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Irons for mid handicap going to single digits


defswings
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I’m a 14 handicap who has played golf for about 3 years, and frequently for about the last 18 months. In that time I’ve gone from a 25 to a 14. This year I’m joining a private club and plan to put in the work to break 80 within 13 months and being my index to single digits. I love this game. 
 

My irons are the set I bought 3 years ago off the rack on sale: Titleist AP1, 5-AW. 
 

Based on the data I have from my rounds, the irons are the weak link in my game. Obviously not fully equipment related and I’m taking lessons too, but I’m looking for the forum’s suggestions on irons that can help take my game to the next level. I want to love my irons like I love my wedges. I’ll probably drive 3 hrs to get fitted anyway, but hey figured I’d ask. 
 

Rest of the bag has been professionally fitted except the hybrid: Maverick driver and 4 wood, sim max 21 deg hybrid, and 52/56/60 vokey SM8 wedges. Distances for reference: driver 260, 7 iron 170-175, PW 125. 

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For most 14 handicaps consistency is the weak link in their game- not equipment.

It's also likely that the proper shafts are more important than club head design.

What don't you like about the AP1? They got you from a 25 to a 14.

 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, mantan said:

The funny thing about golf is that we think we outgrow our equipment as we get better.  In some cases our preferences change, but I'll bet there are a lot of single digits who play the AP1 and didn't need another club to take them 'to the next level'.

 

That being said, it depends on what you are looking for.  As mentioned above, most of us what more consistency...which is usually the most iron that we enjoy hitting. From a fitting perspective it may about length or shafts that are a better fit.  but I'd go in with an idea of what you feel like you're missing. Otherwise you'll end up like a lot of us with a new shiny set of fitted sticks and shoot the same scores.

 

You've made a ton of progress.  I 14 handicap hits about 27% GIR. An 8 hits about 35%.  How are you par 3 scores? That says a lot about your iron play. IMO driving accuracy, short game and putting separate the 14 from the single digit more than iron play.

I agree with this sentiment…BUT if you really want new clubs, how about going to the AP2 .  Not a big jump from your AP1s but definitely sleeker & can always find “like new” sets out there.    

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If you like the current sticks go to a Titleist fitting and hit the new T series.  More important than the heads will be the shaft and lie adjustments from rack clubs. 

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2 hours ago, defswings said:

I’m a 14 handicap who has played golf for about 3 years, and frequently for about the last 18 months. In that time I’ve gone from a 25 to a 14. This year I’m joining a private club and plan to put in the work to break 80 within 13 months and being my index to single digits. I love this game. 
 

My irons are the set I bought 3 years ago off the rack on sale: Titleist AP1, 5-AW. 
 

Based on the data I have from my rounds, the irons are the weak link in my game. Obviously not fully equipment related and I’m taking lessons too, but I’m looking for the forum’s suggestions on irons that can help take my game to the next level. I want to love my irons like I love my wedges. I’ll probably drive 3 hrs to get fitted anyway, but hey figured I’d ask. 
 

Rest of the bag has been professionally fitted except the hybrid: Maverick driver and 4 wood, sim max 21 deg hybrid, and 52/56/60 vokey SM8 wedges. Distances for reference: driver 260, 7 iron 170-175, PW 125. 

It is exponentially harder to go from a 14 to single digit than it is going from 25 to 14.  And breaking 80 makes you a single digit?  Maybe I'm missing something.

 

Anyways, AP1s are perfect for a 14 HC trying to improve.  Keep em.

Edited by Ripken08
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Well if irons are the weak part of your game you are using 'game improvement' irons that should offer a ton of forgiveness, good ball speeds across the face, and somewhat stronger lofts to keep distances.  

 

How many Greens in Regulation (GIRs) do you hit? 

 

I suggest really paying attention to this part of your game and see if you can pick up any trends.  I mean, if your straight up chunking and topping balls that's one thing to really get better at consistent strike on the ball.  But, if your swing is repeatable where are you missing?  

 

For example, I see a lot of players consistently missing short.  This is just course management and learning when to club up (especially if pin is in the back) or to have an honest assessment of your game.  Give yourself some cushion.  Likewise how many golfers seem to hook or slice and miss that side of the green but for some reason will take on tough pins.  

 

Now with that being said, your distances indicate your an above average swing speed.  I'm not sure what shafts you have but I'm a big believer in getting fit for the right shaft not just in flex but also in weight, to me the weight might be more important in the irons then anything.  If your trying to scratch and itch and get fitted go for it just don't expect miracles right away.  

 

But kuddos to you sounds like you should get in single digits soon!

 

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8 minutes ago, Ripken08 said:

And breaking 80 makes you a single digit?  Maybe I'm missing something.

 

 

Depending on the course he plays consistently breaking 80 can definitely make you single digit.

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Thanks for all the replies here- I’ll try to address some of the things y’all brought up. The intuition to switch clubs for me comes from the notion that I basically picked these irons at random. Maybe I’m giving fitting too much credit but it made a massive difference for me in consistency off the tee in particular. If there were a couple of “obvious choice” replacements for the AP1s I’d at least go try them and see how they performed. 
 

I do play two very challenging courses as my normal courses, hence the commentary about the score. The private club I’m joining is similar but a little easier due to total distance. 
 

One thing I didn’t say that I should have is that I’m interested in weaker lofts in order to eliminate the AW position in the bag. I almost never use it and would rather trade it for a second fairway or hybrid. 
 

All that said, I know I don’t need new irons. I hit 25-30% of GIR and average a 4 on par 3’s. 
 

