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I did this experiment because I am currently using blades after using game-improvement irons for a long time. And after a few rounds with the blades, I have found no real drop in performance.

Moment of inertia (MOI), a measure of an iron’s forgiveness, is as a selling tool for new irons, but I am not sure how much real improvement it is offering the golf community. My video goes a long way to show that maybe the way we’re thinking about fitting irons to our game is quite wrong. 

Both the irons I tested in the video had stiff shafts. The Mizuno MP-5 (blades irons) had True Temper’s Dynamic Gold S300, while the JPX-EZ (game-improvement irons) had True Temper’s XP 95 S300 shafts. Both irons were tested with stock lofts and lengths.

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Mark Crossfield has been coaching golf for more than 20 years, and has enjoyed shaping the digital golf world with fresh, original and educated videos. Basically, I am that guy from YouTube. You can connect with Mark on Periscope (4golfonline) and Snapchat (AskGolfGuru), as well through the social media accounts linked below.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. L^E

    Apr 25, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    I’m a 10 handicap and play a set of blades and I often hear comments like “wow blades, why make the game harder?” or “you must be really good if you are playing these clubs” (which i’m not really good, I’m just average). Truth of the matter is, a crappy shot is a crappy shot. A GI club isn’t magically going to turn a chunk into a pure shot pin high. It IS true that your off center shots will most likely fly further with a GI club, but not by a significant amount. And for me, blades offer the “feel” when you hit that pure shot to know you hit it pure. Feedback in a club is an important part of improving your game. I’m not advocating that everyone should play blades, it’s a personal preference. But I think we need to realize that blades are not just for scratch golfers.

  2. Bryon

    Apr 22, 2016 at 8:38 am

    I would like to see a high handicapper do this experiment. Someone in the 20s range go through this with the data so we can see side by side if GI irons are better or not.

    I’m curious to see if GI irons truly benefit a higher handicapper or not.

  3. Hawk

    Apr 21, 2016 at 9:35 am

    As a high handicapper myself I hate GI irons and find them to be a marketing ploy to get more players into golf. One of the biggest reasons people leave the game is because it is so hard to hit the ball. GI irons make it easy, but it doesn’t make you better.

    I maintain this view because I see my game progressively improving year after year, while I see my buddy struggling to get better. We both started playing at the same time. he went the GI route, and can’t chip, pitch, and has no accuracy at all under 100 yards. On the other hand I am very accurate and very good and chipping and pitching when you consider we are both handicapped in the 20s. With every iron I am far more accurate and consistent than my buddy. I play MP-60s.

  4. Eric

    Apr 18, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Very surprised that there is not a larger gap in distance since the JPX 6 iron is 2 degrees stronger than the MP series. To be fair the MP5 does not behave like most blades and is much larger than any other blade offering from Mizuno. I feel that it is way more forgiving than any other MP I have seen outside of the H series. I agree with the earlier comment, I would like to see this test with an MP15 or even a MP4. Those are the last of the compact head, thin top line Mizunos. If not Mizuno test the Titleist MB or Callaway x-forged. It would be fun too for Mark to hit an 11th shot where he tries to “step on it”.

  5. Justin

    Apr 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    This is interesting and I have 2 different views. Being a scratch+ golfer (as I assume Mark is as well) there is no need for me to hit game improvement irons, as I strike the ball in the center of the face more often than most. However, I performed a similar test with taylormade mb irons vs the new PSI forged. I found the PSI’s traveled about 8 yards further on average (after 20+ shots with each) and had just about the same amount of feedback. The spin rates were also very similar, with the main difference being the ball speed and launch angle. Both clubs had X100 Tour Issue shafts and were identical in every way outside of the head obviously. The 8 iron of the blade I believe is 1 or 2 degrees weaker than the PSI, so it doesn’t shock me that it went a little further, but the big surprise was that it actually launched higher on average than the mb. So I think this discussion need to be separated into 2 categories: 1. Players cavity vs blades for low handicappers and 2. GI vs standard/players cavity for higher handicappers. Players cavity irons are the wave of the future as more pros are moving away from blades. The thing that has changed is the feedback we get from the cavity irons is better than ever, and feedback is one of the only reasons I played blades in the past.

