What the heck is a 9-iron anyway?
One of the driving forces behind the development of our new SCOR4161 line of precision scoring clubs is the current state of the golf equipment industry, specifically irons. The way the manufacturers have played with lofts and shaft lengths over the years -- driven by the almost maniacal quest for added distance with every club in the bag – has made it practically impossible to assign any meaning at all to the numbers on the clubs.
One of our principals of the SCOR4161 concept is that every golfer should have consistent full-swing distance gapping throughout their set. What that means is that you should be able to make a reasonable full swing with each club and rely on a distance that is 12-15 yards longer than the next shorter club, and shorter than the next longer club. But for most golfers, when they get to the shorter end of the set, this gapping becomes inconsistent, because their wedges are not synchronized with their irons. Here’s why:
In the early 1970s, lofts and lengths on irons were pretty much standard across the various brands. 9-irons, for example, were generally 44-45 degrees and about 35.25” long. Pitching wedges were 49-50 degrees and ¼” shorter. You “pitched” the ball with your “pitching wedge”. And you could change from one brand of irons to another and get pretty much the same distance from your clubs.
But, as perimeter-weighted irons made their way into the marketplace, and the equipment companies found that “longer, farther, faster” would sell golf clubs, they began to take liberties with these “standards”. Lofts slowly crept downward for any given number, moving 9-irons down to the low 40-degree range in many models. As “P-clubs” moved down to 47-48 degrees, the popular “gap” wedge of 52 degrees became popular to fill that gap between this and the sand wedge. What it really did was put a true “pitching wedge” back in the bag.
Fast forward to 2011, and the number on the bottom of the club has lost nearly all its meaning. We built a database of specifications on over 300 iron models as a foundation for our SCORFit process to calculate the right prescription for scoring clubs for any golfer. And the results were astounding.
In today’s marketplace, you can purchase sets of irons with a 9-iron ranging from 38 degrees of loft to 44 degrees of loft. “Standard” lengths of that club can range from 35.5” all the way up to almost 37”! So, the fact that you hit this new 9-iron nearly as long as your old “8” . . . is because this new 9-iron IS your old 8!
So, if you hit all your new irons longer than the old ones, what do you hit from those shorter distances that used to be a “P-club” shot?
The point is that unless you know what your 9-iron IS, you have no way to put together the right set of wedges to optimize your short range performance. But once you do know what your “9-iron” is, then you can seek out the right arsenal of wedges that will complement the specifications and full-swing distance.
If you are serious about your golf, you should know your equipment. This off season, visit a qualified custom club shop and have them build you a chart of your entire set, from driver to highest-lofted wedge. Know the length, loft, lie angle, shaft frequency, swingweight, overall weight . . . everything. Then sit back and chart your comfortable full-swing yardages with each club. Be honest! And light bulbs will go off as to where you can improve your arsenal to improve your scoring.
My money is on the fact that it’s the short end of the set.
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 ]
who cares what the numbers are as long as you know the lofts of your specific set and wedges...it's arbitrary...as long as i know i hit whatever club 140 yards...i don't care if there's a 6 or a 9 on it as long as it gets me there...
i think a lot of it is ego...
my 9iron is 43* I think i have a decent setup between my gaps. 47*PW 52/56/60
I would like to get a set of 4 SCOR clubs with 47*/51/55/59
Hook me up Terry!
For me how far i hit it doesnt come into play. I am not long anyways so if i know my distances for my scoring clubs especially the game gets a whole lot more fun exciting. Nothing like sitting 90 yards out with a solid SW in my hand ready to go flag hunting!
Along with working on my club path to be more in to out, I have also started leaning my shaft forward at address, not only has this helped me in striking the ball first, the decreased loft is adding at least another club distance to each of my clubs. I had my Mizuno MP-32's checked and they are at factory spec, making my 9i, 43*. I was practicing behind my house the other day with my new address setup, I was getting close to 140 yds. from my 9i, which used to be my 125 yd. club. On Sunday, still not used to the distance, I put 2 shots over the green using my "usual" club for the distance. I agree with dartboss, the numbers don't mean that much as long as you know the distance you are getting for each club and have consistant gap distances for all your clubs. I went to a club fitter recently and discovered via his Trackman monitor that I had 3 clubs that I was hitting close to the same distance on. It's easy to fool yourself on your distances on the range and course but the Trackman don't lie!
just get a set of Scratch irons with just the lofts on them instead of the traditional P-3 like Ryan Moore did. that will take care of the ego that gets involved with club selection.
Currently two companies have wedges with lofts of 42* & 43*. How long will it be before wedge lofts are in the 30s and you will be carrying 6 or 7 "wedges". Say all you want about the number on the club not meaning anything, this is ridiculous. I am over 60 years old and I am 3 or more clubs longer than I was 25 years ago. I doubt it.
Tim Horan says:
I am going to go slightly off piste here...A little while ago Terry posted a blog about graphite shafts in his blades to save shockwaves in his hands. I built a set of blades with x stiff graphite shafts recently and then had to build a set of wedges to compliment them. What I found was that although the lofts are identical with my other set I was getting 5-10yrd extra carry 7i - 60 deg lob.
I was told a few years ago that distance = 85% loft and 15% shaft length. With the shafts adjusted only to maintain D1 (up to 9i) and progressive D1.5-D3 through the wedges there is definitely another factor at work. Anyone? Could it be purely the quality of strike? The point here is the shaft is the engine of any club. Cast or forged will have little difference on performance.
Matt F says:
@badcaddy - at $1200.00 for a set of irons, I'll pass.
I play a set of irons with traditional lofts and a 9i at 45*. I recently strengthened the pitching wedge to 49* and love these irons chipping and pitching, an often overlooked trait when choosing irons. On the one hand, I suppose my ego theoretically takes a hit for *only* hitting my 8i 135-140. On the other hand, I can manage my long irons just fine and still bag a 2i, depending if I feel like playing my hybrid that day. Of course, at 20*, it's pretty much like today's 3i.
David Fox8 says:
just emphasizes the importance of researching the specs before you buy and judging the feel of the clubs -- not going by I hit this 9i 135 or that one 155. I have a set of TM burner irons (very strong lofts). My 9i is 40* and spacing is 5* for each club from 8i - Aw. I like the way they hit but most importantly know how far I hit each one.
joe jones says:
Karsten Solheim was the first club maker to change the lofts on his irons . He delofted all of his cavity back clubs by 3 degrees per club. People started to buy his "ugly" clubs because they thought they gained 10 yards per club when they were actually playing a 7 iron that was actually a 6 iron.Playing games with your clubs was common place when the pro's were hitting forged clubs. I watched Gay Brewer grind off the numbers on his Wilson Staffs,deloft each one 3 degrees and use a metal sketching pen to put his own identification on them.
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