Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Don’t forget the 4-wood

Published

on

Long ago, I determined that my best set make-up included just one fairway wood, and that is a 4-wood of 16-17* loft. In my opinion, this is a real hidden gem in the set make-up, but you don’t see too many golfers carrying one. Back in the “old days”, when Hogan, Nelson and Snead plied their craft, the 4-wood was a staple in the set. Of course, those guys played courses where they hit woods to the longest par fours and most par fives. So, the ability to hit it high and far was important. You might remember that Gene Sarazen’s famous double eagle on Augusta’s 15th in 1935 was holed out with a 4-wood, from 235 yards.

My own love affair with the 4-wood began in the 1980s, when I was a marketing/advertising consultant to Joe Powell Golf in Florida. Joe made the most gorgeous persimmon woods you ever saw, and I learned a lot about golf clubs from those years with him. When I saw this beautiful 4-wood in his shop one day, I just had to hit it…and I was immediately impressed with what it could do. At the time, I carried a driver and 3-wood, and still packed a 2-iron. This 4-wood changed my world, so to speak. I soon dropped the 3-wood and 2-iron and added a third wedge.

Since that first one nearly 40 years ago, I have been through many more, but it took a while before I could find a ‘4-metal” that could win out the spot that my Reid Lockhart persimmon 4-wood had owned for nearly 15 years. I always have my eyes open for one that looks just right, though.

I’ll share that I never miss having a 3-wood in the bag, as I just don’t find that I need a shot that goes 235 instead of 220 or so. That’s splitting hairs to me. And with only one fairway wood, I have learned to hit various shots; it’s a specialty club for me. I can hit it high when I want, and I can easily turn the ball over when I need the few extra yards a draw delivers. I can also hit it low –- kind of like Tiger’s “stinger” to hit tight fairways.

And the best thing? Carrying only a 4-wood allows an extra wedge in the bag, and I get lots more use out of that than I would an extra fairway wood.

You can experiment with the 4-wood pretty easily these days. There are lots of used clubs available online, and GlobalGolf.com has just introduced their UTry demo program. But as always, I strongly advise you to see your local clubmaker/clubfitter to have one built just for your swing.

The venerable old 4-wood! It should be in nearly everyone’s bag, in my opinion.

Your Reaction?
  • 64
  • LEGIT9
  • WOW2
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP3
  • OB1
  • SHANK3

Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, or SCOR, but you would certainly know his most recent accomplishment: the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2015. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have possibly stimulated other companies to also try to raise the CG and improve wedge performance.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Blade Junkie

    Jun 12, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    In my modern bag I still play the Taylormade v-Steel 4-wood – 16.5° with 42″ steel shaft … c2005 … superb golf club 🙂

  2. Bob Gomavitz

    Jun 11, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    Sorry, great read and thanks for bringing back great memories.

  3. Bob Gomavitz

    Jun 11, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    My main club not in just a persimmon head, but also in a metal head. Persimmon was a Tommy Armour Super Eye O Magic and the Metal was a Callaway 1st Gen Steelhead 4+. Played with Fred Couples in a foursome for a Jr Match Play in the 1st round after a stroke play qualifier. The most he said to me all day was when we were at the 1st Tee and it was, “heard about you and that 4 wood on the par 5’s”.

  4. CarterDog350

    Jun 11, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    I’ve been playing Taylormade Rocketballs 3HL for several years….I affectionately refer to it as my four metal…….Absolutely .Love it. Sneaky long with perfect shaft.

  5. Nick

    Jun 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    AMEN!!! I have been a big fan of 4 woods and there’s nothing better that I have found than PING. For a while it was the G25 16.5* 4 Wood and now I’m on to the G400 5 wood adjusted to 16.9*. The PING 4 wood has been the safest club in my bag for a while now and I even picked up a 20.5* 7 wood to go with it.

  6. JG

    Jun 11, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    Not sure I would abandon your current bag setup for this change, but it’s something I would keep in the rotation depending on the course and the necessity for an additional wedge versus a 3 or 5 wood. Most would benefit from a 4 & 7 (or hybrid) setup versus the traditional 3 & 5 wood setup for the reasons stated above in terms of actually being able to hit a high shot which is actually capable of holding a green from distance.

