Is it Really Your Wedges’ Fault?

Wedge designer Terry Koehler believes he’s cracked the code as to why wedge play is so challenging

A golf writer once told Terry Koehler he was “the wedge contrarian”, that he took as a compliment. Ever since he received his first wedge patent for the “dual bounce sole” in the early 1990s, Koehler has been committed to engineering wedges very differently than major brands. Rather than focus on the exquisite skills of elite tour professionals, he is committed to helping everyday serious recreational golfers. 

Koehler is known as “the Wedge Guy” from his weekly blog on, where he shares insights gained from a life in the game and more than four decades in the golf equipment industry. But it’s his “contrarian” approach to the design of wedges that sets him apart from industry legends like Bob Vokey and Roger Cleveland, along with the R&D departments of major brands.

“Leaving raw power aside, everyday golfers differ most from the elite players in the skills they exhibit inside prime scoring range,” explains Koehler. “Any tour-level player can hit a 40-foot pitch shot into a two-foot circle a dozen different ways. Different trajectory, different spin . . . they can make the ball do exactly what they need it to do for that particular shot.”

“Those skills don’t come easily,” Koehler added. “Tour players spend a lifetime learning them, and that learning is cumulative, because the wedges they play today are almost identical to the ones they have played throughout their formative years. If you suddenly changed the way tour players’ wedges launched and felt, you would disrupt that entire learning curve. They cannot afford that to happen.”

Jack Fleck’s Ben Hogan wedges used to win the 1955 U.S. Open

To illustrate his point on the lack of innovation in wedges, Koehler references a photo of two that Ben Hogan personally delivered to Jack Fleck at the 1955 U.S. Open, which Fleck went on to win, denying Hogan yet another Open trophy. Seeing that picture, it’s hard to challenge Koehler’s assertion that wedges have been stuck in time for decades.

When asked how that affects everyday recreational players, Koehler gives a logical explanation: “Every tour-level player has learned to hit wedge shots low in the face of the club, wearing out a penny-sized area between the 2nd and 5th grooves, as that is where conventional tour design wedges have always optimized launch and spin.

“But my 30-plus years of studying everyday golfers’ wedges show a wear pattern closer to the size of a silver dollar centered several grooves higher on the face and slightly toward the toe. That’s because we don’t play the tight-cut fairways you see on tour, and we hit more shots from the rough. But mainly it’s because recreational golfers just do not have tour player precision in our ball-striking.”

Koehler pointed out that traditional tour design wedges lose 15% to 25% of their efficiency when impact is made above that 4th or 5th groove. This means distance is compromised, the ball flies higher with less spin and distance control is all over the place. What he has done with the very different-looking Edison wedges is to engineer them around that higher and larger impact pattern to prevent that kind of compromised performance.

Another area where Koehler’s approach to wedge design is in the sole. He was awarded his first wedge patent over 30 years ago, creating a sole design that has both a high and low bounce to expand the versatility over a wide range of turf conditions, lies and swing paths.

“I’ve always challenged this notion of fitting bounce,” alludes Koehler. “Everyday golfers face a wide variety of lies and turf conditions and don’t always take the same size divot. How can you fit something that is constantly changing?”

Koehler points out how elite tour professionals also have equipment vans available to them every week, and if conditions change, they simply can go into the van and get wedges with slightly different bounce angles or sole grinds. The rest of us invest in a set of wedges that must serve us for two to three years, regardless of what course conditions we encounter.

But Koehler is not guessing at his craft. He’s analyzed over 60,000 wedge fitting profiles over the three decades he’s been “the wedge guy” and he’s had countless conversations with recreational golfers of all skill levels. All that leads him to be constantly tinkering to figure out how to make wedges perform better for the everyday golfer.

The last area where Koehler shows his “contrarian” personality is in the importance of the shaft to good wedge play, and to Edison’s 100% custom-fit, custom-build business model. The Edison website offers their proprietary WedgeFit® Scoring Range Analysis, an in-depth survey of your scoring game that allows Edison to recommend just the right lofts, shaft, grip and custom specs for length and lie for anyone. 

The patented Koehler Sole is the most versatile sole design in the wedge category.

There are no “stock” wedges to be found in the Edison facility, only rows of custom orders where the Edison staff is building each wedge exactly how that golfer wants it. It’s a total reversal of the industry norm of “stack ‘em deep.”

“Regardless of your skill and scores, you’ll take your game to the next level by improving your wedge game,” says Koehler. “Whether it’s winning on tour or breaking 80, 90 or 100 . . . it almost always comes down to how well you perform inside 100 yards or so. My life’s work has been to give golfers better tools to achieve that goal.”

“If that means being a ‘contrarian’, I’ll take that as the highest compliment”, Koehler said. “Isn’t that what you would call Karsten Solheim, Gary Adams, Ely Callaway and others who were not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom and give us something that worked better but looked different?”

Related Articles

Stay Connected


Latest Articles