Possible Solution to 3-Wood Problem

About 2 months ago a blog/forum reader of mine e-mailed me about my issues with the modern titanium driver and my flatter ABS downswing. I cannot reveal the person’s name because this person works for a major club manufacturer in helping design their drivers. He also used to design metal woods and persimmon woods when he first started out in the business.

Anyway, he told me that I may want to look at a persimmon 3-wood instead of searching for the titanium 3-wood. He said that he had done some limited testing on the persimmon 3-wood versus the modern titanium 3-woods and found that as far as distance goes, they are about the same. And when tested with humans, the better golfers could hit them just as accurately if not even more accurately. He told me that since you can bend the line angle of persimmon pretty flat and it would fit my swing, that he thought I should give it a try and that I would be better off with just the persimmon 3-wood. I guess you can bend some titanium woods, but only the ones with longer necks and only by about 2-3*.

We then talked about titanium drivers vs. persimmon and he said that as far as performance goes, the titanium driver is simply going to perform better than the persimmon. This was no shocking revelation. He did say that he felt that the persimmon actually performed better than the only metal woods, but didn’t exactly know why. I will say that back when I played junior golf, we usually used metal because you could put graphite in that easier, they were easier to maintain, and you didn’t have to worry about the insert falling out. As far as performance goes, never really thought about it much versus persimmon back then, but I guess it’s quite possible.

A few days ago I saw some Cleveland RC85 Persimmon (6-screw design) clubs that were professionally refinished on eBay that had the 1, 3 and 4 woods for a total of $40. I wanted to get them because I had only a persimmon driver that was a knockoff MacGregor made by a clubmaker and I didn’t remember persimmon being this hard to hit. And I wanted to try out the 3-wood as well. Plus, they were at a very reasonable price.

On Tuesday I got the clubs and noticed a big difference in performance, feel, etc. between them and the persimmon driver I was using. Eventually I got to the 3-wood and started crushing it. And it was pretty noticeable to me that I was hitting the 3-wood a good ways. And these clubs have flatter lie angles as well.

Yesterday I decided to play 9-holes with my persimmons, but brought out my titanium 3-wood as well because I wanted to test it on the course against my persimmon 3-wood.

The Titanium 3-wood I’m using is a Cleveland Hi-Bore XLS with a graphite shaft and a 15* loft. The persimmon is a Cleveland RC85 with a steel X100 shaft in it. IIRC, the titanium has a longer shaft.

I hit each with brand new, just out of the box TaylorMade TP Penta balls and made sure to hit 8 good shots a piece. The good news was I only hit one shot mediocre (which was with the titanium) and I only had 1 re-do.

The results were that I hit EVERY persimmon shot FURTHER than every titanium shot. On average, I would say about 3 yards further although there was one that was 10 yards further. This was on flat ground into a wide open fairway and every shot landed in the fairway. The wind was mostly a cross wind, blowing slight into us. The persimmon shots mostly had super trajectory to them. The titanium shots went higher in the air for the most part.

This is hardly a scientific approach to testing them out. Plus, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m not using the best shaft for me in my 3-wood either. But I’ll probably be gaming the Cleveland persimmon 3-wood for now (I have a metal 3-wood at home and will test it out next week). I thought some ABS’ers may be interested in how this has turned out given how upright titanium 3-woods are these days.


I know this may be hard to answer…but do you know (or have an idea) about carry V’s roll on these tests…would be interested to hear…if one carried farther but would roll less or vice versa so as to really nail down the findings you posted.
It sounds intriguing and noteworthy to know these facts, as many just presume or are brainwashed into thinking there are huge differences and today’s stuff is miles ahead.
mishits…absolutely, but well struck shots I think you are close to the mark.
I myself totally realize in my heyday i could hit a persimmon just as far or farther as I can hit a metal beast of today, even with a mushy balata ball.
I won’t put the distance difference down to age…because i know my mechanics were better when I was younger not because i was stronger or more flexible
Any notes or ideas about the carry V roll would be appreciated

Unfortunately, I do not since all I did was hit shots off the ground into a fairway on a long hole. I marked the balls different to designate which shots were hit via persimmon and which ones were titanium.

