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Is golf with fewer clubs more fun?

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There have been plenty of interesting golf trends over recent years: White-headed drivers, black steel shafts, driving irons, combo sets, custom headcovers, and direct-to-consumer brands, just to name a few.

But my favorite trend right now is all about playing golf with sets of fewer than 14 clubs.

Social media is full of accounts* advocating smaller sets, half-size bags, one club golf and other ways to get out and on the course as easily and efficiently as possible, with many arguing it is the most fun way to play. Given the necessity for walking courses in many places these days, it is no wonder that these trends are gaining more traction all the time.

@lessthan14

Smaller sets are not just about reducing the impact on the backs of players carrying their clubs; it is incredible how many people claim their scores are improving under the newer and more efficient layout in their Sunday bags. To my own surprise, I am one of those players.

The other thing about smaller sets is that they are all individual. Personally, I was having fewer swings of my 3 and 4 irons than I was rounds of golf, so they came out of the bag, and I have somehow been shooting lower scores. I could probably take out another one or two if I really wanted to, but for now, I am most comfortable with 12 clubs, and I don’t feel like there is any need for a manufactured swing or shot that I might come across.

@mackenziegolfbags

For many, it is the manufactured shots and the creativity required in a half bag that triggers the appeal. The need to curve shots and play to different distances with clubs you wouldn’t usually hit brings back a relationship to the game of golf that many believe has gone missing in the era of higher, straighter and longer shots which are the standard in today’s game.

Where a player comes to a shot that is in between clubs in a half set, they need to really commit to a shot that you may not need in a full set of clubs. This has been an awakening for some who otherwise may not be able to give total commitment to a shot that is ‘pretty close’ to the right number for them. Some get a bigger kick out of bunting a half 7-iron up to a green that would have otherwise been a stock standard 8 iron.

In fact, Donald Ross said it best with the following:

“In playing golf for more than 50 years, I don’t believe there ever was a round in which I used more than six clubs. Today there’s a stick in the sack for every shot. Golfers used to be made on the golf course. Now they are made in the machine shops.”

@mashie_melbourne

The clubs in today’s sets are also supportive of a bag with fewer clubs. A 5 iron today is the loft of a 3 iron of the past, and we are all hitting driver long enough not to need all the clubs in the bag that used to get a workout. Bomb and gougers who have always said that they only need driver and a wedge into the longest par 4s, can now rejoice and talk about how they used fewer clubs in the bag way before it was cool.

If you are looking to join the smaller set society, and you are looking to enter with a bang, try it out with clubs which are 20 or more years old. Throw a persimmon or two in there, and you are an even bigger deal on the small bag circuit. If the bag you are using is from the workshops of Mackenzie or Seamus, then you are playing in the big leagues of the small sets!

For now, I am a smaller set player of 12 or fewer clubs, and I feel like I am not leaving any shots on the table. If I played in a tournament, I would probably put in the extras just in case, but I also probably wouldn’t use them.

Fewer clubs slide straight in and out of the car and make it easier to walk to the tee, play at a good pace around the course, and I have felt noticeably better the day after my rounds with the lighter load. There is no way that fewer clubs will be mandated in the rules of golf, but they are one more way for me to play faster and maximise my enjoyment of the game we all love.

There are many different setups out there, but my fantasy current and classic half sets are below:

Current

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9-degrees)

3-Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max

Irons: Miura Color Theory or National Custom fitted set

Wedge: TaylorMadeHi-Toe (58-degrees)

Putter: Scotty Cameron 009

(In my fantasy set I also have a good putting stroke…)

Bag: Mackenzie Waxed Canvas Custom

Classic ~20 years old

Driver: TaylorMade R510TP

Fairway Wood: Titleist PT (17-degrees)

Irons: Wilson Staff Tour Blades (5-7, 9-PW)

Wedge: Cleveland Classic 691 (58-degrees)

Putter: Ping O Blade

Bag: Ping Hoofer classic

Here are also some Instagram accounts to get you started or add to your collection of accounts

 

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Will Kay is a passionate Australian fan of everything related to golf and equipment, with a particularly unhealthy love of waterproof jackets and outerwear. Previously the lead buyer for a chain of 50 golf stores across Australia, Will is a qualified lawyer and is struggling to maintain a single figure handicap in a double toddler household. He is always planning the next trip to Barnbougle in Tasmania, and doesn’t play enough golf to see any benefit in laying up.

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Equipment

Ben Hogan adds GS53 MAX driver to lineup

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Ben Hogan golf is throwing its Hogan flat cap into the ring and entering the MAX driver-category with the introduction of the all-new 460cc GS53 MAX driver.

