Posts Tagged ‘taylormade golf’

Can your company offer that?

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Sterling Irons Single Length Irons vs. Cobra One Single Length Irons


Hi, I am Tom Wishon and I am a career club head designer.

I have been designing club heads since 1986, during which I’ve had the pleasure to create designs for over three hundred and fifty (350) different models of club heads. One of the more recent models I have had the opportunity to design were the Sterling Irons Single Length iron.

Jaacob Bowden and I debuted the Sterling Irons Single Length irons in spring of 2016.

Well, in the last year one of the major golf club manufacturing companies has also come out with their own model of single length irons…and we got a lot of questions, like:

  • What are the differences between Sterling Irons Single Length Irons and Cobra One Length Single Length Irons?
  • Is one better than the other?

This has been one of my things I have done all my life is written a lot of articles, a lot of books, explaining the technology…and I am very pleased with the fact that I sought to have the ability to explain golf technology in very understandable terms.

So what I want do today is to be able to talk a little bit of the difference between Sterling Irons Single Length and the Cobra One…their version of single length irons.

Club Length

Okay…a few things, the whole concept single length, the Sterling Irons Single Length are based on a standard base club starting with a 36.5” 8-iron length. We chose to do that because in club fitting technology in a golf club design technology the shorter the length you see it is to hit the ball solid on center consistently. In the past, single length irons had all been built around a 6-iron length of 37.5”.

At 8-iron length, that means the Sterling Irons single length iron are fairly easy to hit.

You think about your own 8-iron, if you have a standard length iron…do you feel that you can hit your 8 iron little bit more consistently overall then you can hit you 6 Iron?

Okay…many people do.

Whereas the Cobra One single length set is based on a 37.25”length, which is really half way between the modern standard 6th and 7th iron length, so that makes the Cobra single length irons 3 quarters of an inch longer than a Sterling Irons single length iron. A number of people feel again the shorter the club the easier to hit more consistently…and that is after all one of the big factors with single length.

Single Length vs Conventional

Some also ask should I play a single length set of irons? Or a conventional length model set of irons?

One of the first considerations is…do you hit the iron somewhat inconsistent?

And do you go through periods where you miss a lot?

This is one of the areas where single length set of irons could help. Because with all irons being the same length that means you’re using exactly the same stance, the same posture, the same ball position, and same swing plane.

So you can have a chance to be a little bit more repetitive and potentially achieve a higher level of repeatability with single length.

But with Sterling Irons being 8-iron length 36.5” vs Cobra being 37.25”…this gives a nod to Sterling Irons to be a more consistent set of clubs to hit.

Distance Gapping, Metallurgy, and Face Design

Ok… we also going with that we need to be able to be happy with the distances, as we hit with each of these irons and we need to be able to hit each one of the irons at different specific distances with hopefully the same amount of distance gaps in between each iron in our set.

This has been one of the criticisms that traditionalists in the game try to point the finger at the single length set and say by making all the irons the same length that means you are not getting the higher club head speed for lower loft irons that you do in a conventional Incremental set of irons…that’s true!

And we knew that…I knew that when I was getting into the process of designing these Sterling irons. That’s why I designed the 5, the 6, and the 7-irons in Sterling Irons Single Length set with a genuine thin high strength steel face to create a true High COR performance, to give you more ball speed to make up for a potential loss of distance since your lower loft irons would be shorter in the single length set than they would be in a conventional incremental length set.

I have tremendous experience in my design career with High COR face design, and not just in drivers but fairway woods and hybrid designs.

In fact, I have the pleasure of being the first person to ever design a High COR fairway wood, the first person to design a High COR hybrid, and I was the first person to design a High COR iron in the year 2000.

Since that time, I’ve designed four other sets of normal irons that have High COR faces.

So, I know what I am doing when I am picking a high strength steel…knowing how to be able to create the highest COR from the ball speed relative to your club head speed, making your Sterling Irons set 36.5 inches of length.

This is how we bring back the potential loss of distance with the lower lofted irons by designing a High COR face in the 4, 5, 6, and 7 irons.

The Cobra One irons have attempted to do the same thing but they’ve chosen an alloy…a common stainless steel alloy of 17-4 stainless steel…and they tried thinning out the face to create to give you more ball speed.

It is a little bit more ball speed that you get from conventional normal 17-4 stainless iron head but it doesn’t achieve the higher ball speed, whereas our HS 300 high strength steel gives you for Sterling Irons numbers 4, 5, 6, and 7.

