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Everything You Need to Know About Game-Changing Golf-Irons

Have you stopped to think about your iron's vital role in your golf bag? Arguably, they are the most versatile clubs we use, allowing us to hit high and low...

Have you stopped to think about your iron's vital role in your golf bag?

Arguably, they are the most versatile clubs we use, allowing us to hit high and low shots and draw and fade shots. We can hit golf irons from a long way out of our target or even chip with some of them.

We ask a lot of our golf irons, and when it comes time to look at a new set, there are many options out in the market to tempt you. You can research online or buy magazines that will give you the latest reviews to help you form opinions on what might be right for you.

New technologies and major marketing campaigns combine to promise us better spin, more control, and more distance. But do these promises ring true for every golfer?

So, to give you the most informed view on all things iron-related, sit back and enjoy our guide, where we cover the following topics:

  • The Technical Wonders of a Modern Iron
  • Telltale Signs Our Existing Irons Don't Help
  • Selecting the Right Irons for Your Game
  • The Importance of Customisation
  • Golf Iron Myth Busting

Srixon ZX7 MK II Golf Irons

The Technical Wonders of a Modern Iron

Irons offered little in the way of technology or variety in past times. Everybody used forged bladed heads with steel shafts, and that was the same whether you were a professional or an amateur.

Ping was the first company to successfully introduce a club that was far more accessible for most golfers to get along with. Ping engineered a cavity in the back of the iron head, helping push mass out to the perimeter, increasing the size of the sweet spot. The Ping iron was also cast instead of forged, giving it a more robust level of playability than forged heads. From there, designers have pushed the envelope of how an iron can be designed, leading to today's technical tour-de-force.

Three key technological advancements in iron design in the current era are:

  • Variable Face Thickness (VFT)
  • Multi-Material Construction
  • Hollow Body Construction

Variable Face Thickness (VFT)

Variable Face Thickness (VFT) has been seen in woods for over 20 years but is relatively new regarding irons. The principle is the same as that of golf woods - varying the thickness of the face wall can increase the trampoline effect when making contact with the ball. While maximising the speed from the sweet spot, VFT also helps keep ball speeds consistently high on off-centre hits.

Multi-Material Construction

We see a lot of irons on the market today that feature tungsten in them. Using tungsten allows manufacturers to distribute weight in certain areas of the head to improve launch conditions and the centre of gravity.

Another way multi-material is used in iron heads is to have a forged face offering the best feel and feedback combined with a cast back, giving more durability. Taking a further step is the introduction of foam sitting just behind the face, which can reduce vibration and help increase ball speeds.

Hollow Body Construction

Hollow-headed golf irons feature a hollow body created by using two separate pieces welded together to form the iron head. The hollow design aids forgiveness and can help enhance spin rates. Hollow body irons are seen more in the game improvement iron category. Still, they can look like a bladed-style iron as there is no visible cavity in the back of the club.

Telltale Signs Our Existing Irons Don't Help

How do we know when it's time to consider a change of irons?

The following three indicators will start to give us some clues:

  • Loss of Distance
  • Shot Dispersion
  • Groove condition

Loss of Distance

In recent years, technology in golf irons has improved the distance golf irons go. Today, an average 7-iron loft is around 32 degrees. An average 7-iron loft from a set purchased in the 1990s was 35 degrees. Three degrees doesn't sound much, but the difference in distance and trajectory can be telling. Despite the decrease in loft in modern irons, they still retain optimal launch and spin due to the advancements in technology and increasing overall distance.

Shot Dispersion

We generally consider shot dispersion as how wide our misses are left or right of the intended target. But a wide front-to-back dispersion means that our irons aren't covering a consistent distance. This dispersion pattern can be down to irons that don't offer much in the way of forgiveness - if we miss the sweet spot, we could see a shot landing a long way short of a decent hit.

Alternatively, if we catch one, it could go much further than expected. Not knowing how far that ball can travel causes problems for us out in the course, where it can be more difficult to judge which club to take for an approach shot.

Groove condition

If the grooves are worn out, you'll struggle to gain proper control of spin and distance on shots. Wear spots can also form on forged heads, which look good if they are in the centre of the face but will not help your game anymore.

