Different Types Of Golf Irons — Golf Instructor's Advice

what are the different types of golf irons and to explain why are they so usefull to play the game

My name is Patrick and I have 50 years of golf experience and am a professional golf coach. Enjoy the article!

In the world of golf gear, one type of golf club is undoubtedly the most important – the iron. Whether it’s for a tee shot, an approach shot, or a shorter chip, golf irons can be used for pretty much every shot in the game

The reason for this is that they’re so versatile, which in itself is a result of the wide variety of irons there are, ranging from a high lofted 9 iron to driver-like 2 iron.

In this article, our team of expert golfers at Tell Me More Golf will uncover which different types of irons there are, and which ones you should have in your bag based on your golfing level.

what are the different types of golf irons and to explain why are they so usefull to play the game

Types of Golf Irons

  • 9-irons: They cover the shortest distance and have the highest loft. 9-irons also deliver the highest apex compared to the other irons. 
  • 8-irons: Otherwise known as short irons, 8-irons have the highest clubhead mass and the shortest shafts. They’re a lot easier to hit than mid-irons and easier to control during swinging.   
  • 7-irons: Most golfers use 7-irons to hit shots ranging from between 130 and 180 yards. They can also be used for bump-and-run chip shots across the turf. 
  • 6-irons: The 6-irons are the first longer irons in any golf bag. They have a lower loft than the mid-short irons and have a loft of approximately 24 to 28 degrees.
  • 5-irons: If you want to hit a shot of up to 160 yards, 5-irons should be on your radar. You can use them off the fairway on most occasions, especially if you’re playing on uphill areas and you want to maintain a lower trajectory.  
  • Lower irons (3-4-irons): Particularly useful for taking tee shots. Most golfers settle for hybrids rather than use a 3/4-iron due to their high forgiveness which translates to more consistency.
  • 2-irons: They’re most useful when playing golf in windy conditions. They’re low launching irons that help your golf ball fly below the wind with maximal forward momentum.


what are the different types of golf irons and what is the difference between short irons

So we’ve laid out that irons are very important, but which ones should you pick? When talking about different types of iron sets, the following are very popular: Super game improvement irons, game improvement irons, and players irons.

Super game improvement irons are, as the name suggests, made to improve your game as much as possible. They’re particularly built for the beginner golfer and high handicap player.

These irons are also a high preference for players with a moderate swing speed.

These irons have a higher MOI (Moment of Inertia) for extra stability upon impact. They’re popular for being the most straightforward iron types to hit. What sets them apart from other irons is that they often come in combo sets. The long irons (3-5) are hybrids instead, and the mid to short irons (6-9) come with big cavity backs (something we will cover later in this article).

The reason for this combo is to make off-center hits more forgiving, while also making it easier to get the golf ball up in the air – something many beginners struggle with. But a more seasoned golfer probably won’t benefit from these irons, as the big head and reduced spin will make distance control and holding the greens more difficult.

Game improvement irons are pretty similar to super game improvement irons, with the difference being that the entire set comes as regular irons.

They also have smaller cavity backs, making them more aesthetically pleasing while the forgiveness also slightly decreases.

As is evident in their name, game improvement irons enable players (mostly low-high handicappers) to improve their game. They have relatively bigger iron profiles, solid lofts, convenient face cup technology for better ball speeds, and different perimeter weighting levels for higher stability and launch. 

It may come as a surprise, but game improvement irons can be found in a low handicapper’s or even pro’s bag. This is because players irons’ margin of error is very small, with miss-hits resulting in poor shots. While forgiving, they also offer excellent distance control and decent workability, making them a good choice for every type of golfer out there.

Player’s irons are forged irons, giving them a nice feel and great workability. They’re particularly suited to meet the needs of low handicap players and professional golfers.

These irons have the smallest club heads, an optimized gear effect, and a relatively higher center of gravity compared to most clubs.

They’re basically shot-shaping golf irons that offer the best trajectory control. But as a downside, they are not very forgiving, and poor strikes will lead to poor shots. The reason for choosing a player’s iron is because of its spectacular ability to shape the ball – a must for pros.

Player’s irons are typically molded or forged from a single piece of metal to give it that superior feedback and feel. Otherwise known as muscle-back or blade irons, these irons are available in sets of 3 to 9-irons. 

On the other hand, the amateur golfer usually doesn’t need to shape shots on demand, making these irons’ downsides bigger than their upsides. If you have a slower swing speed, consider opting for a hybrid instead of the long irons, as you’ll have a much easier time getting the ball up in the air, resulting in better shots.