    An interesting side study to this would be if there was a way to test players hitting crucial shots in their club championship or other tourney to see how often they can hit the center of the club face under pressure. That brings me to my final thought: confidence. You should hit an iron you feel looks good and sets up well at address. Never choose an iron based on the so called benefits alone. If a thin top line makes you feel better over the ball, you should probably play the mbs over the PSI forged. The few shots that matter greatly during a round (getting out of trouble, forced carry, green with water/sand) are influenced most by how a player feels in the situation. You’ll hit a good shot if you feel you’ve got the right club in your hand. Beyond that, what’s in between your ears is still more important than what’s in your bag.

    • Matto

      Apr 19, 2016 at 5:53 am

      Last I heard, Mark’s a 9. I could be wrong.

      • ParHunter

        Apr 21, 2016 at 5:09 pm

        You must be joking! Check out his GameGolf profile. That calculates a GG handicap (which tends to be close to your real one) of +0.6. Bis average score is 73.7

  6. Daddy Divots

    Apr 18, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    I switched from a players iron to a GI (Speedblade) after about a year of having kids. I had no time to practice and my ball striking suffered. When i made the switch my 1 round per week became a lot more enjoyable and the scores came down significantly.

    I have been as low as a 5 index (pre-kids) and climbed over 12 once the practice sessions were no longer an option. GI irons helped me quickly get back to a solid single digit.

    You can fawn over the blade, it’s beauty or whatever all you want, but the average person or the 12 handicap is going to see improvement with GI irons.

    God bless technology!

    • Hawk

      Apr 21, 2016 at 9:24 am

      I beg to differ. I play MP-60s and my buddy plays RocketBladez. My shots are far more accurate and far more consistent than he has every been. We both started playing at the same time, and both our handicaps are in the 20s.

      there are shots he can’t make and won’t make because he isn’t comfortable with it, or doesn’t know how to do it. For me, there is nothing I can’t hit or do. Call that confidence vs club, but the theory that GI irons will benefit is a total falicy. It is a gimmick to get people to play the game by offering an easier to hit club. Is it easier to hit? Absolutely, but it doesn’t make you a better player. If you want to get better and be a better player, I maintain, even as a high handicapper, stay away from GI irons.

      • BHS

        Apr 22, 2016 at 2:38 pm

        I have to disagree with you Hawk…I did the same thing as Daddy Divots…combo blade set(McGregor V-foil yr 2002 when they were good) to the X-Hot pros by Callaway. I had the same thing happen to me since I didn’t play as much, from 6-7 times every month to 3-4 times with 2 months off. My handicap was going up to 9-10 range from 4-5. Most of the issues was not hitting enough greens from 170-210 range. Since I made the change…dropped back down again. One of my playing buddies is about the same handicap as you and he plays they same no mater what clubs are in his hands, his clubs.. to mine to a friends extra set of blades.
        I do think that this problem helps someone in the 5-12ish handicap range more then someone in your range.

        Honest Question, if you both you and your friend started at the same time and you can hit shots he can’t… and as you said..”On the other hand I am very accurate and very good and chipping and pitching when you consider we are both handicapped in the 20s”
        Have you considered that if you used GI clubs you would be in the teens?

  7. Lowell

    Apr 18, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Nice video and is pretty spot on. A player does not intentionally aim for the toe no matter how high a handicap. A high handicapper is inconsistent in where they hit the golf ball on the face so even if they had a game improvement iron, it would not improve their outcome.