This is a point of metallurgy for the HS300 higher string steel we use in the Sterling Irons single length irons which has a strength of two hundred and seventy five thousand pounds for square inch. 17-4 stainless that is used in Cobra One irons has a strength of one hundred and thirty five thousand PSI, half the strength of the high string steel we are using in a Sterling Irons single length.

Metallurgy and Custom Fitting

In addition, we have created the body of each one of the Sterling Irons single length iron heads from 8620 soft carbon steel.

The Cobra Ones used investment cast 17-4 stainless for the body.

Ok what’s the difference?

Custom fitting is the biggest difference.

You need to be custom fit to play the best of the ability. That’s always been a main stay for the work I have done in my golf club design and it’s been a huge part of the time I have spent in researching custom fitting and writing and teaching the custom club makers how to do this better and better to custom fit golfers.

I chose the 8620 carbon steel for the body of the Sterling Irons single length irons because it can be bent more easily, plus and minus 4 degrees for lie angle changes, or if you need to tweak the loft to fill additional gaps you can bend some of lofts as well.

Club makers will all tell you when they have investment cast 17-4 stainless for the body of the heads like with the Cobra One irons, it is very difficult to bend…and if you can bend it you are only able to bend it to a degree or maybe 2 at the very most.

So the custom lie and loft fitting capability in the Sterling Irons single length irons is more than twice as good is what is in Cobra One irons.

Off the Rack vs Custom Fit

Finally, the biggest difference Sterling Irons Single Length Irons are that they are only sold as custom fit for each golfer.

Sterling Irons single length irons are not put in the any of the pro shops or the retail golf stores where the main form of business is to sell the clubs with one series of standard specifications to be sold on the standard off the rack, which is how the Cobra one single length iron is sold as one standard form to millions of golfers who are completely different from each other in their size, their strength, their athletic ability, and most of all their strength characteristics.

So, with Sterling Irons Single Length, you can only get them custom fit through a club maker or custom fit at

With Cobra it is simply one form off the rack and “we hope you play well with it”.

So these are the key benefits when you want to compare the Sterling Irons single length irons with the Cobra One single length irons.

  • With Sterling Irons you have a shorter single length, which you need for better shot consistently and more consistent on-center hits.
  • With Sterling Irons single length irons, you have a higher COR face on the 4-7 irons to help bring a higher ball speed and give you distance back at the 8-iron length of 36.5 inches.
  • The single length Cobra vs single length Sterling Irons are made with the 8620 soft carbon body for much wider range and bendability for custom fitting for lie and loft. The Cobra ones are cast from 17-4 which is very difficult to bend for loft and lie fitting.
  • And finally, Sterling Irons Single length irons are only available to golfer’s custom fit through club makers or custom fit by Cobra one are primarily sold standard off the rack in golf course retail shops or pro shops.

Those are the key differences and as a thirty-seven year designer of club heads, I really feel that the Sterling Irons Single Length hence are the best single length iron model on the market.

Thanks very much for your interest and a very best year in this great game.

Taylor Made Golf Company – M1 and M2 Irons

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Ahhhh, how the mighty have fallen. It just seems like yesterday in golf years that Taylor Made Golf Company could do no wrong. Having ridden the color white to well over a billion dollars in annual revenue with hundreds and hundreds of tour players on staff globally and pushing to a never before seen 61% market share in driver sales, TM was the envy of the golf equipment world when it comes to statistics and numbers in the world of golf club commerce.

Fast forward a little more than a couple of years and the hot shots from Carlsbad are no longer lunching on caviar while thumbing their nose at the folks from Callaway down the street. In the world of “what have you done for us lately”, former parent Adidas AG recently spun off TM for a little over $400 million, a fraction of their former market evaluation to a Wall St private equity firm that specializes in buying distressed subsidiaries of large corporations to tighten the screws to be able to sell them down the road for a profit.

Despite the turmoil amidst the fall from grace, the folks at TM, perhaps with a bit more of a sense of humility, are still working hard to create quality golf clubs. And in the end, since that is the expertise of your devoted golf club guru, Captain Clubmaker, let’s have a talk about TM’s flagship iron models, the M1 and M2, to let golfers know a little more to help make a decision to buy or not.

The golf industry loves to pigeonhole iron models as if to create big cubbyholes that match to the different types of golfers and their needs in playing the game. Golf Digest magazine perhaps has this classification terminology down cold as a result of their annual Hot List beauty pageant for golf clubs, AKA the award list of who buys the most ad space in Conde Nast’s consumer golf publication. (one of these days perhaps the good Captain will tell you avid golfers all about the Hot List beauty pageant from an inside view)

Among the iron set cubbyholes of “Players”, “Game Improvement” and “Super-Game Improvement”, the Taylor Made M1 Irons are slotted into the Game Improvement category while the M2 take it a step farther into the Super Game Improvement designation for irons.

