What’s In A Name (or Number, Rather)?
If you’ve read many of my articles, you probably know that I’m pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to golf clubs. I played my Reid Lockhart persimmon driver until I was the last on the planet without an oversized metal wood. And the persimmon 4-wood stayed in a few years after that. I finally had to give in about 2003. Dang, I miss that solid sound and feel . . .

And when it comes to irons, I still play my Reid Lockhart “RL Blades”, as I don’t see an iron on the market that I think I’d like better. One or another set of those have been in my bag since I designed it in 1997, refined it in 2000. One of my “modernizations” is that I play graphite shafts in everything, from driver to putter. With what we can do with carbon fiber these days, I find that the feel and performance of graphite can be more closely tweaked to the golfer than with steel. And as I start to experience a little arthritis in my fingers of my right hand, the graphite is easier on that pain.

But today’s article is about what the club manufacturers have done to iron lofts. As I peruse the specs for the new models coming out, they just keep making these things stronger and stronger. The standard “P-club” (I refuse to call them pitching ‘wedges’, because they are not) in most models has a loft of 45-46 degrees, many are 44, and some are as low as 43! Sorry, readers, but a rose by any other name . . . .

So, here’s my question: Assume you and I have the same strength. We’ve hit our drives side by side in the fairway, and we both pull a 36-1/2” iron with 42 degrees of loft to hit our approach shot. But mine has an ‘8’ on the bottom, and yours has a ‘9’. Does that make your shot easier than mine? Is your 9-iron more accurate than my 8, just because it has a different number on the sole? Can someone please explain this to me?????

Does it really matter how far you hit any of your irons? What difference does it make if you pull a club with an 8 on the bottom, or a 9 or a 7? If the length/loft combination produces the correct distance, does it really matter? Do you get to take an extra half shot off your score because you hit the green with a “P club” and I used a 9-iron?

I think one of the big dupe-jobs that the industry has played on the golfer is the notion that this iron is longer than that one. Of course it is, because they jacked up and renumbered all the clubs!!!! They put the weight very low in the longer irons so that you can still get them nice and high, but then they apply that same weighting and appearance through the set so that you can’t keep the shorter irons out of the clouds, even with the cranked down lofts. Sheesh. Where is this gonna go?

Here’s golf the way I see it. You hit the tee shot as far down the fairway as you can and still control the direction, because the rough is penalizing (or should be). You then pull whatever club you have in your bag to hit the ball the precise distance from where you are to where the flag is. It doesn’t matter what number that club has on it, does it? And it certainly doesn’t do any good for you to nuke one every once in a while and fly it clean over the green into the nasty back bunker, bulrushes or water. [By the way, I’ve never seen a golf course that can be scored from behind the greens.]

Just thought I’d give you all something to think about and sound off about. Let’s have some fun today and this weekend with this.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
I agree!
2/11/11
 
SD Charlie says:
Heh - you are one person who can actually say "my irons" since you actually designed the darn things.

I agree with you too. People get so caught up in club numbers and comparing themselves to each other. I'm relatively new to the game (~ 2 years), so the macho-thing doesn't really sink in with me. At this stage, I'm just glad to know what distance each club produces, and hope that I hit the ball cleanly enough to get that distance on the course!

Here's an example. One of my golf buddies is 6'5" (I'm 5'11") and can hit the blankity-blank out of the ball. It does me no good to compare clubs shot-for-shot, because I just can't hit 'em as far as he can. I just play my game, and in the end we still score about the same.
2/11/11
 
carv712 says:
Does a clubs center of gravity factor into this at all? I'm not a phycisist but if a club with a lower center of gravity is designed to produce a higher launch angle than wouldn't a company have to lower a clubs loft to compensate for ballooning trajectories?
2/11/11
 
Jattruia says:
That's how the lofts on Cobras recent clubs were explained to me. The CG has kept getting lower so it's easier to get the ball high in the air. But now, they've had to be more aggressive with the lofts to keep the ball from going TOO high.

