The Hottest Category in Golf Equipment | The Hot List

Golf Digest equipment editors Mike Stachura and Mike Johnson discuss how technology has made players, and players distance irons the hottest category in golf equipment. The Hot List presented by DICK's Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy.

Released on 2/27/2020

Transcript

00:00
[whacks]
00:01
You are very old.
00:02
It's time to get on with it.
00:03
[whacks]
00:04
All right, good shot right there.
00:05
On the green.
00:06
Why are you playing par threes at 190-yards?
00:08
There's another tee box, just move right up there
00:11
and you can hit your three iron all day.
00:16
Welcome to The Hot List.
00:17
Presented by Dick's Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy.
00:20
We are talkin' irons today.
00:22
I'm Mike, he's...
00:24
I'm Mike also, somehow.
00:25
Excellent, working out perfectly.
00:27
We're here to talk about irons for better players
00:29
for the most part today.
00:31
We've got our players iron category.
00:34
And then one that's dear to your heart.
00:36
Players-distance iron,
00:37
the fastest growing category in the iron game today
00:40
and I think it's an iron that not only works
00:42
for better players but really kind of the mid-handicapper
00:45
who really believes that he's either aspiring to get better
00:49
or maybe he's lost a little hop off his fast ball
00:52
and needs to get a little bit more juice.
00:54
Yeah, well I'm well aware of that.
00:56
I've been playing players-distance irons
00:58
for a number of years now but you know--
01:00
You are very old.
01:01
I am very old,
01:02
let's go to the players iron category to start though.
01:05
I mean these are not your grandfather's
01:07
butter knife blade, muscle backs of years going by,
01:11
I mean to think just because they're a players iron
01:14
that they are devoid of technology,
01:16
is makin' a big mistake.
01:18
What we talk about when it comes to irons today,
01:21
is forgiveness on a heel-to-toe basis.
01:24
So in other words, if I miss it a little bit off center,
01:26
it's still gonna go the same sorta distance.
01:29
What you're seeing is a lot of
01:30
tungsten in these players irons.
01:33
Again, when we talk about players irons,
01:35
we're basically talking about
01:37
a single material iron in terms of the face,
01:39
the face is not necessarily
01:41
contributing a lot in terms of distance,
01:44
but you're getting forgiveness
01:45
in terms of the heel-toe weighting
01:47
and maybe a little forgiveness as well at the sole,
01:50
you've got a lower center of gravity
01:52
so you're gonna get a little bit higher launch.
01:55
Yeah, and then you go to the players-distance category
01:58
and as the name implies, the goal is distance, right?
02:01
And what that means is driver design
02:04
is trickling down into irons,
02:05
things like cup-faces that used to
02:08
only be in metal woods or drivers,
02:10
now are prevalent in these type of irons.
02:13
And along with that,
02:14
you're getting incredibly, incredibly thin faces,
02:17
I mean, 1.5 millimeters thick,
02:20
about the width of a dime or somethin'.
02:22
So, what you need to do in that,
02:24
when you make the face really thick,
02:26
the sound can get a little iffy.
02:28
The pursuit of distance can be a crazy drug,
02:32
and you get the face as thin as you possibly can,
02:35
you get a lot of flexibility,
02:36
you get a lot of unwanted vibration.
02:38
So what we're seeing in the players-distance category
02:41
is things injected into that structure.
02:45
You know, a foam material, a urethane material,
02:50
materials that have special elements of air pockets.
02:54
The whole idea is, can this material sort of support
02:58
the flexing of the face, so you're still getting the speed,
03:01
but dampen the vibration so you get the good feel
03:05
that you're expecting from a players iron.
03:07
Right, and the neat trick in that is
03:09
you need to come up with a material
03:10
that still going to allow the face to flex,
03:13
while still supporting the face
03:15
and givin' you the rebound on the way back.
03:17
Yeah, to me, the sort of deciding point,
03:20
and again when you think about this iron purchase decision,
03:24
you've gotta get with a fitter
03:26
and you've gotta put a little trust in the fitter
03:28
to kind of see what you're doing and what you need,
03:31
and he's gonna direct you
03:32
whether it's a players iron approach
03:34
or a players-distance iron's approach,
03:36
he's gonna find that right mix for you.
03:39
But I think the challenge in this category is,
03:43
Do I play golf based on my best shots,
03:46
do I play golf to control ball flight,
03:49
or do I want a certain shape,
03:51
but I want distance in that shape?
03:53
Yeah, and I think the fitting point is really important,
03:56
if you go for a fitting
03:58
and you're in between these categories,
04:00
really take stock of what it is
04:02
exactly that you're looking for.
04:04
If distance is your objective,
04:06
don't be afraid to say that,
04:08
there's no shame in saying,
04:09
I've lost half a club or a full club.
04:12
Lord knows I've done that.
04:13
Obviously with these types of irons,
04:15
players are trying to control ball flight,
04:19
they also look at the way the sole design.
04:21
Generally speaking, this set of clubs,
04:24
whether it's players or players-distance,
04:25
is gonna have a narrower sole
04:28
that's gonna allow you to sort of
04:29
manipulate ball flight a little bit,
04:31
so how the club works through the turf
04:33
can be really important in how you say,
04:35
Hey, this is the club for me.
04:37
But, more importantly, I think we have
04:40
a clear illustration of the difference,
04:42
in terms of the one thing that matters, distance.
04:46
Absolutely.
04:47
So I've got two clubs here from TaylorMade,
