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10 reasons you should switch to hybrids



Well, the time has come for me to admit that I’m NO longer a long-iron carrying player. I’m a hybrid convert! And I’m not ashamed to admit it, because hybrids help me play better.

My approach shots with my hybrids (which replace my 2, 3 and 4 irons), fly higher, land softer and stop quicker. And when I do mishit these clubs, the results are much better and, more importantly, findable. My only dilemma is that my bag now looks like I have a traveling puppet-show in tow.


My current bag includes three hybrids!

I strongly suggest you follow my lead, and to support my suggestion here are my Top-10 reasons you need to play hybrids!

You need hybrids in the bag if you…

If your handicap is higher than 3

Higher handicap golfers must use hybrids because, generally speaking, they don’t have the club head and ball speed to use long irons effectively. Shots with long irons that don’t have ample speed will come out too low, have too little spin, and run off the back of greens. Remember that hybrids are designed to launch the ball higher, spin more, and come into the green softer; all things that the average player will find supremely beneficial.

The higher your handicap, the more fairway woods and hybrids you should have. A general rule of thumb:

  • 25+ handicappers should start their iron set with a 7 iron.
  • 12-25 handicappers should start their iron set with a 6 iron.
  • 10 handicappers or less should start their iron set with a 5 iron.
  • 5 handicappers or less should start their iron set with a 4 iron.

If you’re a flat-ball hitter 

An LPGA Tour players’ average apex height with their driver is roughly 75 feet, and most amateurs never even get close to that height! I would say that most of my average players hit their long irons in the 45-60-foot range, with landing angles in the 20s and 30s. At that height, golfers simply do not hit the ball high enough to hold the green, which leads to hitting less greens in regulation. 

If your misses tend to be thin and right with long irons 

The thin miss with a long iron comes from the player trying to lift the ball into the air, causing the hands to flip prematurely. This moves the low point of the swing too far behind the ball, and in an effort to avoid pounding the club into the ground, the player catches the ball thin. 

There’s three reason why hybrids help to eliminate this miss:

  1. The center of gravity is farther back and lower, which helps lift the ball into the air.
  2. They’re less intimidating. Golfers know, from experience, how much easier and more forgiving higher-lofted woods and hybrids are to hit up into the air, which instills confidence.
  3. Vertical gear effect, will help increase spin on shots hit low on the face.  

If you’ve noticed your club head speed lagging over the last few years

While losing a little swing speed isn’t earth shattering, hybrids will be more convenient as your speed decreases. The slower your swing speed, the less ball speed you can achieve, and the flatter the ball will launch; all bad things if you need to stop the ball on the green. Most of the time, and especially in this circumstance, adding height increases distance.

If the course you play has mostly elevated greens

Whenever you’re hitting into an elevated green, your ball is naturally coming in flatter due to the rise of the slope and the reduced decent time of the golf ball from its apex. Therefore, a golf ball coming in higher will help offset the negative effects of the slope on your approach, and the ball stop quicker on the green. Hybrids offer that solution. 

If your long irons tend to chase off the back of the green after landing

Whenever you have a lack of speed, a lack of apex height and a lack of spin, you will have a flatter launch angle and thus, a flatter angle of descent into the green. Why would you want your longer irons chasing? Hybrids will allow the ball to stop because it counters all the above factors. However, if you play in hard and windy conditions, then it might be a good idea to have the long irons handy, because if it gets too blustery, a high and spinning shot will balloon. Approach shots are all about controlling angle of descent.

If your course has tight fairways

Hybrids for the average player are easier to hit, we know, and this helps a player make better swings on more difficult driving holes. Your worst long-iron swings are almost always worse than your worst hybrid swings. Hit 1,000 shots off the tee with each, and I’ll bet you put more hybrids in play.

From a more scientific standpoint, the softer landing angle and added spin produced by a hybrid will keep the ball from running too much when it lands. Tour pros use driving irons (which are basically part long iron/part hybrid) because they have a touch more versatility than hybrids when it comes to shaping shots and changing trajectory. The tour pros don’t need the forgiveness, they need the control — but we aren’t tour pros. 

If you play a “distance” ball

If you play a distance ball, chances are that you don’t have the club and ball speed necessary to spin the ball and get the ball up high enough. The carry distance between irons should have consistent separation throughout the bag. The last thing you want to see during gap testing is your shots separated by 7-12 yards in all your irons until you reach a certain length of iron, then have your carry distances close in while the run out increases. Once you start seeing the plateau, that’s where you should start adding in hybrids. 

If you struggle hitting the ball solid with your irons

Hybrids can work with varying angles of attack unlike long irons — some good players are more sweepy, while others are a touch more diggy.

As discussed, hybrids are designed with this in mind: they have a wider sole, a lower and further back center of gravity, plus bulge/roll on their faces, which aids gear effect. These are all great designs that help the average player with impact and control. From a psychological standpoint, if you think something is easier to hit, you will make more relaxed golf swings. Relaxed swings are usually better, and most importantly, lead to shots that are findable!

If you want to play better

As little as I play (about 10-15 times per year if I’m lucky!), and the frequency of my practice time (zero), I need all the help I can get. Hybrids do this for me — they make it easier for me to find my shot around the green, not off in the rocks or desert. 

I need something that does not require me to hit a million practice shots in order to have some idea where the ball is going to land — not to mention the fact that I just don’t hit long irons high enough for them to be useful under typical playing conditions. I am very honest about my abilities and Trackman has shown me what weaknesses I have. Why fight it when there are clubs that can help?

Golf is hard enough without letting our egos get in the way!

Related: The Best Hybrids of 2015

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Tom F. Stickney II, is a specialist in Biomechanics for Golf, Physiology, and 3d Motion Analysis. He has a degree in Exercise and Fitness and has been a Director of Instruction for almost 30 years at resorts and clubs such as- The Four Seasons Punta Mita, BIGHORN Golf Club, The Club at Cordillera, The Promontory Club, and the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. His past and present instructional awards include the following: Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, Golf Digest Top 50 International Instructor, Golf Tips Top 25 Instructor, Best in State (Florida, Colorado, and California,) Top 20 Teachers Under 40, Best Young Teachers and many more. Tom is a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 25 people in the world. Tom is TPI Certified- Level 1, Golf Level 2, Level 2- Power, and Level 2- Fitness and believes that you cannot reach your maximum potential as a player with out some focus on your physiology. You can reach him at [email protected] and he welcomes any questions you may have.



