On the PGA Tour if there is one area of the bag where introducing new product moves a little slow, it’s wedges. Why? Well, for one, it’s the part of the bag that requires touch, finesse, versatility, optics, flight, spin, etc. Wedges interact with the GROUND more than any other club, and until a player KNOWS it will do its job in ANY condition, the new product has to wait before it sees any playing time.
I learned this firsthand last year during the launch of the Jaws Full Toe. To be fair, Full Toe was a niche product that wasn’t going to fly into bags, but it was in Detroit, watching the process go down with Mr. Cleveland, that I truly learned just how clinical this endeavor really is.
Armed with some context on how a wedge introduction usually goes, I must say what I have seen in the first 3 weeks of Jaws RAW (On Pre-sale Today) on TOUR has been VERY impressive.
During TOUR launch week the main buzz terms I heard from the players were:
“I love that square leading edge” -Kevin Kisner
“This Z-grind is like 4 wedges in one” -Si Woo Kim
The grooves on this wedge are “nasty”, “frightening”, and my personal favorite “as sharp as a James Bond movie”
41 Jaws Raw wedges are in play this week at the Genesis Scottish Open. That’s an insane number against previous launches, and my hunch is it’s the new technology and sharp optics of this wedge that convert players faster than others. The Jaws RAW simply checks off ALL the boxes a TOUR player would want.
In the coming weeks I will be offering up a TON of content on Jaws RAW including stories from the Tour and new “Grind Series” videos where we go in deep on each Jaws RAW grind. I’m really excited for those ones.
Getting new product out into the world is a team sport and of the main players is Callaway PGA Tour Performance Manager Jacob Davidson. I was able to chat with him on his take on all things Jaws RAW and this is what he had to say:
JD: Early on we provided feedback to the wedge team on some of the custom grinds our top players were using. Roger and the team worked really hard to bring some of these custom grinds into our stock offerings which will allow our consumers to benefit from the exact grinds members of team Callaway are using. We showed early prototype versions to several of our top players when they were in the ECPC last year. They provided detailed feedback on the shaping, grinds, and some minor cosmetic features.
JW: What has been the initial feedback thus far?
JD: So far, initial feedback has been exceptional! We’ve had many players put wedges in the bag and, in many cases, full sets. More importantly, several players put the wedges in the bag hours after seeing them. I think it’s the collection of new designs doing the trick. The leading edge relief, very high CG aided by Tungsten weighting, allows players to hit every shot they want with ZERO compromises. Remember that forgiveness is a huge factor with TOUR players; they don’t hit them all perfectly. We have done our job if we can hand them a club that gives them some breathing room (much like the ROGUE ST Drivers) under pressure. That’s a big win for us.
JW: What aspect of the new design has impressed you the most?
JD: Tour players are just like every other golfer. They are excited to see new products and hear the technology behind the wedges. Nonetheless, the first thing they do is grab the wedge and immediately look at it in the playing position. Players are noticing the new leading edge and less offset right away. In addition, once a player starts to hit some shots with the new Jaws Raw wedges, they are picking up on the enhanced turf interaction with our new grinds but most notably the increase in spin green-side. Once they see the ball reacting differently off the face greenside, they get excited.
JW: Can you walk us through the process of tour seeding in regards to wedges?
JD: We planned to officially launch the new Jaws Raw wedges at the Travelers Championship. However, as we were preparing for this wedge launch a few weeks prior, we showed the wedges to several players at a photo shoot. After hitting a few shots with the Jaws Raw wedges, several players asked if they could play them ahead of the wedge launch, mostly because they wanted them for the upcoming US Open at the Country Club. Ultimately, this was not our plan, but everything we do at Callaway is designed to help our players perform. We allowed several guys to play the wedges ahead of the Travelers and were excited to see them in the players’ bags at the US Open. The next week we officially launched the Jaws Raw wedges on tour. We worked extremely hard to have wedges built up for players ahead of time so that we could work with them on-site. Typically, wedges take some time to make it in players’ bags as they may need some custom grinding here and there. However, we were excited about how well they were received. We only had to do one custom grind that week. This is a strong testament to how well our new grind offerings are and the overall success of this wedge introduction.
JW: The Z grind is a new offering that consumers are excited about, can you tell us a bit about the development and feedback so far?
And then this happened….
View this post on Instagram
JD: This new Z-grind is the perfect example of tour inspired. Over the last year or so, we have seen many of the best players in the world moving toward a wider tri-sole low bounce grind with some leading-edge relief. This grind allows players the benefit of a low bounce wedge, but it doesn’t tend to dig as much as other former low bounce wedges. Because of the lower leading edge, players can still benefit from tight lies with the wider sole. The tour team is excited to have this new grind in line because we can now give players the grind they are looking for without any additional grinding. It’s pretty much plug-and-play. This allows us to replicate a consistent grind when they need a fresh wedge.
JW: If you had to rank aspects of a wedge in regards to importance to Tour staff, how would you rank these? Look, Feel, Spin, Flight
JD: #1 is Look #2 Feel #3 Flight #4 Spin
Roger Cleveland and Callaway R&D hit it out of the park on this one. I mentioned on my Instagram that I believe this is Callaway’s finest work in the wedge category. Im already seeing some of the players that were married to older MD models get instantly excited with Jaws RAW.
With Pre-Sale starting TODAY I’m excited that in this case the same wedges you can order are the exact same ones our TOUR staff are playing now. Doesn’t happen all the time but in this case, the Tour feedback, Roger Cleveland’s expertise and Callaway R&D’s tireless work was for YOU…and Rahm, Schauffele, Burns etc. Pretty cool right?
Needless to say, these wedges’ early momentum is not surprising, given the amount of feedback from TOUR that went into them. Of any Callaway wedge I’ve used or tested, this Jaws RAW wedge has the most “Tour” in it. What I mean is all of the things I witnessed on TOUR leading up to now were integrated into these. Extra bounce up front, square leading edge, more weight up high, and building in forgiveness into a low bounce wedge. I saw it go down a ton last year, and now our drawers are full of them. It looks like Callaway Wedge Rep Simon Woods will log less time on the grinding wheel this year. That’s a great thing:)