Category Archives: equipment

Why I Have Blades in My Bag

Blades vs. cavity backs=”game improvement” irons.

There is an article on the GolfWRX site by Terry Kohler about the matter. I was going to write a response, but some guy in the Comments column beat me to it.

What he said is exactly my story. Every word. EVERY WORD.

“I have found that my scores with blade irons are the same or better as cavity backs. Could be because I learned to play with blades nearly 60 years ago because that was my only option. Could be that they just plain look better to my eye because of that old historical tie. Or it could be because I get sloppy with a cavity back relying on that supposed forgiveness. So at this point I simply select a blade because it makes me happy. It makes me think about all the things I need to do to hit a pure shot, and when I don’t I only blame myself. Handicap 9.”

As you know, I play Hogans. Either 1999 Apex or 1989 Apex Red Line.

Farewell to the Redlines

Ten years go I bought a used set of irons, Ben Hogan Apex Redline from 1989.

They are wonderful clubs, probably the best irons the Hogan brand made.

I played wonderful golf with them. These are the irons that helped me get to single digits.

But to get to the point, they have to be put away. I got them off eBay, and everything on eBay has a Stiff shaft. Ten years ago I could swing a Stiff shaft. Now, I can’t.

I went to the range a few days ago with the 6-iron and had to work so hard just to get a passable shot out of it. It shouldn’t have been that difficult.

Today I went to the range again and took the 6-iron from the set of 1999 Apexes, which were custom built for me in 2003 and have Regular shafts.

It was like night and day. They swung easily, smoothly, they worked with me. They’re in the bag, the Redlines are out.

So farewell to old friends. I knew that someday I would have to switch back to the 1999s again, and that day has arrived.

But not to worry. I hit this killer fade with them that is going to make flagsticks very afraid.

What’s In My Bag—April 2019

I love to play around with my set of clubs. Every time I make a change I think I have really got it this time.

Here’s the set I’m playing with now:

Driver (11.5 degrees)
Fairway wood (16.5 degrees)
Fairway wood (20.5 degrees)
24-degree hybrid
27-degree hybrid

The clubs from the 16.5 fairway wood to the lob wedge have fairly consistent gaps in loft.

I’ve really got it this time.

What’s in My Bag – Spring 2016

Play with your equipment. Mix it up. The clubs you put in your bag dictate how you play the game. This is how I’m playing this spring.

Driver – Titleist 975D
Hybrid – Ben Hogan Edge CFT 17*
Irons – Ben Hogan Apex RedLine 4-E
Iron – Ben Hogan Apex Producer 9 (left-handed)
Wedges – Titleist Vokey 52, 56, 60
Putter – John Reuter Bulls Eye

No fairway woods, one hybrid, and a left-handed club. Really, I only need the thirteen clubs to get round the course in fine shape.

The left-handed 9-iron is the ultimate trouble club. Next to a tree or other object with no right-handed swing available? Ball beside a deep bunker you would have to take your stance in to swing right-handed?

A little chipping stroke will do, and it’s not that hard to learn how to swing from the other side. Let’s see how many strokes it saves me this year.

The Gap in Your Golf Game

Unless you are a very good player, there is a gap in your golf game that you likely cannot close. That gap is between your 4-iron/24° hybrid/7-wood and your driver. Within that space, recreational golfers generally do not have a good chance to hit greens and make pars.

The solution is to judge the conditions carefully if you have a long shot into the green. When there’s no real trouble around it, then go for it if you can get there with a club you get into the air easily.

(Having said that, if it’s a club you don’t get into the air easily, maybe it shouldn’t be in your bag at all.)

If you miss the green, you’ll at least be hole high with a chip onto the green for a par putt and a sure bogey. Nothing wrong with that.
What if there’s trouble in the form of bunkers, water, tall grass? Now it might make sense to play short to a long chipping position. In that case, hit the shot with the longest club you have confidence in.

That way, you’ll eat up a lot of yards, be in front of the green with a good lie and a chance, again, to chip on for a par or a sure bogey.
If you have a gap like the one I’m talking about, and I do, it’s best to think of the longer clubs as advancement clubs — clubs that get your ball down the fairway without the risk of losing strokes.

Or, you can go one step farther and not even put them in your bag. That way, they will never get you in trouble.

