I figured that would get your attention this morning, but my premise is that almost all golfers apparently think they are better at precision shotmaking that Ben Hogan was. Stay with me here, because I really do have a point with this.
We are doing a lot of demo events for SCOR Golf and so we are talking with golfers about their scoring clubs, more particularly the lofts and selection they are equipping themselves with. As we talk with young guns who hit the ball a mile, the conversation gets really interesting. Here’s a case study.
In Corpus Christi, Texas last Saturday, I’m visiting with an aspiring developmental tour professional who is trying to make it playing professionally. In our discussion about his set make-up, he told me he carries 54 and 60 degree wedges, in addition to his set-match ‘P-club’. Moving along, he tells me he hits 7-iron 180 yards, and 9-iron 155-160. Wow. That’s long. So here was my point to him.
In Ben Hogan’s first book, Power Golf, which was published in 1948, Hogan dedicates a chapter to equipment. In that chapter he lists all his yardages with his clubs. What’s really interesting is that for each club, Hogan listed “Regular”, “Maximum” and “Minimum” yardages for each. His driver, he explained, “regularly” is 265, but he shows a maximum of 300, and a minimum of 235. To complement the driver, he then goes on to list 3- and 4-woods, and irons numbered one through nine, plus a pitching wedge and sand wedge. Hogan would remove a couple of those clubs for each tournament, depending on the course.
Where it gets interesting is that Hogan’s “regular” distance with his 5-iron is listed as 155 yards. Before you get all cranked up, realize that the loft and length of Hogan’s 5-iron in 1948 was very close to what most of today’s 7-irons are. But Hogan lists his “maximum” with his 5-iron at 180! In other words, he could add 25 yards to his “regular” 5-iron shots anytime he wanted to. Do you think that guy I just described could do that? Can he hit that 7-iron 205 if he wants? Or can any of you do that? That is, just crank up any of your irons to add 20-25 yards when you need it? Or do you pretty much consider a “regular” 7-iron to be what your maximum really is?
But it gets better, and this is where I’m going with the title of today’s post.
Hogan played courses of 6,500-7,000 yards in his day, and he had 7 clubs that he could use inside 155 yards. This aspiring tour player I was visiting with had THREE! His PW, 54 and 58. Hogan had 10-yard gaps in between his clubs – this guy (and most of his peers) have gaps of 20-25 yards in between their scoring clubs. Therefore, if they are going to score as well as Hogan did in that prime scoring range, they would have to be much more adept than he thought he would be at dissecting those gaps, wouldn’t they?
Well, they aren’t . . . nobody is. The point is that as golfers have gotten stronger, and equipment has gotten jacked up, and the ball has gotten hotter . . . your short range scoring has suffered because the between-club gaps are too big. But too many golfers are hung up on how many “wedges” they should carry. Don’t go there. It’s all about how precise you can be in your distance control when you are in prime scoring range.
If you can stay within 30-50 feet long or short at the long end of the set, that’s fine. But to score, you need pinpoint distance control at the short end. Hogan and all his peers knew that. So they throttled back their power with their irons, and put their sets together so that their “built-in” gaps would be manageable to 10-12 yards between clubs.
Unless you a better ball-striker than Ben Hogan, maybe you should do the same.