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Blades and the search for "game improvement"


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#1 QuintupleBogey

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 05:23 PM

Do "game improvement" clubs actually improve your game?

I ask this as I feel that there are 2 ways to approach golf and indeed any other sporting or competitive activity.

1. Aiming to get the lowest score possible
2. Aiming to be as good as possible

The 2 are obviously not mutually exclusive.  For me the second option is the goal and the first option is simply a way of measuring the second.

If we are not playing in a competition then where does the need for game improvement clubs come in?  If your average score comes down by 4 strokes by playing cavity backed GI clubs then what have you achieved?

This is the crux of my point - are we not all better off playing unforgiving blades and small headed drivers that do not pander to our inconsistencies?

If we make a bad swing and the club compensates for this allowing us to hit the green then we lose the incentive - the requirement - to perfect that swing.  

This is analogous to upgrading equipment in many other forms of sport.   For me the challenge and joy of golf and all other sports I play is mastering the technique and the less forgiving the equipment the more I am driven to do so and the more joy there is in nailing that perfect shot.


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#2 dubbelbogey

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 05:32 PM

Very legitimate and interesting question, yet I predict another locked thread.

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#3 BiggErn

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 05:36 PM

Play what you want and whatever you think makes you better. Terrible golfers are gonna be terrible no matter what. The answer to the crux of your point is NO.

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#4 1Mordrid1

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 05:51 PM

Let's assume 2 baseball players have the same batting average, same # of homeruns, and all other significant batting statistics are the same.
But players A uses a 32" 28oz bat because it helps him create bat speed, yet player B uses a 34" 33oz bat because he does not need the help. Does the difference in bat make either of them less of a player?

I say the end result is what matters. Golf equipment has evolved. Nobody is playing balata balls and persimmon woods anymore. Does this mean  that all of the pros on tour suck because they moved to modern equipment? Why do they chose to play more forgiving balls and woods? Because results matter. Does this inherently mean they are less skilled than golfers from the past?....Highly unlikely.


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#5 Aviador Naval

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 05:59 PM

First, welcome to GolfWRX and I congratulate you on finding a new way to introduce a topic that has been discussed 2,382 times on this site - in the last 3 months...

Your premise is very well articulated and has merit from the point of view that pure iron shots (or perhaps a machine like swing since you mentioned small headed drivers) are the ultimate objective.

However, if you take an alternate perspective, as most do, that scoring is the ultimate objective, then your premise falls apart.

In that case, 'game improvement' is about better course management, discipline, not compounding mistakes, controlling your emotions, and a whole host of other things that have nothing to do with the design of your irons.

This is not to disparage your theory.  Just saying that for most the idea is to play golf rather than playing golf swing.

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#6 QuintupleBogey

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:16 PM

Well thank you for your welcome and for taking the time to keep such an accurate tally of how often this topic has been discussed - in the future I shall endeavour to choose more original topics for conversation.

I don't have a theory as such, just posing the question of whether or not playing forgiving equipment actually benefits your skill or just your score.

If scoring is the ultimate objective (as in competition) then of course take any advantage that you can, I was just looking at it from another perspective - one that has instigated 2,382 discussions in the past 3 months so I can't be alone.

And I'm not disparaging anyone's skill level based on their equipment choices, just interested to hear opinions from others.

Do you want to be the best player you can be (given your level of natural talent and time available to play) and what equipment choices are most effective in achieving this?

Also - why would the thread be locked?  Have I broken any rules or is it simply that this topic is so over-discussed that the moderators are bored to death with it?

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#7 NRJyzr

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:30 PM

View PostQuintupleBogey, on 14 September 2018 - 06:16 PM, said:

Also - why would the thread be locked?  Have I broken any rules or is it simply that this topic is so over-discussed that the moderators are bored to death with it?


There's a contingent of cavity back holy warriors on WRX, who think anyone who is not scratch is delusionial or merely ego driven, if they choose to play blades.
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#8 Aviador Naval

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:38 PM

View PostQuintupleBogey, on 14 September 2018 - 06:16 PM, said:

Well thank you for your welcome and for taking the time to keep such an accurate tally of how often this topic has been discussed - in the future I shall endeavour to choose more original topics for conversation.