  1. Pingback: Best Golf Clubs For Beginners [Updated for 2020] |

  2. Don Golfo 2018

    Oct 15, 2018 at 2:07 am

    There is a lot of bravado going on here in the comments. The question is not can you hit a 3 iron well. Really it’s can you hit it as consistently as an equivalent hybrid. I’ve seen lots of amateurs hit great 3 iron shots on one hole and then see a big drop off on the next hole. I think that if they swallowed their pride they’d find that the poor strikes with a hybrid would have been far less damaging. I know a lot of guys will be reading this thinking I don’t make bad strikes, but that’s just delusional.

  3. Travis

    Jun 6, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    I love all the comments here about people saying “learn to hit long irons” when the vast majority of Tour Pros nowadays are going to easier-to-hit long clubs. Look in the bag of even the best in the game and you’ll see a hybrid of some sort in the 3-iron/21*-ish spot. Numerous pros don’t even start their true iron sets until the 4 or 5 irons. They’re all using hybrid clubs in the long irons now. Some are chunky “driving irons”, some are hybrids, but whichever way you spin it, they are all hybrid clubs to some variety whether they be more iron-like or wood-like.

    If the best players in the world are going for easier to hit alternatives of their 3 and 4 irons, and starting their real irons at the 5-iron, then I think a lot of us should take notice.

  4. Rick

    Nov 9, 2016 at 6:36 am

    I have only been playing golf since I retired (5 years) and I was advised to get rid of my 3 and 4 irons and use a hybrid. I believe I have been using it reasonably successfully for the last two years (despite criticism from mates who have been playing for the last 40 years), to drive the last 150 metres to the green, chip the ball onto the green from 15 metres out etc. It has proven to have been an invaluable club and I get a bit pissed off when people tell me I should be using an 8 or 9 iron onto the green, and I should use anything but my hybrid! I think it is time they moved on and started to get with the modern game.

    I believe there is more skill in using a hybrid from various distances than supposedly using a 7, 8,or 9 iron as the occasion calls!

    Each to his own I guess!


  5. Richard

    May 14, 2015 at 11:24 am

    The handicap analysis at number 10 is absolute baloney. It is all about strike and not your handicap. I play off 16 and according to flightscope and trackman, I get far better numbers off long irons than I do a hybrids. It comes down to whichever you happen to strike better and ultimately what you prefer looking down on. There is no general rule of thumb in golf just people trying to cover their backsides…..

  6. Nard_S

    May 6, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    I’ve adopted an alternative perspective. Learn how to hit a long iron and every club in your bag becomes easier to hit. 3-irons off the tee are a higher percentage shot than any wood or hybrid once you dedicate.

  7. Phat

    May 6, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Cheers Tom. I play a similar about to you so it was also time to get realistic about what I can actually hit consistently. Favorite clubs in my bag the past two years have been an s300 shafted 585h 21* followed by my old Aussie blade PW. Recently added a 24* hybrid. These two hybrids are definite performers for me both on 150+ yard par 3s and par 5 fairways. Problem clubs for me are fairway woods (removed from my bag recently), low lofted drivers (read. gave away my 9.5 and shortened my 910d to 44″ and set to 13* draw – much more consistent and even drove the green on a par 4 last week…) as well as hot faced perimeter weighted shorted irons (hit my 25 year old Hogan Redline 7-E more consistently than anything out there. There is a lot to be said for idiosyncratic club set ups and seems strange that there aren’t more unusual PGA WITBs.

  8. Bigleftygolfer

    May 6, 2015 at 10:18 am

    So any advice for a low handicapper who is getting older really wants to use a hybrid for his three iron but just can’t seem to find one I can hit consistently? I currently play miura Tournament blades I hit them fine unless my knee hurts and sway and end up hitting a pull however aside from old age I have a higher ss 115 with driver. Does anybody have a suggestion for a lower HC HYBRID every time I try a HYBRID I hit a balloon ball And I can’t seem to flight them at all my 3 iron goes high and lands soft but I no longer hit it over 225 so I have learned from fellow players that hybrids go a bit further than a normal blade. I have seen this on trackman but can’t find a head that suits my eye or playing needs I typically play local state events and private clubs that usually have greens in the 10 -12 range I also play in all conditions so ability to flight and shape the ball is important to me. Please help as I have swallowed my ego years ago but can’t find the right club!

    • Dave S

      May 6, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      I would try the Adams Pro A12 (from a few years ago) for a few of reasons: (1) They are a smaller-headed hybrid that will probably be a better transition from iron to hybrid for a low handicapper, (2) because they are geared toward the better player, they have very little off-set (which means you’ll have an easier time converting to them using your standard long iron swing, (3) they come with very good stock shaft offerings (Aldila RIP Phenom or Matrix Ozik White Tie), and (4) You can get them for very cheap now (b/w $40 and $80 on ebay)… don’t get sucked into buying the new version that’s $180. I game the 20deg to replace my 3i and an Adams DHY 24deg to replace my 4i. Loving them. Cheers!

      • MHendon

        May 6, 2015 at 5:40 pm

        Yeah I use the 20 degree A12 also but to replace my 2 iron. And I bought a 22 degree tour issue Adams Pro black head and had the same shaft as the 20 degree installed in it. The Matrix shaft. The pro black has a very small head and actually feels like an iron. Flights the ball like an iron but longer and more forgiving. It’s great out of difficult lie’s and even for chipping around the green.

    • Phat

      May 6, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      Could be worth trying a stiff, steel shafted 21* hybrid… I picked up a very well used titleist 585h 21* (shafted with an s300) a couple years ago for $20. It plays so well that I professionally refinished the chipped paint on it head and now bag it for every round. Can’t imagine a more consistent 3i substitute.