  7. Greg V

    Jun 11, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Or if you’re like me, a senior with decreasing club head speed, the 4-wood actually goes farther than a 3-wood most of the time. Ping G25 for me.

  8. gdaddy

    Jun 11, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Couldn’t agree more. Back in the persimmon days I had a wonderful Ram 5 wood that basically played like a 4 wood. I hit it higher and farther than the 3 wood. Now I have the Cobra f8plus 4 wood that does the same thing. At this point I’m hitting it almost as far as my driver. Maybe i should drop my driver and add another wedge. I’ve always found found four and five woods so versatile – just like you said – hit it high, low, cut, draw, punch shots from the tress (stays low and run forever). Thanks for making us think about our set makeup – and you’re right, you can always use another wedge.

  9. Robert

    Jun 11, 2019 at 11:37 am

    I believe the last Ping 4Wood (metal) I saw was a G15. G15’s were great looking fairways in my opinion.

  10. Bruce

    Jun 11, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Terry, I grew up in Sarasota and knew Joe when he had his shop on Clark Rd. 1975. He made great woods in the classic pear shape. Gamma fire inserts were all the rage then. I, too, am a 4 wood proponent especially at now 61 don’t have the club head speed to launch the 13 degree Titleist 904F anymore. Nice observation and very valid for more than 95% of the worlds’ golfers.

  11. DB

    Jun 11, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Completely agree, most people that only hit their 3-wood in the <230 range have no chance of holding a green with it anyway. It's not a very useful club for them on long par 4s or par 5s. It's fine off the tee, but honestly they are only gaining a few yards with it compared to a 4-wood.

    Really wish PING would bring back the 4-wood, I know you can turn up a 3-wood or deloft a 5-wood but it's just not the same. About 16-degrees is the ideal fairway wood loft for lots of people.

  12. M

    Jun 11, 2019 at 10:45 am

    You mean 3HL? lol
    Or one of any number of adjustable 3 or 5 that can be lifted up or down.
    And 15 yards is splitting hairs? Ya gotta be kidding. You’re playing the wrong game. Who doesn’t want to hit the green from 235 comfortably. You need to get a club with which you can.

    • BodineJCS

      Jun 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm

      Yes … I switched to the 3 HL 17 degree and its the best thing I ever did . Adjusting the 15 degree 3 wood to 17 degree does not work as well and will mess with the lie of the club . My feeling is the modern 15 degree 3 wood is too low spin and it drops out of the air sooner than the 17 degree . Honestly when you hit the HL , its not much higher of a ball flight if at all and just as long …I use a M3 HL 17 degree

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Opinion & Analysis

Squares2Circles: Course strategy refined by a Ph.D.

Published

on

What do you get when you combine Division I-level golf talent, a Ph.D. in Mathematics, a passion for understanding how people process analytical information, and a knowledge of the psychology behind it? In short, you get Kevin Moore, but the long version of the story is much more interesting.

Kevin Moore attended the University of Akron on a golf scholarship from 2001-2005. Upon completing his tenure with the team, he found himself burned out on the game and promptly hung up his sticks. For a decade.

After completing his BS and MS degrees at the University of Akron, Kevin then went to Arizona State to pursue his Ph.D. Ultimately what drew him to the desert was the opportunity to research the psychology behind how people process analytical information. In his own words:

“My research in mathematics education is actually in the realm of student cognition (how students think and learn). From that, I’ve gained a deep understanding of developmental psychology in the mathematical world and also a general understanding of psychology as a whole; how our brains work, how we make decisions, and how we respond to results.”

In 2015, Kevin started to miss the game he loved. Now a professor of mathematics education at the University of Georgia, he dusted off his clubs and set a goal to play in USGA events. That’s when it all started to come together.

“I wanted to play some interesting courses for my satellite qualifiers and I wasn’t able to play practice rounds to be able to check them out in advance. So I modified a math program to let me do all the strategic planning ahead of time. I worked my way around the golf course, plotting out exactly how I wanted to hit  shot, and minimizing my expected score for each hole. I bundled that up into a report that I could study to prepare for the rounds.

“I’m not long enough to overpower a golf course, so I needed to find a way to make sure I was putting myself in the best positions possible to minimize my score. There might be a pin position on a certain green where purposely hitting an 8-iron to 25 feet is the best strategy for me. I’ll let the rest of the field take on that pin and make a mistake even if they’re only hitting wedge. I know that playing intelligently aggressive to the right spot is going to allow me to pick up fractions of strokes here and there.”

His plan worked, too. Kevin made it to the USGA Mid-Amateur at Charlotte Country Club in September of 2018 using this preparation method for his events just three years after taking a decade off of golf. In case you missed the implied sentiment, that’s extremely impressive. When Kevin showed his reports to some friends that played on the Web.com Tour and the Mackenzie Tour, they were so impressed they asked him to think about generating them for other people. The first group he approached was the coaching staff at the University of Georgia, who promptly enlisted his services to assist their team with course strategy in the spring of 2019. That’s when Squares2Circles really started to get some traction.

At that point, UGA hadn’t had a team win in over two seasons. They also hadn’t had an individual winner in over one season and had missed out on Nationals the previous two seasons. In the spring of 2019, they had three team wins (including winning Regionals to advance to Nationals) and two individual wins (including Davis Thompson’s win at Regionals). Obviously, the credit ultimately belongs to the players on the team, but suffice it to say it appears as though Kevin’s involvement with the team was decidedly useful.

“One of the things we really focused in on was par 3 scoring. They finished 3rd, 2nd, 4th, and 3rd in the field as a team in their spring tournaments. Then at the SEC’s they struggled a bit and finished 6th in the field. At Regionals, they turned it around and finished 1st in the field with a score of +6 across 60 scores (186 total on 60 par 3’s, an average of 3.10).”

Sample Squares2Circles layout for the 18th hole at Muirfield Village. Advanced data redacted.

Kevin is available outside of his work with UGA and has been employed by other D-I teams (including his alma mater of Akron), Mackenzie Tour players, Web.com Tour players, and competitive juniors as well. Using his modified math program, he can generate generic course guides based on assumed shot dispersions, but having more specific Trackman data for the individual allows him to take things to a new level. This allows him to show the player exactly what their options are with their exact carry numbers and shot dispersions.

“Everything I do is ultimately based off of strokes gained data. I don’t reinvent the wheel there and I don’t use any real new statistics (at least not yet), but I see my role as interpreting that data. Let’s say a certain player is an average of -2.1 on strokes gained approach over the last 10 rounds. That says something about his game, but it doesn’t say if it’s strategy or execution. And it doesn’t help you come up with a practice plan either. I love to help players go deeper than just the raw data to help them understand why they’re seeing what they’re seeing. That’s where the good stuff is. Not just the data, but the story the data tells and the psychology behind it. How do we get ourselves in the right mindset to play golf and think through a round and commit to what we’re doing?”

“Even if you’re able to play practice rounds, this level of preparation turns those practice rounds into more of an experiment than a game plan session. You go into your practice round already knowing the golf course and already having a plan of attack. This allows you to use that practice round to test that game plan before the competition starts. You may decide to tweak a few things during your practice round based on course conditions or an elevation change here and there, but for the most part it’s like you’ve gained a free practice round. It allows you to be more comfortable and just let it fly a lot earlier.”

Kevin is in the process of building his website, but follow @squares2circles on Twitter for more information and insight.

Your Reaction?
  • 22
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW3
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Mike Yagley and Chad DeHart of Cobra Golf

Published

on

In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Mike Yagley and Chad DeHart of Cobra Golf Innovation on Cobra Connect, new ways to evaluate good play, and the future of golf improvement.

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

Your Reaction?
  • 3
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW2
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK2

Continue Reading

Podcasts

Mondays Off: U.S. Open wrap-up | Steve plays against the new assistant pro

Published

on

Would Woodland have won the U.S. Open if he had to hit driver on the 18th hole? Knudson doesn’t think so. Steve loved the U.S. Open, but he didn’t really love the commentator crew. Also, Steve tees it up with the new second assistant pro at the club, how did he do?

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

Your Reaction?
  • 2
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending