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.
Dear announcers: Stop saying “topspin”
If there is one thing that grinds my gears, it’s when television announcers at the highest level in golf, with the largest audiences, get things so terribly wrong about the physics of the game. It may seem like a small issue, but the problem is these pieces of false information get into the minds of golfers, which then continues to perpetuate misinformation around the game, club fitting, and what actually happens when a golf ball is in motion.
The most recent account was during the first round of the U.S. Open when after a shot was hit from the rough and took off low with very little spin a not-to-be-named announcer said something along the lines of
“That really took off with some topspin, look at it roll out”
This, from a physics perspective, is impossible. So I did what many commentators of the game do, I took to Twitter (@RDSBarath) to state my displeasure for the comment and share the truth about what really happens when a golf club strikes a ball.
Now that we have pointed out the falsehood, let’s help you better understand what’s really going on. In the golf vernacular, there are a number of ways spin is improperly described, with the two most common being; “sidespin” and “topspin.”
What is sidespin
Sidespin is a commonly used incorrect way to describe the spin axis of a golf ball as it travels through the air. Rather than try and define it myself I will refer to the experts at Trackman to help me explain what’s really going on.
“Spin Axis is the tilt angle relative to the horizon of the golf ball’s resulting rotational axis immediately after separation from the club face (post impact).”
“The spin axis can be associated to the wings of an airplane. If the wings of an airplane are parallel to the ground, this would represent a zero spin axis and the plane would fly straight. If the wings were banked/tilted to the left (right wing higher than left wing), this would represent a negative spin axis and the plane would bank/curve to the left. And the opposite holds true if the wings are banked/tilted to the right.”
To better understand just how important spin axis is it to hitting shots that land close to your intended target check out the video below which demonstrates both spin axis and launch direction.
The falsehoods of “topspin”
As mentioned off the top, no pun intended, any shot struck under normal circumstances will not have topspin. The only scenario where is it possible is when a shot is topped into the ground with the leading edge or sole of the club above the equator of the ball.
The idea of topspin originates in paddle sports like tennis and ping pong where is it entirely possible to hit a low flying topspinning shot that hits their respective courts or tables and proceed to almost pick up speed.
The difference between a racket/paddle and a golf club, is a golf club delivers loft at impact, and the center of gravity is away from the contact point of the face. A golf ball even when hit in extremely low friction will still leave the clubface after impact with some amount of backspin, even on a putt.
The below video shows a putt starting to roll forward almost immediately, but what is really happening is the ball is struck under almost perfect putting launch conditions will very low backspin (but still measurable), friction from the ground resists the movement of the ball and the ball goes from skidding to forward roll very quickly.
In the case of the announcer who misspoke, it would have been much more beneficial to the viewer to have explained the shot like
“based on the lie and circumstances of the impact that shot came out a lot lower than it normally would with very little spin, and ran out more than usual”
It’s a major change to the original statement and accurately describes what actually happened when the ball was hit from U.S. Open rough.
Remember, just because it was said on TV by a former professional golfer doesn’t make it true.
Gear Dive: U.S. Open Roundtable with Barath and Knudson | Favorite driver combo of 2020
In this episode of TGD brought to you by Titleist, Johnny has On Spec’s Ryan Barath and TG2’s Brian Knudson on the show to go deep on the US Open picks and their favorite driver/shaft combos for 2020.
19th Hole Special Edition: One-on-One with PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan
Host Michael Williams speaks with PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan in an exclusive interview about the turmoil and triumphs in 2020, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the PGA Tour will make its mark in America’s reckoning on racial justice, on and off the course.
Equipment3 weeks ago
GolfWRX Exclusive: Costco Kirkland Signature wedge set coming soon (plus new balls for 2021)
Equipment2 weeks ago
New 2021 Titleist Drivers TSi3 & TSi2 and Fairway Woods (UPDATED with in-hand photos)
Opinion & Analysis2 weeks ago
The Wedge Guy: Maybe you play harder golf courses than the pros
Equipment4 days ago
Bryson DeChambeau preparing to put 48-inch driver in play
Equipment2 weeks ago
Game improvement irons vs Players irons – GolfWRXers discuss
19th Hole3 days ago
Ian Poulter repays USGA after U.S. Open locker smash
Equipment5 days ago
Tiger Woods puts a new grip on the “Elder Wand”
Whats in the Bag7 days ago
Stewart Cink’s winning WITB: 2020 Safeway Open