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Playing with half sets?

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I often hear it suggested to players with 20+ handicaps that they play, permanently or as an experiment, with a "half set" consisting of something like driver, 5 wood, 5 7 9 irons, sand wedge, and putter. I don't understand the rationale behind leaving 25-yard gaps in your iron set. The gap in the woods I can understand; in fact, I'm considering playing sans fairway woods myself. But I can't imagine how any benefit could come from leaving the even-numbered irons at home. Can anyone enlighten me on this?

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For each club, you can play a 3/4. 1/2 shot that will reduce the distance, so you can cover all the yardages.  It is a fun thing to try.  Example:

My 4 iron is my  180 club, 6 160 club, 8 140, PW 120.  If I have a 150 yard shot, I will do a 3/4 6 iron or even a 1/2 4 iron depending on the carry I need. For 155, a full 6 irons with choking up and inch on the grip.  For the 3/4 swing, you swing the same speed on the downswing, but just shorted the backswing a bit.  The shorter backswing often produces a more accurate shot as well and better contact.

I would not do it all the time.  It is fun though.

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Fosters creativity.

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I often hear it suggested to players with 20+ handicaps that they play, permanently or as an experiment, with a "half set" consisting of something like driver, 5 wood, 5 7 9 irons, sand wedge, and putter. I don't understand the rationale behind leaving 25-yard gaps in your iron set. The gap in the woods I can understand; in fact, I'm considering playing sans fairway woods myself. But I can't imagine how any benefit could come from leaving the even-numbered irons at home. Can anyone enlighten me on this?

I think it's a throwback to the thinking of previous decades, when a set of usable irons seemed like a more expensive investment than is the case today, and beginning golfers were encouraged to buy a half set, take a handful of lessons, and then start to play. It's how I began as junior golfer in the early 1980s - (persimmon) 4 wood; 3, 5, 7, 9 iron; SW; and a putter.

I think there's still some very sound logic in this approach. Learning to hit an iron well is still the most vital skill in being able to actually play golf (in terms of getting around the course and gaining a sense of enjoyment and fulfillment from the game - irrespective of the actual score). For beginners and very high handicappers, the frustration is not found in scoring 8 or worse on a par 4, it's in all the whiffs, topped shots, and rank failures to advance the ball. Getting the ball airborne, and advancing it a reasonable distance and in a direction more or less proximate to the original intention, is much more important. Hence, for such golfers, a 5 iron or a 7 iron (along with the SW and the putter, so that one can actually finish a hole), is more or less all one needs to get started and have fun on the golf course.

Golf seems so much more technical these days than it did back then (at least for amateurs). I wonder how many 1970s and 1980s mid-handicappers eyeballed a shot, rather than made an objective decision based on known yardages for each iron, (truth be told, I usually still do)? For better golfers, if you haven't a 6 iron in your bag, it's a poor show if you can't conceive of something useful with a 5 iron, instead.

For walking golf, carrying your clubs, there's also a lot to be said for a half set. The minimalist approach is often fun (carts and even pull-carts seem to encourage a terrible surfeit of equipment). Nothing like a nice day walking briskly around a links course with a few irons in your bag.

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I too, remember when you had the option of buying a half set of clubs at a golf shop. Perfect for beginners, who are just trying to learn the golf swing and get in a decent round. In cooler weather, I always walk and carry with no more than 7 or 8 clubs in my bag. Seve Ballesteros and others learned the game using only 1 iron, and sharpened their skills by being creative.

And once in awhile, I walk 9 holes with one of these.....Not "legal", but loads of fun.....

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I played a half set for a year or two as a junior. It was perfect because back then carrying a full set was too heavy, plus the distance gap between a 4/5 iron or even a 6/7 would have only been a few yards due to the low swing speeds. Once your SS with a driver gets much below 90 the distances with the irons really bunch up, making a half set ideal. A lot of the women golfers at my club play with half sets, usually: SW,PW,8,6, 5h, 5w, driver, putter and find that leaves nice distance gaps of 10-15 yards

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Hmm...I have an old half set of Spalding Ultimates in my dad's garage. I may just regrip them to satisfy my urge to play blades that are way out of my league.

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I don't think the reasoning is to minimize choices but because beginners are going to hit more bad shots than good so they don't need to have as many clubs. They could hit a 7 iron 20 times and the north to south dispersion could be 10-100+ yards with no two shots being exactly the same.

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I don't think the reasoning is to minimize choices but because beginners are going to hit more bad shots than good so they don't need to have as many clubs. They could hit a 7 iron 20 times and the north to south dispersion could be 10-100+ yards with no two shots being exactly the same.

Exactly. There is no point in having a finer range of tools if you haven't got at least a reasonable chance of getting consistent distances from each of these tools. Similar to a range finder, there's no point in knowing the precise distance to something if you have no idea how far any of your clubs will travel on any given strike.

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