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Golf Irons

Learn about the wide world of golf irons.

Technologies have improved golf irons, making them easier for recreational golfers to use. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Technologies have improved golf irons, making them easier for recreational golfers to use.

Golf irons are the "unsung heroes of the golf bag," contends Golf Tips Magazine. Technologies have improved golf irons, enhancing their designs and making them easier for the recreational or beginning golfer to use. Manufacturers now use computers to redistribute weight in the irons. Understanding how to use irons can improve a golfer's score. According to Game Improvement Irons.com, golf irons are typically used in more than half the strokes in any round, meaning they are the club a golfer generally uses most.

What Is a Golf Iron?

A golf iron is a club used to hit a golf ball on a fairway or green. Other key golf clubs are woods and putters.

A golf iron has a metal head and a shorter shaft than a wood. Players generally use golf irons for mid- to shorter-ranged strokes. Golf irons contain the following parts: a clubhead, consisting of a sole, groove, toe and heel; and a shaft comprised of a neck and ferrule (metal sleeve). The angle of the sole determines the path the ball will take when the golfer hits it.

Types of Golf Irons

A golf bag typically contains nine irons that vary by shaft length and range. For example, a 9-iron has a range of 130 to 145 yards, whereas an 8-iron has a range of 135 to 155 yards. Eight- and 9-irons are short irons; 7, 6, and 5 irons are medium irons; and the other irons are long irons. The 1-iron is difficult to find and is almost impossible to use.

There are three basic types of irons: blades (also called musclebacks or tour irons), cavity-backs and game-improvement irons

Blade vs. Cavity-Back Irons

The first irons manufactured were blades, according to Blade Golf Irons. Manufacturers created cavity-backs because they have "forgiveness" -- a bigger "sweet spot" to make it easier for a golfer to correct shot alignment. Thus, blade irons are a better barometer of a golfer's real, unassisted swing than are cavity-back irons. Blades allow a golfer to improve his or her craft by not masking defects. Blades do not have a hollow spot behind the club head as cavity-backs do. Golfers who are involved in the sport as a purely recreational activity might want to use cavity-backs. Competitive and accomplished golfers often use blade irons to get a better feel for their true skills.

Game-Improvement Irons

Game-improvement irons have an even larger sweet spot and more forgiveness than cavity-back irons. Because of this, they are best for beginning and recreational golfers. Game-improvement irons have been on the market since the 1980s.

Materials Used to Make Irons

Golf irons are made of either forged metal or cast iron. Professional golfers are more likely to use irons made from forged metal; these irons are more expensive than cast irons. Hybrid sets of irons are available for novice golfers. These sets contain cavity-back short irons, hollow-back or reduced-cavity mid-irons, and long irons that are part wood and iron. The shaft of golf irons may be made of steel, graphite or multiple materials.

Top-Rated Golf Irons

Golf Tips Magazine offers a detailed 2008 review of golf irons. The Mizuno golf iron is the number-one iron on the PGA tour. Golf Digest Magazine listed the following "super game-improvement" irons on its 2009 "hot list:"

  • Adams Idea Tech A40S; offers a wood-like hybrid.
  • Cleveland Hibore XLI; a hollow-construction concept
  • Cobra SZ; has a wide sole and custom makeup
  • Mizuno MX-100; hybrids with a drop-down crown
  • Nike Sling Shot HL; sole design has attention to detail
  • Taylormade Burner Plus; boasts a large clubhead
  • Callaway Big Bertha; a tip plug lessens vibration
  • Callaway FT I-brid; offers multi-material construction
  • Nicklaus Polarity HCT; a multi-tiered approach
  • Ping Rapture V2; possesses an ascending-weight shaft system
  • Wilson D19; uses technological changes to prevent iron strikes

Golf Digest Magazine listed the following irons on its 2009 "players" irons "hot list:"

  • Callaway X22-Tour; emphasizes forgiveness
  • Mizuno MP-52; sports a bigger sole
  • Mizuno MP-62; offers dual-muscle design
  • Taylormade Tour Preferred; boasts inverted-cone technology
  • Titleist AP2; a forged club with a thick topline
  • Adams Idea Pro Gold; comes with hybrids standard
  • Callaway X-forged; offers short blade length
  • Ping S57; touts game-improvement features
  • Edge Exotics XCG; possesses a dual-density dampening system


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