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Handicap Appropriate Equipment-Ego vs Reality


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So there I was, talking golf with my brother in law and somehow the topic of our HIS brother in law ( who is 65) , came up.

We both agreed that if he were to change to regular shafts rather then stiff heavy shafts, his scores would improve (Am 59 my brother in law is 62, we both play regular shafts) that also  got me thinking of a former USAF friend who in the 80's would ONLY play Titleist Balatas, he would go through 8-10 a round, yet he struggled to shot to a 18 handicap, he also played muscle back blades.

So now I want to continue my "research" and just curious, is there  handicap appropriate equipment ?

Why do so many golfers want equipment with "pro specs" yet they should be using Game improvement? 

Would lower handicapped golfers benefit from forgiving equipment rather than blades? And if your a low single handicap, have you tried clubs that are more forgiving?

 

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3 & 5 WOOD: default_callaway-small.jpg.a58e7c6760b71a9eb95d385ecc5d2200.jpg Callaway XR-16, Fujikura Speeder Evolution 565 Red (R) 

IRONS 5-SW: default_ping-small.jpg.b7606a25498d65282474c96f18d2debd.jpg PING G-700, 2 upright, std loft  Alta CB (R) + 1/2"

HYBRID 3-4:  default_ping-small.jpg.b7606a25498d65282474c96f18d2debd.jpg PING G-410, 1 upright,  Alta CB 70 Red (R) + 1/2"

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See the similar topic that Johnny Callaway posted.  More so on GI vs players irons than shaft related though. 

I will say some of it is ego. But not all. I had a discussion argument whatever you want to call it, with a Buddy yesterday who is a good player.  He was given a sleeve of Kirkland balls.   And afterwards said, he had come to believe that I should play those.   That nobody including him who doesn’t shoot in the 70’s needs to play a ProV.  

Well you can probably imagine how and where this conversation went.   It was like arguing with him on politics.  Well not quite that bad, but close.   He is an old “soul” and refuses to see/understand how truly ANYONE can benefit from a tour level ball—from any manufacturer—not just Titleist.  

so yeah, some are stuck on once was and have never had the chance to learn how they can benefit by some change or just refuse to be open minded to it. 

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Going back about 15 years for the first time I got down to single figures, the irons I was using were Mizuno MX-15 cavity back cast irons with DG r300 shafts. I started to think I was a player and got myself a set of Taylormade LT2 irons with stiff rifle shafts. After about 6 months and going up a couple of strokes in my handicap I found a way to play with them by changing my swing but hurting my body, ended up with tendonitis. Went back to the MX-15 and then got fitted for a nice set of Mizuno MX-25 forged irons with DG R300 which I used for about 10 years. I learnt my lesson the hard way and 3 sets later still using cavity back forged irons. 

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It is so true and as @Golfspy_CG2 mentioned there is more than just ego. Many people feel playing blades will force you to learn to strike it better and maybe it would but that implies you are practicing a lot not just showing up to play. I also know that previously the GI category has some looks issues but I will say most new stuff looks great. Also now you have those against loft jacking as they call it and more reasons beyond that I can't think of right now.

Though the best endorsement of playing the iron with the most forgiveness you can handle is Mark Crossfield in a YouTube. A teaching professional and likely plus handicap if he kept one playes the Srixons ZX4s and stops his irons at  6 and plays hybrids from 22° and up.

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The subject made me think:

Is the handicap determined/influenced more by the skill of the player or the equipment the player plays.    Would you consider a scratch player that plays muscle backs a better player than a scratch player that play GI clubs?   Is a 20 handicapper that plays muscle backs a better player than a 20 handicapper that plays SGI?   Would their handicaps change much if they were to change equipment?  Would the 20 handicap muscle back player become a 10 if he switched to GI/SGI clubs?  Would the scratch player playing GI become a 10 if he switched to muscle backs?

I don't think a player can learn to play better by playing muscle backs without a significant amount of practice and frustration and I don't think a low handicapper would be significantly be impacted by moving to a more forging iron.    Looking at my swing over the past year and going through most wanted testing means I have hit everything from players irons to SGI over the past year....none of them helped my toe strike.  I needed a swing fix and now I feel like I could hit any category of clubs.  However,  less forgiving irons present a problem on some swings because I don't always hit the middle of the face.   I have also learned that within the same category there is a significant difference between clubs.  Some are low spin distance clubs and others are higher spinning and shorter.   

