Golf Iron Buying Guide
For many rookie players, a game of golf starts strong with a powerful drive. But when they approach the fairway with the golf iron, it all goes wrong. Instead of an Eagle or a par score, they leave the course with a triple bogey.
It’s all due to the wrong choice of a golf iron. That’s why we’ve created the ultimate golf irons buying guide you’ll ever need. We’ll go over different shaft materials, different index numbers, how to choose the right one for you, and how you can dominate the fairway like never before.
Without further ado, let’s get you started.
What is a Golf Iron?
As the name suggests, a golf iron is a golf club made from iron. The ‘iron’ is primarily referring to the club face. The shaft is not always made from iron or steel. Golf irons were invented a long time ago and still dominates an average’s players bag. And there are good reasons behind it.
Golf irons tend to offer greater flexibility with better control over the ball’s behavior. However, it comes at the cost of forgiveness. Mastering golf irons is one of the hardest challenges rookie players face.
When you compare a golf iron with a driver, you’ll notice that the club head is very thin and differently shaped. The center of gravity is different. Forgiveness is often hard to come across with golf irons unless you invest in hybrid clubs.
Despite all these drawbacks, irons are still the first choice of club for veterans and tour pro players. It’s largely because there is no other club type as versatile as a golf iron. You can even eliminate the need for a driver on a 3-par hole. But you’ll definitely need a driver for your 4-par or 5-par holes. Iron is the common variable in both cases!
The bottom line is, the greater dynamic golf irons offer is the primary reason behind their ever-lasting popularity. In this guide today, we are going to learn everything about them and teach you how to choose the perfect golf iron for you.
Golf Resource: How to score below 100, 90, 80 in golf
The club head, or the actual area responsible for hitting the golf ball, is made from all different materials when it comes to golf irons. Each material will have a different effect on your playability.
Obviously enough, this is the most commonly used material for golf irons. It’s available, it’s affordable, and it’s durable. What more could you ask for from a material, right? Stainless steel irons are also known as carbon steel irons. Because different variants of stainless steel all include different densities of carbon.
Aluminum is a recent inclusion in the golfing industry. Instead of using pure aluminum, manufacturers use aluminum alloy to make lighter and more affordable alternatives to stainless steel. The clubs are generally very durable with the only drawback being less club head speed/ball speed.
The tremendous strength-to-weight ratio of this metal has made it a material of choice for veteran golfers. Titanium packs a lot of power in a very little mass which allows the players to achieve maximum club head speed and maximum distance!
The only drawback of titanium is that it’s very expensive. However, different alloys of titanium are slowly making their way into the mainstream consumer market.
Golf Resource: How to score below 100, 90, 80 in golf
Different Crafting Techniques
The second area where we can categorize golf irons is the making technique. As you may already know, there are two major techniques to use for making metal objects. They are forging and casting.
Forged Golf Irons
This method has been used for centuries by blacksmiths in villages and towns. A large piece of metal is heated long enough to loosen the molecular structure. And then, it’s hammered over and over until it takes the shape. Lastly, the club head is machined, milled, and polished to give it the shiny look you see on the shelves.
However, It takes longer to make golf irons this way. And it costs more than casting.
You may think, why use this technique then? Well, forging is a superior technique to casting because it allows the molecular structure of the metal to remain strong while shaping the outer layer of the metal. It ensures durability, accuracy, and superior feel of the club.
The craft of using molten metal is known as casting. In the modern world, it’s the most commonly used method to make metal objects. It’s cost-effective and greatly scalable. However, it’s not a full-proof method. As the metal is completely molten, the molecular structure is changed when the metal cools down.
Moreover, if the mold used to make the golf iron is not perfectly made, the molten metal may have voids inside the structure. It can hamper the durability and trajectory of the ball’s flight path drastically.
On the brighter side, cast irons are easy to get, costs less, and allows better flexibility to the golfers. As a beginner, you can start your adventures with golf using the cast golf irons.
How to Choose the Right One?
It comes down to how much you’re willing to spend on your iron club set. If you have the budget, going for forged irons is always a better idea. They offer more value for money, last a long time, and gives you a premium feeling when you swing them at the golf course or at the driving range.
On the other hand, if you’re just starting out or are limited on budget, there are some very good options in the cast iron golf club’s category as well. They won’t last as long, but you don’t want them to because as you gain experience, you’ll want to experiment with different clubs.
