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Roger Cleveland: Let bounce be your friend

Callaway wedge maker Roger Cleveland says "understand bounce to improve your short game fast."

Andy Roberts's picture
Tue, 7 Jun 2016

Looking to improve your chipping fast? In the words of Callaway wedge maker Roger Cleveland, "let bounce be your friend."

For golfers unfamiliar with the term, "bounce angle" is how much lower the trailing edge of the sole is in relation to the leading edge.

Low bounce wedges are ideal for shots from tight lies and firm turf conditions, standard bounce wedges are ideal for players who like versatility, while high bounce wedges are designed for players who favour soft conditions or have steeper angles of attack. 

Cleveland, speaking exclusively to GolfMagic, explained how "bounce" is essentially a "skid plate" that allows for more forgiveness through the hitting area.

Even the game's greatest wedge exponents like Phil Mickelson use bounce in their favour, and Callaway's chief wedge guru admits you should too. 

"Understanding the bounce of a wedge is huge, for all golfers," said Cleveland. 

"The amateur, or the infrequent golfer, does not understand that you need to use it.  These players think you need to hit a wedge perfectly like Phil [Mickelson] to hit a great shot, and actually you don't. You can hit behind the ball and use the skid plate, but your shaft has to be pretty vertical to do that.

"The more you have forward shaft lean and pull the handle in your shots, you're reducing bounce when you're doing that, so with the fear of bringing the leading edge into play, you have to get closer to the ball. 

"It would be more effective with a vertical shaft. That means you need to release the head earlier and that only helps you because you are activating the sole and hitting the shot with more loft. You have all kinds of things working in your favour if you do that.

"Bounce is your friend, bounce is critical. If you don't have enough, you're really in trouble. That goes for bunkers, too, as you can't just dig. You have to stay at a level under the ball, and what works well is a skid."

As for physically hitting a chip shot, Cleveland would like to see you narrow the stance. 

"Most amateurs I see take too wide of a stance on their chip shots," said Cleveland.

"I'd like to see the feet closer together and a rotating of the arms so that you set the loft and bounce at the same time, and use the sole of the wedge.

"It's important to keep the weight forward and just release the club as you don't want the leading edge in play, otherwise that's when you need to be inch perfect in the strike."

Callaway - like other premium golf brands - is making life easier for the golfer these days by employing a number of different wedge grinds (C, S, W and PM) to suit every player, no matter their swing type or preferred course conditions.

The brand's latest PM-Grind, designed for Mickelson, is suited for softer conditions or players or like to get creative around the greens; the C-Grind is for firmer conditions or players with a sweeping attack angle; the S-Grind is best suited for a wide range of conditions or players who take a moderate divot; and the recently added W-Grind is ideal for steep swingers or those playing in very soft conditions. 

Cleveland said: "Our new PM grind, that we designed with Phil, has lots of real estate on the top as he likes to open his wedge up in the rough. I'm not talking about the sort of gentle rough you see at Wentworth, but the sort of rough you'll see coming at the US Open at Oakmont!

"Add to this the three other grinds we currently have on our Mack Daddy 3 wedge, as well as our aggressive grooves, and we have something for everyone right now.

"The S-Grind is a constant bounce from heel to toe, while we've taken the sole down on the C-Grind to allow the leading edge to get under the ball. And with the W-Grind, as the letter suggests, this is wider and has a little less bounce than the others."

As for what's to come in 2017, Cleveland could not give too much away. He did at least tell us the new wedges went down a treat with a number of Callaway staff players at the BMW PGA Championship last month.

"We brought out our new wedge at Wentworth for the European guys and it was very well received," he added. 

"While I can't go into details just yet, many of them put the wedge into play. To have guys put it in play within two days of seeing and testing it was a great sign for us. 

"We now have to can it up, modify it a bit, and either cast or forge it, and mill the grooves in.

"It won't be seen for at least another four months. Watch this space."

 

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