|by TOM WISHON
Modern golf clubs hit farther than clubs of even a few years ago
“Each year, in order to say their clubs ‘hit farther’, the club companies have been tinkering
with the loft angles on the faces of your clubheads – lowering them a bit at a time each year.
As a result, every club in the set has moved ‘up’ at least one, if not two, numbers. So, when
you go to a driving range for ‘demo day’ and you are hitting a 6-iron farther than you hit
your old 5-iron, you now know why. It’s because that shiny new 6-iron in your hands was a 5-
iron only a few years ago and probably a 4-iron a few years before that”
“In the world of club design there is something called the ‘24/38 Rule.’ Basically, it says that
the average golfer cannot hit an iron that has less than 24 degrees of loft or more than 38
inches of length. The reason is that a club like that requires a swing precision that the
average golfer rarely has the opportunity to attain…A few years ago the 24/38 line fell on
the other side of the 3-iron…Because of the ‘vanishing loft disease’ the 24/38 line has now
moved to just the shy side of the 5 iron – making the 3 and 4 iron unhittable for most people”
“The club companies want you to buy three more clubs to compensate for the corner that
they painted you into. You are now supposed to buy something called ‘hybrid clubs’, which
are easy to hit substitutes for the 3 and 4 irons that are no longer hittable by the majority of
The longer my driver is the farther I will be able to hit the ball
“In my estimation, 90 percent of the drivers sold in the shops today are too long for most
players. If that’s the case for you, then get it cut down and re-swing weighted to a shorter
length, and don’t be shy about doing it”.
“For every quarter inch you miss the sweet spot on your driver, you lose about 5 yards in
distance. Miss it by half and inch and you lose 10 yards; an inch, 20 yards and so forth”.
“Most people assume that if they are taller than 6’2’’ or shorter than 5’8’’, they might need
‘inch-over’ or ‘inch-under’ length clubs. Nothing could be farther from the truth”.
“The proper length for all golfers is the longest length that the golfer can hit solid and on-
center the highest percentage of the time. Truth is, when it comes to your woods that length
is undoubtedly shorter than what you are using now”.
“Proper length fitting starts with a length recommendation based on the golfer’s wrist-to-floor
measurement. But, that is just the beginning…A good custom fitter will look at both your
swing plane and your swing tempo as well as your ability to athletically control the club
during the swing. Only after those data are factors in will a final length recommendation be
The lower the loft on my driver, the farther I will hit the ball
“I am sure at one time or another you’ve played around with a garden hose. Imagine you
have the hose turned on full blast and you are trying to get as much distance as possible
our of the water spray. Now, suppose someone turns the water pressure back by about a
third. You can feel the drop in pressure in your hands and see it in the loss of distance in
the spray. So, what do you automatically do to try to get that distance back? Exactly! You
raise the angle of the nozzle”.
“If you have a very fast swing speed (i.e., the hose is on full blast), you need a lower loft to
get maximum distance. If you have a slower swing speed (i.e., the hose pressure has been
cut back), you need a higher loft to get more distance”.
“So how fast can you reasonably expect to swing your driver WITH CONTROL? The only
way to know for sure is to be measured by a professional golf clubmaker”.
The bigger the head, the better
“Sometimes it must seem like the golf companies have a big air pump in their factories that
they use to make last year’s driver even larger in order to announce the ‘new and improved’
model is now here. I mean, even the USGA became so concerned about it that they finally
said: Enough, we’ll let you stay with heads the size of grapefruit, but no way are we going to
let you go to watermelons”.
“Theoretically, it’s possible to design a bigger driver head, with a bigger face area that has
a greater ‘spring-face’ effect, thus increasing the ball speed off the face and giving you
more distance. But remember the big battle a few years ago over the amount of ‘spring’
(known as the coefficient of restitution) that was allowable on the clubface? At that point the
USGA put the handcuffs on the maximum allowable spring in a driver’s face, and any
possibility of increasing driver head size to make the face ‘spring more’ was eliminated…So
when designers make bigger and bigger drivers, we also have to make the faces thicker
and thicker to avoid them from generating a ball speed that would exceed the USGA’s rule
for spring –face effect. And that, gentle reader, cancels out any possible advantage of
bigger heads being better”.
I know I play a stiff shaft; it say so right on it
“Most golfers know, or think they know, that shafts come in a variety of flexes; S for Stiff, R
for Regular, A for amateur or senior, and L for ladies. What most golfers don’t realize is that
those letters (and only those letters) represent just about everything upon which there is a
“You say you want a stiff shaft in your driver? Fine. Whose definition of stiff do you want to
use? Because one company’s ‘stiff’, is another company’s ‘regular’, which is another
company’s ‘A-flex’. Worse, the flex ration of one line of shafts might be at hopeless variance
with that of another line, within the same shaft company”.
“If it sounds as if the concept of shaft flex is hosed to the point of being a shot in the dark for
your game, you are exactly right. If you buy a driver because it has a stiff, regular, senior, or
ladies shaft in it, you have no idea what you are getting – nor does anyone else. Wait a
minute; let me retract that. Serious, professional clubmakers do.”
