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Distance irons and smash factor: can smash be too high?


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#1 dodgyman

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 10:31 AM

I got serious about my game last year and started seeing a pro regularly. I had improperly fitted clubs and a swing that was o.k. but needed work, so I was fitted to Callaway Steelhead XR Pro’s with light shafts that got me through the ball better.

My smash factor on my 7 iron can range from 1.4-1.5 which seems crazy for an iron. My typical clubhead speed is 80, ball speed 116-121. I’ve been trying out some of the “better player” irons (AP2s/X-forged) which smash around 1.3-1.36, and that seems more similar to what pro’s have on their trackman data.

As I consider switching to more of a player’s iron (many reasons, some real some superficial) I would love a second opinion of how I should think about the smash factor. I’m wondering if such a high smash factor (1.4-1.5) is the contributor to less distance control and possibly issues with distance gaps? My rationale is that the high smash would potentially vary by a lot causing bigger dispersion, and that it has no way of going up for my longer irons (5/4) and hence the gapping between clubs would not be as uniform?

Is this how others think about smash and why a smaller smash factor would be desirable? Am I just reading into these results to justify buying new clubs or are these real disadvantages?

Thanks!

Edited by dodgyman, 14 November 2017 - 10:32 AM.


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#2 rsballer10

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 11:01 AM

View Postdodgyman, on 14 November 2017 - 10:31 AM, said:

I got serious about my game last year and started seeing a pro regularly. I had improperly fitted clubs and a swing that was o.k. but needed work, so I was fitted to Callaway Steelhead XR Pro’s with light shafts that got me through the ball better.

My smash factor on my 7 iron can range from 1.4-1.5 which seems crazy for an iron. My typical clubhead speed is 80, ball speed 116-121. I’ve been trying out some of the “better player” irons (AP2s/X-forged) which smash around 1.3-1.36, and that seems more similar to what pro’s have on their trackman data.

As I consider switching to more of a player’s iron (many reasons, some real some superficial) I would love a second opinion of how I should think about the smash factor. I’m wondering if such a high smash factor (1.4-1.5) is the contributor to less distance control and possibly issues with distance gaps? My rationale is that the high smash would potentially vary by a lot causing bigger dispersion, and that it has no way of going up for my longer irons (5/4) and hence the gapping between clubs would not be as uniform?

Is this how others think about smash and why a smaller smash factor would be desirable? Am I just reading into these results to justify buying new clubs or are these real disadvantages?

Thanks!
The engineers working for the club manufacturers design the lofts of each iron to account for whether the iron is "hot" or not.

With regards to distance control, you will get differing opinions on this forum. I have expirienced the CB 'flyers' at times but I think the effect is wayyy overstated. I believe the reason this happens is because off center strikes with CBs will feel solid, and when someone does flush it, they end up with 10+ more yards and fly the green.

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#3 Kingcat990

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 12:21 PM

View Postrsballer10, on 14 November 2017 - 11:01 AM, said:

off center strikes with CBs will feel solid, and when someone does flush it, they end up with 10+ more yards and fly the green.

Yes.  "flyers" is grossly mislabeled as the culprit of iron and ball flight inconsistencies. 10/10 it's the golfer catching one pure over the 9 other swings they're toe or heel sided.
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#4 baudi

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 12:27 PM

Quote

As I consider switching to more of a player’s iron (many reasons, some real some superficial) I would love a second opinion of how I should think about the smash factor. I’m wondering if such a high smash factor (1.4-1.5) is the contributor to less distance control and possibly issues with distance gaps? My rationale is that the high smash would potentially vary by a lot causing bigger dispersion, and that it has no way of going up for my longer irons (5/4) and hence the gapping between clubs would not be as uniform?
Ok. Well. So how do you rate your ball flight patterns?

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#5 morgan1819

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 12:55 PM

To directly answer the OP's question:  assuming the clubs are built to high tolerances, the gaps should still be relatively uniform, even with what someone would consider a "hotter" iron head.  Good manufacturers have done lot of robot testing before the clubs hit the market.

Having said that, your dispersion could be larger with a "hot" or "jacked" iron, just as they would be with a driver that runs out further than another.

I still think a good iron game comes down to three things:  Practice, getting fit for the right shaft, and then testing before choosing the most forgiving iron that still looks good to your eye.

