I tried it: These user-friendly wedges make short-game shots much easier

Cleveland smart sole full face wedge

Cleveland's Smart Sole Full-Face wedges help make shot selection easier.

Ryan Barath/GOLF

Of all the parts of the game that vex golfers, one of the most frustrating can be shots inside 50 yards and around the green.

Thankfully, the game-improvement sharpies at Cleveland Golf have worked hard to help turn those weaknesses into strengths and give golfers more confidence around the greens with the help of the new Smart Sole Full-Face wedges.

Cleveland Smart Sole Full-Face Custom Wedge

This completely new Wedge system now includes four specialized clubs to fulfill every short-game shot on the course, giving you the complete package. Featuring the largest striking areas we’ve ever put on a Wedge, plus dynamic HydraZip and UltiZip technologies, Smart Sole Full-Face is now even more forgiving than before. A Wedge For Every Shot Bump-and-run it with the Chipper. Get full swing forgiveness with the Gap. Easy bunker escapes with the Sand. And short-side pin confidence with the Lob. Larger Faces Our largest faces ever on any Cleveland Golf Wedges, new full-face grooves, and improved MOI makes these the most forgiving Wedges we’ve ever made.
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The key to the Smart Soles is…yep, the wide soles, which are designed for forgiveness and ease of use. As a golfer who values control and versatility in my short-game shotmaking, I wasn’t convinced the Smart Sole wedges for me. But, like many other clubs that I have tested, giving this wedge a shot opened my mind to how smart design can help make the game feel a lot easier.

For another opinion, I also brought in a second, less experienced testing subject — my wife, who is a 16 handicap.

Let’s get started.

Of all the options available, I decided to test the 50-degree gap wedge because that is the loft option that I prefer to chip with around the green and also is a club with which I hit a lot of full shots. On full shots, the Smart Sole design performed exactly as I would have expected, offering a ton of confidence to strike down aggressively into the ball without worrying about chunking it.

I found this especially useful considering early-spring ground conditions have been much softer than usual; it felt like the club moved effortlessly through the ground.

smart sole 2024 cleveland face
The Smart Sole Full-Face wedges have grooves that cover the entire hitting area. Cleveland Golf

On chip shots, the Smart Sole really shined. On tight lies, all I had to do was sweep the club into the ball and the club glided through impact. Out of fluffy lies, the club was even better, because the wider sole prevented the club from digging and kept contact much more consistent in the middle of the face improving my distance control.

Clubs like this make me question why I don’t add more game-improvement-style clubs to my arsenal!

Now, for my co-tester.

With her slower swing speed and less aggressive transition into the ball, the first thing my wife asked when I handed her the Smart Sole Full-Face wedge was, “Do I hit this like my normal gap wedge?” To which I quickly replied, “Yep.”

This is what makes a club like this so handy: You don’t need to change anything about the way you swing it because the club is designed to universally simplify the way you hit shots when approaching the green.

After working her way around the practice green and hitting shots from the fridge and rough, and then pitching from around 50 yards away, my wife’s verdict was brief: “It makes me feel like I can make confident swings from basically any lie and the ball is going to get up and I’m not going to stub it into the ground.” She added, “It’s not the most traditional-looking wedge, but it is a club I could very quickly get used to if I keep hitting shots like this.”

So, yes, if you’re a golfer who struggles with shot selection and is looking for a solution around the greens, these clubs are definitely worth trying.

As a secondary option for those golfers who love the look of a full-face wedge but prefer something that offers a bit more versatility when it comes to sole design, Cleveland also has the RTX Full-Face wedges that come in lofts from 50-64.

Cleveland RTX Full-Face 2 Custom Wedge

Featuring a face packed full of grooves in an advanced, high-toe profile, RTX Full-Face 2 Wedges deliver even greater versatility from any greenside position or condition. Packed with HydraZip, ZipCore, and UltiZip technologies, RTX Full-Face 2 is built to help players ace daring, open-face shots around the green. HydraZip Our new dynamic blast and laser-milled line system creates roughness to enhance friction—maximizing spin in any conditions and from anywhere around the green. Visually, RTX Full-Face 2 Wedge faces are more matte than last generation, reducing glare at address. ZipCore Our proprietary, low-density core technology has exponentially evolved for RTX Full-Face Wedges, with up to 96% more ZipCore material that contributes to MOI gains of up to 13%. By setting the CG right where you strike the ball, ZipCore offers players increased spin, distance, consistency, feel, and control on every shot.
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The Cleveland Smart Sole Full-Face wedges come in several lofts: 42-chipper, 50-gap wedge, 58-sand wedge and 64-lob wedge, to help create bigger gaps and help golfers separate the highest lofted clubs to make shot selection easier.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2024? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.

Ryan Barath

Golf.com Editor

Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.

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