How Long Is Long Enough?
The golf equipment industry is becoming more and more myopically focused on distance, and I don't think that's good for the game. Since the advent of the metal driver in the 1980s, then the oversized driver, super-sized driver, etc ... then to these hot faced metal fairway woods, the golf brands feed us a steady diet of "bigger, faster, longer". For 2013, I see that this single-minded goal for a golf club has migrated into the selling of irons, with the two biggest brands duking it out as to who makes the longest irons ever.

My question is, "So what?"

It's not rocket science anymore. All they are doing is jacking up the lofts, lengthening the shaft a bit and "heating up" the face to make the club a bit more explosive, supposedly. But what good is that doing for any golfer? Is there anyone out there who would begin to score better if they could just hit their 6-iron a few yards further? I seriously doubt it.

If you buy a new set of irons that are promised to go further than your old ones, you probably are not going to get those few extra yards with every club all the way back to your driver. So you have new irons that go farther than the old ones, but that distance gain is concentrated in the middle of the set – the 5-8 irons. From my examination, as they strengthen those middle irons, they are increasing the loft gaps between the shorter irons and P-club to five degrees from the traditional four. That means that you are going to have bigger distance gaps at the scoring end of your new set than you had with your older irons. Those lofts are also going to be different than your older irons, so your wedge lofts are now also going to be inconsistent with the lofts of your irons.

The simple geometry of irons is that every golfer will have larger distance gaps at the short end of the set than at the long end. But doesn't it make sense that you would want exactly the opposite? For scoring precision, wouldn't it be more beneficial to have smaller distance differentials the closer you get to the green and hole?

I'm not trying to talk you out of that new set of irons at all. What I'm trying to explain is that if you do buy a new set, the first thing you should do is go out with a laser range-finder and learn just exactly how far you hit each one of them ... and chart your wedges at the same time. Know your distances intimately and honestly. Not how far you can hit each one, but how far you can hit each one reliably and with accuracy. You'll find that your distance gaps will be as little as 5-7 yards between clubs at the long end of the set, and as much as 15-20 yards at the short end.

All I'm saying is that it should be the other way around.
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[ comments ]
G.C. says:
The manufacturers are simply catering to the "mine's bigger than yours" mindset that afflicts highish handicap golfers who are more interested in impressing the boys at the 19th hole with their King Kong distance prowess than in actually posting low scores.

Low handicappers and pros have told me more than once that high handicappers typically underclub because they once hit some club as far as a touring pro when their typical shot is 20-30 yards shorter, but they think they can recreate the magic every time.

Terry is right about shorter gaps in the scoring clubs being better, but this is of greater importance to low handicappers who are more consistent. One of the best golfers I know dumped a few long clubs and carries five or six wedges so as to always be able to approach with a full-out wedge swing.
Ian 666 says:
I purchased a set of new Taylormade irons last year (off the shelf) and was impressed with the distance I was getting with the 7 and 8 iron, however was struggling with the long irons (4 and 5)
It took me some time to work out what was wrong. It turned out that the shafts were a lot longer than I was used to the 9 iron was the same length as my old Mizuno 7 iron and the 5 iron being the same length as my old 3 iron.
Lesson learned I returned to Mizuno got myself fitted properly and purchased a new set of Mizuno's
My only problem now is the short end of the clubs to keep the same gap between all the clubs I'm playing with a sand wedge of 54 and a lob wedge of 58 where I normally prefer 56 and 60 (even known to use 64 on a good day)
It would appear that 1 manufacturer is getting the extra yardage by increasing club length and the other is trying to keep up by decreasing the lofts
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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