Iron Golf Clubs

Golf clubs of Iron

Irons are used for shorter shots than woods, usually shots approaching the greens. Irons are the most versatile clubs in the bag, allowing advanced players to hit a variety of different shots with the same club. Irons usually range from numbers 1 to 9, with lower numbered irons having lower lofts. The shortest irons are called wedges. The typical iron set however consists of the irons 3 to pitching wedge. Highly skilled players may use a 2 iron, but the 1 iron is nowadays almost never used even amongst professional players. The dwindling use of the longest irons is largely attributed to the rising popularity of hybrid clubs, which offer a better trajectory and ease of use.

Irons can be classified into long, mid and short irons. The 1 to 4 irons (with lower lofts) are usually considered 'long irons', the 5 to 7 irons 'mid irons' and the 8 to pitching wedge (with higher lofts) 'short irons'. This classification may differ from person to person, depending on skill level. Some better players may consider a 7 iron a short iron, while a high-handicap player may think of a 5 iron as a long iron. Though long and mid irons are typically used for approach or tee shots, the short irons and wedges may also be used for the short game (pitching, chipping, sand play, and in some instances even putting).

Iron heads are typically solid with a flat clubface. There are roughly two types of irons, cavity back irons and muscle back irons. Muscle back irons are smooth at the back, while cavity back irons have a hollowed out back, a 'cavity'. Traditionally all irons were muscle back designs. These designs are also called 'blades' for their low amounts of offset, thin toplines and thin soles. This nickname has become a synonym for difficult to hit irons, though modern blade design has made them slightly easier to hit by various methods, such as moving the center of gravity slightly lower. It is often said that if you can hit a blade, you can hit any kind of iron".

Ping introduced the first cavity back iron, which removed mass from the back of the club and moved it lower and to the perimeter of the iron. This achieved two things: it made the irons more forgiving on mis-hits, and the lower center of gravity made the irons launch the ball higher, adding distance to shots for the average player. This comes at a cost, as the 'feel' (feedback) of the club is greatly reduced. Exceptions include Mizuno's 'cut-muscle' design, which is neither cavity nor muscle back.

There is a general consensus that muscle back irons are for highly skilled players, as they need to be hit consistently well and with a high clubhead speed for a player to get the most out of them. Cavity back irons are for the average player, although many professional players still utilize the forgiveness cavity backs provide. Modern iron design is usually targeted towards the average golfer. Many equipment manufacturers mostly produce easy to hit cavity back irons with thick soles, offset, toplines and oversize clubhead sizes. Though they greatly aid the average golfer, better players may dislike these designs, not only for their aestetics but also because the design limits the variety of shots a player is able to hit.

Irons are mainly produced by two processes, casting and forging. Cast irons are produced by casting molten metal in a pre-shaped cast. Forged irons are heated and beaten into the desired shape. Cast irons provide the user with less feel, and are impossible to alter more than a degree, as the casting process causes the metal to set firmly. Forged irons have a softer feel, and can be bent to the user's specifications, though the bending also naturally occurs during play, forcing players to check the lies and lofts of their irons periodically.

The typical lofts for irons range from 16 to 48 degrees. Modern day irons have lower lofts than their contemporaries from the old days, caused by the desire of the average golfer to hit the ball as far as the professionals. This was a difference in skill, but the equipment manufacturers were happy to comply. This resulted in the modern day pitching wedge to have a loft similar to an old 8 iron. Nowadays pitching wedges may have lofts up to 45 degrees, though the difference in distance between the professionals and average golfers remains.

Shaft lengths typically range from 36 to 40 inches (90-100 cm) in length. Iron shafts are usually made from steel, as the material provides better feedback needed for the shorter shots. Graphite shafts are mostly used by ladies and seniors, as the lightness of the material allows for a needed increase in clubhead speed and as a result of that, distance.