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Irons Only - No Driver, No Woods?


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Hi all, 

 

new here, apologies if this has been gone over multiple times recently.

 

basically after a 4 year hiatus I took golf up again in February, and found it relatively easy to get back into my old game, which wasn’t incredible by any means (17 hcp). My problem has always been the driver, can hit it a long way compared to my PP’s, but often find my 2nd shots are chipping out sideways from the trees, playing back into my fairway from the hole adjacent or trying to play an impossibly miracle shot that Tiger in his prime would have probably avoided attempting.

anyways, I had a lesson on my driver and it worked wonders, finding that instead of losing 4-5 balls a round in losing 0-1 and finding the fairway more often or light rough on the edge of the fairway... all going well, hcp down to 12.5 and then I broke my driver, was an M4, managed to crack the carbon head on the top, no idea how. Anyways, the only replacement I had was a Nike Vapour Flex, I simply cannot hit it consistently, I’ll pure one for every 5-6 I miss horribly. So after shanking one on the first and double bogeying the easy par 4, then slicing wildly on the long par 5 second, I decided to just hit irons the rest of the round. (Mizuno MP33 Blades)
 

I used my 5 Iron off the tee on every hole for the rest of the round (Par 4 and 5s, not the 3s), I found every single fairway, played my best golf I’ve played since picking up golf again and if it wasn’t for the first two holes where I tried the driver I reckon I could have came away with two pars and had a 75 scratch. 
 

this isn’t a brag, just setting it up for the question. The course I play, driver usually gives me 60-100 yard shots for my approach (my old driver when I hit it well), my 5 iron was leaving me around 140-190 for most of the same holes, which is anything from a pitching wedge to a 5 iron. 
 

im considering not bothering with a driver going forward. However getting a driving iron for the longer par 4s and the par 5s.

 

im basically looking for those of you who have experience with playing irons only, and how you have found it? My course isn’t particularly long, so i found getting a chance to hit more than just the driver, wedge and putter for most holes was much more fun, and playing everything from the fairway was much more fun as well.

For those wondering, with a good hit my driver would typically travel 280-300 and my 5 iron I used last time out was typically 190-200, mainly all carry and a few yards of roll out.

 

EDIT - I should mention, when playing from the back tees, most holes are around 15-20 yards longer at most, with two exceptions, one around 50 yards longer and one around 30 yards.

 

thanks all, and sorry for the long winded post 🙂

Edited by RyanG94
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I was the same way when I first started. I couldn't keep my driver on the planet and I have more than enough distance to make it work just using an iron off the tee. It worked for me for a while, but I quickly hit a plateau in terms of my scoring. Once I started to work on my driver, I dropped strokes really quickly and found it far easier to play well because my best shots were better with the driver than an iron and my offline tee shots were much easier to recover from when they were 50-60 yards closer to the green. Yes, there were (and are) still more penalty strokes than I would like off the tee, but it's not like I can sit here and say that I never block my irons out of bounds either.

2 hours ago, RyanG94 said:

My course isn’t particularly long, so i found getting a chance to hit more than just the driver, wedge and putter for most holes was much more fun, and playing everything from the fairway was much more fun as well.

This is totally valid. I have certainly had times where I play shorter courses and find it kind of boring to play wedges into every hole no matter where my tee shot ends up. If that's your main goal, then play with irons off the tee. But, if reaching your potential as a golfer is what you are after, you're going to need to hit driver.

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21 minutes ago, BC-to-MI said:

I was the same way when I first started. I couldn't keep my driver on the planet and I have more than enough distance to make it work just using an iron off the tee. It worked for me for a while, but I quickly hit a plateau in terms of my scoring. Once I started to work on my driver, I dropped strokes really quickly and found it far easier to play well because my best shots were better with the driver than an iron and my offline tee shots were much easier to recover from when they were 50-60 yards closer to the green. Yes, there were (and are) still more penalty strokes than I would like off the tee, but it's not like I can sit here and say that I never block my irons out of bounds either.

This is totally valid. I have certainly had times where I play shorter courses and find it kind of boring to play wedges into every hole no matter where my tee shot ends up. If that's your main goal, then play with irons off the tee. But, if reaching your potential as a golfer is what you are after, you're going to need to hit driver.

