Analyzing Your Iron Play
In a conversation the other day with a golfer who was contemplating a new set of irons, I asked "just what are you trying to achieve with your purchase?" While I expected a response containing some specific goal, what I got back was a puzzled look and something like, "I don't know; I just think I need to hit better iron shots."

So that took us into a more in-depth analysis of his current satisfaction with his iron play overall and specifically through the different clubs in his bag.

The first thing he said that frustrated him was the inconsistency of his ball flight – some pulls, some hooks, some flared right, etc. I tried to explain to him that these things were due to his swing path variances and no new set of irons was going to straighten that out. He'd be better off spending the money on lessons with one of our teaching pros.

I then asked about his comfortable distances with his 5-iron, 8-iron and PW, where again, he was not as certain as he should have been if he's trying to get more accurate with his iron play. It is IMPERATIVE to good iron play that you know your comfortable range with each iron in your bag. I don't mean how far you can hit them, but how far you can hit each club with a comfortable, controlled swing that you can repeat. Just because you once hit your 6-iron 175 yards, doesn't mean that's your distance.

As we dug deeper into his iron play, I asked him what iron was his "favorite," the one he believed he could always count on for a good shot. I've asked this of many golfers and the most common answer is the 6- or 7-iron, I've found. The 5- and 8-irons will follow as the next most common response. But rarely do I hear a golfer say that their 9-iron or PW is their favorite club. And of course, no one likes to hit a 4-iron and few even carry a 3-iron any more.

Diving ever deeper, I asked what his expectation was with each iron in his hands. In other words, it's a given that sticking one close is always a treat, but what represents "OK" with the various irons? Rather than tell you his answers, I'm going to put this one to all of you for contemplation and response. Here are a few questions I'd like each of you to answer here this week:
  1. How close to the hole or green is an acceptable approach with a 6-iron? How about with a 9-iron or PW?

  2. How much "reserve" do you have with each of your irons? In other words, what is the yardage difference between your "normal" 7-iron and one you have to jump on a bit?

  3. What is your favorite iron? The one that you feel like you are most likely to hit that "acceptable" shot you just defined?

  4. Which iron do you feel like you get the least "acceptable" results with?

Let's have some fun here and see how many of you will share your answers with the rest of us.
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[ comments ]
Torleif Sorenson says:
Up until reading this, I thought the biggest question I needed to answer going into the purchase of new irons was the distances I basically hit each iron consistently.

I already knew that I will need to do some "homework" before replacing my ca. 1989 Hogan Edge forged cavity-back irons, but thanks to you, Terry, now I have other credible questions for which I need to have good answers.

For you other ClubSG members, I *also* would like to see you answer each of the four questions - in part because I don't get to play much. As of this writing, I can answer only two of them:

(3) My 2-iron and 7-iron are my favorites because I get the most consistent results with each.

