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Review: Single-length Sterling Irons

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Pros: Custom-fitted, single-length irons drastically simplify swing thoughts and reduce setup adjustments throughout the set.

Cons: It takes time to get used to the feel and appearance of longer short irons and shorter long irons. Shotmaking and trajectory control can suffer with short irons.

Who they’re for: Single-length irons will appeal to serious golfers who are searching for consistency and precision in yardage gapping, but the “system” can suit anyone who’s comfortable hitting a 7 or 8-iron.

Review

Like most golfers, I’ve played my entire golfing life with what’s considered a standard set of irons; the 9-iron is longer than the pitching wedge, 8-iron is longer than the 9-iron, and so on, up to a 3 or 4-iron. Actually, I’d never even considered another way of doing it.

That changed when Bryson DeChambeau started winning big tournaments, which shook up the golf equipment world. As the 2015 NCAA Individual and U.S. Amateur Champion, he not only gave credence to the concept of single-length irons, but put it on the map for golfers everywhere.

Related: Bryson DeChambeau WITB

The thing with DeChambeau is, as golf announcers and writers never fail to mention, he was a physics major at SMU and a very high-IQ golfer. Because of that, average golfers can dismiss single-length irons, thinking they need to be a genius or an equipment geek to play them. Admittedly, that thought crept in my head, too. In fact, if I weren’t writing this review, I would have never actually gotten fit for a set of single-length irons.

SterlingSingleLength4

I played NCAA Division I golf, and always considered myself a feel player. Of course, every now and then I’ll put my swing on camera and see how my planes, technique and tempo look, but on the course I like to play golf with my eyes and hands. I’m more of a “that looks like a 9-iron even though the yardage says 8 iron,” than a “the yardage says 153, so I will hit a 3-quarter 8 iron” kind of player. I play a far different game than DeChambeau, who carries a chart with algorithms to calculate different yardages.

That’s why I didn’t think single-length irons would be right for me, but I was wrong.

While single-length irons may be good for the super technical player who wants to dial in his yardage gaps, they’re also good for a player like me. Rather than having a set of irons and wedges, I simply had a bunch of 8-iron-length clubs in my bag — with different lofts, of course.

Since every Sterling iron/wedge was the same length, lie and swing weight of my 8-iron, I could simplify my swing thoughts to say “just hit an 8-iron.” Whether I’m 125 yards out with a sand wedge, or 215 hitting a 5-iron, I’m thinking the same exact thing: “Just hit an 8-iron.”

Most golfers, like myself and Tin Cup, consider the 7-iron, or maybe the 8-iron, the easiest club to hit in their bag. You won’t believe the amount of stress it relieves to go through a round of golf thinking this way.

That being said…

The first time you put a 5-iron in your hands that’s the length of an 8-iron, it will feel like it’s from a junior set. It’s just plain weird to have an 23-degree club measuring only 37 inches. And holding a 37-inch sand wedge with 55 degrees of loft is equally as weird. It feels like if you hit it full, the golf ball is going to hit you straight in the forehead.

Sterling Irons 7 iron (left) vs. Callaway Apex 7 iron

Sterling Irons 7 iron (left) vs. Callaway Apex 7 iron

Trajectory control did prove to be a slight issue in the higher-lofted irons and wedges. Hitting the low, “dead-hands” shot just feels more difficult to execute when giving up inches of control. Of course, choking down helps, but that does effect swing weight and feel.

On the flip side, trajectory control with the longer irons felt easier than ever. I felt more “on top of the ball,” and never felt like I’d balloon the shot as I do with the longer-length long irons of a standard set. It really feels like you’re getting 8-iron control with 5-iron distances.

The biggest problem I found, however, is hitting clubs outside of the set. When I switch to my shorter lob wedge, or to a driving iron or even driver, the difference in feel is drastic. I have to segment my swing; I have an iron swing, and then an everything-else-swing. This would surely be less drastic with a fitting to adjust my other clubs to feel more like the Sterling irons (lie angles, swing weight, length, etc.). It’s an entirely new system of swinging, and adjustments should be made to the other clubs, as well. This is a change I will make going forward, as I’m committed to gaming the single-length irons throughout the summer.

Related: Barney Adams on his single-length iron experiments.

Around the greens, there can also be issues with single-length clubs. Shots like greenside bunkers or flop shots are basically out of the question with an 8-iron length sand wedge (in my opinion, at least), which is why I still plan to bag a standard-length 56-degree and a 60-degree wedge. Also, yardage gaps between your longest iron (5 iron in the Sterling set) are inevitable, so you’ll need to fill that in with either a longer iron, driving iron or hybrid.

SterlingSingleLength3

As for the Sterling Irons themselves, I would recommend them to a prospective single-length iron user. Also, as Mark Crossfield says in his review of the Sterling Irons, the set could be a great tool for beginners because of their bigger size profile and faces.

Let’s see how they performed.

The Numbers

For testing, I took my old set of irons (specs below) and I hit them against the set of single-length Sterling Irons. I also have a 60-degree wedge in the bag, but did not hit it because I normally would not hit a 60-degree wedge full. But I will typically use it up to about 95 yards, and for most of my shots around the green.

