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

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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.”

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Weston Maughan is a golf equipment designer and collegiate champion golfer who has played the game for over 20 years. He worked in the golf industry for over a decade as a golf professional, PGA Tour caddie, custom fitter, and technical staff representative for a major manufacturer. He was a final contestant on the Golf Channel's Wilson's Driver vs Driver season one, and a guest on the Gear Dive podcast from GolfWRX. He received his undergrad from Brigham Young University in business management and his graduate degree from the Academy of Art University in Digital Communications. Now an amateur golfer with a +1.3 handicap, he resides in Utah and works as a software sales manager at Awardco while raising 5 children with his amazing wife. You can find Weston on Instagram at @westonmaughangolf where he posts about golf equipment, products, tips, and experiences.

51 Comments

51 Comments

  1. TW

    Mar 4, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    I think they need to stop making sets in numbers. An ideal set for me would be driver, 3 wood at 14 degrees, 5 wood at 18 degrees. Then irons spaced out in 5 degree gaps, 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60.. Putter to finish! I think that is 13 clubs but who cares, lighter for the caddy! It would remove ego as golfers would accept that some use the 40 degree iron to reach that 150 whereas some use the 35 or 30 iron! If golfers wanted to stop their set with the longest iron being 25 or 30 thats fine they can adopt a 25 degree fairway wood/hybrid! no marketing & no ego, simple really!

  2. AMG PUMA

    Feb 15, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    A cavity back or whatever head shape golf club set with PW or GW stamped in the sole wont ever be a wedge. A wedge club has its own design.

  3. HKO

    Feb 13, 2021 at 1:44 am

    almost the best article on WRX ’til the P770 part. why’d you ruin such good one with a silly shill at the end?

  4. Mo

    Feb 2, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    @Taylormade for shame 42* pw? 18* 4i iron?
    Utter joke

  5. Tony Wright

    Feb 1, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Great article thanks!

  6. Shallowface

    Jan 31, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    Perhaps it is time we did away with the terms woods, hybrids, and irons, and just referred to everything as a “club.” Driving club. 2 club, 13 degrees. 3 club 15 degrees. 4 club 18 degrees, whether wood, hybrid or iron. 5 club, 21 degrees, which is where some current 5 irons are starting to fall, and so on until you get to the wedges.

  7. Benjamin Hendricks

    Jan 31, 2021 at 9:04 am

    I hit long irons well and have the speed to use them. My current 4 iron is 1* weak of standard at 23* and it goes as far as my 2 iron did in the 90’s. It at times is tough to stop on greens because the ball we play doesn’t spin as much on longer shots AND greens have gotten firmer and faster in the last 20 years. I used to hit 2 iron into greens and not worry about stopping the ball (balata days). Really the issue is #1 the ball doesn’t spin enough on long iron shots #2 greens are firmer and faster than ever and a WAY distant #3 is the clubs themselves. the reason good players are ditching long irons are #1 and #2, not the clubs themselves. irons are more accurate for high speed/high spin players usually, a hybrid or high lofted wood is only necessary because of the ball and conditions. We are being forced to stop the ball with height/angle of descent more and more every year.

  8. iLovett

    Jan 29, 2021 at 6:19 am

    Also, that quote wasn’t about a 4 iron

  9. iLovett

    Jan 29, 2021 at 6:17 am

    That’s weird, I have a new Taylormade P770 3 iron… it’s 19.5 degrees stock.

    With the post-modern lofts it’s arguable that at 20-22 degree 4 irons are actually high launching 3 irons that stop. If you have speed and want some roll, you need a low spin 2 iron these days

  10. James

    Jan 26, 2021 at 6:04 pm

    I absolutely love my Mavrik Pro 21 degree loft 4 Iron. Absolute go-to fairway finder. Way easier to hit and launch than older gear.

  11. Bud

    Jan 25, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    Thank you for doing this article. I get tired of golf club sales people trying to compare my Ping eye2 + to there modern 7iron and telling me I hit theirs further.

