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inthehole

Why the Common Perception about Difficulty Hitting Long Irons for Mere Mortals?

29 posts in this topic

As a relatively new player - this confuses me.     I leaned my 3 iron up against my 3 wood & it's about 2 inches shorter.      To me, what makes a club "tough to hit" is the length of it.      I hit my 3 iron far better off the deck than my 3 wood because its shorter - and it's almost as long on an equivilent perfect shot.

Granted, my 3 iron is a modern cavity backed, ultra forgiving hot faced version - not a muscle back or blade 3 iron that were standard issue years ago.

Just for my piece of mind, I would love to hear the basis of why long irons are considered tougher to hit than much longer shafted fairway woods ?   Thanks

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As I'm sure you know, the 3i we see today is more equivalent in loft and length to a 2i or 1i that was common in sets 20 years ago.  I think the lower loft, extended length makes it tougher for people to hit just as not many could hit a 1i or 2i years ago.

I think with practice you can learn to hit any club, the question for me is would my time be better spent working with a 3i or a 3 hybrid.  Hybrids are marketed as being longer, more forgiving and easier to hit out of the rough.

I think overall club manufacturers have pushed the perception that hybrids are easier to hit in order to sell you more golf clubs.  They get you to buy a set that's 4i-PW knowing that you'll need a 3 hybrid and possible a 4 hybrid because the 4i they sold you is effectively a 3i.  I see many people replacing their 5i with a hybrid too, so 2-3 clubs in the set you paid for sit in the garage collecting dust and you have to spend an additional $300 - $600 to complete the set, not including cost for wedges, fairway woods, driver and putter.

I buy a number of used irons sets and almost every set I've bought the 3i and 4i are brand new, some even have the plastic on the club head and grip.

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Originally Posted by inthehole

As a relatively new player - this confuses me.     I leaned my 3 iron up against my 3 wood & it's about 2 inches shorter.      To me, what makes a club "tough to hit" is the length of it.      I hit my 3 iron far better off the deck than my 3 wood because its shorter - and it's almost as long on an equivilent perfect shot.

Granted, my 3 iron is a modern cavity backed, ultra forgiving hot faced version - not a muscle back or blade 3 iron that were standard issue years ago.

Just for my piece of mind, I would love to hear the basis of why long irons are considered tougher to hit than much longer shafted fairway woods ?   Thanks

I can hit my driver off the deck, but I don't carry any irons longer than the 5I.  I don't know what that means, but it just is.

I used to carry and use a 2I 20 years ago.   I made the switch to hybrids a few years ago because they can be hit from lies where a long iron would be impossible.

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I started playing in the early 1970s. 2-irons were starting to disappear from full sets, being replaced by 5 woods. Guys in the know could find a 7 wood to replace their 3 iron (IIRC even Lee Trevino used a 7 wood on some courses). Not being able to generate enough swing speed to get the ball airborne was the common problem for average golfers.

Not being able to hit long irons isn't a new phenomenon, but has been exacerbated somewhat with the longer shafts and lower lofts.

I currently play Adams a7 irons. I recently bought an old set of Titleist AC-108 irons (my uncle played them new, 1974 , and I thought they were cool!). The Adams a7 5 iron is listed at 25 degrees - the same loft as the Titleist 3 iron.

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Originally Posted by Fourputt

I can hit my driver off the deck, but I don't carry any irons longer than the 5I.  I don't know what that means, but it just is.

I used to carry and use a 2I 20 years ago.   I made the switch to hybrids a few years ago because they can be hit from lies where a long iron would be impossible.

Agreed.  My 5 iron has one degree stronger loft than my 5 hybrid but I carry the hybrid farther and with a higher launch so it stops quicker.  I remember playing with a 2 iron in the '70s and '80's.  I don't miss the 2 iron it at all, but how I hit it was a true reflection of my golf prowess or lack thereof at the time when it was in my bag.

