I have covered wood head design with the discussion of the anti-slice mechanisms of hook face and upright lie angles to help slicers cut down their slices and even maybe hit it straight. Now, I will cover the concept of irons with OFFSET hosels.
The primary purpose of OFFSET hosel clubs is that they are the anti-slice mechanism built into irons (Note: there have been some offset head woods made over the years) to reduce slicing and help hit more solid and straight shots'¦ 'If you need that assistance.' The concept is that the offset gives the head a little more time for the club face to square up at impact and thus, the slice will be reduced and maybe even eliminated to give the player a straight shot. Sounds good and it really works just as shut wood club faces and upright lies work to reduce the regrettable rights for woods. Many manufacturers offer offset models with varying amounts of offset from none, to barely some, to a lot of offset. This is great, as a golfer can choose the same head design with the amount of offset needed to reduce and eliminate his or her slice.
The problem with offset clubs, as I see it, is twofold. First and most important is that a player using offset clubs to reduce and or eliminate a slice, will likely never really develop a good on line swing at impact, to hit good, straight shots. They doom themselves to their swing flaw because of the crutch they play with. The offset club is bailing them out. And, if they do take lessons, practice and develop a straight on line swing path to and through impact (that should produce straight shots) they will then begin to hit a lot of pull shots to the left. When a player who hits it straight doesn't think about this built in flight correction aid, and he or she buys a set of offset clubs, they get their straight corrected to pulls left.
I saw this the other day when I was playing with Larry, a good friend and zero to plus one handicap player. Larry reminds me of myself in that he hits it solid and exceptionally straight with every club in his bag. He is 'robo' golfer, just hitting fairways and greens. When you play with him, you can wear out your tape recording of 'Good shot, Larry.'
Well this day Larry was hitting it pretty good, striping woods down the middle and fairways woods straight as laser beams. He hit a lot of good and solid irons, but pulled left of the pin way more than normal. I noticed he had a set of offset irons in his bag, and when he hit another pull way left of the pin on the backside, I asked why he was playing with those offset irons. 'Sold my old set and am waiting for my new set to arrive, so I had to dig out this golden oldie set out of the closet,' he said.
I just had to comment that his swing looked just fine, and I hoped he realized that his pulls were club issues, not his swing. He has been playing with non-offset clubs for years, and the offset clubs delayed the face squaring up and getting to impact late. The face was closed and thus the cause of him hitting the pull shots. His new set is shaft in line to leading edge (non-offset), so when they arrive and go into the bag this problem will go away into the closet with the old offset clubs.
My feeling about offset clubs is they are OK and serve a good purpose for helping golfers who don't have the skills or time to develop the skills to play better golf and shoot lower scores by hitting better and straighter golf shots.
But, if you have the skills or the desire, time, energy and goals, to learn and develop a quality on-line swing to hit solid and straight shots, then offset is the wrong way to go. To hit it solid and straight, you would have to learn to hold off your release a micro second for the face to stay square to impact. This is OK but can be a nuisance, especially because it adds unneeded stress to the wrists and elbows, and is reduces the built-in physiological guarantee of square hands at 6:00 o'clock at the bottom of the arch of the arms swinging at impact.
My belief and suggestion for anyone who wants to hit it solid and straight, and be the best golfer they can be, is to play with non-offset, shaft in line with the leading edge of the club face, iron heads. Perimeter weighted shaft in-line heads are OK, but I believe 'Muscle Back Blade' heads, forged or cast are the best head design money can buy.
I have played blades all my life, except for a few stints of trying cavity back perimeter weighted heads and disliking the harder feel of impact and the pulls. D.J. has always played blades, except for his first junior set that was perimeter weighted. From around 7 years old, he has played only blades, except for a one time stint as a pro when his club endorsement company asked him to play an in-line shaft cavity back club. That lasted two months because his hitting greens in regulation (GIR) stat was running 15 percent lower. He asked for and got a new forged combo set (wedges ' 8 are blades and 7 ' 3 iron are modified mild cavity back) blades and his GIR immediately, if modestly, improved. Two months later they brought out a pure muscle back blade and D.J. was the first to get it. He was quickly back to hitting his usual higher number GIR stat. Right now D.J. is ranked number 2 on the PGA tour in the ball striking stat and 7th in greens in Regulation.
I recommend playing with blades, forged or investment cast, to all my students who want to become good ball strikers. Forged heads, which are a softer metal and give a much softer feel to impact, are really the way to go if you want the best feel and control on all your iron full shots, especially around the green in your short game.
Shortly, I'll discuss the playing characteristics, and pros and cons, of blades versus perimeter weighted, cavity back clubs. And I will reveal my earth-shaking recommendation about playing blades.