Player’s irons have extremely small soles that will enable you to cut across the grass with higher precision, maintain maximum compression upon impact, and generate better amounts of spin and launch angles off the fairways.

You can choose the right iron based on your game by having a better understanding of your swing, your golf ball flight preferences, and strengths/weaknesses in your iron games.


Different Design Styles and Which One You Should Pick

When it comes to golf iron design styles, there are muscle-back irons, blade irons, or cavity-back irons to choose from. While the cavity-back irons are the most popular, they each have different capabilities and suit different kinds of golfers.

Muscle-back irons are forged and have a traditional look. The club’s top is narrow while the base is thicker, giving them more forgiveness than a blade.

The sweet stop is bigger than what you’ll find in a blade, while still not nearly as big as cavity-back irons.

Muscle-back irons have a great feel and workability, but they are definitely targeted at the better golf players out there. These irons have a relatively bigger sweet spot compared to the classic blade and are smaller than the cavity back irons. They typically have a poorer launch and distance factor that further proves why they’re best-suited for expert golfers.  

Like muscle-back irons, blade irons are forged, meaning they have a great feel and workability while not being so forgiving. The sweet spot on these irons is almost ridiculously small, but no other clubs offer greater workability or more feedback at impact.

According to Titleist, about 30% of professional golfers have blades in their bag. Cavity-back irons are bulkier than blades and muscle-backs, and are far more forgiving.

They have the highest launch and most likely offer the best distance.

They have a very large sweet spot, and have a lot of their weight distributed to the back of the club to make it easier to launch the golf ball in the air. Cavity backs are undoubtedly the easiest clubs to hit, and since even most professionals use them, they’re most often the obvious choice for amateurs. 

Probably the biggest difference between blades and cavity backs and blade irons is weight. Most professional players will agree that the former is bulkier than the latter.

The cavity backs are also designed with a hollow bottom, a bigger sweet spot, and extra forgiveness for more distance.

Some golfers will carry both clubs to get the best of both worlds.

They’ll use the blade designs in their wedges and shorter irons for increased control and the cavity backs for their generous distance and forgiveness. 

Good examples of high-quality cavity back iron are the Taylormade M6 or the Cleveland Launcher CBX irons. Of course, this will depend on your preferred brand and model. 

What Is the Difference Between Short, Mid, And Long Irons?

As previously mentioned, golf irons are the most versatile clubs in the bag, and the reason for that is the wide range they come in. They are usually divided into short, mid, and long irons, with the difference being the loft of the club and the length of the shaft. 

The short irons are the pitching wedge, 9 iron, and 8 iron. While the pitching wedge is technically a wedge, it’s usually counted as a short iron as it comes in the set. These irons have the shortest shafts and the highest lofts of all the irons. They have the highest ball flights but also the shortest distance, and you’ll usually be hitting these irons into a green. 

Used for both approach shots and some longer tee shots, the mid irons consist of the 7 iron, 6 iron, and 5 iron. They have longer shafts than the short irons and also lower lofts. This makes them go further, as the loft is lower, and the longer shaft generates more clubhead speed. The mid irons are used for scenarios like longer par 3s, long approach shots, and safe par 4 or par 5 tee shots. 

The long irons are the hardest to hit, but also the ones that go the furthest. The 4 iron, 3 iron, and the 2 iron are all long irons, but the one you’ll find in most amateurs’ bags is the 4 iron. The long shafts make it harder to square the clubface, but combined with the low loft, they deliver great yardage. The average golfer might be better off with hybrid clubs as they’re easier to hit, but a fast swinger will appreciate the long irons’ consistency, workability, and considerable carry distance.

Golf Irons Explained – Why Are They So Useful?

what are the different types of golf irons and how to choose the right irons for your game

Golf irons are the most used clubs in golf and can be used for all types of scenarios. They usually have shorter shafts and smaller heads than woods, and the head is made of iron or steel. 

