Does the Titleist Vokey Design SM4 wedge live up to the fine heritage
that Vokey wedges have established? Can one of these clubs help your
short game? Read on to learn about these wedges and how they can give
you more spin despite the 2010 changes to the USGA and R & A groove
Serious golfers know good wedge play is a crucial part of the game. That’s why most pros and high-level amateurs carry a minimum of three (and often four) wedges in their bags. Many of them play wedges designed by Bob Vokey because they know you can’t have a top-quality wedge game without using top-quality wedges. They choose the Titleist Vokey Design SM4 wedge – or another Vokey wedge – because Bob Vokey’s one of the most highly-regarded wedge designers in the world.
What makes this wedge worth considering when you’re trying to improve your short game? Well, the ability to put spin on the ball is one of the most important jobs of a short-game club. That spin is what allows shots to land on the green, take a short hop or two, and then spin back toward the hole. I’m sure you’ve all seen this done by the pros on TV. It’s one of the prettiest shots out there but it can also significantly lower your scores because the ball doesn’t release and run through the green. Instead, it often ends up within one-putt range, giving you a great shot at a birdie.
Unless you have the right wedges it’s hard to pull off this shot because you need to generate a lot of spin on the ball. And unfortunately, the groove-rule changes in 2010 mean that today’s clubs (or most of them, anyway) don’t produce as much spin as in the past.
Under USGA and R & A rules, the wedges being made and played in professional and high-level amateur tournaments – including the Titleist Vokey Design SM4 wedge – cannot have grooves as deep or sharp as those permitted prior to the 2010 rule change. These groove-rule changes have resulted in clubs that don’t generate as much spin – but spin is vitally important.
This particular wedge is designed and engineered to conform to the new groove rules, but the company claims it produces more spin and control than its previous conforming designs. The aggressive groove design and narrower score line spacing used in this wedge are engineered to tight tolerances that push the envelope, bringing the club right up to the limits established by the Rules of Golf. Because these clubs live so close to the edge, every single Titleist Vokey Design SM4 wedge undergoes an inspection before leaving the factory to ensure it complies with the rules.
Each one of the club’s Spin Milled™ grooves is precisely, individually cut into the face to promote maximum conforming spin and great full shot control. There are three more of these grooves (for a total of 17) than on Titleist’s previous Spin Milled™ wedge models – the extra grooves mean more groove edges contact the ball, giving the club more “bite.” Partial shot spin and control are maximized by the club’s milled, “micro edge face texture.” The impact area is heat-treated to increase the durability of the grooves and micro edges.
Extensive loft, bounce and sole grind combinations are available to promote any type of shot, with lofts ranging from 46 to 64 degrees. You’ll also have three choices of head finish to choose from when you buy a Titleist Vokey Design SM4 wedge – Black Nickel (my favorite), Tour Chrome or Oil Can. The stock shaft is a True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shaft. It’s best suited for players who swing fast and want a lower, more penetrating trajectory. If you generate a slow to moderate ball speed or want a higher launch, other shaft options (including graphite) are available.
I tested a 64-degree Titleist Vokey Design SM4 wedge because I wanted to see what a premium lob wedge could do. The club I evaluated had the standard True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shaft.
My full shots from the fairway flew extremely high and short, just as you would expect from this kind of loft. The spin, though, that was what was impressive – even on half-wedge shots. On a shot where I was short-sided in a bunker, the spin the Titleist Vokey Design SM4 wedge gave me got me out perfectly and not far from the hole. Distance control and amount of spin vs. rollout on the green were predictable and consistent. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the Titleist Vokey Design SM4 wedge.
The Bottom Line: The Titleist Vokey Design SM4 wedge is a versatile club well-suited to serious golfers. It delivers strong performance, looks great, and it’s engineered to meet but not exceed the groove restrictions of the Rules of Golf. Once again, Bob Vokey has proven himself to be a master craftsman.