Different Categories of Golf Irons
Once you’re determined which crafting technique to go with, it’s time for you to choose the category of the golf irons. There are three main categories into which most of the clubs fall. They are blade irons, cavity back irons, and hybrid irons.
We’re going to skip the hybrid section for this post because it demands a separate guide of its own! Keep your eyes open on our website!
If you’re a fan of the traditional look on your golf clubs, blade irons are the way to go. They are single-piece metal club heads, either forged by hammer or cast into a mold. Blade irons are typically the choice of expert players because they are hard to master and offer better playability.
The club head features a very thin top line, a quite compact impact area, and an overall thin design. They might look thin, but they are quite heavy due to the solid carbon steel structure. You may even come across blade irons that are one-piece, from top to bottom.
Blade irons allow you more flexibility to shape your shots all the way. The added weight on the club face helps to lower the center of gravity, a crucial feature veteran players look for.
Cavity Back Irons
As the name suggests, there is a cavity inside the club head on these irons. Rather, the weight is shifted toward the perimeter. The practice or the feature is known as perimeter weighting. They are designed to be more forgiving than traditional blade irons.
The added weight along the edge of the club head allows more Moment of Inertia. Remember, the more inertia on a golf iron, the more forgiving it is.
To suffice for the cavity in the middle, cavity back irons generally have a larger club head than blade irons. You can feel the difference between a blade iron and a cavity back clearly when you lift them up side by side.
And when you hit the ball with each of them, you’ll notice that the shots with the cavity back will remain straighter and flying farther even if you miss the center of the club face.
Golf Resource: How to score below 100, 90, 80 in golf
Which One Should You Choose?
It depends on your skills and your preference. If you want to build up your skills from the ground up with utmost dedication, you may go with blade iron designs. But if you want to hit the ball to score, you should start with a cavity back. As you become good with one, start to use blade irons gradually.
The Structure of the Shaft
Once you get past the club head design you want, it’s time to focus on the shaft. You may think that the shaft is only there for holding the club, but it has a very important role in how the club feels and how your impacts influence the ball.
Here are the different types of shafts found on golf irons. Keep the information in mind because it’s going to help you learn how to choose golf irons.
This is the most common material used for making golf club shafts. It’s very strong, very durable, and produces more consistent shots. But it comes at the cost of heavier weight. When you’re just learning how to control a golf iron, using a steel shaft will impose a steeper learning curve.
One of the benefits of having steel shafts is consistency, as we’ve already said. You can expect the same torque and flexibility starting from your 1-iron through your 9-iron in the same set. Although you’re very unlikely to use the 1, 2, and 3-iron at the golf course, it’s a piece of good information to know from our golf irons buying guide.
Graphite is the 2nd most popular pairing with golf irons. Graphite is not a metal. Hence, it’s far lighter than steel shafts. It comes with some flex due to its construction, but you can use the flex to your advantage with practice.
However, the ultimate drawback is the feel of the shaft. If you’re used to the solid feedback from a steel shaft, you’ll be disappointed after using a graphite shaft. The shots will feel inconsistent. Graphite shafts cost more as well because the production process of graphite is more expensive than steel.
On the bright side, graphite shafts allow you to create immense swing speed, a crucial characteristic to achieve longer distances.
It’s far less common than both graphite and steel shafts. But you can still keep it as an option. A mix-material shaft generally has both steel and graphite in the mix. It’s done to achieve the best of both worlds, the lightness of graphite and the consistency of steel.
Which One Should You Choose?
If you’re looking for cheap alternatives or a consistent feel, stick to steel shafts. Also, steel shafts feel amazing with blade iron designs. But if you’re going with a cavity back, you may as well go for graphite shafts. It will help you make a better golfer in a short time.
Narrow vs Thick Soles
Just like the soles under your shoe can change the way you feel during a walk, the sole of your golf iron will change how you take each shot. When you take the shots, there is a very good chance that you’ll hit the ground on your downswing. The type of sole will determine how the club glides over the grass before it hits the ball.
There are two main types of soles. One if thick and the other one is narrow.
Thick Golf Iron Sole
A thicker sole means a lower center of gravity. The weight of the club will pull downwards when you take the swing. It can help you generate more swing speed and more club face swing as a result. You can shoot the ball higher in the air while covering more distance as well.
Narrow Golf Iron Sole
A narrow sole, on the other hand, helps the expert players to shape the shot. As there is no extra weight pulling the swing down by itself, you have more control over your speed. However, you won’t get massive ball flight or distances with a narrow sole design.
