Strokes Gained Customs adds Wedges to their portfolio.
Where the boutique putter industry is thriving, another facet of the custom golf equipment is on the rise. I’m talking Wedges and Strokes Gained Customs recently tossed its name into the ring with the release of their new Strokes Gained Wedges to go along with their putters.
Customizing Wedges isn’t new, but it’s taking off like it is.
For years people have been adding stamps to wedges to “personalize” them. Kids names, funny golf phrases, trash talking, you name it. If it’s something that fits on a wedge, there’s one out there with it stamped. We’ve seen the popularity of getting wedges customized grow tremendously over the last couple of years. Companies like Golf Garage and Tree Golf Customs are making a presence on social media, and our friend, The Wedge Wizard, is killing it making clubs look unique with his talents.
Rohrs and Co, isn’t adding their Wedges to compete with the likes of Anthony Taranto or Wedge Wizard though. Not even with Vokey, JP Wedges, Cleveland or any of the other Wedge builders out there. He’s fully aware that those products hold the market share. He’s not looking to change the way wedges are made or even how they’re bought. So why is he doing it? That was one of the central questions I had when he approached me about bringing a wedge line to market.
OK, Rohrs, the $100,000 question: Why are you doing this?
The truth is Rohrs has a passion for the game. He’s one of those guys that can chat about any subject involving golf for hours. His personal history within the industry has garnered him enough knowledge to understand the wedge game and how to get it going. Adding the Strokes Gained Wedges to the business creates another opportunity to unite his work with his customers. Be it future or existing.
If there’s an answer to the $100,000 question; for me, it’s because he can and because he wants to. Plain and simple. Who am I to criticize someone who’s willing to take a gamble. I am, however, someone who wants to take the work of a friend and put it through the ringer. I want to find out for myself if his decision to add a wedge line is a valid one. So, let’s get down to business and show you these new Strokes Gained Wedges.
The Strokes Gained Wedges
If you’re going to create a wedge line from scratch, you need to start with a good chunk of metal.
The best wedge metals in the world come forged from Japan, and that is where Rohrs went to get his. The wedges, made from 1018 Carbon Steel, will rust over time if not cleaned, buffed or coated.
Rusting is something that seems to be growing in popularity. I’ve been a fan of a black wedge or a chrome finish. But, with the matte finishes taking off and the custom work from some of the other guys I mentioned earlier, I’ve been more open to different looks. As far as my golf game goes, I could care less what the club looks like; I’m not that type of player. For me, as long as it sets up good to my eye at address and has the right feel at impact, I’m good to go.
But, as I’ve watched this club “age” over that last several months, it’s gaining some character. It looks like a club that’s getting used, not sitting on a shelf in a retail store. I clean the groves of course, but I think I’m going to let mother nature take care of the rest and see what happens of the next several years.
Did you say “Years?”
I’m sure that got a chuckle out of some of you. But the Gods-honest truth, I love this club. I’ve played with a few 60° wedges over the years, and for the most part, I’ve taken them out of the bag as quickly as I put them in. My game just has been suited for that much loft. The “bump and run” shot has been my go-to since Adam (Three Guys Golf) wrote this guest post about “Chipping with an 8iron” years ago.
A 60° isn’t the ideal club for a Bump and Run so as much as I wanted to be the cool guy with a lob wedge in the bag, it just wasn’t in the cards.
But, with the enhancement of my skill set over the last 18 months or so, I’m feeling a lot more confident hitting those nasty short shots around the green. I’ve been going for more greens and in doing so, missing more. Before getting “better,” a layup to the front of the hole, safely in the fairway was more easily executed. Leaving me a chip shot from a decent lie, or the bump and run, was a lot more appealing than pin high in a bunker or the rough.
OK, tangent over. Let’s get back to the Strokes Gained Wedges.
The Wedges Rohrs will be making are on the custom side of the spectrum. I’m not talking about laser etching, sandblasting patterns or color configurations. But different grinds and loft options will be available.
Grinds, we start with a raw forged head, grind, buff and polish. The raw forging is a full width sole, and we’ll take off as much meat as we need to accommodate whatever best fits your eye, swing or playing conditions.
He continued with some additional details on the SG Wedge line:
Most of the other players in the wedge game have named their grinds, either after the tour player they were initially designed for or based on their shape. We don’t necessarily have any specific grinds. We’re going to grind the sole to fit your game. It’s not cast to that shape like other companies’ wedges, in essence they’re all going to be one-of-a-kind, with leading edge, topline, heel and toe customization and hand stamping.
When Rohrs asked what I wanted on the wedge I had 1,000 ideas run through my head. But in the end, it was an idea I came up with a while ago. To my surprise, he accepted the challenge.
My 60° SG Wedge
Once I started adulting (i’m talking my early twenties) things didn’t always go as planned. And, a couple of times I found myself in some sticky situations. No matter how much disappointment he showed in his face, my Dad was always there to bail me out when I lost my paddle up that well known Creek.
To honor my Pops, (yes, I’m lucky he’s still alive and kicking) I asked Rohrs to stamp his name with his military rank. Then with a simple No. 3, I gave a shout-out to his years with the USAF Thunderbirds with the plane number he was assigned. Add in a Red, White and Blue paint scheme along the SG logo, and there you have it. I now have a club in my bag that’s there to get me out of “sticky situations” years after my Dad is no longer here!
