List of Non-Conforming Wedges (5 Illegal Wedges!)

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Each year, golf manufacturers seek to push the boundaries of club design in order to extract the highest level of performance out on the course.

However, some designs overstep the mark. As a result, the USGA governing body can occasionally intervene with revised rules that deem certain clubs non-conforming.

In this article, I’ll be sharing a list of 5 non-conforming wedges that are illegal in golf for a number of reasons, ranging from unusual grooves to extreme designs.

Non-Conforming Wedges List

Non-conforming wedges are those that don’t abide by USGA Equipment Rules. This can happen for several reasons, such as having excessively deep or wide grooves, or simply not appearing “plain in shape”. Golfers can search the USGA’s “Informational Club Database” to learn if their wedges are illegal for tournament usage.

While some wedges can be regarded as non-conforming, you are of course allowed to use them for recreational golf. Many “illegal” clubs provide many benefits for amateur golfers, often making it easier to spin approach shots to stop the ball on the green.

Here is a list of some of the most controversial non-conforming wedges—including several which are available to buy today.

1. Ping Eye 2 Wedge

non conforming ping eye 2 golf wedge

While many pre-2010 golf wedges are now classed as non-conforming—often due to the introduction of groove restrictions—the Ping Eye 2 is perhaps the most controversial.

Shortly after the USGA 2010 Groove Rule, manufacturers scrambled to help their tour pros find an advantage over the field. Controversially, a loophole found Phil Mickelson using a pre-1990 Ping Eye 2 with aggressive square grooves.

The square-groove Pings remained legal because of a lawsuit filed against the USGA that was settled in 1990. As a result, any Ping Eye 2 made before April 1, 1990, remained legal because it took precedence over any rule change.

Nevertheless, Ping ultimately decided to waive its rights to use the wedges in competition “in the best interests of golf,” after facing numerous allegations of cheating.

Why is it Non-Conforming?

The Ping Eye 2 features square grooves, which became non-conforming with the introduction of the USGA Groove Rule in 2010:

“For clubs that have a loft angle greater than or equal to 25 degrees, groove edges must have an effective radius which is not less than 0.010 inches.”

USGA Equipment Rule 5c(i)

Essentially, this means the edge of the grooves must be somewhat rounded, and not square.

2. Smithworks Cast Milled XSpin Wedge

non conforming smithworks cast milled xspin wedge

The Smithworks Cast Milled XSpin Wedge is another non-conforming wedge—and one that’s particularly popular among amateur golfers.

What’s unique about this wedge is the impact area, which features a myriad of X-shaped indents designed to provide additional friction against the ball for added spin.

Why is it Non-Conforming?

The Smithworks XSpin Wedge breaks the USGA Equipment Rules for this reason:

“Except for [the grooves], the club face must be smooth.”

USGA Equipment Rule 5a

If you’re playing recreationally, Smithworks XSpin Wedges can definitely help you control pitch and chip shots, so you can target pins without worrying about any rollout.

3. Spin Doctor Ri Wedge

non conforming spin doctor ri golf wedge

The Spin Doctor Ri Wedge features replaceable face inserts with “reverse grooves” which aim to maximize friction against the ball. This provides golfers with “250 to 400% more backspin instantly,” according to the manufacturers.

Furthermore, the use of replaceable inserts enables golfers to put a fresh face on their wedges, without replacing the entire club.

Why is it Non-Conforming?

Unfortunately, the Spin Doctor Ri Wedge doesn’t conform with USGA Equipment Rules for the following reason:

“The face of the club must be hard and rigid and must not impart significantly more or less spin to the ball than a standard steel face.”

USGA Equipment Rule 5a

Nevertheless, if you’re playing golf recreationally, the Spin Doctor can enable you to better control your approach shots into the green.

>> You can order your Spin Doctor Wedges here

4. Mazel Hollow Out Sand Wedge

mazel hollow out sand wedge

Intended primarily for bunker shots, the Mazel Hollow Out Sand Wedge features an innovative hollow design that helps to reduce hitting interaction through the sand.

As a result, the club head should glide through the sand rather than dig in, enabling you to pop the ball out and find the green more easily.

Why is it Non-Conforming?

However, the Mazel Hollow Out Wedge is—perhaps unsurprisingly—technically non-conforming, due to the “Plain in Shape” rule outlined in the USGA Equipment Rules:

“The clubhead must be generally plain in shape [and] the design of the clubhead must be free from gimmicks.”

USGA Equipment Rule 4a

Essentially, this means clubheads must look visually as you’d expect—which the Mazel Hollow Out Wedge certainly does not!

5. Crestgolf Two-Way Chipper

crestgolf two way chipper

Finally, we have the Crestgolf Two-Way Chipper—a double-sided club designed for use around the greens—for both left and right-handers.

What’s more, the chipper helps you to get out of trouble for those shots you cannot make from a normal stance.

Why is it Non-Conforming?

The primary issue with two-way chippers is that they have two club faces:

“The clubhead must have only one striking face, except that a putter may
have two such faces if their characteristics are the same, and they are
opposite each other.”

USGA Equipment Rule 4d

Since putters are the only clubs that can have two striking faces, two-sided chippers are therefore rendered non-conforming.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we explored the following non-conforming wedges:

  1. Ping Eye 2 Wedge
  2. Smithworks Cast Milled XSpin Wedge
  3. Spin Doctor Ri Wedge
  4. Mazel Hollow Out Sand Wedge
  5. Crestgolf Two-Way Chipper

And, while each of these clubs is technically illegal for competition use, you can certainly use them for playing recreationally!

Furthermore, if you’re looking to get more spin control out of your current wedges, consider sharpening the grooves to improve performance on approach shots.

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Hailing from the South West of England, Jake has been playing golf for over a decade. He founded Pitchmarks with the aim of helping everyday golfers like himself learn more about the game, through instructional content and honest gear reviews. He has a degree in Architecture and a passion for golf course design, along with a lofty goal to play the world's top 100 courses.