  8. Tony Wright

    Apr 17, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Mark interesting test thank you. Is there any chance you could duplicate the test by hitting the EZ club with the same shaft you use in your MP5 clubs – Dynamic Gold S300? The XP 95 shaft is about 35 grams lighter than the Dynamic Gold shaft, and the XP 95 shaft flex profile throughout the shaft is a lot softer than the Dynamic Gold shaft flex profile. Would that make a difference, who knows unless you do it with the same shaft. All the best.

  9. Square Grooves

    Apr 17, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    So a scratch golfer finds little difference between a blade and a shovel on Trackman. Shocking. Have a 14 handicapper do the same comparison, and watch the blade numbers go sideways.

    • jcorbran

      Apr 17, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      14? average golfer shoots 100, that’s a 28ish. You didn’t hit anything thin or fat, test those clubs while chunking them all, see what works better.

  10. KC

    Apr 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    I recently demo’d the new Titleist 716 irons and the best performer for me was the CB hands down. AP1 were a little bit longer, as you’d expect with the stronger lofts, but those CB’s were going as far as the AP2 and T-MB irons (despite their lofts being a tad stronger) yet felt way more pure. On mis-hits I noticed exactly the same impact to the shot with all the irons, so it really is a no-brainer for me that the CB was what I’d bag from that line. If you can consistently strike the ball then why not play an attractive club like a CB or MB?

    • golfraven

      Apr 20, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      I agree here with you. The only clubs I would consider now are the CBs, even if the AP2 might be the better fit. Maybe even a combo of MBS and CBs but I guess this is just being funky.

  11. JustTrying2BAwesome

    Apr 17, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    I’m surprised a hot faced iron isn’t flying a lot farther than a solid faced blade. Seems to for me in the long irons, but what do I know. Thanks for the review Mark.

  12. Tom Duckworth

    Apr 17, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Very nice Mark. For a number of years I believed I should leave my old blades in the basement because no one can hit them but the pros. I never went full on GI irons I would buy the cavity back cut slot type of iron that I just didn’t really like the feel of. After breaking out my old Wilson Staff blades and hitting many buckets side by side with the cavity back irons like you I could not find any real meaningful difference.
    I hit my irons well but by no means am I a scratch golfer.
    I have to miss hit pretty baddly to really see a difference and a bad strike with any iron is a bad strike.
    I do feel like if mfgs. can convince us that all these different irons will make a difference they will sell more irons. It just make sense if you have six different irons to sell that a golfer will find something in your line they like or think will help them. I’m sure there are golfers that walk in the store and just look at GI irons because that’s what they think they can hit and never look at anything else they might enjoy more. Just think if Titleist made one kind of iron and said “This is the perfect iron” even if it was they would never sell as many. I’m not saying everyone should play blades I play Wilson FG Tour V2s because I like their feel and I know how far it will go when I hit it well but they are never HOT. Blades are not as hard to hit as some would have us believe. I must say I’m glad to see you playing the MP-5s I was a little bummed when you were playing the GI irons.

  13. George

    Apr 17, 2016 at 3:55 am

    I recently went from MacGregor player cavities to MP-59. I tried more game improving irons like XR, XR Pro, but unfortunately I can’t even look at those large heads with the thick top line. Sorry, but look of the head at address is important for me. The MacGregors just spoiled me in that category.

  14. RG

    Apr 17, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Thank you for being the voice of reason Mark. If you hit it out the middle it doesnt matter what you play and “forgiveness” is mostly a marketing tool. Now Guru tell them all about shaft flex! #the truth is out there

  15. Rich

    Apr 16, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    Mark, love your work. Anyone who gives me the drive to go back to blades is alright with me. Would like to see this test done with a 15 marker or something like that. Would be keen to see if there was a similar lack of difference. Cheers

  16. Other Paul

    Apr 16, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    I switched to titlesit 712 mbs. They are amazing. My game rose up to playing them very quickly. Got over the 4i fear as well. Good video Mark. Welcome to WRX.