Thanks man, yeah I’m torn at the moment, for the course I play, i reckon if I get a driving iron and can hit it consistently well I could get round my course just fine without driver. I’m thinking about the new TaylorMade P790 UDI 2 Iron. I do know that the two par 5s and the one really long par 4 at our course is the only time I might “need” a driver, figured that much out after the last round. 
 

but yeah your right, I can see myself getting down a few more strokes in my hcp by improving my putting a bit, but I feel your right and it will plateau if I’m not giving myself the opportunity to hit driver on some of the holes. Maybe it’s a case of gettingA new driver /keeping the driver I have and improving with it, and then using it sparingly on holes where it’s likely to be more of a benefit going an extra 80 yards and potentially being in the rough, or being shorter in the fairway, thinking risk vs reward. 
 

I dunno, maybe it was just the sheer enjoyment of hitting every fairway and playing every club in the bag, was the most satisfying round I’ve had for a while. Maybe getting a driver I can hit consistently then using it only where I need it is the way forward for long term scoring goals

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15 minutes ago, RyanG94 said:

I dunno, maybe it was just the sheer enjoyment of hitting every fairway and playing every club in the bag, was the most satisfying round I’ve had for a while. Maybe getting a driver I can hit consistently then using it only where I need it is the way forward for long term scoring goals

Yeah, I'm sure that round was a lot of fun, especially after having driver issues. But -- and you know your game better than I do, obviously -- how realistic do you think it is to hit every fairway in a round with a long iron going forward?

Also, playing every club in the bag is fun when you are having a great ball striking day, otherwise, not so much. I'd rather be hitting a bunch of wedges that I will likely at least hit the green with, or at least an nGIR, than hitting every club in my bag all over the course.

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(edited)
9 minutes ago, BC-to-MI said:

Yeah, I'm sure that round was a lot of fun, especially after having driver issues. But -- and you know your game better than I do, obviously -- how realistic do you think it is to hit every fairway in a round with a long iron going forward?

Also, playing every club in the bag is fun when you are having a great ball striking day, otherwise, not so much. I'd rather be hitting a bunch of wedges that I will likely at least hit the green with, or at least an nGIR, than hitting every club in my bag all over the course.

Yeah man I totally agree with you. As far as my game goes, my ball striking is by far the most consistent area of my game, and my go to shot is the 5 iron off the tee to get my game back on track. But I don’t want to become reliant on it too much, like you said I will have a day where it doesn’t go well and I don’t want to fall back to hitting short irons off the tee cos I’ve decided to take the driver out the bag. I think I’ll try taking the driving iron out for a trial, if I like it I’ll use the driver on the holes I need it, and if I’m hitting it well use it on a few of the holes it give me a big advantage, when it’s not going well falling back on the driving iron and failing that, the 5 iron. Gives me 3 options, one of which I feel robotic with (5i) everything seems automatic and completely repeatable. But yeah your right, I think ditching the driver altogether is maybe a bit of a knee jerk reaction, especially seeing as I was hitting my old one so well. Maybe mixing it up based on how my game is on the day, the weather and course conditions and what is needed in any given scenario (match play, need to win the hole for example on the par 5) is maybe the way to go at it. Just need to ensure I don’t just get to every par 4 and 5 and automatically think well it’s got to be a driver cause it’s not a par 3, bad habit that’s probably causing my game more harm than good at the moment. Thanks for the advice mate

Edited by RyanG94
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At some point, you'll want to get better at the longer clubs, and if you can keep them in play, they're often a better choice than an iron off the tee.  But it isn't unheard of for someone to play "Elin Style" (without Woods), especially after a hiatus or when the longest clubs just aren't behaving. 

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Have you considered going to ebay and picking up another M4 driver? You can get a new, head only, M4 for under $200.

