Hit Your Irons A Full Club Longer
Terry "The Wedge Guy" Koehler is in New Zealand this week speaking at a PGA Seminar. While he's out, we're going to feature a "Best of The Wedge Guy" article from the past. This article was originally published June 3, 2011. Enjoy!
I am seeing ads from a number of iron manufacturers this year which tout their new models of irons to be the longest ever made. Apparently, all these companies sequestered their mad scientists in top secret installations deep inside a mountain somewhere until they found the formula for increased distance with irons. And they tout that their new super-duper, kryptonite-loaded, pixie-dusted model "super game improvement" irons are going to give you tour-like distance.
Well, I've recognized that apparently the marketing wizards at the major brands have found out that golfers will buy anything if it promises more distance. So, I went into my lab and I found a way to help any golfer hit all his or her irons a full club further, too. And I'm going to give this discovery away complete FREE. No strings attached. Right here, right now.
All you have to do is take a piece of silver duct tape and cover the number on the bottom of each iron. Then you take a permanent Sharpie marker and write the next higher number on the tape. Your 5-iron now has a "6" on it, your 8-iron now has a "9", and so on. And voila, you are a full club longer than you used to be!!!
As silly as that sounds, that's exactly what these companies are doing, and then trying to sell that "advancement" as some kind of technology breakthrough. These new longer-hitting irons are all sporting specifications that are not much different from my totally FREE solution. The "P-clubs" have as little as 43* of loft, the 9-irons are what your previous 8-iron was in both loft and length. But you'll find that under close examination, the 4-irons in these sets are only a little stronger than your current one.
So, what these sets do to your golf game is compress the range of distances you get between your longest iron and your shortest, creating a large gap in distance between your "P-club" and your gap wedge, and leaving you a big hole right in prime scoring range.
And your scores will suffer. Trust me.
This obsession with distance is ludicrous in my opinion. I wrote a few weeks ago about every golfer's need to have a sequence of yardages from around 200 to 80 or so, where you know exactly how to hit a shot each distance. It doesn't matter what number is on the sole of the club. If you are 135 yards from the flag, you need a club that will deliver close to that distance consistently, right? There are no bonus points for doing it with a 9-iron over a 7-iron.
Luke Donald is the proof.Congratulations to Luke Donald for capturing the pole position as the #1 player in the world. There's no question he's playing better this year than anyone. His stats for wins and top 10s back that up. And he proves that the game belongs to the big, strong bombers who hit it 300+ every time, and can stick a 9-iron from 165 yards.
Wait, that's not right. Luke Donald is 5'9" tall, and weighs 160 lbs. His driving distance is a full 30 yards behind Dustin Johnson's and 11 yards shorter than the tour average.
But Mr. Donald is 10% more accurate off the tee than the tour average, he hits almost 10% more greens than the average and his scrambling success is almost 20% better than the tour average. Hmmmmmm. Maybe the game doesn't belong to the bombers?
The moral of this story is that if you want to get better, an extra ten yards with your irons isn't the answer. Accuracy is. And that means distance accuracy as well as direction accuracy. If you are playing the right set of tees for your skill level, you'll hit the bulk of your approach shots with a 7-iron or less. You'll have a par four or two and a par-three that test your longest approach clubs, and you won't have a remote chance of getting home in two shots on more than one par five, if any at all.
But, if you hit your drives in the fairway, hit your approaches close to the green (regardless of what club you hit), and learn how to get it up and down a higher percentage of the time, your handicap will come down.
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This horse isn't dead yet?
seriously...mr_x is right...the only question is which jacked iron are we beating it with?...
Here's a question though - if you want to get new irons for whatever reason - your game has changed, you want to get fitted, whatever - what choice do you have today but to end up with jacked lofts?
@GBogey... That's the other horse... custom club fitter.
@mjaber I personally have had good experience with both putter and driver fittings, so I'm interested in getting my irons fitted. Probably a lot has to do with what you are trying to get out of the fittings and who is doing them.
Distance is nice, but if you can't hit it onto a playable lie, or the green, what does distance matter. It seems that there is this misconception that unless you hit the ball 300 yards with your lob wedge, you aren't a good golfer. Now consider that 70 year old guy at your local course who consistently makes pars? Obviously he doesn't drive it even 250 yards, but he does put it straight down the middle every time. As far as consistency in lofts, look up any set made in the past 15 years, and then look at those made prior to it; ever wonder why most sets don't come with a 2 and 3 iron any more, but cost the same (relatively speaking to the time an pricing of the year)? Unfortunately, money is the driving factor, not the player.
If I had a nickel for every time I hit a 230-yarder down the middle, then a hybrid just short, right, or left, and get up and down with my often-practiced short game----compared to the 300 yard bomber I am playing against who hasn't got a clue about touch with a wedge, I'd own my own golf course. Though distance CAN be helpful at times, it doesn't compare to accuracy and touch. If you are lucky enough to have all these attributes, you are, or will be, a single digit player, or better, for sure. If you are strictly a distance player, get used to being a mid-high double digit player. Lower handicaps are reserved for those who can actually play the game, not just hit the ball a mile. The lowest handicappers have distance, in addition to accuracy and touch. Those are the guys I am jealous of. But at my age (mid 50s) I don't think I'll ever get there.
