I came across a Tweet this morning showing Bryson DeChambeau’s stock distances with his club lofts.
This has nothing to do with him specifically however as I’m just remarking on the club specs.
To put it mildly, I’ve always been aware of the clubmaker scam where they kept lowering the lofts to make the same number iron hit the ball greater distances, but I was absolutely blown away by how far they’ve gone.
My first proper set of irons, I purchased from my first instructor in the spring of 1997 when I broke all of my first set actual set of irons which were cheap alloys – I had bought them two summers previously when a friend introduced me to the game, but I had only “played” (to use the term very loosely) 20-30 rounds with them and had probably only visited a range 2 or 3 times.
The very week I bought a seasonal range membership (the Monday following Tiger Woods’ 1st Masters win) and began to hit balls daily, I cracked the heads on those alloy irons, one by one.
By the time I took my first lesson a couple of weeks later, I probably only had 2 or 3 irons left, and he sold me a used set of Tommy Armour Silver Scot 745 irons, 2i-9i along with a couple of Tom Watson Ram wedges (I still have them all, except I snapped the shafts on most of my Tommy Armours and never re-shafted the heads but retain them).
Now, if you look at the actual lofts of Bryson’s irons, it’s shocking – and not at all that impressive when you look at the lofts and distances.
For comparison’s sake, my Silver Scots and Ram wedges had the following lofts (in black beside Bryson’s) back in ’97:
Note: The wedge numbers are accurate to ’98, I know for sure, because that was when I bought brand new lob and gab wedges, still Tom Watson Rams. The SW was actually 55 degrees and I had it weakened slightly to 56 to better bridge the GW and PW).
My 3 iron was lofted at 21 degrees and my 2 iron at 18 degrees – and I remember these numbers as clear as day not only because they are stamped on the upper toe of the club faces but because, these being my first proper iron set, the lofts are burned into my memory regardless.
So, when someone says, “He’s going with the 5i,” I think, “OK, he’s got the 28 degree loft club to go at this yardage of XYZ,” which is laughable as Bryson in his case would be hitting a 19 degree lofted iron!
That’s a smidge weaker than my 2 iron, which I still have shafted along with my 4 iron.
In fact, that Tommy Armour Silver Scot 4 iron is still in my bag, because the groove rule that made the older U-Groove irons illegal only applies up to the 5 iron, so the 4, 3 and 2 from that set would still be legal clubs.
It’s not because of the U-Grooves that I still use the 4 – I just love it, can hit it easily 230 yards and longer with a controlled swing (which interestingly is about how far Bryson hits his 25 degree 7 iron) and I’ve had it for 25 years this coming April.
I’m a creature of habit, what can I say?
So, when I wrote my post many moons ago about hitting a 270 yard 4 iron off the tee the on a par 4 hole that measured 350 yards, I was talking about hitting a 24 degree lofted iron that distance, not 16. That’s an 8 degree difference or 2 clubs in my old degree specs!
Update: I took a look through some of my archived videos and while the swing technique is out-dated (from 2013 and my New MCS model), I was hitting range balls 250 yards plus with that Tommy Armour 4 iron lofted at 28 degrees:
Aside: Is there anything more depressing than watching yourself 9 years younger (I was 43 here) and 20-25 lbs (at least 10 kg) slimmer? The pain…
Moving on – this whole business of announcers gasping and fainting when someone hits a 200 yard 7 iron is so bogus – if you’re talking about a 24 degree lofted iron, then 200 yards is not very impressive at all, in fact I’d expect a lot more than 200 yards from my 24 degree lofted 4 iron… just saying…
You can put whatever number on a club that you want, it won’t make you a longer or better player. You’ll be a player who hits a numbered lofted iron a certain yardage.
My philosophy is that if you want more distance out of your clubs, then swing better.
Fudging the iron numbers and lofts is a joke.