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Only Play Half Set of Irons - Better Game?

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I understand there are many golfers who carry half set of irons to the course. Meaning alternate clubs like 3i,5i,7i,9i or 4i,6i,8i,PW. If you need the yardage for the between club, just use the longer club and choke down on the grip.

What is the disadvantage of practicing this? Is there a different in using a 8i versus a choke-down 7i? The advantage of this of course is much lighter baggage for travelling.

On a separate note, I seem to play my best round with half set of irons. Anyone else have comments to share?

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Golfers of our ability have bigger fish to fry if you ask me. I need every club in my bag. I need to learn how to hit every club in my bag at consistent distances. Upon doing so, why not play with ideas like you mention. If nothing else, for the sake of being creative. But if you can't hit your 7 iron 160 consistently, what the hell good is it to try and choke up on a 6 iron and do the same shot with mixed results. I just fail to see what would be gained for higher handicap golfers. My suggestion for someone of our ability hoping to lower their scores, learn everything you can about putting. Buy some books, play with different grips, spend time on the putting green.


-Dan

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I agree with Dan in principle; I'd carry 16 or 18 if the rules allowed. In addition to my current bag, I'd carry a 5 wood, another wedge, and maybe another putter. In practice however, I would probably score the same or better if I carried less clubs. For instance, in my mind a perfect 5 iron for me is 175 yards, but if I only carried a 4 and then a 6 or 7, I'd pull that 4 for every 175 yard shot. Most of the time I'd hit more greens or be closer than if I had the 5. I think I can't play without a driver, but if I only carried my 3 wood, I'd hit more fairways.

Many tour pros who have played in many pro-ams say one of the most common amateur mistakes is taking too little club.

Dan's point about beginners and consistency is good, but I interpret that a different way. If one is inconsistent throughout the set, he is no more likely to hit 150 with a 5 iron than with an 8 iron. Let's say he hits the 7 iron 160 for a good shot. If he has 170 and pulls a 6 iron, it might go 170, but more likely it will go 160 or 150 or 140 or 175. He would be better off hitting the 7 that he is reasonably sure will go 160. Most everyone has at least one club that is consistent though, and one plan would be to build around that club. My 7 iron is a pretty consistent 150 for instance, so I might pick one longer club, one shorter club, a wedge of some sort, a putter, and a "play" club. A play club (extrapolated from Golf in the Kingdom) is a club to put the ball in play. Might be a 3 wood, a 5 wood, or a hybrid--but a longer club to put the ball in play on longer holes. The consistency would build from hitting these clubs and becoming comfortable with them and thus building confidence which would build consistency which would build confidence and so on.

Rambling post, but I think most golfers 10-12index and over would benefit from this practice; maybe not every round but at least on a frequent once and a while basis. I think 20 plus would benefit from it on a consistent basis until they reach 15 or so, and taking Dan's advice to focus on the short game.

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The club champ at my good buddy's club does this very thing. He'll carry his even # irons for while then switch to odd #. He claims he does it to keep the weight down in his carry bag (extremely modest guy), but he's really doing it to work on his shot making. Guy has crazy good game.

I only have 6 or so rounds with my new irons, but after I'm a bit more familiar with them I plan to try something similar. My idea really is to keep weight down

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I understand there are many golfers who carry half set of irons to the course. Meaning alternate clubs like 3i,5i,7i,9i or 4i,6i,8i,PW. If you need the yardage for the between club, just use the longer club and choke down on the grip.

My opinion is:

1.) There is no disadvantage to doing this. 2.) It forces you, rather, it allows you to be more creative. Hitting longer irons higher and shorter, shorter irons lower and longer. Realizing that a full out low draw with a 6-iron can end up side by side with a 3/4 swing high cut 4-iron. Whatever - it's your set of clubs and your experiences will be somewhat unique. 3.) Beginner sets used to be 3, 5, 7, 9, SW. Somewhat due to cost and weight, but when someone is just starting out, they often ask, "What club should I use from here?" Hey, you're 375 yards out. Keep hitting that 5-iron until you hit one over the green. Now make a note of how far out you were, and try the 7-iron next time. And in the meantime, go and work on pitching the ball back onto the green with your 9-iron. Over shot it? Try the SW next time. Chilli dip? Try a pinched runner with the 7-iron. ANYWAY, anybody who started with a 1/2 set probably remembers the day they wished they had a 6-iron (or more likely, an 8-iron). We knew that eventually we'd have to save up for a full set. Funny thing is, our scores didn't get a whole lot better with a full set. We just had more decisions to make and more sticks to lug around.

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I love playing with a partial set. I am a firm believer in creative shotmaking as a source of developing golf skills. Also, a nice light carry is a pleasure, and keeps my momentum on the course.

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I've never done this, but I like this idea. Sort of goes along with the 3 or 4 club challenge. Can you figure you way around the course with, say, 3W, 6i, Putter? The even or odd irons is a little more reasonalbe, and I like the idea of being forced to figure out how to make the same club go longer or shorter, lower or higher.

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I grew up with half sets, but I don't know if it made me more creative or any better. If anything, it made club selection easier when I was a kid. Actually, in my first set (hand-me-down from a neighbor) the 7iron was lost before I got the set and the head came flying off the 5iron maybe a year in. So, I will always remember playing in this junior tournament at the age of 10 with just 4 clubs - 3wood, 3iron, 9iron, putter. Crazy.

