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TOPIC: Loft changes over the years. Is a 4 iron really a 4 iron?

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Nickesquire
Loft changes over the years. Is a 4 iron really a 4 iron?
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Monday October 14, 2019 8:24 AM
I always find it funny when someone asks what club I hit a certain distance. The number on the club is just a number, it is the amount of loft that determines the height and length of shots at different swing speeds.

I have played Ping irons for around 45 years now. My current Rapture models are almost 15 years old, around the time many club manufacturers were introducing "game improvement" club lines.

I still carry and frequently use a 2 iron. Looking up the specs of my current set, my 2 iron is 18.5 degrees, my 3 iron is 21 degrees and my 4 iron is 24 degrees of loft.

In researching a new Ping set, they no longer offer a 2 or 3 iron. Club manufacturers solution to fool people into thinking they are hitting the ball farther? The 2019 4 iron is 20 degrees, the 5 iron 23 Degrees and the 6 iron is 26 degrees.

So each long and middle iron a number higher is actually stronger than it's prior counterpart a number lower? They also made "standard" club lengths slightly longer as the loft decreased. The Ping G700 4 iron is the exact same length as the Ping Rapture 3 iron as an example. 1/2" longer than the older 4 iron.

Decrease the loft and increase the length of the shaft = more distance for well hit shots.

2005 Ping Rapture Specs
2 iron/18.5 degrees
3 iron/21 degrees
4 iron/24 degrees
5 iron/27 degrees
6 iron/30.5 degrees
7 iron/34 degrees
8 iron/38 degrees
9 iron/42 degrees
PW/46 degrees
UW/50 degrees
SW/54 degrees
LW/58 degrees

2019 Ping G700 Specs
2 iron and 3 iron not offered even as a custom order. Must go with a hybrid or fairway metal for comparable lofts.
4 iron/20 degrees, -4 degrees, roughly equivalent to a 2.67 iron in the old set.
5 iron/23 degrees, -4 degrees, roughly equivalent to a 3.67 iron in the old set.
6 iron/26 degrees, -4.5 degrees, roughly equivalent to a 4.67 iron in the old set.
7 iron/29.5 degrees, -4.5 degrees, roughly equivalent to a 5.75 iron in the old set.
8 iron/34 degrees, -4 degrees, same as a 7 iron in the old set.
9 iron/39 degrees, -3 degrees, roughly equivalent to a 8.25 iron in the old set.
PW/44 degrees, -2 degrees, roughly equivalent to a 9.50 iron in the old set.
UW/49 degrees, -1 degree, .25 of a UW stronger than the old set.
SW/54 degrees exactly the same as the new set.


Would changing clubs make a difference?

No club can increase your swing speed 20+ mph and get you to carry it like Rory.

No club can make you curve it on command like Bubba.

And NO CLUB is going to fix shanks, really thin or really fat shots. Even with a set of $7K PXG irons, those mishits will still suck for all of us. To correct those, we all need a better, more consistent swing, not better equipment IMO. The bottom line is that no club will fix a swing that we cannot repeat or make consistent contact with.

A perfectly hit shot with comparable clubs will still be excellent. Unfortunately, depending on our skill levels, that rare occurrence is estimated to be anywhere from 1 in 10 shots (PGA Tour player) to 1 in a 1,000 shots (Average hacker trying to break 100). For me, it is roughly 1 in a 100 shots based on actual shot tracking during rounds using Arccos for the past 2 golf seasons.

It is the majority of decent (not great) contact shots that most golfers having better clubs could make a difference. I'll call them the 80% to 95% shots that make up the vast majority of shots most golfers actually achieve. Up to the individual to determine if the change and any perceived improvement justifies the $$$. For me, it finally was. I decided to retire my older Ping Rapture irons and ordered Ping G700's because I liked the look and feel.

The above charts are partially to illustrate straight from the manufacturer the raw numbers/effect of the loft changes over the past decade+. Also for me to mentally prepare for new clubs and see if the rough estimates I have on comparing old to new iron #'s turn out to be accurate in reality. I can already see that the PW/UW will be VERY frequently used clubs in my new set because they will have to cover a larger yardage range than before. Also that the 7-9 iron range will require more shots where I take something off to cover the increasing yardage ranges between the different clubs.

Another lesser talked about result of club manufacturers delofting clubs is the effect on chip and pitch shots. If you use clubs other than lob or sand wedges, maybe the reason your chips are running out more than you remember could be that you are using a club or more less on them (based on the new loft) than you were back in the day?

