Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Thinking your way to better golf

Published

on

I’m going to wrap up this three-week series on using your mind to improve your golf. I am a firm believer that for the vast majority of adults, your mind is the most powerful route to playing your best golf ever.

Of course, there are many aspects of the mental side of the game. There are volumes written about getting your mind right when you are playing a round of golf, and nearly every tour player these days has a “mental coach” to help them optimize their attitude and focus, stay out of their own way, etc. Certainly, that’s all very important, but what I’m trying to share with you are a couple of other aspects of the mental game.

Truly understand your objective

That’s where I was trying to go with last week’s column. Your body can’t do what your mind can’t process. If you don’t have a solid understanding of the basic physical movements of a solid golf swing, you have zero chance of executing one. That’s why the first building block of better golf is to REALLY UNDERSTAND swing fundamentals and embrace them as your own.

Improve the soundness of your grip on the club by keeping a golf club, or even the grip end of one, handy to your desk and sofa or favorite chair. While you are on the phone, or watching TV, practice a solid grip until it becomes second nature. From there you can practice proper posture, the positions of the backswing and follow-through. Do this by posing in front of a mirror if you have to. All these things can be learned at home, away from a golf ball. In fact, they are better learned away from a golf ball. Once you have them figured out, committed to muscle memory and clear in your mind, then you can put a golf ball in front of them.

Play the game

Sounds simple, but it really isn’t. When you are on the course – regardless of where you are with your golf swing – lose yourself in the moment. In the book and movie “Seven Days In Utopia,” by Dr. David Cook, the young pro is encouraged to “See it. Feel it. Trust it.” To play well, you have to see the golf shots you are facing. See that drive taking the right path down the fairway. See that approach flying just like you want it to. Around the greens, try to clearly visualize all the options of how you can get the ball close to the hole. There are always several different chips or pitches that will do that … find the one that seems to be your best choice. Only with that clear picture can you effectively rehearse the right practice swings to feel the one that will produce that visualized result. Once that is accomplished, you really have no choice but to trust that you can produce that practice swing for real. That gets you out of your own way, and you know, if you don’t pull it off … it’s just golf.

Enjoy yourself

In my opinion, that is the final – and maybe most important – element of the mental game for recreational golfers. You have taken time away from work, family or something else. You’ve given yourself a few hours on the course for the sole purpose of enjoyment, so make sure it gives you that! That’s where I was going with the first article in this series talking about the idea of managing your expectations. Tour pros practice incessantly. They devote countless hours to short putts, more to bunker play, and hit thousands of balls every week. They have a right to expect top-level results … but they still hit some “uglies” every week. So, what should you realistically expect out there? How many hundreds of practice balls did you hit last week, last month, last year? How many hours did you spend on the putting green, grooving your stroke on 5-6 foot putts? How many thousand chips, pitches and bunker shots are you hitting each week?

Again, my point here is for you to be realistic. You can build a very solid golf swing, from the grip upward, if you will just spend the time to understand exactly what that looks like, feels like, and works like. And you can manage your way around a golf course with little damage and lots of thrills if you will keep your mind engaged. And you can—and should—have fun every time you play, regardless of the outcome of your round.

Your Reaction?
  • 93
  • LEGIT6
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB1
  • SHANK7

Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR, or his leadership of the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2014. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to slightly raise the CG and improve wedge performance. He has just announced the formation of Edison Golf Company and the new Edison Forged wedges, which have been robotically proven to significantly raise the bar for wedge performance. Terry serves as Chairman and Director of Innovation for Edison Golf, which can be seen at www.EdisonWedges.com. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. geohogan

    Mar 14, 2020 at 10:57 am

    “Your body can’t do what your mind can’t process. If you don’t have a solid understanding of the basic physical movements of a solid golf swing, you have zero chance of executing one. That’s why the first building block of better golf is to REALLY UNDERSTAND swing fundamentals and embrace them as your own.”

    A solid golf swing is a complex chain action of physical movements, controlled subconsciously by our brain, specifically the motor cortex.

    We have zero chance of executing a golf swing successfully unless we understand the structure of our motor cortex and how genetically our hands and face are the keys to this complex chain action.

