Ready for the Course: How to Buy Golf Irons

Looking for golf irons? Check out these tips before picking up your next set.

June 30, 2015

When you step onto the golf course, having the right set of irons can be the difference between an all-time personal best round and a frustrating day on the links.


Golf irons are used on every hole you play. They can cover almost every shot, no matter if it’s a short- or mid-range approach to the green, or a long-range shot from the fairway. A set will typically consist of six to eight irons: the 3-iron through the 9-iron, a pitching wedge and possibly a gap wedge. Some sets will include a hybrid club to replace the 3-, 4- or 5-iron, as hybrids can be easier to hit.


The iron set is designed to progress from the lower-lofted, longer clubs (the 3- through 5-irons) to the higher-lofted, shorter clubs (the 8- and 9-irons, plus the pitching wedge). Loft and length progression offer golfers the appropriate distance trajectory gaps for the different shots while playing the course. Lower-numbered irons (longer length and less loft) fly the ball farther than higher-numbered irons and wedges. This means the closer you get to the green, the higher-numbered iron you would use.


There are several factors that go into choosing the irons that will best complement your game. DICK’S Pro Tips is here with a quick rundown of the factors the can help determine the irons to best fit your style or level of play.




When searching for a new iron set, you will come across several types of irons. Each one is designed to fit a certain skill level.


  • Super Game-Improvement Irons: These should be the preferred choice of beginners. These irons are designed to have added forgiveness, improved distance and can help launch the ball into the air. Super game-improvement irons feature a large clubface, a wider sole and face technology. The clubhead will be cavity back or hollow, which creates perimeter weighting for a larger sweet spot. Perimeter weighting distributes weight around the outer edges of the clubhead to add forgiveness.
  • Game-Improvement Irons: These are a good choice for mid-level golfers looking to benefit from a forgiving design. Game-improvement irons have a longer face length to accommodate off-center hits and a wider sole to help with turf forgiveness. A cavity back or hollow clubhead helps increase the size of the sweet spot.
  • Players Irons: These irons, also referred to as blades, give experienced and skilled golfers the control to play a wide variety of shots with a better feel. These irons feature a more traditional look, shorter blade lengths, reduced offset, narrow sole widths and thinner top lines. Players irons typically have muscleback clubheads that are less forgiving on off-center shots, making them ideal for more accomplished golfers.
  • Players Distance Irons: These irons mix some of the most desired features from players irons and game-improvement irons. These irons have the workability of a players iron set but add the distance of game-improvement irons. These can be a solid choice for mid- to low-handicap golfers craving more distance, competitive golfers or golfers who just want the look of a players iron but the performance of a game-improvement iron.



The shaft of the irons can also have a major impact on performance.

  • Steel: This is the heaviest of the shafts. Steel tends to produce less flex and requires more work to swing but can be more consistent and accurate.
  • Graphite: These shafts are lightweight and flexible and can produce an increased swing speed. They can be less consistent as you move through the set and offer less feedback.
  • Multi-material: Some shafts will combine steel and graphite. These shafts can help players have increased control of the ball flight.

Shafts will also come in several verities of flex, including extra stiff, stiff, regular, senior and ladies. The choice you make comes down to the type of swing you possess.


When you set out to buy new irons, it’s important to get fitted. For optimal consistency and accuracy, you should have clubs customized to your body and swing. Our in-store PROS at Golf Services can help you find your optimal set makeup, loft angle, lie angle, shaft type, shaft length, grip size and more.


Knowing how to find the right iron set for you can help lower your score at your favorite course during you next day of golf.


Once you’ve found the perfect iron for your game, learn how to hit an iron with these tips from Joey Sindelar.