Monday, May 21, 2012

Thinking Man's Guide to Finding Your WITB: Part V

Here’s a look at the rest of my ‘irons’, the 5-PW:


Wishon 555M (muscleback)
Lofts: 28° (5-iron), 32° (6-iron), 36° (7-iron), 40° (8-iron), 44° (9-iron), 48° (PW)
Lie Angle: 60° (5-iron), 60.5° (7-iron), 61° (7-iron), 62° (8-iron), 63° (9-iron), 64° (PW)
Length: 38.5” (5-iron), 38” (6-iron), 37.5” (7-iron), 37” (8-iron), 36.5” (9-iron), 36.25” (PW)
S-weight: D-4 (5-iron), D-6 (6-iron), D-6 (7-iron), D-7 (8-iron), D-8 (9-iron), D-8 (PW)
MOI: 2,725 kg/cm^2

One thing I have not discussed with the irons is the feel of the irons when the ball is struck. Years ago, PING did a study showing that almost all golfers could not distinguish the feel between a forged club and a cast club. IIRC, Jeff Maggert was the one player who could. From the sounds of it, it appears that Maggert was the only PGA Tour player that they tested. And from what I’ve read, PING used the same steel in the test, 304 stainless steel which is not exactly the softest steel used by golf clubs. Also remember that PING has always been a company that has made cast irons which saves them plenty of money in costs and that companies like Mizuno were making waves with their forged irons. So PING certainly had some stake in the test to see the results work in their favor.

From my research and experience (and no, the research was not ‘scientific’) there are a lot of things that go into the feel of an iron. The type of steel used is part of it. But, if the CoG and the MOI of the entire club does not fit your swing, you’ll think a softer steel like 1020 carbon steel will feel very harsh. I experienced that with my Bridgestone J33 blade irons, that have 1020 carbon steel and I didn’t like the feel of them at all. I also think that the bounce and grind of the irons plays a giant factor in it as well.

I think if everything is equal, then the softness of the steel starts to become a factor. The best feeling irons I’ve hit are usually the vintage Hogan’s (’67 Percussions with the 2.5” hosel), the Mizuno’s (almost every model), and the Scratch Golf models.

I would probably rank my Wishon’s up there as far as feel goes. I feel it’s just slightly noticeable for me, the experienced low handicap player. I think for the higher handicap players with less experience, they probably would not notice any difference.


In part IV, I discussed some differences in performance stemming from a cavity back iron versus a blade design. There are a couple of more differences I wanted to discuss here.

For starters, I will go with feel. But, I’m not talking about the ‘softness’ of the feel on a well struck shot or the ‘harshness’ of the feel on a mis-hit. What I’m talking about is the ability to use the feel on a strike to decipher how well the ball was struck.

Where I think blades provide a difference is I can really decipher those shots that where struck decently versus those struck very well versus those that were flat out flushed and those struck a little below average. With cavity backs, the feel gets a little ‘murky’ when you are in the decent, to pretty good to average to slightly below average range. Sure, you can judge on the ball flight, but I’ve always found that feel plays a bigger role in a golfers game than ball flight.

Now, if you’re a player like a Kenny Perry who can pretty much duplicate their swing every day, shot after shot, that difference in feel may be largely unimportant to you. But, I find that difference in feel to be a big help in getting me to learn over time. That’s why I recommend buying a few individual blade irons off of eBay. Get the specs to fit you (shaft, length, lie angle, MOI, etc) and then use them in practice. If you want to game cavity backs because you feel more comfortable with them on the course, go right ahead.

The other factor with blades is that I believe they are very good on front pin positions.


Ben Hogan once commented that on front pin positions he would hit more club and hit it very high. Then on back pin positions he would hit less club and hit it lower.

Now, I agree with the first part, but disagree with the second part. With irons, a lower or higher trajectory can often make you hit the ball shorter in total distance. That’s why hitting it higher and take 1-more club on front pin positions makes sense. You use the extra club and the added height on the ball will reduce the total distance. But, with the back pin positions, taking less club and hitting it lower may leave you woefully short of the flag.

So with blade irons, provided that a golfer can hit them high enough on their stock swing, I think they provide an advantage on those front pin positions because the ability to control the trajectory allows them to hit it high on command on those front pin positions.


We went over this in part IV as the lofts are more or less ‘standard’ and the lie angles alter a bit due to shaft droop. In the end, I wound up bending the 8-PW and the 3 & 4-irons.


I already discussed the shaft and their lengths. I plan on trying out the new Wishon Stepless steel shafts and using Wishon’s recommend 3/8” shaft increments instead of the standard ½” increments. The increments start off with the 6-iron. Here’s how the new and old club lengths would look:



SWINGWEIGHT & MOI (2,725 kg/cm^2)

When you MOI match your irons, the swingweight will get progressively heavier. I’ve found that the swingweight gets about 0.6 to 0.8 swingweight points heavier, per club.

I knew that MOI matching was good when I first measured the MOI on my set of irons. Before I measured it, I noticed that I hit my 4-iron the best, but I hit my 3-iron the worst. I also hit my 7-iron the 2nd best and the 9-iron the 2nd worst. I was really curious to see what the 3 and 4-iron MOI measurements were. The 7-iron is the club I practice the most with, so I figured that was why I hit it so well. Anyway, here were the initial measurements:

3-iron 555C: 2625
4-iron 555C: 2702
5-iron 555M: 2670
6-iron 555M: 2680
7-iron 555M: 2694
8-iron 555M: 2658
9-iron 555M: 2639
PW 555M: 2653

As you can see, the 3-iron and 9-iron had the lightest MOI’s of the bunch. The 4-iron and 7-iron have the heaviest MOI-weight of the set. Eventually I found that my optimally fitted MOI was at 2,725 and thus, the 4-iron and 7-iron were the closest to that MOI.

The beauty of MOI matching is not only does it noticeably increase performance, but I didn’t have to worry about my swing changing causing me to get entirely new clubs. With MOI-matching, if my optimally fitted MOI altered as my swing changed, I could simply add more weight to the head (hopefully the swing changes for the better and you are applying more force as you swing).

Up Next, The Wedges…



DustinF said...

I get the concept of MOI, but out of curiousity, what Swing Weights did that end up translating to?


Rich H. said...

When you MOI match and the clubs are different lengths, you'll wind up with a progressive swing weight. So, my 3-iron is at D-2.8. From there, they go in about 0.6 to 0.8 intervals.