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Aging Boomer

Long Iron Replacement? Really?

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Calling hybrids "long iron replacements" is the biggest deliberate lie in retail marketing.

What replaced long irons are middle irons that are at least two clubs stronger in loft than than the middle irons with which I took up golf. In the case of some "game improvement" irons, it's even more than that.

Hybrids have clearly replaced fairway woods. These were the lofts on TaylorMade's original "Pittsburgh Persimmon" fairway woods in 1980.

3-wood: 17°
4-wood: 20°
5-wood: 23°

These were the lofts on the same company's Firesole Rescue utility hybrids a decade or so later.

15, 18, 21, 24­°

If you don't believe me, do some homework on your Google machine. In my case, I just have to look at the old clubs.

Now, what have hybrids really replaced?

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If what's in your bag is from the 80's and your buying something new for the bag then you would probably be correct, a 3 hybrid would replace a old persimmon 3 wood, but if you have clubs from this century than the "long iron replacement" statement is true.
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It's true but not really current news, Tom Wishon has written a few ebooks on this very topic if you're interested.

Originally Posted by Aging Boomer

Calling hybrids "long iron replacements" is the biggest deliberate lie in retail marketing.

What replaced long irons are middle irons that are at least two clubs stronger in loft than than the middle irons with which I took up golf. In the case of some "game improvement" irons, it's even more than that.

Hybrids have clearly replaced fairway woods. These were the lofts on TaylorMade's original "Pittsburgh Persimmon" fairway woods in 1980.

3-wood: 17°

4-wood: 20°

5-wood: 23°

These were the lofts on the same company's Firesole Rescue utility hybrids a decade or so later.

15, 18, 21, 24­°

If you don't believe me, do some homework on your Google machine. In my case, I just have to look at the old clubs.

Now, what have hybrids really replaced?

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cruzthepug is absolutely correct. There has been a ton of equipment innovation since the 80's. nuff said.
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Exactly. Its really not relevant what the lofts are from the 80s and 90s. Its simply a comparative point. If your 4 iron is 24 degrees and you decide you want to replace with a ~24 degrees hybrid, then its accurate. If you have a 4 iron from old, that is 26 degrees, replace it with a 26 degree hybrid. Point would still be the same. The reason people are replacing with hybrids has nothing to do with the loft on the club per say but for a variety of other reasons which might include it could be easier to get the ball in the air for the particular golfer.

I think the more salient point is that there is a reason why more people today cannot hit the 4 and 3 irons and that point is your point. The lofts are lower and low lofted irons are just simply hard to hit.

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Wishon contends that the average casual golfer cannot hit an iron with less that 24* of loft consistently.  In older sets the 3i was 24*, in todays iron sets the 3i has an average loft of 21* which he contends is a wasted club in a set because casual golfers can't him them consistently.  The trend to create longer irons by strengthening their lofts resulted in the need, development and most importantly the sale of the gap wedge (between PW and SW)  and hybirds to replace the worthless 3 irons in modern sets.

Wishon contends it's basically a scam, the numbers and letters on the clubs are now meaningless and the club manufacturers just lowered the lofts on all respective clubs to create the need for additional clubs in a bag that are not typically included in a set.

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If you're going to play clubs with today's "normal" loft I'd highly recommend 3, 4, and maybe even a 5 hybrid for a lot of players. They're just so much easier to hit. Especially out of the rough.

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Hey guys, just visiting from the year 2043. You guys still worrying about fairway woods, I see. My 20 degree sand wedge takes care of that issue. I use it a lot thanks to my 65 inch long driver, can really get it close in there.

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Yup. Although interestingly my Tommy Armor 845 SS 3 iron from back in the day is a 21 degree loft. And those club are pushing 25 years.

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Given the advancements in golf clubs over the past 30 years, I would think a modern 3 iron with a loft of 21* is still easier to hit than the 24* 3 iron from back in the day.  Regardless, 90% of the golfers in the world hit the ball too low on the face to get any real benefit from a 3 iron, be it 24 or 21 degrees.

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Quote:

Given the advancements in golf clubs over the past 30 years, I would think a modern 3 iron with a loft of 21* is still easier to hit than the 24* 3 iron from back in the day.  Regardless, 90% of the golfers in the world hit the ball too low on the face to get any real benefit from a 3 iron, be it 24 or 21 degrees.

Cool, apparently I'm a 10%er...I have no problem hitting my 3 iron, a tiny MB blade and it feels wonderful!

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Originally Posted by dak4n6

Cool, apparently I'm a 10%er...I have no problem hitting my 3 iron, a tiny MB blade and it feels wonderful!

Must be.  I mean you're hitting blades and all.

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Just gotta put the time in. Most of my range time is spent on mid - long irons. Usually it seems I'm the only one not endlessly hitting drivers and wedges...

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Originally Posted by dak4n6

Just gotta put the time in. Most of my range time is spent on mid - long irons. Usually it seems I'm the only one not endlessly hitting drivers and wedges...

