What’s In My Bag, Part One: Where are the Irons?

wimbI’ve been asked by many readers—well, actually, by just one reader, but he asked twice—to publish a poor man’s version of my favorite regular feature in Golf Digest. I’ve been somewhat hesitant to do so, for who-asked-you reasons, but I also know that most golfers enjoy snooping in other golfers’ bags, and my own assortment may be peculiar enough to be of interest. So why not?  Furthermore, if at least two readers will send me descriptions (with one or more photos) of their own equipment, I will create a permanent What’s In My Bag department, and publish them there, along with any future contributions. Send all that stuff to myusualgame@gmail.com.

The first thing you will notice, if you have read this far, is that my bag doesn’t contain any conventional irons. My friend Tony and I now lead what we call the Hybrid Lifestyle. It consists of playing as much golf as possible while other people are at work, and not using normal equipment. It was Tony who introduced me, six or seven years ago, to what we both now think of as a magic golf club: a 34-degree 7-hybrid, made by Nike, which a single-digit friend of his had urged him to try. As Tony promised, I hit it longer, higher, straighter, and more consistently well than my 7-iron, which I’d had custom-fitted in Arizona a couple of years before, and as soon as I got home I ordered one just like Tony’s. Not long after that, Tony and I played a round with a visiting friend of his, and we used our magic clubs on a 150-yard par-3. We both hit high draws to within six feet of the hole, and the friend said, “Gee, you guys could play on the L.P.G.A. Tour.” He meant to be devastating, but I’ve adopted his remark as a swing thought.

This is the magic golf club. Nike not only doesn't make it now, but also, according to Nike, never made it the past. (Tony Dabbs told me the company had never made a 34-degree hybrid.) Tony and I know better.

This is the magic golf club. Nike not only doesn’t sell it now, but also, according to Nike, never sold it the past. (A Nike rep told me the company had never made a 34-degree hybrid.) My friend Tony and I know better.

Almost everyone now agrees that low-numbered hybrids are easier to hit than the corresponding long irons. That’s true even for pros, who stopped carrying 1-irons years ago, and now often don’t carry 2-irons or 3-irons, either. But Tony’s and my experience has convinced me that the hybrid advantage extends deep into the bag, and that hardly anybody carries enough. I would bet that’s true even of many tour players, but it’s definitely true of golfers who aren’t paid to play. Today, Tony’s longest iron is a 9. Mine—now that I’ve supplemented my six Nike hybrids with two Cleveland HB3 “hybrid irons”—is a pitching wedge. As a result, I’m convinced, we’re both now playing our best golf ever.

(I’m not sure I like the HB3s; they make a weird noise when you hit them, causing even pure shots to sound like chunks. But I like being able to say I don’t have any irons. Tony calls his 9-iron his 1-iron, because it’s his one iron—get it?)

The great Karsten Solheim.

The great Karsten Solheim.

Almost twenty years ago, I got to spend time with Karsten Solheim, the founder of Ping, who invented the modern, perimeter-weighted golf club. Solheim told me that hitting a ball with an old-fashioned club, in which the weight of the head was uniformly distributed along the blade, was “like hitting a tennis ball with a Ping-Pong paddle.” A similar principle applies to hybrids. Tony Dabbs, a Nike product line manager, told me, “With a hybrid you’ve got a lower and deeper center of gravity, so it gets your launch angle up—more than what an iron can possibly do. A hybrid is essentially a mini-fairway wood, or a small driver.” The weighting and the shape of the head also make a hybrid easier to hit well out of the rough, since the club is less likely to twist. Dabbs told me that the advantage is greatest for slower swing speeds, but I think stronger players gain, too, and that that benefit compounds over time because once you begin hitting decent shots with a comfortable swing you’re less likely to lash at the ball from over the top with any of your clubs.

Tragically, from my point of view, Nike no longer makes SQ Sumo2 hybrids, which I prefer to all subsequent models. (I do carry a second 2-hybrid, a Nike VR S model that Nike also doesn’t make anymore. It goes farther than my other Nike 2-hybrid, although I find it harder to hit well. I think of it as a fairway wood, which it resembles.) And Nike no longer makes even a 6 hybrid. (Dabbs told me there’s “a point of diminishing returns” as lofts get higher. Hmph.) If you’re a seller—right hand, steel, stiff—please speak up.

To be continued. (I’m going to stretch this out for quite a while. Next, I’ll explain why I’ve got two drivers.)

21 thoughts on “What’s In My Bag, Part One: Where are the Irons?

  1. Hi David, I have lots of friends who do not use irons anymore, and they seem to be playing well. I have not got there yet myself, but might just send you some pics of the contents of my bag anyway.
    Pete

    • I have steel in the 7, 6, and 5. The rest are graphite. I would have liked to have steel in those, too, but it wasn’t available. All stiff–although I’m approaching a more regular age, if I’m not there already.

    • It’s virtually impossible to find, and a Nike guy I talked to claimed they’d never made it. But Adams makes a 7, in the Idea series. It’s 32 degrees, rather than 34, but I like all their hybrids a lot. And Adams seems more committed to the concept than most of the other manufacturers.

      • adams v3 7 hybrid is 34 degrees just purchased today from ebay $24.50 Love it hit it 145-150 straight and high.Also went for the New Idea tech 6 hybrid hit that 155 -160

        • Magic clubs. Now look for a sixteen-degree driver and hit it from any tee where you might hit a 3-, 4-, or 5-wood. And try it from the fairway, too.

          • my bag has Srixon Driver, Callaway Xhot 4 and 11 wood,Taylormade Jetspeed 4H, Extreme moi hybrids 6, 7, 8, PW and Cleveland Niblicks 42, 49, 56 and a 60 degree Wilson sandwedge. Yes Stacy putter. some day soon I may post a picture 18 handicap and getting better

  2. I have replaced all of my irons with 4 hybrids from the X9 Extreme MOI series (PW, 8, 6, 4). I have emailed details to David… I am enjoying golf again!

  3. Pingback: The Hybrid Lifestyle | The Hybrid Lifestyle

  4. I too play all hybrids up to a 48 degree wedge. Nice not wasting shots from 150 yards and in. Shot 85 today from 6100 yards today.

  5. I had a problem with shanks with anything from 4 iron to a full sand wedge. Quit the game twice. Can’t stay away so over this offseason I’ve fixed my takeaway, setup, balance and tempo somewhat. Still too many shanks for any shot from 75-160 yards. Thought it might have been confidence in irons. I read Tony’s hybrid lifestyle article and feel I got very lucky to find a sumo sq 2 34* 7 h on eBay. Haven’t shanked it yet and have been practicing as much as weather will allow. Bought a matching 6h and 5h and really love them. Now have the 3 and 4. Choke down on that 7h it becomes a wedge for me. A steep punch works beautifully for me inside 100 yards. Thank you Tony. A senior club saved my game. I had resorted to hitting an Ely Would 11 wood for everything under 175 yards to around 75. I would punch it rather than hit a full wedge. Now I feel like I can get to scoring range and play in the 80’s consistently. Your 6 year old article saved my love of the game.

  6. I also play this way. I go right from my big bertha 7os hybrid set at 33 degrees to my chipper and hybrid sand wedge. Game is so much more fun!

  7. new additions to bag:
    Srixon driver, Callaway XR 4 and 7 wood, X hot 11 wood, srixon z h45 22 degree hybrid, extreme moi 6-7-8-pw, cleveland niblicks 42, 49 and 56, 60 degree Wilson and Wilson Southside putter

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