There have never been more options when it comes to choosing the clubs for the top of your bag ... Here’s how to make sure you get it right.
If your swing is around … 95mph … You could probably play anything, so the decision comes down to your preference.
Atypical 14-15 handicapper has an average driver swing speed of 93mph, so if your club speed is anywhere between 90-95mph you’re pretty much bang on average. This sort of speed equates to an average drive of 196 metres, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but bear in mind that’s an average, which accounts for mishits as well as your Sunday best.
The decision about whether to gap your long game with fairway woods, hybrids or long/utility irons (or a combination of them all) is very open at this swing speed and will likely be governed by technique and personal preference.
It’s been almost 20 years since TaylorMade introduced the first Rescue, and since then hybrids have helped countless golfers hit higher, straighter, longer and more consistent long game shots. Simply, hybrids are much more forgiving than a traditional long iron, and it’s all down to the wider, hollow head having extra weight lower, and a centre of gravity further from the face.
Hybrids can be split roughly into body width categories. Narrower heads (like the Callaway Apex) tend to be better suited to golfers who attack down into their hybrids, engaging the turf like an iron.
Wider bodies (like the PING G410 and TaylorMade M6) often give “sweepers” – golfers who hit hybrids like fairway woods, and sweep shots off the deck – better results. Narrow bodies tend to spin less and are a bit more workable, whereas the extra spin created by wider models can help hold shots in the air for longer, which can aid carry distance for swing speeds at the lower end of this category.
"Hybrids are much more forgiving than a traditional long iron, and it’s all down to the wider, hollow head having extra weight lower, and a centre of gravity further from the face."
If you’ve tried hybrids before and found you have a tendency to pull shots left of the target, look for narrow body models, they tend to have less draw bias. Titleist’s TS3 has a movable centre of gravity, so it’s possible to dial in a neutral shot bias.
Don’t think you need to replace a 4-iron with a 4 hybrid – you don’t. The two aren’t evenly matched for shaft length or spin. Instead, look at carry distance and make sure you have accurate yardage gaps to your longest iron and shortest fairway wood.
Depending on your technique, golfers at this sort of speed are likely to have a 5-iron in the bag, possibly a 4-iron, too. The area to pay special attention to here is making these longer irons as friendly and playable as possible. Think about using utility irons that bring extra forgiveness to the party – Mizuno’s MP-20 HMB is a great example. HMB flights shots higher, so they land at a steeper angle making the ball more likely to stop on a green.
A ‘Grain Flow Forged Chromoly’ face and internal tungsten weighting help improve launch and stability, valuable attributes when flying approach shots over hazards on to a green from distance.
Don’t think just because you own a reasonable swing speed, a 7-wood (or higher lofted fairway) can’t bring something to the table when it comes to gapping the long game. There are plenty of pros who put a 7-wood in play at different points in the season. Think about which shots you most regularly need to hit. If a 7-wood gives the high ball flight and extra spin needed to hit a couple of par-5s, or hold the green on a long par-3 over water – while also being really forgiving from the tee and turf – why shy away from one?
Smaller heads like that on Titleist’s TS3 look great behind the ball. Bigger, wider but low profile heads like PING’s G410 can help forgiveness from the turf for less confident fairway players.
ALSO CONSIDER …
- Titleist U510 irons: $379. Available in 16 to 22-degree lofts.
- PING G410 Crossover irons: $389. Available in 17 to 23-degree lofts.
- TaylorMade M6 hybrids: $339. Available in 19 to 28-degree lofts.
- Callaway Apex hybrids: $419.99. Available in 18 to 24-degree lofts.
- TaylorMade M6 fairway woods: $429. Available in 14 to 24-degree lofts.
- Titleist TS3 fairway woods: $459. Available in 13.5 to 18-degree lofts.
It’s not always possible to get on a launch monitor and work with an experienced fitter to dial in your long game gapping, particularly if you’re not looking at buying anything new. So, how about instead spending a session at one of Australia’s X Golf locations, specifically to look at your gapping? You get access to plenty of ball flight information, including carry distances, and each shot is shown on screen just like on TV nowadays at Tour events.
To find your nearest X Golf location, visit, www.xgolf.com.au
A typical long game set-up at this speed might look like this …
Fairway wood: 16.5°