TaylorMade Releases High Spin Tour Preferred EF Wedges
19 Apr 2015
by Rusty Cage

see also: Equipment Reviews

TaylorMade's Tour Preferred EF wedge <br> combines classic looks with high spin grooves.
TaylorMade's Tour Preferred EF wedge
combines classic looks with high spin grooves.

The casual golf fan shouldn’t be expected to know who Clay Long is. The same cannot be said for Jack Nicklaus. His sterling record included 18 majors, none more iconic than his age-defying victory at the 1986 Masters. Clay Long was there. Not directly, of course. But his oversized MacGregor Response putter helped Nicklaus post a final round 65 to take home his last Green Jacket.

That famous putter was one of many creations Long had a hand in building. The legendary club-maker had a storied career designing equipment for numerous companies including Cobra, Nickent, Wilson, KZG and Titleist. TaylorMade hired Long in 2014 to work on a wedge project three years in the making. The end result of that collaboration was the Tour Preferred model which has found its way into the bags of most TaylorMade tour staffers. The new Tour Preferred EF wedge, the next iteration in that line, took less than a year to introduce. It features technological advancements that produce consistent grooves that stay sharp longer than their predecessors.

The ability to deliver long-lasting, high- spin performance on a wedge is made possible by TaylorMade’s use of a proprietary electroformed (EF) nickel cobalt face. The face insert (only .25 mm thick) is created by way of a process that ionizes nickel and cobalt in an electrolytic solution. The charged ions are then deposited directly onto a master plate containing the design of the grooved and microtextured surface.

“The Tour Preferred EF wedge is the perfect blend of craftsmanship and innovation,” says Long, TaylorMade’s Director of Product Creation, Putters and Wedges. “Electroforming delivers a consistent high-performance groove pattern that delivers incredible spin over the course of thousands of shots.”

Electroformed Nickel Cobalt 
grooves on the TaylorMade EF wedge provide 
long lasting spin.
Electroformed Nickel Cobalt grooves on the TaylorMade EF wedge provide long lasting spin.

It might take someone with a chemistry degree to scientifically explain how electroforming yields a better wedge, but a simple description will suffice. Since the insert on the EF wedge is made from a master mold, each of the grooves are consistently sharp and won’t dull as fast as milled or cast grooves. Additionally, nickel cobalt is remarkably wear- resistant and durable; approximately 50 percent harder than Carbon steel. To preserve a softer feel on the Tour Preferred EF wedge, TaylorMade combines the harder face insert with a head forged from 1025 Carbon steel.

The Tour Preferred EF wedge made it’s debut on tour in February. TaylorMade staff professionals Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia began playing them at the Northern Trust Open. Two weeks later, Johnson carded a victory at the WGC-Cadillac Championship with three of them in his bag.

TaylorMade began selling the EF wedge to the general public on April 10th for $159 which is slightly more expensive than the existing Tour Preferred model from which this new edition is derived from. When I asked Long if TaylorMade planed to replace the original Tour Preferred wedges with the new model he said, “The TP and ATV [grinds] are being sold for the time being. As such, these are an addition to the current lineup. The EF models are offered in the same shapes because they’re the shapes we’ve received the most feedback on from both our tour players and consumers alike. Plus, wedge shaping hasn’t changed all that significantly in recent years and we’re not looking to stray from the shapes we do best here.”

When Long was brought into the fold a year ago, TaylorMade was looking to introduce an update to the ATV “All-Terrain-Versatility” wedge, which is often credited to the shape of Jason Day’s wedges at The Masters in 2012. What ultimately became known as the Tour Preferred wedge made from 304-stainless steel and offered in two grinds was a by-product of researching multiple wedge designs throughout history as well as looking in the bags of current tour players.

The dark PVD finish reduces 
glare on the new Tour Preferred EF wedges.
The dark PVD finish reduces glare on the new Tour Preferred EF wedges.

TaylorMade ended up developing a classically designed wedge with a very traditional shape in a raw Tour Satin finish. The Tour Preferred wedge, and now the EF model as well, are available in two sole options. For players who prefer a traditional sole design, the tour grind features a refined shape with progressive camber and generous heel relief. It’s a wedge that employs the versatility of a C- grind on open-faced shots but retains the main sole surface for better performance on full swings. The second option, the ATV grind, has a sole that’s slightly narrower promoting less bounce on chips and full shots, while maintaining higher bounce on open-faced shots around the green and from the sand.

While the similarities between the wedge lines are evident, the differences are more subtle. The Tour Preferred EF wedge comes stock with a KBS Tour shaft (wedge flex) and is polished in a very cool looking, glare-reducing dark smoke PVD finish. It will also be come in additional loft / bounce configurations not currently offered in the TP line: 47 degrees (9 bounce), 56 degrees (15 bounce), 58 degrees (13 bounce), 62 degrees (8 bounce), 52 degrees (12 bounce, ATV Grind) and 60 degrees (7 bounce, ATV Grind).

Will sharper grooves and a wider selection of lofts compel enough amateurs to select the more expensive EF wedges over the Tour Preferred models? Long seems to think so.

“In the end, it comes down to feel and performance, but we’re confident the EF is the best wedge we’ve ever made and will perform for both amateurs and tour players alike,” he says. “It offers a more precise groove technology that produces more spin and won’t wear out as quickly as a TP wedge. So, while more expensive in cost, it will last the amateur player much longer than a previous wedge.”

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