The start of the PGA Tour season is upon us and with it comes a new USGA rule governing grooves. The beloved U-groove that has been the gold standard for scoring wedges for years and is a vast improvement over the less-effective V-grooves of yesteryear has been decreed illegal. The idea is that the rollback of the U-Groove should re-establish the importance of precision off the tee. Hit it in the rough and you’ll be hard pressed to stop the ball on the green with your approach. But thanks to TaylorMade Golf, there is still hope for us amateurs.
Their solution to soften the transition comes in the form of their xFT Wedge, which will still allow golfers to choose the type of grooves they play. Anyone playing competitive golf is unfortunately stuck with the V-groove, but the rest of us are allowed to play the better U-groove for another 14 years. The problem is, this is the last year manufactures are allowed to produce U-groove clubs. Your choices are as follows: suck it up and switch, stock up on wedges (they do wear out after all), or buy a Taylormade xFT and stockpile the much cheaper replacement faces. Oh, didn’t I mention that the new feature of this wedge is that you can change the face whenever you like?
Golfers can play either set of grooves or simply swap a worn out face for one with more bite. I’m not going to debate the merits of worn out grooves vs fresh ones. That’s for the individual to determine. All I can say is that I was floored when I took the xFT and my Cleveland CG10 (several years old) to the range. The performance boost afforded by the new, sharp face was remarkable. Is it enough to make me want to buy a new $120 wedge every year? No. I have my wedges set up just the way I like them. But if I could simply swap out the face every year for say $40, well, I’d find value in that. You could even stock up and enjoy the bite of U-grooves long after your buddies have had to make the switch.
As far as actual performance, let me just say that it was like swinging my other wedge (save the additional spin). From me, this is actually a great complement. TaylorMade has never been known as a top wedge maker and I was hard pressed to feel much of a difference between that and my Cleveland (which are perennial top dogs in the wedge food chain). It’s a big step for TaylorMade, big enough that they earned a Gold Rating in the 2010 Golf Digest Hot List.
Swapping the face is quick and easy, requiring only a few wrench turns and it fits so securely that you’d never know it wasn’t one piece. This is just another example of TaylorMade’s ability to give golfers options. The wedge retails slightly higher than most at $130, but if you buy an xFT, you’re buying a long-term club and will surely come out ahead down the road when others have to pony up for an entire club and you’ve only invested in a new face.
Golf is played inside of 120 yards. If you want to score well then you need to perfect your short game and that means more practice and therefore more wear and tear on your wedges than any other club. It’s not unreasonable to think you could dull a wedge face over the course of a year or two. Just saying.
Cost: $130 (Coming March 1st)