The Precision Decision

By Adam BarrApril 28, 2003, 4:00 pm
Those of you who have become regular Whats In The Baggers know that we went out of our way in the first show of the series to note the tractor-beam appeal of drivers. Who doesnt love to hit it long?
 
This week, Im prepared to argue that drivers arent the biggest thrill in the game.
 
Tournament golf watchers know that nothing draws the oohs and aahs like a 180-yard 5-iron that settles inches from the hole. Pros do this all the time; we who watch dream and strive and occasionally, thank providence, succeed. Drives may be fun to boom, but put a specific target at the end of a swing and youve got an approach shot. To me, its the most exciting shot in golf to watch or play.
 
That brings us to the center of WITB No. 3, irons. Most of us carry the standard set, so not counting the wedges, thats 3 through 9; seven clubs, half the compliment the rules allow. They are the most basic of clubs, called upon to deliver heart-stopping precision. And for me, nothing beats standing in the middle of the fairway with an iron in my hand, confronted with the chance to make magic. OK, so what it I cant hit the green from 150 yards more than four times out of ten. I love trying. And one time out of 10, I may get it pretty close.
 
With the right irons, you can improve on those percentages. So what did we learn about these ubiquitous tools, and how do we get the best set for our games?
 
Hip to Get It Square: As with drivers, fit is all important if you want to consistently deliver the clubhead squarely to the ball at impact. Its even more important with irons, because youre trying to dial in performance over a range of clubs instead of just one.
 
Lofty Concerns: More of a given than in drivers, where you can tweak a bit. Irons have standard lofts throughout the industry, and generally only pros mess with them. Its an open secret among club makers that lofts are stronger I modern irons (that is, wedges today are more like the 8-irons of a generation ago, for example), but customers dont seem to want the old way back. Not happy with your modern wedge loft? Try your gap wedge.
 
Tell Me Lies: Lie is crucial with irons. Too flat and the toe digs, resulting in a slice. Too upright and the heel could dig, hooking the ball. Fitters test for this first. Great thing about it is, its easy for anyone to feel the difference when they hit the right lie for the first time. Youll get a definite Thats it! response from your hands.
 
Feel is Metal: Its not so much forged versus cast; those are processes for shaping metal. Ben Hogan loved the feel of forged clubs, but modern golf equipment makers tell us that its the steel recipe he chose, not the way that steel came to its final form, that gave that wondrous feedback. While its still generally true that forged clubs are for better players and cast for less skilled players, neither class of golfer should consider itself relegated to one process or the other. Hit em, then decide.
 
The Stick Makes the Stick: Shafts are important in any clubs, but particularly in clubs on which you depend for repeatable yardages. The knock against graphite in irons used to be that it threw the occasional random grenade. For instance, your 135-yard eight iron from the fairway would once in awhile go 143 from a similar lie, putting you off the green and into a tizzy. Graphite shaft makers say theyre gaining on the consistency problem with alarming speed.
 
Meanwhile, steel shaft makers have managed to incorporate some graphite-style benefits by decreasing shaft weights, developing shock dampening technologies, and making sticks that reach across many handicap levels. It all amounts to more choice ' and if the shaft is the engine of the golf club, then choice is the turbo that makes choosing and hitting irons so much fun.
 
These are just a few of the factors that go into the irons-buying decision. Feel free to let us know what you think via e-mail (abarr@tgcinc.com) or on the discussion boards here at TheGolfChannel.com.
 
Thanks for watching and logging on. See you next show.
 
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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.


    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos


    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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    Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

    “That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

    So was Woods.

    DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

    “His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

    Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

    “He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told PGATour.com afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.


    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos


    “The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

    Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

    “Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told ESPN.com, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

    “Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

    Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time.