    • Obee

      May 20, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      Absolutely. As a low-handicapper myself (0 to +2 during the season, usually) who plays a LOT of hybrids (my longest iron is an 8-iron!), the key for better players who want to use hybrids is that the shaft should be heavy (75 or more grams) and should have minimal torque (3 degrees or less?). Find a hybrid shape that you like and put a heavier, stouter shaft in it, and I’ll bet you fall in love. 🙂

  9. Jeffrey

    May 6, 2015 at 3:54 am

    What if you do not like the look of Hybrids? (like Me) and therefore have never had them and never will. I will stick to my Fairway woods and long irons regardless of handicap.

    • dapadre

      May 6, 2015 at 5:28 am

      Have you tried Hybrid irons.

      • Dave S

        May 6, 2015 at 1:34 pm

        Incredible clubs… game the Adams DHY Proto XTD from last season in 24deg as a 4i replacement and I absolutely love it. They are miles more forgiving on mishits. I’m not joking that I hit the club 200 yds on the nose out of the first cut of rough, uphill (walked this off with GPS)… I would have never come close to that w/ my old 4i. Everyone but low single digit HCPs would benefit from these clubs.

  10. Alex

    May 5, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Long irons are SO MUCH EASIER to control in the wind. If there’s a 10+ MPH wind in my face, putting a hybrid club in my hands is like suicide. I like having the two extremes of a long iron (3) and also carrying a 7 wood. They’re the same loft, but are useful in two completely different situations.

  11. Graham

    May 5, 2015 at 3:32 am

    Can we please put aside the arbitrary “if your handicap is…” rules when they have zero relevance to the topic at hand? So people above a handicap over 3 should carry hybrids because they generally don’t have the clubhead and ball speed to use long irons effectively? Why not then just say “if your average driver clubhead speed is not 105” or something that actually pertains to the topic at hand? Sorry to rant, but as a high handicap (12) with high clubhead speed (avg ~110) these blanket statements that somehow magically relate clubhead speed and ball-striking to handicap are just plain wrong. Over 60% of the shots on a golf course are taken inside 100 yards, and it’s those shots that prevent some of us from reaching your magical arbitrary 3-handicap , not the fact that we do or don’t carry hybrids…

    • Carlos Danger

      May 5, 2015 at 10:24 am

      While I agree with the overall message of this article in that 95% of golfers have no business with anything higher than a 5 iron in their bag and if they took the time to practice with a hybrid they would have better results.

      I do agree with your comment regarding the blanket statements about what you should play based on your hdcp. Im a 5 and If you were to watch me hit the ball off the tee and out of the fairways…you would think I was tour player. I have just always had a really good swing and been a good ball striker, but like most people…my weak point is on and around the greens. There are many guys that I lose to that I crush it past and hit it alot better than that make up so many strokes on the green. So if you want to say anyone over XYZ hdcp need to play this…that is not accurate.

      I think the further breakdowns in this article regarding your average miss, ball flight, club head speed, etc…are much better indicators

    • Joe Golfer

      May 6, 2015 at 12:06 am

      Excellent point about the relationship to handicap and the need for hybrids.
      I happen to hit the ball fairly well with five iron on up, but like you I lose strokes on the short game due to lack of available practice time and facilities.
      One problem I don’t have with my hybrids is ballooning. That may be because my hybrids are rather old. They are Sonartec MD hybrids, probably the first company to popularize the hybrid. It still gives a penetrating ball flight, but it is much easier to hit than a three or four iron.
      That said, they don’t stop as fast as some of the current hybrids that give a much higher ball flight, but I’ll take the happy medium.

    • TR1PTIK

      May 19, 2015 at 8:53 am

      Absolutely agree with the sentiment here. I play off an 18 handicap with an average swing speed of 102 – 105 (according to my most recent lesson with Flightscope). I can play from pretty much any tee on the courses near me (they’re all quite short) and score roughly the same. I lose it all in penalties (usually OB from slicing my driver) and the short game.

  12. Travis

    May 5, 2015 at 3:18 am

    This article is spot on.

    I replaced all irons 3-6 with Cobra hybrids. I have noticed very good results as Im not long off the tee. Even if my 2nd shot is 170m out I can hit the green about 1/3 of the time and if I miss have a short chip.

    Before anything +160m and I would completely botch the shot maybe 1/3 of the time. Have to play the percentages. 3iron vs 3 hybrid not question what is easier to hit – for me

  13. Greg

    May 4, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    I picked up a Mizuno JPX Fli-Hi Hybrid #4. Its a long iron replacement so it fits right in to replace that iron…same length. Its not longer like a normal hybrid. Mine fits right into my G25 irons set. It’s 1/2″ shorter and a 2* flat lie. So you can customize them. It is soooooo much easier to hit than a typical 4 iron. It’s so much easier for me to hit that I just ordered a #5. I have one regular hybrid and its a 20* Ping G20. Easily the easiest and most consistant hybrid I’ve ever hit. These clubs aren’t leaving my bag. Seriously…..if you’re considering switching out a 3, 4, or 5 iron for a hybrid check into the Mizuno JPX Fli-Hi’s. They’ll change your golfing life 🙂

  14. Pablo

    May 4, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    I can hit a 3 wood 250 yards, I pee standing up, and I play a hybrid. Michelle Wie — US Women’s Open champion — pees sitting down, drives the ball further than most members of GolfWRX (even though everyone here drives it over 300 each time lol), and she uses hybrids as well.

    Oh, the plight of the macho man and his fragile sensibilities! Lol

    • MHendon

      May 6, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      LOL I’m with you Pablo

    • Tweedie

      May 6, 2015 at 9:27 pm

      Given the way she bends over while putting, I wouldn’t like to guess how she pees!

  15. Philip

    May 4, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    Personally, whenever I suck at my long irons, I suck at hybrids; and when I smoke my hybrid, I smoke my long irons. Thus, I’ll continue to improve my swing and game overall instead. I still have one 20 hybrid and am looking for a 23/24, but I do not find any real differences between irons and hybrids, for myself – they play the same.

    • Jack

      May 6, 2015 at 12:21 am

      The main benefit for me is that for the same hybrid club that replaced an iron, I can swing easier knowing that it will fly just as far. That’s a huge plus already. Unfortunately I feel like my missing with hybrids are worse than my irons. I didn’t actually test that but it just feels like it.

      • Philip

        May 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm

        That’s the thing. For sure the average person “me included” can get a ball airborne with less effort using a hybrid, but my it is the misses that causes me the most grief. I suspect by the time I am able to rock a long iron, my hybrid will become steady too. At least I hope so. Personally I enjoy my hybrid more for the saves I can pull off with it over just a long iron replacement. Around the green, in the sand, in the woods – you name it – I find so many creative uses for a hybrid. I may even pull a wedge to keep my 3i and use my hybrid mainly for emergency recovery situations.

  16. Mr. K

    May 4, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    There should be an asterisk next to this article, applies to a few. You don’t need hybrids, if you hit them well then sure by all means. But it’s not the end all be all that it’s portrayed to be.

  17. MHendon

    May 4, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    I think one point you left out Tom is the very low spin rates of the new golf balls. I’m 45 now and my club head speed is still with in a mile and hour or two of when I was 30. Back then I not only carried a 3 iron but also a 2. The higher spin of the ball 15 years ago allowed it to climb easier off that low launch angle you get with long irons. Not long after the introduction of the PROV1 I replaced my 2 iron with an 18 degree adams hybrid. About 3 years ago I realized the carry difference between my 3 and 4 iron was only about 7 to 8 yards so I replaced the 3 iron with a 22 degree adams hybrid. Now my gaping is much better. Just for sake of reference I’ve been using the same Irons since 2001 Mizuno MP33’s and my club head speed usually comes in around 112. Oh and I’m a 1.6 handicap and feel know shame in carrying two hybrids because not only are they better from good lies, they’re far superior from bad ones.

  18. Jang Hyung-sun

    May 4, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    I don’t like hybrid Traj. For me, nothing like hitting my Miura MB-001 3 iron…butter soft. Anything longer its PRGR fairways paired with Oban Devotion- so easy it’s automatic. Once I no longer hit Miura 3 iron perfectly I put on skirt rather than hit pickle on stick looking hybrid.

    • Cliff

      May 7, 2015 at 10:18 am

      I’ll take my hybrid from the thick rough over your Miura 3i any day of the week.

  19. Martin

    May 4, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    4/10 apply to me, I gave up on my 3&4 irons over 10 years ago.

    I used to love hitting my 3 iron, but reality is even when my Driver SS was 102-105 (now low 90’s), hybrids were just so much easier to hit higher and straighter.

  20. Lowell

    May 4, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Totally agree with your recommendation of switching long irons for hybrids. I myself picked up a hybrid to fill in the gap between my 3 wood and 3 iron. My 3 hybrid hits about 230 and my 3 iron is right at 215. Great way to pick up yardage when needed on those longer par 3’s.

  21. Jim

    May 4, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    As a PGA Teaching Professional and accomplished player, I definitely agree!!!! Best thing to happen to golf in a very long time!!! If you haven’t tried them you should. If you are “too good”” for them well I hope your ego doesn’t mind throwing a few shots (or dollars) away each round! If it’s legal and it makes it easier……why not?!?

  22. Lucky Intervale

    May 4, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    I do have a 17* H2 that I hit well, but I love the idea of the hybrid iron… best of both worlds. I game an MP H5 3 iron bent to 20* with a lighter weight version of my irons’ shafts… money. Wilson’s new hybrid irons are sweet as well…

    • David

      May 4, 2015 at 10:34 pm

      Lucky, I’m on the same boat as you. I’ve tried many hybrids and no luck. Tried again over the last month and my Mizuno MP-H4 2-iron continues to win out. The heavier and SHORTER shaft definitely help me with my accuracy. But, Tom, I fully understand your position and encourage others to go the hybrid route.

      • sgniwder99

        May 5, 2015 at 7:52 am

        I’m with both of you on the H4 and H5s. I have a full set of H4s right now. But come on, let’s not fool ourselves. The H4 and H5 long irons ARE essentially hybrids.

        • David

          May 5, 2015 at 11:12 pm

          Yes, I would say they are a cross of a hybrid and an iron. Say one part fairway metal and two parts iron (if a hybrid is only one part of each). Very forgiving due to their large cavity, but steel shaft, shorter shaft, and minimal offset really benefit those with some higher swing speeds that are looking for forgivenes.

          • tony

            May 6, 2015 at 4:35 pm

            I love that as you get better, you can get player Mizuno irons and still use the MP-H4/5 series for the long irons. Pretty much like mizuno does with their split sets.

  23. Brutus

    May 4, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    I hate comments like “if you’re a 3 handicap or higher”. I had 2 hybrids in my bag (21 and 25 degree) and recently starting this season put my 4 iron back in the bag over the 25 hybrid. I play to about a 9 handicap, but I was rewarded with several excellent 4i shots into the wind in the first several rounds this year that the hybrid is too unpredictable in handling. I found that distance control with hybrids in general is harder than with a iron too, even in calm condidtions. That said, the 21 hybrid is one of my favorite clubs to hit. Arbitrary rules are meant to be broken arbitrarily.

  24. Golfraven

    May 4, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    btw, if you don’t like chunky hybrids try a Ping iSeries or even Adams. Ping i20 hybrid is still one of my favourites – even compared to my new 915h. If you want to go back in time, buy the Ben Hogan CFT hybrid. Had this one for over 8 years in the bag – those still sell well on ebay.

  25. Golfraven

    May 4, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    What about replacing your short Fairway woods with hybrids? I have just kicked my 4 FW out and put a H2 instead in the bag – guess which of those I hit better off the deck and fairway/semi. You still see lots of folks with FWs but think they would have less work swinging a Hybrid.

  26. Mke

    May 4, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Have a 3 wood and 5 hybrid. Feel like I used to hit the hybrid better but lately been money with the wood.

    • jcorbran

      May 4, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      those are normally 4 clubs apart. 3w/1i, 5w/2h/2i, 7w/3h/3i, 9w/4h/4i, 11w/5h/5i.

  27. Jeff Smith

    May 4, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    That idea doesn’t apply to everyone and most of your numbers are meaningless and not accurate

  28. Tom D

    May 4, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    For the record, I pee sitting down. Easier than remembering to constantly adjust the toilet seat. I also play hybrids instead of long irons. I am quite consistent with long irons – consistently short, consistently bad. With hybrids I am inconsistent: occasionally bad, usually pretty good, once in a while brilliant. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

    • SJ

      May 6, 2015 at 8:51 am

      Sitting down is just more comfortable. Why society decided we have to stand is beyond me!

  29. Bob

    May 4, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    I hit a 21* hybrid (similar to a 3-iron) at a demo day about twelve years ago. The first three balls I hit were the best 3-iron shots I had ever hit, and all in a row. Maybe one out of three actual 3-iron shots would have flow like that, and I did that with the hybrid every time. Instant convert.

    All you have to do is swing the club and stay out of its way. I even use a 17* hybrid that I hit very straight and let it eat up the yards. I can still hit my 4-iron, but the hybrid is so much less work, there’s no point in not using it.

    9.5 handicap.

    • jcorbran

      May 4, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      most manufacturers have a 17* 2 hybrid, 19* 3 hybrid and a 21/22* 4hybrid, so it sounds like you were hitting the 4 hybrid better than your 3 iron, looks like a keeper as long as your gapping is good.

  30. Charles

    May 4, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Tom, great article as usual, but I have a question. What loft is a long iron for you? When I played my best in 1972-74 my iron set, Wilson Staff forged, had a 1 iron of 17* of loft, 5 iron had 32* loft, this is almost my current 8 iron. Going this way the golf club companies will release in 2020 a Pitching wedge of 36* loft.

    • Nolanski

      May 4, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      36 degree PW? Ha! Thats too funny. Eventually they will have to stop strengthening club lofts right? Its kind of insulting that golf companies think they can pull a fast one on consumers with their whole disappearing loft shenanigans.

      • MHendon

        May 6, 2015 at 5:51 pm

        That’s because most golfers are egotistical male hacks who only care how far they hit it. However it’s funny when they can hit there super strong 8 iron as far as mine but are then 50 yds behind me off the tee.

  31. rob

    May 4, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Tom, great advice, its good to hear someone of your stature finally talking sense!!! Rob

  32. Charles

    May 4, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    In the end of each hole you just write a number, you don’t tell stories. It doesn’t matter if you are a super macho fueled by steroids or a delicate lady, in the end you just write a number. And just to remember the objective of the game is to score the lowest possible in accordance with the rules, it is totally independent if you pee stand up or seated.

  33. Myron miller

    May 4, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    This might be good advice but i don’t believe its true for everyone. Personally I’ve tried well over 100+ hybrids and have yet to hit one consistently. One I hit pretty good but still had my usual problems with it – chunking it. Whereas my 4 iron may not be as high although its higher than many 4 hybrids I’ve hit but is way more consistent. And there is no comparison to how well I hit a 5 iron versus any hybrid – higher/longer/more consistent contact.

    A couple of 4 hybrids I tried I couldn’t get over about 6-10 feet off the ground no matter what. I think the highest shot was 10 feet and many were not more than 5 feet. Granted my 4 iron is about 20-30 feet but the 5 is about 50-60. Driver is close to 100

    And i’m definitely shorter and less swing speed than years ago. But I’ve gone to a 5 and a 7 wood and am looking for a 9 wood with the correct shaft. i use both the 5 and the 7 wood a lot and am very comfortable hitting them.

    I think he missed the point by recommending only hybrids and not higher lofted woods. Not everyone can hit a hybrid where they could hit a fairway wood and others would definitely hit a hybrid easier than a fairway wood. It most assuredly is not a one set of hybrids fits all situation.

  34. dapadre

    May 4, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    So very true! I have seen the results of this with a playing partner. He asked me for some advice as a recent golf convert. Since he had played for about 2 years he saw little improvement. I told him ditch your 3 – 6 irons and use hybrids. he was really hesitant at first, but did it. That summer he dropped from a HCP28 to 16! He is now a HCP 12 an his highest iron is a 6. What many fail to take into consideration is for one the lofts have gone wacky. Note that what you is being sold as a 5 iron now is probably a 4 or even a 3 iron not to long ago. Also for some especially newbies, they dont have the swing speed to get the long irons airborne to a good height. I can hit a 4 iron quite well, but 5 is my longest iron.

    Some food for thought, most senior tour players have 5-6 as longest irons. Lydia Ko’s longest iron is a 6. She is lighting up the LPGA. For the guys that may look down on that and say LPGA or Senior, if you had an LPGA/Senior game, you would be one heck of a player.

    • Paul Clarke

      Dec 18, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Excellent comments, could not agree with you more. I run three hybrids, a 3 set at 20 a 4 set at 24 and a five set at 28 my Mizuno irons come in with a six set at 32, which by the way used to be the typical 5 iron, and 4 degree gaps all the way to 60 lob wedge. While I appreciate that removing long irons from ones bag is considered by some to be less than completely heterosexual, I find that the results speak for themselves. So I shall continue in my own little world with my 6 handicap and enjoy the game for what it is meant to be, namely, fun.

  35. Jm

    May 4, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I definitely believe most players should be playing less long irons and more hybrids/fwy woods.

    2 good reasons are the new balls and the new irons

    The newer balls typically spin less off long irons than even the balls of 10-15 years ago. Also the new iron lofts make a 4 iron play at the same loft as previous 2/3 irons

    What are your thoughts on choosing hybrids over fairway woods?

    I have seen data that shows players hit hybrids better in regards to yards off line left to right (better directional control) and typically hit fwy woods better in regards to how close to pin high (more consistent distance control)

    I believe some of this can be equated to shaft length differences and I believe most people would actually be better off with fairway woods that are cut to the corresponding hybrid length

    • Adam

      May 4, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      It’s interesting what you said about new balls and new irons. A lot of equipment accommodates higher handicap players so when they start to get better, different adjustments need made. If a new player needs a low spin ball to help keep the ball straight, what do they do when they have to stick balls on greens? Is that what you were getting at? I guess that wouldn’t solve the landing angle problem though.

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Opinion & Analysis

The best bets for the 2023 Valero Texas Open



Forget the $1.5 million due to the winner. The real prize at the end of this week’s Texas Open will be that last-minute invite to the 87th Masters starting on April 6th.