  12. Beeno

    Jan 25, 2021 at 4:52 am

    A few points as a counter argument:
    1. You are still limited to 14 clubs in your bag and except for the driver and putter, the rest of the clubs need to travel an exact distance every time and all the time. The only thing the driver needs to do is travel as far as possible and land in a good spot for a second shot.
    2. You mention most clubs sold in the 70’s were MB blades. The lofts on blades have not changed much even for today’s modern blades. These clubs are meant for good ball strikers and the reason elite golfers prefer to play them is distance and direction control. (There might be other reasons)
    3. Your so called loft jacked clubs (GI and SGI) are meant for mid to high handicap players that need help with distance and elevation. If all these modern clubs with higher MOI and lower CG still had traditional lofts, the ball would go nowhere and too high for a slow swinging high handicap player and an elite player will struggle to get consistent yardages.
    4. If you removed the numbers on all the irons and just added degrees of loft, your set make-up will still look the same as you are only allowed 14 clubs. Depending on your skill level, the type of club will obviously perform different for different types of players.
    5. Because elite golfers are murdering golf courses, today’s courses are playing much longer for the average golfer. The modern golf ball can be blamed for this. The modern golf ball is designed for elite players with high swing speeds.
    6. I’m sure if you have a bit of talent, put in the time to practice and hone your skills, get properly fit for your clubs and get lessons so someone can keep you in check, you will be able to hit any club produced (even a 1970’s 2-iron). Unfortunately we live in an era where we want things easily and we want it now and we don’t care about the cost to get it.

    • Shallowface

      Jan 31, 2021 at 2:08 pm

      The thing is, CGs are not lower today than they were several years ago. Check out the MPF measurements on The Golfworks website. Regardless of whether or not you agree with how they weigh the various factors to compe up with a points rating, the actual physical measurements of the clubheads DO NOT LIE.

  13. Euan Hardman

    Jan 22, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Basically, what this excellent article is saying is that all the irons should have been re-stamped 2 numbers lower. The PW is actually an 8 iron and we have to buy a 48 AW (9 iron) and 52 GW (PW) to fill the gap.
    Now I know why I have trouble with my 4 (2!) iron.

  14. ChipNRun

    Jan 18, 2021 at 7:30 pm

    I carry a 22* CB Pro Tungsten set 4i (hollow head) refitted w/ a hybrid shaft. It’s a driving iron now, and gives a low fairly hot draw – one club that flies low when needed.

  15. Kevin Ricciardelli

    Jan 18, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    The clubs could not be “jack-up” if the ball didn’t fly higher. Balata balls from the 70’s back, simply flew lower. Blade clubs flew lower due to higher COG. The lofts are stronger because they can still be playable. Look at the 3 iron lofts available from Ping. Standard, Power and Retro.

  16. Karaten’s Ghost

    Jan 18, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    Everyone talks about loft-up like distances aren’t different.

    Why does no one address that the ball goes further today all on its own? Test some of the jacked lofts with balata, and you may realise this isn’t just marketing.

    Also, there’s more margin on a $300 hybrid than a $130 iron.

  17. Cody Reeder

    Jan 18, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    Well written Weston,

    Thanks!

  18. Mark Paschal

    Jan 18, 2021 at 7:00 am

    This article ignores the other changes that go along with modern clubs that allow for higher launch angles and steeper descent angles. If you really just changed the numbers on 70’s clubs you would have much lower ball flight, less forgiveness, less solid contact due to the longer shafts. There is much more to an iron than loft, and comparing irons from different manufacturers with similar lofts doesn’t render the other variables moot. This was an enjoyable read but definitely from the “equipment hasn’t improved” camp.

    • Weston Maughan

      Jan 19, 2021 at 11:33 am

      I would probably need to write another 2 or 3 articles to cover all the aspects, but to say I’m from the camp that golf clubs haven’t improved is a stretch. It wasn’t an article discussing forgiveness of iron design, which we both know countless studies confirm low CG and perimeter weighting has become better each year.

      Take into account all the other changes… golf ball, improvement of irons designs, low CG’s and shaft lengths increasing… regardless of all the factors you throw at it, every golf club since the inception of the game has had a loft between 8° and 62° and you can call them what ever you want, but you still need them in a consistent gapping.

      Lastly, the rational of needing to preserve flights and trajectories appears to be a logical discussion. But how has this necessary change never touched the sand wedge. It’s some how avoided the changes all together and sits at 56°. If the preservation of flight due to ball changes and club design are true, we would need to have 50° sand wedges by now. Thoughts?