I like a light bag, so I carry only 10 clubs. The set starts off with driver, 24° hybrid, 6-iron and on down stepwise to a 56° wedge and my putter. No 5-iron? I hit it well, but not often enough to carry it.

I hit my driver 220 yards. With a 175-yard second, I can reach the green on all but the longest par 4s. Long par 3s are hard to hit anyway, so playing short and safe works out better than playing long and into trouble. Par 5s are three-shotters, and 395 after two shots leaves a short iron into the green.

I’m not asking you to play wimpy golf. Not at all. I‘m suggesting that you be realistic about how to play from long distances so you don’t lose strokes needlessly.

The pros play golf one way. We play it another. When you’re ready to hit into the green from 200 yards without courting disaster, you’ll know.

A Golf Rangefinder Tip

If you use a laser rangefinder on the golf course, you get an accurate distance to the pin. It would be nice to know where the pin is in relation to the center of the green, though. A location indicator attached to the pin, or on the 150-yard marker, if they’re used, is only an approximation.

As you’re approaching your ball, and before it’s your turn to hit, find a sprinkler head with a yardage affixed and stand right above it. Shoot the pin and compare the difference between the yardage to the pin and the yardage shown on the sprinkler head.

If the sprinkler head yardage is higher, the pin is nearer to the front of the green. If the sprinkler head yardage is less, the pin is nearer to the back of the green.

Most of the time we are short with our approaches (but that’s another post). If you know because of what you just found out that the pin is toward the front of the green, you might what to take a longer club to make sure your ball gets to the green.

If the pin is behind the center of the green, you can take less club and hit an easier shot, knowing that you still have enough club to get the ball onto the green. Remember, most greens are at leasts 30 yards deep, which gives you plenty of room for error.

What’s In My Bag Update

I played nine holes this morning with five clubs: driver, 4i, 7i, 54 wedge, putter.

The only thing that went wrong was on the first hole. I thought I had taken along a 56 wedge. It was a 54 and my pitch on to the green was way overcooked.

Other than that, I shot the same score I usually do and had to hit a few creative shots I don’t otherwise get to hit.

Great fun.

The Importance of Lie Angle

The golf club’s shaft runs down to the hosel, which takes off at an angle to the clubhead. That angle, called the lie angle, contributes to the direction the ball goes when you hit it, and more.

Golf club manufacturers build standard lie angles into their mass-produced clubs. There’s a good chance the standard lie angles do not fit your physique and swing, just like a suit off the rack in your size fits sort of, but not quite right. Just like you would get that suit tailored, part of a club fitting is getting the lie angle right.

Here’s why lie angle is important. If your clubs are too upright (the lie angle is too large), the club will be tilted toward you at impact, causing the clubface to face to the left of its address position, and the ball will go left. Conversely, if your lie angle is too small, the lie is too flat and you will tend to hit the ball to the right. (See drawing)


The more lofted the club, the more pronounced this effect is.

In addition, a club with the wrong lie angle will tend to strike the ball with a glancing blow. That will cause you to lose distance, the ball will fly lower and have less backspin, and the strike will never feel solid.

There’s an easy way to check whether the lie angle on your clubs is right for you. Get a Sharpie with a wide tip and draw a line on the ball. Put the ball down so the line is perfectly vertical and against the clubface when you address the ball. Now go ahead and hit the ball.

If the lie angle is correct, you will have a vertical stripe of ink on your clubface. If the lie is too upright, the stripe will lean toward the toe. Too flat, toward the heel. If there’s something wrong, get it corrected. This is a simple adjustment on a loft and lie machine.

The reason you want to get wrong lie angles corrected is that if you don’t, you have to introduce a compensation into your swing to make the ball go straight. It’s a lot easier to fix the club than to adjust your swing.

Get the lie angle on your irons checked every year if you play a lot of golf. Repeated impact against the ground can cause this angle to change.

You can use the theory of lie angles to help you play a shot from a sidehill lie. Imagine the ball being above your feet. When you address the ball, the bank raises the toe of the club, making the clubface point left of the swing path. So, aim right to compensate.

The opposite is true when the ball is below your feet. The clubface is now facing to the right, so aim the shot to the left of your target.