Irons: Callaway Apex UT (2 iron), Callaway X Forged ’13 (3-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Project X 6.5 (+0.5 inches)
Specs: Standard lie angles, lofts 1-degree strong

Sand Wedge: Titleist Vokey SM5 (56 degrees)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shaft
Specs: Standard lie angle

Yardage Gapping

GapGraphic_SterlingVCally

To see a full break down of the results, scroll down to the bottom of the story.

Looking at the carry distances above, you might be wondering how it’s possible that a Sterling 5 iron that’s 3 inches shorter than my Callaway X Forged 5 iron can fly almost 5 yards farther? That’s the magic of Wishon and Bowden’s design.

The short irons (8-PW, SW, GW) are made from 8620 carbon steel, while the long irons (5, 6 and 7) are made with a multi-material, high-COR design. Wishon/Bowden gave the 5, 6 and 7 irons in the Sterling set hot faces (HS300 variable thickness steel alloy face plates, which are welded to their 8620 carbon steel bodies) and progressively moved their center of gravity rearward to produce a higher trajectory. If gapping is still an issue, Wishon offers a 23-degree 5 hybrid that will produce more height, and possibly more distance.

Related: Read more about the tech and specs of Sterling Irons, designed by Tom Wishon and Jaacob Bowden. 

SterlingSingleLength17

As the numbers show, the high-COR design works to maintain distance and height you’d expect from longer irons, at least for me. The 5, 6 and 7 irons do, however, have an audibly louder “tink” sound at impact, which is different than the softer, duller sound of the shorter irons and wedges. Listen to the sound here in Crossfield’s Sterling Iron review.

The prices for a customized set of Sterling Irons are as follows:

  • Sterling Irons 5 hybrid: $250 with graphite shaft only
  • Sterling Irons #5, 6, 7 High COR Irons: $138 each with graphite, $128 with steel
  • Sterling Irons (8-PW, GW, SW): $117 with graphite, $106 each with steel

But remember, do not purchase a set of single-length irons without first being FIT.

The importance of fitting

A proper fitting is important for any club or set of clubs, but with single-length irons it’s especially important since the weight, lie angle, length and shaft will be identical for all of your irons. If something is slightly off, then it will be slightly off for every single iron in your bag. So make sure to get it right.

Here's JR Robert and I going through a full fitting at his facility in Windsor.

JR Robert and I going through a full custom fitting at his facility in Windsor.

Luckily, I had an extremely knowledgable and talented fitter recommended to me by Tom Wishon: JR Robert of JR Golf in Windsor, Canada. His golf shop has all of the necessities, including a Mitchell digital-bending machine, a “green machine” spec gauge, a turf putting green, a Foresight GC2, a Flightscope, and a hitting net where you can hit any club in the bag.

step0003

Since the Sterling Irons are made from 8620 carbon steel, JR was quite pleased with the ease of bending (it’s no surprise that an irons designed in part by Tom Wishon would be fitting-friendly).

Click here for other approved Tom Wishon-approved fitters.

SterlingSingleLength19

Here’s the specs of the clubs JR built for me after my fitting

  • My irons are 37-inches long, but play just a hair shorter after having bent them upright. I also choke up a little on my clubs, so my irons effectively play 36.5 inches.
  • My swing weights are D4, which JR said will make the irons play around around D1 because I grip down roughly half an inch on all shots.
  • The shafts are True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 (0.370-inch parallel)
  • Standard grips (with 2 wraps)
  • Lie angle: 66.25 degrees
A Sterling Irons 7 iron

A Sterling Irons 7 iron

Here are my lofts

  • 5 iron: 23 degrees
  • 6 iron: 27 degrees
  • 7 iron: 31 degrees
  • 8 iron: 35 degrees
  • 9 iron: 40 degrees
  • PW: 45 degrees
  • GW: 50 degrees
  • SW: 55 degrees

But how will a set of single-length irons coexist with the “standard” length clubs in a set? I show you how I’m doing it below.

WITB Setup

It should be noted that after testing, and extensive on course work, I will be keeping the 60-degree wedge in the bag from my old set. While I like the concept of single-length irons on longer shots, it became obvious that I had more control and felt more comfortable with a lob wedge outside of the set around the greens. Also, since I have the room, I will keep the driving iron in the bag, as well as a 4-iron for yardage gapping purposes.

Therefore, my WITB going forward for the year will be as follows:

  • Driver: (10.5 degrees) — 290 yards
  • Strong 3 Wood: (12 degrees) — 270 yards
  • Driving Iron: Callaway Apex UT (2-iron) — 255 yards
  • Long Iron: Callaway X Forged (4-iron) — 240 yards
  • Irons: Sterling Irons (5-PW, GW, SW) — 120-225 yards
  • Wedge: (60 degrees) — Around 95 yards
  • Putter

This setup leaves me with 14 clubs, and consistent gapping throughout the set.

The Takeaway

Your knowledge of single-length irons may not be the same as Bryson DeChambeau’s, but do not be intimidated by his reputation as golf’s resident engineering genius. Single-length irons are a legitimate option for golfers of all skill levels and backgrounds.

