How Forgiving is Forgiving?

This week’s Q&A is an excerpt from Dear Frank…Answers to 100 of Your Golf Equipment Questions


Does a golf club “forgive” a bad swing, poor alignment, poor posture, and a bad grip? Wouldn’t most golfers benefit more from lessons from their local PGA professional rather than spending money on the “high tech” craze that’s swept the game? I’ve tried several “game improvement” irons in particular, but nothing works like hitting the ball in the middle of the club face on the intended line to the target. I always come back to the type of forgings I grew up with. I’m 60 years old and my handicap fluctuates between 7 and 14 all year long depending on how well I chip and putt. If these clubs are so forgiving, why haven’t handicaps improved over the last 10-15 years? I enjoy your writing
and your expertise.

Sincerely,– John


A forgiving golf club is one that will reduce the effect of an imperfect impact for those of us who do not always hit the sweet spot, but it will not correct a bad swing.

Unfortunately, no matter how much we believe in magic, there are few if any clubs that will make you swing better. The exception is a well-fitted club when compared to a badly fitted club – one that is too long or short (by several inches), too heavy (by several ounces), or too stiff. Notice that a club has to be extremely ill-fitted to make a significant difference.

Yes, technology has made some wonderful strides to help us enjoy our game a little more, and many of these advances have happened in the last twenty years or so. We are all the same at times, in that we believe there is a little magic around the corner, something we can buy to improve our game and not have to work for it.

Buying a Formula One car will help us get around the track a little faster, but we really do need a lesson on how to drive it first. You’re absolutely right that most people who keep buying new clubs looking for magic would be better off giving a fraction of that money to a well trained, enthusiastic teaching professional for a series of lessons. Clubs today are more forgiving, but they can’t provide complete absolution.


6 thoughts on “How Forgiving is Forgiving?

  1. I stay continually grateful for the technology of today’s clubs. With enthusiasm in fitness, some practice and current clubs (none more than 3 years old) I’ve continued to enjoy our great game. As a 67 year old there is NO WAY I could hit my high school Sam Snead Blue Ridge irons the way my XR’s perform. And “Big Bertha” is my 2nd favorite lady. We still have to put a good swing on the ball – but all things equal, we are all benefiting from the technology – at least I know I am!

  2. As a 3 hc who for years was a blade player I find to improvement you need to practice perfect with the correct swing. Having a good clean grip, perimeter weighted irons with the proper shaft flex, and hitting it in the center of the face is best. I take a permanent marker and draw a small happy face on my ball to identity it. When teeing it I place the face toward my club and look at it after the shot to see where I’m hitting it. I continue to make adjustments till it’s centering the face and my score starts to lower as I’m hitting it closer to the center of the fairway and closer to the pin. You can’t buy a game with new clubs but you can pay for a new game by getting proper lessons from a PGA club professional. If your not willing to invest the time you will not improve so be happy where you are and enjoy the game for what it is. I’m a 3 time club champion (2 senior titles) and I worked hard to get it and took lessons from a professional and I actually did what he told me to do.

  3. I’m wondering, “How forgiving is forgiving”? How much more forgiving is a super game improvement iron vs. a game improvement iron vs a better player’s iron. (e.g. Ping Karsten, G25 and i25 iron sets).

  4. Let me put it this way!!!. The question is interesting and important for enthusiastic golfers who wants play this game at a competitive level. The golf game is hard and requires reasonable level of lessons, lot of practice and good level of body flexibility.
    Even elite pro golfers can not hit perfectly though not often. This game is very challenging and personal. The advancement in equipment has at many level eased
    difficulty in playing but the individual playing golf is solely in command as to how he wants to enjoy this wonderful game. I am playing this game since I was kid. My personal situation made me divert a lot of other side of life and yet never quit it, Why?? because I worked hard on it got in the groove. I never got better than 11 handicap. Still learning how to put the ball into the hole in fewer strokes.

  5. I’m 75, play to a 6 and hit the center of the club face most of the time. I’ve had the same swing faults for 65 years and don’t think lessons would help me much because significant swing changes require up to a year of both intensive practice plus guided or supervised practice. Very few recreational golfers, including us club champions, are willing to devote that much time and effort to golf. We can all get better but must have realistic goals despite the necessary optimism. Short game and putting improvement are the quick and easy way to lower scores. I suspect I’m on the same page as Frank Thomas.

  6. I know the driver technology has certainly improved over the last years, but sometimes I wonder about irons? I’ve been fitted by Ping/Hot Stix and it seems that the correct lie, length of iron, and shaft flex are much more important that “new clubs”. My old ping eye 2 + irons that fit are probably good enough for a 60 year old with a 10 handicap? I think I’ll chip and putt more and practice from 100 yards in more. Have any of you really noticed a big difference with new irons?

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