"For quite a while now the wedge market has been dominated by two names, and yet despite having Roger Cleveland…ROGER FREAKING CLEVELAND designing their wedges, trying to convince somebody that a Callaway wedge actually designed by Roger Cleveland might actually outperform another that simply has his name on it can be an uphill battle. The whole thing is a little absurd, and quite frankly, it makes my face hurt."

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Callaway Forged Wedge  - REVIEW

(Written By: @GolfSpyT) It doesn't seem like that long ago that we reviewed Callaway's X-Series Jaws CC Wedge. Apart from having a name longer than any wedge should, that wedge offered a distinctive look, a new finish, and the introduction of what Callaway calls "Tour CC Grooves" (more grooves tightly spaced together). For 2012 Callaway has offered up a new wedge; the simply named Callaway Forged Wedge. The new Forged series isn't a replacement for last year's Jaws, but rather is being offered as a compliment, or alternative to last years' wedge.

Designed by Roger Cleveland, the new wedge is available in two new finish options; Dark Chrome and Copper. While the Dark Chrome is similar to the black nickel finishes offered by other manufacturers, the Copper is a reasonably unique finish option that will wear (and eventually rust) over time. While the Jaws CC wedge offered a multitude of bounce options, and an aggressive C-Grind, the Forged Wedge is available with a single bounce option per loft, and features what Callaway calls a "Blended C-Grind", which offers a flatter leading edge, less sole radius, and slightly less bounce. Like the JAWS CC, it also features Tour CC Grooves.

Which of the 2 models is right for you is largely a matter of personal preference, and your style of play. If you're looking for us to declare that one is measurably better than the other, it's not going to happen. They've both very good wedges (though I will own up to preferring the cleaner lines of the new wedge).

The Marketing Angle

  • TOUR CC GROOVES: 21 tightly spaced, conforming grooves with sharper edges due to the superior Triple Net Forging process provide ideal trajectory and distance control. The maximum conforming groove capacity ensures moisture is swept away, ensuring more edges come in contact with the ball to maximize friction and increase spin.
  • TOUR INSPIRED SHAPE: Created by Callaway Chief Designer Roger Cleveland, these wedges are forged from 1020 Carbon Steel for soft feel. Callaway Forged Wedges have a very traditional styling with a higher toe and straighter leading edge for a square look at address.
  • BLENDED C-GRIND: A softer, more gradual ‘C’ shape provides versatility for shot-making by relieving the heel and reducing the width of the sole. This shape enables golfers to lay the face open while effectively reducing the bounce angle, allowing for proper contact and maximum spin and control.
  • FINISH OPTIONS: Trivalent Dark Chrome produces a smoky, muted look that helps reduce glare. The Copper Finish is a completely new look for Callaway and is designed to oxidize over time for a distinctive look.
  • BOUNCE OPTIMIZATION: Each wedge loft has been paired with the ideal bounce to provide optimal turf interaction and versatility for creative shot-making.


Stock Shaft: TrueTemper Dynamic Gold
Stock Grip:
Callaway Crossline M58

Material Composition: 1020 Carbon Steel

We're not overly concerned about a relative lack of bounce options. Like many other wedge making their way to market these days, versatility is a key component of the Forged Wedge design. It's not about being a digger or a slider, as I've said before, it's about having a wedge that allows you to play whatever shot the course dictates.

Having said that, it is mildly disappointing that a true wedge shaft (DG Spinner, KBS Hi-Rev) isn't currently offered as an upgrade.

How We Tested

Target greens on our 3Track Equipped simulators from aboutGolf were set at 100 yards.  After being allowed several shots to verify the appropriate club for the distance, testers took their choice of a 52°, 56°, or 60° wedge and hit a series of shots.  Testing was done at Tark's Indoor Golf, a state of the art indoor golf facility located in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Detailed data for each and every shot for which we collected is viewable in the interactive portion of this review.  This data serves as the foundation for our final performance score.  Golfers were also asked to provide feedback in our subjective categories (looks, sound &  feel, perceived forgiveness, and likelihood of purchase).  This information is used as the foundation for our total subjective score.

Radius-Based Scoring

For wedge testing, performance scores are derived using what we refer to as radius-based scoring.  Instead of simply asking our testers to hit the ball as long and as straight as they can, testers are asked to stick their shots as close as they possibly can to a pin set at an appropriate wedge distance.

75% of the total performance score is calculated based on where each shot fell in proximity to the hole.  Closer is obviously better.

Under our updated scoring system, spin now accounts for the remaining 25% of the performance score. Because we've increased our accuracy expectations, and have moved to MPV-based (Maximum Point Value) scoring for spin, the expectation is that, compared with the previous generation of wedge reviews, overall scores under the new system will be lower.

