One of the more complicated aspects of evaluating golf equipment is realizing that often the club design is not really meant for the media member doing the testing.
Few games are as dependent on individual tendencies as golf. Each swing is shaped by a person’s ability, mobility, and even the habits they have developed over time. They also have wants and needs when it comes to the shots they perceive as successful.
Thus, when I receive some test golf clubs, providing a general sense of the club for readers in one things, but seeing an example of what their design can unlock for others is a lot more powerful.
Smart Sole 3.0
Cleveland Golf recently shipped out their latest products for assessment and one of the more curious products was their new Smart Sole 3.0 Wedges.
Their take was the expected endorsement.
“We designed the Smart Sole 3 with the widest, most forgiving sole of any Cleveland Wedge in the market,” said Jeff Brunski, Director of Research and Development at Cleveland Golf’s Huntington Beach, Calif. headquarters. “That wide sole makes getting out of bunkers as easy as possible. The Smart Sole 3 also features Feel Balancing Technology which provides more consistent performance and better feel.”
It was up to me to see if the rubber hit the road with these statements.
This is the third variation of the product line and while I have noted and written about them in the past, taking them to the golf course had not been part of the schedule.
It was time.
Only one problem…the design features – an extra wide, three-tiered sole, a centre of gravity moved more to the centre of the face, and 58 degrees of loft are more than useable for me, but I am not the target market as a PGA of Canada Professional. I wanted to see what kind of “game improvement” they could provide for the player they ARE designed for.
One trip to the range and that was solved.
Made For Rick
It was there that I found Rick, and he was exactly what I was looking for.
A middle-aged golfer, Rick has some mobility issues with his lower body due to a previous stroke as well as a bad back. His tendency with wedge? He hits way behind the ball, leading to inconsistent contact – poor trajectory, feel, and variability in yardages. I drew all this from watching him hit his own club for about 15 balls.
Part of the problem for Rick is that he continues to cling on to a wedge that is well suited to a player of a different skill set – it has a narrow sole, 60 degrees of loft, and only four degrees of bounce. It’s a precise weapon with a slim margin of error.
As a struggling wedge player Rick didn’t have much to lose in trying the Cleveland Smart Sole 3.0 S model.
Handing him the wedge I gave him one instruction…don’t change anything. Swing normally and let’s see how it plays out.
The change was dramatic. Still making contact with the ground slightly behind the ball, the Smart Sole 3.0 wedge slid along the turf and married the face to the ball. The golf ball launched high in the air and my subject told me, “this feels great.” It should; he was barely creating a collision between the club face and the ball with his own set-up.
As Rick eagerly worked his way through a pile of balls, repeating his initial success, I noted one important thing – he’d gone from a frustrated golfer to one grinning after each shot.
The Smart Sole was the “Smile Sole” for him. That endorsement was enough for me.
If you need a little help with your wedge game, it’s worth a try.
Cleveland Golf claims it “makes the short game easier” and I can’t disagree that is may be very helpful to some, if not many golfers.
The Smart Sole 3.0 is also available in a 42 degree chipping wedge for both men and women.