Short Iron Problems And A Little Insight
In my experience, almost all golfers could benefit from better short iron play. The ability to hit it closer to where you are looking with your 8-, 9- and P-irons will do more for your scoring than most anything else you can do. So, why is it that so many golfers just don't hit the quality shots with these clubs that they do and should expect? I chose this topic in response to an email from Phillip S., who wrote:
"I'm hitting straight and consistent most of the time but I've got a big problem between my 8-iron and everything else below. I can hit my 8-iron 140-145 fairly consistently every time. I hit my 9-iron somewhere between 110-135. My pitching wedge is a mystery….it varies between 85 -125 yards. No matter how "hard" I swing, I can’t seem to hit my short irons consistent distances. It's maddening to hit a great drive followed by a pitching wedge short of the green from 110 yards away. What am I doing wrong?"
Well, Phillip, don't feel alone, because this is one of the most common golf issues I observe. It seems that the lion’s share of technology applied to golf clubs is focused on the long stuff, with drivers and hybrids getting the press. But I firmly believe that the short irons in nearly all “game improvement” designs are ill-suited for precise distance control, hitting shots on the optimum trajectory or knocking flags down. I’ve written about this a number of times, so a little trip back in WedgeGuy history should be enlightening. But here are some facts of golf club performance as applied to short iron play:

Fact #1. Short irons are much more similar to wedges than your middle irons. But almost all iron sets feature a consistent back design for cosmetic appeal on the store racks. And while that deep cavity and perimeter weight distribution certainly help you hit higher and more consistent shots with your 3- or 4- through 7-iron, as the loft gets in the 40* range and higher, that weight distribution is not your friend. Regardless of your skill level, short irons should be designed much more similar to wedges than to your middle irons.

Fact #2. As loft increases, perimeter weighting is less effective. Missed shots off of higher lofted clubs have less directional deviation than off of lower-lofted clubs. This is proven time and again on “iron Byron” robotic testers.

Fact #3. It takes mass behind the ball to deliver consistent distances. Even on dead center hits, cavity back, thin-face irons do not deliver tack-driver distance control like a blade design. In my post of a couple of years ago, “The Round Club Mindset”, I urged readers to borrow blade-style short irons from a friend or assistant pro and watch the difference in trajectories and shotmaking. Do It! You will be surprised, enlightened and most likely pleased with the results.

Fact #4. The 4* and ½” difference between irons is part of the problem. The industry has built irons around this formula forever, but every golfer who knows his distances can tell you that the full swing distance gap gets larger as the iron number increases, i.e. your gap between your 8- and 9-iron is probably larger than that between your 4- and 5-iron. Could there be some club tweaking called for here??

Fact #5. Your irons do not have to “match”. If you find through experimentation that you get better results with the blade style short irons, get some and have your whole set re-shafted to match, along with lengths and lie angles. These are the keys to true “matching” anyway.

So, Phillip, without knowing your swing or what brand of irons you play, I’m betting that the solution to your problems lies in these facts. Oh, and one more thing – regardless of short iron design, the harder you swing, the higher and shorter the shot will tend to go. That’s because it becomes harder and harder to stay ahead of the club through impact. Keep short iron shots at 80-85% power, lead with your left side and watch everything improve.

Thanks for reading and writing in, and I’m sure the readers will have more to offer on the subject. Oh, and enjoy your new EIDOLON wedge.


photo source
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 ]
Scott Shields says:
Great post!
8/10/10
 
birdieXris says:
Outstanding article Terry. Right on the money. I finally figured all of this out this year. i've started taking a little more club and throttling back rather than trying to hit the short irons "right on the distance". I'm getting much better results and a lot more GIR than trying to get the number out of my short iron. It's so hard to swing it properly when you're maxed out on your swing.

Love the wedges by the way, they've been coming in really handy :)
8/10/10
 
brianshaffer32 says:
Birdie, I hear ya. Lately I have been playing my 8-PW a lot more with a lot less swing speed. Once you get with in 150 you need to be thinking score score score and not so much about maxing out a 9 iron swing. So many better things happen when you swing easy and take more club. Even if you are playing on rock hard greens, the trajectory that you hit an 8 iron at is still going to stop within 5 -8 ft. of where the ball hit first at. Now if only I could get myself to stop swinging so hard with my driver...
8/10/10
 
TeT says:
nice post... never bothered with the science, but have played with my 9, PW & assorted wedges at the same length for years because it worked better for control and consistency for my game. Never realized that distance gap was larger on the shorter irons...
8/10/10
 
Dixon Golf says:
We've all felt like Phillip at some point. Some of us more than others.
8/10/10
 
Banker85 says:
dead on, i have been choking down and hitting 85% shots with my shorter irons all year and basically the distance is good and trajecotry is good, i find the spin on them is enough to stop quick enough to keep it where you intended.
8/10/10
 
Matt Otskey says:
One thing to take away from this article is the suggestion The Wedge Guy made about switching to blades for your 8, 9, and PW. It is so much easier to control the distance and trajectory. I switched my full set from Mizuno MX-200's to Nike Forged Blades about 1.5 years ago. I used to average maybe 1 birdie a round. After the switch, according to Oob stats, I average almost 4 birdies per round. I attribute that increase in scoring mostly to the consistency that I get from having blade irons.