  17. :-ppp

    Apr 16, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    What a totally clueless comment from somebody who knows nothing

  18. Eee

    Apr 16, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Crossfield says: “We should all just have one ball, one shaft, one head type. And call it a day. Because it’s the Indian and the arrow. All the time. If you know how to strike the ball, you’ll figure it out. I hate all these shaft choices. “

  19. Jordan Speeth

    Apr 16, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    I’ve experienced the same and, as a result, have gone back to a much more blade-y iron (Srixon Z745). If anything, they make me more aware of the fact that I want to/need to strike the ball with the center of the club face and, as a result, I do. The feel, performance, spin control, etc. though, are much better with the Z745 than the GI club in the range. I do have a Z545 4 iron with a stiff Graphite shaft and I think that club carries the ball significantly further than the steel shafted Z745 that would be part of my normal set. It REALLY takes off like a rocket…the Cavity/slot back Z545, that is. Anyway, I find myself agreeing with Mark and the type of player who would supposedly benefit greatly from a GI club, i.e.. 60+ years old, cancer patient (loss of strength/swing speed), losing eyesight/hand-eye coordination but all those factors considered, I’m still a better player with the blades. I was a Ping guy for two decades too. I sometimes play with a vintage set of Haig Ultra blades too, a REAL blade, and I can say that, though they’re still great, contemporary blades are not your grandfather’s clubs. They ARE easier to hit than 50s thru 70s butterknives.

  20. Roger Daltry

    Apr 16, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Play VR Pro blades after Titleist 690.mb’s, best golf of my life after many years of “player cavities.” Connection = feedback = improvement = results. It’s a smarter cycle. Few are aware!

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Opinion & Analysis

A road trip to St. Andrews

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In 2017, my son Brian and his wife Lauren, proposed a family trip to Scotland. Both of them have traveled a surprising amount for a couple barely 30 years old, but for us it would be a huge trip. We couldn’t get it scheduled for 2018 but everything lined up for October, 2019, a trip that might even include playing the Old Course in St. Andrews, if we got lucky. The amazing Lauren made all the arrangements, beginning with multiple email exchanges with the staff at the Old Course, who were extremely gracious and encouraging in their communications.

Unlike most other courses, in order to play the Old Course, you have three options: One is to book a very expensive trip through a travel broker who will guarantee a tee time. This is the only way to make your arrangements in advance, but you’re paying thousands for the package, which would include at least three other days of golf. Sounds great but above our budget. Secondly, you can take a real gamble and just show up at the starter’s window the day you are hoping to play, and get in line as early as 3 a.m., put your name on the list and then wait, maybe all day, maybe hopelessly. It’s no way to budget an entire day on your vacation. The third way is to use what is called the “ballot system,” submitting your request for a tee time via email to standrews.com, 48 hours ahead and hopefully getting a spot.

Now, it’s not as grim a prospect as it may sound for planning to play golf in St. Andrews. The above only applies to getting onto the Old Course. We were able to make a tee time for the Jubilee Course, one of six other courses (Jubilee, Castle, New Course, Eden, Strathtyrum, and Balgove), all part of the St. Andrews Links complex, “The Home of Golf” as their brochure proclaims. Since we were scheduling our trip for the tail-end of the golf season, the gentleman from St. Andrews wrote that he was cautiously optimistic we would be successful using the ballot system.

This wasn’t just a golfing vacation, the five us had an outstanding time touring the west coast of Scotland, including the Oban Whisky distillery, the Harry Potter train in Glencoe, Ben Nevis—the highest peak in the UK, Fort William, and the spectacular Highlands, the town of St. Andrews, and finally the marvelous city of Edinburgh. We ended up spending one night in St. Andrews, at The Saint, a lovely four-room hotel, a 10-minute walk from the Old Course. That evening, walking down cobblestone streets, with the R&A clubhouse coming into view, was like walking in a dream.