The biggest hurdle in purchasing a set of single-length irons might be that you won’t know for sure if single-length irons are right for you until you go through a complete fitting, purchase the set, and play and practice with the clubs for enough time to get comfortable with the concept. For that reason, I suggest single-length for lost golfing souls who are looking for a drastic change, or super technical and analytical type golfers who want to exact their yardage gaps or any golfer who wants to simplify the game of golf with reduced swing thoughts and setup adjustments.

DO NOT switch to single-length irons without getting fit. If you’re interested in the idea and are near the area, I suggest you get fit for Sterling Irons by JR Golf in Windsor, Canada.

For more information, visit http://www.sterlingirons.com

Expanded Testing Data

SterlingVCally_2-5SterlingVCally_6-9SterlingVCally_Wedges

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

68 Comments

68 Comments

  1. Scott

    Oct 10, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Andrew, do you have any update on your summer of playing with the Sterling Irons?

  2. Brent

    Aug 1, 2016 at 9:14 am

    You obviously don’t know anything about Tom Wishon if you make this ignorant comment.

  3. Cat

    Jul 28, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Does anyone make a all-hybrid set of the same length? Looking for hybrids 3h – LW. Thanks!

  4. Brandon Hanson

    Jul 27, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    So I think I was probably the first one to buy a set of these through their website sterlingirons.com, but I had been following the progress of these for quite some time before that. I have been playing them for almost four months now and all I can say is wow!
    I was a very good golfer when I was younger, and I maintain about a 3-4 handicap right now. My struggle as a true feel player was consistency. Not playing as much now I very easily “lose it” between rounds without some practice. Sterling irons have helped out immensely with that issue.
    I bought the 5-GW,SW set at 7 iron length, that have the S2S Superlite Steel in S flex. I was so excited about these irons that I couldn’t wait to be fitted, and bought with just providing general info to the website the first day they were available. Also the closest master fitter I have to me is 95 miles away. My plan is to play with these for a year and then go get a full fitting.
    I also ordered a 59 degree LW from Edel and had them grind and match the swingweight and L/L of the Sterlings.
    Every comment made about the sound and feel and look are correct, these are not for the utter traditionalist. I say that because a short five iron in your hand takes some getting used too. And on the other side a long SW also has the same effect. But in my opinion the look is spot on. So many “Outside the Box” golf ideas stray to far from traditional golf looks so they have small effect and then fade into the background. These irons look great and the differences only exist to improve performance, from a straight up looks perspective, these are very eye pleasing, and in my opinion as traditional looking as they can be without sacrificing performance.
    The only real issue I have had is getting used to short game shots with longer clubs, but it has actually got me excited about practicing again which is a nice bonus. Another smaller issue is a tendency when you first use them to try and over swing the lower irons to make them go farther. But once you get used to the feel and see the length is not an issue that goes away too.
    All in all, Sterling irons have got me excited about playing golf again for the first time in many years, and if you have the time to get used to them, well worth the investment.

    • Sandy

      Jan 6, 2019 at 5:30 am

      Ive had sterlings for about 2 mos aready and im having issues hitting the 6-4i.

      No issues at all with other clubs.

      Did u have the same issue? If so, how did you get around this?

      Do u swing the PW and the 5i the same way?

      Thanks!

  5. jim

    Jul 25, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    this concept isn’t all that new to a point. Didn’t Tommy Armour come out with a set in the mid to late 80’s with all irons based around the 6 iron length?

  6. Left of right

    Jul 13, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Left handed needed.

    Lefty lives matter!

  7. Peter J

    Jul 8, 2016 at 5:42 am

    The majority of golfers who take up the game, particularly seniors, always have problems with hitting consistent 5 and 6 irons. The reason is obvious. It is because you are farther away from the ball and there is more chance of poor strikes. Probably some of this is in the mind?
    The Wishon concept really is great.They are game improvement irons and if golfers can overlook their vanity for player type irons, all golfers down to single figure handicaps could benefit.
    I have just gone back to Ping Karsten irons from i20’s and my scoring and consistency has improved measurably.

  8. Scudder Graybeal

    Jul 5, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Good topic for the golf geeks I guess. I was around for the Tommy Armour EQL irons. They didn’t last long and they won’t this time either.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jul 7, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      I understand the Tommy Armour EQLs included a driver that went shorter distances, had distance gaps bunching between clubs, and also had trajectory issues with low-lofted clubs flying too low and high-lofted clubs going to high and far.

      When we went to work on this project, Tom Wishon and I had the advantage of him remembering what happened to Tommy Armour, the modern day Internet for research, experience in the existing single length market, and technology like Trackman and robots for hit testing to really dial in the design. Because of that we were able to retain the inherent benefits of single length while fixing a lot of the historic problems.

      It will be interesting to see what happens this time around!

      • Ross Sheehy

        Sep 28, 2016 at 8:04 am

        Jaacob, is anybody home at your swingmangolf.com website? I asked for a password reset several days ago and got a blank email posted to me. I have not received a response to my emailed enquiries.

        I’d really quite like to get what I paid for!

