Callaway Golf's Chief of Golf Club Design on Making Wedges
When the conversation turns to design, Roger Cleveland's face comes to life. His eyes sparkle and his words flow just a little more quickly, easily and fluently. "I see things – shapes, lines, contours, shadows – that other people don't," he says, his hands and arms taking on a life of their own as he reinforces his point.
Roger Cleveland's passion is designing golf clubs. Always has been, ever since the days when he would handcraft drivers from blocks of persimmon in his private workshop. Today, as Chief of Golf Club Design for Callaway Golf, he is as accomplished using the latest 3D modeling software and computerized simulations to fine-tune his designs as he was sanding and polishing. The tools of the trade may be different, but the basic principles of shape, contour and aesthetics are as valuable today as they were when Cleveland started his career in the 1960s.
Q: What should the average golfer look for in wedges compared with the tour professional?
Roger Cleveland: The exact same thing – to develop better distance and trajectory control from within 120 yards of the green. Your goal should be to make the shorter shots easier by having more wedge options at your disposal. Learn from the pros by having an equal gap between your wedges. Let's say you carry a standard 46-degree pitching wedge and a 58-degree lob wedge. If you carry another wedge, make it 52 degrees. If you prefer another two wedges, make them 50- and 54-degree wedges. Phil Mickelson generally gaps at 50, 55 and 60 degrees.
Q: Tell us about the wedge you built Phil Mickelson for the 2006 U.S. Open?
Roger Cleveland: The rough at Winged Foot that year was fertilized and seeded, so Phil felt he needed a specialized wedge that would get the ball up and out of deep grass very quickly. Phil's short-game coach, Dave Pelz, has advocated higher-lofted wedges for some time. I made six different versions for Phil to test. The 64-degree wedge he selected was built with only six degrees of bounce.
Q: How does the amateur golfer know what bounce options to choose?
Roger Cleveland: Ideally, you should match your attack angle – the forward lean of the shaft toward the target – to your bounce angle to create a shallow divot. To hit a wedge correctly, your hands need to lead the clubface at impact. The wedge is the shortest club in the bag and, therefore, has the tightest swing arc and the steepest attack into the ball with the shaft leaning forward. You need bounce to prevent the clubface from digging into the turf.
For more great wedge tips from Roger, check out his tips on proper wedge care.