Golf progress report

Following up on my previous report; I have changed some of my clubs.

My bag now contains:

  • Driver: Titleist 975J 10.5˚ (graphite, regular flex)
  • 3 Wood: Titleist 909F 15.5˚ (graphite, regular flex)
  • 9 Wood: SkyMax Ice MX3 (graphite)
  • Utility club: Titleist 909H 21˚ (graphite, regular flex)
  • 4,5,6,7,8,9,PW: Titleist AP1 710 (graphite, regular flex)
  • SW: Vantage Be-Copper 60˚ (steel)
  • SW: Callaway X-20 (steel, left-handed)
  • Putter: Fazer CMX-05 (steel)

On order is a matching Titleist AP1 710 gap wedge (graphite, regular flex). I think it’s the only club I’ll ever have bought at full price.

Keen and numerate students of the rules of golf will note that I will then have 15 clubs, meaning that something will have to give way to allow the gap wedge into my bag. I think that the 9-wood will be the club that I no longer carry; its purpose was to be a playable club in the hole between 3-wood and 5-iron in my previous bag. That hole is now rather more populated: the new 5-iron goes further than the old one, and of course I now have the 4-iron and the 21˚ hybrid.

Some explanation of what a gap-wedge is might be appropriate at this juncture. Over the last few decades the loft of a pitching wedge has decreased; the AP1 710 PW has a loft of 45˚; it is now about where an 8 iron was in the 1960s. The shape of the shot is similar to an old pitching wedge, but the ball goes much further due to advances in technology. The sand-wedge however has not changed, because when there is sand in the way the technological trickery that makes less-lofted pitching wedges viable doesn’t work. These two factors create the gap which this new kind of club fills.

In my bag at the moment the gap is quite large – I hit the SW about 60 yards and the PW about 110 yards. I am hoping the gap wedge will be in the 85-yard area. The gap is more of a problem because the clubs are so lofted: if you putt two balls on level ground, one 20% less hard than the other it will go 20% less far. Compare 100% and 80% swings for your other clubs and you’ll notice that as the loft increases the distance difference decreases, until with the wedges there is practically no difference in distance (and a very marked difference in trajectory). Whether or not it is possible it is certainly not easy, and certainly not within my skill, to play a PW shot that pitches after 80 yards and stays near where it lands. I can pitch-and-run that distance quite easily; unfortunately that doesn’t help if you’re facing 70 yards of grass followed by 5 yards of bunker, 10 yards of green and then an out-of-bounds fence. It is this kind of shot that I am hoping the gap wedge will make possible.

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