While the first impression that the SBB1 gives off is “serious player only”, it is anything but just that.
Sure, it is a quality forged blade with a finish that better players prefer but when one takes a look under the hood, it is clear that much thought has been given to the design for a wider audience to consider it.
2 Key Features for your Fears
Before I share my experience, let’s talk about the two features of the club that will ease your conversion from cavity backs to blades.
Yes, the minimal offset may be downright scary when transitioning from a big cavity back to a blade. However, United has cleverly incorporated the use of a step design in their irons to lower the club’s center of gravity which helps launch the ball higher than the offset would suggest.
The sole while narrow has been designed with a camber to allow it to move through the turf as efficiently as possible. This is critical to distance control as minimal ground resistance means consistent impact dynamics for a given clubhead speed.
My set was built by Wiz Golf using their proprietary fitting technology. Besides the usual static measurements, I was made to fit a few shots on a lie board and on a launch monitor.
Nothing out of the ordinary except that I was able to try any brand, flex, length of shaft and lie angle that I wanted to achieve my optimum ball flight.
And this was hitting balls down a 200m range, not some indoor range where ball flight is a guess…sorry as advanced as launch monitors are these days, there are limitations. I am old school and still like to see my preferred ball flight despite what the ‘numbers’ say.
A shaft is finally selected along with the choice of a grip…
The day arrives when I collect my clubs. In my 20 years of playing golf and 10 years of teaching, I have been using mostly blades or shallow cavity backs – I was not expecting anything out of the ordinary in terms of performance. Blades are kind of like an old shoe, very functional and comfortable but no pizzazz.
Therefore, imagine my surprise when the first 8 iron shot I struck took off like the 7 iron of my previous Mizuno MP 64 and, carried a touch further.
Being the skeptic that I am, I immediately thought that the United 8 iron was jacked up in loft and length.
I put the 8s from both sets together and they were the same. And for those who think that the shafts were the differentiating factor, they were the same specs.
My best guess is that the difference stems from the Flat Line Oscillation and MOI matching that Wiz Golf provided. My sponsored Mizuno set was fitted in the “traditional” way using only their DNA fitting system.
The British are known for their bespoke, understated but highly functional tailoring.
The same can be said for United’s high quality forgings.
From my personal experience over the years, brand name is just that – a name. For those that are looking to start playing muscle back blades to receive greater feedback from their shots, there is no other club I can recommend conscionably at this price point.
On Course Testing
Following the initial range testing, it was time to take it out on course. The course of choice? The Keppel Club.
Located along the southern shoreline of Singapore, the Keppel Club at 6,508 yards is no brute of a course but its doglegs, undulations and hidden greens provide a shotmaking test for even the most accomplished of players.
The clubs made it easy to work the ball which is not much of a surprise given the performance characteristics of blades.
Three things stood out.
1. The sole-turf interaction characteristics of the club made for interesting observation given the moist turf at the time of play. I hit a couple of fat shots using the PW to back pins that were 145 yards away. The average distance loss was around 12 yards, which equated to about 8.28% loss in distance. Don’t get me wrong, they certainly felt like fat shots, but I was surprised that the results were not more penal. And yes, managed to save par on those holes.
2. The durability of the PVD finish. I love taking a good divot and was pleasantly surprised that the turf and the ball against the clubface hardly created a mark. Perhaps in time to come it will, but for now, my clubs still look relatively unused.
3. The distance gains from the range carried over onto the golf course.
While the thought of hitting blades which are typically reserved for ‘better’ players may create uncertainty in your mind, blades are still the only design that will provide you maximum feedback for your shots and hence input for swing improvements. These clubs are very well made and there is no obvious reason not to consider them besides the brand name.
Justin Tang has been teaching golf for over 6 years. In 2005 he became certified in Arizona by Chuck Evans (GSED) becoming the 1st authorized Medicus Instructor in Asia.
He holds an Honours degree from the University of London where he topped his cohort in Applied Psychology, winning the prestigious John Mann Award. He also holds a diploma in Engineering.
His involvement and association with Homer Kelley’s The Golfing Machine (TGM) began in 2000 after being frustrated with the lack of progress in his game and the amount of misinformation surrounding golf instruction.
In 2007, he was also certified by Mal Tongue, former coach to US Open champion, Michael Campbell, under the Cymicon Instructor’s program in New Zealand.
He has also spent time with world class PGA instructors the likes of Ben Doyle (GSED), Gregg McHatton (GSED), Lynn Blake (GSED), Dana Dahlquist, Dennis Alberts, Bob McDonald, Shane Scott, John Erickson and Norrie Wright (GSED).
He continues to be held in high regard as an expert in the philosophies of TGM and his blog can be found at http://justintanggolf.blogspot.com.
Justin has been conducting his “Secrets of The Golfing Machine” workshops since 2005 to select, often elite students both in Singapore as well as regionally and in the USA. These 5 day seminars combine the principles of TGM and the science of learning into a powerful yet simple to understand manner in a way that you can use immediately.
Its one thing knowing WHAT to do in the golf swing, another thing knowing HOW to do it and yet another DOING it all the time. After attending this seminar, you will be equipped with the tools to be your own best coach!