According to my ‘source’, he says that the titanium driver just gets completely better results than persimmon even when both are struck well. They tested it via humans and machines. They haven’t done as much testing with the 3-woods but basically the hackers hit the titanium better but the robots and better players were getting pretty similar results. I was e-mailed because he had read about my problems with going to a flatter downswing and hitting the modern 3-wood which has such an upright lie.

Hopefully by the time I’m in Module 7 I will feel confident enough in my swing to start toying with what I want my ‘gamer’ clubs to look like. For the driver, I’ll get fit with Trackman. The place where I use Trackman now is just for swing purposes and they use ‘floater’ golf balls that you hit into water. So testing persimmon vs. titanium would be a waste of time there. I would need to go somewhere else and use regular golf balls that I would use on the course and test what Trackman says since it measures carry and roll.

My guess is the titanium carried a little bit further, mainly because it clearly went higher.


Given the same RPM’s so to speak… or rotational speed, all things being equal, a longer club will generate more velocity. Longer typically means heavier, but with modern lightweight shafts and heads, longer can now mean lighter than in the past.

However, longer, lighter, faster means less control… so we now have BIGGER heads attempting to compensate for the deterioration of precision. There are a lot of factors that play into what is optimum or what is going to be the threshold or point of diminishing returns. It is going to vary from golf swing to golf swing, player to player, club to club.

Of course the golf ball is a huge factor also, and how it reacts off of different materials.

I remembered how the old solid two piece balls like the Topflite, and Pinnacle would fly farther off the irons and have much less backspin than that balatas, but a Balata would fly farther off the driver.

Graphite was always a trade off even with persimmon because although you could get more velocity, the shafts did not respond with the rock solid consistency of steel… We still see steel shafts in the bags of touring pros I think for the most part. Accuracy is the preferred objective still with iron play.

I think the key is using the appropriate gear for the style and length of golf course you are playing. But as simple as this may sound, it is not, because changing from one driver set up to another is going to take some adjustment in the feel, especially if you are going to be moving from a 43 inch 14 ounce persimmon to a 10.5 ounce 46 inch graphite titanium set up with a completely different head shape, size and balancing distribution… (not swingweight)

Going through a bucket of balls with your modern driver is going to effect the feel of pulling a standard forged 5 iron out of your bag, had you hit a bucket using a shorter heavier driver.

It’s really a feel issue the way I see it. The entire swing weight issue is highly overrated. It’s the dead weight in relation to shaft length that is most important, and for swingers, shaft flex is a very critical feel issue. The golf ball is not going to care either as much about swing weight as dead weight.

It is an interesting topic, and one I wish I had a very definitive answer for.

But as sure as the sun will rise in the east, there will be a slew of experts ready to hand you the answer with incredible conviction, backed by stacks of scientific rhetoric, and even if you strike it great, it loses it’s value quickly if you have trouble switching gears into a more appropriate heavier iron geared toward accuracy and control.

Gaining an extra 20 yards is not going to pay off if your next shot finds the greenside bunker or worse, because you couldn’t quickly adjust from super long and light to a heavier iron from the fairway.

This is why in the old days, the players kept a nice even continuity from club to club, in a logical and progressive manner from wedge to driver.

One thing I’ve seen is that the Cleveland Persimmon is much flatter than the Cleveland Titanium I have. Probably at least 5* flatter, if not 7* flatter if I had to guess.


From my own experiments I would conclude the same as 3jack, the only fly I would throw into the ointment is that golf is a game of MISSES and the real experiment would be to see what 8 bad hits from the persimmon 3 wood were like compared to 8 bad hits from the titanium.

The ‘results’ that my OEM inside source is talking about includes misses as well. With the drivers, there is just no comparison. Titanium goes further and has much more precise results because the mis-hits still go quite aways. I’ve seen tests done on persimmon, metal and titanium from other people before and the results for everything…including mis-hits…are just far superior. That’s why personally I would never suggest a very serious golfer looking to compete to ‘game’ a persimmon driver…the end results are just too inferior for tourney play.

But with the persimmon, the difference in results, including mis-hits, were about the same according to preliminary studies.

