Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How To Remove Offset On An Iron

Interesting video for golfers looking to remove the offset from their golf clubs. Obviously meant for forged irons. I would probably try it with an old set of cavity backs first.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Homemade Swingweight Scale

Here's a link to a page on how to make your own homemade swingweight scale.


1.75 points = 1 Swingweight Point


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Straight Spine vs. Rounded Spine

A lot of golfers and instructors talk about 'posture', wanting the spine to be 'straight' at address. Here golf professional Ted Long, explains a few reasons why a straight spine is not good for a golf swing.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Forged vs. Cast

I've spoken to a few readers thru e-mail about clubs lately and they've asked some questions on forged clubs vs. cast. One of the big reasons why is Ping Golf has made their first forged irons in the Ping Anser irons.


Ping has always favored the cavity back irons. Karsten Solheim got the company off the ground with its cavity back putters (which most considered to be 'ugly') and then had mega success with the Ping Eye 2 irons.

I think Ping's success in the irons market has changed dramatically as more golfers who favor the game improvement or player cavity back irons are going to the Mizuno (forged), Callaway (forged) and Titleist (forged) irons. Plus, the Japanese market greatly favors the forged club over the cast clubs.

We also have to remeber that for awhile you could not forge cavity back irons I think this combination is why it took awhile for Ping to get into the forged game.


Take a look at this video by Mizuno.

So the difference is that with cast they melt the metal into a molten liquid and pour that molten liquid into an iron molding that looks like this:

Then they let it cool down and it takes the shape of that iron head, then they grind it down into an iron head.

With forged, they take the steel and make it red hot, but it stays in solid form and they use a metal stamp press that takes the shape of an iron head.


1. It will generally feel softer. It's a bit hard to describe. The Tour players talk about how they feel that they've got 'better control over the ball', but it does just feel better.

2. Because forged is generally softer, one can manipulate the lie angles and lofts much easier and thus the clubs can be much more customized.

3. Typically muscleback blades are forged and cavity backs are cast (although that is changing) and many golfers prefer more of a blade style iron.


1. Typically cavity back irons are cast and many golfers prefer cavity backs over muscleback blades.

2. Forging costs a lot more because of the labor. Forging is skilled labor.


They didn't have the technology that they have today where they can take forged steel and put it into press that will have it take the shape of a cavity back iron head.

Forged Cavity backs have been around for a little while though. In fact, I believe the Hogan Edge irons were the first ever irons that were forged cavity backs.


Yes...and no.

There was a test done on this awhile ago where the results were that 'golfers couldn't tell the difference between a forged or a cast club.' If I recall, it was done by Ping.

The problem was the test was flawed because it tested the same type of steel, it just forged the steel for one club and cast the steel for another club.

Forged irons will usually be made from carbon steel that is numbered. Such as:

- 1018
- 1020
- 1025
- 1028
- 1030
- 1035

There are others, but I think you get the point.

The problem is that you cannot make cast clubs from any of thoe metals.

Cast irons are made from metal like 17-4 stainless steel or 8620 carbon steel. I believe the Ping test was done where they forged 17-4 and cast 17-4.

So if a company forges a club from say 1025 carbon steel, there will be a noticeably softer feel in that compared to a 17-4 stainless steel cast iron.


I think it does and this Mizuno video shows the difference

But like I stated, if the forged iron is made from a softer steel, it's just softer...period.


Again, it's the steel that is used.

In the carbon steel that starts with the numbers '10' (ie. 1025 carbon steel, 1028 carbon steel), the lower the number, the softer the steel. So 1020 carbon steel is softer than 1035 carbon steel. The 8620 steel, which you see in Vokey wedges (although they are cast) is actually pretty soft in its own right, but 1025 is softer.

There is a lot of talk about the forging process making the steel softer. I think there may be some slight merit to that. I think Mizuno's 'grain flow forging process' which is designed to remove any air bubbles from the forged steel, seems to have some merit. But if an iron has 1020 steel in it, it will probably be softer than Mizuno's 1025 grain flow forged steel.

Here's a list of some of the different companies that use different types of steel in their process.

1018 - Scratch Golf (only company)

1020 - Bridgestone, old Hogan irons, Golfsmith MacGregor VIP, old Wilson Staff, Callaway.

1025 - Mizuno, Titleist, Nike.

1028 - Blade Golf

1030 - Dynacraft

1035 - Wishon Golf

8620 - Cleveland Golf (both forged and cast clubs), Ping (Anser only), Scratch (select wedges only)

17-4 - Ping


Monday, November 22, 2010

Lynn Blake and the Flying Wedges

Great video for those who are learning Homer Kelley's 'The Golfing Machine', featuring 3Jack Top 50 Instructor Lynn Blake


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Best Father-Son Golf Swing

A video of Grant Waite and his son, Osten, hitting shots side by side. Doesn't get much better than this.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

PocketPro 2010

A very neat piece of technology coming up in the PocketPro 2010


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Updated Shaft Spine Alignment Thoughts

I was asked the other day by a blog reader if I thought spine alignment of the shafts are important.

First, let’s take a look at a video showing what spine alignment is and how it is executed.

Spine alignment is mostly there to take out the shaft droop (aka toe droop or toe down) that happens at impact.

Here’s a pic of what shaft droop looks like.

And here’s a photo of a club that has been spine aligned.

According to studies, shaft droop alone can cause a golfer’s lie angle to change by 0.58 to 2.0*. And from what we know about Trackman, if you miss the sweetspot by ONE DIMPLE with an iron that is hit 170 yards…that will knock the ball off-line by about 3 yards. And if you miss by ONE DIMPLE with a driver hit 250 yards…that will knock the ball off-line by 10 yards. And one dimple off the sweetspot is such a marginal amount that the golfer will not actually feel that off center strike. Instead it will feel like a sweetspot hit, but will have actually missed the sweetspot and move the ball flight off-line.

