Club Designer Terry Koehler: The Wedge Guy

Club designer Terry Koehler says most wedges are hurting our games. He’s out to fix that.

The story of the sand wedge is well known: Riding in an airplane with Howard Hughes, Gene Sarazen noticed that the flaps had to go down to help the plane get up. Inspired, he soldered metal onto the sole of a niblick, creating a bigger, heavier flange—and a tool perfectly suited to escaping bunkers.

The next generation of pros (Hogan, Nelson, Snead) brought the sand wedge out of the bunker and began using it around the green. Pretty soon, equipment companies started offering more wedges with different lofts, but the basic design—weight low, top thin—didn’t change. Decades later, that’s still the case.

club terry koehler
Terry Koehler (photo by Cissy Beasley)

“Technically, wedges are designed for bunker play, but we’ve turned them into clubs for all kinds of shots,” says Terry Koehler, a club designer who has made wedges his specialty for over 30 years. “Conventional wedges have the smallest sweet spot of any club in the bag. If you practice enough, you can develop all kinds of skills, like the Tour pros. But for the rest of us, wedges are the hardest clubs in the bag to master.”

According to Koehler, tour pros consistently make contact around the third or fourth groove up from the bottom. The rest of us typically hit the ball higher on the face, so our shots fly too high and have very little backspin.

His testing also shows that most wedges sold today produce an average dispersion—short to long of the target—of over 50 feet from just 90 yards. The dispersion of Koehler’s newest wedges, sold under the name Edison Golf, is 21 feet, which he accomplished by moving more than 10 percent of their head weight (about 34 grams) above the impact point on the face. This helps produce a lower, more penetrating flight, more consistent distance, and increased backspin.

Koehler is not a golf pro, although he is a pretty good stick (currently a 2.1). He went into advertising in the 1970s; a fourth-generation Texan, one of his first accounts was Ray Cook putters in San Antonio, where he hung around the back room, learning about club design. By the early 1990s he was designing putters for the Ben Hogan Company, and still has a picture of “Mr. Hogan” on his wall.

It was on a golf trip to Scotland in 1990 that everything changed. Using a conventional sand wedge, “the tight turf was giving me the blues, so I went into a local golf shop and asked to use the grinder. I ground down the sole, giving it a two-part shape, with both high and low bounce angle.”

Back from Britain, he turned his energies to wedges and formed a company that emphasized the now-patented “Koehler sole.” An early blogger on all things golf, he was dubbed “the wedge guy,” which is how he’s known on, where his weekly posts are among the site’s most popular.

Besides equipment, he covers all parts of the game and offers wedge-play tips like, “If you hold the club lightly, it’s very difficult to swing it quickly.”

Edison Golf, which he started in 2018, is his third wedge-only business. Its market? You and me.

“We’re not a tour player’s company,” he says. “For 25 years I’ve been saying that wedges for tour players are not for you. We can’t play Bryson DeChambeau’s driver and 98 percent of golfers figured out they’re not good enough to play tour- blade irons. But 98 percent are playing tour wedges because that’s pretty much all they’ve had to choose from.”