5 Ways Modern Technology Has Hurt Your Scoring
Over the past three decades or so, modern golf club technology has changed the way we play the game. Drivers are bigger, more forgiving, and launch the ball prodigious distances. Metal woods are hotter and easier to hit than ever. Irons are getting stronger and more forgiving of mis-hits. And these things called 'hybrids' are so easy to hit they are scary.

But all this technology has done absolutely nothing for your short range performance. And your failure to significantly lower your handicap in the face of all this technology is proof.

Here are five ways that modern technology has prevented you from getting better inside 125-150 yards from the flag:
  1. Strengthening of lofts in irons has taken away scoring clubs. The lofts of your short irons – 9-iron and PW – have been strengthened by as much as 8-9 degrees from what was played 40 years ago. So, where Hogan, Nelson and Snead had 6-7 clubs for all the shots inside 150 yards, the modern golfer only has 3-4 of them, maybe less. So, wouldn't you have to be twice the ball striker Hogan was to make that work?

  2. Thin face iron designs don't deliver pinpoint distance control. In days past, golfers lived to get a "round club" in their hands. That 8-, 9 and PW looked different because they were different. We could get pinpoint distance control with them, and they really weren't that hard to hit. But as irons evolved to thin-face, cavity back designs, we lost the reliable distance control of the old blades. Every golf company knows it, but they don't want you to – thicker faces on higher-loft clubs deliver better trajectories, improved distance consistency and much more solid feel. A 9-iron that looks like a 6-iron is easy to sell, but it just isn't good science.

  3. "Wedges" haven't changed to keep up. The reality is that the 2012 wedge rack is filled with clubs that look just like they did 30-40 years ago. What other category could get away with that? When the "modern" sand wedge was designed over 50 years ago, it had all the weight low so that it could have a full sole design. It was also never used for full swing shots. That has changed, but the design hasn't. You hit your wedges too high, and they are made to aggravate that. You can do better.

  4. Wedge shafts haven't changed much in 30 years. Back then, almost all irons had a heavy and stiff steel shaft, and wedges did, too. But today, more and more golfers are playing regular shafts in their irons...or lightweight steel...or graphite. To have that same old heavy, stiff steel shaft in your money clubs will not optimize your feel and gives you a huge 'disconnect' right in the middle of prime scoring range.

  5. Your set make-up should be different these days. Technology has made the longer clubs easier to hit and go further than ever. It's done the same with your short clubs. But why do you need 4-5 clubs that go further than your 5-iron? You don't score "out there" – you score inside 9-iron range. Thirty or forty feet long or short with a 5-iron or more in your hands is a great shot, but it stinks to be that far away from 100 yards. You won't get short range precision if you have 20+ yard gaps between your full swing scoring clubs. What makes sense is to allow 20-yard gaps between your longer clubs and do what's necessary to get 12-14 yard gaps at the short end...or smaller. If that means rethinking your entire set make-up, then do it.
The wonderful thing about our sets of golf clubs is we can put them together any way we want. And I suggest you start with a club of 58-61 degrees and work backward from there, building reliable distance gaps that get increasingly wider as you go away from the flag. You've got nothing to lose but some strokes off your handicap.
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[ comments ]
GolfnDawg says:
Your point 5 is something I've been thinking about alot. It doesn't make sense to carry 4-AW not to say 3-PW when my typical second shot is <150 in. Seriously thinking of putting a 4h in my bag for the long par 5s and starting at 7 with my irons and wedging out. Other than the mental aspect of not having a 4-6, i can't see the downside.
BAKE_DAWG40 says:
I can name one other thing that hurts my game....the gray matter encased between my ears. I birdied back to back par 4's last night to get back to even par, ran into a rain delay, finished the last four holes on the front, and proceeded to shank four shots resulting in two doubles and a triple bogey. Ugh. I'm so frustrated with my game right now I may take a break for awhile. I've went from a 5.3hc to 10.6hc in less than two years. Someone help.
Torleif Sorenson says:
*Thank you* Mr. Koehler for another excellent article!

(1) explains why club manufacturers don't offer 2-irons anymore.
(4) is true for my ca.1989 Hogan Edge sand wedge, which has a stiffer shaft and heavier swing-weight than every other iron in my bag.
(5) is true because my short-game has cost me dearly on the golf course.

Eventually, Mr. Koehler, you and I will talk about my buying a new set of wedges and short irons. Count on it - and thanks for the education along the way!
bortass says:
This is partialy why I have 4 wedges. My lowest iron is a 5i. I find myself hitting it even when I know it will be short. My woods are a 4 and 7. So I have that 20+ yard gap in my longer clubs. Now if I could be more accurate with said wedges my score would drop.
Duke of Hazards says:
not that I've been playing golf that long, but i agree that the whole 'lightweight' movement in club shafts and heads is a tremendous hurdle for anyone trying to develop a proper swing as you can very quickly lose feel of the clubhead if you're grip and stance are off, which is common for a beginner. in other words, it's a lot harder to feel what you're doing wrong swinging today's clubs unless you already have strong fundamentals. it's sad that the only clubs that help develop a beginner's swing are the heavier 'swing trainer' type clubs.

not getting enough distance? well, here... just take this featherlight shafted 47inch driver and make your hideous swing (@beef... turn away in disgust) faster! it's got a sweet spot the size of Montana. you wanna work the ball? here, a quick turn of this wrench will do the trick! it's got 12 settings. just set it and forget it! looks like i'm getting ranty. i'll stop now.
legitimatebeef says:
God help us. We are awash in a sea of marketing cliches, spurious new "technologies", a million different choices ranging from traditional to ultra modern, hoping to find that combination that lets us maximize our meager potential. Too much choice is the bane of our modern existence.
SpaceMaNy0 says:
^hear here!

I played blades for a LONG time so I agree with that, but I don't need 6 wedges. I used my 9i from 120 in all season last year and just recently found a wedge I like for 60 in. I've got a 100 yard shot with 4i, 6i, 7i, 9i, and if I hammer my wedge or smash my flatstick.... it's not necessarily what you got, it's how you use it.
1hawkeye1 says:
No wonder my pro wanted me to get 3 new wedges. I didn't understand why until I read this article. Makes sense now. Thanks.
onedollarwed says:
Hey, hey, there are trees here! Maybe not too many in Texas. I have to hit from under tree limbs all the time, and get good distance. But seriously, I still use and love 3 iron, 4 iron and up. I also have a 1 hybrid. The 3 iron has great length and workability. It will not get lost up in a breeze. For a nice low draw off the tee on a narrow par 5 dogleg, that is the club, with a stiff steel shaft! The hybids are too big a shift in every respect from my irons, except when really needed in the rough, or for loft. With 4 wedges, I'm using the minimal wedge, 60* the most, and the P for chipping. The other two might not see as much use as my low irons - though it really depends on the course.
andycook says:
What were the "6-7 clubs for all the shots inside 150 yards" ? For me my 7i is my 150 club so every club ahead of my 7i would count - 8i, 9i, PW, GW, SW, LW. What am I missing?
wedgeguy says:
Andy, Hogan listed his "normal" 5-iron distance at 15 yards, with a max of 175. Understand that your modern 7 probably is darn close in loft and length to what Hogan's 5 was. You seem to have pretty good gapping, but are all your "wedges" all they could be? I suggest that they represent the oldest technology in your bag . . . and everyone else's, too.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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