In the early days, most sets were comparable and very much the same throughout the sets, irrespective of the manufacturer.
Manufacturers have realized that distance is still of paramount importance to the everyday golfer.
The Pros, on the other hand, change their clubs regularly, especially the wedges, which they wear out through hours and hours of practice. The grooves become worn and will not offer the spin they seek.
They are forever testing different shafts and lofts to achieve the ball flight they require.
The course layout will also influence the degrees they select on their wedges, as will the texture of the bunker sand.
It is not uncommon for them to change their sand wedge after 3 tournaments.
In the 1900’s the difference between lofts was 3 degrees and although this remains the gap on many sets, others have moved out a further degree to 4.
The Standard Lofts for a Set are as follows (in Degrees)
- 3 iron 20
- 4 iron 25
- 5 iron 28
- 6 iron 31
- 7 iron 34
- 8 iron 37
- 9 iron 41
Notice the 3 and 4 have 5 degrees and the rest of the set 3 degrees.
I have not included the 1 iron @ 14degrees and 2 iron @ 17 or 18 degrees.
These are add-ons and purchased individually to suit the golfer’s needs.
While talking about these 2 long irons, certain manufacturers engineered a wide-sole version, which they termed driving irons.
They are used on tight layouts and short par 4s for accuracy off the tee.
To the average golfer, all the tech-talk is confusing and they will play with what appeals to them in terms of looks, feel, and price.
To the top amateurs and the golfer who is not price-conscious, nothing but the best will do in their golf bag.
This unfortunately does not always produce the desired results on the golf course but is a winner in the clubhouse or the 19th.
Club manufacturers spend millions on marketing campaigns, to cater to the ego of many.
The main purpose of the different lofts is to allow the golfer to hit each iron a certain distance using the same swing tempo.
The loft determines the ball carry through the air and will roll out a certain distance on the fairway or green.
The shaft length also influences distance and it decreases in the set from a long iron to the wedges.
Once the player can determine the average distance, they hit the ball with say an 8-iron, allowing them to play with more confidence and select an iron from the bag that they believe will get them to the green on a particular hole.
The good golfer will know precisely how far they can hit the ball with every iron or fairway wood.
This requires time on the range and working on the distance with every club including all their woods, hybrids, and wedges.
Let’s talk Long irons or Hybrids
Not many golfers carry a 1, 2, or 3-iron in their bag and would have switched to hybrids, which allow them to launch the ball high and long.
These are difficult to launch and control long irons have anything from 14-degrees (1) 17-degrees (2) and 20-degrees (3).
They are great clubs in the wind as they bore through the air with a low trajectory.
Mid-irons- 4, 5 and 6 irons
Loft and distance
A typical 4-iron has a 25-degree loft and the average male golfer will hit it 170 yards.
Women will average 130 yards.
The 5-iron has 28-degrees and a distance of 160 yards averaged whereas the 6-iron has 31-degrees and should travel 150-yards. (men)
Women will average 110 yards with the 5-iron and 100 yards with the 6-iron.
A more competent woman golfer will carry a 4 or 5-iron and most will opt for hybrids or fairway woods.
Looking at the distances we can conclude that 3-degrees of loft equates to 10 yards in distance.
Short Irons- 7, 8, 9, and wedges.
These are the scoring irons and the emphasis should be on accuracy and not distance.
The average male golfer would look to hit the 7-iron 140 yards, the 8-iron 130 yards, 9- iron 120 yards, and the pitching wedge 110 yards.
Female golfers would average 90 yards with the 7-iron, 80 yards with the 8-iron and 70 yards with the 9-iron.
The gap and the sand wedge will cover yardages below 110 yards and the lob wedge can also be part of the golfer’s armory.
The same principle applies to female golfers.
Pitching wedges range from 45 to 50 degrees.
Sand wedges from 55 to 58 degrees.
Gap wedges from 50 and upwards.
The better golfers often opt for a gap of 4-degrees in their wedges.
Wedges are the most “tinkered” with irons in terms of loft and bounce.
The good golfer requires distance control to be at a premium with these clubs if they are to shoot low scores.
Some advice on Lob wedges:( 58 to 60 degrees loft.) These clubs are not for the average golfer who does not play regularly or spends time practicing.
Turf conditions must be lush and grassy to slide the sole under the ball.
More shots are lost by golfers using these clubs than gained.
The flop shot looks fancy but will damage your round if not practiced.
Tip: 1 degree of loft in the wedges will add 2 to 3 yards on your shot.
Many manufactures today have de-lofted their clubs and the result is increased distance.
Don’t be misled by your playing partner who may have bought a new set of irons and hits one or two clubs less than you on the short holes.
It is an option to buy a set that you can “ build up” to suit your game and loft requirements.
Make sure you have 3 or 4-degrees loft between irons and know the distance you achieve with each.
Remember loft is your friend and assists the golfer in launching the ball high and far.
Enjoy every round you play.
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.