      • Ken

        Jan 26, 2021 at 5:25 pm

        Weston, you are spot on. I had two sets of irons, CDI 990 and JPZ-EZ identical lofts through the set just different numbers on the sole. I hit them the same distances even though one was an all steel players cavity and the other had plutonium embedded somewhere. Anyway truth be told the old clubs flew straighter because the lower MOI made them easier to square up at impact. Resistance to twisting at impact also means resistance to squaring up at impact. That’s why even pros don’t like to turn over their current drivers and use a 3 wood for that instead.

        An additional issue with new clubs, an amateur does an online club fitting and they are asked how far they hit their 7 iron and they respond with the yardage their current 7-iron, which was a 5 iron at the time the fitting algorithm was created and they wind up with a shaft flex that is too stiff.

  19. gregory aziz

    Jan 17, 2021 at 9:04 pm

    Well researched and enjoyable article but the author omitted the BEN HOGAN FORT WORTH 15 model,
    which addressed this weighty subject of loft strengthening in 2015.
    I am on my 2nd set and have not looked back.

    • Al Fiscus

      Jan 25, 2021 at 9:42 am

      Exactly- still on my first !! The undiscovered blessing of sets with 44 degree PW’s is that we GET TO fill in the 48 & 52, hopefully matching our 56 & 60.. Blades are far superior in ALL 4 of the upper lofts.. SCOR proved that, & they’re still in my bag..

  20. Roy

    Jan 17, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    Best article on WRX in a long time – thanks!

    • Jake DeJong

      Jan 18, 2021 at 10:07 am

      Agreed. Thoroughly researched and well written.

      Anyone in disagreement is just an ostrich.

  21. Milo

    Jan 17, 2021 at 8:28 pm

    I’m gonna buy a 12.5° Lynx Prowler driving iron. Thoughts?

  22. Micheal

    Jan 17, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    Your information is incorrect, I just bought a set of Taylormade P790’s 3 iron though pitching wedge.

  23. Bob

    Jan 17, 2021 at 1:15 pm

    The 3-iron didn’t die. It was just given a different number. Please stop with the drama.

  24. Dwight L. Cramer

    Jan 17, 2021 at 11:08 am

    The same thing has happened with fly fishing line weights. If you fly fish, you know that the line and the rod must match up (i.e., a 4 wt. line for a 4 wt. rod, a 6 wt. line for a 6 wt. rod). But, in the universal quest for distance (not just golfers have that obsession), the line manufacturers have embraced ‘technology’ to create a marketing advantage, and it’s taken them in one direction, while the rod manufacturers have done the same, and headed off elsewhere. In other words a brand xx line rated as 4 wt. and a brand yy rod rated at 4 wt. may not be compatible. This creates real confusion for the fisherman, especially the newbie, or the guy who’s more into fishing that gear. (Free hint for newbies to fly fishing–buy the Orvis entry level set up and be done with it.)

  25. A golfer

    Jan 17, 2021 at 10:54 am

    This is a great article and I really appreciate the historical data provided. The one counter argument I would make is that the “long irons” in many of these sets look and behave very similarly to hybrids. I would bet that a 20* Hot Metal or Mavrik, for example, would launch materially higher than a 20* blade, unlike the 39-40* example provided.

    • A golfer

      Jan 17, 2021 at 11:12 am

      The other important counterpoint is that jacked lofts in game improvement sets are a way of helping offset the early extension and flip that poor players almost universally exhibit. These players present way too much loft at impact, so they may actually have less of an issue launching the ball up at any given loft and swing speed level.

      • Paolo

        Jan 25, 2021 at 1:48 pm

        This is the only advantage . To strengthening lofts .
        Forget numbering irons just put the lofts on them .

  26. A Golfer

    Jan 17, 2021 at 10:49 am

    This is a great article and I really appreciate the historical documents pulled out. The one counterpoint I would make on the long end, is that many of these sets have “long irons” that look and behave very much like hybrids. I think if you took a 20* Hot Metal or Mavrik and put it against a 20* blade you would see a material difference in launch angle, unlike with the 39-40* example you provided.

  27. Webster

    Jan 17, 2021 at 9:07 am

    It’s all about the loft/length relationship to me. My 150 yd club has pretty much always had 40* loft and 36″ length. Started playing seriously in the mid-90’s and that was pretty much the std for an 8 iron. Today I’m playing X-hot Pros that have a 40*, 36″ club…it just happens to have a 9 stamped on it; still goes 150yds.

