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Happy US Open week everybody! Being the nerd that I am I decided to peek into the bags of the very best players in the world today and see how they set things up. You’d have to be oblivious to miss the trend in modern bags away from long irons and towards hybrids and extra wedges. There’s nothing wrong with that… despite my love for traditional golf and gear, I don’t blame pros for taking any means necessary to score the lowest. There also isn’t too much different between the mindset of using some extra hybrids and adding some lofted persimmon woods (4 and 5 woods). We must not forget that being a top touring pro is like no other job in the world. There are hundreds of guys looking to knock you off and take your place. You don’t have a contract like a baseball or basketball player.. If you lose it, you’re gone within a few years. Just ask Anthony Kim.

A corollary of that line of thought is that those few top players who do play the long irons (think 2 or 3 iron) must do so because they believe it gives them the best chance to score well. They wouldn’t do it for style point. And that’s just what I set out to identify – which of the top pros still play long irons? It wasn’t that hard to pull up the “What’s in the Bag?” for each of the top 100. Keeping in mind that everybody changes up their bags from time to time, I pulled out the information for the longest iron currently in their bag (this info is listed at the bottom of this post) and while I was at it I went ahead and noted whether their iron sets were full blades, a mixed set of blades/cavity backs, or all cavity backs. It’s a pretty interesting and even split – there appears to be no consensus on how best to set things up.

Please note that I crunched these data about a week ago so rankings and setups may have shuffled a bit. I also tried to take the most WITB that I could find. Most are from The Masters for those players who qualified to play there.


The first award to dole out is the “2-iron Award”. Here are the list of winners that are packing a butter knife in their modern set. An important thing to remember is that with the delofting of modern irons, these 2 irons are somewhat analogous in terms of length and loft to old school 1-irons. I think this percentage of modern players (16%) using 2-irons might be somewhat similar to the number of guys in the persimmon age who carried 1-irons but that’s just a guess. Here we go!


The second award is the “Full Blade Award”, given to those golfers who are packing a full set of muscleback blades. This group tallies at 23% (23/100). A lot of strong ballstrikers is this group!


And lastly, the composite award, given to those few players who game both a 2-iron AND a full set of blades. A paltry 6 players out of the top 100. Interesting to note that there are no Americans in this group. Cheers fellas!


The full list and some other plots are shown below. Only 2 players with 5 iron as their longest iron!

Modern Sets – Top 100

10 Responses to “Traditional Gear Awards for the Modern Top 100”

  1. Avatar of Blade Junkie Blade Junkie says:

    Interesting analysis Riley.

    So we have 23% Blades and 77% *not* Blades … but the last three World Number One’s have all been blade players … :)

    How many were Blades/Cavity btw ?

    Do you have “Part Deux” planned on the other end of the bag ? Would be interesting to see the most lofted club statistics, to see if there is anyone out there bagging the old school 55/56 degrees as the most lofted club in the bag. I think all of them will have something more lofted than that …

    • Avatar of Blade Junkie Blade Junkie says:

      Just realised you posted a link to your Excel, so now I know it is another 12 players who use Cavity/Blade combo, plus Matt Kuchar and Russell Knox are the two guys with 5-Iron as longest iron !

      • Yep, exactly! Here’s another fun fact I heard about Kuchar (hearsay of course): He has a habit of “borrowing” nice houses i.e. multi-million dollar mansions near the site of the tournament and completely trashing them. Then he left a couple boxes of golf balls to cover the damage. Not cool.

  2. Avatar of Blade Junkie Blade Junkie says:

    Another interesting (to me anyway!) statistic from you data:

    A blade player is twice as likely to carry a 2-iron vs a cavity back or combo player (26% – 6/23 for blades vs 13% – 10/73 for cavity)

  3. Avatar of Jordan Jordan says:

    Very cool post PGT. Thanks
    I was surprised how many guys don’t even carry a 3 iron let alone a 2 iron. I have tried to hit hybrids myself but the key to hitting them is a descending iron type swing and for some reason i can’t make that kind of a swing with anything resembling a wood. My brain just won’t allow it. Love that adam scott is still playing the old titleist 680′s too. BTW i hit my 1 iron very well today 3 times off the tee and once into a par 5, trying to keep the long iron love alive!

    • Avatar of Blade Junkie Blade Junkie says:

      I have been doing that quite alot lately as well. I’ve been playing two sets recently … in the hickory set I am hitting the driving mashie off alot of tees (18 degrees 39 inch shaft), and with my Ram Tour Grind set I just love hitting the 1-Iron. Played a Par-5 (523 yards) green in regulation the other day in 1-Iron, 1-Iron, SW … ! Felt great !!!

    • You are like me then Jordan. I can’t hit a hybrid for the life of me (although I’ve only tried a few times on borrowed clubs). I don’t hit a 1-iron well but I hit 2i-4i pretty well and my home course allows for run ups on most holes. I like my 2-iron so much that I don’t even use my 3-wood very much.

      Those RAMs are a nice fit for you BJ. It was fun watching you hit them for the first time. I guess it wasn’t just a honeymoon period!

  4. Avatar of 67 W693's 67 W693\'s says:

    Thank you for a great article! When I played my best golf (to date…as a much younger man) I carried 1-8 irons, PW, SW, 1,3,4 woods, and a putter. It was a lot easier for me to hit a knockdown with the 8 iron that it was for me to hit a 9 iron.
    The professional who mentored me had me play “short set” rounds with 2,4,6,8 irons. I learned to hit so many different shots with the 8 irons that I never missed the nine iron when I discovered I could hit a 1 iron.
    Now I carry four woods (9.5, 13,16,19), 1,4,5,6,7,8, PW, SW, LW, and a putter. The “woods” are all metal; the irons are all blades. The PW is the fourth generation ’61 MacGregor Tommy Armour VFQ AT1 that is my avatar for this forum.
    I really feel that my best golf is ahead of me as I have more time to practice and to play now than I did when I was younger. This forum should be required reading for every junior golfer…thank you to all for all.

    • Thank you for that reply and for having a great attitude! I too think my best golf is ahead of me. That is a very interesting set makeup that you play! I’ve talked before about the benefits to playing with a short set during practice/training. I’m convinced it is a much better way to practice than banging drivers on the range.

  5. Avatar of tim tim says:

    Great post, lot of work put into it. Thanks for the effort !!

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