For me personally, getting out of the attitude that ‘golf is a game of misses’ has helped me. I developed that attitude in college when my coach practically demanded I get rid of my Ram FX Tour Grind blades and replace them with some Ping or Titleist cavity back irons. I can honestly say that my last 63 holes of golf, I’ve only mis-hit one iron shot. And while ABS has been a gigantic help, I don’t think I could reach that level of precision with cavity backs. And I’m only in module 3.

So the last thing I want to hear is how ‘forgiving’ a club is and I’m more interested in how well it performs on a well struck shot. Golf is a game of misses, but I find that I have much few misses when I’m playing equipment that requires me to be precise with my golf swing.


Nick price quote from a previous post of mine

I have no doubt that a player could still win on the PGA Tour using a persimmon driver… No doubt. Corey Pavin showed us this last week.
Corey could have easily won the event hitting his driver 260 some yards. This was average length off the tee in the persimmon age.

Had Greg Norman or Mac O been driving the ball for Corey last week with persimmon length from the 80’s, Corey would have had shorter irons into
the greens than he did with a titanium driver.

Does anyone thing Tiger could not do it? Think again.

The question is… will someone do it? I would love to do it…

Tom Watson at age 60 is not hitting the ball as long as he was in the 1970’s or 80’s given apples to apple equipment. There are guys that could hit persimmon
as far as Watson is hitting titanium now.

It could be done…

As far as the miss hit argument… it’s not really that big an argument at the tour level. Bradley I’m sure can attest that when your game is tuned up on tour, you’re not hitting the ball all over the clubface.

Even as little as I play now, it is not uncommon for me to go out and play a round and not hit a really bad shot… a shot that could really use some additional
help from a forgiving club. Solid doesn’t always mean the ball goes where you are aiming… I have hit balls out of bounds before that were struck solid as hell.

The length of the modern drivers is coming mostly from swinging a lighter club that is 3 inches longer… it’s not rocket science.

Bradley’s feeling is that the modern balls don’t fly as well off persimmon as the balatas did…and if anyone would know it would be Bradley… being one of the
top drivers of the ball in the world at one time, backed up statistically.

Longer drivers, lighter, bigger heads to counter the difficulty on maintaining the precision strike.

Look at what Mac did last year in the Australian Senior Open… finishing 5th using persimmon and blades…against all the guys using modern gear. That was just
one week… had some else been putting for Mac, he could have won I am sure.

It could be done.

Will someone do it? that is the bigger question.
but on the right kind of course… sure … it could be done.

There are still tons of course records around that were shot in the persimmon age.

Put the ball in the fairway at the US Open next year at Merion… 250 off the tee all week… and with a stellar iron game, and short game,
you could have a persimmon winner.

Some pretty amazing things being said on this thread!

3Jack - 1 mishit in the last 63 holes :open_mouth:

Ben Hogan is quoted as saying he would aim for 3 perfect shots per round, Hogan himself is quoted here on these boards as saying “This is a game of misses. The guy who misses the best is going to win.”

I think anyone who has played persimmon and titanium is going to have to admit from their own experience that heel and toe shots from titanium 3 woods go miles further and are more forgiving than heel and toe shots from persimmon. I realise this is advanced ball striking and you are all endeavouring to improve your ball striking to a different level from the average bear but simply put, I don’t believe a word of the research you are talking about richie because I have done my own and know the results.

Contrary to you Lag I believe it would be impossible for anyone to win a tour event with persimmon in their bag, it will never happen either because no one would put themselves at such a huge equipment disadvantage over the rest of the field. If there was a course where no one used driver and it was all irons off the tee then it could happen, but it would be moot because the persimmon would only ever be a passenger, might as well have a kids plastic club in the bag. As for Tiger, he can’t even win with titanium in his bag right now! He is also over the moon because having made a change to his ball (slightly harder cover) he is driving the ball further again!

Lag you have stated countless times that after several weeks on tour, most players are just making swings to get it around and pick up a cheque - now you are saying that on tour no one is hitting it all over the club face!

You go on to say that the reason for the length is due drivers being 3" longer when in fact statistics have proven that the #1 factor for increases in length is the development of the ball!

As for Merion! 250 yards off the tee and you won’t be on the fairway on some of the par 4s!