That payout is also nothing compared to the $3.5 million that Sam Burns copped when winning last night’s World Match Play, or the obvious prestige of what is to come. That has to affect the field this week, and we even lose local hero Jordan Spieth, veteran of seven outings around the San Antonio Oaks course.

The  29-year-old has, of course, an enviable record at Augusta with a win and four top-three finishes, so it’s no surprise he takes a break to prepare for the big one, after seven events since the start of February to prepare for the big one.

That all leaves world number 17 Tyrrell Hatton as clear favourite with his closest challengers (according to the market) being Hideki Matsuyama (#21) Si-Woo Kim (#39) and Corey Conners (#40). Behind there is a host of likely candidates that rank just off that vital top-50, with the likes of Rickie Fowler looking to continue his comeback and qualify for next week’s Masters after being a regular for 10 years straight until 2021.

The course itself ranked in the top third for overall difficulty last season and requires a solid overall game, favouring neither bombers or plodders. All styles have a chance here this week, and many of the past challengers confirm that view.

2016 champion and three-time runner-up Charley Hoffman said, “Tee to green is very visual, shapes with the trees and it’s a tough driving golf course,” whilst 2019 winner and three-time Masters top-10, Corey Conners summed up the test.

“Basically took care of the holes that you need to take care of, the par 5s, and No. 5, a short par 4, I was able to make birdie,” he said. “Other than that, just kept it pretty simple. There’s a few pins that are close to some slopes, so played a little safer on some shots, but struck it really well. So just tried to keep it simple and scored well.”

Wind is the main defence here, and therefore it’s no surprise that all the last four winners show form at the likes of Bay Hill, Waialae, Mayakoba, Hilton Head, and, in the case of Spieth, Conners and Kevin Chappell, at Augusta.

J.J Spaun

Since moving to its current slot just before the Masters, nobody has defended the Texas Open title, but it looks as if J.J Spaun is ready to strike again after an encouraging display at the Match Play last weekend.

After making his way through the grades, winning on the PGA Tour Canada and the tour, a misdiagnosis of his diabetes stalled the 32-year-old, and he dropped from just outside of the world’s top 100 to a place closer to 500th. However, in the second half of 2021, he ran up to Grayson Sigg at the Albertsons Boise Open before a top-10 in Bermuda settled the drop.

2022 was another year of progress as he took in four top-30 finishes early in the year – at La Quinta and, more relevantly, at Pebble Beach, Honda and Valspar – before a two-shot victory here. The final half was equally decent with one missed-cut in 10 outings, with top-15 finishes at the Shriners and (again relevant for comp course fans) at Mayakoba and at Sea Island. On top, he led the better-class St. Jude field for every one of the first three rounds before a final round collapse.

The new year has been mixed, with Spaun making the weekend in only half his eight starts. However, those 50 percent take in a fifth place at Kapalua (in second place going into Sunday) and 12th at the Sony, where again he was in the final group for the last round.

Again the 33rd finish at Riviera disguises that he was in the top-10 going into payday and he bounced back again with comfortable victories over Matt Fitzpatrick, Sahith Theegala and Min Woo Lee at Austin last week to head his talented group.

With a solid tee-to-green required this week, be encouraged that he ranked fifth at both his first two efforts this year in Hawaii, whilst his short game has seen him in the top-22 for scrambling in six of his last eight recorded starts.

Coming into this event last year, the Scottsdale resident had three midfield finishes mixed with missed weekends, something very similar to his lead in here this week.

Aaron Rai

Perhaps inspired by Matt Wallace’s victory in the Dominican Republic last week, Aaron Rai can continue a great run for British golfers following Wallace, David Skinns on the KFT and Georgia Hall’s very nearly come-from-behind effort at the LPGA Drive On Championship.

The 28-year-old stormed to the front rank in Europe after gaining automatic qualification from the Challenge Tour after three wins before the end of July 2017, before beating Matt Fitzpatrick in Hong Kong and Tommy Fleetwood in a play-off for the Scottish Open.

Hopefully that Boise Open is of some relevance, as Rai finished alongside Spaun as runners-up in 2021, letting a one-shot lead slip on Sunday, but still gaining his tour card.

It’s hard to argue against the view that everything since has been very one-paced, but on the pick of his form he has to be of interest here this week, particularly after a strong showing at Sawgrass.

2022 saw Aaron Two-gloves finish top-20 at Mikey, Houston, Canada, Shriners and Houston on the PGA Tour, and when dropped to the DPWT, he finished in the top echelons of the Italian and Irish Opens.

Rai hasn’t set the world alight in 2023 but was just outside the top-20 after round one at the Sony, led the Farmers field after the first round, was a never-nearer 29th at the Genesis, fifth after round one at Bay Hill and went into the final round at Sawgrass in the top five.

It’s going to be about putting it all together the same week, and he comes here after an encouraging top-30 here last year when two rounds of 74 and 73 spoilt the first and third rounds that saw him twice in the top seven.

In an interview after his first round 67 last season, Rai admitted it was useful to know the course:

” I think putting together how the course is on the Tuesday and having in mind how the course is going to change and I think that’s where it’s very good asking questions and speaking to people who have been here for a long time. So those are the most important things for me.”

Over the last three months, Rai ranks top-10 for driving accuracy, 11th for ball-striking, 10th for greens, and top-20 for tee-to-green at all of Riviera, Pebble Beach and Sawgrass. Perfectly able to find the short stuff in the wind, it’s clear that the flat stick is the one thing holding him back, but any improvement allied to those sharp stats will see him right there on Sunday.

Kevin Chappell

Although always tempted by the younger, unexposed brigade, I’ll finish this week with two stalwarts.

First up is former top-class major contender Kevin Chappell, who was put up at 90/1 for the Corales last week, did nothing wrong and is now a much bigger price!

Formally 23rd in the world, the 36-year-old has dropped to outside the top 600 but has dropped hints over the last three weeks that he may be approaching the play that won the Texas Open, run-up at Sawgrass, and finish top-10 in four majors.

Since his body broke down in 2018, golf has been a struggle, and he has not recorded a top 10 since the CIMB in October of that year. However, after missing nine of his last 10 cuts, the Californian resident has improved to 29th at Palm Beach Gardens (round positions 84/48/50/29) and 15th at Puerto Rico (47/54/33/15).

