GolfLogix delivers Tour-quality data on your home course

When Bryson DeChambeau reaches into his back pocket for a fourth look at his yardage or green book, I want to drive a ProV1 straight through my TV screen. But then again, the guy did just dominate the U.S. Open, so all that information can’t hurt. In fact, it seems to help quite a bit.

But how can you get a taste of that sweet, sweet data for your home course? I mean, maybe you belong to a swanky private or semi-private club that prints up detailed yardage books. If you play at a daily-fee course or muni, though, you’ll need to measure out your own green maps. Ain’t nobody got time for that, except Bryson.

But now GolfLogix https://www.golflogix.com/ offers green maps and yardage books of nearly any course you can think of. These books run $40 each, include hole maps on 50-yard scales and green break maps and heat maps on 5-yard grids. We’re talking serious data here.

I checked out two of the GolfLogix books, one for Lake of the Woods Golf Course in Mahomet, Illinois (my home course) https://www.golfthelake.com/ and one for Harrison Hills Golf Club  https://www.harrisonhills.com/, a superb public course in Attica, Indiana. These are two courses I know very well, so I thought I’d see if the green maps would help out with some of the tricky reads that abound at both of them.

I’ve brought several guests to Lake of the Woods, and nearly every one of them has said that the greens are among the hardest to read they’ve ever played. It’s not that the contours are crazy, or that the greens are wildly tiered or shaped. There are just lots of subtle breaks that often run in multiple directions on any given green. The Sangamon river also runs along the edge of the property, and several holes seem to be affected by the “pull” from the river. I’d always wondered if these quirks were just in my head.

When I opened the GolfLogix green book, though, I soon realized they weren’t. Balls on the 10th hole,for example, always seem to roll faster uphill (toward the river) than downhill. And sure enough, even though the green appears to be canted from back to front, there’s a large flat spot in the middle that does not look flat. So if you’re trying to trickle a putt down from the back of the green toward the front, it hits that flat spot and, well, stops. All those downhill putts that have come up short now make sense!

 Green 10 at Lake of the Woods Golf Course — mysterious flat spots!

At Harrison Hills, the greens are dramatically contoured, and much faster than at “The Lake.” So if you’re above the hole on some of them, you’ll be lucky to roll any putt within 5 feet. The green at the 400-yard 9th is a great example. The GolfLogix heatmap of the green is deep crimson at the front, meaning a massive false front. From the fairway, though, the 40-yard-deep green looks relatively inviting. But if you land on that false front, your ball will not stay on. And any putts longer than 15 feet will require all your skill, even with the green maps, to get close with all the movement here.

 Green 9 at Harrison Hills Golf Course is a wild ride.

GolfLogix Green Maps & Yardage Books: The skinny

It may sound corny, but when I pull one of these detailed folios out of my back pocket, I feel like a “player.” And when I point out that there’s a 3-inch break opposite the direction of every other break on the infamous 7th green of my home course – and then I turn out to be right! – I feel almost as smart as DeChambeau. Almost.

 Hole 12 at Lake of the Woods feels like you’re playing down a corridor.

Wilson Launch Pad Irons elevate the ball and your game

Golf is a lot harder than it looks on TV. Upon hearing of my affection for the game, a friend of mine told me that he had gone to a driving range just one time. I asked him why only once. He said, “I hit a large bucket of balls. Didn’t get one in the air. It just seemed like way too much work.”

It was several decades ago that this friend of mine had tried his hand at golf. Try as I might, I couldn’t convince him to give it another go, with more modern, more forgiving equipment. It was just too late for him.

But it’s not too late for your buddy, or you, for that matter. There is a whole new generation of golf clubs – often called “super game-improvement” clubs – whose sole purpose is to help high-handicapper recreational golfers enjoy themselves more. To help them get the ball in the air.

This is the sole purpose of the new generation of the Wilson Launch Pad Irons ($700 steel shafts; $800 graphite shafts), and their sole is their purpose. Let me clarify.

