One of the most asked questions of any golfer is: What type of club should I play with? The answer to that question is both easy and sometimes very difficult to answer. Whether your name is Phil Mickleson or Joe Smith, there is a set of irons just for you. Driving the ball is a very important part of the game but there is no doubting that the most essential and basic part of any golfers game is their iron play. The type of iron in your golf bag is like bread and butter on your dinner plate. All golf professionals know that your ability to control and shape the iron shot is what will define your game. It is great to be an excellent driver of the golf ball, but unless you find the green with your approach shots, it will be all in vain and become very difficult to post a good number. Irons make up about 8 or 9 clubs of 14 that are allowed in the golf bag, so it becomes very important in finding the correct set for you. If the golfer can find the correct set of clubs they will find considerable improvement in their golf game. Finding the best fit for you can be difficult because of so many models in todayís market. There are so many clubs offered with different specs that choosing the best for your game can be confusing. This Buying Guide is meant to help you find the-The Holy Grail of Golf-the perfect set of irons.
Past history tells us that there are two types of irons-1) forged and 2) cast. The forged irons are very similar to what the old village blacksmith used to do. The metal comes in a rough shape and then pounded or hammered until the shape reaches the desired look. Although there are not many blacksmiths around in todayís world there is technology to do the same. The carbon steel or chrome club head is then finished by milling, grinding and drilling. The final result is a solid looking, soft metal iron that has a reduced sweet spot. The completed forged irons are aimed towards good players who place importance on the feel to be able to work shots and control trajectory. The second type of iron is the cast iron. This type of iron involves pouring the liquid metal into a mold. Producing the metal through a mold means that the manufactures can make more complex head designs, hence, todayís many different looking irons. Cast irons are more suited to the design of todayís irons that are perimeter weighted and intricate. This method is easier and cheaper than the forged irons, which is the reason for the lower price tag. Also, you will find forged perimeter weighted irons. I have played with a set of Ram forged perimeter weighted irons for 10 years. Forged perimeter weighted irons the best of both worldsófeel plus larger sweet spot.
There are two basic designs of irons-they are Blade and Cavity Back. Letís take a few minutes and look at the two different designs. First the Blade Iron--It offers a small hitting area from a thin club head. Blades distribute weight evenly throughout the entire club head, which produces a small sweet spot in the center of the face which will produce a longer, straighter flight trajectory. Shots which arenít hit pure will produce a shorter, unpredictable ball flight trajectory. The cavity back iron, also known as perimeter weighted, has generally been known as the investment cast iron. More than the manufacturing process the design of the club head is very important. The cavity back iron is made from stainless steel that offers a hard-hitting golf shot. The iron distributes the weight around the perimeter of the head, which produces a large sweet spot. Thank goodness a golf club that helps the player. With this design it makes off center hits or shots more forgiving. The shot will fly longer and straighter, than an off-center hit with a muscle back iron. There are some drawbacks: reduces feel and lets you know for sure that a pro you are not. The cavity back iron seems to be more suited for a high handicap golfer who can benefit from the larger sweet spot technology. Donít forget that they now make forged perimeter weighted ironsómaybe the best for all players.
This buying guide would not be accurate if I did not mentionóthe most important club, Hybrid irons. By far the most recent of the iron types on the market is the hybrid irons. These clubs are aimed towards players who struggle to hit longer irons. The hybrid irons progress from cavity back short irons, through hollow back or reduced cavity mid irons to part wood, part iron longer clubs. The benefits of this type of set should be clear. The cavity back short irons offer maximum forgiveness and control for shorter shots into greens. The hallow back mid irons move the weight of the club head lower and further back on the club which produces high trajectory shots. Finally the long irons combine fairway wood distance with the control and accuracy of a long iron. For players with higher handicaps or maybe older players, this set could be just what the Doctor orders.
TIPS FOR BUYING IRONS
How Many Clubs Do I buy? There are many options when it comes to deciding exactly which individual clubs you buy. The most common set of irons is from 3 iron to pitching wedge. Even the stronger player will probably not include the 2 iron in the bag today. A weaker or older player might decide to choose 5 iron to SW, the reason being that they will leave room for fairway woods and utility clubs in their bag in place of the longer irons. Every player will have a choice of many wedges with different lofts. Remember only 14 clubs are allowed in the bag at one time. Choose your weapons with care.
Try Before You Buy! One of the great benefits of buying clubs today, is the option to try clubs and visit demo days. I can not recommend this enough. Just finding the right clubs for you is fine, but unless you actually use them and see how they hit then you may never be sure you are getting the perfect set.