I don't have a theory as such, just posing the question of whether or not playing forgiving equipment actually benefits your skill or just your score.

If scoring is the ultimate objective (as in competition) then of course take any advantage that you can, I was just looking at it from another perspective - one that has instigated 2,382 discussions in the past 3 months so I can't be alone.

And I'm not disparaging anyone's skill level based on their equipment choices, just interested to hear opinions from others.

Do you want to be the best player you can be (given your level of natural talent and time available to play) and what equipment choices are most effective in achieving this?

Also - why would the thread be locked?  Have I broken any rules or is it simply that this topic is so over-discussed that the moderators are bored to death with it?

With the exception of 'Welcome' (which I meant sincerely), I was clearly being a bit cheeky in the opening line.

I've a set of players cavities and a set of musclebacks.  I enjoy them both and the variety keeps the game fresh.  I can switch back and forth with absolutely no difference in score.  The single most important thing is iron design is that you like the look of it at address and have confidence that you'll hit it well.  The differences in 'forgiveness' is one of the most overrated topics in golf.

Your approach to the game clearly brings you satisfaction.  That is the most important thing for amateurs anyway.  Good luck and enjoy.
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#9 Golfer4Life

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:41 PM

View PostNRJyzr, on 14 September 2018 - 06:30 PM, said:

View PostQuintupleBogey, on 14 September 2018 - 06:16 PM, said:

Also - why would the thread be locked?  Have I broken any rules or is it simply that this topic is so over-discussed that the moderators are bored to death with it?


There's a contingent of cavity back holy warriors on WRX, who think anyone who is not scratch is delusionial or merely ego driven, if they choose to play blades.

View PostNRJyzr, on 14 September 2018 - 06:30 PM, said:

View PostQuintupleBogey, on 14 September 2018 - 06:16 PM, said:

Also - why would the thread be locked?  Have I broken any rules or is it simply that this topic is so over-discussed that the moderators are bored to death with it?


There's a contingent of cavity back holy warriors on WRX, who think anyone who is not scratch is delusionial or merely ego driven, if they choose to play blades.

Or what I call frustrated wannabe tour players, lol....

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#10 Cwebb

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:42 PM

Golf is a game where millimeters can make a difference....and good "misses" are a huge part of the game.  If we can pin point equipment within the rules, that helps our individual characteristics, it's best to use that advantage.  As it is in any other sport.

I don't think many outfielders in baseball would choose a 9-10" glove, because that's what everyone used 100 years ago.

Unless your enjoyment from the game, comes from the challenge of using more difficult to use equipment.  In that case, put together a classic bag and have fun with it.  Although it can be tough, when very few or nobody else you play with, is doing the same


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#11 gbartko

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:43 PM

View PostNRJyzr, on 14 September 2018 - 06:30 PM, said:

View PostQuintupleBogey, on 14 September 2018 - 06:16 PM, said:

Also - why would the thread be locked?  Have I broken any rules or is it simply that this topic is so over-discussed that the moderators are bored to death with it?


There's a contingent of cavity back holy warriors on WRX, who think anyone who is not scratch is delusionial or merely ego driven, if they choose to play blades.

I think you demonstrated why these threads get locked 😀
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#12 BiggErn

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:46 PM

View PostNRJyzr, on 14 September 2018 - 06:30 PM, said:

View PostQuintupleBogey, on 14 September 2018 - 06:16 PM, said:

Also - why would the thread be locked?  Have I broken any rules or is it simply that this topic is so over-discussed that the moderators are bored to death with it?


There's a contingent of cavity back holy warriors on WRX, who think anyone who is not scratch is delusionial or merely ego driven, if they choose to play blades.

I saw a post the other day where someone said they play MBs for the challenge they present. That leads me to believe that it’s not even golf related why some have them.

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#13 Hit 'Em Straight

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:49 PM

View Post1Mordrid1, on 14 September 2018 - 05:51 PM, said:

Let's assume 2 baseball players have the same batting average, same # of homeruns, and all other significant batting statistics are the same.
But players A uses a 32" 28oz bat because it helps him create bat speed, yet player B uses a 34" 33oz bat because he does not need the help. Does the difference in bat make either of them less of a player?