Now of course, one should only use blades if you can hit them consistently. I think a mid-handicapper with a good to strong iron game can easily make the switch to blades for the 8-PW and increase their scoring by a lot.
8/10/10
 
TWUES17 says:
What about those of us at the opposite end of the spectrum? I'm much more confident in my 6iron and below than I am with any of my longer clubs with the exception of my 2H...I guess since this is a WEDGE guy article I'm barking up the wrong tree.

And I'm with Matt on switching to blade style irons. I switched from Mizuno MX-23s to MP-52s (not technically blades, but closer) and my iron striking has become much more crisp and consistent.
8/10/10
 
DiC says:
Great article. I'd never thought about the 'hitting harder causes higher not further' but thinking about my short game over the last year it all makes sense. What I don't understand though is how am I supposed to get enough spin on the shot with a 75% 8 or 9 to stop it on the green. No matter what I seem to do I keep watching my shots landing short of the pin and then rolling off the back of the green!
8/10/10
 
Kickntrue says:
@DiC- what ball are you playing? Seems unlikely if you're playing a ProV1 or a Bridgestone B330 Series. Sucks that good balls cost so much- but they do make a difference, especially around the greens. May favorite performing cheap ball is a Top Flite Gamer- by far... If you're already using good ball... ignore me.
8/10/10
 
dottomm says:
Great Quote here
" the harder you swing, the higher and shorter the shot will tend to go"

This is very true and hard to remember.
8/10/10
 
Banker85 says:
@DiC: I dont hit it at 85% power i just dont go back as far in my back swing and still swing around 95% and i get good spin usually hit hop and stop with little roll out (with 7-PW). Try that, dont take the club back as far as a normal swing and still swing hard and down on the ball.
8/10/10
 
onedollarwed says:
You can't say this stuff enough... You can't say this stuff enough... You can't say this stuff enough... You can't say this stuff enough... You can't say this stuff enough... You can't say this stuff enough... You can't say this stuff enough... You can't say this stuff enough...
8/10/10
 
2ndSwing says:
I'm a huge proponent of the mixed sets. I think that the latest TaylorMade 'sets' kept this in mind by making almost game improvement 3-4-5 irons, mid-improvement 6-7-8, and blade style 9 and PW. It's probably the best way to go.
8/10/10
 
LongTimeAway says:
Great article. Nice explanation that reinforced for me why my Mizuno MX-300s 3-7 irons are made different than the 8-GW.
8/10/10
 
windowsurfer says:
Tried mixed bag tonite w success. Put my old school 7-8-9 Toney Pennas in w my MacG MT Pro-C forged cav backs. Hit a bunch of great shots with the blades PLUS some pretty 5 and 4 irons. (It's contagious!) My blended quiver has old blades and modern cav backs so I also had to balance lofts -- I have both a 35* cav 7i and a 38* blade 7i in my bag. I'm gonna stick with this for a while - felt great.
8/11/10
 
DiC says:
@Kickntrue. I currently use Nike PD Soft. Really like their feel off the club and find them to be nice and soft round and on the greens. I suppose I bought them for their 'soft' value rather than their 'spin' so they probably aren't designed to spin as much as I thought.
I don't tend to loose balls all that much so might be worth investing in some top end ones to see how much of a difference they make.
- thanks
8/11/10
 
DiC says:
@Banker85.
Understood, although I've only recently, maybe the last few months, realised the importance of doing that (making sure to accelerate all the way through the ball, no matter how short the shot). Hopefully I'll see improvements come my way. I also try to choke down on the club too to gain a little more control.
8/11/10
 
ipv6freely says:
*shrug* my 9i shots are between 3' and 30 yards, so im not sure this article will help me much...
8/11/10
 
DiC says:
So after a little investigation. I can't see much difference between the ProV1 and the ProV1x.

Anyone???
8/11/10
 
birdieXris says:
The proV1 does spin more than the Pro V1x. The ProV1x flies farther though off the driver and plays a little firmer than the ProV1. That's just what i found out between the two. I use the X because i have a high spin rate anyway. I keep backing the proV's up too far.

My recommendation is to just get a sleeve of each and play them until you lose them or they take one too many cart path hops. See which one suits you better.
8/11/10
 
Kickntrue says:
@DiC- I know I said this before- but check out the TopFlite Gamers. 30 balls for $32. They aren't ProV1's- but they're a heck of a ball for the price. I'd put them a notch below the ProV1s for the price of your PD Softs... a great middle ball.
8/11/10
 
TWUES17 says:
I really like Callaway Diablos and they come even cheaper - $24/dozen I believe. They spin plenty enough to stop on the green. They do not back up as much as V1s or V1xs, but I've noticed sufficient spin for my purposes - which is simply stopping the ball within a few feet of where it hits the green.
8/11/10
 
TWUES17 says:
An awesome resource: www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/302448-golf-ball-sp
8/11/10
 
birdieXris says:
@TWUES17 - OMG you like those? I found one at Riverview CC in Easton one day. I put it in play on the very next hole and couldn't get over how hard they are. Felt like i was hitting a rock! To each his own though. I think i might pick up a sleeve of those "gamers" just to see what they're all about.

