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xrayvizhen

Optimize Existing Irons or Buy New?

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I’ve been shopping for clubs for the last few weeks but a recent exploratory conversation with a local golf fitter has started me thinking. He mentioned that it might make sense to “Optimize” my existing clubs (his expression) rather than buy new.

I have Callaway X-14’s with stiff Rifle shafts that I bought in 2001. I’m 68 now and certainly not getting any stronger, so I’ve been thinking of getting the new Steelhead XR’s in a regular shaft but then I started wondering….are the X-14 heads so totally out of date and has the technology advanced so much that today’s clubs are that much better, or is it really just the shaft technology that’s changed? So I’ve been thinking of going back to the fitter and let him analyze whatever it is fitters look at and tell me if I should simply re-shaft my X-14’s with graphite or whatever he thinks would be in sync with my swing.

What’s gotten frustrating for me is that people who I play with who I can consistently beat like a drum, while they don’t usually out-drive me, use 7 and 8 irons from 150 yards while I’m using a 6-iron. Like today, for example; A guy I played with used a 9-iron on a 160 yard par 3. I had to use a 5. (He shot 95, I had a 78.)  I was never really a long hitter, even when I was playing high school and college golf (I was scratch in college) but I could hold my own with anyone and currently have a handicap index of 6.5.  I realize that the manufacturer’s have changed the lofts of their clubs but really, are today’s clubs that much better or is it just the shafts? And will a fitting really help me that much? I’m pretty average in stature, 6’ tall, 190 lbs. and clubs off the rack have always seemed to be OK for me size-wise, so I’m just wondering, is the fitter's idea of "Optimizing" reasonable?

Opinions welcome.

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Without knowing much else about your swing, yes today's technology is better than almost two decades ago and it's not just because of shaft improvements.

The thing is with optimizing, you'll have to get a good fitting, then you have to buy new shafts (presumably graphite which can be pricey), grips, etc. and get your clubs rebuilt.

It might be more cost effective to get fit for some older clubs, like maybe 2015s. They will be cheaper than buying new and will still be an upgrade from your X-14s.

There's more to clubfitting than what length and lie angle your clubs are.

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30 minutes ago, billchao said:

Without knowing much else about your swing, yes today's technology is better than almost two decades ago and it's not just because of shaft improvements.

The thing is with optimizing, you'll have to get a good fitting, then you have to buy new shafts (presumably graphite which can be pricey), grips, etc. and get your clubs rebuilt.

It might be more cost effective to get fit for some older clubs, like maybe 2015s. They will be cheaper than buying new and will still be an upgrade from your X-14s.

There's more to clubfitting than what length and lie angle your clubs are.

Many people have told me that I have a "pretty" swing, whatever that means. I actually haven't taken a video in quite a long time but I do believe I have a flaw in my iron swing that I don't have in my woods. With my irons, I'm fairly certain I don't have enough lag and as a result don't compress the ball enough on impact because I don't take much of a divot and usually strike the ball cleanly. When I do try to create lag and hit down, I eventually end up giving myself a case of the shanks. With my woods and the one hybrid I carry, I hit the ball great...245 on my drives, 230 with my 3-wood, 200 with the 4H.

I went to a pro a few years ago to see if he could help me with my irons, without much of a result. He told me Hogan never took a divot either.

Tim Mosel is the fitter. I'm going Friday.

Edited by xrayvizhen

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Yeah, I agree with Bill.  Look for a used set of irons.  The Callaway Apex irons with recoil shafts would be something to look at.  2001 is too old to invest $$ in.  Today's iron heads have much more forgiveness...that'll get u back to whuppin your buds.

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14 minutes ago, Typhoon92 said:

Yeah, I agree with Bill.  Look for a used set of irons.  The Callaway Apex irons with recoil shafts would be something to look at.  2001 is too old to invest $$ in.  Today's iron heads have much more forgiveness...that'll get u back to whuppin your buds.

Sorry, no...not the Apex. One of my golf partners that I beat regularly, has them. I tried them and wasn't crazy about them. Reminded me of my old forged Wilson Staff blades, which I Ioved, but that was back in college. I don't strike the ball as hard and as consistently on the sweet spot as I did then so I think a "game improvement" iron is where I'm at.

But I do agree that 2001 X-14's may be too old to try to optimize, thus my original question. 

Edited by xrayvizhen

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And just as an FYI: If you ever want a fair (and free) assessment of your swing, you might check out the member swing forum here on TST. 

Many of us take a while to show improvement but one recent success is @DaveP043 a seasoned golfer who was already shooting pretty good scores (similar to your 6.5 perhaps?). With a few spot-on analyses, Dave’s handicap dropped even more. 