Our day started out by driving directly to the new Links Clubhouse, which has wonderful views of the courses from the restaurant. We had lunch, and I must admit to being a bit nervous over my chicken bacon mayo sandwich. We’d parked our bags in the locker room down below, it’s just what you’d expect in terms of world-class accommodations and feel. I could just imagine the pros suiting up there as they prepare to play in The Open.

Our day of golf at the Jubilee Course was spectacular, although it got off to a rainy start, but the weather cleared by the fourth hole. Mary, Jill, and Lauren formed our gallery as we teed off, then they went for a walk around the lovely town. I parred the first hole and told Brian that made my entire trip to Scotland. I was on fire, shooting 42 on the front nine but hitting only three fairways and two greens in regulation. Brian shot 45. We’d decided on match play, and I was up by three on the 11th hole. Brian then said the fateful words, “You haven’t hit into a pot bunker all day!” Which I promptly did. My game immediately tanked while he proceeded to make a total of nine pars, shooting 42 on the back, and won the match 2 & 1. Our gallery re-appeared on the 17th hole, the sun was shining, and we were in golf heaven! We ended the day with a pint at the famous Dunvegan Pub by the R&A clubhouse.

Earlier in the day, Brian had received an email from St. Andrews, unfortunately stating that we had not been selected for the ballot to play on the Old Course the next day. He resubmitted our request for the following day with fingers crossed. We headed to our next stop, Edinburgh, looking forward to exploring this ancient yet cosmopolitan city. During our walking tour, Brian received the email notification that we’d scored an 11 a.m. tee time on the Old Course for Friday. He and I would be making a road trip back north while the ladies spent the day in Edinburgh.

It was about an hour ride back to St. Andrews but traffic was quite manageable and we arrived at 9:30, plenty of time for breakfast at the Links Clubhouse. I felt that anticipatory excitement I always have right before marshaling at a big event, like a U.S. Open, where the atmosphere of the place is nearly overwhelming. Not really nervousness, but we were about to play the Old Course! Isn’t that every golfer’s dream? To say Brian was wound up tight would be an understatement, he could barely choke down half a scone. The walk over toward the starters shack, where we would meet our caddies, with the R&A clubhouse right there at the first tee was unreal.

The clerk was so gracious, taking our 130 Scottish pounds green fee (about $160), and handing us a very nice valuables pouch complete with an amazingly detailed yardage book, tees, pencils, divot tool, and scorecard. We were then approached by our two caddies, who between them had nearly 30 years of caddying experience. I got John, whose personality was perfect for me, quiet, calm, not too chatty, yet personable. Brian’s guy, Steve was just right for him as well, right from central casting with a thick Scottish brogue. He instantly bonded with Brian to become his playing partner/coach, which was just what he needed to get over the first tee jitters.

The starter, Richard, approached us as we made our way over to the first tee, greeting us much like you see them do at the start of the Open Championship. He made our presence there seem extra special, despite the fact he’d probably done the same routine 10 thousand times. He even took our picture. We were then introduced to our two other playing partners, both former members of the course, so they didn’t need caddies to show them the way. These guys were hilarious, self-deprecating, with brogues so thick I could understand maybe one word in three, not the best golfers by any stretch, which was somehow quite reassuring and certainly less intimidating. Brian proved to be the best golfer in our foursome by far although he had a rough start, hitting his drive into the Swilcan Burn.

I was really calm on the tee, it helped that there were very few spectators as it was drizzling and maybe 50 degrees. John told me where to aim, (“at that gorse bush off in the distance”) and I was able to do exactly that. As we walked off the first tee Steve said “now you can all breathe again!” I found having a caddy to be such a wonderful added dimension to this whole experience—not just as a guide to point out where in the world I should be aiming on this alien golf layout, but also to set an expectation for me on each shot which I then tried my best to fulfill. The greens weren’t too scary as I felt used to the speeds having played Jubilee, but having John read the subtle breaks and provide aiming points was terrific.

