I was going through my normal routine on the range the other day. Starting out slowly with the wedges and moving my way up through the irons, finishing with the woods.
Doing this I wondered about the fact that it gets progressively harder to hit the irons well, as you move to the lower numbers.
Have you wondered about what the easiest golf irons to hit are?
The shorter irons like 7, 8 and 9 along with the pitching wedge are the easiest to hit consistently. As you move to lower numbered irons it gets harder because of the small clubhead and long shaft and as you move to the high loft wedges it gets harder because of the loft.
So what is the explanation to all this? Let’s have a look at the different factors in play.
The Type Of Iron Matters
Cavity Back Or Muscle Back
The vast amount of different irons in golf makes it difficult for laymen to comprehend what is important. Every manufacturer has their own sales pitch to why their equipment is better.
Generally, golf irons come in two varieties.
Cavity Back, where the backside of the clubhead is hollowed out – there is a cavity. The name makes sense.
Muscle Back on the other hand is a bit different. Here the backside of the clubhead is smooth, you can say the material is solid.
There are pros and cons about both types, but in regards to how easy it is to hit the sweet spot, then the cavity backs win.
Oftentimes the clubface is larger than muscle backs, and the perimeter weight around the sweet spot helps with forgiveness. More on this later in the post, or you can read about the topic more in depth in our article about cavity back vs muscle back irons.
What Makes An Iron Easy To Hit?
A few different factors makes a golf iron hard or easy to hit. The physical dimensions and specifications will affect your hit rate positively or negatively depending on your own physique.
First off the length of the iron from grip butt end to clubface sole has a great impact on your performance.
Length Of The Iron
So why does the length of a golf iron matter?
When you extend your arms and swing away, the clubface will travel on a rather long near circular path three-quarters around your body.
For the clubface to hit the same spot as where it left off – behind the ball – a great deal of consistency is needed. For beginners this is not a given. So limiting the travel of the clubface around your body will be beneficial. It will increase your chance of success.
That’s why it is easier to hit a shorter iron consistently.
Weight Of The Iron
Imagine you’re swinging a feather or a light stick around your body. Compare that in your mind to swinging an iron bar or a baseball bat. Which do you think is easier to be consistent with?
The heavy object will be more prone to end up in the same place as it left off.
Translating this into something that has to do with golf this means that your irons should have some mass to them. Of course they should not be too heavy, since it’ll tire you out before the round is over.
A term called swingweight comes into play when talking about golf iron weight.
As a rule of thumb all of your irons should be the same swingweight for consistency.
Swingweight is measured by comparing the weight of the face end to the grip butt end. You can read more about swingweight in our article on the subject.
Sweetspot And Design
A buzzword in golf has always been the sweetspot of the club. This is applicable to all clubs, even the putter.
It relates to the spot on the head surface where it’s best to hit the ball. The sweetshot will yield the golfer maximum forgiveness and distance.
It is the perfect spot when looking at the balance of the golf iron and how the mass is distributed around the clubhead.
If you can train yourself to hit the sweetspot consistently you’ve come a long way.
When looking at the design of the iron we’ve touched the difference between cavity back and muscle back irons briefly above.
In the Image below you will see a cavity back vs a muscle back iron, and it’s apparent that there’s a lot of perimeter mass on the cavity back, while it is more evenly distributed on the muscle back.
The perimeter weight of the cavity back adds forgiveness. We could go into a scientific explanation, but to keep it short, just know that is how it works.
The muscle back offers less forgiveness and is meant for lower handicap players.
Are Wedges Easy Or Hard To Hit?
Moving into the topic of how easy it is to hit the wedges, there’s a few things to note.
Firstly, while it could seem like the wedge is easy to hit because of the short shaft, it is not always the case.
Because of the higher loft, there is a genuine possibility to hit it so that the clubface scoots right under the ball if it has an elevated lie on some soft rough grass.
Secondly, wedge shots are usually tricky approach shots, nasty bunker shots or anything else comparable.
These shots usually require a great deal of practice. Oftentimes the wedges are played when you’re within reach of the flag. So these shots will have a huge impact on your performance in the game.
Summing It All Up
In this post you’ve hopefully learned that the shorter irons are easier to hit than the long ones. The details around that is the length of the club matters, but also the size of the clubhead and the way it is manufactured and designed.
To further your understanding around this topic there’s not much more to do than hit the course and see for yourself.
Every golfer has their individual preferences and abilities, so you might find people that like the 3-iron more than the 9-iron, and that’s because of so many factors.
Knowing all this will hopefully help you in the quest of finding the best golf irons for your game.
Photo by Erik Brolin on Unsplash