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Love this club, hate that club

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I’ve had a love-it-or-hate-it relationship with certain clubs over the years. Take my 6-iron for example (I wish you would, Rodney Dangerfield might’ve joked). I’d thin it. I’d fat it. I’d let go at impact. I’d leave the clubface open. Pretty important club, too, since I figure if I can get my tee shot to the 150-yard marker, I’d have a decent chance of hitting the green in regulation with the 6.

But the club was like a kid on my block who I just couldn’t warm up to. I couldn’t pinpoint the problem with the kid. He wasn’t a bad kid. Nor was it a whole conglomeration of components out of place like Mr. Wilson’s take on Dennis Mitchell. It was just when I picked up that 6-iron the word “Trouble” flashed on the marquee of my brain. I just knew I wasn’t going to get it there, and maybe even knew on a water hole that it was wet before I even swung the damn thing. Odd, isn’t it, how we develop these relationships with clubs, where one feels like a comfortable pair of fur slippers and another like holding on to a crocodile’s tail.

Fortunately with today’s equipment options, I no longer need to remain locked into a bad marriage with the 6, enduring long hours of golf-elbow-syndrome practice, trying to figure out the right ingredients that would lead to a copacetic relationship with the beast. I don’t have the time, the inclination, nor the disposition for such nonsense. Nor did I have the patience to work with an old-school pro who was still recommending semi-blades and steel shafts to a septuagenarian who had “a beautiful swing,” he kept telling me. He had heard of hybrids, but hadn’t “gotten around to trying them yet.”

Hybrids. Like laptops in the late 20th century, hybrids revolutionized golf choices in the early 21st century, and almost seemed illegal. Here was a club that was swung like mid-iron, but could sweep through gnarly rough like a high-grass mower, and produce a high trajectory that made the ball hover and settle softly, making that nice thump sound indicating that “the eagle has landed” on the surface of the green.

Each year for several years now I’ve gone down to my favorite golf store, first exchanging my 3-iron for a 3-hybrid, then a 4, then a 5. But that’s where I stopped for several years, even after a good bit of success. I draw the line at the 6, I would say to myself. Not because I loved the club, but that I should be able to hit the 6, right? It’s just a mental block, I’d rationalize. Easy-peasey. I should be able to hit the 6, as should any golfer worth his or her salt. But a human being, even a golfer, can only take so much suffering. Like Dennis being sent to sit in the corner, I banished my 6 to the garage, replacing it with a 26-degree hybrid of the same number, TaylorMade, same as my iron set.

Well, I can’t say this hybrid has been an absolute blessing, but I do hit it more solidly and more consistently than I ever did with the iron. Since I don’t practice enough as my body ages, my direction is often off, missing the green by only a few feet, but enough to make a fairly sure par, or sometimes turn a birdie into a bogey due to inconsistent chipping. Still, when I now pick up that 6-hybrid, I feel more confident that I’ll make pretty decent contact (and some of time, I do), and that little mental edge makes all the difference.

The main point of this discourse is that it’s OK to experiment with the clubs in your bag. Back in the early days, Bobby Jones used to build his set club by club. There was no such thing as a matched set. He and other players of his skill would experiment with clubs until they found ones with the right swing weight, length, and that intangible, right feel. Amazingly, when later tested, they were as true in relation to each other as today’s matched sets.

Now I’m not suggesting you do as Wee Bobby did. If Jones had the choices we have today, he would have had a set custom built from the same manufacturer, as we do, with one club fitted perfectly and others following suit. But once we get our properly fitted matched set, we can make choices as I described above according to which club feels or doesn’t feel right.

As I’ve said, we have relationships with the clubs in our bag. We love our driver, say. Not so much our 3-wood. We hate the 4-iron. And our wedges and putter? That’s almost another post in itself. Those scoring clubs are the closest we come to the days of Jones and Sarazen. This launches us into the precarious realm of leaving the security of the mother-set and into choosing wedges and putters from other manufacturers. And the TV ads tempt us this way and that until we wind up with clubs we often hate. Too heavy. Too light. Too much toe weight. Too little bounce. Too much bounce. Takes too big a divot. Or isn’t long enough. Doesn’t have the right alignment aids. Too many three-putts.