Here’s also some research from Professor Sasho Mackenzie



(note: I paraphrased what MacKenzie has written for the sake of brevity)
For an optimized swing that generated a clubhead speed of 45 m/s (95 mph clubhead speed), with a shaft of regular stiffness, toe-down shaft deflection was 2.27 cm at impact. Toe-down shaft deflection had relatively no influence on dynamic loft. For every centimeter increase in toe-down shaft deflection, dynamic closing of the clubface decreased by approximately 0.5 degrees
First, let’s understand that MacKenzie is not saying that every golfer with a swing speed of 95 mph will generate 2.27 cm of toe droop. It’s a model that he used and that’s the measurements he got. Still though, for every 1 cm of toe droop, it will close the clubface by 0.5*. So with this model:

2.27 cm of toe droop x 0.5* clubface close = 1.13 closed clubface

While I like Steve Elkington’s demonstration of the ‘line test’ to test lie angles, I’m surprised that he has forgone getting his shafts spine aligned. The ‘line test’ helps with the change in the lie angles as the shaft droops at impact. But, it doesn’t account for the clubface closing.

Let’s say you have typically a very good golf swing with a path that ranges in the 0 to +1.0* range (inside-to-out) and a face that goes from the -0.5* (closed) to +0.5* (open) range. Let’s say that you take two swings. The first swing with a spine aligned shaft and the clubface is at -0.5* (closed) and +1.0* path (inside-to-out). That would probably result in a draw that misses slightly left of the target. But let’s say you take the same swing with a shaft droop of 2.27 cm, now the face gets more closed. Instead of being -0.5* closed, it would now be -1.6* closed and your path is still at +1.0*. That would result in a bigger miss left (and that doesn’t account for the possible mis-hit off the toe). And if you’re Elkington, that could result in a shot that falls in a bunker instead of being on the green and 1 shot could be a major difference between winning a tournament and finishing in 2nd place.

The ‘rub’ is that typically steel shafts and iron shafts have less shaft droop. And the cost of spine alignment can be expensive. So for a PGA Tour professional, it should be a no-brainer. For the semi-serious amateur, it’s an issue of cost and whether it’s worth it or no. I would highly recommend getting your driver shaft and your 3-wood and if you carry a hybrid, spine aligned.

I’ve discussed the effects of a driver and toe droop, but often times we will use a 3-wood or a hybrid off the tee on a tighter par-4. So you don’t want to miss those off-line either.


Monday, November 15, 2010

MacKenzie Swing Plane Research

Yesterday I introduced the blog to Professor Sasho MacKenzie, showing his wonderful, one armed swing.

Professor MacKenzie learned how to swing so powerfully with one arm thru his extensive research in human kinetics. I was pointed in the direction of his research on the swing plane


Here’s what I gather from it:

By manipulating the initial amount of forearm rotation, the affect of starting the downswing with the club ‘above’ and ‘below’ the swing plane was evaluated
.We’ll take a simple, 2-dimensional model of a swing plane (the swing plane is actually 3D, but we won’t get into that at this moment).

MacKenzie tested what the results would be, via some manipulation of the forearm rotation, when the clubhead is above the plane versus when it is below the plane in the initial part of the downswing.

Starting the club below the swing plane generated positive angular momentum about the longitudinal axis of lead arm resulting in the club face completely squaring at impact. Starting the club above the swing plane generated negative angular momentum resulting in the clubface remaining significantly open to the target line at impact
So if the clubhead starts below the plane, the clubface will square up at impact. If it gets above the plane in the startdown, the clubface will open up at impact.

Then he shows models of this on his Web site (pay close attention to where the clubhead is at the beginning of the swing in his mechanical models on his site).

I think most of us understood this to some degree. Although it does say that they need to manipulate the forearms to some degree to get the clubhead above the plane or below the plane.

A couple of things I think from this:

1. If this is the case, I do not favor Brian Manzella’s ‘tumble’ move. I would prefer what he calls the ‘reverse tumble.’

I think his ‘tumble’ move can work, but I’d be too afraid to do that with fear of getting the clubhead above the plane in the startdown.

2. We’ve discussed controlling the face versus controlling the path first. This basically shows how the path could cause the face to get open at impact. However, instead of thinking ‘swing out to right field’, perhaps we need to worry about the forearm rotation on the start-down.

3. Lastly, I think this study favors heavier clubs. Like Brian discussed in his video, you’ll need some gravity to help reverse-tumble the club. I think lighter clubs make it harder for gravity to take over and do its job.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Sasho MacKenzie

Meet St. Francis Xavier University Associate Professor in Human Kinetics, Sasho MacKenzie.

Now take a look at his ability to swing a club with one arm.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hardstepping, Softstepping and Tipping

A blog reader said that he watched the Mizuno Optimizer video and wondered what they meant by ‘hard stepping’ and ‘soft stepping’ a shaft?

I’m not exactly an expert on club making and repair, but I’ll give my best shot.


First, we need to understand that there are 2 different types of golf shafts, ‘parallel’ tip and ‘taper’ tip. The main difference in these shafts is their tip diameter.

The ‘taper’ tip has a smaller tip diameter of 0.355” compared to the bigger tip diameter of the parallel tip shaft which is at 0.370”.

However, there are some other differences in these shafts as well.

PARALLEL TIP (0.370 tip diameter)

Shafts do not come in their length and the clubmaker does not just insert them into the club, puts a grip on them and gives them to the golfer. Instead, let’s say you want to replace a 37.75” shaft in a 5-iron of yours with another 37.75” shaft. When you order the shaft and get it in the mail, it will come in at a length much longer than 37.75”. For instance, KBS Tour parallel tip shafts come in the mail at 43.5” long.

