Golf is a funny game, especially when it comes to the way we buy equipment and put our sets together. Most golfers eagerly embrace new technology offered by the club companies, as we are all constantly searching for that new ‘secret weapon’ that will make the difference in our scoring. At least, I’m assuming that somewhere behind each purchase you make – whether it be a new driver, fairway, hybrid, irons, wedges, putter, balls ,etc. – we have hope that this is another piece of the puzzle that will help lower your handicap.
But as quickly as we seem to embrace these new individual bits of technology, we also seem equally as hesitant to back away and look at the entire arsenal of clubs we carry to assess them as “a team”. They are always and only used one-at-a-time for the shot at hand, but collectively our clubs represent the team we’ve assembled to go into battle with the golf course, right? And just like any good team, that requires balance and complementary strengths.
It’s NBA finals time, so think of your set of clubs like a basketball team. Great coaches look for chemistry and compatibility, for sure, but they also have to make sure they have balance. To have a bunch of big men and no speed doesn’t work. Nor can you have a bunch of defensive specialists and no outside shooters. The team that wins the Championship every year has balance.
And so should your golf bag “team.”
But few of us do, in my observation. Technology has given us more distance with everything in our bags, from driver to pitching wedge, but every golfer has a physical limit at the long end of the set. No matter what technology you buy, there is a limit to just how far you can hit the ball. And you’ve probably reached it, unless you haven’t purchased any new long clubs in 10 years or more.
But this has come at a cost. Particularly as you’ve purchased new sets of irons, you’ve gained distance with your short clubs because they continually get stronger in loft and longer in length. It’s great that you now hit your irons a full club longer than you used to, but what have you done to cover for the short end distances that you lost by doing so? If you were hitting a PW 115 back in 2000, and hit your new one 125-130, what do you hit from 115 now?
The typical bag set make-up that I see includes a driver, 1-2 fairways, 1-3 hybrids, and irons from 4-P. Some golfers still carry a 3-iron, and some extend hybrids all the way to the 5 or 6. That’s a personal thing for your ‘team’. But all golfers have gained distance with all these clubs, which has given them fewer options in scoring range than ever. And scoring range is where you will beat the golf course, whether that means winning a PGA Tour event, or breaking 80, 90 or 100. You won’t do that with the lower lofted clubs from long range.
So, let’s take a “typical” golfer who hits his 5-iron 170 yards. Some of you are longer, some of you shorter, but follow my logic here. That means he hits a driver somewhere around 250-260 probably, and pitching wedge 120-125 or so. He carries a 3-wood, 2 and 3 hybrid and 4-PW and two more wedges. So he has five clubs for all his shots outside 170, but only three clubs for all his shots inside 120-125. If you are playing the right tees for your skill level, you shouldn’t have more than 8-10 shots a round that are outside 5-iron range, so do you really need 5 clubs for those? Over 1/3 of your set for what amounts to 8-10% of your shots?
But the typical 85-shooter will have as many as 15-20 shots from inside PW range, including approaches and recovery shots. So you have only two, maybe three clubs for what amounts to 25-30% of your shots. How much sense does that make?
Think about that, because I’m going to continue this on Tuesday.