- What is a Driving Iron?
- Hybrids vs Driving Irons
- Who Should be Playing a Driving Iron?
- When to Use a Driving Iron?
- The Best Way to Use a Driving Iron
- Picking the Best Driving Iron for You
- Advantages of Driving Irons
- Best Driving Iron In 2021
Sometimes the driver is just not the best tool for the trade. The wind howling into your face will result in the ball ballooning miles into the air and blowing back toward you thus losing distance.
So, what are your alternatives? A fairway wood? A hybrid? A long iron? Or is there something else?
To the rescue comes the driving iron.
This article will look at the 5 best driving irons to get you off the tee at the best trajectory generating the longest distance.
What is a Driving Iron?
Driving irons can best be described as a fusion between a hybrid and a long iron. They precede the hybrid for a long time but did not keep pace with the technology built into hybrids.
The technology used in hybrids offered golfers the convenience they wanted, and it became the favored option.
Driving irons are a compromise between long irons, fairway woods, and hybrids. It optimizes the advantages while minimizing the cons.
With a standard iron body and a lower face angle, driving irons allow golfers to hit more accurate tee shots with just a smidgen less distance.
Hybrid technology offers more distance than a driving iron at the expense of control.
An enlarged sole combined with the iron-like face on the driving iron can tempt some to replace a hybrid.
Hybrids and driving irons may play a similar role, but they are two vastly different clubs. Let us look at the differences.
Hybrids vs Driving Irons
- Diverse looks
Driving irons have a traditional iron shape with a larger clubface, while a hybrid has a more rounded body and smaller overall clubface.
Driving irons tend to be much more controllable than a hybrid.
A hybrid offers more distance and better turf interaction.
Who Should be Playing a Driving Iron?
Driving irons are not suitable for all golfers, it is seen to be geared toward the lower handicap golfers. Although it is closer in design to a hybrid than a typical long iron, they require you to have a high swing speed to optimize the ball trajectory and distance.
You have to earn the right to use a driving iron. Many an hour will be required on the driving range to increase swing speed and getting used to the intricacies of hitting a driving iron.
If generating clubhead speed and distance is a problem, you may want to stay clear of these clubs.
Due to the lack of mass behind the ball compared to a hybrid, driving irons are less forgiving and generates less distance. However, they do have more mass behind the ball than a traditional long iron making them more forgiving at the expense of control.
Many professionals believe that swing speeds less than 100 miles per hour would be better off using a fairway wood or a hybrid.
If you frequently play in windy conditions, it would be wise to invest time on the driving range and learn to hit a driving iron.
When to Use a Driving Iron?
Selecting the correct situation to put your driving iron into play and leave your driver in the bag can be rather challenging. Even the best drivers of the golf ball in the world sometimes have to sacrifice distance for accuracy.
Using a driving iron is most apt when accuracy matters more than distance. This does not apply off the tee, long approach shots where accuracy is required, a driving iron could be better than putting a fairway wood in play.
The Best Way to Use a Driving Iron
To get the most out of your driving iron requires an aggressive yet controlled swing. Do not overswing or force the swing. Allow the power to come mostly from the driving iron itself.
Picking the Best Driving Iron for You
Before we go into the list of the best driving irons, let us first talk about what makes a driving iron good.
Advantages of Driving Irons
- Larger sweet spot
Driving irons generally have a larger sweet spot than fairway woods for extra forgiveness.
- Lower ball flight
Driving irons generate lower ball flight making it ideal for use in windy conditions or to keep your golf ball below overhanging branches.
- Iron Feel
The traditional iron look, prominent profile, and feel will make the golf ball easier to hit and boost your confidence
- Weightier swing
Additional mass behind the ball creates a bulkier look and feel. This extra mass behind the ball can help get a little more power in your shot.
- Skill Level
To hit a driving iron, you will require a good skillset. The smaller clubface makes them far more challenging to use and you will need to be able to hit the sweet spot consistently with a fast swing speed.
Best Driving Iron In 2021
Quick Overview: Our Top Picks for The Best Driving Irons
|Cleveland Launcher UHX utility iron||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|TaylorMade P790 UDI golf driving iron||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|TaylorMade GAPR Mid Golf Club||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Callaway X-Forged utility iron||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Bridgestone Tour B X-HI driving iron||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
Cleveland Launcher driving iron generates a high launch that is almost as easy to hit as a hybrid
The clubhead is not fully forged but Cleveland used a two-steel process that adding a high-strength steel insert for the face. This steel insert is milled adding a slight texture for enhanced control and backspin.
Like many competing driving and utility irons, Cleveland’s Launcher driving iron has a hollow construction to boost forgiveness on off-center hits.
Unlike most driving irons with flat soles, Cleveland implemented its well-known V-style of sole for better turf interaction. The drawback of the V-sole is that it is slightly more difficult to use on steep lies.
The Cleveland Launcher driving iron is competent from both the tee and fairway making it worthy of a slot in your bag.