But really, what does complaining about club lofts accomplish in the end? If you can hit a set of clubs well, go with them? If the club says P or PW, i'm calling it a pitching wedge. It's the pitching wedge of that set at least. I'm sure as hell not going to ask my buddy to get my pitching club or my 43* out of the bad.
2/11/11
 
Agustin says:
Last time I checked the game of golf is about the number of shots required to complete a hole/course; and not how far the ball travels. There are no "style" or bonus points awarded at any time for the longest drive or shortest club used for an approach. While there are a few golfers how would benefit from squeezing the most possible yards our of each shot, the vast majority of us would benefit much more from control and consistency. "Jacked-up" lofts and shaft lengths will more then likely penalize your consistency by creating gaps in your distances. And they will certainly affect you ability to control ball flight.

Why companies keep catering their ad campaigns at the most over-hyped aspect of golf is beyond me.
2/11/11
 
DoubleDingo says:
As I have mentioned before, I switch between my Cobra 2008 Model, and my Louisville Persimmon driver. I like and prefer the accuracy of the Persimmon, but the length of the Cobra is nice it just lacks accuracy. Outside of drivers, 3W is a persimmon Niblick, 5W is a laminated Stan Thompson Ginty and that sucker is the best club in my bag. Irons are blades, and I have two Eidolon wedges being adjusted by Eidolon right now; one being re-shafted and the other being strengthened 1*, and one 53* on order. Should have them back next week. Putter is a blade as well. Am I Old School? You bet I am and damn proud of it!
2/11/11
 
Banker85 says:
ya there is no reason to even know the number or loft of your club. If i could i would just stamp the distance it hit the club on the bottom and thats it. 7iron 150 on the bottom, 5 iron 175 on the bottom...
2/11/11
 
DoubleDingo says:
Once I can figure out where to do this because the GC's here are never slow, the soccer fields and parks are always crawling with kids and parents, and driving ranges are not safe to do so, I plan to apply the SCor Method to each of my clubs and stick a label on the shaft indicating how far each club can hit a ball. Now where oh where can I do this?
2/11/11
 
Agustin says:
@DoubleDingo - I suggest getting a hold of a GPS and look for a golf course that would let you on an hr or so before daylight becomes an issue and do this on a fairway. You will much more accurate data on an actual course (fairway) than on a driving range or field.
2/11/11
 
DoubleDingo says:
Thanks Agustin. Aw shucks another toy to purchase(GPS)...lol...
2/11/11
 
lcgolfer64 says:
Okay here is my take on this. When I purchased my irons a few years ago, they were a chain and a brand of that chain. I hit about 8 different 6 irons on a launch monitor. I went with what felt good for me then (game improvement iron as I was then about a 16 handicap)

After purchasing, I went to the range for about 2 weeks. I a little notebook with a list of my irons. I hit about 20-30 with each iron and wrote down rough yards (noting wind and weather)

So when I went to play, I knew the yardage and club to use at that time. it wasn't a compare against the guys I played with but a compare against what I found when I hit roughly 200-300 balls per club at the range.
2/11/11
 
dave1269 says:
Terry, I totally agree with your thoughts. I also believe that shaft flexes are also being "tweaked down" for marketing purposes. A friend of mine just ordered a new driver with an "XX" shaft (double stiff). Seems to me, not that long ago, most golfers used regular shafts, and only the really big, burly guys dared to swing an S shaft. Nowadays, S shafts are everywhere and "bragging rights" now belong to those who swing X shafts.
2/11/11
 
lcgolfer64 says:
[Cont'd]
I don't pay attention to the numbers, degrees and loft of different irons as I'm not playing them. When I go again (soon) I will probably do the same thing as above, purchase new irons and re-adjust my yardage book to the new iron set, not the number I used to play, as it will no bearing on my current/future playing conditions.
2/11/11
 
larrynjr says:
One of the things I did last year after reading some of your articles Terry, was to take my MP-32's into my club pro and have the lofts bent back to "normal" loft angles. My P is a 48 again and I keep about a 4 degree change all down the line. I wanted predictable results and that's what I'm getting.