From there, you trim the shaft down to the desired length by trimming the butt end of the shaft.

The thing with parallel tips is ‘one size fits all.’ So if you want a parallel tip KBS Shafts…one for a 3-iron and one for a 9-iron, you would basically get the same shaft. You would get 2 shafts that are both 43.5” long and then you would just cut the shaft from the butt end to the length you want the club at. So if your 3-iron is 39” long and your 9-iron is 36” long, you just cut the shaft from the butt end to those lengths.

TAPER TIP (0.355 tip diameter)

With taper tip, you do not get the ‘same shaft.’ The shafts will still be much longer than the shaft you play with in the club. For instance, a 9-iron may have a shaft length of 38” long. But the 3-iron may have a shaft length of 41” long. In essence, each club has its own shaft to accompany it. So if you are looking to purchase a taper tip shaft for your 3-iron, you need to order a 3-iron taper tip shaft. If you are looking for a taper tip shaft for a 7-iron, you need to order a 7-iron taper tip shaft.


Part of what we need to understand is that stiffer shafts tend to weigh more. For their taper tip version, KBS Tour regular flex shafts weigh 110 grams. Their stiff flex weighs at 120 grams. And their X-Stiff weighs at 130 grams.

For their parallel tip version, the regular flex weighs at 120 grams and their stiff and x-flex weighs at 130 grams.

Back in the 90’s and before that, when OEM’s started to really mass produce clubs, shafts were a big problem because their Quality Control of determining the flex of the shafts was dependent upon just weighing the shaft. If their stiff flex was supposed to weigh 120 grams, they’d weigh it and if it measured at 120 grams (or close to it), they’d mark it a stiff flex, even if in reality it was a very weak or very stiff shaft. These days the QC for golf shafts is much better.

Also, a stiffer shaft will typically launch the ball lower than its weaker shaft counterparts. So, if you have a True Temper Dynamic golf R300 (regular flex) and a X100 (x-stiff), the X-100 will launch lower and weigh more.


Hardstepping and Softstepping is done with taper tip shafts. Hardstepping makes the shaft for that club a bit stiffer. If I hardstep a 6-iron one time, that means I’m putting a 7-iron shaft (a shaft that is stiffer) and putting it in a 6-iron. Conversely, if I soft step a 5-iron once, I’m making it a weaker flex and thus putting a 4-iron shaft (a shaft that has more flex) into a 5-iron.


Like I mentioned, you can only hardstep and softstep with a taper tip (0.355 diameter) shaft. Remember, the taper tip shafts are the ones that have a specific shaft for each club.

Thus, when we hardstep a 38” 5-iron. We are putting the 6-iron shaft in and still cutting it to 38”.

Let’s say we get a 5-iron and 6-iron taper tip shafts in the mail and they are both X-Stiff flex. The 5-iron may come in the mail at 39” long. And the 6-iron shaft may come in at 38.5” long. Let’s say we want to hard step a 5-iron once with the X-Stiff shaft, even though the 5-iron and 6-iron shafts are the same flex, because the 6-iron shaft is shorter it will naturally ‘play’ a bit stiffer than the longer 5-iron shaft.

You CANNOT hardstep or softstep parallel tip (0.370 diameter) shafts. The main reason is that parallel tip shafts come in the mail at the same length whereas taper tip has that variable length.


Hardstepping and softstepping is done mainly to get ‘in between’ shaft flexes. Let’s say that you are prescribed to soft step S300 True Temper Dynamic Gold Shafts one time in your irons. What that is trying to do is give you a shaft that is between True Temper’s S300 (stiff) and their R300 (regular) shaft flex. I believe the general rule of thumb is that 1 time hardstep/softstep will change the flex by ½ (somewhere in between shaft flexes). And if you hardstep/softstep twice, that changes it by 1 entire flex (so a S300 shaft hardstepped twice will now become like a X100 shaft).

But there are other reasons for doing this as well.

Since stiffer shafts typically weigh more and launch the ball lower, we may use that to our advantage.

Let’s say we want to soft step a KBS X-Stiff shaft two times (for example, putting a 3-iron shaft into a 5-iron clubhead). What will happen is:

1. The shaft will effectively play like a Stiff Flex instead of an X-Stiff flex.
2. The shaft weight will be somewhere between what a stiff flex and X-stiff flex play like.
3. The shaft launch will be somewhere between what a stiff flex and X-Stiff flex play like


Parallel tip shafts were mostly a design of OEM’s so they could more easily and more cost effectively mass produce the iron shafts. Instead of having to ‘customize’ a shaft for each iron, they could just create a shaft that would fit into all iron heads that have the diameter for it. Also, if you have a taper tip clubhead, but a parallel shaft, you can always have the head drilled to 0.370 diameter and fit the shaft in. I have a 5-iron that I practice with that I had drilled to a 0.370 diameter.

With parallel tip shafts if they want to alter the flex, they will ‘tip’ the shaft. Tipping the shaft is when they cut the shaft from the tip end. You can do this with parallel tip (0.370 shafts). However, you cannot do that with the taper tip shafts (0.355) because the club will not fit into the head of you try to tip a taper tip shaft.

So let’s say you have a 5-iron you want re-shafted with a KBS parallel tip shaft and you want it tipped ½” with a total shaft length of 37.75” long.

Parallel tip KBS shafts are 43.5” long. So you would cut down ½” from the tip end (which now makes the shaft 43” long) and then trim the shaft down to 37.75” from the butt end of the shaft.

Some clubmakers prefer parallel tip shafts because you can more precisely measure the frequency needed by tipping a shaft over hard stepping/ soft stepping a shaft. One of the ways to measure this is thru a shaft frequency machine.

The frequency machines measure shaft flex by shaft ‘vibration.’ They will have the club go up and down and then measure the ‘cycles per minute’ (cpm). The higher the cycles per minute, the stiffer the flex of the shaft.

