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How To Buy Irons

Irons are used for shorter golf shots, ranging from 200 yards to less than 100 yards. The iron that is used is determined by the loft of the club head as well as the golfer's ability to hit the ball a certain distance. Improved technology allows golfers to select the type of iron that best suits his or her game.

Determining your ability level

Players can be divided into 3 basic ability levels-- low-handicaps,mid-handicaps and high-handicaps. A handicap is the golfer's way of measuring their performance against the par on a course, usually in relation to a par 72 regulation course.

The low-handicap golfer

A low-handicap player has a single-digit handicap, meaning he or she generally scores less than 10 strokes over par, or an 82 or less on a par-72 course.

  • Woods
    • The low-handicap player should carry a driver and at least 1 fairway wood, most likely the 3-wood
  • Irons
    • The low-handicap player will benefit from lower irons in his bag, because the 3- or 4-iron is a difficult club to hit but can be very useful if it can be controlled
  • Wedges
    • A minimum of 3 wedges--pitching wedge,sand wedge, and either a lob wedge or approach wedge--in their bags, with a maximum 4-degree difference between each one

The mid-handicap golfer

The mid-handicap golfer plays "bogey golf," meaning his or her score averages out to 1 over par on each hole, or somewhere in the 11-20 handicap range.

  • Woods
    • In addition to the driver and a 3-wood and a 5-wood, consider adding a 7-wood or even a 9-wood. These fairway woods give much better control and consistency than the harder to hit long irons.
  • Irons
    • Usually only a 3 through 9 are recommended, since the 2-iron is very difficult to hit consistently
  • Wedges
    • Three different wedges are recommended--pitching wedge, sand wedge, and either a lob wedge or approach wedge

The high-handicap golfer

The high-handicap golfer is either a beginner or has not had the time to hone his game to reach the mid-handicap level. The high-handicapper usually shoots close to or over 100.

  • Woods
    • You may not even want to have a driver in your bag. Instead, go with the 3-wood as your off-the-tee wood and add the easier-to-hit 7- and 9-woods.
  • Wedges
    • Up to 3 wedges--pitching wedge, sand wedge, and either a lob wedge or approach wedge--should be carried

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Choosing the right iron

Various shafts and club head compositions and designs make it possible to select the right combination to suit every individual's golf game.

Types of irons

  • Cast irons
    • Cast irons have a cavity back construction, also known as perimeter weighted irons
    • Most of the head weight on the outside of the head
    • A larger sweet spot because it puts more weight on the edges of the club face
    • Beginners who tend to mishit the ball more often would benefit from cavity back/perimeter weighted irons because they are more forgiving
  • Forged irons
    • No special weight distribution on the back of the club head
    • The center of gravity is in the center of the club head
    • Most forged irons also have the weight higher in the face, allowing the advanced player to better control trajectory
    • Forged irons offer more accurate feedback on mis-hits

Choosing the right club head

  • Sizes
    • Standard
      • Similar to the smaller sizes of traditional clubs
      • Offers better control for an advanced player
    • Midsize
      • Combination of traditional and oversized irons
      • Offer a bigger sweet spot than standard clubs
      • Easier to handle than the oversized clubs
    • Oversized
      • More forgiving on mishits
      • More difficult to control for a better player
  • Materials
    • Stainless steel
      • Most cavity-back irons are cast iron, which makes them good for less-advanced players looking for durability and consistency
      • Although many of today's cast clubs can offer similar, if not better playability than forged
      • Forged irons are made of a softer steel, which provides better feel to more advanced players
    • Titanium
      • Lighter weight allows titanium heads to be made larger than traditional steel heads
      • Larger heads provide more forgiveness on mishits
      • Titanium is more expensive than steel

Choosing the right shaft

  • Materials
    • Steel shafts
      • Stronger, more durable and generally less expensive
      • Greater consistency from shaft to shaft because of a more advanced manufacturing process
      • Offer more control, but require a faster swing speed to generate the same distance as graphite
      • Recommended for stronger players who could use a little extra control in their game
    • Graphite
      • Lighter than steel and can be made in many more variations, making it easier to select a shaft best suited to your game
      • Generally more expensive than steel and less durable
      • Lighter weight provides greater swing speed for more power, but it sacrifices control
      • Graphite absorbs shock in a swing
  • Flex
    • Flex refers to the amount of "bend" in a shaft
      • Your shaft flex needs to match the speed of your golf swing
        • Beginners and players with less powerful swings will benefit from a more flexible shaft
        • An average player has a swing speed of 75-90 mph, and should look for a regular shaft
        • Players with powerful swings--in the 90 -110 mph range--should purchase a stiff or firm shaft. This will provide a stiffer club for more control.
        • Many shafts are now available in a uniflex that will fit most any golfers swing

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