As I was giving a lesson recently, I noticed the bag of my student, who is about a 4 handicap and a reasonably good player. The bag was full of hybrid iron-woods. This golfer only had four irons in his bag. He had three wedges and an 8- and a 9-iron. That evening I heard Dana Quigley, who had just won the Champions Tour event in Kansas City, talking about how many hybrid iron-woods he had in his bag and how easy they were to hit. He went on to say he was going to replace his 6- and 7-irons with hybrid iron-woods.
The fact is the hybrid iron-wood is easy to hit and should be in the bags of all seniors, women and low ball hitters. It seems we are all victims of tradition in this game, but there is no reason for any golfer to have a 2- or 3-iron in their bag anymore. Most golfers shouldn't have a 4- or 5-iron. I said in one of my previous articles, there are 2 types of players — "diggers and sweepers." "Diggers" are generally good with their irons, especially their short irons, and very poor with their long irons and driver. If I am describing you here, I would suggest switching to the iron-wood technology. The weighting in the head and the way the bottom of the club is designed will allow you to chop down a little bit and still get a good shot.
Let's talk about the "sweepers," who tend to hit up on the ball. The low handicap sweeper tends to hit inside-outside too much and has a very shallow approach angle. He generally hits the driver well but can't touch a long iron without hitting it thin. Generally, you are tired of not getting a divot in front of the ball. If this is you, throw your 2-, 3-, and 4-irons away and get 2- or 3-iron-woods to replace them. You'll hit it better right away.
Now, the rest of you are "scoopers" or "casters" of the club. At impact you tend to hit too much up on the ball. Some of you use your arms and hands too much and leave your weight back on the right side at impact. Generally, the ladies and seniors might have a swing like this. This type of sweeper or scooper would also do well to have a bag full of iron-wood hybrids. The weighting system of the hybrid iron-wood will help this type of player get a more solid hit and help get the ball up in the air.
The low ball hitter should also have the iron-wood hybrid in his bag. The bottom weighting system will give you the height you desire.
At this time there are only a few companies that make a full line of hybrid iron-wood clubs, but generally all the larger manufacturers have at least 3 iron-wood clubs in their line. The 3, 4, and 5 hybrids are the clubs to start with.
Perhaps 20 years from now we may look back and say, "Did golfers really use long irons?"
Dr. Jim Suttie, the 2000 PGA Teacher of the Year, is director of instruction at The Club at TwinEagles in North Naples and at Cog Hill Golf Club in Lemont, Ill. His new book is "Your Perfect Swing" and is available at bookstores and at amazon.com. He also is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher and rated No. 15 by Golf Digest. Suttie coaches the FGCU men's golf team. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.