Iron Buying Guide
Almost every hole in golf requires a well-struck iron approach shot, so the importance of making the right choice for your Irons cannot be overstated. Here are some of the terms you will hear as you shop around for a set of Irons and how these choices can affect your game.
Cavity Back Irons
This type of Iron head design has become very popular and is definitely the design of choice for beginner and intermediate golfers. This design pushes as much of the weight of the Iron head to the perimeter of the club face. By doing this, club manufacturers can increase the Moment of Inertia (MOI) of the club head which increases the club's resistance to twisting on impact for those off-center strikes. The resulting increased sweet spot reduces the ball's deviation from its intended line on off-center hits. This is what makes this design so desirable because, let's face it, very few of us can hit our Irons perfectly every time.
While these Irons have a more traditional and, some would say, more beautiful to look at these Irons are typically reserved for the more advanced ball striker. This is because blades are designed with the weight fairly evenly distributed throughout the club head. This design reduces the size of the sweet spot but the upside is that additional weight behind the sweet spot offers more feel on well-struck shots and allows the more advanced player to better shape ball trajectory.
Forged Irons are built the old-fashioned way. Just imagine your traditional golfsmith taking a block of metal and hammering it into the shape of a club head. Of course, modern techniques are a little more efficient today but the idea remains the same. Forged clubs are formed from a single piece of steel then milled, finished and polished to produce a single-piece club head with a typically smaller sweet spot than cast irons. The advantage of this technique though is that your Irons have a softer feel on contact and offer more workability.
Cast Irons are made when liquid metal is poured into a cast of the club head. This is a less time-consuming process than making forged irons and gives club makers the option to incorporate intricate club head designs and use composite materials. Another advantage is that the faster and cheaper casting process generally results in cast irons generally costing less than forged irons.
Stainless steel is the most common shaft material for irons. This is because they are durable and provide a consistent feel and less torque (read twist) than other materials. This gives you the most accuracy and distance control on your approach shots. The downside is that the heavier material and reduced flex robs you of distance.
Graphite shafts are lighter and more flexible than steel shafts. This delivers more clubhead speed and distance than steel shafts. The downside though is lack of consistent feel as you go through your iron set and may require some getting used to dial-in your distances. If you are a female or more senior golfer then you might want to consider graphite shafts as a means to generate more distance from your iron shots.