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 “Wiggle Room” just in case you find a set you just can’t live without and its’ $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 can’t 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 CAN’T 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 can’t 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.
It’s 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, DON’T move up. If you feel you can’t 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 can’t 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 don’t 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. Don’t 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 CAN’T tell if you are hitting the ball well or not or where it’s going, my advice is the buy SUPER GAME IMPROVEMENT IRONS, I think it’s pretty clear you aren’t 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, I’d 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. I’d 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 it’s 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, I’d 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 AREN’T 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 – PW. This is pretty much standard for men’s irons. Ladies iron set normally don’t 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 DON’T 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 don’t 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 it’s all FREE, right here at your finger tips. Just waiting for you.
Now it’s all up to you. Figure out what you want to look at, go READ the REVIEWS on this site, and go DEMO some clubs. That’s 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.