Do Irons Really Need to Go Longer?
It's interesting to me that the two most "aggressive" marketers of irons this year are touting how long they are. So, we've been through almost 40 years of drivers being sold by touting that they are longer, and that kind of makes sense. Then this "longer, faster, meaner" claim worked its way into the fairway woods category, and even the hybrids. Even that makes a little sense. But what advantage does it give you if your irons' specifications are "jacked up" so that the new ones go further than the old ones. Here’s what the market has evolved to:

Brand 'A' claims their new iron is longer, delivers higher ball-flight and all kinds of good stuff. They offer this new brand in four configurations. For comparison, their mainstream 6-iron is built on a loft of 26.5 degrees and a length of 37.625 inches.

Their main competition in the battle of the 900-pound gorillas has their new distance iron, too. And Brand 'B' openly claims that their iron is "five yards longer." An examination of their specs reveals that their 6-iron is 26° in loft and also 37.625" long. So, does that five yards come from this stronger loft or the technology?

And what happens if all your middle irons go further than your last set, but so do all your others? Or do they? As these behemoths battle for "the longest iron," they are messing with decades of club specifications. For example, where sets used to have consistent differences of 4° of loft and ½-inch of length between clubs, now they are increasing those loft differences to 5° at the short end, and decreasing them to 3° and even 2° at the long end. But they are also increasing length differences at the long end to 5/8" between clubs. The result HAS to be a compression of your yardage differentials at the long end, and a widening of those differentials at the short end.

In other words, you have more long clubs that you really can't hit that well, and fewer short clubs, with bigger distance gaps between them, with which you will have to dissect the golf course. To me, this is absolute insanity... but those powerful new 6-irons sell clubs at demo days. When that rep with his Trackman says, "Wow, you hit that 6-iron 175!", you think "man, that's how far I hit my current five-iron; I gotta get these." Just realize that this new 6-iron IS your old 5-iron, or even 4-iron.

Remember that these new 6-irons are 26 to 26.5 degrees and 37.75" long. That's stronger and longer than these two companies' 5-irons were less than a decade ago.

Oh, and here's something really interesting. In both of these companies' line-ups, they have their "tour" or "pro" model of these new irons... and they are two degrees weaker and ¼- to ⅜-inch shorter than the ones they are trying to sell you. How much sense does that make? The tour player, who's bigger and stronger than you, plays as club that is shorter and easier to control than the one they are selling you.

Hmmmmm. Gotcha.

It's kind of like drivers actually. On Iron Byron, the 46" driver goes further than the 45, so that's what the stores are full of. But tour bags are full of drivers at 45". So, if the tour player only hits 55 to 60% of his fairways with a 45" driver, how many are you going to hit with a 46?

I'm just sayin'...
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[ comments ]
Torleif Sorenson says:
Terry, you're spot-on and you make a fine point. Having had some trial-and-error between my own Hogan Edges and newer irons, I'm absolutely convinced that those "distance" irons are not for me, even though I'm a short hitter. Instead, I know that I need:

(1) Minimal offset, if any;
(2) Consistent distances between my irons;
(3) Consistent distance performance from my irons.
Ian 666 says:
Could not agree more, however on the upside I've got some rally good deals off of dealers that are stuck with "old stock shorter irons" discounts of around 40% are not unheard of.
Have you noticed that the manufacturer that first brought out the white driver amid a lot of hype about it being the best thing since slice bread has released there new driver that is black ? I can't imagine how they are going to improve it next year ? unless of course it will be white
ally1957 says:
I play with old iron(s)and in the longer clubs the angles are a reasonable match for my mates G25 but up a club his 5 is my 4 and so on My wedges are terry's so can not compare them
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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