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While I do have a driver, my bag currently goes straight from driver to hybrid (no fairway woods). While I can hit my 3 wood a good bit further than a hybrid, I'm just so much more comfortable with the hybrid that it's not worth the 'potential' distance to risk hitting a bad miss (not to mention there are really only 1-2 holes at my home course where'd I'd consider a fairway wood anyway). I should probably put some regular time in at the range with my woods to address this "problem"...maybe someday 🤷‍♂️

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3 hours ago, humblepeasant said:

While I do have a driver, my bag currently goes straight from driver to hybrid (no fairway woods). While I can hit my 3 wood a good bit further than a hybrid, I'm just so much more comfortable with the hybrid that it's not worth the 'potential' distance to risk hitting a bad miss (not to mention there are really only 1-2 holes at my home course where'd I'd consider a fairway wood anyway). I should probably put some regular time in at the range with my woods to address this "problem"...maybe someday 🤷‍♂️

Totally understand this mate, If my driver is off I go to a 5 iron rather than the 3 wood, I have the RBZ Stage 2 and that thing GOES. However, results aren’t consistent enough direction wise to trust it all the time, if my driver is off I’m going iron every day. I am more than comfortable hitting the RBZ off the deck, not so much a tee

Following the advice of the good people here, and realising that relying on puring nearly every iron off the tee is probably a bad idea, I went for a driver fitting today. Tried the Sim Max, Mavrik, Cobra SZ and TS2 (I think, def a titleist anyway), and happy that I’ve come away with a new Sim. I did also get the P790 UDI2 Iron, plan on using that on my bad driver days, so I can have an iron off the tee that will allow me to have shorter shots into the green on the longer par 4s. Definitely plan on getting out the mindset of a driver off every par 4 purely because “just cause it’s a par 4” and using my irons more, opened my eyes the other day playing that round but a bit knee jerk to give up the big dog. Cheers guys 👍🏼

5 minutes ago, RyanG94 said:

Totally understand this mate, If my driver is off I go to a 5 iron rather than the 3 wood, I have the RBZ Stage 2 and that thing GOES. However, results aren’t consistent enough direction wise to trust it all the time, if my driver is off I’m going iron every day. I am more than comfortable hitting the RBZ off the deck, not so much a tee

Following the advice of the good people here, and realising that relying on puring nearly every iron off the tee is probably a bad idea, I went for a driver fitting today. Tried the Sim Max, Mavrik, Cobra SZ and TS2 (I think, def a titleist anyway), and happy that I’ve come away with a new Sim Max, definitely the right call on the choice of driver and decision to not sack the driver. I did also get the P790 UDI2 Iron, plan on using that on my bad driver days, so I can have an iron off the tee that will allow me to have shorter shots into the green on the longer par 4s. Definitely plan on getting out the mindset of a driver off every par 4 purely because “just cause it’s a par 4” and using my irons more, opened my eyes the other day playing that round but a bit knee jerk to give up the big dog. Cheers guys 👍🏼

 

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7 hours ago, RyanG94 said:

Totally understand this mate, If my driver is off I go to a 5 iron rather than the 3 wood, I have the RBZ Stage 2 and that thing GOES. However, results aren’t consistent enough direction wise to trust it all the time, if my driver is off I’m going iron every day. I am more than comfortable hitting the RBZ off the deck, not so much a tee

Following the advice of the good people here, and realising that relying on puring nearly every iron off the tee is probably a bad idea, I went for a driver fitting today. Tried the Sim Max, Mavrik, Cobra SZ and TS2 (I think, def a titleist anyway), and happy that I’ve come away with a new Sim. I did also get the P790 UDI2 Iron, plan on using that on my bad driver days, so I can have an iron off the tee that will allow me to have shorter shots into the green on the longer par 4s. Definitely plan on getting out the mindset of a driver off every par 4 purely because “just cause it’s a par 4” and using my irons more, opened my eyes the other day playing that round but a bit knee jerk to give up the big dog. Cheers guys 👍🏼

 

Having more options off the tee for various holes is never a bad thing.  You can always hit the longest club that you can keep in play -- for some days and some holes, that's going to be driver.  There are other days and holes it can be your 5-iron.  You make the call, but then you have to hit the shot.

Stick around TST and tell us how it goes! 

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Clubs that go long can be costly if you are focused on scoring. My driver often cause me one hole. That is two strokes. I am often struggling to get in on two anyway on some par 4:s and other require epic drives so it would be an interesting experiment. But I want to have fun also. 

Driver and Iron swing is totally different so if you only have to have Iron swing in your head that simplifies it too.

Hard to remember the days both my irons and drives was good. 

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18 hours ago, Shindig said:

Having more options off the tee for various holes is never a bad thing.  You can always hit the longest club that you can keep in play -- for some days and some holes, that's going to be driver.  There are other days and holes it can be your 5-iron.  You make the call, but then you have to hit the shot.

Stick around TST and tell us how it goes! 

Definitely will stick around TST, seems a good place here 🙂

played tonight with the new driving iron (driver arrives tomorrow), and absolutely loved it. Got it out to 230-240 a couple of times, and was great off the fairway as well on the par 5. Great to have a good option that still gets Me in the fairway far more consistently without sacrificing too much distance!

Playing both days this weekend so looking forward to having multiple options off the tee that I’m comfortable with

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  • iacas changed the title to Irons Only - No Driver, No Woods?
17 hours ago, knott said:

Clubs that go long can be costly if you are focused on scoring. My driver often cause me one hole. That is two strokes. I am often struggling to get in on two anyway on some par 4:s and other require epic drives so it would be an interesting experiment. But I want to have fun also. 

Driver and Iron swing is totally different so if you only have to have Iron swing in your head that simplifies it too.

Hard to remember the days both my irons and drives was good. 

How many par-4s do you struggle to get onto in two?  If it's a lot, maybe you're playing the wrong tees.

You say your driver costs you two strokes -- sure, if you hit it O.B..  If you're hitting it out of bounds once per round, reconsider your shot zones and where you are aiming.  You're able to see the strokes you lose with the driver, but how many do you gain by the driver versus another teeing club?  Hitting my longest iron off the tee instead of my driver would cost me more than two strokes per round. 

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On 8/17/2020 at 2:47 PM, RyanG94 said:

all going well, hcp down to 12.5 and then I broke my driver, was an M4, managed to crack the carbon head on the top, no idea how. Anyways, the only replacement I had was a Nike Vapour Flex, I simply cannot hit it consistently,

If you want to be serious about your golf, you should be serious about your equipment. If a very, very, very important club in your bag breaks, you can't just replace it with what's on hand and expect good results. I'd recommend getting fit for a driver so you can put yourself back in the scoring positions you had with the M4.

 

On 8/17/2020 at 11:13 PM, Zippo said:

Have you considered going to ebay and picking up another M4 driver? You can get a new, head only, M4 for under $200.

This is a great option.

 

On 8/17/2020 at 2:47 PM, RyanG94 said:

im basically looking for those of you who have experience with playing irons only, and how you have found it? My course isn’t particularly long, so i found getting a chance to hit more than just the driver, wedge and putter for most holes was much more fun, and playing everything from the fairway was much more fun as well.

The vintage rounds that I play are typically sans driver. I can't hit the persimmons the same way as modern equipment. My vintage set are Sam Sneed Blue Ridges. I have 1, 3, and 4 wood, and 2-PW for the irons. I hit the 2 iron probably 25-30 times per round including every tee shot. The woods are mostly in there for show, but sometimes I'll get frisky and hit one. Although I had lots of fun, my score suffered. Of course these are 'no-tech' or 'old school' clubs with very little forgiveness, but I definitely could tell how much I missed the distance. Hitting the 2 iron off the tees 185-190 yards (its lofted like a 3.5 iron) was a big difference from my normal 210-240 yards with a modern driver. Having a second 2 iron on par 4s, or maybe more was a lot worse than hitting my 5-8 irons into most greens, with an occasional wood or hybrid in with my modern set.
 

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4 hours ago, Shindig said:

How many par-4s do you struggle to get onto in two?  If it's a lot, maybe you're playing the wrong tees.

You say your driver costs you two strokes -- sure, if you hit it O.B..  If you're hitting it out of bounds once per round, reconsider your shot zones and where you are aiming.  You're able to see the strokes you lose with the driver, but how many do you gain by the driver versus another teeing club?  Hitting my longest iron off the tee instead of my driver would cost me more than two strokes per round. 

