Golf iron sets are probably the most used, if not the most important, part of a golfer’s club set. Woods generate most of your distance, while putters are reserved strictly for the putting green. Irons, on the other hand, are used in between the tee and the green. Irons will not be able to kick your ball off the tee, or get you that 15-foot birdie on the green. But if you pick the right one, it will surely set you up for an easy birdie, or a stellar chip-in.
In-depth on Irons and their Design
Golf iron sets make up the majority of any golfer’s bag, beginner or professional. They’re the rough equivalent of a repairman’s range of wrenches and screwdrivers. Like wrenches, they are labeled with numbers, though some are given letters. They’re called irons because when they first started out, they were literally made of iron, usually forged. Nowadays, most irons are produced through investment casting. This process lets manufacturers mass produce clubs with consistent properties.
There are two designs for irons: muscle back and cavity back. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and are made differently.
Muscle back irons are the traditional design for iron clubs; hence they are made of forged iron, the traditional material for golf iron sets. Muscle-backs have a smaller “sweet spot”, or the best spot to hit the ball with, requiring more skill to handle. This means it will only do its job in the hands of a professional player, or a tournament-level amateur player. Since it’s forged, it allows for more customization, giving it an even bigger favor with better players.
Cavity back irons on the other hand are born out of the modern process of investment casting, allowing for more precise metal placement than forging. This means you have better weight distribution and easier production, perfect for mass-producing irons. This also means it’s easier for beginners to handle the iron, since it has a larger sweet spot compared to a muscle back iron.
Irons made for today’s game feature both designs, taking the best from how weight distribution can help beginners while still improving their game by not having that big of a sweet spot. Professionals and highly skilled amateurs still retain the small sweet spot for more control over their shot while still taking advantage of better weight distribution.
Types of Irons and How They are Used
When picking an iron from golf iron sets, it’s important to look at how each type of iron can give the golfer a different kind of shot. Know this by heart allows the golfer to look at how the shot can be best played without having to think about the club to use. There are 2 types of irons: numbered and wedge. Numbered irons are distributed into the following categories:
• Long irons. Golf iron sets rarely have these now because of the appearance of hybrid heads, but before the rise of hybrids these were a golfer’s go-to iron for long distance shots from the fairway. They have a small “sweet spot”, making them very hard to hit with. They have a range of 180 – 260 yards.
• Mid irons. These are probably the most utilized of the numbered irons, especially on par 4’s and par 5’s. With a range between 130 and 210 yards, they may not fly as far as hybrids or long irons do, but they certainly have more applications, like getting over hilly fairways or getting a chip in with more of a roll than the next kind of irons.
• Short irons. As the name implies, they are short-range irons (between 130 and 150 yards). They generate great high loft shots, and are great for escaping trees or doing approach shots from within 140 feet of the flag.
Wedges are the other type of iron you can see in a golf bag. These irons are used as utility irons, due to a higher loft than short irons. Wedges come in several variants, including:
• The pitching wedge (PW). This is an all-around wedge used to send the ball into the green if you’re too close to do it with an 8 or a 9 iron.
• The gap wedge (GW). With the de-lofting on pitching wedges, gap wedges (also known as approach, dual, utility, or attack wedges) are sometimes included to fill the gap and act as a secondary pitching wedge when the PW is deemed inappropriate.
• The sand wedge (SW). This wedge, as the name implies, is best used for getting out of sand bunkers. It’s wide sole allows for the most “bounce” of any club head, which lets it glide through the sand.
• The lob wedge (LW). It lets you “drop” a ball into a spot on the green that would otherwise be extremely difficult for any other wedge to get to.
Muscle-backs have a smaller “sweet spot”, or the best spot to hit the ball with, requiring more skill to handle. This means it will only do its job in the hands of a professional player, or a tournament-level amateur player.