IIRC, a shaft that measures at 300 cycles per minute is considered stiff. At 310 cpm you are starting to get into the X-stiff range. At 290 cpm you are in the regular flex range.

So clubmakers feel like they can tip a parallel tip shaft and more easily get the cpm’s where they want it.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sevam1 on Wristbreak

Here's a Sevam1 video (it's part of a new site he's created) on his thoughts on 'wrist break.'


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Does a Draw Go Further Than a Fade?

On Manzella’s forum, somebody asked the question ‘does a draw go further than a fade?’

I think it’s a good question to ask because it’s one of those questions that your average amateur, who does not get lessons and is not on the internet looking for swing instruction information, doesn’t really quite understand.

Provided that the typical factors of distance are equal (clubhead speed, attack angle, hitting the sweetspot, etc), the draw will typically go further than the fade. Particularly for higher handicap golfers. And understanding how the ball flies makes it easier to understand.


If you hit a draw that comes back to the target, the clubface needs to be open at impact to the target to some degree. The path will be going out to the right (inside-to-out) than where the face is pointing.

In the Hoffman video above, let’s say his clubface is 2* open (right) of the target at impact. In order to hit that draw, he would probably have to have a club path that is about 4* to the right (inside-to-out) of the target. That 4* path is 2* to the right of the face at impact. Thus the ‘push-draw.’

With the clubface open, that adds some loft to the club. When you add the loft, that makes the ball fly higher and stay in the air for a longer time, all of which can help hit the ball longer. There’s obviously a point of diminishing returns, but in general if you want to hit the ball longer, you need to hit it higher.

In fact, that’s a good piece of chipping advice. The higher you hit a chip, the longer it will likely go.

Anyway, from there, the ‘draw spin’ put on the ball causes the ball to ‘spin less.’ There is no overspin on a ball that is struck reasonably well and is hit with a draw. However, there is ‘less spin’ and that is what happens with the draw.


If you hit a fade that comes back to the target, the clubface has to be closed with relation to the target and the path has to be left (outside-to-in) of the face. So let’s say I hit a nice baby fade at the target, my face may be -1* left (closed) and the path may be -2.5* left (outside-to-in). So the path winds up being -1.5* left of the face at impact.

But like the opposite of the draw, the face is closed which de-lofts the club and the fade spin will likely speed up the spin rpm’s. My dad is a good example of this as he’s managed to give himself a pretty consistent swing, but his face is dead shut at impact and his path is probably around -10* left (outside-to-in) of the target. He keeps it in play because he’s got the face closed enough. But he loses distance because he de-lofts the club with that closed face. That also helps him with being more accurate (the ball gets on the ground quicker instead of staying in the air and being moved by the wind, etc). But with that over the top move he doesn’t get much clubhead speed and with that closed face he doesn’t get the ball very high up in the air.


For the most part, the great golfers who hit fades more or less hit a push fade. Well, how can this be? Wouldn’t they miss the target well to the right?

Not exactly.

The big thing these golfers do, guys like Colin Montgomerie and Couples is that they start off by aiming their body well left of the target. But then they’ll have the face closed to the target, but open to where their body is aligned.

Monty has a path of -6* left of the target (outside-to-in). So let’s say Monty’s face is closed by -2* (left) with relation to the target. So the ball will probably start out about -3* left of the target and then fade back to the target.

But the face never actually is closed by the golfer’s swing because they are aiming out to the left to begin with. Since that is the case, then the clubface is not being de-lofted by the golfer because that’s where they were aiming to begin with.


Golfers like Trevino fascinate me because they figured a way to hit the ball well after countless hours of practice and fine tuning their swing and despite their unorthodox looking swing, they developed into really good ballstrikers.

I used to have a roommate like this in college. He had a very closed stance at address, super strong grip and a clubface that was wide open and he swung on a very vertical backswing and downswing plane and hit the ball extremely well, typically with a baby fade. But he would always tell me how in high school he used to hit hooks and then one day they stopped without any instruction.

What we know about Trevino is that he famously fought a nasty hook and once he was able to eliminate that, he wound up being a fade ball player, one of the greatest ballstrikers of all time, and a phenomenal shotmaker who could work the ball in any direction (although is preferred shot was a fade).

Trevino was the typical ‘push-fader’, and look at his setup.

But if you also look at his address position, he had the ball played pretty well back in his stance and had a pretty strong grip.

I think what probably happened to Trevino was he had a pretty decent swing to start off with and because he played the ball back in his stance and because he worked on hitting down on the ball because of the Texas hardpan, his attack angle was very steep and that moved his path out to the right.

Eventually he learned to ‘hang on’ and how aiming well left (or as he said, ‘aim left, swing right, walk straight) helped him. I’m not sure what exactly was first, but I get the feeling that he learned to aim left first and then ‘hang on’ with the hands next.

And that produced a push-fade for him. And if he wanted to hit more of a draw, he would just swing the same, but change his stance and where he aimed the face.

But the main point is typically a draw goes further than a fade, but not always. And in today’s game where it is far easier to hit up on the driver with the modern technology, a lot of faders hit the ball further because typically hitting up with the driver leads to a shot that fades.


Monday, November 8, 2010

How to get to teach PGA Tour players

I get asked by a lot of prospective instructors or current instructors looking to get better and build a bigger clientele base ‘how does one get to teach PGA Tour pros?

Here’s perhaps the most common way.

The ability to demonstrate your own abilities and to do it extremely well will always catch the eye of PGA Tour players. Mike Bennett (hitting shots here) is considered by many one of the best ballstrikers in the world and people who have told me they have seen him in person hit balls, say it’s one of the most impressive things you will watch in golf.

That’s how Sevam1 got hooked up with Steve Elkington.