  28. John Little

    Jan 17, 2021 at 6:52 am

    Instead of iron numbers why not just stamp loft numbers. 4 degrees apart. A typical conversation might be.I made the par 3 7th with my 38 degree. Oh really! I did it with my 42.

  29. Munter

    Jan 17, 2021 at 4:16 am

    Not sure about all this “loft jacking” ballyhoo.

    I replaced half my AP2s with Mizuno JPX Hot Metal Pros a few months ago – 4i to 7i. Best upgrade I’ve ever made. Literally. Period.

    OK, so actually now I have two 7 irons. The AP2 is still used a lot, it goes about 145m. Pretty standard for a 14 handicap, right?

    The amazing thing is this: the JPXs go loooong. I now pull out 4i on any hole where I need to go 180-190m. Sometimes it rolls out past 200m. Where I would have sprayed my 3-hybrid, now I pull out my 5i, with a LOT more confidence it will go straight and looong.

    So, with all respect, i now play much better golf, not because my lofts are jacked, but because the “hot” technology actually works. Forgiveness + cranking distance when you middle it. This *cannot* simply be about lofts, otherwise I would have been getting the same results with my AP2s, just one club less.

    • Jake DeJong

      Jan 18, 2021 at 10:09 am

      Anecdotal. No facts. Come back with launch monitor results?

  30. Nate

    Jan 17, 2021 at 1:21 am

    I read a lot of these articles from Golfwrx. This is a stand out. Nice work.

  31. Reece

    Jan 16, 2021 at 11:40 pm

    I bought a brand new set p790’s this last week and it came with a 3 iron. In left hand no less.

  32. Lefthack

    Jan 16, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    Great article. My newish irons were a 5-PW set of Nike Vapor Pro Combos and I’ve been on the search for the 3 and 4 (the 2 is only available in right hand). I scored a 3 off the classified that is 20 degrees and can’t wait to hit it. I have no issues hitting my 3h and 4h but they take up more room in the bag than irons would.

  33. Rich Douglas

    Jan 16, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    I’ve always maintained the theory of “loft deflation,” even when countered with the launch angle issue.

    But if you keep your head about you, it really doesn’t matter. The numbers on the clubs have shifted, but it’s still the same 14 clubs, more or less. So I don’t have a 3-iron, but everything is shift down and I fill the gap between the PW and the SW with a wedge. It’s still the same number of clubs doing the exact same things.

    Two advantages here: First, it’s not just lower lofts. A 4-iron with a 3-iron’s loft is still a 4-iron in length. It’s 1/2-inch shorter and, thus, easier to hit on center. That makes the entire set easier to hit than before.

    Second, low-lofted irons are being replaced with hybrids, which have better perimeter weighting, lower CGs, and are easier to hit and to loft.

    But if everything shifts down, doesn’t that create a gap between the 3-wood and the rest of the set? Yes, but who cares? Most players cover it with a hybrid, better to hit than a true 3-iron. Besides, most players can’t hit the ball well enough for that gap to matter anyway.

    I haven’t carried a 3-iron in nearly two decades, and I dumped my 4-iron recently. That’s because I went to single-length irons built at 36.5″ (8-iron length). You just can’t generate enough clubhead speed to get a 4-iron to gap properly anyway. But the advantages of single-length irons–so much more consistent–outweigh having to swap the 4-iron for the hybrid.

    • Frank

      Jan 16, 2021 at 7:07 pm

      I beg to differ on the 4-iron length with 3-iron loft, I have a set of Hogan blades from the 60s and the 2-iron is 38.75″ which is in between today’s 3-iron and 4-iron “standard” length. They’re not just decreasing the loft, they’re increasing the length, too.

      • Rich Douglas

        Jan 16, 2021 at 7:08 pm

        Not if you’re paying attention. And it certainly isn’t an industry trend.

  34. KP

    Jan 16, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Great article. I always feel like manufacturers use their marketing to trick people into thinking that they’ve engineered something special that gives players more distance and forgiveness. Fact is they’re bs’ing us into buying new equipment every year. Crossfield and Shiels have done many videos that demonstrate how little difference there is in golf equipment year to year.

