Titleist is launching the tenth generation of its iconic wedges this season. In an interview with Golf Post, Aaron Luttrell, wedge expert at Titleist, talks about the development process of the new Titleist Vokey SM 10 wedges and Bob Vokey’s influence on the development of the new models.
“Bob Vokey is still our wedge guru” – Titleist with the tenth generation of the iconic wedges
Golf Post: Titleist Vokey released the new SM10 wedges. What’s making them better than previous generations?
Aaron Luttrell: A lot of times people ask, what do you do to make a better wedge? So at Vokey, what Bob’s kind of narrowed it down to is if you think about what makes a better wedge player, it’s usually being able to generate spin, being versatile around the greens and having good distance and trajectory control.
That’s really what we design our wedges around. How do we make each of those segments better for all players, not just the better player? What we typically do is we’re looking at improving each one of those areas every time we come out with a wedge. One of the big areas that we worked on for SM 10 was CG placement, which relates to distance and trajectory control.
All of them were kind of interconnected. You can’t really have one without the other. If you’re not striking the club in the right part of the face, you’re probably not going to take advantage of the CG or the grooves. So grind fitting is very important. That’s very related to versatility and shots around the green.
You’re obviously not going to get the spin that you want unless you have like the best grooves in the industry. So really if you look at what we did with trajectory and distance control, it’s a CG movement. So in the higher lofted wedges, in years past, we were able to push CG actually forward in front of the face, which allows the face to square up a bit easier or return to where the players set the club in.
I shouldn’t say square up because some people worry like, Oh, if I open the face, is it going to want to shut? No, it’s just going to want to return to where it started. It’s kind of a dynamic shift. Moving it forward allows that to happen. Moving it high or up keeps that flight down and it allows the player to manage the trajectory.
It also prevents some of those shots that want to roll up the face and take off high and weak. So really what we’re trying to do is push consistency, allow the player to, you know, deliver the club the way they want to deliver it and they get the results that they expect. So that was one thing in the higher lofted wedges and now in the lower lofted wedges, we kind of looked at where CG placement was relative to face center.
Looking at modern iron sets, a lot of those CG placements have started to migrate more toward face center or more toward the toe, not outside face center, but just moving that direction. We realized we were a little more heel-ward than where a lot of our irons are. Again, having the player be able to deliver it in the most consistent way possible.
You want the flow from your irons into your wedges to be very consistent. So we were able to move CG a little more from the heel, more towards the center and saw improvements in accuracy. The players that said that sometimes if they went after it a little bit, the ball, maybe would jump left there on them.
Once in a while, that kind of has gone away now. So we had a lot of really excited players last few weeks about their gap and pitching wedge, which normally, you know, people get really excited about high lofted wedges because they hit all the tricky shots with it. But it’s nice to hear people saying, I’m really excited about my SM 10 pitching wedge as well.
So those are the things that we’ve kind of worked on as improvements technically. And then as far as profiles go, We worked really hard to make sure that they’re as consistent as possible. Really good look that we’ve gotten feedback on over the many generations, but looking at where the highest peak of the toe is and making it consistent throughout the set, making sure the blade length is very consistent throughout the set.
And then we went through a different process of designing the shapes. Before it was the whole wedge at once. What we did was, we looked at it a different way and designed the profile and then you put the sole on afterward and then manipulate it to get the CG positioning that you want.
So what that allows us to do is when you look down at a wedge and you’re getting fit and you say have four different 56 degrees, the only difference is going to be how the club goes through the turf. You’re not going to see a difference on the ground or in an open or closed position. They’re going to look identical, the only difference in performance is going to be the performance through the turf because of the, the solid ground.
Golf Post: How many different versions of the SM10 are there in total?
Aaron Luttrell: 25 in right hand, 25 in left hand. So, 25 different loft and grind optinons, the lowest lofted being 46, highest lofted being 62.
Golf Post: Obviously they’re called Vokey Wedges and Bob Vokey has been around forever, and he’s still known as the Wedge guru. But there’s probably a huge team behind him and I wonder, how much of Bob Vokey himself is still in these wedges.
Aaron Luttrell: Every step is vetted for, you know, but in truth Bob is in every R and D meeting. What he does is he allows his team or our R and D team to really be free with their ideas. And then he helps us reign everything back in because really he’s the one that really pays attention to what the players want as far as looks and feel and sound and performance through the turf.
So if he feels like anything may jeopardize, you know, the clean, classic look of a Vokey wedge or the feel or the performance, it gets tossed out. So really he’s a part of it, but at the same time he understands he’s not hand shaping the masters anymore. We have CAD design. We have all these things that can continue to push wedge play forward, but it’s in the vein of very classic workman style type. We have 3D printers, and we will 3D print a part and he will hand measure every single one of them and go back to the CAD designer that he worked with and say we need to make slight adjustments to this toe area or the width of the sole here. So he’s still a hundred percent involved. He is at work every day, He is one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever met to the craft.
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Golf Post: What about the future of Vokey wedges. Which aspects of wedges will be decisive in the future?
Aaron Luttrell: We’re continually looking at every way that we can improve accuracy and control. There’s a lot in the works. Not much we can talk about yet… We do have a lot of ideas for the next generation, the generation after. The nice part about how we go about a design though, is like we launched on tour a week ago.
That’s when we actually get the most feedback on what we did this last time. So we start for the next one. So literally every time we launch a wedge, we’re learning something to make the next one better.
Golf Post: What was the first feedback from the tour players like?
Aaron Luttrell: It was great. We had 160 wedges in play, which was the most in play for any brand. And Vokey was far and away the most played. So, the number one model was SM 10, the number two model was SM 9. So, we’re our own best competitors and the transition so far has been very seamless. All the things that we worked on for SM 10 was feedback from SM 9.
So, we, all the players were very happy because they just said, well the little tweaks we asked for, you delivered on.
Golf Post: The SM10 come in three different finishes, right?
Aaron Luttrell: We actually added a new finish, yeah. This is the nickel finish. We had a finish called brush steel. It was a bit brighter. Nickel is a little bit more matte. It’s perfect in between finish between jet black and tour chrome. We think the durability is going to be pretty good.
And the look of it at address looks fantastic. So for the player that thinks, you know, Tour Chrome might be a little on the bright side and Jet Black may be a little too dark, Nickel will be that nice in between finish.