Custom Fitting or Not ? Custom fitting is a service offered by all the big manufacturers that has revolutionized many golferís games. The ability to adapt the specifications of irons to match your size and swing is a very useful method of buying clubs. The average set is designed for a player that is roughly 5 foot 10 inches tall. If you are not exactly this height it is likely that you would benefit from that type of custom fitting. Your best bet is to go to a company that actually fits you for a set of clubs.
Demo Days ? Attend Demo days where manufactures offer all golfers the chance to try out their latest equipment and get advice on specifications and any other questions you might have. Some demo days even have custom fitting trucks with computer analysis equipment to check your swing and build you a club to order there and then.
In conclusion there are so many golf companies and component companies to select golf clubs from it might seem like a never ending search. There is no magic involved in getting a set of irons that work. A golfer can either change their swing to fit the club or get a set of clubs that fit your swing. All touring pros have their clubs especially fitted to them and only them. Why should you be any differentóif you want to play better golf I suggest you invest in irons made for you.
Buying Guide II
If you are in the market for a set of irons, be it your first set or one in a line of dozens, first thing you should do is decide on just how much money you are willing to spend. Might want to leave yourself a little ďWiggle RoomĒ just in case you find a set you just canít live without and itsí $50 more than your budget. No sense looking at those brand new $1,000 TaylorMade forged irons if your wallet says $300 is your limit. Same goes for wasting your time looking at low end $200 irons if your skill level and back account are up to some $700 clubs.
Once you have a price range in mind, next thing to do is figure out what category of iron sets that best fits your SKILL LEVEL. Again, no sense wasting time looking at a nice set of blades if you canít break 100 on a good day. There are 3 or 4 categories of irons to pick from. At the upper skill level would be a set of forged blades. This is pretty much reserved to the top players of the game. Not even a good idea for some of the best players on Tour, much less amateurs. My advice would be to forget this entire category unless you can break par as often as not. Next category would be GAME IMPROVEMENT irons. These are designed and best suited for the better players looking for a reasonable amount of forgiveness, and some workability. I would recommend this category to any golfer that can break 90 on a regular basis, and not yet ready to start working the ball very often if at all. Next category is SUPER GAME IMPROVEMENT irons. These irons are for all golfers that CANíT break 90 on a good day. Golfers that need all the help they can get, especially with getting the ball up into the air. Along with this SUPER GAME IMPROVEMENT category I would include the HYBRIDS SETS and the MIXED HYBRID, STANDARD IRON sets. These sets are for the golfer that just canít hit the long irons at all, and have more success with hybrids in place of the longer irons. There is another type of irons that fits somewhere in between the Blades and the GAME IMPROVEMENT irons. I like to call these irons HALF BLADES. They are between a full blade and a full cavity back game improvement design. These are what I would recommend for the better golfer looking to work the ball on a regular basis or as needed, but still looking for a good amount of forgiveness. This is what a lot of the Tour Pros are playing today. They get a lot more forgiveness with this type of iron than from a full blade design, without losing the ability to work the ball at will.
Itís not too hard to figure out what category is best for you. If you are a rank beginner, best category to look at would be the SUPER GAME IMPROVEMENT irons. If you have been playing for a few years, but mishit the ball a fair amount, you could move up to the GAME IMPROVEMENT category, but no reason you HAVE TO JUST YET. If you are a pretty good striker of the ball, and looking to WORK the ball a fair amount, you might go with the GAME IMPROVEMENT category or what I call the HALF BLADE designs. Most likely you will find yourself trying to decide between two of the categories. If this is you, first thing to understand is that your current irons could be the reason you are a decent player. Could be your irons are BAILING YOU OUT on a lot of NOT SO GOOD swings. You might NEED all the forgiveness your irons are providing for you. Or, you could be at a level where you might GAIN something from moving up to the next level of irons. This is where YOU need to be really HONEST with yourself. If you know that your current irons are HELPING you get away with bad swings, DONíT move up. If you feel you canít WORK the ball with your current set and you have the skill to do so, you might be ready to move up a category. If you are HONEST with yourself, you will KNOW the right choice.
