A Winning Combo at the U.S. Open

To astute followers of professional golf, Justin Rose’s U.S. Open victory was a long time coming. Known as one of the best ball-strikers in the game, Rose’s ability to match distance and direction overcame the challenges of a wicked Merion Golf Club.

Rose splits his irons. In effect, he has two sets. His shorter clubs, 7-iron through pitching wedge, are what we would expect from a first-rate touring pro – thin-soled, carbon-steel-faced blades that maximize feel and control. In Rose’s case, he plays TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB.

For irons 3-6, Rose has shifted to the TaylorMade’s RocketBladez design, a high-tech wonder with a slot behind the face that maximizes flex for more consistence distance. The soles are a little thicker and rounded, so they don’t dig. Also, the lower cG of the RocketBladez produces higher trajectory, which is essential in getting the ball to come in steeper and stop quicker.

Forged carbon steel irons are prone to “hot spots” that make the ball jump. Or more to the point, missing the hot spot can make a ball come up five yards short, which can be disastrous on wedge play (Ex: Phil Mickelson on holes 13 and 15 in Sunday’s final Open round).

Like many other “innovations” in club design, “combination” sets have been around for years. Wilson produced set of cavity-back and traditional irons in the 1980s. Nike offers a similar set today. In the 1800s, Scottish forgers hand-crafted individual clubs, more or less making every club a specialty item.

Why a high-tech blade in the long irons over hybrids? Irons induce more spin to stop quicker. Also, their smaller sweet spots allow accomplished players some playability—that is, the chance to hit hooks and fades.

That showed up again and again as Rose hit crucial greens when he needed it, none more so than a ripped 5-iron from 223 yards set up the clinching par on the maniacal 530-yard 18th—which the USGA laughingly called a par-4.


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