Elk was impressed with Sevam’s ability and swing along with his theories and brought him in for a discussion and to see if he could really hit the ball as well as it looked on video. When he did they got to talking more about swing philosophies and theories and hit it off and the rest is history.

The same with Geoff Mangum:

Geoff can flat out putt and that draws the interest of PGA Tour pros. And it helps that he knows how to teach putting as well as anybody in the world.

Of course, there are other factors. Location is important, particularly being located in mini-tour hotbeds like Florida and Arizona. And some guys like Hank Haney happen to be in the right place at the right time, have success with one player (O’Meara) and they have friends that will help them as well.

Personally, I am more interested in knowledge and being able to teach that knowledge and having an ability to decipher what my issues are and how to correct them than an instructor’s actual ability.

I like to point out football kicking coach Doug Blevins. Blevins, a quadriplegic, has never kicked a football in his life…yet he’s one of the best kicking coaches ever.

But it’s nice to have somebody with ability to demonstrate and knows the rigors and how good players think.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ten Tips For Clubfitting

was asked about clubfitting on the 3Jack Golf Forum and I wanted to give my current thoughts on clubfitting (although I reserve to change my mind).

The problem with clubfitting is that there’s a gap between the agenda of the clubfitter and the golfer and more often than not, both sides do not understand enough to bridge the gap. The clubfitter doesn’t know enough about the swing and the golfer’s agenda to keep those in mind when prescribing the specs for the golfer and the golfer usually doesn’t know enough about how to develop their swing and doesn’t know enough about equipment to figure out if the prescription is a good one. It’s much like sending your car to the shop for repairs, often times you don’t know what the hell the mechanic is saying and you would love to have that knowledge to understand if the mechanic knows what he’s talking about or not. Hopefully this post will give some knowledge to golfers when it comes to club fitting.

Probably one of the worst things to happen to the game is that golfers over the past 15 years have become less knowledgeable about equipment and less willing to make tweaks to the equipment to better fit their swing. I grew up playing golf in the late 80’s and back then it was common to see good golfers using lead tape to get the clubs to feel like they want them to. I suspect that most good golfers back then (and prior to that) played with heavier irons and heavier swingweights than they do now, as I’m one of the few I ever see using lead tape on the irons. And it’s just more than lead tape, good golfers back then (and prior to then) were noted to bend lie angles and lofts, fool around with grips, etc. Ben Hogan is as good of an example as any with his X-Stiff shafts that were tipped 2 inches, the reminder rib in his grip to force him to have a weak grip, his D7 swingweights, and 6* flat lie angles. Even back then they didn’t make irons with those specs. Mr. Hogan dabbled into what he thought would work best for him until he came up with what he believe was the best set of specs for him. These days golfers, from all levels, pretty much play whatever clubs their clubfitter tells them to play.

One of the major issues that golfers and clubfitters tend to not understand is that you can make your swing worse, much worse, if you play with clubs that are fitted to your swing. Let’s say you are not swinging quite well and you are coming over the top with a high handle at impact, that will cause you to hit shots off the toe. The clubfitter will prescribe something like +2* upright lie angles and then over time, those +3* upright angles will force you to have a more upright downswing plane with a higher handle at impact. And eventually what could happen is that you’ll start hitting shots off the toe again and then be prescribed for even more upright lie angles.

Here’s a few of my basic rules:

1. Club lengths for irons should be no more than -1/4” to +1/4” from standard (unless you are 6’6” or taller).

Shaft length is mostly there for distance gapping purposes. A 7-iron is shorter than a 6-iron, in part to make sure you don’t hit them the same length. If you make your irons something like +1”, then you are basically designing them to go further, which is not the #1 priority when it comes to irons. The other problem? You have effectively made the lie angle more upright which will further risk you possibly coming over the top. The standard 5-iron length today is about 37.75 inches long, so I would suggest that taller players go no more than 38” long and shorter players go no more than 37.5” long.

2. You do have the Mizuno Shaft Optimizer, which is a good thing.

The Mizuno Shaft Optimizer is a simple way to determine what flex of shaft is best for you and can pretty much tell you this for any brand of shaft on the market. All that it takes is you have to hit a special Mizuno club that has a monitor on it and you hit a few shots with it. You then read the numbers on the monitor and punch them into the computer program they have and they will give you a top 3 shafts for your swing and the flex needed along with any other flexes for shafts out on the market. When I used the shaft optimizer with Ted Fort http://www.mariettagolfcenter.com/instruction_tfort.htm, it said that the best shaft for me was a Dynamic Gold SL S300, hardstepped once. I then asked about the KBS shafts and it said I could use a KBS Tour stiff, hardstepped once.

Amazingly, it’s very accurate as I tried the KBS shaft out and it fit to perfection. And I’ve heard others say the same thing with their experience with the shaft optimizer. It’s a really great piece of innovative technology.

3. Avoid upright lie angles like the plagued.

We have to remember that the overwhelming majority of clubs today are designed solely for the weekend hacker. One of the things that club designers like to do is to make lie angles more upright. Why? Because it makes it harder for the golfer to hit the #1 shot that most golfers hit….the slice.

Vintage irons of the past had 5-irons with 59-60* lie angles as ‘standard specs.’ Today we are seeing lie angles typically at 61-62* for a 5-iron as standard specs. And what’s even crazier is that when you go to clubfitters, they’ll usually say you need clubs that are 1 or 2* upright from standard, so you could wind up playing a 64* lie angle with a 5-iron!

I think a good rule of thumb is to go no higher than 60* with a 5-iron. Trackman’s ‘rule of thumb’ is that you need to ‘swing left’ ½ of the amount of your attack angle in order to square up the path. But, that is IF your vertical swing plane (aka downswing plane) is at 60*. I think there is a connection here with that and the standard 5-iron and I’ve found that it’s tougher to ‘swing left’ if your lie angles are too upright.

