What's In A Name (or Number, Rather)?
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at email@example.com.
If you've read many of my articles, you probably know that I'm pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to golf clubs. I played my Reid Lockhart persimmon driver until I was the last on the planet without an oversized metal wood. And the persimmon 4-wood stayed in a few years after that. I finally had to give in about 2003. Dang, I miss that solid sound and feel . . .
And when it comes to irons, I still play my Reid Lockhart “RL Blades”, as I don’t see an iron on the market that I think I’d like better. One or another set of those have been in my bag since I designed it in 1997, refined it in 2000. One of my “modernizations” is that I play graphite shafts in everything, from driver to putter. With what we can do with carbon fiber these days, I find that the feel and performance of graphite can be more closely tweaked to the golfer than with steel. And as I start to experience a little arthritis in my fingers of my right hand, the graphite is easier on that pain.
But today’s article is about what the club manufacturers have done to iron lofts. As I peruse the specs for the new models coming out, they just keep making these things stronger and stronger. The standard “P-club” (I refuse to call them pitching ‘wedges’, because they are not) in most models has a loft of 45-46 degrees, many are 44, and some are as low as 43! Sorry, readers, but a rose by any other name . . . .
So, here’s my question: Assume you and I have the same strength. We’ve hit our drives side by side in the fairway, and we both pull a 36-1/2” iron with 42 degrees of loft to hit our approach shot. But mine has an ‘8’ on the bottom, and yours has a ‘9’. Does that make your shot easier than mine? Is your 9-iron more accurate than my 8, just because it has a different number on the sole? Can someone please explain this to me?????
Does it really matter how far you hit any of your irons? What difference does it make if you pull a club with an 8 on the bottom, or a 9 or a 7? If the length/loft combination produces the correct distance, does it really matter? Do you get to take an extra half shot off your score because you hit the green with a “P club” and I used a 9-iron?
I think one of the big dupe-jobs that the industry has played on the golfer is the notion that this iron is longer than that one. Of course it is, because they jacked up and renumbered all the clubs!!!! They put the weight very low in the longer irons so that you can still get them nice and high, but then they apply that same weighting and appearance through the set so that you can’t keep the shorter irons out of the clouds, even with the cranked down lofts. Sheesh. Where is this gonna go?
Here’s golf the way I see it. You hit the tee shot as far down the fairway as you can and still control the direction, because the rough is penalizing (or should be). You then pull whatever club you have in your bag to hit the ball the precise distance from where you are to where the flag is. It doesn’t matter what number that club has on it, does it? And it certainly doesn’t do any good for you to nuke one every once in a while and fly it clean over the green into the nasty back bunker, bulrushes or water. [By the way, I’ve never seen a golf course that can be scored from behind the greens.]
Just thought I’d give you all something to think about and sound off about. Let’s have some fun today and this weekend with this.
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
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It's getting to the point where people will have to carry an additional wedge to gap the distance between PW and GW. However, I don't see strengthening lofts as being any more non-traditional as graphite shafts...or even steel shafts for that matter. At the end of the day, the easier it is for people to hit it higher and farther, the more people will want to play. In addition, distance drives a huge percentage of the golf industry...speaking as a part-time golf store employee (full time teacher), I'm all for anything that keeps people excited about coming in and buying equipment, just as long as there are options available for people who want to play the kind of golf you describe...the kind of golf I like playing, too.
I'll be honest with you Terry in the last ten years there seems to have been a shift away from the feel part of the game that used to be there. With all the degrees of loft with wedges coming out a lot of players are no longer playing the half and three quarter shots that used to be part of the short game. Now they are replacing them different degrees of wedge. I'm sure as a wedge designer you see this as an advantage, personally I see this as getting away from the feel part of the game that used to be there.
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