[[Edited by Nickesquire on Wednesday October 23, 2019 9:26 AM]]
REPLY
The goal is long and straight! But since I can no longer hit them long, could I at least hit them straighter?
 Message #92564
dcoachl
RE: Loft changes over the years. Is a 4 iron really a 4 iron?

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Tuesday October 15, 2019 11:22 AM
QUOTED  I always find it funny when someone asks what club I hit a certain distance.


I have an old set of blades with high launch shafts that I hit my 6 iron 150. I have a newer set that I hit my 8 iron 150. I currently have the old set in my bag and I'm always amazed at people I don't know who ask me what I'm hitting and then change clubs LOL
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 Message #92572 - This was a reply to message #92564
FirstFlightFX-101
RE: Loft changes over the years. Is a 4 iron really a 4 iron?
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    August 29, 2019


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Tuesday October 15, 2019 7:50 PM
He who laughs last, laughs the .......nope, wrong saying, the right one is "the laugh is on me".
A golf buddy acquired a set of two year old ping zings back in the day. He was first among us all to try CBs, let alone with offset and that high tech no chrome finish! Well, the rest of us were all still using pre-80's blades. After about our 3rd or 4th game watching him with those zings, he is clearly hitting each club farther than the rest of us. Golf buddy envy, jealousy and loathing drove the rest of us to get our high handicapping hands on this new tech too.

It took almost 2 years to realize that his zings really only added distance to his game. His scorecards were still reflecting his previous index, experience and gradual improvement......like the rest of us! Eventually, no matter how, you learn that those zings were almost 5 degrees stronger by club number than what the rest of us had(the industry was all going that way too). Specs began to matter more than club numbers; just glad I didn't lose too many bets before knowing the difference. ;-)
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 Message #92578 - This was a reply to message #92573
Nickesquire
RE: Loft changes over the years. Is a 4 iron really a 4 iron?
GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
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Tuesday October 15, 2019 8:08 PM
QUOTED  I'm always amazed at people I don't know who ask me what I'm hitting and then change clubs LOL


My point exactly. I get matched up with strangers who have played with me for less than 9 holes and they are using me as a guide on what club they should hit on a par 3 based on the club I'm hitting? And like you pointed out, the same swing could vary 2-3 club numbers depending on how old the clubs are and/or how strong the lofts are.

Had an interesting discussion on this topic with one of the pro's @ The Westin Player Signature course this afternoon. He has a 16.5 degree THREE iron. The 3 iron in my current set has 24 degrees of loft as a basis of compassion. 16.5 is historically a weak 3 or strong 4 WOOD loft.
REPLY
The goal is long and straight! But since I can no longer hit them long, could I at least hit them straighter?
 Message #92580 - This was a reply to message #92572
Deepsea14
RE: Loft changes over the years. Is a 4 iron really a 4 iron?
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Wednesday October 16, 2019 5:40 AM
It's the archer not the arrow...

All the technology improvements through the years has changed the game. Yet still have to compress the back of the ball with the implement in your hands.

I agree asking a stranger what club you hit (assuming a long beauty, high and straight, flag hunting ; like Nick does regularly) is not useful information.
If I pull the same number club from my bag thinking the same result based on that alone, I'd expect I'd be wrong almost every time.

Saw Ben Hogan mentioned in earlier post. I have the new Edge irons they are numbered 4-pw other sets have the degree of loft engraved.

The 4 iron is listed as 22 degrees and the PW is 46 I didn't gain a club or more in distance like the marketers often claim in advertising the latest and greatest these days.

Back in the day a guy in our weekly 9 hole league carried five 7-woods. They all went different distances and had different purposes based on the conditions and the lie. Go figure.

Now I'm interested in spec'ing out my friend's 4 iron (The Haig) blade as a blade can be. When he cracks it in the sweet spot it is long!

Not many strangers ask what I'm hitting of the tee. But last Friday after I got up and down chipping greenside 4 times a side (not all pars) the 8 index stranger I was playing took a look at my wedge and said; you got that working today!
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 Message #92581 - This was a reply to message #92580
Nickesquire
RE: Loft changes over the years. Is a 4 iron really a 4 iron?
GK Event: Played in a GK Event

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Wednesday October 16, 2019 1:33 PM
QUOTED  (assuming a long beauty, high and straight, flag hunting ; like Nick does regularly)


I must have missed most of those shots/rounds unless they moved the pin to the rough?
REPLY
The goal is long and straight! But since I can no longer hit them long, could I at least hit them straighter?
 Message #92583 - This was a reply to message #92580
leef2020
RE: Loft changes over the years. Is a 4 iron really a 4 iron?
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Wednesday October 16, 2019 3:50 PM
As with you, Nick, I get a chuckle whenever I hear someone else asking 'what club did you hit'. Nowadays, with rangefinders and GPS so common, why leave one's fate to someone else?!?

