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Iowa men's golfers benefit from new clubs

BY TOMMY REINKING | AUGUST 30, 2012 6:30 AM

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Not all golf clubs are created equal.

In fact, the technology in golf clubs has advanced so dramatically that some older clubs are archaic in what they offer.

“My driver has more than 100 different settings on it,” senior Iowa men’s golfer Steven Ihm said. “I can do things like add or remove weights or change the loft. There really isn’t a single thing that you can’t change.”

To prepare for the upcoming season, the Iowa golf team is in the process of receiving and breaking in brand-new clubs to be used throughout the year. With the height of technology incorporated into golf equipment, learning to swing new clubs can take up to a few weeks.

Golf clubs, especially drivers, have had numerous options to adjust how precisely athletes can hit the ball for years. For example, different weights can be screwed into the club to eliminate slices or hooks.

The angle of the club can be adjusted to affect the loft of the ball. Driver heads are even taking aerodynamics into account in order to create less wind resistance and boost club head speed.

Finkbine director of golf Jeff Moore has seen the evolution of clubs take place.

“Clubs changed more in the late-90s and early 2000s than they have in recent years,” he said. “With the way that clubs can be adjusted, someone who doesn’t hit certain clubs as well can make changes so they can hit them better.”

In Division I golf, players are allowed to receive the equivalent of a sponsorship from different golf companies, such as Calloway and Titleist. The companies provide clubs on a rental basis to the players for free through the university.

“It’s basically a way for the university to get out of paying for all of our clubs,” Ihm said. “The football players need pads, and we need clubs.”

Last year, Hawkeye Ian Vandersee used Titleist AP2 Irons. They cost $154 a club for steel clubs or $175 a club for graphite clubs, according to www.titleist.com. An entire set of clubs similar to what Vandersee used costs $1,911 to $2,108. This year, Vandersee is using TaylorMade driver and irons, and Ihm is using Calloway clubs.

There are rules prohibiting players from changing the settings on their clubs during an event. Players must have their sticks set up to their preferences before the event starts. If a player makes an adjustment to his club during a round, he is disqualified.

Surprisingly, the most important attribute to the clubs Ihm uses isn’t how well he hits with them but rather how they look.

“I like clubs that look good and feel good,” he said. “I don’t like clubs that are hard to look at. Some clubs just look crazy.”

Given how quickly golf technology advances, players have to get new clubs often. Vandersee gets new wedges twice a year because of how quickly he wears them down, and he gets new irons every spring.

Despite the challenge of breaking in new clubs, he hasn’t had any trouble adjusting to his new equipment.

“I just got done working on my wedges,” he said. “But I feel that you can never have enough practice on chipping and putting. It only takes a couple of weeks to get used to the clubs.”

Clubs are arguably the most important part of a golfer’s equipment, and the Iowa men’s golf athletes seem to think they have the right clubs needed to play their best.

“I don’t think that people understand how incredible golf technology is,” Vandersee said. “There are engineers working on clubs to get the specifications down to a ‘T.’ Any player can get exactly what he wants in a club.”


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