The GS53 MAX creates extra forgiveness, thanks in part to its multi-material construction and a 22-percent larger and 11-percent taller face than the current GS53. For those that love the original GS53, don’t worry it will continue to remain in the line, with the new MAX being a line extension for those looking to get extra help on shots missed around the face.

The driver is constructed from 4 distinct pieces

  • Carbon composite crown to reduce mass around the top of the driver’s head and to push more mass low to increase MOI.
  • Forged face for precision, and ball speed
  • Titanium soleplate with perimeter mass
  • Tungsten weight at the rear of the sole to further increase MOI and help increase launch while reducing spin.

Thanks in part to the weight savings from the crown, the titanium soleplate has more mass positioned away from the face and around the edges to increase the stability of the head, and to acoustically tune the driver for a solid sound at impact.

“The combination of the lightweight composite crown and tungsten sole weight allows us to position the Center of Mass so that we maximize launch while decreasing the amount of ball spin. This provides a higher ball flight, especially for players who don’t have Tour-caliber clubhead speeds for increased carry and roll out. “
– Scott White, CEO, Ben Hogan Golf Company.

The GS53 MAX driver will initially be available right-handed and come in lofts of 9° and 10.5°. It will be adjustable using their proprietary hosel adjustment system known as “flight control”, which offers the ability to add or decrease loft by 1° and lie angle all while never having to worry about realigning the shaft/grip.

The last part of the driver puzzle is the shafts options and to increase the value to consumers the GS53 MAX comes with the choice of three premium aftermarket shafts including:

  • Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black for golfers seeking a lower trajectory
  • Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei CK Blue for golfers seeking a mid trajectory
  • UST Mamiya Helium for those seeking a higher trajectory

Price, specs, and availability 

Thanks to Ben Hogan Golf’s direct-to-consumer model, the new 460cc GS53 MAX, is available starting today fior $355.00 with the choice of the 3 premium shaft options.

For more information on other Ben Hogan clubs including fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, and putters or to purchase the GS53 MAX Driver visit www.benhogangolf.com.

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U.S. retail golf equipment sales exceed record $1 billion mark

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This summer, golf saw a surge in business as states emerged from COVID lockdown and equipment sales is one of the areas that has been booming.

On Wednesday, Golf Datatech, an industry research firm, announced that U.S. retail golf equipment sales surpassed the $1 billion mark for the third quarter – which is the first time sales have reached $1 billion for July, August and September.

That figure also represents the second-highest quarter ($1.013 billion in Q2, 2008) of all-time, and per Golf Datatech, golf equipment sales for 2020 are up a whopping 42% over the same period in 2019.

Speaking on the incredible surge in equipment sales, John Krzynowek, Partner, Golf Datatech, LLC, said

“The story keeps getting better as golf continues to surge coming out of the shutdown, and Q3 equipment sales suggests that 2020 will likely end up positive for the entire year. Year-to-date sales for total equipment are now up 0.2% compared to 2019, and considering the size of the hole created by the shutdown in April and May this recovery has been nothing short of remarkable. While the US economy will not enjoy a ‘V Shaped Recovery’ in 2020, if golf continues on this trajectory we will be there soon.”

Per the company, the best selling items for September were golf bags at +19% and wedges at +18%, while golf shoes were +2%.

Overall, the golf club category was +0.9% for the month, with balls and gloves trending slightly lower at -2.7%. Krzynowek also revealed that rounds played was another area with surging numbers:

“These month-over-month sales records are unlike anything we’ve ever seen since Golf Datatech started tracking performance data in 1997. Our Rounds Played data also shows similar record-breaking growth over the past several months, which is a strong indication that avid golfers and newcomers alike are driving the sport to new levels right now.”

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Equipment

‘Play a big driver. Why not big irons?’ – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the case for big irons. WRXer ‘2Down’ plays a Ping G410+ driver and has recently put Ping’s G710 irons in the bag, saying:

“Wondered how many play a large headed driver and play a draw or fade off the tee but when they pull an iron it’s some blade size thing so they can “work” the ball.

Recently I put G710 in the bag and answered my question for myself. They feel different for sure, but I am quickly adapting to only bringing the putter with me to the green.”

Our members have been discussing the combination in our forums.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Itsjustagame: “Personal preference but big irons tend to have more bounce, more offset and wider soles some or all of which may not suit a particular player.”
  • Fairway14: “Driver is played from a lie with the ball sitting on a tee, irons are played from a variety of lie types.”
  • J13: “They don’t really make “big” irons for players. Most have offset low CG for high launch, and super strong lofts.”
  • LeoLeo99: “I love my big irons. G400. Best I’ve ever used.”

Entire Thread: “Play a big driver. Why not big irons?”

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