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#6 dodgyman

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 12:56 PM

View Postbaudi, on 14 November 2017 - 12:27 PM, said:

Quote

As I consider switching to more of a player’s iron (many reasons, some real some superficial) I would love a second opinion of how I should think about the smash factor. I’m wondering if such a high smash factor (1.4-1.5) is the contributor to less distance control and possibly issues with distance gaps? My rationale is that the high smash would potentially vary by a lot causing bigger dispersion, and that it has no way of going up for my longer irons (5/4) and hence the gapping between clubs would not be as uniform?
Ok. Well. So how do you rate your ball flight patterns?
What do you mean specifically about flight patterns? Are you asking about ball flight (high/low) or whether I get more of a draw/straight flight out of them?

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#7 Chuck905

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 12:57 PM

1.5 smash factor is near impossible with an iron; 1.45 is very respectable for any iron.

You are going to lose fractional smash factor to sound, transfer, compression, heat and back spin.

Obviously, a driver will always have a better smash factor vs a pitching wedge in pure strikes.


Edited by Chuck905, 14 November 2017 - 12:59 PM.


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#8 mountaintop

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 12:58 PM

smash factor has nothing to do with distance control in and of itself.  you want the most efficient strike you can get.  smash factor is just ball speed/club speed.  its just a ratio.

all you want from each club is predictable response based upon what you put into it.  that predictable response is spin, launch, face angle, face to path and ballspeed.  smash factor has nothing to do with it.

now ... if your smash factor is high... and therefore ballspeed is relatively high, but the other metrics are hosed, spin, launch, face angle, face to path ... then that will cause inconsistency and even greater inconsistency since the ball is moving at a greater rate.

but a high smash factor as an isolated variable has bugger all to do with anything other than ballspeed relative to club speed.

EDIT: you want players irons, get them.  if you can middle them, then the higher cg will cause the ball to stop more quickly.

Edited by mountaintop, 14 November 2017 - 12:59 PM.

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#9 dodgyman

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 01:03 PM

View Postmountaintop, on 14 November 2017 - 12:58 PM, said:

smash factor has nothing to do with distance control in and of itself.  you want the most efficient strike you can get.  smash factor is just ball speed/club speed.  its just a ratio.

all you want from each club is predictable response based upon what you put into it.  that predictable response is spin, launch, face angle, face to path and ballspeed.  smash factor has nothing to do with it.

now ... if your smash factor is high... and therefore ballspeed is relatively high, but the other metrics are hosed, spin, launch, face angle, face to path ... then that will cause inconsistency and even greater inconsistency since the ball is moving at a greater rate.

but a high smash factor as an isolated variable has bugger all to do with anything other than ballspeed relative to club speed.

EDIT: you want players irons, get them.  if you can middle them, then the higher cg will cause the ball to stop more quickly.
I hear what you're saying, but my question/concern is about progressive smash factors. If I look at trackman PGA numbers, the smash increases with every club which suggests that ss+smash increasing=ideal gapping. I assume that if I'm hitting 1.4-1.5 on a 7 iron, I can't expect 1.6+ on a 4 iron and that this may be affecting the gapping with the lower irons. And while I could just hit a bunch of 4 irons and see what happens, I don't hit those consistently enough yet to tell.

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#10 mountaintop

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 01:11 PM

...

Edited by mountaintop, 15 November 2017 - 09:08 AM.

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#11 raynorfan1

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 02:15 PM

View Postdodgyman, on 14 November 2017 - 01:03 PM, said:

View Postmountaintop, on 14 November 2017 - 12:58 PM, said:

smash factor has nothing to do with distance control in and of itself.  you want the most efficient strike you can get.  smash factor is just ball speed/club speed.  its just a ratio.

all you want from each club is predictable response based upon what you put into it.  that predictable response is spin, launch, face angle, face to path and ballspeed.  smash factor has nothing to do with it.

now ... if your smash factor is high... and therefore ballspeed is relatively high, but the other metrics are hosed, spin, launch, face angle, face to path ... then that will cause inconsistency and even greater inconsistency since the ball is moving at a greater rate.

but a high smash factor as an isolated variable has bugger all to do with anything other than ballspeed relative to club speed.