Strokes gained were positive throughout at the Honda, and he ended up almost repeating his 2022 effort at the Corales, finishing one place worse, in 16th place.

Given his efforts also at the Honda (13th), here (18th) and Barbasol (21st) in the recent past, we need to heed any nudge that Chappell has made his way back.

Now on a run of 16/15/29 it appears that the four-time major top-ten player is over his near career-ending surgery, and he returns to San Antonio after a career record that reads one win, one runner-up, fourth, 15th and 18th.

With nine of his last 12 rounds being 70 or under, and none worse than 72, quotes in triple figures border on the insulting.

Kevin Streelman 

We don’t see many teenage ‘Kevin’s these days, so there is no shock in finding the final selection is in his 40s.

Rather like his namesake, Streels has been in the doldrums, and whilst his return to form is not as obvious as Chappell’s, it’s worth jumping on the positive parts of his resumé from the past 14 months or so, again returning to a favoured track.

Another with back-form that gives him a serious shout – top-three finishes at the Farmers, Sawgrass, Pebble Beach, Bay Hill and Harbour Town – he also backs it up with consistent form at Summerlin, home of the Shriners (amongst other titles), an event won twice by 2013 Texas champ, Martin Laird.

While the 44-year-old has dropped well outside the world’s top-100, it’s noteworthy that he can still post top finishes and has recorded nine top-10 finishes over the last couple of years, including second-places at Bay Hill and River Highlands and a third at Silverado.

2021 saw several top-15s that incorporate Bay Hill (again), Wyndham, Match Play and at top-20 finishes at three of the four majors, whilst last season found him posting runner-up at the Barbasol, seventh at Valspar, and top-20s at Shriners, Honda and here, at the Texas Open.

Suddenly the results look far better than at first glance and many of his final figures tend to hide some decent play.

Since October ’22, Streelman was in 10th at the halfway point at the Sanderson, sixth going into Sunday at the RSM, 14th after round one at Riviera and made his way from 85th after day one at the Valspar to lie top-20 after the third round.

He’ll pick and choose his events but he’s still got fire in his belly, posting his best iron play for a while at Innisbrook last time out, and he’s back at a course that he’s played eight times, racking up every cut, an average position of around 21st and posting last three years finishes of 18/6/8.

Recommended Bets: 

  • J.J Spaun WIN
  • Aaron Rai WIN/TOP-5
  • Kevin Chappell – WIN/TOP-5
  • Kevin Streelman – WIN/TOP-5
  • Kevin Streelman – Top-20
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Opinion & Analysis

2023 PGA Championship: Interview with Jeff Corcoran, GCS



As ticket-holders exit their shuttles and enter the main gate to Oak Hill Country Club this May, their eyes will be attracted to so many sights. The 100-year old, Tudor-style clubhouse, designed by Thompson, Holmes, and Converse (of New Tammany Hall fame in New York City) catches and holds many glances. The market boardwalk will feature emporia of food, drink, and memories, all featuring the designs and flair of marketing teams. It’s a lot to take in.

Most attendees won’t enter the clubhouse, and their time along the merchandise promenade will be restricted to acquisition of souvenirs and sustenance. The majority of their time will be spent in the rough, adjacent to tees, greens, and fairways. Their eyes will roll across the hills of Pittsford’s jewel, but they might be forgiven if they don’t consider exactly how the course and surrounds came to reach this pinnacle of preparation.

Fortunately for them, we’ve tracked down the gentleman who knows more about Oak Hill’s preparation than any other. Mr. Jeff Corcoran is the Manager of Golf Courses and Grounds at the venerated New York state club.

GolfWRX: We’ve introduced you already in your current role. Please tell us how you met golf and golf course maintenance, and what the a-ha moment was that this would be your career.
Corcoran: I started playing golf when I was about 9 years old, a friend and his father took me golfing, and I was hooked. I started playing every chance that I could get and that eventually lead me to a job when I was 13 years working on a public golf course in my hometown of Groton, NY called Stonehedges Golf Course. Working on the golf course was an end to a means, as it allowed me the opportunity to play a significant amount of free golf. I enjoyed working at the golf course so much, that I eventually figured out that I could go to college to study Turfgrass Management. I pursued that endeavor and eventually my way to SUNY Cobleskill and then Penn State University.
GolfWRX: Please trace your career path, from your first job in the industry to your current one.
Corcoran: As stated above my first job in the industry was working at Stonehedges Golf Course as a teenager. While I was in college I worked at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Cornell University, and eventually made my way to Oak Hill Country Club as an intern in 1994. I graduated from Penn State in ’95 and I came back to Oak Hill to work the ’95 Ryder Cup and soon after was made a 2nd assistant. While I was at Oak Hill I was fortunate enough to meet my mentor, Paul B. Latshaw, and I became his first assistant until I left to take my first superintendent position in 2000. My first superintendent position was at The Weston Golf Club which is located just outside of Boston. I was there until 2003, when I was asked to interview for my current position at Oak Hill, as Paul Latshaw had moved on to Muirfield Village. I have been at Oak Hill ever since, and in way or another have been a part of every championship held at Oak Hill since that ’95 Ryder Cup.
GolfWRX: The 2023 PGA Championship will be the 4th at Oak Hill’s East course, but it will be unlike the previous three. How did the course play, from your acquired knowledge, for those first three championships?
Corcoran: I can’t really speak to the 1980 Championship; however, I have a considerable knowledge of how the East Course played for the ’03 and ’13 PGA Championships. In ’03 the East Course went through a renovation performed by Tom Fazio/Tom Marzolf, where all of the bunkers were renovated and relocated to areas where they would affect playability of the professional golfer. Additionally, a considerable amount of length was added to the East Course prior to the ’03 Championship. The Fazio/Marzolf renovation had a significant impact on the playability of the East Course, and it proved difficult to the tour professional of the time. Ten years later in ’13 we held the championship again, and the course was essentially the same as it was in ’03. We didn’t really add any length or adjust any bunkers, however the tour professionals’ game had adjusted and improved significantly in that same 10-year period. In 2013, we had significant rainfall during the week, which softened the golf course, and the scoring for the event reflected the softer, easier conditions.
GolfWRX: Andrew Green’s 2019 restoration returned much of the course to its architectural roots. What will stand out most for those who have attended or competed in prior championships?
Corcoran: If I were to venture a guess that the most noticeable aspect for many individuals will be the reduction in the amount of trees on the East Course. We have been reducing the amount of trees on the East Course for 20+ years, however during the renovation we hit a point where the value of the tree removal hit a critical point where the vistas and views throughout the East Course were impacted in a way that allowed much more enjoyment of the property and its features. For the competitors, I believe they will also notice the severity of the Andrew’s bunker style combined with the ability to take the pin position out to the extremities of the greens. There will be many more pin locations in 2023 that will have a very close proximity to the hazards.
GolfWRX: Speaking of restorations, how was the Oak Hill grounds crew involved in the East Course’s return to its legacy?
Corcoran: The grounds crew was involved in every aspect of the renovation and worked directly with Andrew Green and LaBar Golf Renovations to ensure the product that was produced on the East Course was representative of Oak Hill and the legacy of the East Course.