PERFORMANCE SCORING

Accuracy

Looking at the map of our test shots, you'll see a pattern that's not unlike what we see when we test game-improvement clubs. While our testers weren't exactly throwing the proverbial darts, we didn't see very many wild misses either (in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that we do toss any of those abhorrent shots that start with an "s" and end with a "k").

As a group our testers averaged 23.22 feet from the pin. When we drop our least accurate tester (the new guy), the overall group average improves to 21.47 feet. This number is very much in the ballpark of the other wedges we've tested this season.

Worth noting is that our testers displayed a heavy left-side bias, with only low handicap golfer Dan landing right more often than left. This isn't unusual as our testers often favor the left side with their wedges, however; it does appear to be a bit more pronounced than usual. Not surprisingly, our two lowest handicap golfers were the only ones to average inside 20 feet.

When we look the best birdie opportunities, those shots within 10 feet of the pin, we find only two shots (both mine as it turns out) that would result in high probability putts.  If we expand our birdie range out to 15 feet,

If we expand our definition to 15 feet, the number of "birdie" opportunities jumps to 15, and now includes shots from 4 of our 6 golfers.

Once again, our results suggest that the Callaway Forged Wedge plays a bit like a game improvement club, which makes it ideal for players looking to hit the green while minimizing the damage of poor swings (s...ks not withstanding).

MGS Accuracy Score: 87.65

Spin

Like last season's X-Forged Jaws CC Wedges (and like it says in the marketing section up there), Callaway's newest wedges feature Z21 tightly spaced, conforming grooves with sharper edges due to the superior Triple Net Forging process provide ideal trajectory and distance control. The maximum conforming groove capacity ensures moisture is swept away, ensuring more edges come in contact with the ball to maximize friction and increase spin".

As with last year's model, what's relatively unique about Callaway's wedges is that the grooves are forged (or stamped) into the head, as opposed to be being milled.

The results themselves are actually quite intriguing. 3 of our testers produced A-Level spin results, including one tester for whom they produced record high spin numbers. Two other testers produced spin scores in the mid-80s, while a single tester produced significantly less spin than he usually gets from the wedges we test. To be fair, his average is down in part due to a single shot which only produced 5600 RPM.

The average for the group was 9249 RPM, however; when our lowest spinning golfer is removed from the calculations, spin numbers increase slightly to 9673 RPM.

In general an average of 9500 RPM is good. 10K would be nothing short of excellent, but we haven't seen it yet. While we can't randomly disregard certain results for scoring purposes (and the score is still plenty good), in this particular case, it's reasonable to assume that the Callaway Forged Wedges are capable of producing a bit more spin than our numbers suggest.

MGS Spin Score: 92.05

Overall Performance

Once again, our feeling is that the Callaway Forged Wedge probably isn't the most precisely accurate wedge on the market today, but our results suggest that it is a wedge that could help golfers hit a higher percentage of greens. And while we'd all like to find ourselves with nothing but tap-ins, hitting greens is what gives you the best chance to score, and in that regard, we really like what we see.

MGS OVERALL PERFORMANCE SCORE: 87.65



The Interactive Data

The charts below show the individual and group averages (black dotted line) for each shot our golfers took during our test of the Callaway Forged Wedge. If you click on the "Callaway Forged Wedge" tab, you can see where each shot came to rest on our virtual driving range. Hovering over any point will give you all the details of that particular shot. You can use the filters on the right-hand side to show and hide individual golfers or shots based on handicap or distance from the hole speed. The "Callaway Forged Wedge Data" tab provides comparative data from each of our testers.

SUBJECTIVE SCORING

Looks

While the Callaway Forged Wedge isn't as compact as some of the others we've looked at, it's far from bulky. Those of you who remember the non-conforming X-Forged wedge (my personal favorite Callaway wedge) will find the shapes very similar. As with most Callaway wedges, they're a bit rounder in shape, but certainly not offensive, and do set up very nicely at address.

The topline is relatively flat, which makes it appear slightly thicker than it actually is. I used calipers to compare the Forged Wedge with another wedge we've praised for having a thinner topline, and the measurements are virtually identical.

Of the two finish options, our testers generally preferred the Copper. I can't say I blame them, as it not only looks fantastic, it creates a nice contrast against the golf ball, and produces almost no glare. The Dark Chrome option is perhaps slightly lighter than some of the other smoke or nickel finishes on the market. In direct sunlight, it can create some glare, but compared to some of the satin chrome wedges I've played in the past, it's a tremendous improvement.

Just as with the Jaws designs, my preference would be for a wedge that has a little less going on in the back cavity. That said, my suspicion is that that cut out section (or raised section) along the top of the back exists to raise the center of gravity and produce the desired flight characteristics. It also gives the wedge a distinctive Callaway look.