I played bogey golf through the first 12 holes but the rain only intensified and despite John’s best effort to keep things dry, the final 6 holes were a mess. Brian was one up on our match at the turn, then went on to win decisively at 5 up, with a total for the day of 5 pars and a birdie, including par on 17, the famous Road Hole. As the day went on, we found ourselves saying over and over to each other, what a wonderful experience this was despite the conditions. Steve took the traditional picture of us on the Swilcan Bridge, on our way to finishing on 18, which Brian almost parred. He later said he had such a tremendous feeling of accomplishment, having conquered the Old Course.

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TG2: Brooks and Peter Kostis rip Patrick Reed

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Brooks Koepka and Peter Kostis both talk about Patrick Reed and his cheating allegations. Brooks was on SiriusXM and Kostis on No Laying Up don’t hold back their feelings on cheating. Kostis also has some PGA Tour beef, saying that they don’t care about the television broadcast.

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

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

Watch for players lofting up at altitude at the WGC-Mexico Championship

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This week, at the PGA Tour’s WGC-Mexico Championship, we are going to watch some of the best and longest players on the planet play what will effectively be one of the shortest courses on tour.

Now, 7,341 yards is by no means a cakewalk, and there are shorter courses from a pure yardage perspective played on tour—Harbour Town, as an example, only plays at 7,099 yards from the very back. The difference is Harbour Town is played at sea level while Club de Golf Chapultepec is at over 7,500 feet of elevation, and when you factor in the altitude difference between the two courses, they play very differently—more on the math in a moment.

The altitude will also factor in how some players will be setting up their equipment and we could see some adjustments. The most obvious is lofting up the driver or fairways woods to increase carry, which is something Tiger Woods specifically mentioned last year.

The biggest misconception when talking about playing golf at altitude is that the ball doesn’t spin the same in thinner air and players “loft up” to maintain spin. Let’s get into the physics to bust this “spinning less” myth and simplify the science behind playing at altitude,

The golf ball is an inanimate object, and it has no idea it’s at altitude; the air will not have an impact on how much the ball will actually spin. Yes, increasing loft should, by almost every imaginable measure, increase spin but the air it travels through will not change the spin rate.

However, playing at altitude has an effect, Let’s break down what happens

  • Thinner air exerts less drag force (resistance/friction) on the ball. The ball moves more easily through this less dense air and won’t decelerate as quickly as it flies. But note that the faster an object moves the more drag force will occur
  • Less resistance also means that it is harder to shape shots. So you when you see Shot Tracer, the pros are going to be hitting it even straighter (this makes Tiger’s fairway bunker shot last year even more unbelievable)
  • Less force = less lift, the ball will fly lower and on a flatter trajectory

Time for some math from Steve Aoyama, a Principal Scientist at Titleist Golf Ball R&D (full piece here: The Effect of Altitude on Golf Ball Performance)

“You can calculate the distance gain you will experience (compared to sea level) by multiplying the elevation (in feet) by .00116. For example, if you’re playing in Reno, at 1 mile elevation (5,280 ft.) the increase is about 6% (5,280 x .00116 = 6.1248). If you normally drive the ball 250 yards at sea level, you will likely drive it 265 yards in Reno.”

Not every player will be making changes to their bag, and some will instead focus on the types of shots they are hitting instead. When speaking to Adam Scott earlier this week, I was able to ask if he planned on making any changes heading into Mexico the week after his win at the Genesis Invitational.

“It’s very rare for me to make club changes week-to-week beyond playing in the Open Championship and adding a longer iron. The one thing I focus on when playing at altitude is avoiding partial shots where I’m trying to reduce the spin because as spin goes down the ball doesn’t want to stay in the air. I’ve experienced partial shots with longer clubs that end up 25 yards short, and because of that I want to hit as many full shots as possible”

With Club de Golf Chapultepec sitting just over 7,800 feet above sea level, we’re looking at 9.048 or an increase of just over 9 percent. That makes this 7,341-yard course play 6,677 yards (+/- where the tees are placed).

 

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