“From a pure shaft performance standpoint, 90% of you are going to be better off with a
shaft that is more flexible that what you think you need…Unless you work with a professional
clubmaker to make your shaft selection, you will have to do a lot of trial-and-error test hitting
of all sorts of shafts before you come up with a decision”.
The newer clubs have a larger ‘sweet spot’
Sweet spot is a term that is commonly found in golf club ads and misused a lot by almost
everyone in the golf industry. You frequently see ads boasting that this club or that has a
‘larger’ or ‘wider’ sweet spot. Technically that can’t happen because the actual sweet spot
(officially known as the center of gravity) is a point that’s about the size of a sharp end of a
pin. It can’t get ‘larger’. It can’t get ‘smaller’. It just…is”
“If you miss this point of perfect contact, the head will start to twist, not only imparting
sidespin to the ball but causing a loss of distance…The only way to help relieve this
problem is by making heads that resist twisting as much as possible. In technical terms, that’
s called increasing their ‘moment of inertia’…Think of a figure skater doing a spin. When
their arms are out, their moment of inertia (i.e., their resistance to twisting) is increased, so
they spin more slowly. When they draw their arms in close to their body, their moment of
inertia is immediately decreased so they spin faster…the same thing happens with the golf
clubhead. The club head has some natural resistance to twisting around its center of gravity
(moment of inertia), which can be increased, for example, by putting extra weight out at the
heel and toe and back of the clubhead (i.e., extending the clubs ‘arms’). The more you can
do that, the more resistance to twisting you have, the ‘larger’ (i.e., more forgiving) is the so –
called sweet spot. That’s really what they are talking about when they say the ‘sweet spot’ is
Women’s clubs are designed for women
In the average retail golf store, the regular men’s clubs account for close to 90 percent of all
the clubs in the store. Lofts on drivers are stocked from 8 to 12 degrees and flexes on both
graphite and steel shafts in R, S and X. For women’s clubs, however, drivers are usually
stocked in a 12- or 13- degree loft, lengths are an inch shorter than the corresponding men’
s model; and shafts are offered in only one flex. The problem is that the vast majority of
“average” female golfers need drivers with more loft than what is offered, shorter lengths for
all the woods, a set makeup that eliminates the 3- and 4- iron (and probably even the 5-
iron thanks to the “vanishing loft” disease of modern irons) completely from consideration,
and a choice of at least two different shaft flexes that should be more flexible than any men’
“Most people assume that a women’s golf clubhead is based on the men’s, but represents a
fresh design and a unique casting. Sometimes that is true, but it is unusual…They are
simply men’s clubs marketed to women”.
“To be fair, a few shaft companies have recently come out with what they call an ‘LL-Flex’.
Translated, the LL-Flex means: ‘We finally figured out there are differences in female
golfers’ swing speeds just like there are with men so we decided to finally do what we do for
men and offer you a choice’. I look forward to seeing the data that confirm the LL-Flex as
being what it is supposed to be. If it is, it’ll be a breakthrough”.
“The point here is that there are women, senior, and even some junior golfers who can and
should play with the same fitting specifications that you would find in men’s clubs. And there
are some men who can and should be playing with what are labeled by the golf industry as
‘senior’ or ‘lady’ club specifications. The only way to know is to be properly and
I’ll just cut down a set for my kid; that’s good enough
“Beats there the heart of a father that didn’t quicken when he saw Tiger hugging his father
after winning his first Masters in 197? Yet, despite all that, there is one thing that Earl has
consistently said that seems to get consistently lost in the hoopla; ‘I always made sure that
Tiger had clubs that fit”.
“If you want to make dead certain that your little Tiger or Annika will develop a swing that
has no chance of succeeding, all you have to do is cut down a set of your clubs and give
them to them. They will be too heavy, too stiff, the wrong loft, the wrong lie, and probably
the wrong length. Other then that, they will be just what the kid needs to develop a great
swing…for cutting firewood”.
“Since 2000, there are a couple of companies who have made a real niche for themselves
in offering good quality premade junior sets. Lofts are friendly, shafts are more flexible,
weights are a little lighter, and grips are smaller. They offer the sets in pre-made categories
of ‘age 5-8’ and ‘age 9-12’ with the substantial difference being their lengths, judged on the
basis of average heights for kids in these two age groups. The only drawbacks to the
premade junior sets may be their price and the possibility that your junior happens to be
outside the ‘national average’ for height for their age from which the standard lengths of
these sets are created. Thus we come back to your local professional clubmaker who can
custom build a junior a set as well. And don’t panic about that ‘custom built’ part. It’s been
my experience that the vast majority of club makers do not charge prices for their junior
clubs that come even close to the prices you would pay for the premade premium branded
junior sets found in retail golf shops”.
“You have to resist the temptation to buy clubs that are too long with the expectation that
they will ‘grow into them’…if they are too long, you are forcing them to hit with something
that may very likely casue them to develop a bad swing just to handle the longer length; and
you know how hard it is to UN- learn that bad swing”.
“You’re giving them a gift that will literally keep giving for the rest of their lives, long after you’
re gone. That’s no small thing. Besides, it’s a small price to pay for watching you son walk
up the eighteenth fairway at Augusta with a 12-stroke lead, or you daughter take that dive
into the pond at the Dinah Shore, right?”
*Information obtained from Tom Wishon Golf, www.twgolftech.com