Once you have decided on a category of iron to pick from, next thing to do is READ ALL THE REVIEWS OF IRONS ON THIS SITE. Read as many reviews as you can find, until you just canít stand it anymore and just have to go buy a set. Then go LOOK at half a dozen sets that sounded good to you when you were reading all those reviews. Go look at some irons, and go DEMO AS MANY IRONS AS YOU CAN FIND TO DEMO. Most every good golf store will have dozens of set to pick from. You can hit balls in doors into a net in most any golf store like Golfsmith, or Golf Galaxy. Some people will tell you, you really NEED to be hitting balls outdoors to see what the ball flight is like. But I donít agree with this for the most part, certainly not for those of you looking at SUPER GAME IMPROVEMENT OR GAME IMPROVEMENT irons. If this is you, hitting ball into a net in a store will tell you pretty much everything you need to know. You should be able to tell if you are making SOLID CONTACT or not with a club in the store. You should be able to tell if you LIKE THE LOOK of the clubs when you are standing over the ball. Donít need to go outside to do this. And you should be able to see WHERE in the net the ball is hitting. If you are hitting the ball where you are aiming on the net, both in terms of left or right, and up and down, you should be able to decide if you are hitting the ball well with the iron in your hand. Golf Galaxy is a good place if you want to see where the ball WOULD GO, if you were outside. You can hit ball using their Golf Simulator and SEE on the screen what you can expect to see out on the course. NOT extremely accurate, but surely close enough for your purposes. IF you CANíT tell if you are hitting the ball well or not or where itís going, my advice is the buy SUPER GAME IMPROVEMENT IRONS, I think itís pretty clear you arenít very good and you need all the help you can get.
Next thing to figure out is WHAT TYPE of shaft to get and what FLEX. My advice is the get STEEL shafts in you irons, unless you have a health issue, are not very strong, or a small woman with not much strength in your hands and arms. For everyone else, Iíd recommend steel shafts. The reason is simple. Good graphite shafts cost $30 or more per shaft. Good steel shafts cost $10 per shaft. And good steel shafts will perform BETTER for most golfers than the BEST graphite shafts you can buy. So WHY spend $20 more per club for less quality?
Flex is next. Here I would recommend going with a softer flex if in doubt. Ladies are usually best off buying L flex shaft irons. Average male golfers are best off with R flex shafts. Older men and stronger women, might want to try A flex. Iíd only recommend Stiff flex shafts for the long hitters and stronger males. And even for them, R flex might be better than S flex. If in doubt, go with the shaft that FEELS the best for you, or the SOFTER flex. Error on the softer side if you error at all.
Now that you know what category is best for your skill level, and you have a price range in mind, and have a few sets that you have tried out, you need to decide on WHERE to buy your new toys. You could buy at a golf course Pro Shop and pay FULL RETAIL. You could buy at a golf specially store that has a bigger selection to pick from and most likely lower prices. You could buy at a Discount store where itís a good chance YOU know as much about golf clubs as the sales person. You could buy your irons ONLINE and maybe get the lowest price, and HOPE you are getting what you are paying for. But before you do any of these things, Iíd like to recommend you look at USED sets of irons and some of the lesser known companies like Giga Golf, and Hireko Golf. I say this because some of the clubs you can get at these two outlets are just as good and as the major OEM brand you have no doubt heard of, only for less money. Same is true for Pre-owed sets from both Callaway Pre-owned and TaylorMade Pro-owned. Golfsmith also has set of used irons in their stores that you can DEMO before you buy. Saving money in this manner is especially a good idea if you ARENíT POSSITIVE about what set you should be buying. You also should be aware that MOST sets of irons that you will find in a store will consist of 8 irons, normally 3 Ė PW. This is pretty much standard for menís irons. Ladies iron set normally donít come with a 3 iron, and sometimes they include a SW to bring the total back to 8 clubs. BUT THERE IS NO REASON YOU HAVE TO BUY ALL 8 CLUBS IF YOU DONíT WANT ALL EIGHT. You can buy less, especially if you buy from one of the component companies like Hireko and some others. This is where you can really save money on your set of irons and get WHAT YOU WANT, not what THEY WANT TO SELL YOU.
I think you now have a pretty good idea of what you NEED TO DO to find a good set of irons for YOU. If you have any questions at all, PLEASE donít hesitate to come over to the forum side of this site, and ASK SOME QUESTIONS of the site members. We have some really good people here, and they are always willing to lend a hand, especially to the beginning golfer in need of a lot of assistance. This is one the best things about this site. You have all the equipment reviews you can read on the front side of the site. And you have the FORUM section of the site just around the corner if you need help with something. And itís all FREE, right here at your finger tips. Just waiting for you.
Now itís all up to you. Figure out what you want to look at, go READ the REVIEWS on this site, and go DEMO some clubs. Thatís pretty much what all of us have to do. If you are HONEST with yourself and take your time, you should end up with some pretty nice irons in your bag in no time. Good luck with your purchase and remember to have fun.