Just thought I’d mention that cuz it’s just as likely to squeeze some strokes out of good instruction as it is from clubs- and you mentioned you thought your iron swing could be flawed  

And good to see you posting regularly as a new member! 

 

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9 minutes ago, RandallT said:

And just as an FYI: If you ever want a fair (and free) assessment of your swing, you might check out the member swing forum here on TST. 

 

Thanks for the suggestion...I took a quick look at the Member Swing Forum. Interesting, but....who's giving the advise? Everybody and anybody? If that's the case I would need to be extremely cautious. I wouldn't be too keen on letting someone with a 15 handicap telling me what my faults are. I know what my faults are. It's implementing the corrections that's hard.

That being said, I've got a new camera that can take 60fps videos. One of these days I just may set it up on a tripod and have a look at myself again. If I feel brave, I may post.

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1 minute ago, xrayvizhen said:

Thanks for the suggestion...I took a quick look at the Member Swing Forum. Interesting, but....who's giving the advise? Everybody and anybody? If that's the case I would need to be extremely cautious. I wouldn't be too keen on letting someone with a 15 handicap telling me what my faults are. I know what my faults are. It's implementing the corrections that's hard.

That being said, I've got a new camera that can take 60fps videos. One of these days I just may set it up on a tripod and have a look at myself again. If I feel brave, I may post.

I’d recommend browsing a few threads there in the meantime to see how they typically go.  In my mind, we all filter out inputs in life based on the source, so I totally get what you’re saying there. 

Anyway, don’t wanna derail this topic. Welcome again.

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Xray, the normal Apex, not the Apex pro irons.  Sounds like your friend has the pro version...maybe I'm wrong.

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9 hours ago, xrayvizhen said:

Tim Mosel is the fitter. I'm going Friday.

I've never been fit by him, but everything I've read about him says he's probably the best clubfitter in the area. I'd trust his work.

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9 hours ago, xrayvizhen said:

Thanks for the suggestion...I took a quick look at the Member Swing Forum. Interesting, but....who's giving the advise? Everybody and anybody? If that's the case I would need to be extremely cautious. I wouldn't be too keen on letting someone with a 15 handicap telling me what my faults are. I know what my faults are. It's implementing the corrections that's hard.

That being said, I've got a new camera that can take 60fps videos. One of these days I just may set it up on a tripod and have a look at myself again. If I feel brave, I may post.

Yeah, pretty much anyone can give you advice, so you will definitely need to filter some.  However, there are two very good instructors who give advice here, and you'll recognize them if you read through a few threads. 

The thing is, you probably don't really know what your faults are, even though you probably recognize some of the symptoms.  What you feel as insufficient lag may really be caused by an issue with your hip rotation.  These guys are pretty good at finding the root cause, and recommending a single specific change, the "priority piece" that can help you start to make a needed change.  

Now that I've said that, I'll admit that it took me two years of involvement with this site before I got up the nerve to post my own videos.  Now that I have, I'd recommend it to anyone who isn't already involved with a good (productive) instructor.

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9 hours ago, xrayvizhen said:

I wouldn't be too keen on letting someone with a 15 handicap telling me what my faults are. I know what my faults are. It's implementing the corrections that's hard.

You may know what your faults are, but you also might be wrong on what is causing issues in your swing. Sometimes a new perspective is good to have.

Handicap doesn't equate to swing knowledge. PGA Tour professionals take lessons from people who have much worse golf games then their own.

 

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@xrayvizhen My old school club tech-builder friend rebuilt two sets of 2009 Mizuno's for me. Fitted, spine-aligned etc. They are GREAT and I did this because I really wanted to keep them. But QUITE EXPENSIVE as others have said. Then, I found and purchased my current set of 2012 Mizuno's.  They are GREAT too! So now I have three GREAT sets, but I could have bought two used sets for what I paid to optimize the first tWO. Not sure I'll do that again. So, long story short...Suggest you find a newer used set with shafts that you like. -Marv

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11 hours ago, xrayvizhen said:

What’s gotten frustrating for me is that people who I play with who I can consistently beat like a drum, while they don’t usually out-drive me, use 7 and 8 irons from 150 yards while I’m using a 6-iron. Like today, for example; A guy I played with used a 9-iron on a 160 yard par 3. I had to use a 5. (He shot 95, I had a 78.)  I was never really a long hitter, even when I was playing high school and college golf (I was scratch in college) but I could hold my own with anyone and currently have a handicap index of 6.5.  

Opinions welcome.

 

9 hours ago, xrayvizhen said:

Thanks for the suggestion...I took a quick look at the Member Swing Forum. Interesting, but....who's giving the advise? Everybody and anybody? If that's the case I would need to be extremely cautious. I wouldn't be too keen on letting someone with a 15 handicap telling me what my faults are. I know what my faults are. It's implementing the corrections that's hard.