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In some cases it is ego.
 

In some cases it’s a lack of knowledge - for example shaft flex - saying I play stiff or regular or x has no real meaning because there is no industry standard.

 

In regards to the ball we all know that the data shows most should play a urethane covered ball.  More important though is to pick a ball and stick with it through the season.

 

In some cases though it’s for fun - if a person doesn’t care about score and simply plays golf for fun/social reasons then by all means go for it - blades, 48 inch driver shaft, top flites, whatever it may be.

 

There are 65 year olds that can still handle a stiff flex heavier shaft - I’m not one of them - but I know they are out there.

 

Most of us would do better with lighter and some game improvement in our irons though. 

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22 minutes ago, cnosil said:

The subject made me think:

Is the handicap determined/influenced more by the skill of the player or the equipment the player plays.    Would you consider a scratch player that plays muscle backs a better player than a scratch player that play GI clubs?   Is a 20 handicapper that plays muscle backs a better player than a 20 handicapper that plays SGI?   Would their handicaps change much if they were to change equipment?  Would the 20 handicap muscle back player become a 10 if he switched to GI/SGI clubs?  Would the scratch player playing GI become a 10 if he switched to muscle backs?

I don't think a player can learn to play better by playing muscle backs without a significant amount of practice and frustration and I don't think a low handicapper would be significantly be impacted by moving to a more forging iron.    Looking at my swing over the past year and going through most wanted testing means I have hit everything from players irons to SGI over the past year....none of them helped my toe strike.  I needed a swing fix and now I feel like I could hit any category of clubs.  However,  less forgiving irons present a problem on some swings because I don't always hit the middle of the face.   I have also learned that within the same category there is a significant difference between clubs.  Some are low spin distance clubs and others are higher spinning and shorter.   

This is extremely helpful, insightful. Have you noticed a pattern of which type (not so much players/GI but subset type with that group) performs best for you?  Does that type vary among the testers? 
 

I guess this is a tru fit sort of question where MGS claims that if it knows a players swing type it can fit him to a driver based upon a huge available data base. 
 

im going to test that theory this summer or fall. I was fit for driver and have that driver in the bag. At some be point I’m going to get ahold of a G425, what try fit says I should be gaming by a wide margin, and go head to head. 
 

I suppose you could do the same thing with irons. MGS must have tons of data there too.

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Taylor Made Sim2  10.5 (Opened 1 click) Ventus Blue 5  R flex

Ping G410 5-9 wood  Alta 65 R flex

Wilson D7 forged 6-GW -  Mamiya recoil 460 R flex

Edison Wedges 54 and 59 KBS Tour Graphite 80's

EVNRoll ER 5

Titleist Pro VIx optic yellow with revkev stamped on them

Tour Exotics 3 wood is in the bag because we are allowed 14 clubs.  It's a great club for pulling balls out of the water or from bushes - you never want to put your hand into anything in Florida unless you are absolutely certain that it's safe.  There are rare wind conditions when I might hit it off the tee on a few holes that I play.  

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7 minutes ago, revkev said:

This is extremely helpful, insightful. Have you noticed a pattern of which type (not so much players/GI but subset type with that group) performs best for you?  Does that type vary among the testers? 
 

I guess this is a tru fit sort of question where MGS claims that if it knows a players swing type it can fit him to a driver based upon a huge available data base. 
 

im going to test that theory this summer or fall. I was fit for driver and have that driver in the bag. At some be point I’m going to get ahold of a G425, what try fit says I should be gaming by a wide margin, and go head to head. 
 

I suppose you could do the same thing with irons. MGS must have tons of data there too.

I am sure there is a pattern in my data somewhere;  but I don't get to see it all side by side or know the engineering details for each club.   When I look at my numbers for a session it is very apparent that some clubs work better than others.  This data would include, club speed, ball speed, launch angle, height, spin, dispersion, impact location, face angle, path, rotation speed, etc.  Data that is part of the selection process but not necessarily published in the articles because it would be so different for each player.   It is interesting that as you compare these clubs side by side you start to notice differences that probably include how you strike the ball (thin, heavy, closed face, open face, path difference).  This has been a contention of MGS on why it humans are needed instead of robots as robots don't react to a clubs weight or its appearance.  An example would be my last session for players irons (I don't remember the clubs).   I was rotating through three clubs and one of them just didn't work as well as the others.  When it came up in the rotation it just didn't seem to perform;  you think it is your swing and then you move to the next club and you get your desired results.  

