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!