Significant time has passed since the R&A began enforcing the revised iron groove rules. Without going into the science, they basically sought to restrict groove sharpness and depth of any club lofted greater than your typical 5 iron. Where it was meant to impact the most (and has) was in the short game clubs….your wedges, to be exact. The very clubs we weekend hackers used to get us out of tricky situations were further dulled and rendered less effective so that 15 of the world's most elite pros might only score par on a hole they had to approach from the rough. Most manufacturers took it in stride and began to conform immediately, offering dull grooves with modified shafts to imitate spin. Cleveland Golf, however, decided to tackle the problem head on and bring multiple innovative solutions to the table. Their latest iteration of superiority is the ROTEX face, 'the new face of spin' as it is called by the marketing folks. My Golf Concierge was given the opportunity to review these wedges in the fall, read on for the review.
The science of spin is deceptively simple. Create enough (correctly applied) friction to the ball and you will generate back spin that will help the ball check up and stop. With a tour ball like the Srixon Z-STAR, even the most amateur golfer in your group can generate enough spin to spin the ball backwards. Conceptually, the idea is simple, but the devil hides in the details. As weekend hackers many of our approach shots are from less than optimal lies. What this typically equates to is a swing that catches rough grass before contact is made, leading to less contact with the grooves, less spin, and an uncontrollable shot. Cleveland takes a holistic approach here, by essentially making the entire face a groove. The ROTEX face is milled and made rough by special tooling that basically creates tiny grooves over the entire area of the club. The result is a wedge that can create spin from ANY lie.
Testing these wedges was slightly different than the standard set of shots. Approach shots from the fairway were basically what I expected. With the ROTEX face and a perfect lie, spin generation was almost too much. I was told to expect these to perform like non-conforming grooves, and that they did. The ROTEX face also shines from short shots around the green, where ball control is critical to getting up and down. Because the actual grooves are conforming, these wedges do not chew up balls, which was a big downside to old grooves induced the same level of spin. Bunker performance was as expected, our test unit had 14 degrees of bounce, so it was easy to create high shots that land softly and check immediately.
The majority of testing time was from the rough, because these wedges aim to remove the duller grooves' impact on imperfect lies. To make a fair comparison, I hit 40 yard shots from second-cut rough with both the 588 ROTEX wedge and an identically configured 588 forged wedge, both having 56 degrees of loft and 14 degrees of lie. After hitting about a dozen balls with each wedge, one word came to mind: consistency. The shots from the ROTEX wedge launched on the same trajectory, had the same ball flight, stopped sooner and grouped tighter than the non-ROTEX 588. Performance here indicates that from the rough, the ROTEX face is making more consistent, solid contact than the non-ROTEX wedge. In summary, the ROTEX delivers on the promise to improve shot-making abilities across all lies, especially imperfect ones. Even better, golfers can customize a complete package at http://www.mycustomwedge.com. Cleveland sent mine with my name engraved in the hosel, which was a great finishing touch to an overall superior package.
The new year and new golf season is quickly approaching. Make a resolution to change your short game for the better. With 16% larger grooves and a ROTEX-milled face, the new 588-RTX wedges from Cleveland Golf are a fast-track ticket to lower scores and a better game.