Friday, January 29, 2010

Equipment Specs Thru The Years...

One of the things being discussed on the message board is the iron specifications for irons throughout the years. As time goes by, irons are becoming more upright, longer, lighter and with lower lofts.

For example, here's the specs for some 1972 Hogan Apex irons:


Now, let's take a look at the specs for the 2009 Mizuno MP-68 blades


Club...Loft °..... Lie °.....Length

3........21........ 59.5........38.75
4........24........ 60.0........38.25
5........27........ 60.5........37.75
6........31.........61.0........37.25
7........35........ 61.5........36.75
8........39.........62.0........36.25
9........43.........62.5........35.75
PW.....47.........63.0........35.50

And here's the specs for the new Callaway Diablo Edge irons:


Club...Loft °..... Lie °.....Length

3.........19.........60.5........39.00
4.........22.........61.0........38.50
5.........25.........61.5........38.00
6.........28.........62.0........37.50
7.........32.........62.5........37.00
8.........36.........63.0........36.50
9.........40.........64.0........36.00
PW......44.........65.0........35.50

From the '72 Apex's to the MP-68's we are seeing the following:

- about a 3* stronger lofts on average from the MP-68's, but the range goes from 2-4.5* stronger.

- about 1* more upright lie angle from the MP-68's.

- about the same clubshaft length.

Neither Mizuno or Hogan has swingweight specs, but Mizuno can make clubs any swingweight the customer wants so it is not really that important.


But, from the '72 Apex's to the Callaway Diablo Edge's there is even more of a difference:

- about a 5* stronger loft in the Callaway irons.

- about 2* more upright lies in the Callaway irons.

- about +1/4" longer shafts

I believe part of this is due to the differences in designs of the club, but also due to economics.

What I mean by that is that specs like stronger lies are due to the changes in the clubhead. Today's clubs (even the muscleback blades) have the weight and Center of Gravity) lower on the clubface and more in the middle of the club in order to make the clubs more forgiving and easier to get the ball airborne. So to counter that a bit, they make the lofts stronger.

I would actually like to re-check those specs on the clubshaft length on the '72 Apex irons because I have checked my measurements on my '63 Hogan IPT blades and they are 1/4" shorter in length than what is listed on the specs of the '72 Apex irons.

Lag Erickson (www.advancedballstriking.com) has been one of the biggest proponents of getting golfers to use vintage style irons and clubs that are heavier and flatter (along with stiffer flex shafts, but that’s because he wants golfers to really pivot with free will and not worry about the flex of the shaft). Here’s a look at Erickson’s personal club specs:

Club...Loft °..... Lie °.....Length

3……..20………53……..39.00
4……..24………54……..38.50
5……..28………55……..38.00
6……..32………56……..37.50
7……..36………56……..37.00
8……..40………57……..36.50
9……..44………57……..36.00
PW…..48………58……..35.50

It should be noted that Erickson’s irons have X100 shafts that are tipped ½ inch. That ‘tipping’ process just makes the shaft stiffer and he’s probably playing a shaft that is more like a X300 flex.

You’ll notice that Erickson’s shaft length is about standard with the Diablo Edge irons but +1/4” over the MP-68’s. His lofts are about standard with your typical blade muscleback iron today, but with those X100 shafts that are tipped ½ inch, that makes it more difficult to get the ball up in the air.

The lie angles are about 4.5 – 6 degrees FLATTER than you standard clubs. One of Erickson’s ‘heroes’ in golf was Hogan and with such flat lies, stiff shafts and heavy clubs it’s almost impossible to hit a hook with this setup.

That’s not to point out that it’s ‘bad’, I actually think it’s a smart approach to developing your swing. If you create clubs where you have to generate a very powerful pivot in order to hit them effectively, then over time you’re likely to do just that…create a powerful pivot.

In a sense, Ben Hogan did that. He created flatter clubs with super stiff shafts and his grips had a ‘reminder’ which basically forces the golfer to have a weak grip (I’ve been told that the ‘reminder’ feels like a piece of coat wire hanger underneath the grip).

Hogan’s intentions were to eliminate his hook and he tried that with creating equipment that made it hard to hook. But he soon found out that if you still have the swing flaws, you will hook the ball. But eventually he found what he needed to do to eliminate the hook for good and in the meantime he had built his swing to be able to hit those super heavy, super flat clubs with tree trunk like shafts.