Based on the two bolded statements, in my opinion (since you said opinions welcome) there is an ego problem here that could prohibit you from significantly improving. 

You shot 17 strokes better than someone, have a single digit handicap and claim you could hold your own against anyone, yet you are frustrated with your iron performance simply because you have to use a different club than someone else? That doesnt make sense to me.

The 5 iron loft on the x-14 is 26 degrees. On the Steelhead XR, the 6 iron is 26 degrees. 

The 9 iron loft on the x-14 is 42 degrees. On the Steelhead XR, the 9 iron is 39 degrees. 

If having the number 6 stamped on the bottom of your 26 degree iron makes you feel better than having a 5 stamped on the bottom of your 26 degree iron, then by all means get a new set of irons. 

Then again, I'm only a 10 handicap so what do I know :whistle:

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40 minutes ago, klineka said:

 

Based on the two bolded statements, in my opinion (since you said opinions welcome) there is an ego problem here that could prohibit you from significantly improving. 

You shot 17 strokes better than someone, have a single digit handicap and claim you could hold your own against anyone, yet you are frustrated with your iron performance simply because you have to use a different club than someone else? That doesnt make sense to me.

The 5 iron loft on the x-14 is 26 degrees. On the Steelhead XR, the 6 iron is 26 degrees. 

The 9 iron loft on the x-14 is 42 degrees. On the Steelhead XR, the 9 iron is 39 degrees. 

If having the number 6 stamped on the bottom of your 26 degree iron makes you feel better than having a 5 stamped on the bottom of your 26 degree iron, then by all means get a new set of irons. 

Then again, I'm only a 10 handicap so what do I know :whistle:

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Mmm. Buying used isn't something I previously considered but I just may look into that a little more. I'm not adverse to used clubs, it's just that if the fitter says I need this or that spec, how am I going to get this or that buying used? So I'll go to the fitter and hear what he has to say, then do what I usually do, analyze the buying decision to death, and come down with a case of paralysis by analysis.

And yes, while I shouldn't, I do get bogged down in minutia of what's stamped on the bottom of the club and I get embarrassed when someone asks me what club I used. (I usually tell them one more than what I'm actually using!)

And BTW, the loft on the 2017 S.H. XR 5-iron is 23° not 26°. That's directly from Callaway's website.

Finally, I'm actually happy with my game at the moment. I'm inconsistent like everyone and can have bad days and good ones and everything in between. That's golf. My main issue is I'm getting older, I don't swing as hard as I did when I bought my current set of irons and I'm fairly certain I need to swing with a different shaft flex. I think the X-14 heads are pretty good. For a game improvement cast iron they have a good deal of feel to them and a nice amount of perimeter weighting so shots hit off-center often come off OK.

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1 minute ago, xrayvizhen said:
48 minutes ago, klineka said:

The 5 iron loft on the x-14 is 26 degrees. On the Steelhead XR, the 6 iron is 26 degrees. 

The 9 iron loft on the x-14 is 42 degrees. On the Steelhead XR, the 9 iron is 39 degrees. 

And BTW, the loft on the 2017 S.H. XR 5-iron is 23° not 26°. That's directly from Callaway's website.

I know the 5 iron is 23 degrees on the S.H. XR. My statement is still correct. The 6 iron loft on the S.H. XR is 26 degrees. I was not trying to compare 5 iron to 5 iron, I was comparing 26 degree lofted club to 26 degree lofted club to point out that the difference is in the number stamped on the bottom of the club.

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I have been a professional club builder, fitter, and equipment tech for over 18 years and have worked with many players of all abilities.  In this situation, I would start by asking yourself a couple of questions:

  • What am I trying to accomplish?  This may seem obvious, but really stop and think about it, because the more specific you are about what your goals are, the more helpful it will be to determine which direction to take.
  • Do I love the X-14 heads?  If you really like the way your heads look and feel, and if you have confidence in them, then I would encourage you to consider keeping them and getting them optimized.  On the other hand, if you could take-them or leave-them and have no attachment to them, then I wouldn't recommend spending the money to dial them in. Remember...if you spend $300-400 to update them, they will not be worth more than they are now.
  • Is the main issue swing related or club related?  If you have a weakness in your iron game that you don't have with your driver or other long clubs, will a new set of irons or re-shafting your current set resolve the issue?  Getting the swing issue resolved might eliminate the need for new irons.

One thing that is easier said than done is to leave the ego at home when you play.  Who cares if you are hitting longer clubs into the green than your buddies?  The only number that matters is the score at the end of the day, and yours is way lower than theirs.  It doesn't matter how you get it done...believe me, no one is going to make fun of a player who hits 2 more clubs into the green than them when they get beat by 15 shots!  

Hope this helps.

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