QA Wacky Wedges Name Brands

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Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from The Golf Channel's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com
 

Good day Frank,
I enjoy you informative articles. If I recall in a previous article you had mentioned that your wedge shafts should be the same length and brand. I also recall a show on TGC with the guy from Golfsmith stating that they should drop down by a quarter of inch for each wedge. Is one way better than the other? Im confused. -- Scott Elsby, Canada

 
Scott,
Let me assure you that when pitching wedges were wedges instead of 9-irons and even weak 8-irons, then all of them in the set were about the same length. For many years there were only two wedges in the set, the PW and SW. The SW was, and remains at about 55 degrees of loft and about 35 inches in length.
 
But since the mid to late '70s, manufacturers, trying to compete and proving that their irons hit the ball farther than their competitors, started to violate the unwritten standard of lofts associated with the numbers on clubs. The lofts were strengthened from 4 to 6 degrees so the PW, which used to be about 52 degrees of loft and 35 inches long, became 45 degrees in loft, which is two degrees stronger than what the loft of 9-iron used to be. It (the new PW) is also the same length as the 9-iron used to be - about 35 1/2 inches or a little longer.
 
All the clubs in the bag were thus affected by this domino effect and the 1-iron, which was impossible to hit anyway, became even harder to hit with three or four degrees less loft. This is the reason the 1-iron is now extinct. The 2-irons are now also close to becoming extinct, except for some of the very elite (Tiger and his crew) who still carry this club from time to time.
 
Because the PW today is similar to what the 9 'iron used to be, it is now about inch longer than the gap wedge (50 to 52 degree loft). But the GW, SW, and the LW (60 degree loft) are generally all the same length. You cant go wrong by keeping the wedges (real wedges GW, SW, LW) all the same length.
 
Hi Frank,
I recently bought some new Mizuno MP60 irons. I had previously played 11 years with some 'knock off' Cobras. I'm hitting my new irons really great, but seem to have lost distance, almost a club to a club and a half.
 
Is there anything I can do to get the distance back? I've heard that I could change shafts or tweak the loft of the irons. Any suggesstions would be appreciated. -- Thanks, Johnny Culpepper

 
Johnny,
First of all, I am pleased to hear that you have moved away from knock-offs, the names of which have been purposely chosen to be similar and to intentionally confuse the public with the real thing. I have a major problem with theft, be it of an idea, product design or anything else. In most cases also these products are not of the quality nor carry the support of the product they are trying to copy.
 
The reason for the loss in distance is most probably because the lofts are different. This should not bother you because what you had in the knock-off set as number 6-iron is probably equivalent in loft and length to the 5-iron in your present set. The good thing about irons is when the 6-iron doesnt hit the ball far enough, you can take out the 5-iron. It is the distance that the club hits the ball which is important, not what number is stamped into the sole of that club.
 
I dont know what shaft flex you have in the new legitimate set, but this is also important. Most of us have shaft flexes which are too stiff, so if you have a chance to try a similar club with a different (more flexible) shaft, then do so and see how it feels. If you feel more comfortable with the more flexible shaft and dont feel you are fighting the club to get it to perform, then this is a good result. Try then to change the shaft in the 6-iron of your new set to the same more flexible shaft. If this works then change the shafts in the whole set.
 
Dont worry about the numbers on the clubs, just remember how far you hit each and use that club at the appropriate time.
 
Hi Frank,
I have a set of expensive irons that I have been hitting well. The steel shafts in these clubs are standard shafts that I see in many OEM irons. I can buy that same shaft online from a well-respected clubmaker golf company for $11.00. With an index of 5.8, should I re-shaft the irons to a better shaft to get more accuracy? Even though I am 60, I do not concern myself about distance. -- Sam Jones

 
Sam,
Re-shafting the irons, which you are hitting well, is not a good idea. The standard shafts, which come with the set, are generally very good and would not be used by the manufacturer if it (the manufacturer) thought that they would not work well in that product. Also dont think that another shaft will improve your accuracy unless you have a really bad shaft to begin with.
 
Accuracy is generally a result of a consistent swing, and a new shaft will not improve your swing - you have to do this. The bottom line is, dont change something that is working well. Also, shafts are important because they are the only connection between you and the business end of the club - the head. We have taken about 400 years to find the right flex and flex pattern in shafts and manufacturers are providing that to you in their standard set, so have faith and dont change a good thing.
 
Hi Frank,
Ninety percent of all the Tour players seem to be using TaylorMade, Callaway or Nike golf equipment. Are these brands so much better than the rest, or are there other forces at work here?
 
I use an Orlimar Hip Ti 420 driver, which in my opinion is as good if not better than any of the above brands, and I've tried most of them. Each week I check the 'What's in the Bag' segment on the Golf Channel site hoping for something different, hoping for an Orlimar user to show up, but each week the same big brands dominate.
What's the story? -- Cheers, Bob & Lisa Shirley

 
Bob,
Lets be Frank, there are other forces at work. The most popular clubs are those marketed by the major manufacturers. The pros have (in many cases) contracts with the manufacturer to use its equipment.
 
However, this equipment would not be used unless it was reasonably good and satisfactory to the pro. The endorsement money may be good, but if he cant use the clubs effectively then this is not going to be a good or long lasting relationship. By the way, you should include in your list Titleist, Ping, Mizuno and a few others. This said, it doesnt mean that the driver you have is not the very best for you.
 
Dont be concerned about who else is using your driver. As long as it works for you, then you are very lucky and well done on the find. It is hard to find a good frien, but it doesnt mean that everybody else also has to like your friend for your relationship to last. Maybe they are being paid to like someone else. Hope this is of some comfort.
 
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. He served as Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN System and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com