Rohrs and I discussed the ground out here in Vegas. It’s just a little different than the soft “forgiving” turf of Southern Georgia. Out here our ground is hard, our bunkers are hard, and sometimes even the rough is hard! But, the more you shell out the dead presidents, the better the conditions get. Oh, the joys of living in a tourist town. So I was in need of a wedge that can handle the abuse from a typical desert course but also be functional when I get those enjoyable rounds at places like Rio Secco, Shadow Creek or maybe The Summit one day.
Rohrs considered all that and put a grind on the wedge that so far has worked phenomenally.
Grip and Shaft
The wedges come fitted with a True Temper Dynamic Gold Wedge shaft and a Strokes Gained logo grip from PURE. Rohrs let me know they could make any shaft and grip combination work though. Being a fanboy of PURE Grips, I was happy to see them on the wedges. It’s a fantastic grip that I can easily swap out with a new PURE at home if and when it wears out.
On the course, the Strokes Gained Wedges have not disappointed.
As with any “new” club, there’s a break in period. When it starts off good, it’s tough to be biased. Same goes when the first session is crap. It’s hard to find a positive spin when you hate the club. Thankfully, the first practice session I put the wedge through was excellent. Now, this was in my backyard. The same lie every swing has a lot to do with the positive vibes I was feeling after the first hour or so. I know it’s not the ideal place to judge a wedge, but it does allow me to spend some time getting used to the feel, the weight and the reaction to the ball off the face.
Let’s do it live
The backyard sessions had me pumped to get on the real stuff and see what the Strokes Gained wedge could do for my scoring. The first real test came on the fifth hole at Revere. A Par 3 that’s requires a water hazard carry to get to the green. My tee shot left me short and left. I had a “fun” lie in Bermuda rough, to a nasty pin location. The flag was sitting on top of a ridge, and anything short was going to trickle back down the hill. Anything long and I was going to have a treacherous downhill putt to a flag on the edge of that slope. Not where I wanted to be by any means.
This situation was no place for my usual bump and run shot. So I decided to go for the pin and see what these new grooves had as far as “spin-ability.”
The ball came out hot, hit pin high, just a tad left of where I wanted it to, bounced up and landed about 10″ from where it first made contact. I pulled it off!
Immediately my playing partner shouted from across the green “CHECK THOSE GROOVES, USGA MY ASS!” It’s always a great feeling when you pull off a difficult shot. And yes, to answer the question a few of you will have, the wedges are USGA approved.
The success has continued.
I’ve tallied, I believe, five rounds so far with the Strokes Gained wedges, and I’m kicking myself for not having a 60° in the bag sooner. The versatility around the green has been eye-opening. Mainly from the greenside bunkers where I need to get the ball up, out and stopping to a tight pin. Before the Strokes Gained wedges made their presence known, those bunkers shots were at minimal, an adventure.
That is not the case anymore.
The confidence I’ve added in such a short time has been surprising, even to me! I’ve found myself extending the yardage I use it from out as well. I’ve replaced my 60-75 yard half swing with a 52° wedge with a controlled full swing with the 60° that is garnering me some much better results.
The ball, of course, plays a role in those situations. For that particular shot, I was playing the new Chrome Soft golf ball from Callaway. Those things spin like a son of a bitch. You may have recently read that I’ve switched over to the Titleist AVX ball. I haven’t had enough time with the AVX, and the Strokes Gained Wedges to determine if the less spin I’ve seen the last couple of outings is the wedge or the ball. I’ll be sure to update this article if the findings are substantial enough to change the ball I’m playing.
Is a custom set of wedges right for you?
This decision is a tough one. Rohrs and Strokes Gained Customs is not a mass distributor by any means. Adding the wedges to his line of products is a bonus for him, but until he can get enough traction in the market, the wedges are going to be a tough sell. Buying forged wedges from Japan comes with a price. The quality is unmatched, and you know you’re getting the best metal on the market for a wedge. Add in the fact Rohrs is starting with a blank canvas and creating each piece from scratch, and you can quickly see the dollar signs flying around your head like a Looney Tunes cartoon.
Dropping $350-$450 per wedge is going to be a tough sell. I certainly wouldn’t recommend going this route if you’re new to the game and haven’t figured out your short game just yet. However, a seasoned player, that knows the ends and outs of the wedge makeup, and know what they need to compete, I could see dropping the cash to get a set made to your exact specifics.
Rohrs is up for the challenge.
And it’s going to be a tough one. There’s going to be critics; there is going to be haters. Much like any custom club builder that comes along and tries something new. For Rohrs, his passion and his drive to create a club that performs as good if not better than the leaders in the industry are what is impressive to me. It takes guts to put your name on something and throw it out there for the golfing world to dissect. Then sit back and see what happens.
All I know is I have a wedge in my bag that not going anywhere and if the results I’m seeing continue to impress, I’ll have a few more to go with it as well.
Visit the Strokes Gained Customs website
As always the ideal place to gather further information is the Strokes Gained Website. The clickable link will take you right to the Wedge page of the site. Also, give them a follow on their social media pages if you’d like to stay up to date on future releases. Facebook and Instagram.
We wish Rohrs the best in his Wedge endeavor. It’s been fun to watch as the idea turned into a concept then turned into a product. He has created a fantastic wedge, and I hope there’s enough of you out there who get to find out.