Vintage Steel Experiment

Background:  I was frustrated on Sunday with how poorly I was hitting my irons.  So I switched mid-round to an older swing- what I would call my “simplest” golf swing. I bring the club back to the outside without a lot of wrist or turn. I then bring it down on what seems like the same plane- it feels like I am cutting across the ball with the face of the club. This has been my go to swing for fairway woods and hybrids for quite awhile, though I experiment with different swings. It worked pretty well Sunday, though I tended to pull my irons with it- probably because I was using over-length irons with an upright lie.

Sunday evening I was wondering whether this simple swing would work with shorter blades, like the vintage clubs that I use periodically. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get enough height as I struggle with this even with game improvement irons. I woke up to a rainy Monday morning.  I figured the course wouldn’t be crowded, so I went out in the afternoon with my Ping Sunday bag and six different 7 irons from my collection.  I also brought my 8 iron from my contemporary Wilson Staff set of game improvement irons. The loft on this iron is 36*.  The vintage 7 irons range from 36-39 degrees for their 7 irons- so they are actually a bit weaker in loft than the contemporary 8 iron.  This means the modern game improvement club with a lightweight steel shaft and jacked lofts should be longer and straighter than any of these old irons, right? Otherwise, what’s the point of new technology?

So I played a bunch of balls from 150 yards and holes 1, 2, 8, &9. The result?  The modern club was no longer- in fact, I would say it was a bit shorter than most of the blades. But what was more surprising was that the blades were like lasers.  They were all more precise and more accurate than the modern game improvement club- using the exact same swing on each shot- as exact as I could make it.  No warm-ups. These were 7 irons, so should not have been easy to hit. My favorites were a Dunlop DP-30 Australian Blade from the late 80s (which I have always liked), a Wilson Staff “Button-Back” from the early 70s, and a Wilson Staff Bullet-Back from the late 70s. I also tried an original Hogan Apex (early 70s) and another Wilson blade, the FG-17 from the early 80s. Finally, I tried a Wilson GooseNeck blade from the early 90s- a much larger clunkier head, but still a channel-back blade.  And the blades had as good a trajectory as the Wilson 8 iron.

Not surprisingly, the blades (all forged) felt SO much better than the contemporary club and the small sole made turf interaction much easier and cleaner. Also note that all of these blades were shorter than I am used to playing and some had stiff and some had regular shafts. What does this say about all the hype that you need to have your irons “fitted” by a professional based on all these stats that they get from launch monitors?  Really?! I did mis-hit a couple of shots that went short and I pulled one shot with the DP-30s that went a bit left, but still hit the green.  The old Hogan went right on two shots- I am thinking that it is lighter than the other clubs or maybe it was the Apex regular flex shaft that lagged some- not sure, but I did it twice, so it was significant.  Otherwise, these blades worked really well. I am not going back to the big-headed contemporary iron. No reason to if these feel so much better and I know from this experiment how they can perform.

Lots of rainy-day fun.


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