I don't know how far MGS has gone with analytics with irons, but they did have some people studying data analytics at headquarters to take about irons and identifying the best iron for a player.    Given enough data points I am sure something like this is possible.  This is really what a club fitter does;  the database is in their head and they experiment with known results to find what works for you.   Same with the mizuno shaft optimizer.  

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                :titelist-small: 915H  21*  w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype
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46 minutes ago, cnosil said:

I am sure there is a pattern in my data somewhere;  but I don't get to see it all side by side or know the engineering details for each club.   When I look at my numbers for a session it is very apparent that some clubs work better than others.  This data would include, club speed, ball speed, launch angle, height, spin, dispersion, impact location, face angle, path, rotation speed, etc.  Data that is part of the selection process but not necessarily published in the articles because it would be so different for each player.   It is interesting that as you compare these clubs side by side you start to notice differences that probably include how you strike the ball (thin, heavy, closed face, open face, path difference).  This has been a contention of MGS on why it humans are needed instead of robots as robots don't react to a clubs weight or its appearance.  An example would be my last session for players irons (I don't remember the clubs).   I was rotating through three clubs and one of them just didn't work as well as the others.  When it came up in the rotation it just didn't seem to perform;  you think it is your swing and then you move to the next club and you get your desired results.  

I don't know how far MGS has gone with analytics with irons, but they did have some people studying data analytics at headquarters to take about irons and identifying the best iron for a player.    Given enough data points I am sure something like this is possible.  This is really what a club fitter does;  the database is in their head and they experiment with known results to find what works for you.   Same with the mizuno shaft optimizer.  

I have always thought there would be the space for irons though there is the complexity of the different types and build but could go the choice of one recommendation for each category and let the player pick from there. Would be an interesting product. Always thought as well this is where foresight could really up there offerings. If there data was tagged well enough they would have a huge data set to produce say the top 3 options for a given swings after say 10 or so with your gamer. Then of course the fitter is there as that expert to realize when the model is not working and adjust.

Of course that's a tricky conversation to have fitter about automating part of their job, but still a modelling task I dream about trying. If MSG wants to send some data I am not an expert but happy to test around with it.

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17 hours ago, MadMex said:

So there I was, talking golf with my brother in law and somehow the topic of our HIS brother in law ( who is 65) , came up.

We both agreed that if he were to change to regular shafts rather then stiff heavy shafts, his scores would improve (Am 59 my brother in law is 62, we both play regular shafts) that also  got me thinking of a former USAF friend who in the 80's would ONLY play Titleist Balatas, he would go through 8-10 a round, yet he struggled to shot to a 18 handicap, he also played muscle back blades.

So now I want to continue my "research" and just curious, is there  handicap appropriate equipment ?

Why do so many golfers want equipment with "pro specs" yet they should be using Game improvement? 

Would lower handicapped golfers benefit from forgiving equipment rather than blades? And if your a low single handicap, have you tried clubs that are more forgiving?

 

I dont believe that there is such a thing.  Im a 20 handicap, I play blade irons and I hit them just as well as I do any other kind of iron.  I also wouldnt agree to picking shaft flex based upon handicap.  You could be a 20 handicap but have a high swing speed or an aggressive transition, necessitating stiff shafts.

IMO, this whole, "ego vs reality" thing that often comes up with golf equipment is just people trying to convince themselves that a new club can fix their swing flaws.  Its just not the case.  If you want to play better, you need to look at the weak aspects of your game and work on turning your weaknesses into strengths.

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I think a lot of people are influence by their buddies and cost of clubs when making a purchase.  I have a friend who has a closet full of clubs and when they do not perform like he want he looks for something else on sale.  Cannot count the number of putters he has.  My question to him was, when were you fitted for a set?  His response was, waste of money. 

Like asking which came first the chicken or the egg.  My recommendation for any level of player, who is struggling is to see a teaching pro and get the tweaks worked out and stop listening to friends.  There are a lot of arm chair golf instructors in this world and that is not a solution only a good way to loose a friend. 

