Are you wasting money on clubs you seldom play? More importantly, are you denying yourself opportunities to play better and enjoy the game more, simply because you’re playing a set makeup that is unsuited for your game? I would wager that an expert in clubfitting would echo a resounding “yes” to both questions for the majority of golfers.

Since the 1980s, golf equipment manufacturers have forced major changes in the specifications of the clubs with which we all play the game. It all started when the major brand golf companies started to decrease the lofts of each iron, which up until the 1980s were set to standards that almost every club manufacturer respected and adhered to.

  • 3-irons, which used to be a tough-to-hit 24° loft clubhead on a good day, have been de-lofted over the past three decades to 18° to 20° (becoming LESS than a 2-iron)
  • 4-irons, which historically were set at a 28° loft, have been reduced in loft to between 21° and 23° (becoming less than a 3-iron);
  • 5-irons, which before had been designed with a 32° loft, have been de-lofted to between 23° and 25° (thus becoming what a 3-iron used to be) and in a few iron sets in the late 2010s, to as little as 21.5°!

The #6, 7, 8, 9 and PW have also been subjected to a decrease in loft, although in varying increments of reduction. Why? Well, companies got the bright idea that if every iron in the bag was de-lofted, they could market them with the appealing claim: “OUR CLUBS HIT THE BALL OVER A FULL CLUB LONGER!” Which of course is exactly what happened.  In a highly competitive golf equipment industry, rolling back lofts was little more than a way to sell tons of “new and improved” golf clubs to appeal to golfers’ desires for more distance. But even more infamous and damaging was the fact that from this shrinking of lofts, the 3, 4 and 5 irons swiftly became a whole lot harder to hit for the vast majority of golfers.

 Take a look at your own bag: Which clubs are shiny, and which are well worn? For the majority of golfers, the low number irons are practically untouched. Designing clubs with cavity backs or exotic metals really didn’t help hitting those “new and improved” de-lofted lower number clubs all that much because low lofts require higher clubhead speeds and more skilled swing characteristics to hit high enough to achieve maximum carry distance.

So what did the industry do to compensate (and sell more golf clubs)? For a time, there was a small effort to offer 7 and 9 woods to substitute for the hard to hit low loft irons but higher numbered fairway woods somehow fall short of satisfying most golfers’ egos. That’s when hybrids were introduced.

So this is why we’re at the point where golfers seldom use their 3, 4 and even their 5 and 6 irons. Plus, for the most part, they’re also very confused about hybrids… which for most golfers are necessary for consistently hitting longer-iron distances into the greens and on longer par-3 holes.

The fact is, hybrids are a wonderful product, an ingenious alternative to hitting today’s hard-to-hit long irons. They can be:

  • Easier to get airborne than an iron of the same loft
  • Possibly more accurate on longer length par-3s
  • Able to be hit more consistently from both short and long grass
  • Effective from hard-pan
  • Better suited for bump and run shots from around the greens.

Hybrids really are easier to hit high to fly and achieve proper carry distance than irons of the same loft ifthe hybrids are professionally fit to the golfer—custom built from scratch with quality designed components and custom fit to match each golfer’s individual swing characteristics. We always advocate professional club fitting—it’s the single best way for any golfer to play better—but when it comes to hybrids, professional clubfitting is absolutely critical to ensure consistent distance gaps.

For more, I invite you to watch this video that details the importance of club set makeup. To find a clubfitter with whom to work to be properly fit, take a moment to click on the Find a Clubfitter link found at the top of the home page on

Good luck in this great game!

Tom Wishon