A Look At The Long Clubs
Though I write as "the Wedge Guy", you can't put a wedge in your hands until you've hit the long clubs, right? And I've written about the driver as the first scoring club, because it is. Jason Dufner just blitzed the PGA by hitting fairways and greens, many of his approaches tearing flags down. He even admitted to the shaky putter, which we saw a number of times, but when you are that deadly with your approaches ... because you hit so many of them from the fairway ... you can get away with the shaky putter more easily.

What I'd like to dive into today is the subject of taking a closer look at the long end of your set, starting with your driver. In your quest for hitting it longer, are you sacrificing accuracy? How often do you hit the ball in the fairway, as opposed to the rough ... or worse? One interesting stat to keep is how many strokes you lose to par when you miss a fairway, as opposed to when you don't. I think most golfers will find that those missed fairways are a lot more costly than you realize.

And I will tell you again and again -- that 45-46 inch driver is a huge problem for all recreational golfers. Your distance gains from gripping down (or better yet, cutting down) your driver to 43 or 43-1/2 inches will be measurable. And you'll hit a ton more fairways doing that. And your scores will go down.

But let's look at the other long clubs in your bag. Because I'm in the business, I take a close look at most bags I encounter. I see what kind of wedges and irons the golfer has, what his or her longest iron is, and how many clubs they have "under cover". I'd say the average is about 4, but it is higher as the golfer's handicap is higher. What I don't understand are these golfers who carry two fairway woods, and 2-3 hybrids. I have to believe that their distance differentials between those clubs is not all that great, and that it causes them more confusion than not.

For most golfers of average clubhead speed, the 3-wood is not that effective from the fairway – it just doesn't have enough loft at 13-15 degrees. It takes a lot of clubhead speed to optimize carry distance with that club. A four- or five wood from 16-19 degrees of loft will typically give you more carry distance and more accuracy than that lower-lofted 3-wood.

From there, I can't see how a golfer would need more than two hybrids, regardless of their strength profile and skill level. They should deliver high ball flight that can hold a green and distances of 15-20 yards less than the fairway wood and 15-20 yards from the lower loft hybrid. Those three clubs can get you down to your first iron approach distance.

And from there, you should pick, alter or drop any clubs that don't result in a full-swing distance difference of 12-15 yards from the one above it.

For very low-speed golfers, in fact, I'd say that you could drop your odd- or even-number irons – at least at the long end of the set – and make the game simpler and more easy to manage. The USGA says we can't carry more than 14 clubs, but it doesn't say we can't carry less than that. And if you hit a 5-iron less than 155 or so, you probably don't need all of them.

Just something to think about.
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[ comments ]
mjaber says:
Since the hybrids are easier to hit than long irons, why not carry more? At one point, I was only carrying 4 irons (7-P), along with 4 wedges and 3 hybrids (2, 4, 5). If I could have found a 3h that I liked and was cheap enough, I'd have put it in the bag. Having a similar loft hybrid and fairway, to me, sort of makes sense. The hybrid is more flexible, but the fairway is probably going to be longer, and will give you a different trajectory.
8/16/13
 
Shallowface says:
Terry, while I agree with you that 45+ inches is too long for a driver, if I take my 45.5 inch D3 driver and cut it down to 43.5, the swingweight goes to C1.
Now, maybe you intend for me to pile on the lead tape, but you didn't say that. I've got to believe that C1 will have no head feel and will be like swinging a dowel rod.
I know swingweight isn't considered as relevant as it used to be. I never see it marked on clubs on the rack anymore. But I still think it means something. Not D2 versus D3, but D3 versus C1, definitely.
It might work with a more flexible shaft, but the "featherlite" concept failed 30 years ago.
Perhaps one of those drivers that have aftermarket weights would work.
Please comment on swingweight as it relates to cutting down a driver. Thanks!
8/16/13
 
TRad says:
@ShallowFace

You may use tip weight. You may use hotmelt. You may use heavier shaft. You may use more flexible shaft (not necessarily "featherlite"). There are drivers with weight ports (as you've written). There are possibilities to get SW you'd like to have.

And of course technically you may increase SW by installing a lighter grip. it won't change the feel, of course.
8/16/13
 
joe jones says:
Terry. As a slow swing speed golfer what possible advantage would there be for me to use less than 14 clubs.It makes as little sense as me suggesting that you drop 3 of your wedges and play with 11 clubs. Please explain.
8/16/13
 
PerkinsRooster says:
This is the first time I have to disagree with TK. I play to a 9 handicap and I just replaced my 5 irons with a Wishon 775hs hybrid and I love it. I have driver (@44 inches), 4 wood (@42 inches) and 3, 4,5 hybrid. My six iron carry is 150-155 and my 5 hybrid goes 165. Seven iron carry is 140-145 and so on. I don't understand why it's better for me to have a 5 iron when the hybrid is more consistent, goes higher and straighter.
8/16/13
 
Matt F says:
@Perkins - My bag is very similar to yours, I'm on the hunt for a 5wd to get rid of the 3wd. My 6 iron is my 150 yard club too. I carry 3,4 and 5 hybrids as well - far easier to hit than the long irons...just wish my HC was the same as yours!!
8/17/13
 