The irons’ moniker refers to the Launch Pad sole, featured throughout the set, from 4i to PW (and other wedges, which you can buy separately to match). The sole of the club is wide, wider in longer irons and narrower in shorter irons, which keeps turf interaction to a minimum. The idea is for the sole design to reduce chunked shots, while the hollow composite heads allow for a thinner, “hotter” face and move the center of gravity away from the face, which will get the ball in the air faster and with more “pop.” Along with the wide soles, the bounce angle serves to “float” the leading edge above the turf, which, according to Wilson, reduces chunked shots by 73% among testers.

Playing the Wilson Launch Pad Irons

All of this sounds great in theory, but how do they play?

Two of the more common mishits by occasional or high-handicappers are the chunk and the blade. After several range sessions with the Launch Pad Irons, it is very clear how they protect against the chunk: those wide soles and leading-edge bounce mimic hitting regular clubs off a mat. If you hit a little behind the ball, the club tends to “bounce” up off the turf, especially if the ground is firm. If you’re hitting off carpet-like bent grass, you can still chunk the occasional shot, but you almost have to try to do it.

Conversely, if you tend to blade shots – hitting them so thin that they don’t get into the air – you’ll still need to work on your swing to impart a descending—or at least level—blow with the Launch Pad Irons. However, even a more “sweeping” swing produces much higher, much longer trajectories than standard clubs.

My son, a high school player who hits the ball a mile high with his regular clubs, found the short irons in the Launch Pad set to be TOO helpful: shots just skied into the stratosphere. But once he worked into the 6i-4i range, he admitted his surprise at the consistency of the Launch Pads, in terms of both trajectory and dispersal. This made me think that for a lot of players, a blended set of more traditional shorter irons and Launch Pad mid- to long-irons would be worth considering.

As for me, I noticed an immediate increase in the height of my shots: about 5 feet higher across the set compared to my normal irons. As for distance, the Launch Pads may have increased center-struck shots just a bit, but any gain was negligible. Off-center shots were improved by several yards, though—noticeably longer.

Are the Wilson Launch Pad Irons all rainbows and unicorn farts? Not exactly, but no club is. The extra “pop” you experience in distance comes with a literal “pop” in sound. It’s sort of a hollow pop, which takes a little getting used to. The sound matches the heads in a way, whose somewhat rotund profile also takes a short while to grow accustomed to.

And if you do struggle with bladed shots, they won’t fix that flaw; however, you’ll be able to work on swinging exactly the same with your PW as you do with a fairway wood – a shallow, sweeping swing will still get the ball in the air.

One final note: it is true that “game-improvement” irons tend to decrease lofts so recreational golfers will think they’re getting more distance. The Launch Pad Iron lofts are a touch stronger than “normal,” but only by 3-4 degrees (i.e., a club stronger). So your 4i is 21 degrees, which is a typical 3i loft. That’s less than many competitor sets, and even less than many “regular” iron sets these days.

And a final, FINAL note: The stock steel KBS 80 shafts are excellent. I normally play stiff shafts, but requested to test regular shafts, as they seemed to fit the overall goals and design of the Launch Pad heads better. To be completely honest, I have noticed no adverse effects from the change in stiffness – I don’t hook the KBS shafts (in the Launch Pads or the new D7s, which I’ve also reviewed), or find them hard to control, even on full-bore swings.

Scorecard

Altogether, if you’re looking for irons to help you enjoy the game, and work less on hitting the “perfect” shot, the Wilson Launch Pad Irons are a solid bet. If you are moved to buy a set of Launch Pad Irons, or anything else from Wilson, here’s a treat, just for you!

Discount Code: WilsonGolf15-8

A few rules to mention:

  • The codes give 15% off all full-priced Golf Items, including Custom. However, outlet items are excluded.
  • All codes expire 12/31/20

Wilson D7 Irons set pace in “players distance” category

There are a number of iron categories: “tour,” “player,” “game improvement,” “super game improvement.” Then of course there is the distinction between “forged” and “cast” irons.

Another new category has gained steam and fans over the last few years: the “players distance” iron. The target audience for this category is low double-digit handicappers, and maybe even high single-digit players, who find themselves losing distance either on off-center hits or with – ahem – advancing age.

