REVIEW: Hopkins CJ-1 Wedge

Custom Wedges Without The Custom Price
We’ve all seen those pimped out wedges that some of the touring pros use or we’ve seen other creative wedges that our friends have or someone’s wedge on the internet.  We’ve probably even looked into getting our own custom wedge; a name stamped on it, a symbol engraved into it, or just our Alma Mater’s colors as paintfill.  But most likely our search turned up the main factor holding us back from getting a custom wedge, the price.  You now have a reasonably priced option for a custom wedge, Hopkins Golf.
You may remember Mr. Hopkins from the Cleveland wedge commercials.  His sweater vest is now famous.  He was the CEO of Cleveland and recently left that post to start his own golf company called Hopkins Golf.  He has an interesting business model to basically cut out a number of middlemen.  The factory makes the heads and then at the UPS shipping center the heads are customized and assemble and shipped in a very short time.  You can get a custom wedge in your hands in about a weeks time.  That is really fast by today’s custom golf standards.
The Hopkins customization process is pretty straight forward.  When you go to the website you can start picking your options based on your knowledge or their recommendations.  There are some questions that they have to help you get better fit for the right grind if you are unsure which sole grind will work best for you.  You can get many different option on wedges from 50* to 60*.  Once you have that figured out then the stamping, engraving and paintfill colors will take some time to decided where, what and how you want it to look.  The online graphics do a great job of showing exactly what you are going to get.  While each additional feature to the wedge does add cost, it still is much cheaper than a custom wedge from anyone else.  You can choose different Lamkin grips, ferrules and shafts.  The length, lie and loft can also be altered.  The only custom options not available are swingweight or non-Lamkin grips.  But all in all it is a pretty good price for a custom wedge.

Does a custom wedge work any better than an off the rack wedge?  If you get the grind that fits your game, it definitely will help.  While some different grinds are available off the rack, most are pretty standard wedges.  The Hopkins grinds are very helpful based on your use, skill and turf interaction with the wedge.  The stamping and paintfill don’t help you game, they just look cool.  I went with the heel/toe grind on my 58* also called a C-grind by many companies.  It removed some of the sole in the heel and the toe so that you can get more creative with your wedge shots.  I really like this grind on my wedges and Hopkins did a great job with this one.  It seems like just enough to leave some sole in the middle of the club, but enough removed on the edgse to open it up for tricky shots.

The grooves of these are going to be the “new grooves” but they have pretty good bite on the ball.  I had many a hop-and-stop shots with these into the green.  I felt like I had really good control with this wedge from clean lies or out of the rough.  It is very predictable of what is going to happen on each shot.  This creates confidence in a wedge which sometimes is half the battle.  I found the trajectory to be what I would expect from a 58* wedge.  I hit it about 80 yards on full shots.  I did have mine made with a PXi 6.0 shaft to match my irons which maybe has a slightly higher trajectory, but still very controllable.  My yardage gap felt a little off with this one wedge and my other wedge of a different brand.  You don’t have to get two or three wedges depending on your use, but for full shots I prefer matching wedges for ideal yardage gaps.

The Hopkins wedges are cast raw steel.  Which means they will rust over time and have a slightly firmer feel than some of the forged wedges out there.  That firmer feel does translate into durability.  These have held up well to our late summer drought.  With many rough areas rock hard, these haven’t shown the wear that I might have expected.  There is firm click when these are stuck.  The raw feature is what many tour guys like.  It looks used and worn in no time as little bits of rust collect on the head.

The only negative of the Hopkins Custom Wedges is that fact that their club assemblers aren’t quite professionals just yet.  The paintfill had a couple smudges and the ferrule wasn’t turned properly.  I assume some of this comes with a new company and new staff, but this wedge doesn’t quite have that perfect fit and finish.  They are minor cosmetic things that can be easily fixed, but I think are worth mentioning for full disclosure.  Sometimes you get a little bit of what you pay for.  I’ll assume they will get better with more practice.  They’ve only been doing this for a couple months.

The one thing that Hopkins does better than anyone else is shipping and packaging.  These wedges come in the best industrial strength tube with foam inserts to keep the wedge from rattling around inside.  If you wedge comes damaged in this packaging, it must have  been hit by the UPS truck, literally.

There is no doubt that custom wedges are cool, but they also can help you game if you get the right grinds.  Check out Hopkins Golf if you want custom grinds, stamps, engraving, paintfills, shafts, grips and other adjustments.  You can now get custom wedges quickly and without the custom price.

For more information:

Quick Hits
+So many custom options
+Custom grinds benefit your game
+Quick turn-around
+Good spin and feel

–Smudged paint and ferrule