    The fundamentals of golf swing, as it is for every complex chain action movement are in the motor cortex.
    Unlike the “grip” which is unique for every major winner on the pga
    the allocation of neurons in the motor cortex is the same for everyone.
    ie 80+% is devoted to the hands and face.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Z425-CHY1c
    6:37-12:75

Leave a Reply

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

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

Opinion & Analysis

The death of the 3-iron and what it means for your bag setup

Published

on

The 3-iron is almost extinct. It sounds like an odd statement, but it’s very true. Don’t believe me? Go try and buy one in a set. They are not easily found.

As we evaluate this topic, I’ll refrain from specs from “players” clubs as these are not the irons normally purchased. Yeah, it might skew the data, but even the players capable of playing the long irons are opting out of the 3 iron. And let’s be honest, should any of us be playing a blade 3-iron?

Mizuno only offers 4-PW in the JPX line now. Titleist only offers a 3-iron in T100s, while the rest are void of 3-irons. TaylorMade provides 4-PW in the P790, P790Ti, and P770. Callaway has done the same, only offering a 3-iron in the “players line” of clubs, while the rest is again void of the-iron. Cobra golf has also followed suit.

So are 3-irons just too hard to hit? Is that why no one is buying them, thus causing the OEMs to stop making them? The only ones left to buy are the “players” 3 irons, and those aren’t even reasonable unless you’re a professional.

What if I told you we were being deceived? What if I told you the 3-iron is still very much alive in all the iron sets available but under the guise of a different number?

Let’s hop into the “wayback machine” and take a quick look at the history of iron lofts.

The year is 1970, and the vast majority of irons available are blades. You know, the razor-sharp leading edges that are ready to break your wrist with a deep divot.

The image above is an actual snippet from a catalog from the ’70s. At this point, the 1-iron was virtually extinct, and in 1975, Lee Trevino was immortalized by his joke about how God couldn’t hit a 1-iron, which typically fell in the 18-degree range at the time. 2-irons were standard issue in the set, and the lowest loft you might find is 20 degrees.

Then the ’80s came, and things started to progress. As you might expect, lofts started to decrease. It wasn’t because of flight windows, or launch numbers, because they didn’t have that kind of technology readily available to measure those attributes. It was simply a quest for distance.

Then in the ’90s, you’d pretty much see all iron sets with 21-degree 3-irons, down to 48-degree PW’s, and 21 degrees being the norm for the lowest lofted 3-iron. 2-irons at this time were typically 18 degrees and available by request only.

Then came the 2000’s, an era we all should be familiar with. This is where things started to get interesting. Not only because lofts continued to be strengthened, but because the hybrid became a new option to replace the long irons. Adams Golf made a killing as it perfected this golf club, creating the Idea line that was in the bags of most of the senior tour players and many of the PGA Tour players. These were a fan favorite at retail too. The hybrid was an easy long iron to hit and quickly started to replace 3-irons in golf bags across the country and even on tour.

By this time the pitching wedge lofts started to get pushed to 46 degrees, which was a big jump, to be honest. In the 1970s, MacGregor was making pitching wedges with 49 degrees of loft. So, for the 90’s to be around 48 degrees, it wasn’t too much of a shock. But in the 2000s, we now saw PW’s drop to 46 degrees; a half club stronger. This is where the downfall began, in my opinion.

The first decade of the 21st century needed the gap wedge, also known as the approach wedge or utility wedge or just plain old “wedge.” Now, keep in mind, this club wasn’t anything new. The gap wedge existed ever since the beginning because at 50-52 degrees it was simply a pitching wedge from the ’70s. But it became a necessary element for the bag since the lofts of every iron were starting to move farther and farther away from the sand wedge.

Now in 2020, the average loft of the PW is 43.5 degrees, and the average 4-iron loft is 20.6 degrees. Turns out, the 4-iron from 2020 is .3 degrees stronger than the average 2-iron (20.9 degrees) from 1970. We have come full circle! Instead of maintaining those classic numbers, of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW, the new sets are labeled 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, P, G.

I wonder how many golfers out there carry a 4-iron thinking it’s a club they can hit? Probably too many! Obviously, the 3-iron is dead at this point, since it would actually carry the loft of the elusive 1-iron Trevino claimed was unhittable!

Now, it’s time to discuss how we got to this point. You’ll hear a lot of companies talk about “flight windows” or “launch angles” and how it was changed by engineering, lowering CG’s, and increasing speed through thin faces. Some will talk about how the ball has changed, and it just launches higher, and it requires the lofts to be strengthened, or it will just go too high!