A few years ago I picked up a yellow-headed “Feel” 52-degree gap wedge from a friend for 10 bucks, and I struggled mightily with that club for months before realizing it was weighted like a splitting maul. Could never figure it out, and it scuttled a number of rounds. Finally, I splurged on TaylorMade wedges that more match my set and my wedge play has improved considerably. I’ve got three or four wedges in the garage currently doing time for inconsistency and insubordination. But even with my matched wedges, I’m still adding and subtracting clubs…like my Phil-inspired 64-degree Pinseeker that gets me out of bunkers like a cart girl in hot pants offering a cold beer.

So take inventory. See what’s working and what’s shirking. Make changes to your equipment accordingly. Hybrids are a blessing from the golf gods. Wedges are confusing, but resolve that 2016 will be the year you make the changes that need to be made. Don’t hesitate. The right equipment is out there. You just have to work at finding it.

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Stephen has been a freelance writer since 1969. He's written six books, including the award-winning The Mindful Hiker and The Mindful Golfer, a best seller. His book covers all aspects of the game of golf, and can be purchased at local booksellers and online here. Stephen has also written many regional and national articles, and currently blogs at www.mindfulgolfer.com.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Other Paul

    Apr 28, 2016 at 9:05 am

    I love phils 64 degree pin seeker as well. But i have it in A 56!

  2. Steve

    Apr 27, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Ran out of things to try, so gave up my Callaway xhot irons (never liked the wide soles) bought some new Mizuno forged jpx-850, figured I would be working twice as hard to play them, wrong, even as a 14 handicap these irons are amazing very easy to control short irons and after a few buckets got the 5 and 6 up in the air and working fine…distance is almost the same…..love the feel and the thin top and bottom lines and less off set is great.

  3. DB

    Apr 27, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    I went through this cycle over the last couple of years, buying/trying/failing/selling…
    I’ve finally gotten my bag set up with what works for me in each category and I don’t see myself changing anything anytime soon. While trial and error can get expensive, I think I’m done for a while… I hope.
    On a similar note, anyone ever had a club that worked great for a long time and then all of the sudden you just can’t hit it anymore? Obviously a swing issue since the club didn’t change, but talk about frustrating and demoralizing!

  4. John Krug

    Apr 27, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    If you can’t hit a 6 iron or a 4 iron you need a lesson rather than buying a hybrid. Nothing like understanding the golf swing and having a proper one.

  5. Scooter McGavin

    Apr 27, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Is that a Nickent 4DX driver in the photo? I miss the original Nickent clubs (before Dick’s bought them). Never should have sold my 3DX Hybrid irons…

  6. alfriday

    Apr 27, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    The following quote from the article is very telling:

    “I should be able to hit the 6, as should any golfer worth his or her salt. But a human being, even a golfer, can only take so much suffering. Like Dennis being sent to sit in the corner, I banished my 6 to the garage, replacing it with a 26-degree hybrid of the same number, TaylorMade, same as my iron set.”

    Most golfers should be able to hit a 6 iron. The problem is that Taylormade 6 irons are really 4 irons. The M2 has a 25 degree loft and 37.625 inch length. The Aeroburner 6 iron is 25.5 degrees and 37.63 inches. Even with the weight of the clubhead redistributed for a higher launch, the clubs are still too long.

    Remember the 24/38 rule? Most amateur golfers don’t have the swing speed or consistency to hit an iron longer than 38 inches or stronger than 24 degrees. No re-weighting of the clubbed changes the basic rule. The Taylormade irons are on the edge of that rule. Some will be able to hit it, some not. If the author bought a full set, then he purchase three irons he can’t hit–4, 5, and 6.

    Taylormade is not the only manufacturer to strengthen, and just as important, to lengthen clubs.

    Most amateur golfers wouldn’t feel bad about submitting a hybrid for a 4 iron. But stick a 6 on the bottom of the club and we fall into golfer’s angst.

