We’ve seen some lively discussion on the post I wrote on Tuesday about building a precision set of wedges, so I thought I would just expand on that a bit today, as I promised. The first thing to really stop and think about is the high frequency of use – and therefore the importance – of your “money clubs”. Generally speaking, when I say “money clubs”, I’m talking about those irons and wedges with more than 40 degrees of loft, whether that starts with the #8 or #9 iron in your bag. For most golfers, scoring range starts at 120-140 yards with these clubs and continues all the way to the green. Physical strength is negated here, and anyone can become proficient with their “money clubs” with just a little practice and more careful attention to the tools.
Shots played from this distance on into the green account for more than half of your “non-drives/non-putts” in a round of golf. And the higher your handicap, the higher that percentage will be. So it stands to reason that if you want to lower your handicap, you need to get better with the “money clubs”. Today, let’s continue to explore the equipment side of this equation.
Every good player will tell you that the key to scoring with the money clubs is to control the trajectory. I think it was Champions Tour player Allan Doyle who said something like “the key to shotmaking is to hit your long and middle irons high, and everything else low”. But you are very likely to be carrying money clubs that were ill-designed for doing that. Cavity back iron designs apply that design concept all the way through the set; but low weighting that really helps you hit nice high 4- to 7-iron shots is ill-suited to help you keep those short iron and wedge shot trajectories down where distance control is assured. [NOTE: I’ve written about this several times, if you want to do a little research into WedgeGuy archives.]
Now that grooves have changed on our irons and wedges, the ball slides up the face on these higher-lofted clubs more than it used to, so the high, ballooning ball flight is even more aggravated. What we see in the tour players’ bags is a changing of their loft preferences in their wedges to compensate. The old standard 56/60 combination is becoming a dinosaur since last year, and from my observation, the more common wedge make-up is a 53 or 54, paired with a 58 or 59 as the highest lofted wedge. By reducing the loft, the ball is launched lower and it doesn’t slide up the face as much, and therefore leaves the face with more spin.
Managed spin plus low trajectory = better distance control and better scoring.
So what are you to do? I suggest that you probably hit your middle irons fine, but your place for improvement is in this “money club” range. So, do something about it. Right in the middle of your “money clubs” is a break in head design and shaft between your set-match “P club” and your first wedge. And probably you have 2-4 wedges in your bag that present even more disjointed-ness. But isn’t this where you should really have a matched set of tools?
Do this if you’re serious about scoring better this year. Go to ebay or the used club rack and find and 8-, 9- and P that have a thicker face and higher center of gravity than your perimeter weighted mid-irons. Any good modern blade meets that definition. Then settle on a style of wedge and get the right lofts to finish out the set as I explained on Tuesday. Once you have the heads selected, get a qualified independent clubmaker to take the shafts out of all of them, and re-build them with shafts that are close to your mid-iron shafts in weight, but softer in overall flex. Length differentials of 3/8” to 1/4” will tighten your distance gaps down to the highest lofted wedge you carry.
I guarantee you this experiment will change your world.
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Great article Terry. I was actually tooling around with the idea of getting a few blades to round out my lower end of clubs. I'm not really having a trajectory problem yet, but if i don't start scoring down early this year, i may make the change. Nike must have been reading your earlier posts with the new set they just put out :)
Bryan K says:
This is a great article, and I wish it would have been posted a year ago. Truth is, I might not have understood it a year ago.
But I had the same problem that Terry is describing last year. My shorter clubs were terrible with distance control, and they would tend to balloon. I've built a progressive set myself starting with a hollow-back 5i, 6i, and 7i. My 8i, 9i, and Pi are all semi-hollow back clubs with my GW, SW, and LW all being blades.
Duffer 83 says:
Does anyone remember a few years ago when Tommy Armour had the same sort of set make up that Nike is cashing in on? Why didn't it take off then?
how about you talk about how to keep the ball low with your money clubs instead of reccommending we redo out short irons/wedges and have them custom built to hit it lower... not well thought out imo.
Banker85, I've written several posts about that very subject, but the clubs themselves do play a very big part in the equation. Entering your pickup in a NASCAR race won't get the job done, no matter how good a driver you are, if you get my point. Hitting better golf shots is a matter of equipment and technique. You can't get there without both functioning properly.
Tee it High. says:
Terry, I wouldn't worry too much about Banker he just loves to criticize peoples writing on here. As for your article I find it interesting that you think you should have a softer flex in you wedges then your irons. I was told a few years ago that your wedges should play a little stiffer to help with accuracy since your goal with them is not to hit them as far as possible. Anyway keep up the good work.
I'm with Banker. Phil would still be a money with my wedges.
wedgeguy is one of the reasons i enjoy oob so much.
I agree with the wedgeguy that it *is* kewl to have a set of short irons and wedge clubs that impart precision. It can affect your outlook on the short shots I think. In playing decent golf, so much is about mentality. I mean you have to really seek and hunt down the pin with an obsessive focus and looking down at a tool that has been designed for maximum pinseeking deadly accuracy (as opposed to one thats designed for forgiveness) can only help in achieving that focus.
What do you know... I just took advantage of the Eidolon sale and got 4 wedges - replacing my P and ending at 59. The shafts are firm to match my set and the lengths have been shortened as well. Just need a little grass here and I'll be doing just as you suggested... w/o having to do the bounce calculus as I did with the previous wedges. This sounds like an ad but I assure you it is not. I'll soon be able to give some feedback on this switch.
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