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that is all a bunch of baloney, and here is why: They started making gap wedges as part of the set. If the launch was too high or the window was too different, why make a matching gap wedge with the same technology and have the loft of a pitching wedge from the 1990s? Wouldn’t that launch or window then be too high for that club too? And yet you still need to buy another gap wedge to fit the 52-degree range. If the average golfer bought a 2020 game improvement set today, they would find the set make up to be 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW (43.5 degrees), Gap #1 (48.6 degrees), Gap #2 (52 degrees). That means if you happen to carry a 56 and a 60 degree, you now have the same amount of label wedges (5) as you do irons (5)!

Five wedges in the bag! Does anyone think this is weird?

Furthermore, when was a higher launching iron shot a bad thing? Wouldn’t average golfers benefit from a steeper angle of descent so the golf ball stops quicker on the green?

I conducted a study where I tested a Titleist 716 MB 8-iron with 39 degrees of loft to a TaylorMade P790 9-iron with 40 degrees of loft. All the data was captured on the Foresight GC2 launch monitor. It wasn’t a perfect test since they didn’t have the same shaft or loft, but my findings were surprising none the less. They went the same distance, almost down to the decimal. The Titleist went 165.2 yards, and the TaylorMade went 165.1 yards. Launch was only .6 degrees different while peak height was less than four feet different. So, unless you are Tiger Woods, you are not noticing a difference out on the golf course.

Some of you might think, “so, the label on the bottom of the club changed, it’s all going the same distance. So, what’s the big deal?” To me, it’s the confusion it creates more than anything. By decreasing the lofts, you’re just making the numbered iron go farther, and you are creating even bigger problems by having large gaps with the sand wedge when all amateurs need those clubs. It’s also putting clubs into the hands of golfers when they have no business hitting, like the 4-iron with 20 degrees of loft. Titleist has already made a T400 5-iron with 20 degrees of loft, and that’s just silly.

There also is the argument that golfers love distance, and when they start playing and can hit a 7-iron relatively far, it helps grow the game. Growing the game isn’t a bad thing, but if they are new to the game, they shouldn’t have any preconceived notions of how far to hit a 7-iron, and that means loft at that point becomes irrelevant.

I will not refute that a 40-degree lofted game improvement iron will be slightly longer than an identical lofted players club, but I think you’d be surprised to see the actual difference is a maximum of about three yards longer. The technology works, but by no means is it so substantial that we need to change the label on the bottom of the golf club.

The bottom line is that loft is king, regardless of the technology involved, and I have seen, but one equipment company make a change backwards! This is TaylorMade with their P770 irons. In comparison the P790, they increased the loft by one degree in the short irons and up to two degrees in the long irons, to add height and spin to the irons to improve performance. Imagine that, more spin and height are an advantage! And that was backed by their testing and their data.

Now to even further nail down my point, it is worth noting that TaylorMade Golf offers the highest lofted Pitching Wedge in the industry at 49 degree, which are in the Tiger lofts of the P7TW irons. That same iron set has a 22.5-degree 3-iron. At 22.5 degrees, it is typically the lowest-lofted iron in the golf bag of the best iron player on the PGA Tour in 2019. Of course, he has the skill to play an iron with lower loft, but the point that history reveals to us is that the effective loft of playability for an iron is about 22 degrees and higher. Anything lower lofted than that is typically replaced with a hybrid. This is not just a trend for the amateur golfer either, and it is even happening on tour with the best players in the world.

We will probably never see the lofts rolled back, but the least we can do is update Lee Trevino’s quote, “if you ever find yourself in a thunderstorm, lift up your 4-iron, because not even God can hit a 4-iron.”

Your Reaction?
  • 254
  • LEGIT28
  • WOW12
  • LOL7
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP3
  • OB2
  • SHANK11

Continue Reading

Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Going scorched earth on Tiger documentary

Published

on

On this episode of TGD, Johnny goes in hard on the HBO documentary Tiger.

 

Your Reaction?
  • 3
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW1
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP3
  • OB2
  • SHANK15

Continue Reading

Club Junkie

Club Junkie: My favorite G425 driver? Reviewing Ping’s NEW G425 lineup!

Published

on

Ping’s new G425 line of clubs was just released this week and I have had them out on the range! Comparing the G425 LST driver to the Max and what one worked best for me. The rest of the lineup is just really easy to hit and very forgiving. Ping has crafted a great lineup of clubs that are easy to hit and will make the game more enjoyable for those who play them!

 

Your Reaction?
  • 16
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK9

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending