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Remember the Reflex?

Dear Frank,
Thanks for signing Just Hit It for me.  I really enjoyed it.  The last few paragraphs were inspired writing, and I feel much more informed on important issues in our game.  I, of course, love golf and always read your articles on the golfchannel.com.  They are what I most look forward to reading. 

My question is what ever happened to the old Wilson Reflex Iron?  I remember back in the late 70's when I was in high school that they clearly promoted the spring like effect of the face.  I hit some on the range and was not impressed.  Maybe their COR was not high enough to make a big difference or the USGA nipped the idea.  Where were you at the time and how did these irons fade away?  Thanks and keep fighting the good fight. 

--Ray

 

Ray,

First, thank you for your very kind comments about Just Hit It.  I hope it has made selecting the right clubs easier and allows you to enjoy your game with a better understanding of how your equipment works and why.
  
Your question about the Wilson Reflex iron is interesting because I worked with Wilson to modify the club to conform to a rule that did not permit holes through the head. The first version submitted to the USGA had a thin face with a cavity behind it supported only at the toe and heel of the club head. The intent of the design was to allow the face to deform and spring back during impact. As you discovered for yourself, it didn’t work.

To make the club conform to the rule, Wilson filled the very bottom of the cavity where it exited at the sole, with a hard rubber like substance. This did not affect the movement of the face but did prevent dirt from accumulating inside the cavity – something they hadn’t thought about.

When the club was submitted to me the rule stated only that the face shall not have an undue influence on the movement of the ball. There was no reference in the book to the effect of a spring. It was the Wilson Reflex Iron which influenced my decision to propose a new rule in 1983, which remains today and states that the face of the club  “..must not have the effect at impact of a spring..”. Even though I didn’t have an idea of how a spring could be designed into a club head I suspected it may be possible and thus proposed the rule.

We now see this rule has been compromised, permitting spring like drivers which -- in conjunction with the new ball – has allowed the pros to drive the ball up to 30 yards longer than before the introduction of the titanium drivers in 1995.

Most of us mortals have not benefited as much as the pros and also don’t hit the ball far enough. The down side to the pros hitting the ball such long distances, is that, the USGA has  proposed or adopted a number of rules changes which affect the rest of us. This is not good for our game when there are very good alternatives to harnessing the long wayward hitters on tour. An example of this is the US Open course set-up with graduated rough. This forward thinking is what we need of the USGA and has proven to be successful.

Thanks again for your kind comments about the book
Frank