One of the real class acts in this category is the Wilson D7 Iron. The D7s are packed with technology, including progressive “power holes” and progressively thin, very “hot” faces. Best of all, they maintain a more sleek, traditional profile than many irons that straddle the “game improvement” line.

The D7s come in both forged and cast versions. The former, new for 2020, list for $1000 (GW-5), and the latter for a very reasonable $600). It has been many seasons since I switched to forged irons, so I thought I’d take the “working man” version out for a test to see what all the engineering and materials advances over the past decade or so have done to improve feel and performance of more budget-friendly clubs.

Playing the Wilson D7 Irons

I played a set of the Wilson D7s with stock KBS regular flex shafts. I was concerned about that shaft choice, as I normally play stiff shafts. But I have noticed no increase in tendency to hook (which I do at times) or slice (which I almost never do with my irons). The tips of these KBS seem somewhat stiff, so perhaps that’s the reason. To be honest, though, sometimes I wonder whether the differences in stiffness in steel iron shafts is even a thing.

So how did they perform? Let’s cut straight to the chase: I put them in my bag for what I thought would be one test round. Seven rounds later—including a semi-final win in my course’s Match-Play Tournament and my low round of the year just yesterday (75)—they’re still in the bag.

Compared to my usual forged irons (by a major and universally respected iron maker), the Wilson D7s bring several benefits. Tops among these, is their incredible forgiveness. I have mishit a dozen or more shots – fat, thin, toe, high on the face – and on well over half of those misbegotten swings, the ball has ended up on the green (or near it, anyway).

Along with forgiveness, these irons are long. This is expected, given that the lofts are jacked up, averaging 1.5-clubs stronger than “traditional.” In fact, the lofts are even stronger in the D7s than those in the Wilson Launch Pad Irons, which are in the super game-improvement category. This ratcheting up of lofts doesn’t make it harder to get the ball in the air, though, as the center of gravity is as low and as far back as can be managed without sacrificing a somewhat more “players iron” look.

Length isn’t always a plus, though. I was pretty dialed in on my yardages with my old irons. Well, to be honest I was last year. This year, I was feeling like I needed to step on some swings to get them to their “normal” yardages. I blamed lack of practice. I blamed swing changes. I blamed COVID-19. But frankly, it’s probably because (a) I’m getting old, and (b) I wasn’t striking the ball very consistently. The D7s allow me to pull my “usual” club for the “typical” yardage. If I really stripe a shot, it may go long, but aside from on greens that are very hard, this isn’t usually much of a penalty.

The only drawback to the D7 design, as far as I can tell, is their rounded sole (where you’ll find the progressive power holes, configured specifically for each iron). The leading edge of the face is protected from digging in by this sole, which adds a small bit of extra bounce angle to the clubs. Like the Launch Pads, I’m sure the D7s incorporate this design in order to help players avoid fat shots. And, when the turf is soft, it is a useful feature, indeed. But when the turf is baked out, and your swing is a little too shallow, the club tends to deflect off the ground and up into the ball, resulting in thin shots. In dry conditions, you really need to focus on descending into the ball; however, doing so will deloft the face even more and likely add yards. The rounded soles also require some practice with punch shots—a typical strength of mine, thanks to lots of practice—which don’t come out quite as clean as with irons whose leading edges are sharper.

Long story short: “players distance” irons might require some adjustment because they do, in fact, give you extra distance.

Finally, let’s talk about feel. I can’t compare the standard D7s to the Forged D7s, as I haven’t tested the latter. But to be honest, the standard D7s feel plenty soft to me. I can draw and fade them well enough, and I can feel quite clearly when I pure a shot, compared to off-center strikes.

Scorecard

The Wilson D7 Irons are ideal for players who are seeking to maintain distance without sacrificing feel or looks. They’re stable and powerful – so much so that you may find your best shots going a little too far until you recalibrate. Golfers who play well-manicured, softer courses will find the sole design particularly forgiving.

If you want to buy the D7s — or any new Wilson equipment, here’s a treat for you:

Discount Code: WilsonGolf15-8

A few rules to mention:

  • The codes give 15% off all full-priced Golf Items, including Custom. However, outlet items are excluded.
  • All codes expire 12/31/20