  9. Matt W

    Jul 5, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Looking at the numbers, seems like the longer irons are going to fly lower with less spin and the scoring irons are flying higher with more spin. Isn’t this the opposite of desired ball flights? You won’t hold greens with your long irons and will have too much spin on the short ones.

  10. JOEL GOODMAN

    Jul 4, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    stupid idea that was a bust before

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jul 7, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      Yes, it was a bust with Tommy Armour, but the overall idea was a good one. A few key things just needed to be worked out for it to work well.

    • Brent

      Jul 29, 2016 at 1:31 pm

      You can’t find a single serious reviewer anywhere online that says it’s a stupid idea. It absolutely is not. The first round I shot with mine was the best round of my life. (74) They’re in my bag to stay.

    • 300 Yard Pro

      Oct 30, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      Oh look. Another person who’s an expert on SL irons but has never even hit them.

  11. Richard Seepaul

    Jul 4, 2016 at 11:50 am

    I own a set of BOTH Apex and Apex Pros:
    The Callaway Irons Pictured Look Like Apex Irons NOT Apes Pros’.
    The Apex Irons are Multimaterial (Maraging Steel Faces with Forged Bodies)
    The Apex Pros’ are a forged Iron i.e their aces are NOT Maraging Steel.
    Either fix the Picture or the DATA Slides.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Jul 4, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Richard,

      We photographed the Apex side by side with the Sterling irons because they have a similar size.

      We tested the Sterling irons against Callaway’s X Forged ’13 because they were the author’s “gamers.”

      Sorry for the confusion, and I hope that clarifies things.

      • AT

        Jul 4, 2016 at 7:59 pm

        It’s Ok, Richard just drowned in a pool of his own tears.

  12. Steve

    Jul 4, 2016 at 7:27 am

    What I find more interesting is how badly gapped the current Callaway X-forged ’13s are. Have you checked the lofts lately, or is that just how they have always played?

  13. Mike W

    Jul 3, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    You must have an interesting definition of higher standard.

  14. Pingback: GolfWRX reviews Single-Length Sterling Irons

  15. Mikee

    Jul 3, 2016 at 8:36 am

    Now all we need is a “comparison” chart with results obtained from a 5,10 and 15 handicap. Anyone, anyone, Buehler…….anyone??

    • Joe

      Jul 3, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      Buelier, thats funny.

    • Dennis

      Nov 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      I’m a 17 handicap, my clubhead speed with an iron 7 is around 85mph. I play a set of Sterling Irons from LW to i4 since early this year. I love these clubs – they are incredible. But it is right: Every other not single-length club feels really akward compare to them. Can’t hit a driver or hybrid anymore. Don’t know why, maybe just because I suck at golf 😉 Here are my carry distances in yards with the Sterlings: LW = 75; SW = 93; GW = 103; PW = 120; 9 = 135; 8 = 144; 7 = 156; 6 = 172; 5 = 180. According to Tom Wishon my club head speed is a little to low for the i5 $ i4. So I hit the i4 only from the tee. Flop shots and bunker shots are no problem with the long shafts (I got the blade wedges).

  16. Tider992010

    Jul 3, 2016 at 8:08 am

    I know a gentleman that has sold 10 sets of the Sterling irons. I asked him about the comments from people after playing them and he said it was all positive. Everyone came back and bought a gap wedge and sand wedge after playing with them. Makes sense to me. If you can make golf a little easier for the masses, why not?

  17. ooffa

    Jul 3, 2016 at 7:05 am

    OMG, Just grab a set of clubs off the rack and hit the damn ball. Way to much mumbo jumbo. If ya can’t hit the ball play another sport. Man o man nothing like taking an easy game and making it as hard as possible. Swing the club, hit the ball and get in your cart and go your holding up the course.

  18. Uncle Buck

    Jul 3, 2016 at 2:31 am

    Can I please just get comfortable with the 14 clubs and AP2’s I just bought? Now we got single length clubs from Godess knows where! Has anyone won a major, club championship with these things yet? Next thing we’ll know, all the one length clubs will be 4 iron length…….then 5 iron. Sheesh! So what, now you’re telling me my 2016 AP2’s are obsolete? ARGHHHHHH!!!!

    • Scooter McGavin

      Jul 4, 2016 at 12:48 am

      Nah, your AP2’s are good. You just need to cut them all to 37″. Problem solved.

      • Bob Pegram

        Jun 26, 2017 at 1:41 pm

        Does the U.S. Amateur Chanpionship count as a major (at least on the amateur level)? De Chambeau won that with single length irons then got through qualifying school for the PGA Tour with them.

      • Bob Pegram

        Jun 26, 2017 at 1:43 pm

        Don’t cur standard clubs to one length. The head weights would be wrong.

    • 300 Yard Pro

      Jul 12, 2016 at 1:49 am

      Not obsolete. So go trade them in for some nice store credit and go buy some Sterlings

  19. Matty

    Jul 2, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    Andrew, would you classify the Sterling irons as game improvement (like the AP1, M2, G) or better-player (like AP2, Apex, I)?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jul 7, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      Tom Wishon and I would classify these as game improvement. Roughly 75% of the market swings a driver between 85-105 mph. So to minimize risk and also make the most amount of difference, we really tried to dial the clubs, distance gapping, etc in for this golfer profile. That being said, since they are middle of the road, both beginners and better-players/professionals can play them too.