TRad says:
Joe

Playing with 11 clubs isn't advantegous. But playing with 14 wouldn't be either. Let's suppose I hit 200 with driver. I can't hit 3W, I'm too slow. With 4W I hit, let's say 170. 3H 155. 4H 145. 5I 135. 6I 125. 7I 115. 8I 105 and so on. Do I need 14 clubs? D, 4W, 3H, 4H, 5-PW gives 10 clubs. SW, putter - 12. And i think I could play a little weaker 3H (or stronger 4H) and gave up the second hybrid. I'm not going to hit a precise approach shot from 150 anyway.
8/17/13
 
PerkinsRooster says:
@Matt F - Look into getting a 41 inch 5 wood. It's a little shorter but far easier to control. Good idea getting rid of the 3 wood.
8/18/13
 
joe jones says:
I carry a Driver-5 wood set of hybrid irons 3-PW-+ Gap-& Sand Wedge and a 16* Hybrid + putter
I hit the 5 Wood-16* and 3 hybrid about 160 but each has a different ball flight and the 16* is better out of rough. Each of the wedges allows me to change trajectory around the greens which helps my short game.If I play a desert course that has a lot of waste areas I remove one of the wedges and carry an old beat up rescue club off the hard pan.
8/18/13
 
nswynnerton says:
Interesting that we still speak of such things as "I hit my 7-iron 155 yds" or I hit my 5-iron 180 yds". This in itself has little meaning unless the lofts and lengths are specified. But actualIy, that's too much trouble, I realize. I play with Mizuno MP-14 muscleback irons that are stock at 37.75" and 30* for the 5-iron. The pitching wedge is 50*. Those specs are considered "weak" by modernday standards. As Terry mentioned some time ago, a test using "Iron Byron" showed that muscleback clubs tend to be a tad more accurate than cavitybacks. But for me, it's mostly just esthetics...they're sleeker, have a thinner top line, and I can hack it up up with them just like I do with cavitybacks (10 handicap).
8/19/13
 
Shallowface says:
@TRad
Thanks, but of course I know all of that. I've been at this 40 years.
I wanted Terry to address whether he thinks one needs to do anything regarding swingweight since he didn't mention it in his original post.
BTW, Featherlite doesn't refer to shaft weight. It's a 1980s concept invented by Dave Pelz where he marketed clubs with a swingweight of B8. Later attempts were C6. Ray Floyd and Calvin Peete were proponents for a brief period of time, but like all extremes it doesn't last for long.
8/19/13
 
elliottgaryusa says:
The fun thing about the 14 club rule is the creativity you can have to fit your game and skill level. Here's what my club fitter and I came up with that works for me. Dropping the 3W was one of the best things for me.

Dr 13.5* 44" long (It's like a #2. I regularly out drive my 10* driving buddies. Ave 230y and 250y are common. With this setup, I went from hardly hitting any fairways to ave over 50% and 70% FIR rounds are common.)
5W 18
7W 21
4h 24
5i-P
52, 56, 60
8/20/13
 
Tim Horan says:
@shallowface - If swingweights were important to the average golfer there would need to be the same marketing revolution that we are seeing with jacked up lofts. Most off the rack hybrids are into the C-6 to C9 range and historically are classed as a ladies or senior weighting. If you advertise this macho golfers would not use them and would opt for D3 swingweights just to enforce their ego. It was the same in the seventies when the first cavity backs came on to the market. Blades were the man's man clubs.
8/20/13
 
Shallowface says:
@Tim Horan, that's interesting. I have several hybrids of different brands and none of them are that light (I have a swingweight scale).
If the club feels good to the player, exact swingweight is irrelevant. But handing a stiff shafted C2 driver to the average man will help keep him average, or worse. There simply isn't enough head feel to that club to allow him to swing it with anything resembling proper rhythm. It's like swinging a dowel rod. The club's balance is critical to proper tempo. It's why the used racks are full of stiff shafted drivers. They feel so light they become difficult to swing properly.
8/20/13
 
Tim Horan says:
@shallowface - Exactly that, Swingweight is irrelevant. A club fitter can only put a club in a golfers hand and suggest that it may suit based on physical data. It is feel that only the golfer can judge. All club fitting should extend to how the club feels and not stop at the physical data. And then having found a club that feels right to the golfer move beyond this to find where within a bracket this feel-good zone maxes out. This is something I have experienced and gone on to discover for my self but is not available through chain stores or custom fitting from big name club manufacturers.
8/27/13
 
Tim Horan says:
During my club-fitting experiences with TWGT I discovered that I am not flex sensitive (with irons) but very aware of swing-weight changes. So physical data provided the flex based on swing speed, length and lie based on physique. Swing-weight selection was trial and error to find a match and then fine tuned swapping in and out of flexes to find the optimum. Driver, fairway and hybrid shafts were all researched and fitted by me looking for a particular feel. Swing speed dictates a stable tip (low torque)but head awareness and feel required a regular flex. I found a shaft that combined both by studying shaft profiles. I now know that I have the right shaft as I have swapped these in and out of heads with no appreciative difference in performance. I have several drivers of wildly differing swing-weights D0 to D8 (all with the same shaft).
8/27/13
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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