Golf Lesson #4: Game Improvement Golf Clubs
In the 1980’s, huge improvements were made in golf club design and construction. Most of those improvements increased both forgiveness (the ability of the golf club to compensate for swing error — and the golf ball to go straighter) and distance (the ability of the golf club to hit harder — and the golf ball to go farther). The object of the game is to hit straighter and farther, so golf clubs designed to do that are called game improvement golf clubs. The primary characteristics of game improvement clubs are perimeter weighting, large sweet spot and low center of gravity design.
As we progressed into the 90’s and 2000’s, game improvement continued to expand with the advent of “ported” clubs. Taylor Made ushered in the era of weight ports enabling the average golfer to adjust the weight by location. Whether it was one port, two ports or four ports, the golfer could adjust with a “little weight here”, or “less weight there” to achieve a desired ball flight. Since Taylor Made used “weight ports”, do you think Nike or Callaway would follow? Of coursed not!! Since the two have research and development departments, they went in different directions. Both Nike and Callaway went more in the “square headed direction” claiming that shape created better ball flight and straighter shots. Remember, all of this was done with “game improvement in mind.”
Perimeter weighting means that the weight of the golf club head is positioned around the perimeter of the golf club instead of at the center. As we said above, if you always hit the ball dead center perfect, you would want a small sweet spot and no perimeter weighting so you could put as much physical mass directly behind the impact point of the ball. If you are one of these guys, you likely have a low single digit handicap, use forged irons and know all of this already!! This would make a very long shot, however, if you are off — even just a millimeter — your shot will go astray. We don’t make clubs that do that because the vast majority of golfers out there simply cannot benefit from those designs. By perimeter weighting our golf clubs, we maximize forgiveness. We do have designs with greater and lesser emphasis on perimeter weighting — but all of our golf clubs are perimeter weighted.
Large Sweet Spot
A large sweet spot is generally created by perimeter weighting design. The sweet spot is the optimum place to make contact with the ball. The larger the sweet spot, the greater room for swing error. But designing for the largest sweet spot can leave less room to correct other common swing errors. Perimeter weighting can be shifted to cure toe-miss-hits and to help get the ball up in the air.
For example, certain iron designs are heavily toe-weighted, meaning the weight of the club is heavier at the toe of the club head, to decrease club twisting from severe miss-hits off the toe of the golf club. Ping Golf is most famous for this in their designs, the “Ping Zing.” This idea cures one very important problem — toe hits and twisted shots, but may decrease the overall size of the sweet spot. Increased toe-weighting can stress the shaft and increase golf shaft breakage. There is a fine balance in club design between doing a good thing and doing too much of a good thing.
Another example of using perimeter weighting to solve a problem is the low center of gravity designs of Callaway Golf. Callaway Golf iron designs tend to shift weight to solve the problem of getting the ball up in the air, but may decrease the sweet spot size. However, take heart — we are talking about fractions of millimeters of sweet spot size here, not inches.
Low Center of Gravity
Recently, low center of gravity (LCG) has become a favored design concept. This means shifting weight to the bottom of the club to increase the ability to hit the ball up into the air. If you don’t have a problem getting the golf ball off the ground, then LCG should be less important to you. It you have a big problem in this area then LCG matter a lot. Golf clubs with tungsten inserts, or weight ports focus on LCG, because tungsten is heavier than steel and allows the club to have even more weight where it counts.
To conclude, our overall goal is to have a large sweet spot and also solve some other common swing problems. Certain designs of the famous name manufacturers may orient more towards solving one problem than another: weight ports, inserts, etc. Pinemeadow Golf aims to be a smart follower and take advantage of the best thinking out there in the golf world, and apply those concepts to our products. Remember, most existing designs in the market place today are simply changes from prior designs, all our designs focus on game improvement, we want you to hit the golf ball both straight and far.
Hybrids and More
Utility clubs: Let’s use that term because it really encompasses hybrids irons, hybrid woods and obscure clubs like “hybrid chippers”. Hybrid clubs are not really new. Do you remember the Ginty? Most average golfers have a really hard time hitting the 2, 3 and 4 iron. Lets face it, most of us only used the 2 iron to get out from under the trees!! It has to have been 15 years but Taylor Made came out with the “Rescue Club” many years ago. It was called a rescue club for a reason. It was for the average golfer and it replaced the 2 and 3 iron as a truly game improving club. This was a problem though since was focused on the “average guy” and not on the professional “Tour Player.” Because it was called a rescue club, looked different, and was aimed at the average guy it really never caught on … until, one day when we saw it in a Touring Pro’s bag and it was called a hybrid! The explosion was on and everyone made their version of a hybrid. Today, you can find companies (including ours) that not only make the 2,3 and 4 hybrids, but continue it all the way down to the pitching wedge.
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