With hundreds of different golf irons on the market, it can be difficult to find information on how to choose golf irons, and which ones would be best for your game.
Golf manufacturers will design irons that are targeted at different ability levels, and put their own marketing spin on some of the technological features to differentiate from their competitors.
If you are interested in the technological side here is some basic information. Bearing in mind that if your main interest is to improve and lower your scores you can read this, but don’t worry about it too much as the act of getting the ball in the hole is always up to the individual.
Companies have spent a lot of money on research and design to create a golf club that is targeted to a specific ability level.
There are two ways in which golf irons are designed. Golf irons are either going to be a cast cavity back or forged.
Cast Cavity Back
All cast irons are stainless steel. Cast irons generally have more weight on the perimeter, which gives the club a larger sweet spot. These irons are created by liquid metal being poured into a premade mould and allowed to cool. The premade mould creates the ideal shape the designer wants.
The advantage of a cast iron is that designers have the ability to add extra components which make the specific irons easy to use for the targeted golfer. When you hear of a golf club being forgiving, this means they are generally a cast cavity back club.
All forged irons are made of carbon steel. Forged irons maintain more weight in the centre of the club. This means they are more consistent for a better player who consistently hits out of the middle of the clubface.
These irons are one piece of metal and heated into shape by a large pressing machine. Design variations are limited, and the production process of forged irons is rather expensive compared to casting. They do however offer a very soft feel when making contact with the golf ball which a lot of golfers prefer. Forged irons also feature a thinner top line and soleplate, which will make for a smaller looking clubhead.
When on the market for golf clubs you will hear a lot of terms in regards to technology of specific golf irons. These are general terms so companies can differentiate from their competitors, and put their own marketing spin on their products. I will not go into detail about all the different terms but remember golf manufacturers have spent a lot of money on designing these golf clubs. Their main aim is to make them as forgiving as possible to make the game easier for you.
Club fitting needs to be considered for all ability levels. With golf irons it is very important to get the correct length of the irons, and as you become a better ball striker the shaft flex and lie angle are vital. Getting the correct grip size is also important to promote better feel. A height and wrist to floor measurement will help determine the correct length you need.
Golf irons will come out with a wide range of options in terms of shafts, but generally, the original shaft that is in the iron is always a good one. Better players like to experiment with all the different shaft options. The differences are usually subtle, and benefits from this are normally only seen from elite amateurs or professionals. If you are not a consistent ball striker and don’t break eighty regularly, going down this path will confuse you and make learning the game more difficult.
Graphite vs Steel
A common question that is asked is what is the difference between graphite and steel in golf irons. Graphite is for the below average swing speeds, and steel is for the average to fast swing speeds.
Graphite iron shafts are available in ladies flex, senior flex, regular flex and stiff flex. Graphite shafts are also lighter than steel shafts in overall weight.
Steel shafts are available in regular flex, stiff flex, and extra stiff flex. A stiff golf shaft has a lower torque level and will provide greater resistance to twisting than a regular flex. Steel shafts also come in a range of different weights. They can weigh as much as 130 grams which are designed for the strong hitters.
I will now summarize what type of golf iron each ability level should consider to get the most benefit for their game.
As a beginner a forgiving perimeter weighted golf club with a fairly wide soleplate is an ideal starting point. There is a lot to choose from, and generally, it comes down to what you want to spend because most companies have designed a stack of different iron heads targeted at beginners. Make sure you get the length correct, and you can use this link for that. There are a lot of very good discontinued models you can purchase at very good prices.
One of the best models to consider would be the Callaway Big Bertha Irons.
If you have been playing golf for a while and are after some more performance, then you can look at a more workable cast iron or one of the more forgiving forged models. A golf iron that makes it a little easier to shape the golf ball would be an ideal option. The length, grip size and shaft flex is important for an intermediate. You could also consider lie angle if you feel you hit a consistent enough ball.
One of the better models to consider would be the Callaway Steelhead XR Irons.
Elite Amateur or Professional
For the better players all things should come into consideration in regards to fitting, and most top of the range golf manufacturers will bring out at least one model that is targeted at this specific ability level. Make sure you are happy with the iron head design and the length and grip size are correct. You are a consistent ball striker so the lie angle is important. The correct shaft flex is also very important, and if you feel your game is good enough to explore custom shaft options it is entirely up to you.
One of the better options to consider would be the Callaway Apex Pro Irons.
I hope this helps get rid of a little of the confusion in regards to choosing golf irons. There are a lot of different models to choose from, but remember each manufacturer will design a club with a specifically targeted golf ability level in mind.
If you have any questions feel free to ask them below.