EDIT: you want players irons, get them.  if you can middle them, then the higher cg will cause the ball to stop more quickly.
I hear what you're saying, but my question/concern is about progressive smash factors. If I look at trackman PGA numbers, the smash increases with every club which suggests that ss+smash increasing=ideal gapping. I assume that if I'm hitting 1.4-1.5 on a 7 iron, I can't expect 1.6+ on a 4 iron and that this may be affecting the gapping with the lower irons. And while I could just hit a bunch of 4 irons and see what happens, I don't hit those consistently enough yet to tell.

IMHO if you’re not hitting a 4i consistently enough to understand your gapping, you should step back from the trackman and focus on building a repeatable, reliable swing.

The math / data exercises are good fun when you have a solid game that you’re trying to maximize at the margin. But you’re going to get massively bigger near term gains by working with your pro on your swing.

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#12 grochol17

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 02:15 PM

The main question I have is, where are you getting the smash factor numbers?  I don't know that it is physically possible to get a smash factor of 1.5 from an iron.  And, unless you're using trackman, flight scope, or foresight with the HMT, the system is only measuring ball speed and then guessing at smash factor and clubhead speed.

Also, as mountaintop has mentioned, you're over thinking this.  Assuming that it is physically possible to get a 1.5 smash with the XR 7 iron, Callaway would know this and factor it in to their set design.  So, any problems you're having with distance gaps between irons will not be a result of Callaway forgetting to take into account the max possible smash factor on each of their XR irons.

The only place it could matter is if you start mixing sets of irons together, but even then you can compensate for hot faced irons by tweaking things such as loft, shaft length, or shaft weigh.
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#13 baudi

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 02:46 PM

@ dodgyman Yes. The ball flight should fit your eye and game. Only compare numbers on empirical sustainable practical evidence.

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#14 cforselius

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 03:10 PM

The reason you are getting those high SF numbers is because your Dynamic loft (the actual loft you hit the ball with) is much lower with Steelhead pro vs CB irons. Lower loft equals higher smash and thats the reason smash factor varies throughout the set. Get higher Dynamic loft and smash will go down. But as stated, its just a ratio, dont look in to it that much.

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#15 ihatecats18

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 03:38 PM

Chalk me up as more of a feel person vs watching the smash factor numbers.  When you are out on the course, there is no smash #'s to tell you how you hit the ball.  I would try to find some comfortable distances and get to know a consistent feel for that shot.

Another thing is, depending on your iron, you may be swinging a 7 iron fro 2017 that has the loft of a 5 iron of 2010

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#16 dodgyman

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 04:57 PM

Thanks for the interesting feedback, and I do agree that this can be overanalyzed. Honestly if my smash factor wasn't capable of hitting in the 1.5 range (which I did not know is possible, and yes was done on Trackman) I don't know if I'd spend as much time thinking about it. I was hoping to understand the differences to help me get a sense of what kind of gaps/consistency to expect if I switched.

It's hard to compare a set you've gamed for a full year and have tuned your swing on, to something new, especially if you're also expecting the distances to go down. I wish I could take a set and game them for a month before making a call, but that's not really possible.

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#17 DavePelz4

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 05:03 PM

View PostChuck905, on 14 November 2017 - 12:57 PM, said:

1.5 smash factor is near impossible with an iron; 1.45 is very respectable for any iron.

You are going to lose fractional smash factor to sound, transfer, compression, heat and back spin.

Obviously, a driver will always have a better smash factor vs a pitching wedge in pure strikes.

View PostChuck905, on 14 November 2017 - 12:57 PM, said:

1.5 smash factor is near impossible with an iron; 1.45 is very respectable for any iron.

You are going to lose fractional smash factor to sound, transfer, compression, heat and back spin.

Obviously, a driver will always have a better smash factor vs a pitching wedge in pure strikes.

Chuck you sound like you know your stuff.  Can you share how you lose even a minuscule about of smash factor to sound?  Very intriguing.

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#18 Chuck905

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 05:21 PM

Sound is a form of energy measured in wavelengths as a direct cause from a medium. Frequency would be the best example.

Sound is also associated with power that we measure in decibels.

Such examples of frequency and decibels working combinations would be a driver making a piercing sound or a well struck forged iron.

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