The fourth generation of miggity Mack Daddy wedges from Callaway is both a gentle progression buoyed by subtle refinements and different enough for Callaway to describe it as "the finest collaboration yet between industry legend Roger Cleveland and Callaway R&D." As you would expect, the design was influenced heavily by Tour pro input.
Beyond the requisite bit of marketing, this release is significant for Callaway as it seeks to swap places with Cleveland, which currently occupies the #2 spot at retail in the wedge category (Titleist/Vokey is a considerable distance ahead of everyone).
Callaway promotes the MD4 as its most researched and tested model to date. Significant portions of the aesthetics are held over from the MD3 line, but when you have a successful model, it's generally poor practice to make drastic changes. So, while, visually, there isn't a tremendous amount that suggests that's the case, look a bit deeper and you might some significant upgrades.
As with most wedge stories, the MD4's is one of shape, grooves, and grinds.
Compared to the MD3, Callaway has increased the offset. It has also reduced the leading-edge radius to provide cleaner contact from tight lies. While there's still a bit of visible heel/toe camber, the MD4's leading edge is slightly straighter as well.
The MD4 will again feature four weight ports, which Callaway engineers use to help strategically position mass, with the goal of helping golfers make consistently solid impact and control their ball flight.
The groove story is one of advancement as Callaway has evolved its proprietary Groove in Groove technology. The primary horizontal grooves are milled and then saw cut (a first for Callaway). The lower lofted wedges still feature the 20V groove, while higher lofts use more aggressive 5V grooves.
As a refresher, those V numbers refer to the respective angles of the groove sidewalls.
The grooves between the grooves, if you will, are not laser milled (often the case with surface features), but instead offer a micro-positive surface texture which Callaway says provides both increased and more consistent spin on all shots, with the greatest benefit coming on less than full swings, in particular. Factoring the grooves and the grooves between the grooves, your total count of groove-like features is 84. That includes a new "Nip It" groove, positioned closer to the leading edge. The intent is to give golfers a bit more bite when a short pitch or chip is caught the ol' Johnny Miller one groove thin.
To ensure its groove technology is right up against USGA limit for everyone, Callaway promises thorough inspection of both retail and tour parts to guarantee that every wedge groove is within tolerances.
While much of the grind story is familiar, Callaway has added a new X Grind, which blends aspects of its C and W grinds.
The playability overview reads like this:
- The crescent-shaped C Grind features a bit more heel/toe relief and 8° of bounce. The relief (in the heel specifically) coupled with the low bounce keeps the leading edge closer to the turf for players operating in firm conditions or wanting to hit open-faced shots off tight lies.
- The S Grind, aka standard grind, is the most versatile of the four offered. With a bounce angle of 10° and moderate heel/toe and trailing edge relief, it covers most course conditions and swing types. One might consider it a jack of all trades as it does most everything quite well and if you're not certain the W, C or X is for you, the S should suffice.
- The W Grind has a wider sole, which is well suited for players with steep attack angles and/or those playing in soft conditions. Callaway has increased the sole camber and heel taper, which should make this grind more playable than the previous version, while still allowing it to excel in conditions where higher bounce is useful – from bunkers, in particular.
- The X Grind (only available in 58° and 60°) combines the benefits of the higher bounce/wide sole of the W Grind and versatility of the C Grind. It's geared toward the better player, with a steeper angle of attack, who wants to play a variety of shots around the green.
In total, Callaway offers 21 different loft/bounce combinations, making for the most robust wedge lineup the company has ever offered.
The MD4 wedges will be offered in two finishes – Platinum Chrome and Matte Black. Noteworthy, I suppose, both Cleveland Titleist offer three basic finishes. It's a small point of distinction, but a difference nonetheless. Both finishes are heavily accented with red. Moving on from the MD3's signature green fill, the MD4 jumps across the color wheel to feature weight ports with red medallions, a red Lampkin UTx grip, and red-label Dynamic Gold Tour Issue 115-gram shaft. The entire package is Pamplona bold and is exceptionally well done.
The choice of a 115-gram shaft reflects a trend in the market towards lighter shafts. As with past offerings, a selection of alternative shafts is offered at no additional charge.
Cast vs. Forged
It seems inevitable that the cast vs. forged debate will rage in any discussion. Rather than stoke the flames, Callaway is focusing on the material and the resulting feel, not the manufacturing process. The soft 8620 carbon steel used in the MD4 is generally a casting material, so while you debate among yourselves, I'd simply point out that the top 2 positions both in the market and on tour are help by brands who cast their wedges. It's much ado about nothing.
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A New Standard?
Callaway hasn't been one to shy away from bold declarations and with a self-proclaimed status as "The New Standard in Wedge Performance," the trend continues. Whether that will prove to be a reasonable description or marketing overreach remains to be seen, but Callaway most definitely has its sights set on overtaking Cleveland in the wedge category, and with MD4, it believes it finally has the wedge to do it.
For more photos, check out the Callaway MD4 Gratuitous Photo Thread in the MyGolfSpy Forum.
Pricing and Availability
The Callaway MD4 Wedges carry a retail price of $149.99. Retail availability begins January 26th.
For more information, visit CallawayGolf.com.