Selecting the Right Irons for Your Game

A low-handicap golfer will have different golf iron requirements than higher-handicap players. The low-handicap golfer probably hits the ball far enough, so for them, it's more about the control and feel of the golf iron. Bladed irons allow the better player to execute a variety of shots out on the course with optimal feel and feedback.

Higher handicappers will get little use out of a bladed iron. These players don't consistently hit the ball out the middle of the face, so irons that offer more forgiveness will be more suited to their games. Irons aimed at the high handicapper or new golfer are also likely to have the strongest lofts to help add distance.

At this end of the market, you may also see more options for things like graphite shafts to help add precious club head speed. Other golf iron options, such as player's cavity backs, combine the look of a blade but with a small cavity to help with off-centre hits.

These irons can fit various golfers, from elite players to mid-teen handicaps. A new iron that has emerged in recent years is the player's performance iron. The TaylorMade P790 irons are a great example of these irons sharing the looks of a blade but with a hollow body filled with "speed foam" for greater distance.

TaylorMade P790 Golf Irons

The Importance of Customisation

With so many different iron sets on the market, being custom-fitted for your next set of irons will ensure you have the best option for your game. A fitting session will begin with capturing some baseline data using Trackman. You'll hit a number of shots with your existing irons while the fitter will check the data from each shot.

The fitter will be looking at data such as:

  • Carry distance
  • Spin rates
  • Shot dispersion side to side
  • Shot dispersion front to back

Along with seeing the data, the fitter will also check if you are hitting the ball well or poorly and if it reflects what happens during a round of golf. The fitter can then share their findings with you, offer suggestions on areas that can be improved, and start to give you some trial clubs to hit. Measuring the differences in data from the trial clubs will start to narrow the search down, leading to a recommendation.

The recommendation will be for:

  • Correct iron setup such as 4-Pitching Wedge or 5-Pitching Wedge
  • Correct iron head - blade, game improvement, player's cavity back, etc
  • Suitable shaft material - steel or graphite
  • Correct shaft weight
  • Right lie angle - flat or upright

PXG 0317 T Golf Iron

The Result

Ultimately, what the recommendation offers you is:

  • More distance
  • Better shot dispersion
  • Improved strike
  • Improved distance gapping

The session also helps you understand more about how your iron game works and how the new clubs will help. All this adds to having more confidence on the course and a better chance of shooting lower scores.

Golf Iron Myth Busting

Golf Iron technology, such as hollow heads or multi-material construction, can help higher handicap golfers who seek more distance and help on off-centre hits. At the other end of the spectrum, traditional forged blades still hold reverence with players looking for workability, feel, and feedback.

Manufacturers also offer blended sets that can start with more forgiving long irons before transitioning into blades for the short irons. Blended sets are the perfect combination of technology where a player might need it most in the longer clubs, with the bladed short irons offering maximum shot-shaping capability.

Whatever way you go, technology is part of a puzzle that includes working on the technical aspects of your swing if you are looking for improvement in your game. We see it in the professional ranks; every tour player will have their clubs custom-built for them, but they still employ swing coaches to look after and hone their technique.

A fitter focuses on how they can improve your equipment to help you shoot better scores. They will enquire if there is anything you are working on technically in your swing, but this is done to help the fitter understand the overall picture of the golfer they are working with.

Let's also not forget that every golfer has their specific handicap, golf-related objectives, playing experiences, and physical attributes, which all need to be considered. What this leads us to is that the days of walking into a retailer and buying a set of irons off the shelf aren't guaranteed to improve your game.

Miura KM 700 Golf Irons

Final Thoughts

Today, we are spoilt for choice in the range of golf irons available. Traditional forged blades still hold a place alongside irons that feature cutting-edge technology to help golfers. All this choice increases the importance of being custom-fitted for your next set of irons. The process of custom fitting is optimising your equipment to help you shoot better scores on the golf course.

At Nine by Nine Golf, our inventory has everything from the latest forged blades to game improvement clubs, meaning we can help any golfer of any handicap find their perfect iron set.

Please get in touch with us to organise a fitting session or look on our website at the fully customisable sets we have available to order.

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