Time for New Irons

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Hi Frank,

At 67, I'm still playing to a 7- to 9-handicap using Ping Eye2 irons (black dot, stiff shaft). Many people think I would benefit from new irons. I'm wondering if it would be better to visit a club fitter and get these clubs re-shafted, tuned and balanced. Or, should I lay them to rest and go for a new set?

Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks for the great site and interesting information.

– Ron, California

Ron,

You have a 'classic' set of irons which set the trend for perimeter weighting – i.e., cavity-back irons – and were more forgiving than almost every other club produced at that time. The very best players today use forged blades because they don’t need the forgiveness offered by cavity-back irons. Unfortunately, we mortals don’t hit the sweet spot very often and thus need as much forgiveness as possible.

Just as an aside; if you hit the sweet spot – assuming loft, clubhead speed and CG (center of gravity) location is the same – the ball speed and distance it travels will be the same whether or not the head is a cavity back (with high MOI, or Moment of Inertia) or a blade design.

Golf clubhead MOI is a measure of the “resistance to angular acceleration,” or twisting, when you miss the sweet spot. The less the clubhead twists at impact – because of a mis-hit – using a club with a high MOI, the less disastrous the outcome.

Some manufacturers are trying to improve the COR of irons so your 6-iron will hit the ball a little farther than a competitors’ 6-irons. Isn’t marketing an interesting part of our lives?  

If your 6-iron doesn’t hit the ball far enough, then take out a 5-iron and ease up; you will probably experience much better results. Increasing the COR in drivers makes sense, because a driver is your distance club.

There are, however, practical limits to COR and MOI – as there are with most things in life. We have now come close to these limits governed by nature, so increasing MOI is not only in violation of the rules but the returns start diminishing significantly before we reach the limit. In the case of clubhead COR, nature has established the limits, which are only slightly above the limits established by the rules.

Ron, your Ping Eye 2s are a great set of clubs, and buying a new set of irons may not do you any significant favors – especially because you and they are really good friends.  A shaft tune-up may potentially help but doing some stretching and strength exercises (not much is required) will probably be enough to get you back in shape and get your clubs to perform the same way they did when new.

To resolve any questions you may have about missing any advantages which “new technology” in irons may afford, you can test some of the new – or even 2-year-old models.    

Please don’t let your Eye 2s catch you looking around, if that is the decision you decide to make – pastures are not always a greener on the other side of the fence, and being caught may have some disastrous consequences.

Just for your information, your Ping Eye 2s, if manufactured before March 31, 1990, have been grandfathered for life with regard to the new groove regulations; they do not have to conform with any changes to rules on grooves. You will be able to play with these clubs in the U.S. Open for as long as you wish, and if the grooves wear down you may have them re-conditioned to the original specifications, under Rule 4-1b and because they have been grandfathered for life.

You really do have a classic set, probably more valuable than you know.

Hope this helps!

Frank

Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com

 

Frank Thomas