Which One Should You choose?
Again, it comes down to preference. For veteran and tour pro players, a narrow sole design is usually the go to. If you think you’re ready to take on the golf iron with its full glory, go ahead and get a narrow sole design.
But when you’re just starting out and understanding how the golf irons behave with different forces on the swing, sticking to a thicker sole design will be ideal. Also, it will prevent the club face from scraping or cracking
Numbers on the Golf Irons
If you feel confused about the numbers you see on the golf irons, you wouldn’t be alone. Especially for beginners, keeping track of what number iron does what is a daunting task. But worry not because we’ve got you covered in the form of this golf irons buying guide.
The numbers on the golf irons indicate the loft of the club. The loft is directly related to how far or how high the ball will travel. We can generally categorize the golf irons into distinct categories. Long irons, mid irons, and short irons.
As the name suggests, long irons are designed to hit long distance shots. It will make sense when you know that irons, in general, are used when the target is 200 yards or less far. 2, 3, and 4-irons are generally categorized as long irons. They have the least amount of loft. It means the ball will travel great distances but won’t go as high.
Next, comes the mid irons. You may have already guessed it, but 5, and 6-irons are generally categorized as the mid irons. People seldom use them but they make great companions for your golf bag.
Lastly, 7, 8, and 9-irons are short irons. They shoot the ball high, but not far. When a golfer is approaching the green, a short iron is generally the club of preference.
When it comes to hitting difficulty, the long irons are the hardest to hit. You may have noticed that we’ve ignored the 1-iron. It’s also known as the driving iron for its capabilities to hit the ball as far as the driver. However, it’s nearly impossible to master even for seasoned golfers. That’s why you’ll most see irons starting from 3 in a standard golf bag.
Interestingly enough, there is a 0-iron as well! It was made by Wilson for the legendary John Daly. But you shouldn’t look at those when choosing the right iron for yourself.
Last but not the least, a pitching wedge falls under the category of golf irons. It has the highest loft of all. It means a pitching wedge covers the least distance while getting the highest height.
Which One Should You Choose?
Well, it’s a tricky question. Ideally, you should have all of them in your bag. But if you’re trying to save some money while investing in good quality products, you should buy clubs individually. We recommend going for one long iron and one short iron. Make sure that you feel both at your local supply store before making the purchase.
Considering Custom Fitment
If you find the option for custom fitment at your local golf supply store, you should definitely take the advantage. A custom fitted set of golf irons is the crème de la crème of golf equipment. You can tweak the club height, the shaft length, the thickness of the shaft, the material, any other aspects that the supplier may offer.
Custom fitment will ensure that you are getting the maximum value out of your purchase because it’s the best fit for your purposes. It’s especially true for players who are either taller or shorter than the average height. The fitment of a golf iron can make all the difference in the world if you’re not aware.
How Long Do Golf Irons Last?
It’s a great question to ask when reading the golf iron buying guide. Because the longevity of the irons will send a clear message about how much you should spend on your clubs. Because if you pay top dollar for a club and only lasts a few months, that’s a bad deal, right?
Well, it’s more complicated than that. The tires on an F1 race car wear out within a few miles of racing, but the expense is crazy. Price is often not the right indicator for the lifespan of a golf iron.
How long a golf iron will last depend on a few different factors. Let’s explore them a little.
- How Often You Play: The frequency of your playing will undoubtedly have the largest effect on the overall life expectancy of the golf club. The more you play, the more stress it will take and the faster it will wear out.
- Damage: The next metric is how you are damaging the club. Over time, you’ll notice cracks and scuff marks on the club face as well as on the sole. The type of damage and the severity of the damage will give you a good idea about how long your golf iron will last.
- The Quality of the Club: Last but not the least, the overall quality of the golf iron you purchase will influence the lifespan. The better-quality product you get, the more it will last. But keeping the F1 analogy in mind, expensive is not always better. You need to come up with the right combination of club head material, shaft material, and sole design to squeeze the maximum life out of your clubs.
Final Words on Our Golf Irons Buying Guide
Upon researching on the internet, we didn’t find enough information in one place that will work as an ultimate guide for choosing golf irons. That’s why we’ve created this golf irons buying guide to help you choose the right one for you.
We’ve tried to include as much information as we could from our experience. However, the area of golf clubs is so vast that it’s nearly impossible to capture the essence with words. When you go out and actually buy your first iron, you’ll explore different horizons of information.
Welcome to the golfer’s club!
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