I do play 56 so I get more golf. Could play 52. Good drives and I can get some really tough approach shots on some par 4:s and easier on others so yes it depend. If you hit a solid drive but to much spin or it starts off not where you aim it soon goes oob as fairways are not wide. That is my problem I generally hit the ball well its dispersion that create the oob. Harder with an iron to hit that far there it more often is rollers 🙂

In theory I should afford an oob but if I could get more stable with my irons and nail more approach shots it would more then compensate. 

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5 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

If you want to be serious about your golf, you should be serious about your equipment. If a very, very, very important club in your bag breaks, you can't just replace it with what's on hand and expect good results. I'd recommend getting fit for a driver so you can put yourself back in the scoring positions you had with the M4.

 

This is a great option.

 

The vintage rounds that I play are typically sans driver. I can't hit the persimmons the same way as modern equipment. My vintage set are Sam Sneed Blue Ridges. I have 1, 3, and 4 wood, and 2-PW for the irons. I hit the 2 iron probably 25-30 times per round including every tee shot. The woods are mostly in there for show, but sometimes I'll get frisky and hit one. Although I had lots of fun, my score suffered. Of course these are 'no-tech' or 'old school' clubs with very little forgiveness, but I definitely could tell how much I missed the distance. Hitting the 2 iron off the tees 185-190 yards (its lofted like a 3.5 iron) was a big difference from my normal 210-240 yards with a modern driver. Having a second 2 iron on par 4s, or maybe more was a lot worse than hitting my 5-8 irons into most greens, with an occasional wood or hybrid in with my modern set.
 

It wasn’t so much that I’m not serious about my equipment, more a case of when I bought the set of clubs I bought in February when I took up golf again, I set about changing what’s in the bag to stuff that worked for me. I don’t have a collection of clubs I can swap in and out so when the M4 broke, the only replacement I had was the Nike Vapour. However I have gone for a fitting and the Sim seems to suit me best, probably the familiarity of playing TaylorMade drivers for so long (before my hiatus I played TM drivers). 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just the other day playing in the club comp coming into the last hole of the round ...waiting on the guys in front on a PAR-4 as they spend time looking for a ball 250Yards+ up the fairway ... wasn't having the best of rounds the older boys I was playing with all had there drives ... So I decided to pull the 4iron to the disapproval of the other guys wanting to see me smash another big drive ... ended up hitting it really well going just past the older guys drives to around 240yards(we have very dry fairways at the moment so some good runout)... 

I wonder how many golfers would be better of teeing off the old PAR-4 -5 with a short iron ... I repeated the action yesterday on a short uphill PAR-4 into a strong wind... worked really well.. and will use the 4iron off the tee more often IMO

Edited by NZ Golfer
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12 hours ago, NZ Golfer said:

Just the other day playing in the club comp coming into the last hole of the round ...waiting on the guys in front on a PAR-4 as they spend time looking for a ball 250Yards+ up the fairway ... wasn't having the best of rounds the older boys I was playing with all had there drives ... So I decided to pull the 4iron to the disapproval of the other guys wanting to see me smash another big drive ... ended up hitting it really well going just past the older guys drives to around 240yards(we have very dry fairways at the moment so some good runout)... 

I wonder how many golfers would be better of teeing off the old PAR-4 -5 with a short iron ... I repeated the action yesterday on a short uphill PAR-4 into a strong wind... worked really well.. and will use the 4iron off the tee more often IMO

Been there my friend, I still do this every now and again just to keep a bit of a rhythm going, I find standing on the tee box for too long and I lose a bit of rhythm and momentum, would much rather hit a different club and play shorter but keeping the flow going is preferable.

on the topic itself I must say although I now have my new driver and hit it well, I do find myself using it far more sparingly than I used to, unless it gives me a huge advantage on a big wide fairway or unless it’s a long par 4 or 5 I prefer hitting my driving iron or even a 5 iron a lot of the time. Scores haven’t suffered in the slightest, improved if anything, and I feel so confident I’ll stick it in the fairway hitting the irons off the tee!

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