  20. Chris

    Jul 2, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    Didn’t he major in physics, not engineering?

    • mhendon

      Jul 2, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      Yes quantum physics

      • Bob Jones

        Jul 4, 2016 at 11:19 am

        …which means if he hits a blind shot into the green, until he gets to a place where he can see the ball, it is both on the green and off the green at the same time.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Jul 2, 2016 at 9:32 pm

      Thanks for pointing that out. Our mistake.

  21. Wants SL irons bad

    Jul 2, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    PLEASE MAKE THESE IN LEFT HAND?!?!

    Pleaseeeeeee

    • Wants SL irons bad

      Jul 2, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      And make a 4 iron too, left handed, purty please.

    • BJ

      Jul 3, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      +1

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jul 7, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      We would definitely love to make a left-handed version…and we’re looking in to it!

      With golf clubs, typically the manufacturers require a minimum order. So there is upfront cost to consider. We just want to make sure the order volume is there before we hit the go-button.

      But my hope is that we’ll have something available for 2017.

  22. Leon

    Jul 2, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Make the 4, 5, 6 irons of your current set to the same length, lie angle and swing weight as your 6 or 7 irons (4 degrees of loft gap), and leave all the remaining clubs untouched. Then all the cons you mentioned will be resolved.

    The single length idea has been around for 30 years, it is just the golf media and Bryson make it pop up recently.

    • Jared

      Jul 2, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      This wouldn’t work. The reason the Sterling irons go as far as the do I because they are high COR designs. You wouldn’t get the distance out of the long irons from a normal set

    • Mat

      Jul 4, 2016 at 5:50 am

      Won’t work. You’d want to equalise your 8-iron and down if anything. Leave the gaps in the 7 and up with a “normal” set. As Jared pointed out, it’s the long irons that get “confusing” if you use stock heads.

    • Bob Pegram

      Jun 26, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      Actually single length irons have been aroundsat least since the 1920s. Bobby Jones used them to win the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open, and British Amateur.

  23. Mike

    Jul 2, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Looking at the numbers, the most amazing thing to me is that Wishon has been able to produce irons with a near 1.5 smash factor, and Callaway still can’t.

    • Nick

      Jul 2, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Smash factors for irons should not be even approaching 1.5, unless the loft is incredibly strong or it is a non conforming club or just a smothered swing. Tour average for smash factor for a driver is 1.49~. 6 iron average on tour is 1.39~ with varied manufacturers. I would be highly suspect of an iron that could produce a smash factor of 1.5 routinely

      • George

        Jul 2, 2016 at 8:01 pm

        Have you tried wishon clubs out before? They hold their own against anything out there

      • Mike W

        Jul 3, 2016 at 12:41 am

        Well the numbers are right there. The Wishon irons have a COR of .83, which tranalates to a smash factor of 1.5. Why can’t Callaway’s premium distance iron do that? I’m genuinely curious.

        • Mike W

          Jul 3, 2016 at 5:03 pm

          Where in the review did the author mention hotspots? Actually, where in anyone review has anyone mentioned hotspots on these SLI? Actually, where has anyone ever mentioned hot spots on any Wishon high COR irons? Never? Oh, ok thanks.

          Again, why can’t Callaway make irons with a 1.5 COR face?

        • ca1879

          Jul 4, 2016 at 5:38 pm

          Nick is right. Loft is a factor in the maximum achievable smash factor.
          From Tutelman:
          SF = Vball/Vclubhead
          = (1 + CoR)/(1 + Ball Mass/Head Mass) * cosine(loft) * (1 – 0.14*miss)
          From that you can see even with an equal CoR, the higher loft limits the achievable SF of an iron to less than of a driver.

        • Shelby

          Jul 26, 2016 at 5:36 pm

          I would beg to differ. You may want to do your research as to who Tom Wishon is before making a credulous statement. The Sterling SLI do indeed work , in fact, very well. Will they be everyones cup of tea? Maybe not.. The fact is that Tom amd Jaacob have taken the SLI concept to the next level of peformance and the ability to professionally fit them to every aspwct of a players swing…and we will more than likely once again, the brand name companies using Toms kowledge of design and the industry to create another product of mass production.
          Golf balls originall started of without dimples and those guys probably got heckled as well for carving nicks in their balls..that just sounds wrong, i know…

  24. Joe

    Jul 2, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    I have a set that is standard Sterling settings made to 8 iron length. Getting fit is a confidence builder but IMO not necessary. If your favorite iron is a 7 or 8 iron then the ordering the Sterlings with this in mind will fit you fine. I did order mine 2 degree flat because through many years of playing found that is what fits my swing.

    The biggest difference I have found that for me has been a mental adjustment. I have found that when hitting the 6 and 5 irons I have a tendency to try to hit them harder because of the short shafts. I am still fighting this tendency but will work it out. I carry normal length SW and LW, finding that the Sterling irons were too long for me to finnese.