4. CP and CF Likely Require Different Lie Angles.

The left pics show a CP Release and the right pics show a CF Release. I could be wrong on this, but I believe that CP releases will likely require flatter lie angles because the handle is likely to be lower at impact. That being said, I would recommend not going upright with a CF release. I would probably keep it no more upright than the standard 60-61* for a 5-iron. Most golfers CF release though, but for those looking to learn the CP release, they probably need some flatter lie angles.

5. Driver length should be about the same distance as a measurement from the ground to about 1” above the belly button.

One of the major problems with drivers these days is that they are too long for most golfers and then the golfer cannot get the proper waist bend and that forces them to turn the shoulders too flat which causes them to come over the top and lose their balance. I’m 6’4” tall and from the ground to 1” above my belly button is 44.75”. So imagine those guys who are 5’8” tall and using 46.5” drivers.

6. Keep Your Iron Shafts weights to 115 grams and heavier

This is if you are interested in developing your swing. Light shafts are designed to make the irons go further, which is not the #1 priority with iron play. They also get the golfer into poor mechanics. If you’re not too interested in developing your swing and you are older or a female, then lighter shafts are for you. It amazes me how many female collegiate golfers use graphite in their irons, one of the reasons why I find most female golfers swing mechanics to be poor compared to the men.

7. You should keep your swingweights at least at D-2 or heavier.

Again, light clubs ingrain bad mechanics much more easier. I would recommend that the 2-4 irons be the lightest swing weight, the 5-8 irons being the middle swingweights and the 9 – LW being the heaviest. You may prefer a set with something like a d2 in the 3-5 irons, d4 in the 6-9 irons and d6 in the PW-LW. But, that’s up to you. However, I would suggest to avoid going light if possible.

8. Avoid lie boards and use the line test instead.

Awhile ago I came across a nice research paper that I have been looking for ever since, but cannot find it. However, the one thing it mentioned was that lie boards ‘lie.’ In fact it said that lie boards almost always call for more upright lie angles than the golfer actually needs to have. The problem is I cannot find the article to try and verify the research. However, it made a lot of sense to me…if anything…because every time I’ve seen somebody get on a lie board they are told they need the club made more upright.

I find the ‘line test’ to make much more sense as a way to figure out the lie angle.


I would probably suggest that you do this on your own because I think 99% of the clubfitters out there will not use the line test. I would recommend starting off with your 5-iron and seeing what happens with that. I would keep in mind that I really don’t want a 5-iron with a lie angle more upright than 60-61*. If the line test tells you that you need to go flatter, you may want to guestimate how much, we’ll say 2* and then get the club bent and try the line test again. And eventually tweak it until you get it right. Then you can bend the rest of the clubs. From there you can try the line test with the rest of the clubs (because the line test accounts for shaft droop, so unless you had your shafts ‘pured’, the shaft droop could make the necessary lie angle different).

9. Prefer forged over cast

I prefer forged over cast because if anything, I can always change the lie angles and lofts if needed with forged over cast. I also feel that there is generally a difference in feel over say 1025 carbon steel that is forged versus 8620 carbon steel that is cast. So the feedback is greater.

10. Cavity Backs vs. Blades

Here's a post I did awhile ago on a study done on blades vs. cavity backs.



Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Search For New Irons

On my forum I mentioned that I was considering more modern sets of irons for 2011. The big reason being mostly has to due with power, trajectory and bounce angles of the vintage irons I play. The set I play best with are the 1967 Hogan PC5 irons.

But when you are looking to play at a high level of amateur golf where courses can often range from 7,300 to 7,600 yards long, power with the irons becomes more important. Particularly on long par-4’s and long par-3’s where you need to parachute the longer irons into greens so they have a shot at holding the green. A great example of this was watching the ’09 Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta. IIRC, the 6th hole is a 215 yard par-3 island green. #18 is 240 yard par-3 that goes uphill. Watching the shorter, but much more accurate Brian Gay attempt to play this course versus the much more wild but longer Tiger Woods was a shining example of how the game has changed in the past 20 years to what I call ‘carry golf.’ Gay could hit a hybrid into a par-3 very well while Tiger could hit a so-so 5-iron and Tiger would almost be guaranteed to have a shot that would wind up better than Gay’s shot (unless Gay took a great swing at it).

I just think the days of hitting ‘low bullets’ are just about done, even on the amateur level, and the days of irons being completely about accuracy, consistency and distance control has now become more about accuracy, consistency, distance control and the ability to hit it high and long on command.

I will say that I’ve come to realize that the best iron players I’ve personally witnessed were all great at controlling the trajectory. Typically, they also are able to hit the irons very straight, but there are a few that have some sizeable bend to their ball flight. But if they want to hit it high, low or medium trajectory, they could do it without a problem. I think that was probably Tiger’s greatest asset when it came to his ballstriking (pre-affair Haney era), he could hit it high, low and medium height on command. He certainly wasn’t the straightest or most consistent, but if he needed the ball to land soft with a 4-iron, he could do it and if he needed to pierce thru the wind with an 8-iron, he could do that as well. So a big part of my end goal, swing wise, is to be able to CP and CF Release the club on command and work the ball left to right and right to left on command. That will allow me to work the curve and work the height of the ball to hit the most optimal shot the most amount of times on the course.

Lastly, the vintage irons have 0* bounce angles with sharp leading edges, so the club sticks into the ground easily in the thicker Florida bermuda grass. And if you try to make the lofts stronger, the bounce angle will turn into a negative bounce angle. That being said, I still employ the philosophy of flatter lie angles because I think it helps keep the downswing plane from getting too upright and the handle getting too high at impact.

So here are some of the irons I’m considering.