Get your game to where you are enjoying it and then go see a fitter, not just a big box store fitter, a certified fitter who is trained thru a number of manufacturers.  I have two whom I trust and go to no one else in my area.  They will put you on Trackman and test numerous heads and shafts and compare the numbers. 

A good fitter will ask you to bring in your clubs to review what you are playing and to establish a base.  By continuing to listen to non qualified golfers for help and buying on sale off the rack or on eBay clubs you are spending more that a custom fitted set would cost.  I will be 75 in September, always go for fittings and still get advice and instruction from my instruction (PGA pro) at our course. 

I am recovering from back surgery in 2020, have arthritis in my lower back and hip issues and it is not as easy as it was.  I am working in getting my handicap back down to a ten which I can live with at my age.  My mid irons are not my friend right now and with the change over to Seth Raynor greens and bunkers on our course, I am adjusting with my putting and sand game. 

 I do my best not to offer advise and not to seek it unless it is from my teacher.  Why?  Because he/they can pot the issues very quickly and give you methods for correcting them.  All of our games are different.  With respect.   

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... Looks like it is time for my mantra: Play the most forgiving irons you can effectively play. For some on tour that hit hundreds of balls every single day, often under the watchful eye of their instructor, MB's might be the most forgiving they can effectively play. Distance and most importantly trajectory and the ability to work the ball means MB's for some, but even then more Pro's play some form of CB's. 

... Let me put it this way, how good are your misses? For most of us we miss more often than hit the dead center. Hogan said he hits 1 shot per round exactly like he wanted to. As a + index, I have a set of Srixon Z Forged MB's I play for 2 reasons. The first is they are fun to play. The feel is exquisite and trajectory control is a little easier than my CB's. But the second and most import is to remind me why I use Players CB's. There are always a few shots that suffer more than my CB's and I feel like they cost me potentially 1-3 shots a round. 1 is too many and 3 is certainly enough to increase my handicap by a few strokes. I had a Taylor Made fitting last month and was interested in the P770's or maybe a combo of P7MC/P770 but there was no doubt I performed best with the P790's. Not a night and day difference but a slightly tighter dispersion, a more consistent trajectory and about a 5 yd distance gain. At age 68, 5 more yards is not a bad thing moving forward. To be brutally honest, my ego made a quick and weak defense for P770's but it was obvious the P790's were a better fit for me, even though I just sold a set last fall. 🤪  The saving grace for me was I did not hit the P790's any better than my Cobra Forged MIM irons, just 3-5 yds longer but also with less spin. So until I find a need for more distance, I am content with my Cobra's and my once a month Z Forged reminder round. 

... I also fall squarely in the S-flex category by swing speed but the last 2 fittings I went through proved I have a tighter dispersion and a little more distance with R-flex shaft. I hit my 8 iron 155. I highly recommend a fitting for every golfer but especially those that have never been fit. HOW you swing the club is always more important than how FAST you swing the club. While a R-Flex works for me with a smooth transition, someone with a slower swing speed but a quick load hitter may perform better with an X-Flex. 

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                 TaylorMade SIM2 Max 18* ... Tensei Raw Blue 65R
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A really fun way to "prove the point" that someone needs to go lighter weight or lighter flex is to rent clubs on a vacation with whoever you are trying to convince. MOST often those clubs will be regular flex, MOST often they will have a 50g driver, a 60g fairway, a 70g hybrid and an light iron shaft.

After 2-3 holes it should be pretty clear if the lightweight, lighter flex stuff works! Plus, at 62, who wants to drag a golf bag through the airport?

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Pretty sure you know the answer.  One other take - some people simply enjoy the beauty of the blades and the opportunity to play "traditional" equipment rather than the tech packed modern offerings.  Blades are beautiful.  I used to play Hogan blades, Apex, Apex II.  They're gorgeous.  But even as a single digit I'm not near good enough for them.  

Ultimately, whatever brings you joy is what you should play. 

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If the pros aren't afraid to use game improving equipment, what in the world makes anyone think it's beneath them?  Spend the time to get fit properly and play the equipment that best suits your ball striking and check your ego at the door!