I’m going to put in the work off the tee and around the greens. I have a 14’ birdie ball setup in the basement and I literally live across the street from the short game area at the club. So that work is underway. I’m just an inveterate optimizer, which is why the irons have my attention currently. 

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8 minutes ago, defswings said:


The long irons in particular have more dispersion than I would like, and I have trouble hitting greens out beyond 180. I’m very confident in 7-PW but would give up some distance to get better control. 

Do you not have the distance or height ? Are the odds of hitting the green 180 out are not in your favor. I would assume you need hybrids and not irons. Or work with a coach. 

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Stick to what you got and keep on practicing and playing.  The best players in the world have won with blades and Player's CB, but they've also won with GI and SGI irons too.  From the top off of my head Lee Westwood was playing his best when he had the Zing 2s in his bag for the longest time.  Mark Calcavecchia won his British Open with Ping Eye 2s.  Monty & Annika won a boatload of events with those super chunky 90s Bertha irons and X14s.

Edited by cgasucks
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"Loft for loft, length for length, and shaft for shaft, the ball will go the same distance when hit on the sweet spot regardless how old the iron."

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A friend of mine had a similar journey.

 

He wanted to move to blades when he became a single digit. He reached his goal, sold his improvement irons and ended up hating the new clubs he bought. He made the mistake of selling his old set and wound up taking a loss to get his old game improvement irons back. I'd keep your old irons when you "upgrade."

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1 hour ago, defswings said:


The long irons in particular have more dispersion than I would like, and I have trouble hitting greens out beyond 180. I’m very confident in 7-PW but would give up some distance to get better control. 

Hey, from >180 out, only low single digit guys are consistently hitting the green. That should be a goal but not an expectation. I had 714 AP1’s and they where fine. Personally know a couple of single digit playing AP1’s. Sure, go get fit to see if your current iron are a good fit, bit be wary of WHO fits you… There are some chumps out there doing fittings. Find a reputable fitter. Good luck getting to single digits.

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I say play whatever brings you joy to the game.  If your heart is set on a new set of irons, then go for it.  Just be super thoughtful on what works well for you with your current set and try not to stray too far away from what works.

 

Maybe you go through a proper fitting to see what shafts feel good for your transition.  And if you really want new irons, it would be hard to not go into 718 ap2’s.  Save some money and have a sweet set of irons that would be a pretty smooth transition.  Newer is not always better.  What’s better is what works.

 

While your at it, do a ball fitting as well.  It can really help you dial in your feels and numbers.

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I would advise you get a compact iron that provides enough feedback that you're encouraged (if not forced) to hit the ball more properly. Blades may be a step too far but I'd highly recommend a nice set of compact, forged, player's CBs. There are plenty of good options out there beginning with the Titleist T100. 

 

FWIW, since I began with this game, I have only ever played MBs and Player's CBs. If you're looking to improve, you've got to challenge yourself a bit. 

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I got to single digits, 7 handicap as my lowest, from 13, using pre owned, not fitted, Titleist Ap1 714 that I used for 5 years. I shot my best scores using those irons. I switched to blades and players irons and players distance irons and all were the same in a sense that they do everything what they are supposed to do, based on the kind of swing I put in. Of course some were softer because of being forged. Some went far than the others due to the lofts. Some were a bit forgiving due to the heads. 

 

After a lot of irons tried out and tested, I went back to Game Improvement irons because I am too lazy to practice. lol I guess in my own experience, it all boiled down to what I was more comfortable using. As ,much as I want to play cavity back players irons most of the time, I felt that the game improvement irons I chose to stick with were the most that made sense and were the most practical. 

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Since you are taking a lot of lessons, I would ask your coach if he thinks your irons are holding you back, and what you should be looking at to help your game if he thinks they are.

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I believe you have received a bunch of good comments in here. I would add:

 

Go to a fitting and determine if the clubs are holding you back

 

Did I read that you want to go with weaker lofts to eliminate a AW in favor of a hybrid? I will tell you that your chances of getting to single digits is far more in your wedges. Since you mentioned it my guess is you need to work with your instructor on distance control with each wedge. You should be able to develop 3-4 distances with each wedge to fill in gaps 125 yards and in.

 

 I would also add that the fastest way to single digits are to reduce the number of sinners in a round. Sinners are penalty shots, using a wedge more than once a hole, and three putting.

 

 

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7 hours ago, LaterOn61 said:

I believe you have received a bunch of good comments in here. I would add:

 

Go to a fitting and determine if the clubs are holding you back

 

Did I read that you want to go with weaker lofts to eliminate a AW in favor of a hybrid? I will tell you that your chances of getting to single digits is far more in your wedges. Since you mentioned it my guess is you need to work with your instructor on distance control with each wedge. You should be able to develop 3-4 distances with each wedge to fill in gaps 125 yards and in.

 

 I would also add that the fastest way to single digits are to reduce the number of sinners in a round. Sinners are penalty shots, using a wedge more than once a hole, and three putting.

 

 


Thanks and I agree, this thread has been helpful and I appreciate all the input. I’m planning to go to a good fitter and talk to my coach with the bias toward keeping or making a minimal change to my irons. To be clear I was never thinking of going to blades or something, just finding something a bit more crisp looking and with a bit more control. 
 

On the question of taking the AW out of the bag, it’s because I have its distances covered already and only pull it when it’s 115 on the dot. Otherwise I hit the 52 or take some off a PW. 
 

Noted on the sinners and I have been working on all of the above. My lag putting has improved significantly this year but I’m still good for a couple three putts per round. 

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22 hours ago, TallGuy90 said:

Do you not have the distance or height ? Are the odds of hitting the green 180 out are not in your favor. I would assume you need hybrids and not irons. Or work with a coach. 

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