Are Woods and Short Irons More Forgiving?

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Truth be told, only part of that title is right.

The short irons are easier to hit because they’re shorter and heavier. That means you have more control and you won’t be trying to max out your swing speed on every single attempt. You know they won’t go as far, so you don’t try to hit your 8 iron 200 yards, for example.

There’s an old clubfitting saying: “The longer the length, the lower the loft, the harder a club is to hit”.  Here’s another: The 38/24 Rule.  A club that’s longer than 38″ and has less than 24* of loft will be harder to hit for the average golfer.  Notice how all the woods fall into the “longer/less” side of that Rule, while the short irons are on the other end?

No matter what anyone says, the driver is one of, if not the, hardest clubs to hit. That’s why, even after all these “improvements” that have been made, ~85% of the golfing population still slices the ball.

You see, drivers are made with a high Moment of Inertia, or MOI for short. In Layman’s Terms its the heads ability to resist twisting around its vertical axis on off-center strikes.

In theory, all these high-MOI heads should be eliminating these slices and hooks, making them easier to hit, right? I mean, the USGA maxed the spec out at a pretty generous 5,900 g*cm^2 (grams times centimeters squared)…

As far as I’m aware, only the Nike SuMo 5900 (that yellow and battleship grey square-headed monster from back in the day) made it to that number- if they weren’t just selling it. Most everyone else could only get close… but that’s OK, as anything over 4,300 is forgiving enough.

Why, then, are so many people still slicing the ball? All the MOI in the world doesn’t change the fact that many golfers are playing clubs too long for them. That’s what a fitting does for you: it’s literally a means to find the specs that allow you to hit the “sweet spot” the majority of the time, with what you consider to be an acceptable trade-off between distance and accuracy.

All those techy-specs governed by the USGA and R&A don’t do a thing if you can’t square the face at impact.

Some, like MOI, are rendered negligible if you can hit the “sweet spot” with a square face. It doesn’t matter if it’s the driver, 3 wood, or 6 iron. If it’s too long, you’ll struggle.

But when we get to the irons, you need to also consider the lie angle. If a lie angle’s too upright (toe too high), you’ll struggle with pulls and hooks. If the lie’s too flat (toe points down), you’ll struggle with pushes and slices.

The swing weight (how heavy the head feels) and shaft flex need to work together to allow you to feel the head throughout the swing, which also helps with timing your release. The grip needs to be the right size for your hands, so you don’t put on a “death grip”, which prevents you from squaring the face.

There are many aspects of a golf club that need to be considered, as well as your personal ability.  Get these things in line and you’ll control your clubs, making them easier to hit- not the other way around.

What about distance?

Good point.  You see, when a club’s too long and you miss the “sweet spot”, you’re gonna lose distance, as well.  Check this out:

missed sweet spot

You don’t just lose accuracy with an ill-fitting driver.  You lose distance, as well.

This is why getting fitted is so important.

You don’t just allow yourself to find more fairways, but you maintain- or in many cases, increase- your distance.  It just makes sense to take the time to get fitted for your sticks.  Not just the driver, but all of them, even your short irons.

Read also: which should you use, a 5-wood or a 3-hybrid?

About the Author

Justin Blair is the founder of Green Lantern Golf. When he isn't bringing his 10+ years of excellent craftsmanship experience to golf club fitting, building, and repair, he's geeking out about Star Wars (he's watched them all about 8,437 times!) and things like the MCU and LOTR, he's drinking mead and craft brews. If you wanna know more, check out my About Page!

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