Following an early 6am alarm call and two-hour drive up the motorway, I was warmly welcomed through the giant doors by Titleist Custom Fitting Technician Daniel Friend and woken up with a much-need tea and two sugars.
Feeling a little stiffer than my KBS Tour shafts, Daniel gave me ample time to swing freely with my current set before offering me a selection of the new Titleist Vokey Design SM5 wedges, which for 2014 are offered in stunning new Raw Black, Tour Chrome and Gold Nickel.
After several swipes with each finish, I resorted to the new Gold Nickel design in my current specs of 52-, 56- and 60-degree, before quickly putting tongue back in mouth.
The new Vokey Spin Milled 5 wedges, a result of master craftsman Bob Vokey's decades of research and collaborations with the likes of World No.1 Adam Scott, have been designed to deliver more spin and more types of shots, providing golfers of all abilities with more ways to hit the ball close to the pin.
On top of the rather eye-catching new finishes, Vokey SM5 wedges are available in 21 different loft/bounce/grind combinations and six tour-inspired sole grinds, appropriately slotted into low, mid and high bounce categories - player benefits that prove exactly why Vokey Design wedges have been the #1 wedge on the PGA Tour since 2004.
The six tour-inspired sole grind options (F, S, M, K, T, L) excited me most about the wedges because once correctly fitted to a golfer's swing type, they allow you to execute more precise and better controlled shots from the types of conditions that you most frequently play golf.
In short, F is a full small grind, S and M are heel and toe grinds, the new K is a wider sole and T and L are enhanced heel and toe grinds for low bounce lob wedges.
The different types of Vokey SM5 sole grinds, the swing types they're aimed at and the conditions they're best suited for...
F: Full sole with moderate camber and small trailing edge ribbon; Slider, neutral or digger; Firm, medium or soft
S: Full sole with straight trailing edge ribbon and moderate heel relief; Slider or neutral; Firm or medium
M: Crescent sole with narrow forward bounce surface and moderate camber; Slider or neutral; Firm or medium
K: Wide sole with increased bounce and enhanced camber; Neutral or digger; Medium or soft
T: Dual bounce sole with wide trailing bounce surface; Slider or neutral; Firm or medium
L: Narrow crescent sole with small forward bounce surface and minimal camber; Slider; Firm
The appearance of the sole grinds written on the wedges is particularly classy. Each wedge features new, clean graphics with the grind designation stamped neatly to the bottom right corner on the club. There's also increased space for five-character personalised stamping should you wish.
Daniel then asked me how far I wanted to hit my wedges. I answered. He delivered. There was a but, however, as he was delivering.
Discussing my current wedge setup with Daniel and how I didn't use my 60-degree much unless I was going for an outrageous flop - which I probably play once every three rounds - and also the fact I had a considerable 7-degree gap between my longest iron (24-degree) and hybrid (17-degree) in the bag, Daniel wanted to focus on a 52/58 combination to give me all the shots I needed when it came to the short game.
I like to manipulate my 52 around the greens playing a few chips off the back foot and I found I was getting much better control with the F Grind than the other sole grinds, and also on those full blown 100-yard strikes. Although my average distance between current wedge and SM5 wedge was similar around (105.7 yards v 106.5 yards), spin rate was pleasingly up by 50RPM. When it came to the 58, I explained to Daniel how I could feel the M Grind had a little more heel relief to it and generally felt more versatile in terms of shot making around the greens and from sand. The 7% deeper TX3 grooves probably had something to do with it too.
When it came to bounce, interestingly I measured better with the 52-12F off the strike board - using carbonated tape on the sole of the club - but around the green it didn't play as well and was less controlled, so we agreed to stick to the lower bounce option of 52-08F.
As you can see from the Trackman data above, the gaping between the wedges is good with the 52/58, as the 56 is a little bit long. Although I'm 2-degree upright in my irons, as I shorten the swing the attack flattens out, and so the lie angle should too.
After looking at my shot data and keeping me in my favoured KBS Tour shaft, more of a personal preference - which plays a major role in the custom fitting process as you the golfer need to feel comfortable with the club selection - Daniel tweaked me 1-degree up in the 52-08F but kept me standard on the 58-08M.
With the 52/58 combination of wedges working nicely with a 12.4-yard gap in carry distance between them, working alongside my PW (48), I'm now able to free up an additional club in the bag - potentially a 3-iron or additional 20-degree hybrid - to help bridge the 7-degree gap between my current hybrid and 4-iron.
For more information about Titleist club fitting and the new Vokey SM5 wedges visit www.titleist.co.uk