Cleveland Golf’s new “Play It Forward” campaign has, perhaps inadvertently, highlighted the dirty little secret of golf club distance claims.
First, in case you’re not familiar with the “Play It Forward” program, here’s how it works: sign up for the promotion and Cleveland Golf sends you a free CG16 7-iron. You’re supposed to play with it, then give it to a friend to play with and so on and so on. I received mine in the mail from Cleveland Golf last week. Cleveland also claims that their new 7-iron will hit the ball farther than your current 7-iron. And this is where the secret comes in. The loft on my 7-iron, a Tommy Armour 855s, is 36 degrees. The new new Cleveland 7-iron is 31 degrees. Not only is that five degrees less than my 7-iron, it’s 1 degree less than my 6! No wonder Cleveland’s 7-iron goes farther than mine… it’s essentially a 6-iron. To confuse the matter even more, the image Cleveland uses for marketing the campaign (above) shows a 7-iron with 27 degrees of loft. What the…?
Decreasing lofts is not a new phenomenon. Back in the 1960’s, the typical 7-iron had 40 degrees of loft. Thirty years later, the loft had dropped only about four degrees. But in recent years, the decrease in loft has accelerated to the point where 7-iron loft has dropped five degrees in just the last 15 years to its current level of 31 degrees.
So, the next time you see a club manufacturer claim their irons are longer, now you’ll know why.