    • Rich Douglas

      Jan 16, 2021 at 7:07 pm

      Especially in irons. There have been only a handful of useful developments since the days of forged blades and nothing else:

      — Perimeter-weighted cast irons (starting with Ping)

      — Perimeter-weighted forged irons (starting with Hogan Edge)

      — Multi-metal designs (allowing for higher COR on faces, more extreme perimeter weighting, and altered CGs)

      — Graphite shafts good enough for irons

      That’s about it. That Nike sling thingy, the twice-a-year TM bouncy clubs, or anything else are just derivatives from the above.

    • Jon Barton

      Jan 16, 2021 at 7:20 pm

      The manufacturers have been very clever. They have slowly turned a set of 3iron to SW (9clubs) into a set of 5,6,7,8,9.W. (6 clubs) with an option to add a 4i and in some cases a 3i. Great deal for them 6clubs for the price of 9.
      The SW is usually not included in a modern set.
      So we golfers also get to choose an extra 3 wedges, lucky us. But just a minute, that means we now buy an extra 3.
      So the original 9 shrinks to 6. With an option of buying an extra 5.
      So we now buy 11 for the price 14!
      Oh, and maybe a utility or two as well. ?

  35. Brandon

    Jan 16, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    In my opinion, a set that starts with a 22* 4 iron and stops at a 46* pw is perfect. 4 degree gaps between each club. Carry a 18 or 19* 5w,hybrid, or utility iron. Whatever 3 wedges you want above your pw. If I played a set with a 43* pw I’d need 2 gap wedges, which is just ridiculous. I think loft jacking is just to pad the ego of the short hitter who thinks he is hitting his pw as far as a player hits their 8 or 9 iron.

  36. Ben Wallace

    Jan 16, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    True. However, it doesn’t matter what the club is designated so long as the player can hit the club and knows the carry numbers for the club. I don’t care if the clubs have a number, symbol, degree listing, letters of the alphabet, or names of rock and roll bands as the club’s designation so long as I know which club I am pulling out the bag. I won’t be reaching for a long iron anyway. I play driver, 3w, 5w, 7w, 4h, 5i-PW, 54, 60, and putter.

    • Bas

      Jan 19, 2021 at 5:17 am

      Same, but I play 4w, 7w. And my irons are GI, so the lofts are probably a bit stronger, so they are 6i-AW (26-49 degrees).

      I can’t hit an iron with a loft below 26 degrees.

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Opinion & Analysis

Faldo’s ‘commercial’ dig at Rickie Fowler was narcissistic, unfair and hypocritical

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This week, Rickie Fowler opened up on his current struggles on the course, describing the enormous frustration he’s going through and the toll it’s even taking on his life at home.

Instead of Fowler being commended for his honesty during the most challenging period of his career to date, he found himself attacked. Not just by some nameless, faceless troll on social media either, but by a six-time major winner turned talking head: Nick Faldo.

Replying to Golf Digest’s article on Fowler, the Englishman decided he’d take a swipe at Fowler’s commercial success, saying:

“Good news is if he misses the Masters he can shoot another six commercials that week!”

He then doubled down on the comment, highlighting his own excellent achievements in the sport while knocking Fowler who is still looking for his maiden major win, posting shortly after: “What would you rather have, a boatload of cash or your name in three green books?”

Had Faldo bothered to read the article in question, then he’d have seen that Fowler is extremely hungry and putting in hours of practice to get back to the heights that saw him once ranked inside the world’s top 5.

If Fowler was content to do commercials instead of grinding away on the course as Faldo suggests, why will this week at Bay Hill mark his 6th appearance in the last seven weeks on the PGA Tour?

That schedule just doesn’t fit Nick’s narrative that Fowler is satisfied with things in his professional life.

Sadly, Faldo’s dig at Rickie had nothing to do with his golf game, nor did it even acknowledge how hard he is trying to turn things around.

It was a petty knock at a universally well-liked player from his peers to fans alike because he happens to do well for himself outside of the course as well as on it.

And let’s not forget how good Fowler has been on it, five PGA Tour wins (including The Players), 2 European Tour wins, and 11 top-ten finishes at majors—and he’s still just 32.