The following are a couple of popular golf irons:

  • Mizuno JPX921 Forged Irons: Mizuno recognizes the JPX921s ars their ‘first full-body forged Chromoly steel irons. They’re great for players who desire a perfect blend of everything (forgiveness, awesome looks, fast ball speeds, forged sound and feel, etc.) The JPX921 irons boast minimal offset and a shorter blade length to cater to the needs of pro players.   
  • Wison D9 Forged Iron: Off the face, the Wilson D9 forged irons feel quiet and soft. They also appear to zoom off pretty high into the air rather seamlessly. These irons feel easy to hit all the way from the PW to the 4-iron. They also offer an insane level of consistency in each category that obviously equal exceptional shots.  
  • Callaway Apex Irons: Most players who have used this set have described them as ‘aspirational.’ These game improvement irons will push you to get better at your swings. They’ll make you a better player, not only with the irons, but also with the driver, fairway metals, hybrids, and wedges. The Apex irons are simply eye-catching and feature plenty of spin. You won’t need to worry about your ball stopping dead on the turf. 
  • Honma TW757 irons: The TW757s are a fantastic set of irons that will definitely improve your scores. They’re more specially designed for amateurs owing to the presence of the 24-degree hybrid. Hybrids, compared to long irons, offer higher launches and make it easier to hit. The Maraging 455 Steel Cup Face technology helps to expand the flex area across the face, thereby maintaining the distance on all off-center shots.    

Irons are used for many different types of shots, but the majority of the time, they’re going to be used for approach shots into greens. A set of clubs usually include 6-7 different irons, each with a different loft. The 9 iron has the highest loft, thereby going the shortest while also delivering the highest apex of all the irons. Then, the irons go down all the way to a 2 iron, with every lower number having a lower loft. 

The reason for carrying so many irons in the bag is because each iron comes with a different carry distance.

While the distance varies greatly between golfers, a broad range is essential to fit all yardage gaps you’ll encounter on the golf course.

If you hit your 8 iron 140 yards, and the approach to the green is only 130, most amateur golfers will have a hard time taking a few yards off the club. Instead, you use your 9 iron, which, when you’re hitting an 8 iron 140, will go about the desired 130 yards. 

Irons are used for many different types of shots, but the majority of the time, they’re going to be used for approach shots into greens. When watching the PGA Tour, you’ll see that almost all pros have about a 10-15 yardage difference between each iron, but that’s usually not the case in the normal world.

Each club will play very differently since beginners and intermediates don’t have perfect swings like the pros. Someone with a particular swing might find their 6 iron going further than their 5, simply because the length of the shaft and loft of the club suit their swing better. That’s why it’s crucial to get your carry distances checked, so you know exactly which club to pick when approaching a green and, hopefully, getting that green in regulation. 

A lower iron, like a 3 or 4, can also be used for tee shots. You might want a safer alternative when there’s water in play, or maybe you don’t want to reach the fairway bunker with your driver. In either of those cases, a long iron tee shot can be an excellent option.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the different types of golf irons?

Golf irons can be divided into short, mid, and long irons, each with different capabilities. The short irons range from pitching wedge to the 8 iron, and they are most often used for approach shots or short par 3s. 

Mid irons are the 7 iron, 6 iron, and 5 iron. Depending on the distance you hit your clubs, they are usually used for tee shots on longer par 3s or approach shots into longer par 4s. 

Long irons have the longest shafts and lowest lofts of all irons, consisting of 4 iron, 3 iron, and 2 iron. They’re the hardest to hit and the ones that go the furthest.

Most brands have extended their golf iron ideas and manufactured utility irons, hybrids, as well as progressive non-hollow and hollow iron designs in their iron sets for a lower center of gravity and more forgiveness. High handicap players who want to increase their distance can utilize the hybrid-iron and ironwood designs. 

What are the 3 types of irons?

There are three types of irons: Super game improvement irons, game improvement irons, and players irons, each suiting different types of golfers.

Super game improvement irons are usually combo sets of irons and hybrids. They are easy to hit and very forgiving. The limited workability and distance control makes them suit beginners more than intermediates.

Game improvement irons are also easy to hit, but they’re slightly less forgiving. The sweet spot is still significant, and you can shape the ball well with them. Game improvement irons are the most popular in golf and fit a wide range of golfers.

Players’ irons are the most challenging to hit, but allow you to shape the ball very well. They have a great response at impact, but only really scratch golfers or pros benefit from them since they’re so tricky to use.

Conclusion: Research by Tellmemoregolf.com

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There are many different types of irons and many different design styles. After reading this article, you hopefully have a better idea of which types of irons there are and which ones suit you, based on your golfing level. The team at TellMeMoreGolf.com appreciates you for reading this article, and we hope to see you here again soon!


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
Our golf instructor team brings it all to you, so enjoy!

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