Hugo, the Nick Price quote is a good one and I certainly wouldn’t argue with it but the thread was not talking about blades and cavity backs, its about persimmon and titanium 3 woods.

Maybe what Lag means is that a player may sense that something, other than hitting the sweet spot, is “off” in their action. And even with “off” action, I can’t imagine a tour player not being able to manage their way back to the clubhouse in reasonable fashion…pick up their earnings, and proceed to work out the difficulties through practice for the next stop.

Hitting the sweet-spot and pulling off the shot you want are two different animals…me thinks. :slight_smile: RR

RJ3 was totally 100 % talking about his iron shots two posts above (Ram Grind)…that’s why I posted that quote from Price as it was relevant to that conversation.

I think you are doing a dis service to yourself by only ever completing Module 1 …there have been some great improvements made by a majority of the ABS students because their endless search for knowledge or a feel is taken care of and the mystery of golf and the day to day challenges and differences in swing or feel that most get has evaporated for many.
I can guarantee a $1200 set of Miura’s isn’t going to make you play better. It’s a dynamic , understandable, module performing, repeatable, inner feel based swing with feedback that has made the students improve.
Some ABS’rs may sound like they are quoting unbelievable facts or figures, but they do have the progress to back up what they say and their excitement about their improvement is contagious.

What’s ironic is Nick Price used to play those same set of Ram FX Tour Grinds that I had.

Going an entire round without mis-hitting an iron shot isn’t that hard for sub scratch golfers. I’ve seen those guys do it all of the time. Hogan talked about hitting 3-shots a round on a good day which were shots that went EXACTLY how he wanted them to. I sort of agree with what he’s saying there. I hit shot after shot on the sweetspot, but about 10-15 were straight flushed and out of those probably about 5 or so went exactly the way I wanted to. Problem for me over this weekend was I was making great sweetspot contact, but my face angle was all over the place, which is unusual for me.

A few months ago there was a guy on the course that I was a member at who told me that he tried using blade style irons and couldn’t break 100 with them. He is a 20 handicapper and thought that just by switching to blade irons, he would improve. Of course, he almost never practiced and really had no idea about anything concerning the golf swing. So you do need to spend time to improve, regardless of the clubs you use and it does help to understand what you are doing. If not, play some shovels. But I know for me that the more I think about ‘playing for my misses’, the more often I start mis-hitting shots. Now, course strategy wise I’ll be alert as to where I don’t want to miss. Golf swing is a completely different approach.



Think for a second…

Nicklaus shooting 272 at Baltusrol Golf Club in 1980… is still in the record books…

Do you know for certain that if players where to use modern gear, they would blow away that record given the same conditions?
Jack shot 63 the opening round… are you really sure that would be bested using modern gear?

You had to put the ball in the fairway back then… unlike today, and I was talking the Barkow about how they are setting up US Open courses
now as compared to the past, and he says they are NOT setting up the courses as tough, because the rough is not nearly as high as it once was.

Anyone that used to watch golf back then knows that US Open rough used to be advance the ball 100 yards back out to the fairway in most cases, not stop the ball on the green like I have seen the last two years.

I played in 3 USGA Amateurs and I remember rough like this… it was a pitch out… and scores were high.

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Do we see this anymore at the US Open? NOOOOOOOOOO!

Why? Because players would shoot really high numbers… and that is not good for marketing the game to the public in the modern era.

However… when you are faced with this kind of daunting test… you are going to need to have a better more controlled golf swing. Necessity is
the mother of invention. And this kind of necessity is why we saw great swings of the past develop the way they did. This is why we will not see
another Hogan come out of the modern era. We certainly should by now… with all the technology, swing analysis machines, amazing advances in gear… TGM… and so forth… but it doesn’t happen… and for very good reasons.

Very interesting debate.

Sorry to chime in like this, but with regard to the original topic, has anyone tried to combat the too upright lie angle on modern woods/hybrids/drivers by adding lead tape to the toe to prevent the face from closing too much at impact?

It seems in theory to be just a band-aid, but still a better solution than having one swing for irons and another swing that attempts to keep the clubface from closing too much with woods/driver.