(4) My wedges, which have a significant swing-weight difference between PW and SW, resulting in major inconsistencies in distance.
abqlarry says:
1. with a 6 Iron I expect to hit the green, with a 9 iron I expect to be in reasonable birdie range (depending on green conditions). I rarely use a PW as I am seldom at PW range on the courses that I play.
2. Ydg diff for my 7 iron between normal & jump on it is 6 to 10 yds.
3. Favorite iron is my Gap Wedge(51dgs) from around 100-110yds. I expect to be within 10-15 feet of the hole. Next is probably a 6 iron.
4. All my irons work and produce consistent results in both accuracy & distance. Golf is a target game with irons. It's not how far you hit each one, it's can you control distance and accuracy consistently. My least acceptable results are with those ugly bulbous things often referred to as fairway woods, hate them, get rid of them, get hybrids (I call them "hay you, almost an iron")
Cit.Col says:
Great article which should have everyone who reads is searching for their comfort and numbers.
1. 6 Iron: On the green not too fussed about location / 9 Iron no three putt / PW: withing twelve feet, and one putt
2. If I lean on my seven iron I can expect c5 to 10 yards
3. Two clubs: My 5 iron just swings and connects right / 2 hybrid hits straight and low when I need it.
4. Easy, sand wedge: It feels as though it's of alien origin and I don't have the DNA sequence to wield it. Erratic about covers it
kevinwschick says:
1) At my level, I have a 16.2 index, hitting the green and holding with any club is acceptable, with my short irons I go for the pin and anything within 15' is great.
2) When I am in-between clubs and my approach is to jump on it I can get 5-7 yards, if I need more than that I go up a club.
3) My 8-iron is my most reliable club at 150 yards, the fact is I am fairly confident with all my irons at their distance and I practice at the driving range distance-per-club shots (I have a sky caddie and for those coursses where the driving range is mapped this works very well).
4) I have two clubs that make me tense - my 4-hybrid and my 55-degree sand wedge, both can be sweet and both can produce horrible shots.
Agaribay says:
1)6iron for me is 135 as i swing very smoothe.also very accurate with it.
2)since my swing is smoothe and the same i dont have in between yardadges.
3)any wedge is my favorite iron as a smoothe swing produces a dead on distance PW SW GW LW are all in my bag and precise.9iron would be anything at abt 110 to 115 depending on run or to stop it
4)2 iron only in wind goes straight but hate it. took 3 &4 iron out of bag went to 4 hybrid and became a dead eye with it for 140 yards.i realize my yardages are short but like i said my swing is very smoothe and very question to you is i play callaway x 16 irons and i do see much more fogiving irons now out there would it be wise to try and change to these??? hit em further???
BrokenSlice says:
Interesting article and discussion ... I would agree that new irons will not fix a broken swing path ... if someone is playing 10 year old irons, it is likely worth the investment to upgrade on many levels. I know switching to new irons that weren't even old gave me an approx 10 yards per club ... and to me that was huge.


1. I'd like to think I'd hit the green with a 6 iron, but with a 9 or PW I'd like to be within 10-15 feet or so.

2. "Jumping" on any club never seems to help me much but I think I usually squeeze about 5 more yards ... any more I'd rather just swing a bit smoother with more club.

3. The 8 iron was my go-to-club for a while, but I have always loved my Cleveland 54 degree ... I feel I can't miss with that at 100 yards or so. If Im not inside 10 feet with that Im dissapointed.

4. The 4 iron off the deck is very undesirable, off the tee its great. I'd rather hit my hybrid with some cut rather that try to flush my 4 iron any day.
ally1957 says:
good questions
6 iron on the green 9 iron 15 feet PW 6ft. Now if i could do it all the time:-)
7 iron 110 if pushed 120 pitching wedge 75yds when pushed 90 to 95 at the expense of accuracy
9 iron or pitching wedge. Are my make me look good clubs
4 5 6 irons rarely use them much rather back off with my 1 and only utility club
Willie47 says:
1. 10 to 20 feet
2. I try not to jump on any club. I use the higher or lower club depending on the best place for the next shot(long or short).
3&4. I get consistent resuits with all my clubs. No favorite club.
Ian 666 says:
6 Iron anywhere on the green 9 iron close enough to not 3 put PW Close enough for birdie chance
Don't have a reserve (slow swing speed)if need more distance i use the 6 iron
favorite iron ~ Gap Wedge, 6 iron
Least aceptable glub 3 and 4 iron unless off the tee
JimmySockets says:
1. With a 6iron anywhere on the green or just off is acceptable. With a PW-9iron I would say 15-30ft is acceptable.
2. Normal 7iron should carry 155yds, if I have to step on it I can maybe squeeze out a 165yrd flight but usually I am reluctant to hit any club 100% as it leads to inconsistencies unless it is a forced carry or a tree that must be cleared with a high loft.
3. I think I enjoy my 7iron the most as I think I have hit more memorable shots with that club.
4. Right now I am a little hesitant with my 60° lob wedge, I bought a new set this year and still am working on getting comfortable with them. I don't believe you should ever be scared of using any club in your bag as they are all tools designed for specific tasks, you just need to know how to use them.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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