GolfWRX: Tell us a bit about the re-invention of the fifth hole. What sort of hole did it replace, and how does it join itself to the course’s Donald Ross roots?

Corcoran: Andrew always indicated that he wasn’t designing anything on the East Course, that we was just taking what Donald Ross had designed and was tweaking it. With regard to our current 5th hole, Andrew drew inspiration from the original 6th hole, which was a classic Donald Ross heavily bunkered par-3. We fortunately had a considerable amount of pictures of this hole, and Andrew utilized them during his design phase. Additionally, Andrew made more than one visit over to our West Course and looked at our 4th hole, which is also a classic heavy bunkered par-3. The difference between our original 6th hole and the new 5th hole that Andrew produced is the location, and this is where the brilliance of Andrew Green came into play. Andrew tucked the new 5th green into the northwest corner of the property and it looks as though it has been there since day #1. To be able to achieve that immediate impact and value, really demonstrated his true genius.
GolfWRX: What will the final two months of preparation (April-May) demand from you and your staff?
Corcoran: I think that Mother Nature will hold the answers to the last 2 month of preparation, however it will be demanding and difficult. I anticipate that the my staff will work a considerable amount of hours, and we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that the playing conditions for the PGA Championship are exemplary.
GolfWRX: The weather for the championship week is anyone’s guess. A cold front came arrived in Tulsa last year, for the 2022 playing at Southern Hills. Ironically, Rochester’s temperatures that weekend were the warmer ones! How does your game plan change for unseasonable (both colder and warmer) weather and temperatures?

Corcoran: Our game plan doesn’t really change at all based upon the temperature. There are inherent agronomic aspects that need to happen to be successful, and some of that depends on the temperature and some of it doesn’t. Our focus is to plan for those aspects that we can control, and have a plan to react to any variables that are throw at us as we prepare.

GolfWRX: What question haven’t I asked, that you would love to answer? Please ask it and answer it. Thank you for your time.

Corcoran: “What is the most important aspect of your job as you prepare for the 2023 PGA Championship?”
The most important aspect of my job is building, taking care of, and facilitating our team that comprises golf course maintenance staff at Oak Hill. Without those individuals the championship doesn’t happen, and they will work a tremendous amount of time to ensure that golf course is ready for a spring championship. I am very proud of our team members, and I am extremely excited that their product will get the opportunity to shine on the world stage.
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The Wedge Guy: What really needs fixing in your game?



I always find it interesting to watch how golfers interact with the practice range, if they do so at all. I certainly can figure out how to understand that some golfers just do not really want to get better — at least not enough to spend time on the practice range trying to improve.

What is most puzzling to me is how many golfers completely ignore the rationale for going to the range to at least warm up before they head to the first tee. Why anyone would set aside 4-6 hours of their day for a round of golf, and then not even give themselves a chance to do their best is beyond me. But today, I’m writing for those of you who really do want to improve your golf scores and your enjoyment of the game.

I’ve seen tons of research for my entire 40 years in this industry that consistently shows the number one goal of all golfers, of any skill level, from 100-shooter to tour professional, is simply to hit better golf shots more often. And while our definition of “better” is certainly different based on our respective skill level, the game is just more fun when your best shots happen more often and your worst shots are always getting better.

Today’s article is triggered by what we saw happen at the Valspar tour event this past Sunday. While Taylor Moore certainly had some big moments in a great final round, both Jordan Spieth and Adam Schenk threw away their chances to win with big misses down the stretch, both of them with driver. Spieth’s wayward drive into the water on the 16th and Schenk’s big miss left on the 18th spelled doom for both of them.

It amazes me how the best players on the planet routinely hit the most God-awful shots with such regularity, given the amazing talents they all have. But those guys are not what I’m talking about this week. In keeping with the path of the past few posts, I’m encouraging each and every one of you to think about your most recent rounds (if you are playing already this year), or recall the rounds you finished the season with last year. What you are looking for are you own “big misses” that kept you from scoring better.

Was it a few wayward drives that put you in trouble or even out of bounds? Or maybe loose approach shots that made birdie impossible and par super challenging? Might your issue have been some missed short putts or bad long putts that led to a three-putt? Most likely for any of you, you can recall a number of times where you just did not give yourself a good chance to save par or bogey from what was a not-too-difficult greenside recovery.

The point is, in order to get consistently better, you need to make an honest assessment of where you are losing strokes and then commit to improving that part of your game. If it isn’t your driving that causes problems, contain that part of practice or pre-round warm-ups to just a half dozen swings or so, for the fun of “the big stick”. If your challenges seem to be centered around greenside recoveries, spend a lot more time practicing both your technique and imagination – seeing the shot in your mind and then trying to execute the exact distance and trajectory of the shot required. Time on the putting green will almost always pay off on the course.

But, if you are genuinely interested in improving your overall ball-striking consistency, you would be well-served to examine your fundamentals, starting with the grip and posture/setup. It is near impossible to build a repeating golf swing if those two fundamentals are not just right. And if those two things are fundamentally sound, the creation of a repeating golf swing is much easier.

More from the Wedge Guy

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