Exclusive: JP Wedges by Titleist - The Fitting
Part Fitting / Part Wedgucation
The only ways to get the new JP Wedges by Titleist is to spend a few hours at TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) in Oceanside, CA with James Patrick (Harrington) getting fit. Even if you think you know your exact specs for wedges, getting dialed in for a set of JP wedges is worth the effort. Besides, just because you think you know what you need, that might not actually be the case because you've never had a fitting like this. It is partially a fitting and partially education about wedges. You will learn more about your game and wedges in the hours you spend with JP than you'll have gathered in your previous golf fittings.
The JP Wedges by Titleist Fitting process is going to be very limited and somewhat exclusive in the early stages. The couple thousand dollars it will cost and the small number of appointments will mean only a select few will be able to take advantage of this process. That is why when I got the phone call from my buddy, JP, I rearranged my schedule and drove 6 hours to get one of the first full fittings he offered. TPI is always an amazing experience, but I'd been there before so I at least had some familiarity with the property. As I got out of my car, I was greeted by my friend JP. I got signed in to TPI and off to the range we went. Walking out the doors onto the immaculate range, there was the new JP fitting cart waiting to get me into a new set of JP wedges.
The fitting with JP is no ordinary fitting; it goes far beyond the normal wedge fitting, even beyond the best wedge fittings I've ever been through. It is planned to be about 3 hours of testing, hitting, learning and fitting. When you are done you'll know more and have the absolutely best fitting wedges for your game. It starts like any other fitting; JP grabs your "gamers", specs them out while you warm up on the range. This becomes the baseline for your fitting. The next step is to have you hit your wedges to see the dynamics of your swing and your current turf interaction. This will consist of 3 main shots; full, pitches, and flops. While you are hitting these shots, JP has Trackman running and high speed video (10,000 frames per second) catching everything the club is doing. He then measures everything you are doing with your wedges at impact. JP designed and built the fitting cart himself to house this camera and computer system to analyze everything outside on the range. You won't find anyone else using so much technology to capture what your club is doing at impact for an outdoor fitting. (as you can see from the pictures, it is all on wheels and can be moved all around at TPI.)
Once JP gets a full sampling of your shots, then the "wedgucation" begins. He will start explaining as much or as little as you'd like. So if you are a gear junkie like me, you'll start peppering him with questions learning as much as you can. But if you'd rather leave the technical talk to others, he can use very simple basic terms to explain it as well. JP has a genuine way of working with you at your level making you feel involved in the process. He explains how his wedges are different in every way from other wedges out there.
The key to his wedge fitting is the turf interaction and the sole (which he calls the "engine of the club") He has spent the last 4 years dialing in the design for the best turf interaction possible under all conditions. The Multi-Directional Camber of the sole is the key to these wedges. He will show you on high speed video what bounce you probably will fit best into and what his wedge is designed to improve. After a thorough explanation of what is happening and what should be happening, he hands you a demo JP wedge to test.
JP will also explain to you his sample deconstructed wedge showing each of the parts and what it does. The forged 1025 carbon steel head is hollow and milled for his build process. He has a signature milled tungsten toe weight (similar to the original 3 tungsten plugs). There are 2 other tungsten weights in the head to further manipulate the CG and finally a forged milled titanium plate goes into the cavity. All the pieces are epoxied together for the finished product by JP himself. This allows him to get the exact swing weights, the exact CG and dampen vibrations in the head. He can literally make each wedge unique to the customer and swing.
I am an owner of original JP wedges so I was curious how the new ones would compare. The JP wedge by Titleist feels just as good and just as solid as the ones he made years ago. The new CG manipulation and multi-material design are even softer feeling at impact. Once I got over the sensation of hitting the new JP Wedges by Titleist, we started talking about what he was trying to accomplish with his wedges and how it would benefit my game. The number one factor that he is looking to achieve is the absolute best turf interaction for each golfer and each wedge. The new JP wedge multi-directional cambered sole is designed to get in and out of the turf as quickly as possible, really minimizing the ground interaction through the ball at impact. These wedges are harder to chunk than most wedges out there. While blading them is always possible, without the fear of chunking, that becomes less likely. This is the point in the fitting when he is going to talk about bounce, dynamic bounce, leading edge height and camber. These 4 factors are the key to turf interaction best for your swing.
We settled on high bounce wedges based on my swings captured on high speed video and the demo clubs I hit. Next he built up a test set with his SureFit system based on our findings and preferred shaft. Even the SureFit hosel system was made by JP himself to be weight-neutral so that even during the fitting, the CG wouldn't be different. We moved to another part of TPI made exclusively for JP to test wedges. There are multiple grass types surrounding a practice green. We took the set of wedges and starting testing each wedge under different circumstances; deep rough, tight fairway, bunker, and mid-height collar. This is the proving ground of these wedges. Watching the majority of shots end up closer to the hole than normal was very pleasing and validated the process up to this point.
The next step in the JP fitting process is gapping. While sometimes we think an even spacing between all our wedges is best, it might not be ideal for our needs or swing. JP has the ability to fit you for wedges from 45*-60* and every single loft in-between. Most of this work is done on the Trackman with your last "iron" and moving into your wedges. There is no reason to have clubs that are too close or too far in distance gapping. While my distances were just a hair shorter in Oceanside, CA than in Tucson, AZ (temperature and elevation) my gapping worked itself out near perfectly, about 12 yards between each club.
The final step before you leave is to customize your paint and engraving. The titanium plate can be engraved on with up to 20 some characters. The various other engravings like the JP, Titleist, Loft and Bounce slashes can be paintfilled with different colors. Each wedge can be made how you want. Currently the artistry is limited and basic on purpose, but it is pretty obvious where some opportunities exist to bring back original JP wedge art. Once you have all these things figured out, your fitting is done and JP will make your wedges personally the next day. He is basically a one man show from the fitting, to the building, to the customization, even down to the shipping. He will hand pack them with love and ship them to you the next day.
I know that when some people hear the $2000 price for the fitting and 3 wedges, they will debate the value. I can't tell you now to spend your money, it is your prerogative. But this process is very hands on by JP himself and his wedges are unlike any other. You are paying for his time fitting you, his time to hand build your wedges and the wedges themselves which have a far more sophisticated process of manufacturing than any other wedge. It will be somewhat exclusive and limited early on, but if you can afford it, well worth the investment.
JP has been my friend for 7 years. The last 4 of them he's been in Oceanside, CA perfecting his craft of building wedges and creating a fitting process unlike any other. While I've kept in touch with him and been part of his life for this journey, the details were mostly kept secret even from his best friends. So I am proud to be part of the launch of JP wedges by Titleist. Even for this club junkie, the JP fitting was eye-opening. It was part fitting, part wedgucation. (and part hanging out with my friend)