Golf Irons: Somewhere Between Driving and Putting

So you can crank a drive off the tee, and putts inside of 10 feet aren’t a problem. But to be a complete golfer, making the right shot with irons is key to a good score.

Golf irons can set up a short putt, or offset a mishit tee shot. But they can also be a score killer, with a ball over hitting the green and landing somewhere in the rough.

Though actually made of steel and graphite these days, irons were made by blacksmiths back in the 1800s. The early irons had wooden shafts and were heavier than their current counterparts. Steel shafts were first introduced in the 1920s. By the 1930s, they were standard.

golf irons Another key innovation occurred around 1910, when ridges were added to clubs’ faces. The ridges give the ball more backspin, which increases distance.

Irons are the golfers’ utility club, used for anything from teeing off (for golfers with problems using a driver) to lofting the ball a short distance with a pitching wedge.

Generally, a set of irons includes seven clubs, numbered 3-7. The higher the club number, the more angled the club face, and, consequently, the higher the shot. Specialty designed loft, pitching and sand wedges are also available.

Although there are a variety of irons, the basic swinging technique is the same. It’s a technique that can be difficult for beginners because it seems to go against logic.

Essentially, you must hit down at the ball to make it go up. Trying to catch the ball on the upswing to send it high in the air will lead to lots of “ground balls”, shots barely getting off the grass.

Hand position is critical for the right impact. The hands need to be ahead of the ball. You don’t want the club beating your hands to the ball. As such, it’s recommended that the ball is placed closer to your back foot.

Another problem for beginners is that the ball will actually hit the ground on a proper irons shot. One bad hit, and a beginning golfer may remember the pain associated with a club going directly into the ground.

There are a couple of simple drills that can help. The 3-9 drill might not give you much distance, but that’s not the point. On the back swing, take the club to the 3 o’clock position and swing through to only the 9 o’clock position. You’re more likely to make good contact. As you gain more confidence, a fuller swing can be attempted.

Another drill is hitting off the tee. Again, the point is learning to make good contact. As you gain more confidence, lower the tee until you’re hitting of the ground.

One of the innovations in irons the past decade has been the advent of graphite shafts. There’s pros and cons to both. For those suffering from arthritis, graphite clubs can be beneficial. Because the club isn’t as heavy, there’s less stress on the body. Because the material is lighter, graphite irons also lead to higher club speed and longer shots.

On the downside, graphite clubs are more expensive. They also won’t give you as good a “feel” for the shot. In addition, steel is more consistent. There will be little difference in each club.

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