just Tell Me If They Spin
As the wedge guys work to get their mojo (again, spin) back, new groove technology is a part of nearly every new wedge release. 5V, micro grooves, it all sounds pretty cool, but ultimately golfers only care about one thing:
In-between thunderstorms I took the FlightScope and a bag of Callaway HEX Black balls out to the range. I set up at 50 yards (basically a half sand wedge) away from the flag and hit several shots with the Callaway MD2, my gamer, and a 2013 model from a competitor.
Before we look at the data, please be advised, this is hardly a full and comprehensive review. I just hit a few (dozen) balls to quickly see how the new wedge compares to a couple of others. Shots were hit from what most would describe as light, uneven, and wet rough. I didn’t take any full swings (not interested in losing a bag full of HEX Blacks to the range attendants), and didn’t plug the data into our formulas that decide what we keep and what we spit out. I simply grabbed the 5 highest spinning shots I hit with each wedge.
As you can see, the Callaway MD2′s spin numbers are probably well within the margin of error given the small sampling. Just an FYI, that 11° of axis tilt with Competitor #1 is likely the result of a severe outlier, so don’t read anything into that number.
Competitor 2 is actually my gamer. It’s about a year old, and while it has conforming grooves, it doesn’t have any of this fancy new-fangled groove technology. You can probably chalk up the extra distance and tighter dispersion to familiarity and comfort.
It’s worth noting that the best shots (cleanest contact) produce noticeably higher spin rates with each wedge, but FlightScope’s software reports that the MD2 produced the most consistent spin of the bunch, and that’s no insignificant detail.
While most of enjoy watching a ball hop once and stop dead, or even suck back several yards, what really matters with a wedge is consistency. You want something that’s going to produce similar results with every swing. Inside of 100 yards, I don’t want any surprises.
Is the Callaway MD2 Wedge a Winner?
Honestly, I haven’t spent enough time with it to reach any definitive conclusions. Aesthetics are what they are. If you love them, great. If you don’t, fine. I will say that once I started hitting shots, I didn’t really notice the looks of any of the 3; including my own which I’d otherwise tell you is a beautiful wedge.
Feel is on par with the other 2 forged wedges I tested (and that’s damn good) and I found it relatively easy to consistently hit (or almost hit) my target distance. When it comes to wedges, consistency matters above all else. Please believe that.
Whether you actually need your wedges to spin is a topic for another day, but my admittedly brief time with the Callaway MD2 suggests that it’s going to spin as well as you need it to. The Competitor 1 wedge is one we believe offers above average spin on precisely the type of shots I hit, and the new MD2 was right there with it while producing more consistent results.
I actually asked Callaway how close we are to getting back to where we were pre-groove rule. I didn’t get an answer, but my own testing suggests we’re not there yet.
The Mack may have returned, but he’s lost a bit of his bite.
While it’s not a surprise that Mack Daddy 2′s grooves don’t eat urethane like the original, there were enough scuffs on golf balls to make me feel a little bit better about it.
Ultimately we’re reserving judgement (this isn’t a review), but early indications are that the new Callaway MD2 is everything you’d expect from a Roger Cleveland designed wedge; a versatile and consistent performer that offers outstanding feel.
As with every other club in your bag, finding the right fit – which means finding the right grind for your game and the conditions you play it in – will be critical to getting the most out of your wedge.
Get Your Wedgeducation
As part of their efforts to talk directly to the consumer, Callaway has produced series of videos they’re calling “Wedgeducation”. The videos feature Roger Cleveland and Callaway’s Director or Fitting & Instruction, Randy Peterson, and can be seen on www.CallawayGolf.com/wedgeducation. The videos will offer short game tips and provide information on how you can get the most out of your scoring clubs.