All that the Englishman’s cheap shot at Fowler’s commercial success did was amplify the undercurrent of jealousy within Faldo, who spends the majority of his time on social media plugging and endorsing a golf shoe.

Does anyone really think that Faldo wouldn’t snap up Rickie’s commercial opportunities if they presented themselves to him?

To knock Fowler’s current level of play is fair game, but to suggest he’d be happy to miss the Masters so that he can “shoot another six commercials that week” is out of line and does a disservice to the effort he puts in each day to get better at his craft.

Fowler has demonstrated time and time again that he is a class act, an excellent ambassador for the sport, and he deserves much better than a blindsided attack on Twitter from a prominent figure in golf media.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Odyssey Ten putter review and hitting the new Callaway Apex Pro irons

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Reviewing the new Odyssey Ten putters, and I like the overall look compared to last year’s model. The shape is a little more squared off and simple, less distracting. Callaway’s new Apex Pro irons offer a lot of distance and forgiveness in a small package, but do they feel as good as other players irons?

 

 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Understanding CG

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One of the most misunderstood concepts involved in golf club design is that of “CG,” or “center of gravity,” also “center of mass.” While this particular measurement of any golf club head can certainly offer insight into its probable performance, it is not the “be all, end all” with regard to any club’s specific launch or forgiveness attributes.

What “CG” specifically refers to is the exact center location of a club’s distribution of mass, which will generally coincide with that club’s “sweet spot”—but that’s not always true. There are lots of ways to manipulate or manage any club’s exact CG location, and therein lies a “Pandora’s Box” of misunderstanding.

Let’s start back in the very old days, when irons were single pieces of forged steel and woods were made of persimmon. Since there was no science inside the club, CG was essentially a result of how the clubhead is formed—its essential shape.

A typical persimmon driver head, for example, was sized to deliver its ideal weight without any additional weights added. The solid block of persimmon, with some kind of face insert and an aluminum soleplate was all you had to work with. So, the CG was located pretty close to the center of the clubhead from all three axes – vertical, front-go-back and heel-to-toe. If you remember, persimmon fairway woods were smaller and had a brass sole plate to add mass lower in the head and often a lead weight under the sole plate to move the CG even lower to help produce higher ball flights on shots hit from the turf, rather than off a tee.

Traditional forged irons up to the 1960s-70s typically had a CG very close to the hosel, a result of the mass of the hosel itself and the typical design that put “muscle” behind the impact area, and very little mass out toward the toe. An examination of worn faces on those old irons would reveal the wear very much toward the heel. I distinctly remember fighting the shanks back in those days, and that ugly shot usually felt very close to a perfectly struck one, rather than feeling as awful as it looked.

As metal woods and cavity-back irons became the norm, designers were able to move the CG ever lower in order to produce higher ball flight, and more toward the center of the face to put the CG further from the hosel. As technology has continued to be refined, the use of tungsten inserts has further allowed designers to position the CG exactly where they want it – typically lower in the club and more toward the center or even the toe of the golf club.

And therein lies a problem with pushing this insert technology too far.

There is no question that in addition to making contact somewhere close to the CG of the clubhead, ball performance is also a product of how much mass is directly behind the impact point. Let me offer this example of how important that can be.

Let’s assume two identically shaped cavity-back 7-irons – same size, face thickness, overall weight and a design that places the CG in the exact same spot in the scoring pattern. The only difference between the two is that one is a single piece forged or cast steel head, with the other being cast of aluminum, with heavy tungsten inserts in the hosel and toe areas to achieve the same overall weight and CG location.
Which do you think would deliver the more solid feel of impact and better transfer of energy to the ball?

Now, we could take that even further by cutting out the entire center of both clubheads and increase the mass or the weight of tungsten in the hosel and toe to bring each back up to weight. The CG location would not change, but there would be absolutely no mass at all where the ball impact location would be. That would not work at all, would it?

I’ve learned long ago that it’s not just about the location of the CG that makes a golf club perform, but also the amount of mass that is placed directly behind the spot on the face where impact with the ball is made.

Here’s a fun, “non-golf” way to embrace this concept.

Suppose we had a two-pound sledgehammer and another 2 lb piece of steel hammered into a large circular sheet 1/16” thick. And then suppose someone hit you on the head with the exact CG of each one – which do you think would hurt the most?

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