Nowadays, I don't think playing with a half set would do much for me. If I want to work on half-shots and choking down on the club, I would do so at the range. Why make this game harder when you are on the course?

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IMO if you're beginning, it doesn't make much difference because you're so inconsistent that one club step is not enough to be statistically different on small samples---you may catch one and hit the shorter club 10 extra yards or hit fat and come up 10 yards short on the longer club.

Once you can hit your clubs consistently, this can be a way to have fun and practice shots you might not otherwise try, but really, you can always just opt to use a soft 6 instead of the 5 even if you have the 5 in the bag, so I don't really see an "advantage" in any real sense.

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Originally Posted by Danattherock

Golfers of our ability have bigger fish to fry if you ask me. I need every club in my bag. I need to learn how to hit every club in my bag at consistent distances. Upon doing so, why not play with ideas like you mention. If nothing else, for the sake of being creative. But if you can't hit your 7 iron 160 consistently, what the hell good is it to try and choke up on a 6 iron and do the same shot with mixed results. I just fail to see what would be gained for higher handicap golfers. My suggestion for someone of our ability hoping to lower their scores, learn everything you can about putting. Buy some books, play with different grips, spend time on the putting green.

-Dan



I guarantee you that you will be a better all around player if you play occasionally with a short set.  It will teach you to use your imagination to create shots you would never consider if you had your full complement of clubs.  Then when the time comes that you need that type of shot to keep the ball under a limb or some such situation, it won't be a complete mystery to you.

I play 5 or 6 rounds a year with only 6 or 7 clubs and a putter, and I have a great time when I do.  It helps me immensely when I'm faced with a trouble shot.  I've successfully played shots in tournaments like a 5I from 80 yards, or a 130 yard cut 7I, or a 100 yard 3W.  Those are shots I'd have had no clue about if I hadn't used them during practice rounds.  Funny thing is that I usually score just about the same regardless of how many clubs I'm carrying.  I've developed a comfort level with that kind of play, and instead of being mysterious, I find it to be a great fun.

I don't care what your skill level is, you can't possibly hurt your golf game by developing your imagination on the course.

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I have been struggling lately with my short irons lately and have been just bringing my 8- low and putter to course to improve not worried about score. But still shoot in 90's 

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On 12/10/2010 at 2:20 AM, very handicap said:

I understand there are many golfers who carry half set of irons to the course. Meaning alternate clubs like 3i,5i,7i,9i or 4i,6i,8i,PW. If you need the yardage for the between club, just use the longer club and choke down on the grip.

What is the disadvantage of practicing this? Is there a different in using a 8i versus a choke-down 7i? The advantage of this of course is much lighter baggage for travelling.

On a separate note, I seem to play my best round with half set of irons. Anyone else have comments to share?

I’m not 100% sure that I actually need all my clubs. It’s not like I’m that great hitting my distances anyway, I’d say between 130 and 170 yards, I use 4 clubs and one for all distance less than 100. A gap at 100 to 130 isn’t going to be a score changer for me.

So, I’ve already answered for an 8 club bag in another thread. 3W, hybrid, 6 or 7i, 8, 9, P, 56 and putter.

The rounds where I really need any of the other 6 clubs are not common. I only use them because they’re in my bag.

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I tend to play with 7-8 clubs (hickories, vintage or nearly modern) and like to walk The lighter bag makes it easier on my body to walk and I enjoy trying to manipulate shots as may be required.

At 66, my really competitive days are over and I now am just trying to have fun. I understand some players may think this crazy but to each his/her own. I certainly think it helps provide practice in the shotmaking arena.

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Personally, I'm a huge fan of playing with half a set of clubs. I like to do this on my home course. I'll play either the odd irons or the evens and remove 2 of my 4 wedges as well. I believe it helps my game. 

Sometimes I'll do this, or sometimes I'll take out my driver, 3 wood, and hybrid and tee off every hole with my 4 or 5 iron. (I like this because it helps me practice longer approach shots.) Sometimes, I'll do all three, take out the driver, 3 wood and hybrid, only play half the irons and only carry half the wedges. Since I know my home course really well, it gives me an opportunity to hit shots I normally wouldn't have to hit on that course.  

It seems to hep me, good luck.

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I started with a partial set. Sam Snead Blue Ridge with the 3-5-7 and 9 irons. This was over 50 years ago when I was a kid. Kids are born experimenters, and usually don't get all hung up on technical issues. Particularly when they're basically figuring it out for themselves and are just glad to have real clubs that they can smack balls around with. 

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I have a bag of nothing but irons. 12 of them, a 4w, and a putter. I very seldom use all of the iron in week's/month's worth of play. My 3i gets more practice, than actual play. Same with my 8i. 

I am a big believer in creative shot making. I even practice less than normal shots. I am not a "fairways, & greens" kind of golfer. I am a firm believer that my imagination on how to advance the ball has saved me hundreds, if not thousands of strokes during my decades of playing. 

Half sets, rather they be odd, or even, coupled with one's imagination, promotes creative shot making. Creative shot making also promotes confidence. Confidence creates lower scores. 

Choking down, up, on the grip, or closing, or opening the club face can give the golfer a variety of shot making possibilities. Add in abbreviated swings ( 1/4-1/2-3/4 ) adds to that variety of shots a golfer would have in their bag. . 

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On 12/10/2010 at 5:20 AM, very handicap said:

What is the disadvantage of practicing this? Is there a different in using a 8i versus a choke-down 7i? 

C'mon.. it's obvious.

Yes.

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