04:50
I have their P760 Iron, which is a players iron.
04:54
Like we said, not devoid of technology,
04:56
it has a little bit of foam injected in it
04:58
to make it feel good and give it a little bit of spring.
05:01
But their P790 Iron, is the work-horse
05:04
in the players-distance category.
05:06
I mean, this was a big hit when it first came out,
05:09
the new version has even been updated further.
05:12
The foam filling inside gives it plenty of rebound.
05:15
The face is plenty springy.
05:16
And we should see some noticeable differences here.
05:22
And I've got a lovely shot
05:24
at the fifth hole at Pebble Beach.
05:26
Says it's 143 to the pin,
05:28
my normal seven is somewhere around there.
05:31
[Mike S.] Little gust roams.
05:33
[whacks]
05:36
Do I get closest to the pin?
05:40
All right, good shot right there, on the green.
05:43
138-yards with that ball.
05:45
As I said, that's right around
05:47
my stock distance for a seven iron.
05:50
Now, let's see what we can get,
05:52
with the players-distance iron.
05:57
Wanna look at that ball speed, 111.
06:00
[whacks]
06:04
Good contact there as well.
06:08
As you can see, that's now at the back of the greens.
06:10
But look at that ball speed difference.
06:12
Look at the ball, I mean 153 carry there.
06:16
Ball speed is 120 mile an hour.
06:19
If we can go back and take a look at the previous
06:22
it'll really kind of show the differences here.
06:24
Well, again, your decent angle is gonna be
06:27
a little flatter but still very, very good
06:32
to keep the ball on the green.
06:35
And again, I'm looking at this logically,
06:39
why do I not want, more distance?
06:41
Well exactly, I mean if that ball went
06:44
to the back of the green,
06:45
it's about 16-yards further,
06:48
so it's 154-yards,
06:50
which is about what I used
06:51
to hit my seven iron 30 years ago,
06:53
when I was a semi-young man,
06:55
and the big takeaway is,
06:58
it's not that the ball ended up on the back of the green,
07:00
what it really means is,
07:01
instead of hittin' a seven iron,
07:03
I could be hitting an eight iron,
07:05
and who doesn't want to do that?
07:06
Well, that's interesting that you talk about distance
07:09
and controlling the ball flight.
07:11
On tour, there's actually a trend now
07:15
to get a little bit more of this
07:16
players-distance mentality in their iron sets.
07:20
We just had a phone call not that long ago,
07:23
where the sort of interest at the tour level in distance
07:28
is significantly greater than it was in their iron game,
07:32
but then you go down to the Web.com level,
07:34
or the Korn Ferry Tour level,
07:37
and it's twice what it used to be,
07:39
in terms of players wanting more distance in their iron.
07:42
You go down to the Collegiate level
07:44
and the better, young armature level,
07:46
they said it's quadruple the level of interest
07:48
in getting distance in their irons.
07:50
Well, and that only makes sense, right?
07:51
Because what you have are younger players
07:53
that have grown up playing with this technology,
07:55
and they want to continue playing with this technology.
07:58
They don't want to go backwards,
07:59
they want to keep moving forward.
08:01
Well, and you talk about tour players,
08:04
some of the older tour players,
08:05
Phil Mickelson likes a little heat in his irons,
08:08
he tends to play stronger lofts
08:10
and he tends to put some of these
08:11
players-distance irons in his bag.
08:13
Absolutely, and you know, again to the point
08:15
even on the players irons,
08:17
you know, these are what I'd refer to
08:18
as the modern day players iron
08:21
and literally every PGA Tour player,
08:23
say for a handful who still like muscle back blades,
08:27
they've got at least one or two of these
08:29
in the bag in the long irons,
08:30
and many of them have a complete set.
08:32
Again, we believe the whole point of the game
08:35
and new technology is to find a way to get to easier,
08:39
I'm not sure why you would not want
08:42
how much easier the game can be
08:44
with a players-distance iron versus a players iron,
08:46
but again, I'm coming at this from a very poor place,
08:51
man who doesn't know distance in any form.
08:53
[laughs]
08:54
Well, this dove-tails nicely into our question today
08:58
from Justin C. in New Jersey who says,
09:02
I play an 190-yard par three
09:04
where I normally hit my three iron.
09:06
The rest of my foursome keeps telling me
09:08
to get a hybrid instead.
09:10
Are they right?
09:11
I like my three iron.
09:13
Well, you know what Justin,
09:15
you probably liked your flip phone,
09:17
and you probably liked paper maps at one time too,
09:21
but, you know, it's time to get on with it
09:23
and unless you have a parking spot at this weeks tour event,
09:27
keep the three iron out of the bag,
09:29
you may not have to go for a hybrid
09:30
but players-distance three iron maybe is for you,
09:34
or a game improvement three iron,
09:36
but a players three iron probably not something you want.
09:40
Well interestingly enough,
09:41
it's very difficult to get a three iron
09:43
as part of a stock set today.
09:45
Yeah, special order.
09:46
Seeing it much more often the case,
09:48
the sets are starting with the four iron
09:49
and yes we know lofts have kind of been strengthened
09:53
and today's four iron is yesterday's three iron,
09:56
we get it.
09:57
I would say, Justin,
09:58
why are you playing par threes at 190-yards?
10:01
There's another tee box, just move right up there
10:03
and you can hit your three iron all day.
10:05
You can hit that seven iron right on the hole right there.
10:08
You could do that too.
10:09
All right, if you have any additional questions for us,
10:12
feel free to hit us up on Twitter.
10:14
Until next time.
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