I say the end result is what matters. Golf equipment has evolved. Nobody is playing balata balls and persimmon woods anymore. Does this mean  that all of the pros on tour suck because they moved to modern equipment? Why do they chose to play more forgiving balls and woods? Because results matter. Does this inherently mean they are less skilled than golfers from the past?....Highly unlikely.

I used wood bats in practice all the way through college.  But of course used aluminum in game situations.  I felt this really focused my attention on solid contact in practice.  I think the musing by the OP is why the same wouldn't apply to golf by using blades in anything outside of tournaments or perhaps money matches.

To take an uneducated stab at an answer, in simpliest terms in baseball all I was trying to do was hit the ball hard.  I didn't particularly care where the 3-0 fastball was hit- I just wanted it to end up in the seats.

In iron play in golf it's accuracy that is king.
If I hone my swing to where I know I hit club x in blades 150 yards with a little draw, I may not really know what I'll hit that club in game improvement with perhaps less loft and more offset.  Although it may translate to better contact, perhaps that's not beneficial if I don't really know where it'll go.

But that's just a guess, as no matter the club with my swing I don't really have anything but a vague suspicion as to where the ball may end up.



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#14 Gautama

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:51 PM

View Post1Mordrid1, on 14 September 2018 - 05:51 PM, said:

Let's assume 2 baseball players have the same batting average, same # of homeruns, and all other significant batting statistics are the same.
But players A uses a 32" 28oz bat because it helps him create bat speed, yet player B uses a 34" 33oz bat because he does not need the help. Does the difference in bat make either of them less of a player?

Player a is playing a drop 4 bat and therefore cheating, lol.

To the original question, I think it's a good one.  I'm a former competitive skier who grew up skiing very long, very stiff, and very narrow sticks.  Old guys would ski softer wider skis and we'd make fun of them.

Then in the 90s the short, wide, heavily tapered and typically softer skis became popular and everyone was skiing in old man tongue depressors.  And there is absolutely no question, zero, that it took less skill to ski the same terrain,and to my eye few skiers developed the same level of skills that they would have in another era.  I'm a better skier for having learned in the gear I did...100%.

So, to me, your premise is sound and my experience says it makes sense.  However...Personally I own three sets of clubs I tend to rotate around, MP 64s which are very bladish, JPX 825 Pros which are sort of a classic cavity, and JPX EZ, which are about as game improvement as it gets.  I see very little difference, if any, in how I score with them if I'm honest.  So based on my experience there, I think the whole debate is kinda fundamentally flawed, I think its just damn hard to hit a golf ball and unlike skis, there's just not that much help to be had lol.
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#15 magnus7319

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:53 PM

If you don’t measure “good” by lowest score, than how do you measure it?

Being the best player you can be is determined by score, no?

You can’t mean to say that you are getting better and you’ve played your “best” then go out and shoot 90 and be happy with it ?


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#16 Golfer4Life

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:56 PM

Is an interesting topic, but to me golf is a game, if I want to have hard time, I go back to work and forget retirement, lol.....

I’ll take advantage of every single piece of technology available, damn skippy!  The only exception is my putter, I will continue to use my 330g forever.
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#17 BenHoganSlam1953

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 09:34 PM

I played MP-32s last season and switched to MP-53s this season - the 53s are just as precise and hides nothing about my swing.
However, the sole of the 53s definitely works better and a toe hit is as forgiving as a hybrid.
Scores are still based on my ability ... my current bag fits my improving game quite well ... all that matters to me is that the equipment fits me and does not hinder my ability to score.
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#18 dubbelbogey

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 09:39 PM

View PostGautama, on 14 September 2018 - 06:51 PM, said:


Player a is playing a drop 4 bat and therefore cheating, lol.

To the original question, I think it's a good one.  I'm a former competitive skier who grew up skiing very long, very stiff, and very narrow sticks.  Old guys would ski softer wider skis and we'd make fun of them.