Thank you for all your insight Terry!
2/11/11
 
lcgolfer64 says:
To clarfiy - I'm not paying attention to what TM, Nike, Ping, etc, calls a 9i if I'm not playing it. I care about what club I have in my bag will get me 140 yds to the green in the conditions for that shot. What the manufature sets for the number is not really of concern, as long as I know what my club does for me at that distance.
2/11/11
 
knh555 says:
I'm still playing the same Hogans from 20+ years ago with a 23* 3 iron up to a 50* pitching wedge with traditional shaft lengths. Same a 4-GW today I suppose. Not only do I need "more" club than my playing partners, I use one more club than I used to hit when I was considerably younger. Then again, I can still hit that longer distance, but prefer the lower scores I'm shooting now. Funny how that works.

Besides jacking up lofts, can't club manufacturers control ballooning with shaft selection? Then again, that wouldn't help people hit their irons "farther", now would it?
2/11/11
 
aaronm04 says:
You MUST pay attention to the lofts in your irons. At least the ends. For me, I want to make sure that I know what loft is on my PW so that I can properly round out my set of wedges. My current PW is 45*. So I got a 50* GW rather than a 52* to lessen that gap. On the other end, my 5i is 26* which comes in handy when selecting a 4-hybrid (I got a 23*). Aside from that, jackin the lofts down plays into the pure vanity of the average golfer. Just as long as I know how far they go, that's my biggest concern.
2/11/11
 
Shallowface says:
I like that Spalding 4 wood pictured at the top of this article better than anything I've seen in the magazines so far this year.
I frequent another board that has a forum for Classic Golf and Golfers. The pictures of the clubs those guys there post make me realize how much I miss the days of playing those clubs, where you picked your driver based on the grain of the wood instead of some numbers on a launch monitor that may or may not be "real world accurate."
Seriously thinking about going back to that kind of equipment. What if my scores go up five strokes? Better yet, what if they don't?
2/11/11
 
stedar says:
Terry, I thought you would be the happiest about this "new error" in club loft. It means you sell more wedges as the gaps are now wider and "we" need clubs that give us the distance from the pin with our approach. A PW at 43* is not going to cut it 125yrds out so we need a gap wedge between 43 - 56... don't we :-)
2/11/11
 
DoubleDingo says:
@aaronm04, That is precisely why my two Eidolon wedges are being adjusted and a new 53* is being purchased. I know there is a 3* gap between 3i and 4i, and a 4* gap through the set from 4i to PW, with my PW being 46*. So my 51* is being strengthened to a 50*, then there's the new 53*, and then my 56* is getting a regular shaft swapped in and the firm removed. I have a coworker that is a pro and got his input on the wedge gaps before sending them in and ordering new.
2/11/11
 
DoubleDingo says:
For the longest time I thought my PW was 48* and was ordering wedges accordingly. I then found there was a 5* gap between my PW and the 51*, so I had to make those adjustments to make for a more consistent set. I can't wait to get my weapons back from Eidolon so I start working on my short game.
2/11/11
 
GolferAnt says:
they should just use the loft angles and do away with the names, I have www.oobgolf.com/equipment/irons/Revolution_3354 this set and I cant find any of the the loft angles anywhere ( except the driver ), instead I only have the lesser information of the #'s on the clubs ( 5-PW,3i,4i,3W )...anyone know if that info exists anywhere??
2/11/11
 
fausty111 says:
I agree. I just bought an Adams golf set and the P wedge is 44 degrees but my old set is 48 degrees. So I still need to carry my old P wedge or else I have a yardage issue from the 44 degree to 56 degrees. As I researched buying a new set I noticed that this industry has basically just changed the numbers on the clubs and what was a 9 iron has become a pitching wedge. What they really to me was take away a true pitching wedge.
2/12/11
 