"Vanishing Loft Disease" is very well established in the golf industry. It's been happening across all clubs (mostly excepting the SW) since at least the 1980's.

I have an old Ping Eye 1-iron that I used to be able to hit 225 yards off the tee. It's measured loft is 16 degrees. The 2-iron measures 18 degrees. A few years ago, I called Ping and they were able to give me the original specs by club serial # of my set of Eye2s. So, my 1985 Eye2 4-iron had a 24.7 degree original spec.

According to Tom Wishon (WishonGolf), the 4-iron industry average was:
28 degrees in the 1960s/70s
26 degrees in the 1980s
24 degrees in the 1990s
20-22 degrees as of 2013.

As mentioned, the SW has remained mostly constant at 56 degrees. Certainly some produce 54-58 degree SW's, but the 'standard' 56 degree remains today, albeit blurred by a range of lofts/alternatives.

As the PW has been de-lofted from 52 degrees in the 1960s, 50 in the 1980s, 47 degrees in the 90s and in 2013 ranging from 42-47 degrees, an obvious 'gap' between the 56 degree SW was created by the manufacturers (from a std 4 degree gapping). Hence, the need now for another wedge, whether called gap, approach, attack, or utility wedge, etc., many of us now carry an extra club between the PW and SW. Back in the 60s/70s, this wasn't necessary, with a standard 4 degree gap between clubs being originally built.

For what it's worth, my conversation with Ping also revealed that the original specs on my 1985 Eye2s, the 9iron was 45 degrees, PW was 50.7 and the SW was 57.7.
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 Message #92584 - This was a reply to message #92564
FirstFlightFX-101
RE: Loft changes over the years. Is a 4 iron really a 4 iron?
Member Since:
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Thursday October 17, 2019 9:52 AM
I've never been a caddie, and I've never had a caddy during a round(...someday). I'm guessing the first rule they are taught and learn...never recommend a club number or loft? ;-)
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ChrisinVegas
RE: Loft changes over the years. Is a 4 iron really a 4 iron?
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Wednesday October 30, 2019 12:53 AM
True, and mostly on the money- except that with modern multi-material clubheads and lower COG positioning, today's 4-iron with its extra length and reduced loft still gets the same -or even higher- trajectory and spin as the older (7 years+) ones. So you get more carry distance, but with the same or even better stopping power. When I went to Ping G-25s 6 years ago, I did get some added carry distance, but more importantly I got a much higher launch, more spin and a sharper descent angle. For the first time in my life I could easily hold hard greens with my 5 & 4 irons. However, point taken- today's irons (2019), IMHO, have gone maybe a little too far in the search for distance as I have tested Ping, TaylorMade and Callaway "Game Improvement" Irons within the last 6 months and have found that while they definitely added distance, the spin rates and peak heights were lower, and the descent angles were shallower than my present G25s. Here in Vegas with the firm desert greens? I'll stick to my old clubs. I like seeing my 7-iron shots stop within a few feet of the pitch mark using my typical 4-piece, urethane covered ball. But if I played somewhere where the greens were softer then I wouldn't hesitate to update. Recently in Southern California my 9-iron would back up and I didn't like that (I switched to a "distance ball" as soon as that happened and was fine with the results). Loved hitting the hollow-body, sleek looking Ping i500s 12 more yards with quite good corresponding data when I tried them out, but I didn't get the exceptional spin and launch angle numbers that I currently get with my G25s. Yet, I confess, I'm intrigued. Anyway, check it out- bring your current 7-iron, test what's out there and compare the data for yourself. If you can get more carry, more height and more spin- and maybe even a tighter dispersion(!?)- with the same "number" club, heck, why wouldn't you change?

[[Edited by ChrisinVegas on Wednesday October 30, 2019 12:58 AM]]
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 Message #92630 - This was a reply to message #92564
shaunstorm123
RE: Loft changes over the years. Is a 4 iron really a 4 iron?
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Thursday October 31, 2019 2:45 PM
I think it really depends on what set you get. The m2 4i is barely weaker than my 2i. However those lofts and lengths change closer to "true" lofts when you move to a players iron. Hogan, who is making a comeback, just lists lofts.

Speaking to your new vs old... I got fitted for my driver when the first M1 came out. All the hype surrounding the new m5 and m6 I went back to fitter only to find that my shaft with my head was the best. Only way to generate same numbers was to put m6 turnes down to 7d on my shaft. Cant fix the middle.
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