With six grinds and a total of 23 different loft and bounce options, the new SM9 range continues to be extremely versatile, allowing golfers to dial in their wedges based on their swing. Maximum spin and feel remain while the progressive centre of gravity design has been refined to produce a slightly lower and more consistent flight in the higher lofts for improved distance control.
Brilliant levels of spin and trajectory control
Lots of bounce and grind options to suit all swings
Limited gains over SM8
A custom fitting is a must to get the best set make up
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Titleist Vokey SM9 Wedge Review
To review the Titleist Vokey SM9 wedges and truly experience what they have to offer, you need to get custom fitted - so that's exactly what I did.
We highlight the three things that make the SM9 wedges stand out over SM8
The first thing to say is that SM9 has retained the classic Vokey look at address from the impressive SM8 wedge. When hitting full shots, the shaping and lack of offset inspire confidence, while around the green they look inviting behind the ball. You could argue the lower lofted wedges in SM9 have a slightly straighter leading edge, which helps with alignment on full shots and the transition from your irons.
Having used a 52° and 58° SM6 for the last couple of seasons, I definitely haven’t been getting the most out of my short game, so it’ll be no surprise to learn that I saw great all-round gains magnified by the fitting process.
There are the same six grind options in SM9 - F, S, K, L, M and D - and a total of 23 different models ranging in lofts from 46° to 62°. However, like many, I’ve always assumed that a middle ground in terms of bounce is preferable as it provides versatility. Hitting shots to a flag 50 yards away in soft-ish conditions highlighted the mistake I've been making for years.
My tendency is to introduce quite a bit of shaft lean and dig a little, meaning that with just 8° of bounce, the margin for error is small with my current gap wedge. All this made controlling distance and trajectory very difficult, and with worn grooves, I couldn't rely on generating much spin.
Related: Best golf wedges
Sticking with the F-Grind but switching to an SM9 with 54° of loft and 14° of bounce, the difference was incredible. Despite the extra loft, the SM9 brought the flight down into a much nicer window and shallowed out the strike considerably. With more forgiveness, my confidence grew and I was able to control distance and trajectory far better.
We briefly experimented with the 10° S-Grind, but realised the higher bounce was perfect for my swing type. We also found it offered a great alternative out of bunkers with lots of sand as it's less likely to dig and lose momentum.
In the higher-lofted wedges, the big tech story relates to the progressive centre of gravity (CG) design. Introduced in SM8 it has been refined further to move the CG up the face as the loft increases to optimise performance from higher strike locations. This has been achieved by adding weight to the back of the toe that isn't visible at address, while the hosel length also increases by loft. Pitch shots with a lob wedge flew noticeably lower, by a good 3-4 yards, and this helped control the flight without affecting the stopping power on offer.
When it came to the lob wedge, we stuck with the M-Grind, which offers loads of versatility around the greens. Due to the sole design, the club can be opened up without exposing the leading edge too much, allowing golfers to get creative when the situation calls for it. Additionally, with just 8° of bounce, it's a great option when playing out of shallow bunkers.
Related: Most forgiving wedges
The fitting process we went through at Titleist’s National Fitting Centre in Craigielaw threw up some surprises in terms of the number and lofts of the wedges in our set and it may well do the same for you, especially given how the SM wedge franchise continues to evolve and new ideas about how to execute shots around the green emerge.
On full shots, the feel was excellent as was the spin. Although it was to be expected, my average RPM was over 10,000 with the 54° SM9, compared to around 8,700 with my 52° SM6, while out on the course I noticed and heard the difference. After a couple of years using the same wedges, it was refreshing to hit shots with authority knowing that I had stopping power on my side.
SM9 also felt better balanced which, along with the fitting process, helped tighten up my dispersion in all directions. All this means I'm more confident in this area of the game than I have been in some time and has helped the SM9 earn a place in the Editor's Choice 2023. The classic address profile remains the same while everything else has been given an upgrade, making this undoubtedly the wedge to beat this year, despite the improvements over SM8 being seemingly minor.
Are SM9s forgiving?
Yes, not only do SM9s look and feel great, they perform excellently on off-centre strikes. This is largely due to the progressive centre of gravity design that has been refined from SM8.
Are Titleist Vokey wedges the best?
Titleist Vokey wedges are definitely among the best on the market. Whether they are definitively the best is a matter of personal preference.
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A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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