PHALE says:
I agree with knownothing and fausty, labels should include degrees. I have a set of cobra hybrids that are labeled 2-18*, senior 3-23*, s4-26*, s5-29*, s6-32*: my only irons are 7-PW and probably 38*, 42*, 46* and 50* but who knows, I found out these averages on the internet. I don't do well with the 2 hybrid and put my 5 wood(metal)20*? back in my bag. I don't carry a sand wedge because clay bunkers don't require bounce and my PW opened up works fine. I am about a 25 handicap and hope to play my age in 10 years.
2/12/11
 
onedollarwed says:
LOLOLOL.... once again psychology rules. Even if there were degree numbers on the clubs, they would be false, as in the driver measures we discussed a few weeks back. Plus, there are other factors - like the length of the shaft, the offset, and where you play the ball in your stance.
I was looking at the specs for my MP-60s the other day and ran into reviews where a number of golfers were impressed with hitting a "whatever number" farther than they had with their old set. Now, when I got MP-60s, I was coming from some Wilson cast cavity backs. Not only was I swithcing brands... but the material is different, everything about the club head is different, I was "fitted" to stiff shafts, etc. etc.
2/12/11
 
onedollarwed says:
However, the most meaninful reviews from the MP-60 buyers (if they were true - and it was for me) were the ones that spoke of lowering their handicaps, learning to hit the ball better - because a flush thwack with the cut muscle is so sweet, you'll intrinsically want to do it again and again - especially with the lower irons. The good feeling=the good result and thus improves automatically. And the cavity has just the right amount of forgiveness that a good result is not too hard.
Now, hitting a seven the distance of a 5 does not get you a better result, like hitting a higher loft further might. The smae reason hitting a driver further doesn't improve anything. Both of the above can boost the ego in the short run - an extrinsic reward, which is short lived and prone to make people lose interest in the game. "Man I'm hitting it "x" far now, but still can't break "x"" This will lead you to eventually play less and less.
2/12/11
 
windowsurfer says:
Wedge Guy: what refinements did you make in 2000? Also, could you expand on your affinity for graphite a bit? I've heard decent arguments that a stiff steel shaft is the best for iron accuracy (irrespective of distance.)
2/12/11
 
jrbizzle says:
A very good golfer told me a long time ago (and I repeat to anyone who will listen):

"It doesn't matter how far you each club, it only matters that you know how far you hit them."
2/14/11
 
jrbizzle says:
And another thing - how many folks here remember when hybrids used to be slightly larger than irons and significantly smaller than fairway woods? I was in the local golf store the other day and half of the "hybrids" were the size of a potato and half of those had an elongated shaft.

Folks - that ain't a hybrid, it's a damn fairway wood!!
2/14/11
 
Golfwithgrace says:
Everyone needs to calm down and let the computer God gave us do it's job.  In other words quit over riding "feel" with all the loft input! If you'll just pull an iron out, take your set up, pick a spot down the range or fairway, then ask the computer " can you feel that", it will tell you! The answer will be yes, no, or uhhh. Uhhh is maybe, and in most cases should be considered a "No", especially if the target is well guarded!  Use your yardage markers, GPS, or yardage guides to tell you only what quadrant of the set the "yes stick " resides in. You don't need the numbers on the sole for any other reason than ease of finding it in the bag! Heck the distance you hit any particular club could change multiple times in the space of 18 holes. Wind, elevation, garment restriction, air temp, etc.. Let your computer compute (factor).
2/14/11
 
windowsurfer says:
Golfwithgrace, I hereby dub thee, "Yes-stick." Vios con extrañeza. I believe your comment is valid and goes in the "empty head, full bat" category, along with "trust your first read" and "she seems kinda bitchy"
2/14/11
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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