There is a troubling irony here too I think: Now that most players' sets no longer include their longest irons, their few remaining irons are being jacked up to replace the lost distance of say the 2, 3, and 4 irons.
While I like the basic function of hybrids, I don't have a call to hit them more than once or twice a round, and I'm basically picking up a club which is quite different in weight and length than anything else in the bag. I feel much more comfortable with the 3 iron - if off a tee, or in the fairway. I can't predictably work the hybrids the same way. And, if you've followed Terry's column for long you realize the big gray area for targeting: distances over 200yds, say. I have a 3i, 4i, 1hy, 3hy, D, that all get me in the gray area(in terms of predictable distance and targeting). All the clubs work great at the range, but too small a sample size on the course with real world lies.
Or... is there a modulation to newer combinations of club length and degree of loft? It makes me rethink the notion of what a set of clubs is, or has to do. Disregarding the putter and Driver, the rest of the clubs need to give you control off less than maximum tee shots (par 3's and doglegs, say), accurate approach shots (whether laying up or going for it), and sealing the deal around the green (pitches, punches, flops, chips, and sandies).
The "other" shots are rescue shots (from under trees or out of ditches), fairway bunker shots, and maximum distance shots out of the rough or fairway, on par 5's, or after muffed drives.
Then there is this "special" shot: the 200+ yd approach on a very long par 4, or short par 5 (after either a poor drive or a great one, respectively).
I think what Terry is trying to get across all the time is that if we build our set to reflect the normal game, we will play a normal game - and by normal I mean good scoring more than not.
But to fill your bag with shots for the "other" and "special" shot our game will reflect that.
How the admen want you to build your set:
"Maximum length Driver" - this will get you into all kinds of trouble, and they can juice the ball flight monitor to prove it! If you happen to smoke it down the middle once or twice a round it's called "the one that will keep you coming back!" Otherwise it will traverse the lateral hazard, come to rest in the fairway next door, or head into the trees and drop 150yds out from the tee. Now you need...
"Maximum length rescue club" (hybrid or jacked iron). Because of the awkward lie, and need to overswing, you will either top it, or hit well behind the ball, so you need to hit it at least 2-3 times. You might hit the 3hy and then the 5hy, and then the 7hy. Now that you're back in the right fairway, or in a greenside bunker, you can grab the...
"Off the rack wedge" which has a specific bounce for specific conditions, a heavy steel shaft, and no feel at all. Ok, putt!
Tim Horan says:
@gbogey - I can only speak as I find but having had a full custom fit carried out by a Tom Wishon Golf Technology franchise I will say their clubs are not jacked up and will not cost you any more than say a current set from Titleist, Mizuno, or Taylormade. Not only will you get the set that suits you, you will learn a lot about your swing in the process. Getting the right shaft in the non-jacked up clubs can gain you as much distance. It matters not to me what number is on the bottom of a club I just need to be able to identify it from the others in the bag. I know how far I can hit each club.
Tim Horan says:
@onedollarwed - Buying hybrids off the rack and quite probably a different make from your irons will produce a separation in the feel. Find out what your SwingWeight your irons are and have your hybrids adjusted to mimic them. I have just rebuilt my MP33 blades with graphite shafts with progressive swingweights D0 - D3 My hybrids are C8 and C9 and my wedges are progressive D3 - D6. The only separation that I have is Driver and Fairway. My Driver scales in at D8 and that is only because of the additional weight associated with adjustable hosel technology and the length of shaft. The fairway is @ D2.
Tim Horan says:
In observation - If you are strong in the arm and have fairly passive hands through impact you are more likely to be flex concious and your shot less likely to be affected by differing swingweights across your set. The more lag and handsy you swing the more swingweight will play a part in shot dispersion and a loss of feel if your set is mis-matched.
Tim Horan says:
I made a mistake recently and rebuilt a set of blades all at D2 (this was geared to a favourite 4 iron). The 3i, 4i and 5i produced some really acceptable shot results but 6 - PW @ D2 didn't work for me and the GW, SW and LW starting at D2½ up to D4 were a little unstable. A gramme here or there doesn't sound much (doesn't weigh much physically) but in motion and at it's max at impact a gramme can make a great difference to the feel and shot result.
@TH; Good point. I don't know what hybrids ought to match or blend with MP-60s, but I used to play Mizuno fairway metals (a 3 and a 7), which had stiff steel shafts. This was great as they "matched" in that way, and played like the typical "woods" that we all know/knew.
Apart from the occasional tee shot and maximal fairway wood, I wasn't using them much either. The hybrid's range seemed more practical, but I still hit the low irons well and with great workability. I'll have to do an analysis of the swing weights and see what's out there.
Will get to work on fine tuning "a sequence of yardages from around 200 to 80 or so, where you know exactly how to hit a shot each distance." That's about 4i-59*
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