Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave, you probably have taken advantage of modern technology and are hitting the ball much further than ever. In my own estimation, looking back at a lifetime of golf from the “other side of 60” now, I’m hitting my driver 20-30 yard longer than I hit the old persimmon driver in my 30s. Well, I’ll tell you something, it’s not because I’m stronger now, that’s for sure. It’s all about the ball and the driver technology.
When I was younger, I played a local municipal course that was a nice layout. Being a scratch player of reasonable length, my typical approach shots were in the 5-8 iron range on most holes, with a few longer ones and a few shorter ones. Now, on that same course, those 5-iron holes have become 9-iron shots, and the wedge lofts get a thorough workout. And I still play Reid Lockhart blade irons with traditional lofts, so I actually hit them a little shorter than I did back then. The difference is all in the driver and ball.
I’m sure the same has happened to all of you, but is being that much closer to the green lowered your handicap significantly? According to the industry statistics . . . NO. Not at all. So why not?
You’re hitting approach shots with less club than ever before – which is the whole idea behind trying to hit it further off the tee, right? But you are not scoring better. Why not?
Well, my answer is that while technology has totally changed how far you hit your driver, fairways, hybrids and irons, it has also given you fewer true scoring clubs by jacking up the lofts. The wedges you are playing look and play just like those you had in your bag 20-30 years ago (in what other category could that fly?). And you probably have not done a careful review of your wedge lofts in years, still playing the same lofts you did 2-3 sets of irons ago, even though your new “P-club” is a stronger club than your old 9-iron or even 8-iron used to be.
I was amazed to read that this week’s winner, Ted Potter, Jr. carries only wedges of 54 and 60 degrees of loft, but selected a 9-iron for his 164 yard approach on 18. So, that would lead me to believe he can hit 6-iron about 200. So, he at least 6 clubs that go over 200 and only 3 that go less than 165. That’s just crazy and totally illogical. Yes, he won, but that just makes no sense. Inside prime scoring range, he has to continuously manufacture shots to get close to the hole. Readers, that just cannot work with consistency.
Forget the notion of carrying “4-5 wedges”. Think of it as having the right selection of clubs available so that you can dial in shots of any distance by making the same swing, and only varying your hand position on the grip and maybe the face angle slightly. You can’t get there if you have 20-25 yard gaps between your scoring range clubs. If “the other guy” would have had the confidence in his wedge play that a tour player should, he would have laid back on the second play-off hole, given himself a clean fairway wedge shot, and known that he could stick it close to the hole and make Potter look at that while he was facing that little pitch. The outcome might have been totally different.
My whole point is that technology has compressed your clubs to the long distances, and left you fewer options when you are in scoring range.
You should really fix that.