PROS AND CONS: One of the things I’ve noticed about the vintage blades I carry is that their steel feels slightly softer than the Mizuno MP-62’s that I have. And that the Mizuno’s feel slightly softer than most of the other forged irons I’ve had. What I found is that the Hogan’s were made from 1020 carbon steel. The Mizuno’s were made from 1025 carbon steel and the others I’ve tried are made from 1025 or 1035 carbon steel.

The Nike’s are made from 1025 carbon steel. I like the shaft length specs (38” for a 5-iron), but the loft may be a bit too strong (27* for a 5-iron) and the lie angles are a bit upright (61* for a 5-iron, I typically play a 59* 5-iron). Of course, you can just bend the lies and lofts, but I would prefer to stay away from that if I could. The swingweights are at D-2, and I prefer more of a D-4. They do have plenty of custom shaft options, including Project X, KBS and Nippon shafts. I’ve never hit the Nike’s, but they were designed by Tom Stites who designed Hogan irons for years.

PRICE: $499 - $899


PROS AND CONS: Mizuno has been atop of the muscleback irons industry since the MP-29 irons. Their latest set of blades, the MP-67’s didn’t fare very well, but the MP-68’s have drawn rave reviews. I have the MP-62’s which are made from the same steel (1025 carbon steel) and use the same ‘grain flow’ forging process.’ The grain flow forging process is supposed to take the air bubbles out of the forging of the steel and that is supposed to make for a better forging. Having worked in the marketing and advertising industry for about ten years, there are companies that advertise something like this even though it’s an industry wide standard. But the advertising and marketing of the process sounds nice to the consumer and they buy into it. And because the company trademarks the advertising campaign, they get the advantage over their competitors. Perhaps Mizuno is doing the same thing and perhaps grain flow forging is an industry standard. But typically I find Mizuno’s to be a little softer than most of their competition and for the most part, it’s not easy to tell if the Mizuno’s 1025 forged carbon steel is harder than my Hogan’s 1020 forged carbon steel. I sometimes think the difference may be in the off center hits (Mizuno’s being a little harsher on the off center hits).

The thing I did like about my MP-62’s is that they could be custom built in just about every regard. Any type of shaft I wanted, any type of swingweight I wanted, every type of grip, lie angle, loft, etc. Their standard specs are 37.75” shaft length, 60.5* lie angle and 27* loft with a 5-iron. So the effective lie angles are a bit flatter, although I think I will want a 38” shaft given my height. The loft seems a tad strong (I prefer 28*), but we could work around that.

PRICE: $899


PROS AND CONS: Scratch Golf is the leader in golf club customization. Customers have their choice of chroming, ferrules, lies, lofts, engraving, shafts, grips, etc. In fact, they have a Tour Custom set of irons that allows the golfer to design the toe shape, sole grind, stamping and finish. However, I do not feel the Tour Custom is an option for me. It’s not that I could not afford the price of the Tour Custom ($2,500 for a set), but at that price I would have to be convinced that I would play this set for the next 10-20 years.

So the ‘regular’ SB-1 set is more affordable and more justifiable for me. Scratch uses 1018 carbon steel which is supposed to be the softest and also has the widest range of shafts available, including the elusive True Temper ‘Tour Concept’ shafts which I have yet to try, but want to do so since I’ve heard rave reviews about them. They also have any type of grip you could want as well, like the IOMIC grips. They come at the cost of an upcharge, but they are available.

The Tour Custom irons are also grinded by world renown grinder Don White.

COST: $1,199 ($2,500 for Tour Custom)


PROS AND CONS: Miura is much like Scratch Golf in terms of being an upper echelon, custom made equipment manufacturer. I’ve hit their older version of the tournament blade and liked it, although I felt that the Mizuno’s were softer. However, that was hit off a mat and indoors which is not easy to decipher.

They also have plenty of shaft and grip options. I prefer the slightly heavier grips, although I think the Dynamic Golds probably go a tad too low, so I think I would prefer more of a KBS type of shaft. The Miura irons I believe are made from 1025 steel and that could explain why they feel slightly harder than the Mizuno’s.

The Miura’s have the flattest lie angles of all of the OEM’s for standard specs (60* with a 5-iron), but they have a 27* loft (5-iron) and 37.75” shaft.

COST: $1,199


PROS AND CONS: I like the fact that Wilson Staff is making a comeback of sorts in the golf equipment market. Wilson Staff used to be a top 3 OEM for top tier players (along with MacGregor and Hogan). But now Hogan is completely dead and MacGregor is now a part of GolfSmith. It’s really sad because Hogan and MacGregor used to make some really great irons and the best looking set of irons I ever saw was a custom set my friend had made by MacGregor and I own 5 different sets of vintage Hogans.

I think the keys to keeping afloat in the equipment market is to get do well with the irons and in particular the drivers because the drivers have to have a huge profit margin on them. Then from there you must get PGA Tour players to play your equipment. Ping is a great example of this as they were pretty much known as an iron and putter OEM, but were smart enough to really develop their drivers and were smart enough to offer excellent deals with college golf teams and when a hot shot collegiate golfer turned pro, they would likely be the frontrunner to endorse them.

Anyway, I think in the end Wilson did the smart thing by keeping Padraig Harrington on their staff even though his play has dipped recently. He’s still a very likeable and respected player by the fans. The problem is that they need more PGA Tour players on their staff.

As far as the FG 62 irons, I don’t know the specs, yet. However, looking at the specs for their current FG 59 irons they have very long shafts (38.25” for a 5-iron) and with a lie angle of already at 61* (5-iron), that could be an effective lie angle difference of 2* more upright than a lot of clubs. They only offer Project X and Dynamic Gold for shafts according to their Web site, but they may offer other shafts if asked.

PRICE: $899


PROS AND CONS: I’m a bit skeptical towards Callaway because of my bad experiences with their quality control. From shaft flexes being wrong to inaccurate driver lofts to the old Warbird driver heads going dead to Odyssey Putters with lofts all over the place to their wedges scuffing up golf balls…not a pleasant experience.