Then in the 90s the short, wide, heavily tapered and typically softer skis became popular and everyone was skiing in old man tongue depressors.  And there is absolutely no question, zero, that it took less skill to ski the same terrain,and to my eye few skiers developed the same level of skills that they would have in another era.  I'm a better skier for having learned in the gear I did...100%.

So, to me, your premise is sound and my experience says it makes sense.  However...Personally I own three sets of clubs I tend to rotate around, MP 64s which are very bladish, JPX 825 Pros which are sort of a classic cavity, and JPX EZ, which are about as game improvement as it gets.  I see very little difference, if any, in how I score with them if I'm honest.  So based on my experience there, I think the whole debate is kinda fundamentally flawed, I think its just damn hard to hit a golf ball and unlike skis, there's just not that much help to be had lol.

Wow - I could've written the exact same narrative about myself! I'm 100% a fan for how certain equipment changes have made my participation in some sports easier and more fun. Skis, as you say, are night and day different from the old days and I can't imagine ever going back to my 203cm race slaloms - that would just be dumb. Same for my old Wilson Kramer Pro Staff (wood) tennis racquets. In golf I'd never go back to a small headed driver or use a 2-iron instead of my hybrid. So, I'm pretty much a fan of effective technology in sports. Yet - I generally don't play my CBs. Why is that?

(Doooh! I shouldn't have chimed in any more on this thread - it's really not healthy. But Gautama's post was so similar to my own story that I couldn't resist. Thanks for posting that perspective.)

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#19 mahonie

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 04:45 AM

View PostQuintupleBogey, on 14 September 2018 - 05:23 PM, said:

Do "game improvement" clubs actually improve your game?

I ask this as I feel that there are 2 ways to approach golf and indeed any other sporting or competitive activity.

1. Aiming to get the lowest score possible
2. Aiming to be as good as possible

The 2 are obviously not mutually exclusive.  For me the second option is the goal and the first option is simply a way of measuring the second.

If we are not playing in a competition then where does the need for game improvement clubs come in?  If your average score comes down by 4 strokes by playing cavity backed GI clubs then what have you achieved?

This is the crux of my point - are we not all better off playing unforgiving blades and small headed drivers that do not pander to our inconsistencies?

If we make a bad swing and the club compensates for this allowing us to hit the green then we lose the incentive - the requirement - to perfect that swing.  

This is analogous to upgrading equipment in many other forms of sport.   For me the challenge and joy of golf and all other sports I play is mastering the technique and the less forgiving the equipment the more I am driven to do so and the more joy there is in nailing that perfect shot.

I can relate to this to some extent and agree with your viewpoint. I’ve played MBs, Player’s CBs and combo sets over time and my average score as measured by handicap has hardly varied. The biggest factor for me on score is typically how often I get to play. For me, the more often I play, the more consistent I get and my score improves. However, what I have found is that while my best rounds with CBs have been low 80s, all of my rounds that I’ve shot in the 70s have all come with MBs. I’ll qualify that and admit that my worst rounds have also been with the MBs in the bag.

Perhaps it’s my optimistic nature, but I always go out with the thought that today is going be the day when I shoot my best score and if everything in my game is on song, I know that the MBs will give me the best chance of doing that. I can tell after a couple of shots what sort of round I’m going to have and more often than not I’m pretty quickly into grind mode just to get a score going. Even in grind mode though, I take immense satisfaction in executing a good swing and putting the ball where I aimed it and enjoy the challenge of getting the best out my game given what I’ve got on that particular day. I suppose the key is not to get too down on the bad swings (no club is going to save those anyway) and feel that the next shot is going to be one of your best.

I’ve shot two 76s this year, both on the back of rounds in the 90s! I’m guessing that 95% of this game is the player and 5% is the equipment.
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#20 joj

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 06:35 AM

There is no universal answer. I think it depends on your weaknesses and whether you think those weaknesses can ever be fixed.

My buddy is a +3 that has worn out the center of his 46” driver. You can hand him the smallest, most unforgiving driver and he will pipe it every time. But with his irons, he plays shovels. Game improvement all the way. He’s absolutely terrified to even grab a players cavity, let alone a blade.

I’m the opposite, I play blades and want the most forgiving driver legally allowed.

