You might start a game of golf with that sweet looking driver or fairway wood. But to reach the green put the ball in the hole, you need the best golf irons. They form the bulk of the clubs in your set. Ranging from the long irons to the more specialized wedges, they cover the long game as well as the short game.
You could actually finish a round of golf with a half decent score without a driver or a wood or a putter, but you really cant do the same without irons. In this buying guide, we will look at some of the best irons across categories to augment your golfing experience in the coming year. If you are a beginner golfer, you might want to check out our shortlist of the best irons for beginners or the most forgiving iron.
Our shortlist of the best golf irons for 2017 includes:
All golf clubs follow a well defined serial progression, in terms of length of the club, the angle of loft and the size of the clubhead. The irons are usually sold in sets of numbered clubs, with a maximum of up to 9 different clubs. The numbering and classification of irons into different categories is based on their loft.
The lowest numbered are the long irons, usually numbered 2, 3, and 4. True to their name, they are the longest clubs in the irons category. The 5, 6, and 7 irons are progressively shorter and higher lofted. They fall into the mid irons category. You will find these in all modern iron sets, either with a couple of long irons or hybrids.
The highest lofted irons are the short irons, which include irons 8 and 9, along with the more specialized irons, or wedges.Now, wedges are technically irons, but they were designed for specific situations like pitching from the fairway into the green, or blasting the ball out of a sand bunker. So they have been given specific names like Pitching Wedge (PW) and the Sand Wedge (SW). There are a couple of other wedges as well, but a normal iron set will usually include only a PW or a PW+SW combo.
Recently, hybrids have become more popular than long irons, especially among newcomers and high handicappers. Developed in the 1990's, hybrids are easier to hit than long irons and combine their best attributes with those of fairway woods. So a modern iron set might possibly replace the long irons altogether with a couple of low lofted hybrids, along with the usual mid irons and short irons+PW.
If you want to switch your long irons for the more forgiving and longer hitting hybrids, the numbering is identical. If you want a replacement for a 3 iron, get a 3 hybrid, a 4 hybrid for a 4 iron and so on. But just remember that you might be looking at an increase in distance of up to 8 or 10 yards when you switch to a hybrid.
Back in the day, you only had irons. Now, those thin, hard to hit irons are called blade irons. All irons used the same forging process to create these thin blade irons. You don't really get them anymore in stores. We do have an improved version of the blades, with more metal behind the clubface. These more "muscular" versions of blade irons are quite popular among expert players and pros, and are called "muscle backs".
These days, most of the mass produced irons we see are crafted using the much cheaper casting method, by molding molten metal. This allowed manufacturers to improve on the muscle back design, by shifting that extra metal to the sides rather than concentrating it at the center. The resulting design had a void/hollow area at the back of the clubhead, hence the name "cavity backs".
How are they different? Well, the short answer is:
Golf is a game for all kinds of players across gender, age limits and skill levels. Golf club manufacturers design their clubs to cater to each specific demographic. There are Seniors, Ladies, Junior and Regular clubs. And then there are specific categories aimed at players of different handicaps. They can be classified as under:
Unlike in other types of clubs, these factors don't really matter too much when it comes to irons. For instance, steel is the default choice for adult golfers. Graphite figures prominently in Junior, Senior and Ladies sets, since graphite shafts help counter the problem of slow swing speeds that these category players usually face. If you have an issue with slow swing speeds, get a graphite shaft with more flex. Otherwise regular steel is the way to go.
We start off our reviews in the high handicappers category with the best Super Game Improvement Iron set out there in our estimation:
The super game improvement has many decent iron sets from all the major manufacturers. You could select any one of them and get a good experience. But we chose the Mizuno JPX EZ because it actually straddles the line between game improvement and max game improvement clubs.
The chunky cavity-back design has all the forgiveness a high handicapper would need, yet still has enough performance to keep you coming back for more even as your handicap drops over time. The set comes with steel and graphite shaft options, and you get a PW and a GW along with the 4-9 irons.
In the very crowded Game Improvement category, we have opted for two sets:
The F6 series from Cobra has ranked highly in several categories of clubs this year. Their iron set is one of the more unusual products on offer in the game improvement category of irons. You get a couple of hybrids taking the place of the 3-4 irons, there are a whopping 4 different head designs used in the set.
Cobra also offers a wide variety of choice, with 4-GW, 2-4 hybrids and 5-PW, 3-5 hybrids and 6-GW among the options.
A firm favorite in the mid handicapper category, the AP1 is a cavity back design with added CG and improved spin, thanks to extra tungsten in the clubhead. There are both steel and graphite shaft options.
The irons come in a 4-9 configuration with different wedge options, from the just a PW, to PW-AW and PW-GW.
The intermediate level has an interesting choice for us, in a forged blade design from Callaway with a composite head technology for extra forgiveness.
A truly outstanding set of irons, both in the looks as well as the performance department, Callaway has managed to pull off something special with the CF 16. Callaway opted to go the high tech, forged route for these irons and it shows. The irons have a single piece forged carbon steel head with six other pieces of various materials added to improve performance.
It comes in a multitude of configurations, ranging from 3-PW to 6-PW and 4/5-PW, AW and more.
In the more exacting player irons category, we have a serious offering from Adidas.
TaylorMade certainly weren't fooling around when they branded these for the "seriously good players". The tour oriented muscle back design and thin sole shows that this not a club you can hope to fool around with. The design includes speed pockets on the club sole, but don't let that lull you into any kind of complacency.
Mishits with these irons will shave off yards from your distance without mercy. The set comes with a steel shaft in two flex options and a 3-PW and 4-PW configuration.
The evolution of golfing technology has probably affected irons more than any other club. The arrival of hybrids have significantly altered the club configuration of the average golfer.
The pros may still predominantly prefer muscle-back blades for that extra control and finesse. But the mid to high handicapper can look towards modern technology to make life easier for them on the course with optimized cavity backs and composite head designs.
We hope you enjoyed our guide+review and found useful insights into the fast evolving world of golf irons.