    • CL

      Jul 2, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      This comment about how you’re 2 degrees flat, is worthless, as you give us no point of reference of with what manufacturer club you are 2 flat, nor do you tell us what your standard length has been over the years for your clubs.
      So this is just another pointless comment.
      And Smizzle once again, is clueless.

      • Joe

        Jul 2, 2016 at 9:37 pm

        CL: My previous play irons were Ping Karsten, 2 degrees flat, factory length, stiff shaft.

      • CL

        Jul 3, 2016 at 3:10 am

        Again, Smizzle, get back in your cage.

      • ramon leigh

        Nov 24, 2016 at 8:55 pm

        Most all manufacturers produce clubs with essentially the same loft and lie, since they all are aimed at the same audience. Get with it.

      • ramon leigh

        Nov 24, 2016 at 8:58 pm

        Bobby Jones, Tommy Armor and Mo Norman all tinkered with single length clubs.
        What’s more interesting is why they built clubs to different length in the first place.

  25. Christosterone

    Jul 2, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Ok….so you owe me $1000

    Great article
    A++++++

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Equipment

Forum Thread of the Day: “Tiger Woods with a new Scotty Cameron at The Open”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from No Gimmes who was quick to spot Tiger Woods preparing for this week’s Open Championship with a new Scotty putter. Woods has also been seen warming up for this week’s event at Royal Portrush with his old faithful on the greens, but our members have been discussing the thinking behind the 15-time-major champion’s potential change, as well as the putter itself.

*Photos from Golf Central’s ‘Live From The Open’ coverage

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • TheMoneyShot: “I’m really surprised he is making the switch. Let’s see if it’s in the bag come Thursday.”
  • Hedgehog: “That topline and the alignment aid and all the smooth lines, gorgeous!”
  • MuniPukeLife: “Makes sense as his trusty NP2 is super light by today’s putter standards.”

Entire Thread: “Tiger Woods with a new Scotty Cameron at The Open”

 

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Mizuno T20 wedges: Let’s get spinning

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Spin.

We’re always trying to reduce it with our driver and increase it with our wedges for maximum control, but with the rules of golf being so strict, how do actually achieve a performance gain? Simple engineering…

This is the Mizuno T20 wedge.

It’s been a few years since we have seen a T (teardrop) wedge from our friends at Mizuno, and there is good reason.

Let’ get into a quick history lesson: before the JPX900 series was introduced, Mizuno had quietly been realigning the product cycles of the MP and JPX lines. You might remember back a few years ago now before the MP18s hit the scene that there was a bit of a lull in the MP line—so much, in fact, there was even a thread here on GolfWRX asking “Is Mizuno not making MP irons anymore?”

It was a naturally curious question to a company that always had very standardized release cycles, but it was a long-term play that has paid off tremendously. We now get “T” wedges with MP irons (MP20s to be exact), and we should (from everything I know) continue to see “S” Silhouette (more rounded profile) wedges with future JPX lines.

Before we get to what’s new, how about we first talk about what will be staying the same

  • Grain Flow Forged HD – like all new Mizuno irons, the T20s are made using the same forging process to increase the density of the material in the clubhead for an improved solid feel.
  • Boron – this little element when added to the 1025e mild carbon steel used in the wedges (we’re talking trace amounts equating to 3ppm – parts per million) increases the strength of the material by 30 percent—how crazy is that for chemistry? This improves groove life and has ZERO effect on club feel.
  • Variable Width & Depth Quad Cut Grooves – Like previous T and S wedges, the T20s will have quad cut grooves that will vary in shape based on the loft of the club. Lower lofted wedges are more narrow and deeper, while higher lofted wedges are wider and more shallow since impact happens at lower speeds this increases spin consistency.
  • Same beautiful Teardrop profile from address

So what’s new?

Flow. Just like the MP20s, engineers are bringing more a more extreme CG (center of gravity) shifting philosophy, or as Mizuno explains it, increased vertical moment of inertia to the wedges. As much as you (well maybe not “you,” depending on who you are) might think “a wedge is just a wedge” and loft is the only deciding factor for spin, you couldn’t be further from the truth. By relocating the CG throughout the set and changing the sweet spot height, engineers can further alter the launch and spin precisely for each loft.

It’s about gear effect—the higher you hit above the CG the less spin the ball with have, and the closer to or lower you make impact compared to the CG the more spin you will create. Either way these are wedges, so a 50 degree, for example, is still going to spin, but it is now more controllable (think less likely to ballon or get too high on full shots). On the other side of the equation, a 60-degree wedge will allow for even MORE trajectory and spin control for the low flying quick checkers with zip.

Now about that spin.

By the Rules of Golf, you can’t make grooves sharper, you can’t increase their volume, and you can only have so much surface roughness (sorry but that old Spin Doctor wedge is HIGHLY NON-conforming). So what do you do? You change the way you think about that surface roughness…

Hydroflow Micro Grooves

Instead of traditional laser etching parallel to the grooves, Mizuno engineers took a concept from the high-performance tire world and went perpendicular to the grooves and parallel to the direction the ball moves up the face to channel moisture away. This directional tread has proven to increase spin on shots especially in conditions with moisture up to 1,200 RPM (on a 60-yard shot), that’s a very tangible number. It’s not just about spin either: the more the friction that can be created also means more control on launch angle and less of a “floating” ball flight. That’s how those low zippers keep zippin’!