I like blades because I truly believe that there is an advantage to them. They respond so accurately that you really can trust that they will do what you want them to. With cavity backs, I was always scratching my head not quite sure what I did that caused that shot. Blades for me help me to instantly know what I just did, but if I didn’t have the ability to fix the issue, I would definitely not play them. That would not be fun.

With driver, I don’t have the ability to hit the center of the face every time and don’t think I will anytime soon, so give me the club that goes high and straight!


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#21 Itsjustagame

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 06:50 AM

As a matter of physics/science perimeter weighting is more "forgiving" period. How this fits an individuals emotional, aesthetic, and perhaps practical
perception of clubs they want to use will vary. That's why club manufacturers make so many different types of clubs.
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#22 dpb5031

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 07:12 AM

I believe the type of athlete who is capable of getting down to low single digits or better will know if he's hitting the sweetspot whether using cavity back sticks or blades, 460cc drivers or 200cc. Feedback on the game improvement stuff won't be as profound, but it's still there.

That said, I love to practice with my Mizuno MP 67 blades because of the feel and the precision required to achieve that great feel and flight.  If I'm playing in a tournament or a money match though, I'd rather have my Ping i200s in my bag.

We're at a point in time where most of the guys on Tour grew up playing 460cc drivers and cavity backed irons.  I dont think going this route has hindered their development.
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#23 BMC

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 07:28 AM

The single most important thing is iron design is that you like the look of it at address and have confidence that you'll hit it well.  The differences in 'forgiveness' is one of the most overrated topics in golf.

Aviador Naval nailed it.  Same thing applies to woods and putter.
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#24 NRJyzr

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 08:11 AM

View PostItsjustagame, on 15 September 2018 - 06:50 AM, said:

As a matter of physics/science perimeter weighting is more "forgiving" period. How this fits an individuals emotional, aesthetic, and perhaps practical
perception of clubs they want to use will vary. That's why club manufacturers make so many different types of clubs.

It's surprising how little that difference is between some models, when you look at MOI measurements on GolfWorks.  The old CF4000 from MacGregor is essentially on par with the Eye2.  Surprised me, anyway.

That said, the CG of the CF4000 is nearly on the hosel, but that's another story.   ;)

Britt Lindsey is on record saying they don't find slight differences in MOI to be profound or meaningful.  He also says they've not done any testing to investigate the effect of those differences.  Fuel for the fire for some, LOL.
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#25 Nessism

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 08:35 AM

Where the OP's logic goes out the window is in assuming that the feedback and poor results of a bad shot with an unforgiving club will somehow lead the player to improve his swing.  This is analogous to finding dog pee on the floor and then punishing your dog after the fact, only the dog is incapable of connecting the two events.  I'm a case in point: I strike most shots out toward the toe and can't seem to fix it.  Would playing blades force me to improve?  No.  I played blades for more than a decade and will never go back other than maybe for a retro bag.

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#26 NRJyzr

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 09:04 AM

View PostNessism, on 15 September 2018 - 08:35 AM, said:

Where the OP's logic goes out the window is in assuming that the feedback and poor results of a bad shot with an unforgiving club will somehow lead the player to improve his swing.  This is analogous to finding dog pee on the floor and then punishing your dog after the fact, only the dog is incapable of connecting the two events.  I'm a case in point: I strike most shots out toward the toe and can't seem to fix it.  Would playing blades force me to improve?  No.  I played blades for more than a decade and will never go back other than maybe for a retro bag.

No offense, but i think your analogy is a poor one.

That said, I tend to agree with you.  It's not something that can *make* you improve.  It can help, but you still need the ability to make the adjustments necessary.  Not everyone has that.

Where I differ with the common line of thought is that there's a significant difference between blades and what folks call the "players CB."  My experience has been that there's little difference, if any.  When you get to something like the G series for Ping, it may be different, but I've found I can't play something like that; the last time I hit a G20 8iron, I ballooned it in virtually no wind.  LOL   I played the A10 for a time, found them to give me nothing extra.  Same with the TM TP MC.  And so on.

Ultimately, golf is not one size fits all.  There's nothing that works for everyone.  And, I feel any player won't *really* know if something works until they make an honest effort.