In short, TM created the M1 for players who would love to use a Players iron but down deep know they need a good dose of extra help in the form of more distance and better off-center hit performance than is possible with a Players iron, while the M2 uses its larger size head, increased hosel offset, thicker topline and (ugh) even lower lofts to go after the middle to high handicap player who needs every possible bit of help he can buy.

Both M1 and M2 are said by TM to be a hotter face iron design, made possible by the slot technology the company first developed in 2014 for their former RCi Super Game Improvement irons. One long slot across the sole and separate slots on the toe and heel side of the face are said to increase face flexing, which in turn increases the ball speed for any given clubhead speed.

That means the M1 and M2 are supposed to have a higher COR face to hit the ball longer. Is that true?

Well, the proof of that is in the smash factor as measured with an accurate launch monitor, otherwise known as the ball speed divided by the clubhead speed. Every hit test that Captain Clubmaker has seen done by long time reputable golf club reviewers has shown the smash factor of the M1 and M2 slot head/slot face #7 irons is 1.36.

OK, is 1.36 for a #7-iron smash factor good or bad? Well . . . . . let’s just say that if you hit a 7-iron dead on center and the smash factor is 1.49, that means the clubhead has a COR of 0.830 which is right at the upper limit imposed for spring face conformity in the USGA/R&A Rules of Golf. Most typical thick face, forged carbon steel Players irons such as any used by PGA Tour players will show a smash factor of 1.33 for a 7-iron hit dead center.

So the M1 and M2 do have a tiny bit more spring face than a plain jane thick face forged iron, but not even close to what a small handful of high COR irons on the market today can achieve.

OK, so the spring face of the M1 and M2 irons is not exactly very “springy”. Where do they deliver their claim for increased distance for golfers?

Uhhhhh. . . . . does a 28.5* loft (M2) or a 30.5* loft (M1) on a #7 iron sound right/normal/hittable to you?

Well it seems to be when you are talking about Game Improvement (GI) or Super Game Improvement Irons (SGI) these days. After looking at a boatload of GI and SGI iron model specifications, your good Captain finds that the average 7 iron loft today for a GI or SGI iron is 30*, while the average 7 iron loft for a Players iron today is 34*. (BTW, just 30 years ago, the average loft of a 7 iron was 40*. I kid you not. That’s not an alternative fact, that is a REAL fact !)

Hmmmm. . . . . you do know that loft is the #1 determinant of shot distance in an iron, right? Lower loft in an iron = more distance. And you may not know it, but there is an old adage in the golf equipment industry that goes. . . . . “More Distance Sells More Golf Clubs Than All Other Factors Combined.” Which basically means if a golfer hits a new golf club farther than he hits the same number iron in his current set, as long as the discretionary dollars are intact in his account, he will more than likely buy the longer hitting clubs.

So, in all the technical hoopla of the TM M1 and M2 irons, it is not the “Speed Pocket Technology” or “Face Slots” or “Geocoustic Engineering” (boy I love those made up technical words!) that delivers the claim for more distance. Nope, it is the fact that the M2 #7 iron is really a 4-iron from 30 years ago while the M1 7 iron is kind of like in between a 4 and 5 iron from past days.

And by the way, the claim golf companies have been making for years that they need to lower loft to counteract the effect of the lower Center of Gravity in their new high tech design GI and SGI irons? Pretty much every PLAYERS iron ever made has a lower CG than pretty much every GI or SGI iron. And yet all the Players irons have more loft than the GI and SGI irons. That’s another fact you can take to the bank of golf club technology.

So here’s the deal for you golfers who are fans of TM or considering a set of M1 or M2 irons. I kid you not, the M1 and M2 are very well designed irons. And most likely if hitting a higher number into the green than what you are playing now is important, the M1 or M2 will do that. But here’s my cash savings tip – unless you have a 5 iron clubhead speed north of 90mph AND your handicap is less than all the fingers on one hand, do not even think about buying the 3, 4 and even the 5 iron in these sets. Why? Cuz the lofts are so low that it takes a very high clubhead speed AND very good ball striking skills to even try to hit these lowest of the low loft irons that are the M1 and M2.

Once again the Captain thanks you for your interest in the tools of the trade. Watch for me next time with more truthful and what I hope to be helpful information about those sticks we all love.

Captain Clubmaker