Don’t think for a second that Mizuno just changed the etching and was done with it. The process went through multiple iterations to figure out how they could improve its life (beyond the boron) and the solution was to etch before the chroming process to elongate the lifespan. The other groovy take for the T20s is the actual reconfiguration of the grooves. To get the bottom groove closer to the leading edge without having it disorient the overall look of the club and making it appear that the heel or toe is thinner on one side. The lowest groove has been shortened and centered.

All of these refinements; CG, micro-grooves, and reconfigured scoring lines add up to one thing: more control and improved shotmaking with your wedges.

Finishes, specs, and grinds

The wishes of many have been answered when it comes to the T20s, there will be a RAW finish (happy dance time) along with traditional chrome and the signature blue ion. Leftys will only be able to get chrome, but all the same options will be available as far as lofts and grinds.

Coming in lofts from 46-60 degrees, the grind options progress depending on the loft and bounce. Going from full-soled in the lower lofts to more aggressive back edge, and heel-toe relief in the 60 degree. These sole shapes came directly from Mizuno’s craftsman that worked with players and prototypes to determine exactly how the bounce and sole shapes should work in harmony.

All of this has come together to create Mizuno’s finest wedge to date.

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Mizuno MP-20: Layers of feel

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“Mizuno Feel”

It is part of the golf vernacular. It’s ingrained in golf (nerd) culture—it’s a real thing.

But where does it comes from, how did it get here, and what is it really?

I’m here to give you some answers and introduce you to MP-20 family of irons from Mizuno.

Born from tradition, and the idea of creating the ultimate set of irons for every player, the MP-20 family is the next series of MP irons that will connect golfers to the “Mizuno Feel.” Speaking to tradition, and something I touched on when these were originally teased on social channels with #LayersOfFeel, Mizuno is going back in time to the TN-87s and reintroducing a copper underlay to their irons—all of them! (Before someone tries to correct me: yes, I realize that they have done this for more recent Japan market models )

What does this copper layer mean? Here’s the funny thing, even Mizuno has had a hard time trying to quantify it. Through multiple rounds of extensive blind prototype testing with all of their staff players, the irons with a copper underlay won on feel EVERY SINGLE TIME!  How’s that for dominance?

But why? They are truly still trying to 100 percent figure that out. Mizuno has used its HIT (Harmonic Impact Technology), metallurgy analysis, and every test it can to try and figure out why. Engineers even went as far as trying to prove the hypothesis the copper underlay “feel” was based on nostalgia but time and time again Cu won in blind testing. At the end day, the human element was still the deciding factor because humans are the ones that ultimately hit shots.

This brings us to the flagship MP-20 (Blade) (The Ultimate Tour Blade as described by Mizuno’s Product Manager & Engineer Chris Voshall). Evolving from the tradition built into the MP-18, and taking design cues from historic models like the TN 87 and MP14, the MP20s provide more flow throughout the set from top to bottom leading to even more control over ball flight. This flow also increases forgiveness (please remember it’s still a blade) and launch in the longer irons, with an increased ability to flight the ball in the scoring clubs… all of this AND a thinner top line.

Now about that top line: it’s an extremely important part of the look of the club but, what many don’t realize is it also plays a big role in feel and acoustics too. Let’s simplify for a moment: think of a clubhead like hunk of metal—a cube—now when you hit that thick piece of metal on something it doesn’t reverberate much and when it does, it’s at a different frequency making it sound heavy and “thuddy,” or as some would say, SOLID.

Now imagine if that same piece of metal, same mass was stretched out like a saw blade. Have you ever hit something with the side of a large saw blade? It’s wobbly, loud, and generally unpleasant, that’s what happens when an unsupported part of a club gets too thin, it acts like an amplifier of bad sound, creating terrible feel. By blending a small channel (think MP5) with the classic looks of yesteryear you get a club that feels and performs like no Mizuno before it, and as I said, with a thinner look from address.

What’s all this talk of “Flow”?

Center of gravity and mass placement (or as a Mizuno Engineer explained to me “Vertical Moment of Inertia”). Since each club is designed individually, you need the center of gravity to shift throughout the set to help control launch/trajectory (or “traj” as the kids say), and make sure spin is also at an optimal level.

For the MP-20, it means long irons that are “easier” to hit (air quotes, because like I said before, it’s still a blade), and short irons that can be more easily flighted lower with greater spin and control. Just like with the MP-18s, Mizuno is keeping with the continuous reduced blade length into the short irons for a look preferred by better players and for improved grass and turf interaction.

But What About the Rest?