With regard to toe weighting… you again have to make the distinction between hitting and swinging…

Toe weighting for a swinger is going to tend to close down the face, but for a hitter holding shaft flex, it will tend to do the opposite.
As I changed from swinging to hitting, so did my gear need to change.

If you look at great hitters like Hogan and Greg Norman, you would tend to see gear with weight distribution shaved off the toe.

If you look at the last set of irons that Hogan personally designed it was the early 60’s (I think 1962) Powerthrust. The toe weighting has
been shaved off. I we make the leap of faith that Ben designed the club based upon his own feelings about how a club should be designed,
then it certainly follows this logic.

Greg Norman played the Spalding Tour Editions, which are basically the same shaved toe design.

Could a hitter learn or adjust to a more toe weighted club? I think so… but when you get really down to detail, it might not be the optimal choice.

Just some food for thought.

As far as swinging upright modern gear with a flat swing… makes zero sense to do so… other than the fact it may be the only option for some.

I still think if you get the titanium hot enough with say an arc welding set up… you could bend them down… I could be wrong… but until I hear someone
tried that, and the golf club melted before it could be bent down… I will believe that all materials will soften as some point when enough heat is applied.

I agreed with the quote Hugo and fair enough 3jack did mention irons but the original post was about woods and I stand by what I said that in tournament conditions, the titanium 3 wood is always the better choice.

As for the modules, horses for courses. It doesn’t suit me, I am happy with the path I am on.

ps the miuras are £1200 - probably about $2000! :open_mouth: But I’m pretty sure you get a free blow job too.

How could you know conditions were the same? Tiger won a US Open at Pebble Beach in 2000 by 15 shots, widely held to be the greatest display of golf ever. Should we dismiss Johnny Millers 63 as a result? Pretty sure you’d elevate it though and say it was much better because of the equipment - then within weeks state that there is no real difference between how far persimmons and titanium drivers travel anyway.

You clearly watched little of this years Open at Pebble Lag - they couldn’t stop the ball on the greens from the fairway and tee, from the rough they didn’t even try to, there was a groove roll back you seem to have forgotten about.

With regards setup, you have told us that players are not as accurate as they used to be but technology and milled faces and square grooves save them more. You have also told us that courses are set up easier than they used to be. No doubt then if we check the records we should find that the US Open is being won by lower and lower scores. Bueller, Bueller, anyone?

Are you seriously saying that no one pitches out at US Opens and expecting me or anyone to accept that at face value?

Go check the records Lag, in consecutive years Geoff Ogilvy and Angel Cabrera WON the US Open with scores of 5 over par. Both were fantastic tournaments and in 2005 it could have been any one of five players who could have lifted the trophy. Your absolute refusal to accept the modern game as anything other than a monstrosity is incredible.

Your statement that we will not see ‘another Hogan’ in the modern era is unbelievable as well! For christ’s sake TIGER WOODS belongs to the modern era!!!

Styles - At this moment in time, I’m not so sure that the titanium 3-wood is better to hit.

I talked about issues with today’s titanium 3-woods over at Tom Wishon’s forum (probably the foremost authority on clubmaking today). He even agreed with me that today’s 3-woods are tough to hit because of the size of the head and could also see the issues with the lie angle.

I think the lie angles are crucial. Personally, if I was a OEM, I’d work to make a very adjustable lie angle 3-wood. It would be easy to market (our fairway woods can fit the golfer instead of the golfer fitting fairway wood) and there would be a market for it.

I get the feeling that there’s probably a titanium 3-wood that will go further for me. To the credit of my current titanium 3-wood, it’s very easy to get up in the air. But as a sub-scratch player, that’s hard a problem to begin with. But the accuracy lost due to the lie angle not fitting me is why I’m not convinced yet that a modern titanium 3-wood is always the best bet.

I think somebody can win a PGA Tournament with persimmon, but I don’t see a convincing argument as to why they would want to use persimmon driver over a titanium driver on the course.


the only way someone would win with a persimmon driver is if they did a ‘lefty’ and had 2 drivers, one of them a passenger - the passenger being the persimmon.

3jack, I believe you said you’re going for US Open qualifying next year but you didn’t this year because the course qualifying was held on near you was “too long”.

You say that sending the ball up in the air is not a problem, you say you are not mishitting irons. Where is the problem?