Speaking of balls- i have a sleeve of Callaway iZ that i don't ever want to see again. most over priced and least durable "premium" ball ever. Anybody want them? 3 brand new, never hit balls and one that's been hit about 60 times. Free. I just won't ship them anywhere - wouldn't waste the money LOL.
8/11/10
 
TWUES17 says:
I do. I honestly haven't noticed that much of a difference between those and the V1xs, or maybe I haven't been playing close enough attention. They certainly don't give me the sensation off the club that they are 'hard.' It may be a function of my game, but they were soft enough that they would get chewed up by new Eidolons much the same way a V1x did.
8/11/10
 
ponderous says:
@TWUES17 and birdieXris -- I play the Diablo ball as well. Agree with birdieXris that their hardness falls somewhere between granite and diamond, but I actually like that (insert crack about hands/grace/touch of a blacksmith). For me, they're longer and much straighter than most other balls, and even long irons will stop on a dime. Plus, they're a bargain ($20 @ most places I find them).

I did the "ball fitting" at a local Golf Galaxy and the Diablo scored as the best value for my swing and goals. I'm not so sure I buy into their fitting algorithms (sort of suspect the results are geared toward certain brands), but I'm happy that it steered me to the Diablo.

@Wedge Guy -- Thanks for the article! Loved it!
8/11/10
 
eventHorizon says:
I'm more of a D2 Feel guy instead of the Gamer... It truly surprised me how good it felt. And FYI if you don't know, Callaway bought Top Flite. 100% satisfaction guarantee on the D2s.
8/11/10
 
stedar says:
Great article. I've been struggling with approach irons. The 3,4,5,6,7 seem to go as planned, then I get into trouble 150 out from the green. Over hitting (never understood until now, I've been consciously slowing the club head speed and therefore over hitting :-). I was thinking I was closing the club head and therefore the ball was rolling further. Then trying to give a little more club head speed and the ball was falling short. Was very confusing until now, it all makes sense. I could always hit over trees, just swing harder, but never put the fact that ball didn't travel as far when hit hard - hmm. Seems logical now...
Thanks and thanks to all who have pitched in (pun intended :-)
8/11/10
 
cmuidiot says:
@Kickntrue: Where are you buying the TopFlite Gamers of 30 balls for $32? The closest I've seen to that is 15 balls for $20 at Golfsmith.
8/11/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
On the Golf Ball Topic
- I used knetgolf.com a few weeks ago after Andrew or Kevin did a daily on them. It was a super recommendation. I plugged Oob recommending them on the comments/feedback section on their site.

I ordered a few dozen Callaway Tour iX (was fitted for the Bridgestone 330-s at my course but really like the iX and iS.)

It was a great experience! Selection of balls came in basically brand-new shape and were half the cost of new! I'd give them a look if you're shopping.
8/11/10
 
Swingem says:
Re: Golf Balls - I've played a lot with the ProV1 over the last 7 years, and have played the Taylormad TPs and Nike-One Tour with good results. For the last few months I've been playing the Top-Flite Gamer V2 and am surprized how good they are. So much so that they are currently my ball of choice. With the high end balls I would often hit a great shot, close to the hole, and yank it back 10-15 feet. For me, The Gamer feels good off all the clubs, gets good distance off the tee, and sits where it lands on the green. Top-Flite hit the sweet spot on performance and price point with this one.
8/12/10
 
birdieXris says:
RE: Golf balls - I'm going to get a sleeve of the gamers and see how they do. It's not just about being long, strait and stopping for me anymore. The reason i play the balls i do is because of the playability factor. I like to go at pins. It's safer and easier to hit a low screamer wedge that takes a big skip, checks and rolls 3 feet into a back pin, than to fly it in there with trouble behind. Likewise it's safer to get at a front pin by putting it at the middle of the green and spinning it back. In both instances, if you mis-hit you're still in the center of the green, but they have a chance to get really close. That's where the scoring is. It takes a lot of problems out of play. There's so many shots that require control of the spin, and if the ball maxes out at stopping and isn't able to draw back then you can lose a few shots out of your bag. There is such a thing as too much spin, but we shouldn't stop at "one hop and stop".
8/12/10
 
Swingem says:
@ birdieXris - good points and I agree. You'll get less spinback with the gamers but I've found that the check-and-roll is predictable.
8/12/10
 
mjaber says:
RE: Golf Balls... I've been playing the Titleist DT SoLo... $20/doz @Sports Authority. Seems to have nice mix of distance and feel.
8/12/10
 
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
Click here to for Terry's blogroll.
 
    Golf Talk
Most Popular:

Subscribe