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Fitter focus: Don’t think you need a hybird? You might want to think again

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One of the most difficult conversations I get to have is with either “baby boomers” or people who have speed that is slowing down as they age. They still believe they can hit 3, 4, 5 and sometimes 6-irons.

Honestly, it’s not that they are unable to hit them in most cases, it is that they are unable to hit them on a playable trajectory. I would define a playable trajectory as a shot designed to fly high enough and land steep enough so it would be able to stop to a front pin location on a normal green.

With the invention of radar devices like Trackman and Flightscope, it now becomes a little easier to have those conversations. When I do these fittings now, I have what I call a “prove it” session when my customer wants to order a 3, 4 or 5-iron when I don’t believe (based on data) that they can create a playable trajectory with those clubs.

What I find in most cases is that the consumer needs not only one hybrid for their set, they usually need multiple, and in some cases; they maybe need higher-lofted fairway woods plus some additional hybrids. By using these radar devices, the consumer can then peer behind the curtain so to speak and see into the mind of the fitter. These radar devices are the key to the process so the consumer can see data proving the fitters’ point.

By showing them how much easier the hybrids can be to launch in the air, pick up more carry yardage and land on more of a playable trajectory I hope that I can accomplish my goal which is to get them a better chance to play better and have more fun.

Here are some reports and Trackman data to back up the claim in the first illustration 5-iron is white and 5-hybrid is yellow

Notice how much higher yellow (the 5-hybrid) is in relation to white (the 5-iron)

This report shows all the key variables—notice the carry, ball speed, height, and landing angle differences between the two.


I really enjoy doing these “gap” fittings. While the consumer might want the new shiny driver or the latest, greatest set of irons, these clubs that fall in between may make or break the consumer’s chances of scoring well. In doing these gap fittings don’t neglect to try higher-lofted woods—sometimes they can be easier to hit than hybrids for certain players.

There is no one perfect set for all players, there is only a perfect set for you and your speed and launch conditions. My personal recommendation is when you go get that next set of irons or just want to see some lower scores, make sure you look into hybrids and higher-lofted fairway woods. Please find a fitter you can trust, and hopefully s/he will have a radar device so you can see data to make an informed decision about what to carry in your golf bag!

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2010, 2014, 2015 & 2017 Merchandiser of the Year-Public Section Northern Ohio PGA Horton Smith Award Winner Northern Ohio PGA 2018 Inducted in Callaway Retail Hall of Fame 2014 Top 100 Fitter from 2013 - Present for Ping, Mizuno, Cobra, Taylormade, Titleist, Mizuno TOP 100 Fitter from 2015-Present Callaway, Wilson Golf Digest Top 100 Fitter from 2015 – Present Average over 400 Fittings a year last 3+ Years Taught over 200 Lessons a year last 3+ Years Graduate for the University of Akron 2000 PGA member since 2014 Website: www.windmillgolfcenter.com

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. freowho

    Oct 26, 2019 at 4:10 am

    I agree with getting rid of irons but hybrids aren’t always the answer. Fairways are still a better option for a lot of people.

  2. David McCune

    Oct 25, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    One thing is getting lost here- We all know Golf is a very mental game. How about playing with the clubs you’re most confident in ? I’ve always been a better sweeper of the ball, and not a great iron player. I have few hybrids I pick & choose from and the biggest iron I normally play is a 6.

    • Gerald Teigrob

      Oct 25, 2019 at 10:38 pm

      I agree with you, David. Nothing is written in stone when it comes to the clubs you put in your golf bag. I like the option of a 4 iron and 4 hybrid/driving iron right now. And I am not losing any length with my irons. I know what I can do with what I play. To each his own. I don’t look and say…my handicap is higher so I need more hybrids. I say I need more help with the long irons so I need less help from a 4 iron hybrid than I used to think I needed. And what many amateurs seem to forget is that a 4 iron now comes with a 19 or 20-degree loft, which is two or three degrees stronger than my last 3 iron and the same loft or so as my 2 iron.

  3. A. Commoner

    Oct 25, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Amateur golf is chock full of delusional hackers. Face reality and find more enjoyment.

