THE IMPORTANCE OF CLUB SET MAKEUP
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 www.wishongolf.com.
Good luck in this great game!
Tom, I came upon your article only recently. But, it reinforces what I learned after years of trial and error.After years of experimenting with various set makeups, I found a makeup that fits my game. I carry a 10.5° driver, 16.5° 3-wood, 22° heaven-wood, 4 (24°), 6 (30°), and 8 (36°) hybrids, and 46°, 50°, and 54° wedges. No irons. Oh, and a putter. What makes my set unusual is all my clubs, except the wedges, are women’s clubs. The shaft flex and shorter length has me hitting the ball 10 to 15 yards farther than the same men’s club.… Read more »
Thomas Many thanks for taking the time to stop by and spend some time with us, sharing your experiences with being VERY OPEN MINDED about your set makeup. Very few men would take a crack at what you did because there has been so much prejudice on behalf of men about women’s equipment. The only thing I would ask you to re visit would be to check on what your clubhead speed with the driver is, vs that 10.5* loft. The reason I mention this is because, if you are fine with the distance gaps between each of the hybrids… Read more »
I’m very interested in the single length irons. I’m using “1 iron golf” presently and my handicap is dropping steadily. I believe these irons can be a big advancement for golf. Let me know whats up and how can I get a hold of a set. Thanks.
MIKE 1-iron Golf does make a nice set of single length clubs so I am not surprised to hear that you like the concept of single length and feel that they can be a step forward. what we’re doing with our entry into this market in 2016 will be a little different in the sense that we are utilizing high COR face design features in the lower loft irons to enable us to make the single length shorter than what others have done, so that the shorter length yet may improve consistency a little more, but the high COR faces… Read more »
Concerning set make-up, I carry but don’t often use a 12-degree driver. I am far more consistent with a 5-wood off the tee, and form the forward tees, I often use a 4-hybrid. I believe True Temper made a study a number of years ago that showed golfers with slower swing speeds had little yardage gap between the lower lofted clubs, compared to golfers with higher swing speeds. I see a number of boxed sets being offered that contain a driver, 5-wood, 4-hybrid, and the usual compliment of irons from 5-iron up. This seems like a far better set make-up,… Read more »
FRED There is no question that as clubhead speed is lower, the distance gaps between the clubs get smaller and smaller to the point of eliminating the need for as many clubs in the set. So if you had no club lower in loft than a 5 wood, you would not really want to have a full 14 clubs in the bag at all. You could make a very good case for a set that could be 5 wood, 4 hybrid, 5 hybrid, 6 iron through gap wedge, sand wedge and putter. And if your 5 iron average clubhead speed… Read more »
Hi Tom After reading one of your articles on club the importance of club fitting, I decided to take my Cleveland driver to get custom fit here at my local club fitter in Cape Town, South Africa. The results was incredible. I used to fade close to 80% of my drives, after the fitting that dropped down to between 10% and 20% after just one day at the range. The odd shot that i do fade, I could feel that my club face was to open or I didn’t close my hands soon enough. After that fitting I decided that… Read more »
ROHANN Thank you very much for your message and thanks so much for your interest. I’m glad to hear that you started to take advantage of proper fitting technology by having your driver re fit so it works better for you. With regard to the set makeup, it very much sounds like you are already very aware of what you need to do with your set makeup so you don’t have clubs that are harder to hit but you do have clubs that can hit the ball all the distances you need which would be a little easier to hit.… Read more »
What would you class as the differences between a low lofted hybrid say 20degs and below and a wood of similar loft as they would seem to offer similar distances to the player. Would the wood be more suited to a profile of player or is it just a cosmetic preference of the player. I seem to find that the Hybrid is almost the same shape as the great four/five woods that Macgregor sold in the persimmon era.
GARY Amazingly with the length difference you would think that fwy wood distance should be more than hybrid distance, but this is just more proof that loft is so much more the reason for shot distance differences between clubs. Occasionally with some players of higher clubhead speed with a very late release, you can see a little more distance from the wood, but that’s only a tiny segment of players. The choice between the two for most players comes more from psychological perceptions than from performance related issues. Some just dislike the narrow body of the hybrid, some are the… Read more »
Won’t you need to use some sort of robotic swinging machine like the USGA’s “Iron Byron” or Pings “Pingmaan” to be sure of the yardage gaps ?
FRED: We do have our own hitting robot for testing clubhead designs and yes, for sure, all head designs get hit tested on the robot for basic performance feedback. But really, after 29 yrs in clubhead design, I learned a long time ago that you don’t really know how any model will perform until you have it hit by real golfers of different ball striking ability so you find out what golfer types get what type of shot performance from any model. Robots swing with one swing path and one angle of attack and one point of release only. HUmans… Read more »
Tom, there has been a lot of discussion amongst some of my clients recently about one length irons – you indicated to my son, Michael, who lives and plays in France, that you might be looking into the design of a set – any news on this – I would really love to try out this concept but do not want to through the prebuilt route that is the only one currently available. Correct me if I’m wrong, but would this not entail a fairly radical departure from the old gapping of lofts as well as a change in the… Read more »
Brendan I have designed the clubheads for a single length set but as yet the date for when these might be released is up in the air and not yet known for sure. But it will happen and possibly in the summer I think. One of the main challenges I faced was how to set up the head designs and loft gapping so that the set could deliver a proper distance difference between each club and still not end up hitting the ball too short in the low loft clubs or too long in the high loft clubs. That took… Read more »
I have just returned from my club fitter Wayne Fairbanks and he is currently making me up a 730cl 5 hybrid the high launch and fairway wood I had a 730cl driver and Wayne is also re shafting this for me.
I cannot wait to pick them up , practice thru the winter then the boys at my golf club had better beware next year!