I used to be that guy. Since I replaced my 2-iron with a hybrid I spend most of my golf related time playing or getting my daughter started. I decided that no, I don't gotta put in the time. I only have so much and other things matter more than occasional oohs or aahs a veteran player would give me after striping a 2-iron. Younger players couldn't care less.

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Originally Posted by dak4n6

Just gotta put the time in. Most of my range time is spent on mid - long irons. Usually it seems I'm the only one not endlessly hitting drivers and wedges...

Well, driver and wedge are the two clubs which affect your score the most (outside of putting and chipping).  How many times are you hitting a 3 or 4-iron during a round?  Twice?  Maybe 3 times?  How many times are you hitting driver?  10-12 times on average I'd guess (unless you have no confidence with it).  Likewise, how many shots between 40-120 yards do you have during a round?  Probably at least once every three holes, so that's six times per round.

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Originally Posted by k-troop

Well, driver and wedge are the two clubs which affect your score the most (outside of putting and chipping).  How many times are you hitting a 3 or 4-iron during a round?  Twice?  Maybe 3 times?  How many times are you hitting driver?  10-12 times on average I'd guess (unless you have no confidence with it).  Likewise, how many shots between 40-120 yards do you have during a round?  Probably at least once every three holes, so that's six times per round.

Completely agree with you.  I hit the 3H/4H/5iron clubs combined <5 times a round.

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I think the question "do hybrids replace long irons or fairway woods?" depends on both the club and your bag setup.

Hybrids hit the mainstream in the early 2000s; I think Appleby was the first guy I remember seeing hit a hybrid on tour.  I very vividly remember thinking "what the heck was that", after watching him hit a ball about 240 from light rough very high, very straight, and the ball stopped very quickly.

The decade prior to that was when I was playing high school and college golf.  Back then, about 90% of the guys I competed against had more or less the same club setup:  driver, fairway wood, 2-9 iron, and 3 wedges.  That was the bag setup I had as well.  I had no problems hitting a 2-iron--the typical well-struck shot from the fairway carried about 215-220, very low, and would roll out 20-50 feet depending on conditions.  Forget about hitting it from even very light rough.  My 3-wood (a 15* Callaway Big Bertha at the time) flew about 230-240, so I had a sizeable distance gap.

Around 2005 I replaced the 2-iron with a 17* hybrid (one degree stronger loft than my 2-iron).  I could hit that thing sky high, about 225-230, and it stopped on a dime.  It's a transformative club.  For me, it was a long-iron replacement, because it replaced my 2-iron.

I now carry a 3-iron, which still flies relatively low when hit from a tight fairway lie, about 215-yards.  I have an 18* 2-hybrid which I can hit anywhere from 220-240 from a fairway lie (neutral wind conditions), depending on the shot shape I choose.  My 3-wood flies about 240-260, depending on how much I go after it.  The hybrid is an excellent gap filler, distance wise.

But it's more than that.  In windy conditions, I now have more options.  My 3-iron is a low-ball club, in that the tendency is to hit a low traj.  I have to force it to get up in the air with some variation on my stock swing.  The hybrid defaults to a higher ball flight, and the 3-wood back to a lower ball flight.  So, if I have a 225 yard shot, I have lots of options depending on the wind.  If It's dead into the wind, I might hit a 3-iron, which I can control very well into the wind, and play for a spot 50-60 feet short of the flag.  If I have a cross or neutral wind, I can hit a high cut with the hybrid and know that I'll be able to stop the ball quickly.  If the green is open in front, I can hit a sawed off 3-wood and run the ball into the hole (into the wind), or a 3i or hard 4i (downwind) and fly it in, knowing that the ball will probably roll out 20-40 feet.

That's really the biggest advantage to the hybrid, IMO:  more trajectory options in the 215-250 yard range.  Throw in that you can hit those same shots out of light rough, and the club itself is a no-brainer.

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Originally Posted by k-troop

Well, driver and wedge are the two clubs which affect your score the most (outside of putting and chipping).  How many times are you hitting a 3 or 4-iron during a round?  Twice?  Maybe 3 times?  How many times are you hitting driver?  10-12 times on average I'd guess (unless you have no confidence with it).  Likewise, how many shots between 40-120 yards do you have during a round?  Probably at least once every three holes, so that's six times per round.

Totally agree. But my driver and wedges work fine. No complaints there. Except for an occasional fatted pitch, my most inconsistent clubs are my mid - long irons. Since I have been working on them, I have been hitting them really well, but I know that can go away very quickly, so I keep up the emphasis on them. Plus, when I'm hitting them well, the confidence leaks into the other areas of my game since they are the most difficult part of the game to master. Lastly, my home courses have the following par 3's (from the whites): 179, 225, 195, 110, 174, 159, 140, 189, and 210. All but 2 of these require a mid - long iron.

I know I'm going against conventional wisdom by putting emphasis on mid - long irons, but I'm not trying to sell you, I'm just saying that's what I do. My iron game is the part that shows how I'm swinging most glaringly, and I have noticed that when the iron game is on, everything else falls in place, that's all.

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