  4. Gerald Teigrob

    Oct 25, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    After eliminating a 4 iron and playing hybrids up to a 6 hybrid in my set, I have gone back to playing more 4 irons. I can still get it airborne and can also play my graphite 4 iron like a driving iron. I know hybrids are helpful for those with slower swing speeds and losing distance, but overall my game is just as good with a 4 iron of 20 degrees in my bag. Sure a 4 hybrid helps on some days, but other days it doesn’t seem to matter as much. I have learned that I do have the ability to play both 4 iron and f hybrid along with a 4 iron driving iron. So I can still enjoy the best of all worlds there! For me, I can get more easily airborne with a 5 iron than a hybrid of similar distance but I am prepared to consider that down the road. So for the time being, I will continue to use my 4 iron option and likely play the driving iron over a hybrid.

  5. Pelling

    Oct 25, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Or, a golfer could just play a driver, a 5 wood, a 5 iron, an 8 iron, a 54 degree wedge and a putter and shoot virtually the same scores. 6 clubs, carry your bag, no launch monitor needed. Try it sometime.

    • OV

      Oct 27, 2019 at 2:17 am

      I often do but slightly different setup: 3w (coz driver only good of the tee), 4h, 7i, pw, 56, putter. Rarely play with more than 8 clubs.

      Love my hybrids coz no good with long irons. Not because of lack of swing speed, but of talent, lol! Do have 3&5 hybrids but figured the 4 can do the job of both.

  6. Tiger Noods

    Oct 24, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    I hope you took more data than that. This is a very, very small sample. One poor 5-iron is not a reason to leave a 5-iron. The “gap” needs to focus more on the idea that your 5-iron and 6-iron aren’t basically indistinguishable. Getting more distance with a hybrid is only good if it makes a PROPER gap. If you are just adding distance because you can, well, then you’ll have a large gap between that 5-hybrid and 6-iron. Then you’ve made things worse.

    I know Trent knows this, but it reads like MOAR YARDS

    • Mark it Zero

      Oct 25, 2019 at 8:19 am

      Hybird

      • Pelling

        Oct 25, 2019 at 4:30 pm

        Now you’re getting pretty technical, Zero…

    • Bill Ryan

      Oct 25, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      Its quite simple throw out the 4567 irons in garage now listen. Carefully take a 31 28 25 22 19 hybrids from cobra and yes some are Lexie black hybrids and some are Nardo grey men’s (same exact heads but for color Hybrid shaft for proper length. And distances pure Heaven and will never look back and I am a 7 handicap and 69 years old Drop your egos and your scores ??????????????????????

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Clement: Load up the full power package in the backswing!

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This video is FUNDAMENTAL FOR POWER GAINS in the golf swing; the arm anatomy BEGS TO BE USED in this manner from casting a fishing pole, to serving a tennis ball to batting a baseball to driving a golf ball. YOU WILL LOVE how much SNAP you will get through the ball and the sound the ball will make coming off the club from the compression off the face. BLISS ON A STICK!

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Clement: This wrist position can add 30 yards to your drive

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Drop the mic on how the wrists should load and be positioned for compressive power, accuracy, and longevity! There is a better way, and this is it!

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Short Game University: How to hit wedges 301

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In golf, there is nothing harder than judging a flop shot over a bunker to a tight pin out of long grass. Why? Because there are so many variables to account for — in addition to what you can and cannot do with a wedge. In fact, up until very recently in the world of wedge design, we were limited to only increasing the landing angle to stop the ball, because relying on spin from this lie and this close to the green was next to impossible.

Now with the advent of things like raw faces, different CG locations, new groove design, and micro-ribs between the grooves, we can now spin the ball out of lies that we never could have done so before. This is not to say that you can now zip the ball back from these types of lies, but we are seeing spin rates that have skyrocketed, and this allows us to not open the face as much as we needed to do before in order to stop the ball.

Before we get into the shot around the green itself, let’s talk a bit about wedge design. For that, I called a great friend of mine, Greg Cesario, TaylorMade’s Staff Manager to help us understand a bit more about wedges. Greg was a former PGA Tour Player and had a big hand in designing the new Milled Grind 3 Wedges.

Cesario said: “Wedge technology centers on two key areas- the first is optimizing its overall launch/spin (just like drivers) on all shots and the second is optimum ground interaction through the geometry of the sole (bounce, sole width, and sole shape).”