I also think launch conditions are a bigger player in this particular choice, maybe an overlooked aspect.  I had to put away a set of Mizuno blades due to excessive spin, and switched to Eye2+ for that same reason (better spin).  Cant believe I'm alone in that arena.

Edited by NRJyzr, 15 September 2018 - 09:08 AM.

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Driver:  Cobra King LTD, ProtoPype 80x or RIP 80x, 43.5" -or- SuperDeep 9.5*, ProtoPype 80x or NV85x, 43.5"
3w:  Cobra King LTD, Motore F1 85 X, 42.5"
1 iron:  Maxfli Revolution, DGS400
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#27 Gautama

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 09:19 AM

I question the whole concept of forgiveness as it relates to scoring, really. Yes a game improvement club of equal loft will go (a bit) farther on an off center strike. But if I go around hitting off the toe all day, so what? I'm playing to an expected distance, not total, so the fact that one iron design goes a bit farther off that miss seems like it probably doesn't really matter to scoring.

If you don't have a fairly consistent bad strike pattern and are truly all over the face, then what? Then with either set you're  trying to play golf with a random pattern of distances, regardless of the average distance off your 8 iron is from one set to another. Again I don't think score as a measure is probably significantly impacted.

So it must be about the consistency of distance between the good and the bad shots. How MUCH shorter is that toe strike than the centered shot.  Personally, I find the consistency thing oversold. I don't think there's any club design that leaves a topped shot pin high. And if anything in actual practice I swear I get more variability in distance from the bigger clubs.  But assuming it is true, then how often in the course of the round does it truly matter to someone who's not that accurate or consistent to begin with? I don't find that 5 yards or whatever difference in standard deviation between my best and worst EZ vs MP strike really affects scoring materially either. If it does, boy is it subtle. And again, I don't think it's even 5 yards.

So where i see the "easier clubs" really making a difference is the shot where coming up a few yards short of expected distance really does matter...say carrying water. 1 in what, 100 shots? We already decided we're inconsistent and unpredictable on strike/miss or there's no advantage, so we're playing to averages that day, so it's some percent of that 1:100 that's significantly below that observed mean and winds up in the water.  So, maybe a stroke every few hundred games?  Assuming we didn't just club up and play to mitigate the worst miss instead of hoping for the 1 in 20 we middled that day?

I'd definitely agree it's probably more fun to play a game improvement club when you're not hitting it like you want because it feels better, but I just don't believe or personally see that there's a significant impact to my actual scoring.

Edited by Gautama, 15 September 2018 - 09:22 AM.

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#28 Nessism

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 09:50 AM

View PostGautama, on 15 September 2018 - 09:19 AM, said:

If you don't have a fairly consistent bad strike pattern and are truly all over the face, then what?

The "what" is that with a true GI club, something with a high MOI, not some smallish players cavity that so many of the GolfWRX'ers denote "GI", the shot will end up closer to the target when mishit.  That's the whole point of GI clubs, not distance though stronger lofts.
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#29 duffer987

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 09:58 AM

View Postjoj, on 15 September 2018 - 06:35 AM, said:


I’m the opposite, I play blades and want the most forgiving driver legally allowed.

Just as a point of interest. You sig has a SLDR 430 + Rocketblades.
What are you playing these days?

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#30 duffer987

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    $1300+ for Cally irons?!

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 10:08 AM

View PostNRJyzr, on 14 September 2018 - 06:30 PM, said:

View PostQuintupleBogey, on 14 September 2018 - 06:16 PM, said:

Also - why would the thread be locked?  Have I broken any rules or is it simply that this topic is so over-discussed that the moderators are bored to death with it?


There's a contingent of cavity back holy warriors on WRX, who think anyone who is not scratch is delusionial or merely ego driven, if they choose to play blades.

Funny that. I thought it was because of the flat earth/blade society - who have their own thread that we all play nice with and let it not get locked - who crawl out of it to come start fights before scurrying back to their safe place, where they can tee-hee-hee about all the fools playing anything that doesn't come with a set 2 iron.

Different perspectives eh ;)

Edited by duffer987, 15 September 2018 - 10:08 AM.


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