You might have noticed off the top I called it the “MP-20 Family.” Here’s why: In golf, like with any other industry, data is important. But it’s only as good as you use it and well…let’s just say Mizuno has been paying close attention to how golfers and fitters have been making combo sets over the last few years. It’s all about understanding what golfers really need and thanks to some proprietary data they went even deeper when it comes to designing each and every iron in this family to make sure its performance is maximized. This is why I continue to emphasize how each set has a flow, it to make sure each club in your bag is just right for you. Now to introduce you to the rest of the family members…

Mizuno MP20 MMC (Multi-Material Construction)

I know, you think you’ve heard this story before but…NOT LIKE THIS!

The new MP-20 MMC is a BIG shift in design, not just because of the Cu underlay, but a radical change in how the whole part is put together. I know it sounds very “big biz,” but in the world of manufacturing it truly comes down to how “parts” are manufactured. Now, with Mizuno, I will reiterate a well-known story. All of its forged irons are single-sourced from one foundry (Chuo) in Japan through a handshake agreement that has been in place for decades.

Now back to the MMC. Before the MP-20 the MMC always had one tiny design difficulty (not a bad one, just a truth) and that was the titanium piece in the back was the same size throughout the whole set. This lead to a set with almost constant sole width. That doesn’t mean previous generations were constructed poorly, but it just means there were improvements that could be made to how the set flowed (there’s that word again) from top to bottom…which leads us to the tech story.

For the first time in the MMC’d life, the titanium piece of the iron will actually vary in mass depending on the club. It will be broken up in the middle of the set to allow better CG placement, and like its blade cousin, improved turf interaction in the shorter irons.

What is also very cool from a build and engineering perspective is the way the titanium gets into the club in the first place. Here we go down a metallurgy rabbit hole, buckle up…

  • Titanium has a mass density (rounded) of 4.5 g/cm3 – cubed
  • Carbon steel has a mass density of (rounded) 7.9 g/cm3 – cubed

That means that from every cubed cm of steel volume you replace with titanium in the head, you save 3.4g… which might not seem like much, but in a 4-iron for example that has an average mass of 248g for (4) cm3 you save 13.6g or just over five percent. I realize this is DEEP into the mass property weeds, but when you think of what a club head weights and how every half percentage point matters, five percent is a lot! That’s more forgiveness, more MOI, more spin control, and overall better performance.

What is also very cool is all of these parts (titanium and tungsten) have ZERO chemical bond—no epoxy. They all fit snug based on the shrinkage rates of the different materials. Ti & W( tungsten – W comes from the ore Wolframite) shrinks less than the steel so as the steel cools around the titanium and tungsten pieces it creates a mechanical (solid) bond.

All of this together adds up to an iron that looks smaller than the previous version, offers more “flow” in CG, something we mentioned earlier that creates more forgiveness and control throughout the set, and at the end of the day it means a better-engineered version than the one before it.

Truth Break for a moment…

Let me make one thing clear, new sets are AWESOME! We are, and always will be, attracted to the latest and greatest but the player should still get fit and find out what works best. New will and should inevitably be better but the cost-benefit analysis should always be at the end of the day up to the individual golfer to decide and figure out what will end up in the bag to help lower scores.

The Hot Metal Mizuno MP-20 HMB

look AT THIS!!!

YES…you read that correctly. Mizuno is bringing Hot Metal tech to the MP line!

A hollow body blade looking iron using the same strong yet highly flexible Chromoloy material as the 919 Hot Metals except this time forged to create an iron like they never have before. The look and shape of a blade the speed of a Hot Metal.

Let’s break things down.

The look is clean as clean can be, from there the face of the HMB is thin and fast, while hidden inside the back of the club is complex geometry for both acoustics and precisely positioning mass. These will be the replacement for the MMC Fli-His but unlike that set, only going to the 6-iron, the new HMB will go all the way to the pitching wedge.

What is also different for the HMB vs. the MMC Fli-Hi is the way tungsten is used in the head to create different impact dynamics. The Fli-Hi had all the tungsten (20g worth) in one place in the head (low and towards the toe). The CG was still located right in the middle but through in-depth testing some players found that the Fli-Hi was a more difficult club to turn over and draw.

To improve the workability of the new HMB, the Tungsten was split into two 12g pieces (four more grams than previous Fli-Hi) and positioned into precisely formed pockets on the heel and toe in the back of the club. This allows the unsupported face to flex and makes the club more workable while still maintaining all the forgiveness you would expect from a hollow body iron built for speed. Seriously who doesn’t like the sound of that?

Since the new HMB is a full set and not just long irons, there is more to the tech story… here is comes… better flow and CG positioning throughout the set. This is hugely important for the mid and short irons where loft is already going to create spin so controlling ball flight and traj on approach shots is vital for scoring better.

This is again where the MP-20 Family discussion comes into play. Mizuno knows they are going to sell a lot more HMB long irons vs. blade and MMC long irons, so the entire family is designed holistically for every player to find each and every head that optimizes them on the course.

The Full Package

Like with previous generations going back almost a decade, Mizuno is keeping its industry-leading matrix of shaft and grip options available at NO upcharge. BUT… based on the growing demand for more exotic options the newly expanded shaft line up will include a few shafts that will come with a slight upcharge.

Whatever you end up being fit for, it’s important to realize that there has never been family of Mizuno irons designed like this, which could also mean you could be bringing home some new family members soon.

 

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