Here’s some excerpts from an e-mail Tom Wishon sent to one of Erickson’s posters on his site:
I did get to meet and spend a decent amount of time that day with Gene Sheeley, who for decades was Mr. Hogan's personal clubmaker at the Hogan factory. Gene had a separate workshop from the rest of the factory that was sort of like the "sanctum sanctorum" and I was told that few got to venture into this workshop. So that was cool. Part of that time included being able to look at, check out and measure things on Mr. Hogan's personal playing sets that he had used over the years.

One of the things that was very interesting was that Hogan always played X flex steel shafts, tipped 2" additional for every club. Gene explained to me that he had originally done this back when he fought a hook so badly before he found his "swing secret" that the books and magazines since then have written so much about.

As he got rid of the hook and became the best ball striker on the planet, Gene said he remained with the 2" tip X shafts because he had developed the sense of feel to where he absolutely hated any shaft that he could feel bend during the swing, and especially when he released the club to impact. Even in 1987, when I think Mr Hogan was in his mid 70s and did not play very much anymore, the few times he headed out to Shady Oaks to hit balls, he still preferred hitting these X tipped 2" shafts in his clubs.

So the point is - we develop fitting parameters for shaft fitting but when a player has a very specific feel preference for the shaft, the textbook fitting techniques can get tossed out the window!

It's been more than 20 yrs so my recollection of the small details is not that good. Among the things I do remember. . .

I was shocked to see how sharp the leading edge was on his irons, especially his wedges. Any other player would hit 80% of his shots "fat", with this type of leading edge grind. they were also ground very flat both from face to back as well as from heel to toe.

I did not notice that the sole angles were "scoop" which is what they would have to be if they "sat 5 deg open".

The clubs were all quite flat in lie, also the woods bored that way. And when I say woods I mean wooden woods in his bag in 1987.

Face angles of the woods were closed, my guess at least 2* shut from what I recall. Gene said despite his old propensity to hook the ball badly, this was because of Hogan's "new swing move" .

And the clubs were HEAVY, I rememeber - both in total weight and in swingweight.

TOM
Extra stiff shafts tipped 2” in ridiculous. I knew one person who played shafts about that stiff, but he was also about 6’7” tall and generated tons of clubhead speed. Hogan was about 5’6” tall and 140 pounds!

But I think if you want to know why Hogan was such a great ballstriker, I think it was *partly* accidental. Had he not had issues with the hook, he may not have made changes to the equipment. In today's game it would probably have been hard to find a clubfitter willing to make clubs like that and with teaching they may have fixed his grip and he would've never made those changes to his equipment and then never quite developed the swing he had once he cured his hook.

That's not to say that it's accidental and you shouldn't bother trying to replicate it, but I think it does show that equipment often dictates the type of swing a golfer has.






3JACK

4 comments:

GG said...

Thanks Richie. Another great read.
It seems if we built a set of clubs form the green to the tee instead of from the tee to the green more of us would be happy with the old lofts on our irons. The pitching wedge would return to its rightful place in the game.

Rich H. said...

As a society, most of the time we are looking for the quick fix or to throw money at our problems. Same happens when it comes to the game. Reading the Whole Brain Planet book and it's very easy to see why hitting old blade style irons will help with your coordination and IMO, in the end help with swing mechanics.

My problem with clubfitters is that they usually don't have any idea about the golf swing and are basically fitting clubs for flaws instead of fitting golfers based on the dimensions of their body. And they are too short-term result oriented.

When I got my Mizuno's, the clubfitter wanted me to go to graphite shafts because I hit a certain graphite shaft the furthest and just as straight as any steel shaft. Of course, that did't factor in things like consistency and trajectory and the effects down the road of creating bad swing mechanics because of the lighter graphite shafts.

I have a lot of respect for Wishon's knowledge of clubs and club building, but even he shows that aspect of clubfitters with his statement about the Hogan irons having too sharp of a leading edge. If more clubs had a sharper leading edge, then it would force golfers to better learn how to hit the ball first then take a divot. A major fundamental of hittig a golf ball properly.




3JACK

Anonymous said...

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Rob Johnson said...

I'm looking for the Loft and offset of Hogan h40 oversize golf clubs