Wedge Guy: Does ironing really have to be longer?

Oct, 2022

Although today’s post is an updated version of one I wrote nearly 10 years ago, the topic is still relevant for all golfers, if perhaps even more, my opinion. It was fascinating to me back then that the most aggressive iron marketers that year started promoting how long their irons were, as drivers had been the only ones who could do distance wars.

We had seen drivers for almost 40 years being advertised as longer. That kind of makes sense. This “longer, quicker, meaner” claim was then adopted by the fairway woods and hybrid categories. Even this makes some sense.

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What advantage is it if you have your irons’ specs “jacked up”, so they go further than the older ones?

Although I admit that technology has improved in golf clubs, the key to making irons last longer is to reduce the center mass, increase the loft, and possibly make the shaft longer. The “8-iron”, today’s version of the 6-iron, has essentially the same loft as the historic 6-iron. It goes even further.

For comparison, I was looking at an old set Reid Lockhart RL Blades I had designed in the mid-1990s. The pitching wedge had 48 degree loft, while the 7-iron had 36. Many modern iron sets have nearly the same loft as 9-irons, according to specs.

For fun, I pulled out my launch monitor and tried hitting balls with the RL Blade 7 and a modern 9-iron. The latter was only 2 degrees weaker. My strength profile was about 140 yards. I discovered that the carry distance was not much different. The RL Blade launched lower and delivered more spin, and it was easier to fly up and down to adjust to varying conditions, especially wind.

The RL Blades’ one-piece design made it easier to dial in shorter distances.

Let’s not forget what a set of irons with a higher level of play can do for your game. . . What happens if your irons reach further than the last one? Is that really going to help you get more greens?

The old saying “The 24/38 rule” was a common adage in golf club design. This meant that only experienced players could use an iron with less than 24 degrees of loft and no more than 38 inches length. Modern iron designs have made loft limitations somewhat obsolete, but longer clubs are more accurate in delivering the clubhead to the ball as well as keeping the path and face angles tighter.

Here’s what I find most interesting. Many of the top brands have their “tour” and “pro” models. . . They are often up to 2 degrees less lofty and 1/4 to 3/8 inches shorter than the ones they want to sell. What sense does this make? You are the tour player. He is bigger and more powerful than you. The club they sell you is shorter and easier to manage. Hmmmmm. Gotcha.

Let’s go back to the drivers. Iron Byron’s 46-inch driver is always more than the 45-inch driver, as Iron Byron has no swing flaws. That’s why the stores are full. Tour bags are filled with 45″ drivers. If a 45-inch driver is unable to reach 55-60% of the fairways, how many can a 46-inch driver?

The same applies to longer irons.

I’m just saying ‘…

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