“Two key things impact spin: Groove design and face texture. Spin is the secondary effect of friction. This friction essentially helps the ball stick to the face a little longer and reduces slippage. We define slippage as how much the ball slides up the face at impact. That happens more when it’s wet outside during those early morning tee times, out of thicker lies, or after a bit of weather hits. Our Raised Micro-Ribs increase friction and reduce slippage on short partial shots around the round – that’s particularly true in wet conditions.”

“We’ve been experimenting with ways to find optimal CG (center of gravity) placement and how new geometries can influence that. We know that CG locations can influence launch, trajectory and spin. Everyone is chasing the ability to produce lower launching and higher spinning wedge shots to help players increase precision distance control. In that space, moving CG just a few millimeters can have big results. Beyond that, we’re continuing to advance our spin and friction capabilities – aiming to reduce the decay of spin from dry to fluffy, or wet conditions.”

Basically, what Greg is saying is that without improvements in design, we would never be able to spin the ball like we would normally when it’s dry and the lie is perfect. So, with this new design in a wedge like the Milled Grind 3 (and others!), how can we make sure we have the optimal opportunity to hit these faster-stopping pitch shots?

  1. Make sure the face is clean and dry
  2. Open the blade slightly, but not too much
  3. Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the AoA
  4. Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

Make sure the face is clean and dry

If your thought is to use spin to stop the ball quicker under any situation, then you must give the club a chance to do its job. When the grooves are full of dirt and grass and the remaining exposed face is wet, then you are basically eliminating any opportunity to create spin. In fact, if you decide to hit the shot under these conditions, you might as well hit a flop shot as this would be the only opportunity to create a successful outcome. Don’t put yourself behind the eight-ball automatically, keep your club in a clean and dry condition so you have the best chance to do what you are capable of doing.

Open the blade slightly, but not too much

Without going into too much extra detail, spinloft is the difference between your angle of attack and your dynamic loft. And this difference is one of the main areas where you can maximize your spin output.

Too little or too much spinloft and you will not be able to get the maximum spin out of the shot at hand. With wedges, people equate an open clubface to spinning the ball, and this can be a problem due to excessive spinloft. Whenever you have too much dynamic loft, the ball will slide up the face (reduced friction equals reduced spin) and the ball will float out higher than expected and roll out upon landing.

My thought around the green is to open the face slightly, but not all the way, in efforts to reduce the probability of having too much spinloft during impact. Don’t forget under this scenario we are relying on additional spin to stop the ball. If you are using increased landing angle to stop the ball, then you would obviously not worry about increasing spinloft! Make sure you have these clear in your mind before you decide how much to open the blade.

Opened slightly

Opened too much

One final note: Please make sure you understand what bounce option you need for the type of conditions you normally play. Your professional can help you but I would say that more bounce is better than less bounce for the average player. You can find the bounce listed on the wedge itself. It will range between 4-14, with the mid-range bounce being around 10 degrees.

Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the angle of attack

As we know, when debris gets in between the clubface and the ball (such as dirt/grass), you will have two problems. One, you will not be able to control the ball as much. Secondly, you will not be able to spin the ball as much due to the loss of friction.

So, what is the key to counteract this problem? Increasing the angle of attack by setting the wrists quicker on the backswing. Making your downswing look more like a V rather than a U allows less junk to get between the club and the ball. We are not using the bounce on this type of shot, we are using the leading edge to slice through the rough en route to the ball. Coming in too shallow is a huge problem with this shot, because you will tend to hit it high on the face reducing control.

Use your increased AoA on all of your crappy lies, and you will have a much better chance to get up and down more often!

Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

The final piece of the puzzle through the ball is speed through the pivot. You cannot hit shots around the green out of tall grass without keeping the club moving and having speed. A reduction of speed is obvious as the club enters into the tall grass, but you don’t want to exacerbate this problem by cutting off your pivot and letting the arms do all the work.

Sure, there are times when you want to cut off the body rotation through the ball, but not on the shot I am discussing here. When we are using spin, you must have speed to generate the spin itself. So, what is the key to maintaining your speed? Keeping the rear shoulder rotating long into the forward swing. If you do this, you will find that your arms, hands, and club will be pulled through the impact zone. If your pivot stalls, then your speed will decrease and your shots will suffer.

Hopefully, by now you understand how to create better shots around the green using the new wedge technology to create more spin with lies that we had no chance to do so before. Remembering these simple tips — coupled with your clean and dry wedge — will give you the best opportunity to be Tiger-like around the greens!

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