A professional golfer may sometimes have a wedge ground to alter its playing characteristics to fit a particular course. Grinding the club head may change the wedge’s bounce, or it may sharpen or soften the leading edge. While wedge grinding is typically a job for professionals, a casual golfer who’s handy with tools and has an older club laying around may wish to experiment with wedge grinding.
Wedge grinding typically affects a club’s bounce. Wedges feature larger bounce plates on the club head’s sole than irons. Pitching wedges, for example, have about 7 or 8 degrees of bounce, while sand wedges have 12 to 14 degrees. A sand wedge’s bounce plate literally bounces off the sand when a player hits from a bunker, allowing for a higher, softer shot. On a harder surface, however, the same club may bounce so much that it hits the ball along its equator rather than striking it squarely. Grinding may also be performed to soften the club’s leading edge so it doesn’t dig into the turf as deeply.
Why Players Grind Wedges
A player may wish to grind a wedge to reduce its bounce when he’s playing a course that features hard turf or firm bunkers. Other players may have the club head ground near the heel so they can open the wedge’s club face to produce more lofted pitch shots without increasing the club’s bounce.
Grinding the back edge of the sole can make the club more versatile. By playing the ground club with the leading edge down, golfers can still take advantage of the wedge’s full bounce plate -- for hitting bunker shots, for example. But when the player opens up the ground club face and lays it flatter at address he’ll use less bounce, which may be more appropriate for fairway pitch shots.
How to Grind a Wedge
Mark the area to be ground with a felt tip pen, then apply tape to the areas of the club head that won’t be ground. Top craftsmen may use a stationary grinding machine that features a rotating belt to begin the process, while others may employ an electric drill with a grinding stone attached. In the latter case the club must be secured in a vise. Either way, the main work is done with a rougher belt or stone. The area will then be smoothed with a finer belt or a fine sandpaper attachment. Professional club makers will likely also employ a polishing wheel to smooth and buff the club head.
If you try to grind a wedge yourself, wear work gloves and safety glasses. If you use a drill, hold it away from your body. If you’re a beginner, start on the area of the club head where you’ll do the most grinding. If you then remove more metal than you intended you’re less likely to ruin the club head. Better yet, find an old club head that’s not being used to practice with first.