2. TaylorMade P790 UDI Golf Driving Iron
- Forged hollow body design for improving forgiveness
- SpeedFoam to boost golf ball speed
- Very straight ball flight
- The look inspires confidence in the setup
- A forgiving club for a long iron.
- Tungsten weighting
- Outstanding feel
- Excellent Distance
- Smaller clubface makes it harder to hit
- The trajectory is too high for a driving iron
TaylorMade is known for its distinctive design features with the latest version of the phenomenally successful P790 franchise being the TaylorMade P790 UDI Utility.
Hollow body construction is used by the majority of manufacturers and TaylorMade is one of them. The hollow design allows for forgiveness and higher ball speed than non-hollow models.
The TaylorMade P790 is a fully forged, 17-degree club.
A differentiating factor is the signature TaylorMade feature, SpeedFoam, that is injected into the fully forged hollow body for maximum ball speed on impact while optimizing sound and feel. SpeedFoam provides the face support and sound-damping properties that make the performance of the P790 UDI, unlike any other utility iron.
Furthermore, there is a small tungsten bar on the back of the forged iron for optimal weighting and unmatched distance with forgiveness in a player’s utility iron.
This unique golf club has been developed to help fill the void in your long game.
The TaylorMade GAPR mid golf club is an extremely highly rated driving iron that is probably the best example of a combination of a long iron and hybrid club. This confirms that TaylorMade creates some of the best irons in the game of golf.
Well struck shots from the center of the face will provide great distance, even in windy conditions.
The body style is primarily an iron with a medium-wide sole head profile for more shot versatility and added forgiveness. The low and forward center of gravity enables you to hit a mid to high trajectory.
For the best results, it would be advisable that you retain the same flex as your driver shaft on this driving iron.
TaylorMade injects most of their hollow head clubs with their proprietary SpeedFoam just behind the clubface for phenomenal ball speed at impact. With SpeedFoam there is no loss of feel at impact. This generates a feeling of being in control all the way. SpeedFoam technology allows engineers to use a thinner face to create flex.
The standard loft on the TaylorMade GAPR MID is set at 18-degrees. For flexibility TaylorMade built in a loft sleeve on the hosel enabling you to adjust the loft up or down a few degrees.
A regular TaylorMade club tool is all that is required to change the GAPR MID’s loft.
This is arguably the best driving iron for any golfer, but you will have to spend some time on the driving range to set it up to your requirements.
4. Callaway X-Forged Utility Iron
- Forged construction
- 360 face cup
- Tungsten infused insert
- Outstanding distance
- Great Control
- Exceptional value
- Low center of gravity in the center of the club
- A well-struck ball with this club will perform consistently and well every time
- Longer and straighter than hybrids
- Best for elite players with fast swings
- It is one of the more expensive driving irons
The Callaway X-Forged utility iron targets golfers with a high skill level.
The compact forged clubhead is hollow with a tungsten insert that offers a small sweet spot. Golf balls struck in the middle of the sweet spot produce phenomenal ball speed, a low flight, and tremendous accuracy.
Skillful golfers will get the same, if not better, performance than they would get from a hybrid.
The hollow forged construction results in a better overall feel and sounds at impact as well as more control.
Callaway’s innovative technology used in the X-Forged utility iron includes the 360 Face Cup technology. This reduces spin on mishits for increased distance.
Callaway X-Forged Utility Club comes with a specially infused tungsten weight near the sole/toe of the club promoting a squarer or even slightly closed clubface at impact.
Bridgestone may be better known for its golf balls that are used by some of the top professionals on the PGA Tour, but its clubs are performing just as well.
The Tour B Driving Iron has no distinctive design that makes it stand out in a crowd. Its simplicity is borne out by the simple backplate and logo.
Bridgestone added the technology features below the unassuming clubhead.
The hollow body design imparts generous amounts of forgiveness and distance. Adding a wide sole with a slight curve makes it noticeably more versatile.
To complement the uncomplicated design Bridgestone added a plain-looking KBS Tour graphite shaft.
The uncomplicated look combined with the technology employed will inspire confidence and deliver solid distance and forgiveness.
Driving irons have improved tremendously over the last couple of years and inherited some of the technology that has made hybrid clubs so popular.
Do not expect to go out there and put a driving iron in your bag and hit it low and straight every time.
Hitting a driving iron requires skill and a high swing speed. Not just one of the two, it requires both. And you have to earn the right to hit it straight by working it out on the driving range.
Once you have mastered the driving iron you can tackle the wind head-on and walk away as the winner.
I looked at a sample of the wide range of driving irons and there are more to be assessed.
If you are an above-average player with a relatively low handicap, a forged style driving iron will be the best choice. Alternatively, if you are a higher handicap player that insists on using a driving iron, a cavity back would be better suited for your game.
TaylorMade has 2 driving irons on the list as proof that they produce some of the best irons available today.
Our winner by a country mile is the TaylorMade GAPR mid golf club for its flexibility, technology, and versatility. You will search for a while to get a club that can compete with the GAPR.
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Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.