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Some people have to touch the hot stove. Others learn by watching people touch the hot stove. For me...I had to touch the hot stove. I like shiny new things and would get seduced by marketing and ego. When I finally learned to stop touching the hot stove, my hdcp dropped and that is all I care about now (lower hdcp). I'm cured...sorta

Driver: :ping-small: G410 LST, HZRDUS Smoke 6.0

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Irons: :ping-small: i210s (6-UW), Alta CB Stiff

Wedges: :ping-small: Glide 3.0 (54, 58 EYE2), Ping Z-Z115

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Since we're tossing opinions here, one more can't hurt. This topic is timely as I have been wondering whether softer shafts and/or GI irons would benefit me. I'm 62, carry an 8 hcp and have had 2 iron fittings in the past 45 days. Both OEM reps fit me in stiff and both said regular wouldn't really benefit me, at least at this point in life. So IMHO the wrong thing to do is to select a shaft or an iron design based on handicap, or exclude a shaft / club based on handicap. There are more important factors involved. ChuckZ's post above covers those bases pretty well.

With the costs of equipment today you better be playing something that you like.

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1 minute ago, Scott M said:

Some people have to touch the hot stove. Others learn by watching people touch the hot stove. For me...I had to touch the hot stove. I like shiny new things and would get seduced by marketing and ego. When I finally learned to stop touching the hot stove, my hdcp dropped and that is all I care about now (lower hdcp). I'm cured...sorta

 

... Anecdotal no doubt but I played with two Pro's from Desert Mountain in Phoenix back in the winter of 2019. If I remember correctly one played Pings and shot a 63 while the other played Titleist 690MB's and shot an 82. I asked why doesn't he play Pings and his older friend responded "because he is an idiot" and surprisingly the guy agreed LOL. 

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Driver:   TaylorMade SIM2 Max 10.5* ... Diamana Ltd 60R
Fairway:  TaylorMade SIM2 Max 15* ... Tensei Raw Blue 65R
                 TaylorMade SIM2 Max 18* ... Tensei Raw Blue 65R
Utility:   TaylorMade DHy 19* ... Diamana Ltd 65R
              Taylor Made Sim Hybrid 22* ... Diamana Ltd 75R
Irons:    4-Pw Cobra King Tour MIM ... Steelfiber 95R
Wedges:  Cobra Snakebite 50* ... Steelfiber 95R
                 Vokey SM8 58* ... Steelfiber 95R
Putter:  Cleveland Hunting Beach Soft 11S 33.5"
Ball:      TaylorMade TP5x (2021)

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22 hours ago, ZenGolfer said:

I dont believe that there is such a thing.  Im a 20 handicap, I play blade irons and I hit them just as well as I do any other kind of iron.  I also wouldnt agree to picking shaft flex based upon handicap.  You could be a 20 handicap but have a high swing speed or an aggressive transition, necessitating stiff shafts.

IMO, this whole, "ego vs reality" thing that often comes up with golf equipment is just people trying to convince themselves that a new club can fix their swing flaws.  Its just not the case.  If you want to play better, you need to look at the weak aspects of your game and work on turning your weaknesses into strengths.

IMO, 20 handicapper I think your are a little off here !

 

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Posted (edited)

I used to watch the ping Pga tour guys hitting cavity backs and thought they had a lesser level of skill because of the level of forgiveness in those irons but it has now amazed me that ping has made an effective blade in the blueprint irons and those Clubfaces are tiny compared to even  other blades in my opinion (I have tried them) and how many of the pga tour ping players are using those instead..   

so yeah..  those guys are good.   

I started with my grandfathers wilson blades then moved into Cleveland ta1s which I should never have given away.. I personally don't like the offset in most cavity back irons and the higher launch so have used shafts to try and drop the flight down (dg x100) which works. The cavity backs were two clubs longer and stronger which was fun off the tee but not so good into the green.. I then went to more of a players Mid cavity like the Taylormade rsi tp but occasionally hit a vicious hook on a knock down shot which I didn't like..  so now I have Taylormade p730s (Dustin Johnson - pure blade) and Taylormade p760s (mid cavity) and swap between the two . I actually find the p730s more comfortable at address which is just weird and hit nice shots but I'm sticking with the p760s because even though they seem smaller I know there's more forgiveness somewhere there..    🤣 ha ha cheers 

Edited by Tigerwilson
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