Will New Sterling Irons Revolutionize Your Game?
With all the compelling drama surrounding last weekend’s 80th Masters Tournament — including Tom Watson’s goodbye to Augusta National, Bernhard Langer’s ageless performance and Jordan Spieth’s stunning final-nine collapse — a story partially lost in the shuffle is one linked to amateur sensation Bryson DeChambeau.
There was no missing DeChambeau’s spectacular play at The Masters. The 22-year-old Texan, who is the current titlist of the NCAA Division 1 championship and the U.S. Amateur, was the major tournament’s low amateur and finished tied for 21st, just a few loose swings behind winner Danny Willett.
Bryson DeChambeau uses single-length irons at the 2016 Masters
But swinging way below the radar were DeChambeau’s golf clubs, specifically his irons, each of which has been cut precisely to the length of a typical 6 iron, including his wedges.
DeChambeau’s distinctive equipment has not escaped the discerning, ever-watchful eye of the golf club industry. That includes Tom Wishon, the preeminent club engineer from Durango, Colorado, who three years ago began “reinventing” single length irons when he was asked to explore the concept’s potential by European golf professional Jaccob Bowden.
“Single length clubs are not new to golf—they’ve been around since the 1980s—but they were under-marketed and never caught on because they were considered too radical compared to incremental length sets,” says Wishon. “Regardless, single length irons have real potential—provided they be redesigned and crafted with modern materials.”
Enter Wishon, who brings with him more than 40 years of golf club innovation that has resulted in multiple design patents, 10 authored books and hundreds of published articles on the subject.
This summer, Wishon Golf launches Sterling Single Length Irons, comprising the 5 through 9 irons, PW, GW and SW. Additionally, the set offers an optional hybrid that replaces the 5 iron.
“The big pitfall with older single length irons has always been inconsistent output and control of shot distance,” explains Wishon. “Previous single length irons tended to rob distance in the low loft irons, they hit the ball too far in the high loft irons/wedges, and they compress the distance gap between the irons.
“But Sterling Irons solve each of those issues,” he says.
Club engineer Tom Wishon of Durango, Colorado
According to Wishon, the secret to the Sterlings’ game improving performance is four-fold, beginning with building them with the same total length, the same total weight, the same head weight and the same balance point. Wishon says this allows golfers to execute shots with the same stance, the same ball position and the same swing plane, which translates into greater and more consistent swing repeatability.
Second, Wishon chose a 36.5-inch shaft length, which is equivalent in length to an average 8 iron versus the 6 iron length favored by the DeChambeau.
“I would wager that most players have better directional control with an 8 iron versus a longer shafted club like a 5, 6 or 7 iron,” he says. “Sterling Irons offer repeatable feel and control that is very similar in the feel, swing tempo and control of an 8 iron.”
Then, to address the demanding need to execute repeatable distances, Wishon crafted Sterling heads with precise and bendable loft angles that enhance and hone in on a player’s individual swing and physical characteristics.
Blast from the past: Wishon's 1995 Adjustable Hosel clubs
Finally, he engineered the heads with game-specific high performance materials to maximize shot distance control and feel.
“The 5, 6 and 7 iron heads feature High COR carbon steel, which effectively give back distance that ordinarily may have been lost. For the 8, 9, PW, GW and SW, we used pure cast carbon soft steel and engineered them with 5-degree loft increments,” he explains.
Sterling Irons are available in both right- and left-hand models in a wide variety of shaft and grip components. All Wishon golf clubs are individually custom fit and are available worldwide only through professional custom clubmakers. To find a clubmaker near you, click here.
Tom Wishon is credited with more than 50 design “firsts” including the first titanium driver introduced in the United States, and has designed clubs for many of the game’s greatest names including Harvey Penick, Payne Stewart, Ben Crenshaw and Scott Verplank. He also was a technical advisory panel member for more than a dozen years with Golf Digest.
The new Sterling hybrid along with the single length irons
Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.