I’ve heard mostly good reviews about the X-Prototypes and the negative reviews were mostly due to the cost (at one time, Callaway was charging $1,499 for a set of these). They do use 1020 carbon steel. Standard is 61* lie angle, 27* loft and 38” in length (5-iron).

It appears they only offer them in Project X, a shaft I’m not interested in.

PRICE: $999


PROS AND CONS: I felt from about 1996-2005 Titleist was THE manufacturer for great equipment, from the driver to the irons to the wedges to the putters and to the ball. Since ’05 the quality and innovation seems to have dipped a bit as the golf ball is becoming less popular with companies like Callaway and Taylor Made adding their own very popular golf ball. Their latest drivers haven’t appealed to me, but when looking at the PGA Tour stats for ‘optimal driving distance’ (yards carry / clubhead speed), the Titleist driver is on top of the list. The Vokeys are still good, although I prefer a forged club and the Camerons are still wildly popular, although I’m not quite sure why.

Still, it’s nice to see Titleist get back to making some nice, classic looking blades. Standard specs are 62* lie angle, 27* loft and 38” shaft (5-iron). That lie angle is very upright, so I would need to flatten that out a bit. The MB’s are made from 1025 carbon steel.

PRICE: $899


PROS AND CONS: I was disappointed to see that Cleveland Golf apparently does not make muscleback long irons anymore with the 3-5 irons of their current CG1 Tour set being cavity back and the 6-PW being muscleback. As a sub-scratch golfer, I’d like the option of a muscleback or a cavity back. Unfortunately I think this will be a sign of things to come and in 10 years only a few OEM’s will have muscleback 3-5 irons. I could live with a CB 3 and 4-iron, but I wouldn’t want a CB 5-iron as usually I can hit my 5-iron high enough and long enough without issue.

Cleveland no longer makes the CG Tour irons anymore, but there are brand new ones available for sale. I have hit these and they feel great. The specs are 61* lie angle, 27* loft and 37.75” shaft (5-iron). I would expect the shaft options to be limited.

PRICE: $799


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sevam1 Video 11.3.10

A new Sevam1 video that I thought readers would enjoy.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why You Change the Spine Angle

Good video by 3Jack Top 50 Instructor, Dave Wedzik, on why 'maintaining your spine angle' in the backswing is a flawed concept.


Monday, November 1, 2010

The TGM Dilemma

One of the things that caught my eye was a post by 3Jack Top 50 Instructor, Michael Jacobs, over at Brian Manzella’s forum. Jacobs went to Seattle to purchase Sally Kelley’s TGM company and proprietary rights from here years ago before she finally sold the company to current owner Joe Daniels. According to Jacobs, Sally said that whoever bought the company should have the book ‘constantly updated’ because that’s how Homer Kelley wanted it.

I have no reason to not believe Jacobs and Homer Kelley’s work suggests that he would have wanted the book constantly updated after his death. There are seven editions of the book which wasn’t published until 1969 and Mr. Kelley passed away in 1983. Thus, seven editions in 14 years certainly suggests a book whose author wanted it constantly updated with new information.

The major problem with TGM is that the book and name is so incredibly synonymous with its creator, Homer Kelley. I’ve never met Joe Daniels, but I can see the dilemma he has with Sally Kelley’s message and the ties the book has with her husband.

Of course, one of the things you will hear critics say is that Daniels (who I have never met or talked with before) doesn’t want to make updates to the book because money is involved. While I think it goes beyond that level, we do have to remember that Daniels did put in a pretty penny to buy the company and the rights to the book (IIRC, $100K) and until you fork over that much money and try to recoup that money and hopefully make some sort of profit, then you can really start to understand the position he is in.

But the bigger issue that I see is that if one were to constantly update the book, that would weaken the ties between the book and its creator, Homer Kelley. And there are many people who do not want that. They want to know what Homer Kelley said and thought.

And that’s not a bad or ‘evil’ thing. The Homer Kelley story is a compelling one and IMO, I think it was clear that he was a genius to some degree.

In the book ‘Homer Kelley’s Golfing Machine: The Curious Quest That Solved Golf’, it was apparent by those who knew him (and had no knowledge of his golf endeavors) that they saw him as a brilliant individual. He was brilliant enough to write up very detailed instruction manuals at Boeing and it’s easy to see the brilliance of his work in ‘The Golfing Machine’ if you are open minded enough about it.

I made a suggestion about a week ago that the Golfing Machine may want to have keep the 7th edition around and then write their own version with any updated work and findings from the scientific community. But then TGM LLC would run into issues of people just wanting to read and understand Homer’s work instead of the new findings. Also, I think you would get the ‘who the hell are you to make changes?’ attitude from TGM followers and even prospective students and Authorized Instructors.

And all of that costs money and if you drive away people, you lose money and you can go out of business easily. So then the issue becomes, ‘if we change to make constant updates of the book, can we sustain that economically?’

Like I stated earlier, I don’t think people got into this for the money (although there’s nothing wrong with making money). But there’s a difference between losing your money and making (or not making) additional wealth, so there’s a huge risk with the possibility of trying to update the book. Plus, if you make the wrong choice and it makes the company go belly up, then the book and Homer Kelley’s work will likely be killed off unless somebody else takes the company over.

If I were TGM LLC, my choice would be to update the book constantly. Still though, it’s a giant risk and not for selfish and greedy reasons, but for self perseverance reasons. Like most things in life, it’s far from a clear cut issue and it is more complex than meets the eye and complex problems are always difficult to solve because if every problem was clear cut, the world would be an easy place to live in. Still, I would look at it like a gamble, but a gamble to fulfill the wishes of the man who created the TGM world in the first place.