Raw Face Wedges: Does Rust Add More Spin?Published on 06/16/2023 · 5 min readWhat are all these raw face wedges about? Golf Expert Tyler Monroe explains what purpose a raw faced wedge serves, as well as it's benefits versus a traditional wedge.
Photo courtesy of Callaway
To give you the short answer, no, rust on the face of wedges does not add more spin, despite being a commonly held theory.
This idea comes from the days when Cobra's Trusty Rusty Wedge was in the limelight, giving the first perception that rust on the surface of a wedge face would impart more spin. This popular belief has been reviewed and debunked many times over since then but it’s making a comeback. But everything from reputable golf club forums, robot swing tests using GCQuad Launch Monitors, and even the major golf club manufacturers of raw face wedges all agree: rust is not a factor in providing an increased amount of spin.
Considering the significant importance all wedge brands put into the engineering of grooves on the face of each wedge, the degree of spin predictability they attribute to their design features, and the concept that different finishes from plated to non-plated impact groove performance, it becomes more evident something as variable and unpredictable as rust wouldn’t be a tool of wedge makers to provide players with added spin control.
The more important questions for most players are how to increase spin with the wedges and what design elements in wedges will help each player control the trajectory and spin of their shot.
What Is a Raw Face Wedge?
A raw face wedge is engineered without a plated finish on the face of the wedges. Unlike the myriad of plated finishes designed over the years—gun blue, oil can, or satin chrome—a non-plated finish on the scoring zone of the face is designed to increase performance. Raw face wedges also reduce glare versus the extra finish with chrome, but the lack of a finish results in faster rusting over time.
What Does a Raw Face on the Wedge Do for Performance?
It is critical to understand that a raw, non-plated finish does affect the performance and spin capabilities of the wedges, but it has nothing to do with the concept of rust adding to create this performance.
Raw face wedges increase the friction between the wedge and the golf ball significantly and improves the golf ball’s ability to grab the edge radius of the groove to impart added spin to create drop and stop control. As this friction is increased, testing from companies like Callaway and TaylorMade has shown the elimination of a plated finish on the face of the wedges has seen as much as a 25% increase in spin and improved launch conditions.
Raw face wedges and this increase in friction have also been shown to improve spin retention over plated wedges when wet or damp conditions are entered into the equation.
Does a Raw Face Wedge Spin More?
Yes. As mentioned above regarding performance benefits, a raw face wedge will impart more spin than a plated one, particularly in wet and damp conditions. Validating what many tour professionals have suggested in terms of feel, data from TaylorMade testing raw versus plated wedges has shown minimal increases in spin in dry conditions but significant increases in wet conditions in which most golfers find themselves in from time to time. Testing showed a 6-8 degree increase in launch with plated wedges in wet conditions, while only a 2-3 degree increase with raw wedges.
Furthermore, Callaway and TaylorMade both have seen data that suggests plating does dilute the integrity of groove geometry while raw wedge grooves are machined exactly like they finish, preserving spin. When launch consistency with the wedges can mean the difference between being 20 feet out to only 5 feet out with the putter, raw face wedges do have performance benefits.
Does a Raw Face Wedge Rust?
Yes. A raw face, non-plated wedge will have a higher and quicker chance to rust. Without the protective chrome layer, or super thin plated finish, raw face wedges will rust faster. Of course, how each player takes care of their wedges will significantly affect the corrosion and rusting process, and whether the geometry of the grooves designed into the wedge face will work appropriately. Keeping the wedges and grooves clean and avoiding salt water, will give players the best results.
For a number of reasons in the game of golf, taking into consideration what's in an LPGA or PGA Tour pro's bag, there should be little bearing on what a large swath of amateur golfers should be using, and raw face wedges may be no different.
Eight out of eight of the main wedge companies today all answer the same way that rust does NOT add spin. All while Cleveland, Cobra, Callaway, TaylorMade, and Vokey (Titleist) have all built and sold/currently sell raw face wedges claiming, with careful wording, they will improve spin while also pointing to the popularity of raw face wedges on the professional tour player.
As established, raw face wedges do slightly increase spin control in dry conditions but significantly increase spin in damp conditions. Though as suggested by Cleveland Golf, “the long-term trend from rusting is spin degradation.” Keeping raw face wedges clean is imperative as they are less durable and will prevent rust from occurring which is the best route if wanting to take advantage of the benefits of raw face wedges for a long time.
As a PGA Professional instructor, along with being a Golf Expert here at Curated, working with thousands of golfers, I feel the best ways to increase longer-lasting spin with the wedges is to not grab just any wedge off the shelf but instead: 1. Be properly fit for the right bounce and grind for your angle of attack and course conditions you play most often. 2. Keep the grooves on the wedge faces clean before each shot. 3. Use a golf ball with a soft cover and mantle layer that promotes spin. 4. Work on clubhead delivery at impact, ball strike timing, and ensuring the golf ball is at the lowest point in the wedge’s come-through.
Chat with me or one of my fellow Golf Experts here on Curated to discuss which wedge is right for your game and how a raw face wedge will help you control your question of spin so you can pull off your most creative shots!