Why do irons look bigger and go farther? What should I know about shaft options before buying a driver? Ask an expert… James Achenbach of Golfweek Magazine has a Q&A with R&D people from the various club manufacturers. Some of the responses are useful for better understanding loft/shaft choices and iron performance, so I’ve included them here.
Expert: Mike Nicolette, senior product designer for Ping Golf
Why do irons go higher and farther than they used to?
Modern manufacturing techniques allow for a lower center of gravity, pulling mass back in the clubhead. This causes the ball to be hit much higher than the what is possible with forged clubheads or the earlier perimeter weighted cast heads.
Why do irons today look so much bigger than they used to?
They ARE bigger, but manufacturers are able to disguise the size. This is done by lengthening the blade from heel to toe but keeping the top rail shorter and curved into the neck. At set up, the shorter top rail gives our eyes the illusion that the head is not that big.
How will the new groove rule affect irons and wedges?
The new [shallower] grooves may cause tour players to start hitting a few fliers. This may prompt them to go to the ball companies and ask for a ball with more spin.
Expert: Dan Stone, vpof research and development, Titleist Golf Clubs
What did you learn about attack angles from studying tour pros?
Attack angles were all over the place. This means ball spin can vary tremendously from golfer to golfer. (One reason to use a launch monitor to determine your ball spin).
How do you choose shafts to complement driver heads?
Stock shafts go back to ball speed. The median ball speed on the PGA Tour is 165 mph. For scratch to 4 handicappers the speed is about 155 mph, and for players with a 5 to 9 handicap the speed drops to 145 mph. (Club head speed is approx. 2/3 that of ball speed, so clubhead speed for pros is around 109 mph, for scratch players is 104 mph, and for low handicappers is around 97 mph, all other things being equal). Multiple stock shafts are offered so that the shafts can be matched with the clubhead loft and face setup (draw, neutral, etc) best suited for a particular player regardless of his clubhead speed.
All of the major manufacturers now offer fitting carts that allow you to combine different clubheads with different shafts to determine the best driver for you.