Overall, our testers really liked the look of the new wedge. Actually, they loved it.

MGS Looks Score: 96.75

Sound & Feel

For some time now I've felt that Callaway has produced one of the best feeling, and best performing wedges out there. My gripes have been about aesthetic issues. From a feel perspective however, I'd place Callaway near the top. For the most part, my testers agree as only a single golfer rated it below a 9 (he rated it an 8) in this category.

While I would tell you that the Callaway Forged Wedge isn't the softest on the market, it produces a consistent soft click at impact while still offering you that valuable feedback that rewards you when you've hit it on the screws, but still lets you know when you didn't.

MGS Feel Score: 94.96

Perceived Forgiveness

Judging forgiveness in a wedge can be tough. I think approach it with the idea that if a wedge can't put the ball where I wanted it, then it isn't forgiving. My thinking on wedge forgiveness, really forgiveness in general is that if the ball winds up anywhere near where I wanted it to go, even on my bad swings, then it's pretty forgiving in my book.

Like any wedge, we noticed distance loss on balls the crept up on the face, and occasionally unwanted distance gains with balls struck a groove or two below where we intended. But in general, our results suggest that while the Callaway Forged Wedge won't turn your golf ball into a precision guided missile, it's going to put you in the vicinity of your target more often than not.

Tester Perceived Forgiveness Score: 89.58

Likelihood of Purchase

I'll be honest. The LOP score here caught me a bit by surprise. Usually there's some chatter when the guys are lusting after a club. One guy will talk about how he hopes his wife doesn't find out, while another talks about how much he can't wait to drop it in his bag.

With the Callaway Forged Wedge, there wasn't a whole lot of that. But when the surveys came back it turned out that it's a wedge nearly everyone really likes...they're just more quiet than usual about it.

Tester Likelihood of Purchase: 93.17

Versatility (Un-Scored)

While I don't see a lot of the mid to high handicap golfers I play with doing much with their wedges, once I get around the green, I'm a guy who likes to manipulate the face of my wedges quite a bit. Whether it's good for my game or not, I enjoy hitting the flop shot more than any other on the golf course. For me, being able to open, or really open the club face of my wedges without getting too much interference from the leading edge is extremely important.

While Callaway describes the Forged Wedge as having a Blended C-Grind, it's barely, if at all perceptible (sometimes I think I see something, most of time I figure it's probably in my head). The point is, for a guy who has come to rely on C-Grinds, and Y-Grinds, and any other type of grind to provide versatility, the new Blended C-Grind doesn't look like it does much of anything.

As we all know, looks can be deceiving, and once I started trying a variety of shots, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to hit shots with the face open, even from relatively tight lies. Oddly enough, despite having a higher stated bounce, did find it a bit easier to play the 60° degree wide open than an equivalent shot with the 64°.

While I love the versatility of a traditional insert-letter here-Grind, with the lower effective bounce, and sharper leading edge, they can sometimes dig in to the turn a bit more than I'd like. While I can still take a chunk of sod with the best of them, the less pronounced grind the Forged Wedge would seem to make it less susceptible to digging.

If you are one of those who strongly believes in Digger vs. Slider, the Callaway Forged Wedge, while versatile, is probably more of a digger's wedge.

TOTAL SUBJECTIVE SCORE: 94.87

CONCLUSION

It seems to me that while all the big golf companies do a pretty good job with their lineups across the board, just about every company has something it does really well, but for whatever reason, doesn't get the credit it deserves. You guys are smart enough to see where I'm going with this, so I'll cut right to the chase and tell you that for Callaway, it's their wedges that don't get the attention (and sales) I think they deserve.

For quite a while now the wedge market has been dominated by two names, and yet despite having Roger Cleveland...ROGER FREAKING CLEVELAND designing their wedges, trying to convince somebody that a Callaway wedge actually designed by Roger Cleveland might actually outperform another that simply has his name on it can be an uphill battle. The whole thing is a little absurd, and quite frankly, it makes my face hurt.

The new Forged Wedge is nothing but another very good wedge in what has become a fairly long line of very good Callaway wedges. While I can't say I love it quite as much as the older, non-conforming, X-Forged wedge (I still have on in my bag), I like it nearly as much, and that's saying a lot.

My point is Callaway has been making some excellent wedges since...well...right about the time ROGER FREAKING CLEVELAND joined the company. If you haven't done so already, isn't it about time you gave one a try?

MGS TOTAL SCORE:  89.10


Custom Callaway Forged Wedge Giveaway - Contest Has Ended

Callaway Golf and MyGolfSpy are partnering to give one lucky reader 1 Set (3) of Custom-Stamped Callaway Forged Wedges.

The Winner has been chosen and will be contacted shortly.

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