I’ve been so happy with the custom-fitted driver I got this past summer, I figured only good could
come of taking the plunge and getting fitted for a new set of irons.
I had no idea how right I
would turn out to be.
Now, as the golf season
draws to a close in the Northeast, I find myself swooning over my
newly-acquired, custom-fitted irons.
I also find myself perusing the internet in search of discount deals to warm-weather
golf destinations – anything to extend the honeymoon with the new love of
my golfing life.
Why am I going ga-ga over new set of irons?
Because there is a sudden
and noticeable improvement in my iron game. Thanks to a combination of the process of
custom-fitting and my switch to a set of game-improving TaylorMade Burner 2.0 irons, I am
hitting the ball a few yards farther, a little higher, and there is an
unmistakable and much-appreciated forgiveness when I slightly mishit a shot.
A little background
My iron game, which has been
adequate at best for the past couple of years, was getting increasingly iffy
Sure, I could fault my
swing, which is no longer the well-oiled, finely-tuned picture of perfection
that I like to believe it once was.
But why not lay some of the blame at the feet of the irons I’d been
playing for the past four or five years: Mizuno
Cut Muscle MP-60s?
course, is one of the premier manufacturers of irons, especially their top-of-the-line
stuff. Nobody in their right mind
would dispute that fact. If
anything, Mizuno has earned a
reputation as a "player’s iron," favored by plenty of pros and top amateurs.
Although I am neither a pro
nor a top amateur, I can tell you with some authority that a perfectly-struck
shot with a Mizuno Cut Muscle MP-60 iron
feels like a dream. It feels so
good it’ll send chills up your spine.
But I can also tell you that
on even the slightest mishit – anything less than a perfect, sweet-spot connection
– can feel like you clanked a shovel against the side of an Army tank,
sending shivers up your spine and down your arms. The negative feedback is instantaneous, right
down to the dead-buzzard flight of the ball.
I knew my Mizunos and I had
come to the end of our journey together during a round in September, when my
cart mate (I barely knew him) made some variation of the following observation after
pretty much every shot I hit: "That didn’t sound good. Did you get all of it?"
Problem was, well, yeah, on
most of those shots, I did get all of it – or about as much as I was ever
going to get.
The search for new irons
Within days of that round, I
was investigating the latest offerings in irons from all the manufacturers. The choices were mind-boggling.
About the only thing I knew
for sure was that getting a set of blades was out of the question. Regardless of the manufacturer, blades
are so unforgiving that even many PGA
Tour players have abandoned them in favor of perimeter-weighted irons.
I was also not wedded to any
particular manufacturer. Over the
years, before my Mizunos,
I’ve owned and played just about
every brand at one time or another: Clevelands (two sets), Titleists, Callaways, Hogans and Wilson Staffs. All I
knew was that this time around I wanted – needed – irons that were more forgiving and less judgmental
than my current set.
As it happened, that very
week I got an email from TaylorMade touting their latest game-improvement irons that
were about to hit the market, the Burner
2.0. Intrigued, I clicked
on the link and watched a video featuring Bret
Wahl, senior director of iron research at TaylorMade, explaining why the Burner 2.0s were "breakthrough"
technology. I liked what I saw.
What closed the deal for me
was a phone conversation with a longtime colleague at TaylorMade. This is a no-BS guy and he assured me
the early feedback the company was getting on the Burner 2.0s was very positive.
By the end of that week, I
was on the range at Manufacturer’s Golf
& Country Club, getting fitted under the watchful eye of a young
assistant pro named Lowen Lermitte.
First off, to determine
whether I needed stiff or regular shafts, Lowen he had me take a few cuts
to loosen up. Then he handed me
something called the Speed Stik, which is basically a golf club without the head;
instead, down at the tip, there is device that measures your swing speed.
Last time I got measured,
which was several years ago, my swing speed with a driver was 104 miles per
hour. That’s well below the average
Tour player (113) and nowhere close
to the longest hitters (Tiger is 120-130). This time, Speed Stik had me consistently in the
93-95 mph range, which means I still need stiff shafts – but just barely.
handed me a 6-iron with a stiff shaft and pulled out what looked like a
clipboard, or like one of those little rubber tee mats you see at a Putt-Putt course. Next, Lowen put a special kind of tape
along the sole of the 6-iron and had me hit several balls off the
clipboard. Where the sole of the
club made contact with the clipboard, the tape was scraped and darkened.
To the trained fitter, the
scrapes on the tape indicate whether my new irons should be the standard lie or
whether they needed to be bent slightly upright or flat. I’m 6-foot-1 so the presumption is that,
if anything, I would need clubs that are a degree or two upright. The scraped tape clearly revealed otherwise. Despite my height, I actually needed
irons that were 1-degree flat.
After I hit a couple of
dozen balls with the stiff steel shafts, I told Lowen I wanted to try the stiff shaft
in graphite. He shook his head,
like it was a bad idea. "You’ll
like the steel better," he said.
Still, I wanted to give the
graphite a try, if only to see for myself.
Ten balls into the graphite experiment, I handed the club back to Lowen. He was right. The steel shafts had a better feel, and
I swear there was less dispersion to the shot pattern.
The irons arrive
When the Burner 2.0s arrived late one afternoon about
a month later, there was still enough light to take them for a spin. I only got in seven holes before dark,
but it was enough to give me a sense that I was going to be very pleased.
I played my first full round
with new irons the next week, at Bidermann
GC near Wilmington. It was then that I fully came to
appreciate what I had stumbled into.
Early on in the round at Bidermann, I hit
mostly short irons into par 4s and a three-shot par 5. I liked the way the ball sounded jumping
off the club, and there was none of that clanky
sensation I got with my old irons on a slight mishit.
The most convincing evidence
– and the shot of the day -- came at the 8th , which at Bidermann is a
picturesque, 190-yard downhill par 3.
I pulled my 5-iron, for what would be the debut shot with the longest
iron I carry. I made a good pass at
the ball -- good, not perfect --
but it felt as flush as if Ben Hogan
had hit it.
When I looked up, I was
watching a rocket, dead straight, and the ball was flying considerably higher
than I usually hit long irons. I
could play 10 rounds with my old irons and never hit a shot that felt that good,
that solid. And it didn’t just look
and feel good, it was good. The ball
landed on the back of the green, took one hop and stopped about 20 feet from
One of the truisms of golf
is that, if you are on good terms with your long irons, the other irons fall
into line, like baby ducks. The
rest of that round, and in three or four rounds since, things have only gotten
better between me and my new irons.
I’m not foolish enough to
think this honeymoon will necessarily last forever. I’ve got about a dozen putters in
various stages of "time out" in my basement now that prove otherwise. These new irons could eventually betray
me, just like those putters did.
For now, however, and
hopefully well into the future, we are happy together. I have to close now, because I
want to look for more discount golf trips online.