  7. BIG STU

    Apr 26, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Good and truthful article. I do not like hybrids but then again I still can hit and play long irons. I am a feel player and I have all my clubs weighted for my feel. I do build and tune my own clubs though. Wedges Good Lord! I am a wedge ho and I have probably close to 100 wedges everything from vintage to newer stuff. One just has to figure out what will work for them whether it is a hybrid or an odd ball iron that one can hit

  8. Greg V

    Apr 26, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Sometimes you just can’t explain a club that doesn’t work – even when the ones around it do work. I suspect that all shafts are not created equal, even if they have the same shaft band as the next. Who knows if they twist and flex consistently under load. Life is too short; I will pick up another club, even breaking up an iron set to put the ones in my bag that work consistently.

    The trick is sticking with the ones that DO work!

  9. DJ

    Apr 26, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Agree completely. It’s about finding the club that has the best feel and gets the most out of it (distance, spin, trajectory). I got a Cobra driver, Callaway 3 wood, Adams hybrid, TM 4 iron, Bridgestone 5-9, Mizuno PW, TM 50 and 56, Titleist 62

  10. Brad

    Apr 26, 2016 at 11:10 am

    If there was ever a statement that accurately describes us WRXers, it’s this:

    “I’ve got three or four wedges in the garage currently doing time for inconsistency and insubordination. But even with my matched wedges, I’m still adding and subtracting clubs…like my Phil-inspired 64-degree Pinseeker that gets me out of bunkers like a cart girl in hot pants offering a cold beer.”

    Great article Stephen! Really enjoyed it.

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Hidden Gem of the Day: The Wilderness at Lake Jackson in Texas

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day takes us to “The Lone Star State” and The Wilderness at Lake Jackson in Texas. The course was submitted by GolfWRX member pearsonified, who calls The Wilderness “the best value in Texas”. Pearsonified also believes that the course contains “perhaps the most memorable green sites” he’s ever seen as he went into full detail on why he believes The Wilderness is such a gem.

“This Jeff Brauer design is a RIDICULOUS sleeper with perhaps the most memorable green sites I’ve ever played. The par five 7th plays to a kidney-shaped green that’s nearly 70 yards long and features a few different plateaus. The long par three 16th—one of my favorite holes anywhere—is a classic Biarritz with a 5-foot-deep swale cutting right through the middle. Honorable mention goes to the short par four 11th which properly balances risk with reward and goads players to bite off as much as they can.”

According to The Wilderness at Lake Jackson’s website, a weekday round for a resident will cost $49, while for a non-resident the fee rises to $59. Although rising above the hidden gem “less than $50” rule, to play after 2 pm at the Wilderness will set you back just $44, and all of these rates include a cart fee.

@SilverStarGolf

@SilverStarGolf

@thewildernessgc

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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The 19th Hole (Ep 59): Exclusive with new President of the PGA Suzy Whaley and Matt Ginella

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Suzy Whaley, the first woman elected President of the PGA of the America, gives an exclusive one-on-one interview on this week’s episode on The 19th Hole with Michael Williams. Also featured: Travel Insider Matt Ginella of the Golf Channel and Golf Advisor.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Hidden Gem of the Day: Quail Hollow Golf Course in Boise, Idaho

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was posted by GolfWRX member PixlPutterman, who submitted Quail Hollow Golf Course in Boise, Idaho as his hidden gem of a golf course. PixlPutterman calls Quail Hollow a “target golfers dream,” and judging by his description of the 18 hole course, it’s easy to see why.

“Nestled in the foothills at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains. The course is kept in country club level condition and is very challenging. Its a target golfers dream, you can play it with about six clubs and you rarely “need” a driver. Greens are in great shape, and there are some great elevation holes. Pic (below) was taken from the Champion Tee on the 18th Hole. You basically tee off over two other holes, and the view is AWESOME.”

According to Quail Hollow Golf Course’s website, a weekend round with a cart at the course nestled in the Boise foothills will cost you $48, while playing during the week is just $44. Both senior and twilight rates come in at around $39.

@Ron_White

@fnf2017

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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