What the heck is a 9-iron anyway?
One of the driving forces behind the development of our new SCOR4161 line of precision scoring clubs is the current state of the golf equipment industry, specifically irons. The way the manufacturers have played with lofts and shaft lengths over the years -- driven by the almost maniacal quest for added distance with every club in the bag – has made it practically impossible to assign any meaning at all to the numbers on the clubs.
One of our principals of the SCOR4161 concept is that every golfer should have consistent full-swing distance gapping throughout their set. What that means is that you should be able to make a reasonable full swing with each club and rely on a distance that is 12-15 yards longer than the next shorter club, and shorter than the next longer club. But for most golfers, when they get to the shorter end of the set, this gapping becomes inconsistent, because their wedges are not synchronized with their irons. Here’s why:
In the early 1970s, lofts and lengths on irons were pretty much standard across the various brands. 9-irons, for example, were generally 44-45 degrees and about 35.25” long. Pitching wedges were 49-50 degrees and ¼” shorter. You “pitched” the ball with your “pitching wedge”. And you could change from one brand of irons to another and get pretty much the same distance from your clubs.
But, as perimeter-weighted irons made their way into the marketplace, and the equipment companies found that “longer, farther, faster” would sell golf clubs, they began to take liberties with these “standards”. Lofts slowly crept downward for any given number, moving 9-irons down to the low 40-degree range in many models. As “P-clubs” moved down to 47-48 degrees, the popular “gap” wedge of 52 degrees became popular to fill that gap between this and the sand wedge. What it really did was put a true “pitching wedge” back in the bag.
Fast forward to 2011, and the number on the bottom of the club has lost nearly all its meaning. We built a database of specifications on over 300 iron models as a foundation for our SCORFit process to calculate the right prescription for scoring clubs for any golfer. And the results were astounding.
In today’s marketplace, you can purchase sets of irons with a 9-iron ranging from 38 degrees of loft to 44 degrees of loft. “Standard” lengths of that club can range from 35.5” all the way up to almost 37”! So, the fact that you hit this new 9-iron nearly as long as your old “8” . . . is because this new 9-iron IS your old 8!
So, if you hit all your new irons longer than the old ones, what do you hit from those shorter distances that used to be a “P-club” shot?
The point is that unless you know what your 9-iron IS, you have no way to put together the right set of wedges to optimize your short range performance. But once you do know what your “9-iron” is, then you can seek out the right arsenal of wedges that will complement the specifications and full-swing distance.
If you are serious about your golf, you should know your equipment. This off season, visit a qualified custom club shop and have them build you a chart of your entire set, from driver to highest-lofted wedge. Know the length, loft, lie angle, shaft frequency, swingweight, overall weight . . . everything. Then sit back and chart your comfortable full-swing yardages with each club. Be honest! And light bulbs will go off as to where you can improve your arsenal to improve your scoring.
My money is on the fact that it’s the short end of the set.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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Gordon 1955 says:
I play with a old set of McGregor VIP irons when standard lofts were common. My usual playing partner plays with a well known new 2011 set. My 7 iron distance is about the same as his 9 iron distance - but only because his new clubs have had the loft and shaft length changed. He loves that he can hit his clubs so far - ego player who likes bragging how far he hits a ball! He forgets that I can also hit his 9 iron as far as he does. After I hit a good shot he will often ask - what club. Just to annoy him I will tell him I played was 3 clubs lower than I actually hit.
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