Standard Oil and Standard Irons

Do you ever ask your friend, “what club did you hit?” Do you ever wonder, “How did he hit an 8 iron when you just hit a 7 or even a 6?”

Last week, my uncle and President of Louisville Golf, Mike Just, wrote an article about Iron lofts in our blog titled “Do you need a Gap Wedge?”  It could have been called, “Snake Oil distance in a Golf Club” or “What happened to Jack Nicklaus’ 1 Iron?”

In the late 1800’s, Kerosene lamp oil was dangerous and inconsistent. It could explode and burn a house down. John D. Rockefeller became one of the richest people in the world by making a lamp oil that he guaranteed would be consistent. It calmed the fear of people who were worried about what they were buying and whether their lamp would explode or not. His oil was consistent and he claimed that when you bought his oil, you knew what you were getting because it was made the same every time. He called this company Standard Oil.

At Louisville Golf, we have always been a “no frills” company. We don’t feel like there is any reason to change the lofts of irons so you can hit the ball farther. If you want to hit a 9 iron like a 7 iron, then why not just hit a 7 iron?

Here are the specs of the latest Louisville Golf Irons made compared with Column 3 of the Taylor Made Speedblades.


Classic 50’s Forged (blades) Persimmon Blades Taylor Made – Speed Blades
1 iron 17 n/a n/a
2 iron 20 n/a n/a
3 iron 23 20 18
4 iron 26 23 20
5 iron 30 26 23
6 iron 34 30 26.5
7 iron 38 34 30.5
8 iron 42 38 35
9 iron 46 42 40
PW 50 46 45
GW n/a 52 50
SW 56 56 55
LW 60 60 60


A few weeks ago, Dustin Johnson bounced a ball onto a 289 yard Par 4 with these “modified” Taylor Made irons. After reviewing the chart above, I can now see how he did it. I mean, Tiger Woods hit a 2 iron that far 15 years ago which was basically the same club. But many people were clamoring like this had never happened before. I almost felt the earth shake as the Twitter world reacted and the PGA was tweeting about it, specifically saying “4 iron drives 289 yard par 4” as the TV announcer says, “It’s not fair!”

After doing a quick google search for standard iron lofts and visiting the USGA website, there are no standards for iron lofts. This makes me wonder if most golfers even know what clubs they are actually hitting. I mean, an iron can have an 8 on the bottom but it could be more like a 6 or 7. I actually remember a story about a guy who brought a set of irons into our shop to have them checked. They were made and assembled by a major equipment company (I won’t disclose) and he had one degree of loft between his 6 and 7 iron. They were basically the same club.

Now I’m not trying to say the game of golf needs a “standard iron” like the world needed “standard oil”, but I am saying that the USGA should impart iron head tolerances.  If the USGA’s mission really is to “… promote and conserve the true spirit of the game of golf as embodied in its ancient and honorable tradition…” — then why allow this?

Should club manufacturers be allowed to call yesterday’s 7 iron today’s 9 iron? If not, whose responsibility is it to curtail this type of misinformation?

Please feel free to give us your feedback in this Blog

Twitter — @andrew_just

References: the Wikipedia section for golf iron specifications divides irons in two categories: Cavity Back and Muscle Back. They refer to these 2 categories of lofts as “typical.”

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