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Wondrous Wedges: Miura’s newest short-game scalpels

Every self-respecting golfer knows that wedges are a precision instrument to be wielded with care and exactitude — the sort of attention to detail that saves strokes instead of wasting them, and turns a player’s short game into an asset instead of a liability.

Wedges are, as a result, intensely personal tools, and it can be difficult to find the right one without a whole lot of trial and error. Adding to the challenge is the fact that there are a tremendous number of excellent wedges on the market, from well-known, recognizable brands to bargain-basement models to exclusive, boutique offerings.

Here’s one more — one that’s well worth the attention of anyone who takes their short game seriously.

The understated beauty of the Miura New Series wedges belie a surprising amount of versatility and functionality.

An utterly unfamiliar name 10 years ago, Miura — named for Japanese master craftsman and company co-founder Katsuhiro Miura, whose reputation as a forger of exclusive precision clubs has earned him a reputation for “hands of God” in his homeland — has been steadily building its public profile and product lineup.

Originally known for anonymous handmade forged irons that were routinely stamped with better-known sponsor brands before landing in countless PGA Tour bags (Tiger Woods was known to be an early fan), Miura, which now makes its corporate home in Vancouver, now offers every club in the bag, from driver to putter. But the company’s heritage in forged steel (there are samurai swordmakers in Miura’s bloodline) seems to have lended itself best to irons — and, it now turns out, wedges, too. The latest offerings are known, believe it or not, as the “New Wedge Series.” What they might lack in name, however, they more than make up for in terms of performance.

It’s always important to take testimonials such as this one with a grain of salt; what might work for one might not work for some, as the song goes. But from the outset, our 53-degree test model felt balanced and controllable throughout a range of different shot situations — pin-seeking approaches from the fairway and the rough, as well as improvised chips and pitches from around the green.

At impact, the Miura felt solid and crisp, and travelled through the relatively firm Hilton Head Island turf quickly and efficiently — testimony that supports what the company says about the tweaks they’ve made to the club’s grind profile.

“Significant changes don’t have to be big,” Miura president Adam Barr said in a news release announcing the new line.

“After watching and listening to hundreds of players, the Miura family learned a great deal about how golfers like their wedges to get through the turf. So while some of our bounce angles haven’t changed in terms of number of degrees, subtle improvements in the overall sole shape have made more effective bounce angles that the Miuras are very proud of.”

The leading edge of the club has been tweaked as well, looking ever so slightly more square to the target line than previous Miura wedge offerings, and certainly more so than the common more circular profile of popular mainstream offerings (like, for instance, the excellent TaylorMade lines of recent years). Anyone familiar with a more rounded wedge profile will notice immediately, upon setting up to a ball with the Miura, that it’s an easier club to aim.

The tester came equipped with a stepped steel Nippon shaft, the Pro WV, a product designed exclusively for wedges that felt smooth and responsive throughout the range of the swing. When switching to an unfamiliar wedge causes difficulties, it’s often the result of the shaft, but not here. Fans of unstepped Rifle wedge shafts will find the Pro WV — which is offered in three different models ranging in weight from 111.5 grams to 133 grams — a familiar and comfortable change.

In terms of outcome, here’s two things that happened a lot in our initial tests: contact was crisp and ball-first, with nary a fat shot in the bunch. Trajectories were piercing and precise. Backspin was optimal; it proved difficult to overspin the ball with the Miura, but shots typically stopped dead. And here’s the remarkable thing: the ball went exactly where it was aimed. Frequently.

The ‘kanji’ symbol on the back of the club translates as ‘noble effort.’ Handy when you’re feeling guilty about being on the golf course.

Like everything Miura does, the New Wedge Series is easy on the eyes, too. Framed in a satin chrome finish and adorned simply, with just the Miura name and a subtle Japanese character the company says translates as “noble effort,” it conjures confidence over the ball. The all-white proprietary grip, trimmed in gold paint, is sharp, too.

Miura has also introduced a measure of offset to the lower-loft wedges, maximized in the 51-degree model and diminishing as loft increases. In the 57- and 59-degree models (offerings are odd-numbered from 51 degrees to 59), there’s a small amount of onset, the company says. “The Miuras performance-tested these wedges and found that this offset progression helps many players to make a clean, pure strike at the ball.”

The weights of each head also vary from 297 grams to 307 grams, depending on loft. The New Series wedges sell for a suggested retail price of US$235, depending on shaft and grip options.  Sorry, southpaws — the New Series is strictly right-handed.

Interested? Check out miuragolf.com for details and to find an authorized Miura clubfitter in your neighbourhood.

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James McCarten

When James McCarten isn't at the Ottawa offices of The Canadian Press, where he works as parliamentary news editor, he's either on the golf course or putting off his latest freelance golf-writing gig to spend time with wife Lisa and school-age kids Claire and Lucas. With 20 years of experience in Canadian journalism, James also suffers from a financially crippling addiction to all things Scotty Cameron.

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