Will wide sole iron heads improve your golf shots? – By Roger Morton
Lots of new cavity back iron heads from various manufacturers are coming on to the market at the moment feature wide soles, the design of which is a throw back to the 1980’s when wide sole irons such as the Hogan Magna and Browning Low Profile were first introduced. So has much changed in iron heads shapes over the years and why have manufacturers persevered with this type of design?
Well, these wide soles iron heads have a low centre of gravity helping the ball to get into the air quicker at impact which should help the less proficient golfer to hit the ball straighter. As the quicker the ball gets airborne the less side spin is imparted, so producing more accuracy. They also help the golfer to sweep the ball off the turf instead of having to give the ball more of a downward hit with thinner sole models in order to take a divot to encourage the ball to climb after impact. Often these type of irons are fitted with soft flex shafts, also there to help get the ball airborne quicker. But lots of golfers now complain that the ball flies too high, not good into a head wind. So manufactures have also strengthened the face lofts on wide sole irons, making them much more powerful, in an attempt to give a more penetrating flight. But this strengthening of loft of each iron causes more problems because the stronger (or more cheating) the lofts throughout the set of irons, the bigger the gap becomes between the Pitching Wedge and the Sand Wedge.
Let me explain. Not so long ago the loft of a standard pitching wedge was normally set at 50° today that same wedge will have a loft of between 45° – 47°. (See the “How loft has changed” article, under the Golf Equipment – Clubs header on golfer-today). So with the sand iron keeping it’s traditional loft over the last 60 years of 55°, there can now be as much as a 10° gap between these two clubs. With each degree of loft equaling 3 yards of carry, which represents a gap of 30 yards between these two clubs at the working end of a hole, many golfers find this gap too big. So now a gap wedge has to be bought to fill that gap and guess what the loft required is around 50° the loft of an old pitching wedge. Manufacturers base this loft strengthening purely on commercialism, in order to sell more clubs.
So if you are considering buying a set of wide sole irons, be aware of the pros and cons before doing so. If you already have a high ball flight this head design might not be for you.