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Should you get new clubs or lessons for quick improvement? Here’s some data…

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So I think I have solved the age old question: “do you need new clubs or lessons?” And I have data to back up my suggestions!

First, let’s look at the clubs I am using for this article.

You will see that I used an old Tommy Armour 845 Silver Scot, a forged TaylorMade Burner Forged iron from 2009-2010, and my current P790 from TaylorMade. Of course, we know that the lofts are different between these clubs, and there’s been years of engineering enhancements; we know it’s not an apples to apples comparison, and that’s the point! We are only looking at overall performance to see if we can get away with using older equipment for an extended period of time, or do we need to get rid of them and take lessons? How old is too old?

The Data

Dispersion

Trajectory

TrackMan data

From a dispersion standpoint, the P790 and the Burner have a tighter clustering. Obviously, the older club had the biggest miss pattern since it has the least amount of forgiveness. Therefore, I would say that the older model necessitates upgrade, but not necessarily the Burner.

As we look at the distances, we can see that there are huge differences in the three clubs: 161.1, 171.5, and 183.5 yards. Now from a club vs. lesson standpoint, if distance is a real issue in your game, then I would suggest changing since there is 20 yards difference between the old and the newest club. If not, then you can stick with your old bats and use the extra money to buy a few lessons, as long as your dispersion isn’t totally off.

The final thing I would look at is the height and landing angle of the clubs, and you can see that the last two clubs hit the ball about the same height and have basically the same landing angle into the green. But as we could guess, the older club is not even close.

Conclusion: If your clubs are more than 10 years old, I would suggest an upgrade from a technology standpoint. However, if your clubs have the somewhat newer technology that hits the ball higher with less loft, then you are safe…for now. I would say that unless there’s a serious issue with your clubs (not fit properly, dispersion is terrible, etc) then you should take lessons. To the guys with completely outdated sticks, I would suggest buying newer technology asap. And obviously, if your grooves are completely worn, it’s time to upgrade!!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Gerald Teigrob

    Jul 4, 2018 at 11:57 am

    I still have a good part of my Adams A7 irons but are gradually moving more to Redline irons and have replaced my irons with the Cobra Bio Cell in both stiff graphite and stiff steel. I left some clubs of mine behind to pick those up and I nearly have a set of Cobra Baffler XLs. Not everyone has the luxury of upgrading like I do with our golf course but as long as you leave some clubs behind, you, it appears to be the honor system…these are demo irons. So with that in mind, I won’t need to upgrade for a while! I’m glad to have both stiff graphite and steel in the Bio Cell irons!

    • geohogan

      Jul 7, 2018 at 9:44 am

      Unless the shafts are identical in all of the irons tested, then you can bet your testing difference in shafts more than iron heads.

  2. Tom

    Jul 2, 2018 at 11:21 am

    Let’s talk about shafts.

    Just how much clubhead speed/distance is gained for every, say 10 grams, less shaft weight? Maybe 2-3 yds with a 7 iron?

    How much distance/ dispersion difference is there between stiff and flexible shaft tips? Maybe 2-3 yds distance, 5-10 yds dispersion difference with the same 7 iron?

    • Tom

      Jul 2, 2018 at 11:27 am

      On shaft weight, I way overstated the distance gained for 10 grams lighter shaft .5 to .7 yards is probably closer to reality.

  3. Dr Tee

    Jul 2, 2018 at 8:42 am

    Do both. Lessons and new clubs are not mutually exclusive. No new club will correct a bad swing path

    • Gerald Teigrob

      Jul 4, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      I have managed lessons at GolfTec, so now I need to apply those principles to my own game with newer clubs! Fortunately, I can go back to previous lessons and see what I did online and what the purpose of that lesson was! Lessons and club fitting can go along well…that way you get to see how well your playing with your current irons is in relation to newer irons!

  4. Lane Holt

    Jul 2, 2018 at 8:25 am

    This is not a serious test / comparison. Their is nothing in a iron head that will make a ball go further other than it’s loft. If folks ever learn that the shaft is the engine and it ‘s performance is many times more iimportant that the head these Mfgts. will not be able to charge their ridiculous prices .
    When are we going to learn ? Iron heads ( faces ) have not changed in 50 years. How many tournament did Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson win ? The ball only stays on the face 1/20 th of a millisecond. Think about that and tell me what difference the head makes?
    Now- could a shaft with a flexible tip make a difference ? You betcha it does!

  5. JThunder

    Jul 1, 2018 at 2:07 am

    The distance question isn’t answered at all in this article; from what I can gather, the clubs were 5 irons? So, compare the 845s 4 iron to the 790 5 iron – loft and length are likely closer. If the dispersion and trajectory are better on the 790, then it is an improvement. Also, compare the 790 PW and 845s 9 iron – again, probably similar loft and length. If the 790 dispersion is better, then you’ve gained something. If not, then really all you’ve done is re-number the clubs, which is meaningless.

    For dispersion, I would double the number of balls. Either it will close the gap – make them more similar, or if the older clubs is less forgiving / harder to hit, the gap will widen.

    • NB Solets

      Jul 1, 2018 at 10:47 am

      Agreed. If the test did not reasonably match loft and length, then the test results are fairly meaningless. Most of these “tests” get this wrong.

      • Geohogan

        Jul 2, 2018 at 1:49 pm

        and use identical shafts both length and cpm. Then test all irons with the identical high end shaft.
        If they did that and new irons proved not to be significantly better than the old, would golfers stop buying new irons?

    • Johnny Penso

      Jul 1, 2018 at 7:25 pm

      There is a 4.5 degree difference in lofts between the 7 irons of the 845’s and the 790’s. That’s a whole club plus a bit. But your point is well taken. You’d think that someone in the golf business would now that you test dispersion at fixed distances not based on the arbitrary number on the bottom of the club.

  6. Tony

    Jun 30, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    845’s were my first irons. Shot my lowest round ever, 74, with those clubs.

  7. Dan

    Jun 30, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    readinf this I’m not thrilled I just dropped $1300 replacing my old irons

  8. SV

    Jun 30, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Maybe it’s my eyesight, but dispersion for the 845s and P790s both distance and left to right appear to be about the same. The Burner has tighter dispersion. Trajectory is definitely better with the newer irons.
    If you want to improve find an old blade iron and practice with it. Add a real wooden driver also. It really does make a difference.

  9. K

    Jun 30, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Usually far from a quick improvement but Im a BIG believer in the old “true blades are the best teachers”. I know it can be tough for some people coming from GI irons to stick it out and make it work. Though once it clicks in their head how to strike it perfectly they are on a whole new level of lower scores. Everyone is capable of making it work. They might not hit the blades as far due to lofts and club speed at that point they should switch back to the GI clubs when on course and want distance/lower scores. I think everyone that wants to improve should at least get a few (if not a whole set) of decent used bladed irons and start practicing.

    • Richard Douglas

      Jul 1, 2018 at 9:51 am

      When I see tennis players practicing with Wilson T-2000 rackets I’ll agree. Until then, practice with what you’ll play.

      • Johnny Penso

        Jul 1, 2018 at 7:30 pm

        When I see professional golfers playing with blades I’ll agree…oh wait…

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