Why my Shot Scope data convinced me to switch irons
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Why my Shot Scope data convinced me to switch irons



Halfway into the year, I've been playing great golf. I've been able to take my handicap index back down below 1, where it hasn't been since before my wife and I had the first of our two children.

I posted a career-low round of 66 at Tobacco Road in May. Everything went right that day, and I haven't played that well in a long, long time.

And yet, not even a month later, I switched irons.

Last summer, I switched irons. That's nothing new. I get the chance to test out new equipment from time to time. The set was my first experience with an iron set bordering on the player's distance and game-improvement categories. I really liked how far I was hitting the ball at first. I knew the lofts were stronger, but the face was so hot I could nuke short irons much farther than I could with my prior set. It was a nice feeling to hit a mid-iron or less into par 5s. But very quickly I realized I was taking some good with some bad.

Every once in a while, I would smoke an iron -- usually a scoring club -- and it would go well deep of my target. At least 20 yards. And I would stand there after the shot absolutely shocked. It didn't happen all the time, but it was enough to notice. It bothered me, but everyone gets fliers and sometimes we flush it too far. So that was OK.

But I really started to be pained when standing on the tee of many par 3s. I would face the classic dilemma: nuke a shorter club or hit it easier with a longer club. I'm the kind of player who picks nuking it. It's just easier for me to swing harder. But swinging harder with a hot club created problems.

Then there was the gap between the pitching wedge that came with the set and my 52-degree wedge. The set's pitching wedge was 44 degrees. Then the gap wedge with the set was 50 degrees, giving me effectively the same club. On my home course, which is 6,500 yards from the tips, I hit a lot of wedges into greens. I need a club that goes 100-110 yards to cover those situations, and I didn't have one in the set.

I don't mind bogeys here and there -- of course, I make plenty of mistakes -- but when my equipment is putting me in position to make mistakes before I even swing, that's cause for alarm.

But I can't use anecdotal data alone to make big choices.

So, I turned to my Shot Scope data. I've been using Shot Scope this year to track my scoring. I wanted to look at how I was hitting my 7-iron, 8-iron and gap wedge to see if I was hitting them as poorly as I thought.

I have been atrocious with the gap wedge. I hit the green 50 percent of the time with it -- more from the fairway, less from the rough. The proximity to the hole from the rough of 144 feet is just unacceptable, even if the 64 feet from the fairway isn't awful. For the volume of shots I hit in this range, I could have justified a change alone.

But on the longer holes, I hit a lot of 8-irons and 7-irons. And the average distance I hit these clubs wasn't making any sense. On Shot Scope, my P-average yardage for the two clubs is within 4 yards: 182 yards for the 7-iron and 178 yards for the 8-iron. They're fundamentally the same club for me, and that's not helpful.

With this set, the data was showing two of my clubs were basically the same and one was useless. I was playing with 11 clubs on my home course. That's no good.

That's why Shot Scope inspired me to go back to an old player's iron set that's four years old. I held on to it all these years just in case I needed it for an emergency, like this. So far, the scores have been decent, but there's some feeling out to do. With more Shot Scope rounds, I'll be able to determine if I should stick in this category of iron or go back to the player's distance world with a 48-degree wedge in the set instead of the given gap wedge.

Thanks to Shot Scope, I had the data in hand to make a decision and see how it goes. Then I'll have data at my disposal to see if that was the right choice or to go in a different direction.

Try Shot Scope for yourself and get insights into how your equipment might be influencing your scores.

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com