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I have a set of the '92 Titleist DCI Gold in 1-PW. I could hit the 16* 1 iron ok--it is offset and cavity back. I get about the same performance from my 3 hybrid with less effort in an easier to hit club.
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As a relatively new player - this confuses me.     I leaned my 3 iron up against my 3 wood & it's about 2 inches shorter.      To me, what makes a club "tough to hit" is the length of it.      I hit my 3 iron far better off the deck than my 3 wood because its shorter - and it's almost as long on an equivilent perfect shot.   Granted, my 3 iron is a modern cavity backed, ultra forgiving hot faced version - not a muscle back or blade 3 iron that were standard issue years ago.       Just for my piece of mind, I would love to hear the basis of why long irons are considered tougher to hit than much longer shafted fairway woods ?   Thanks

It really comes down to both clubhead speed and the amount of energy being transferred to the ball at impact. Though the woods and hybrid may have a longer shaft which would in theory make them harder to control, the mass behind the impact point is significantly greater. As a result, slightly off center strikes are still going to transfer a significant amount of energy to the ball. That mass also helps for plowing through taller grass with less chance that the clubhead will turn on you. Id also say a 3i is tougher to hit because of its comparative low ball flight - to say a 7 iron. A mishit with that 7 iron would generally still carry some loft, allowing it to get in the air. When you have that same mishit with a 3i, it's very likely going to be a dribbler.

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You need a slightly longer swing to hit the long irons properly, where you can get most of your distance with short irons without taking the club past vertical, and you have to be on plane much longer or else your misses will be big. You can't reroute a 3 iron on the way down like you can a short iron. That and the fact that people tend to hit them too hard and go off plane, and also few people play them in the correct position in their stance or the correct posture.

About the hardest club to hit off the deck is actually the 3 wood for me, so little room for error on the transition and so easy to get stuck or catch it behind the ball. Irons are a piece of cake if you get a good fit and good fundamentals.

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I have PX 5.0 Rifle Flighted shafts. The flighting gives the longer irons get a little extra boost on launch to get the ball up, and keeps the short irons from ballooning.

So despite my HDCP, I will use the 3i when I play two particular courses in my area. I use it mainly as a driving iron on holes where I want to keep the shot low because of wind patterns.

Also, you can softstep the shafts on your 3i and maybe 4i. This involves putting a shaft tip-cut for a 2i into a 3i head, a 3i shaft into a 4i head, etc., and then butt-cutting the shaft to length. This softens the flex a little, and helps get the ball up. (This is the same principle involved in flighted shafts).

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The longer the club, the less loft it has....the harder the club is to hit for "mere mortals" or your average every day Joe/Jane.  If this were not so, then the majority of the people playing would never have a problem hitting driver.  3woods are generally more forgiving than drivers because they are shorter and have more loft and, these days, because the club head of 3wood is slightly smaller than a VW Beetle on a stick, aka driver.

I used to carry from 1iron all the way to SW and hit everyone of them.  I loved the 1iron.   Why?  Because I could hit it off the tee about 240 yards with 1980s golf balls.  But, the 1,2,3 or 4 irons off tight lies in the fairway and out of real rough were just not something that you could bank on getting great results from...at least us mere mortals.  So, along comes the more forgiving hybrids.  Now, I carry driver, 3wood, 3H,4H then 5 thru LW.

I can still hit a 2 or 3 iron off the deck and have just out screwing around.  But the consistency is not the same as hitting the 3H or 4H.  My 3wood off the fairway is much longer than my 3iron ever was.  BTW, I haven't tried to hit a 1iron off the deck in 10 years.  I think I still could but why, no point to it.  My 3H and 4H go a little bit longer than my 3I or 4I but are so much easier to hit and I will hit them from the rough.

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I can hit long irons just fine but I find the utility of hybrids more useful. Mostly because I get myself into lies where the thin sole of an iron would snag in longer grass. If I hit a high percentage of FIR I'd use long irons. I've been using my 5h to chip when the situation calls for it and I've found I am pretty consistent doing that. Just all around handy clubs and easy to hit it well.

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Originally Posted by WUTiger

I have PX 5.0 Rifle Flighted shafts. The flighting gives the longer irons get a little extra boost on launch to get the ball up, and keeps the short irons from ballooning.

So despite my HDCP, I will use the 3i when I play two particular courses in my area. I use it mainly as a driving iron on holes where I want to keep the shot low because of wind patterns.

Also, you can softstep the shafts on your 3i and maybe 4i. This involves putting a shaft tip-cut for a 2i into a 3i head, a 3i shaft into a 4i head, etc., and then butt-cutting the shaft to length. This softens the flex a little, and helps get the ball up. (This is the same principle involved in flighted shafts).

When I see you hit your 3I from 3" deep thick rough, then I'll believe that you have the right idea.  But I'll still keep my hybrid.

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Originally Posted by inthehole

As a relatively new player - this confuses me.     I leaned my 3 iron up against my 3 wood & it's about 2 inches shorter.      To me, what makes a club "tough to hit" is the length of it.      I hit my 3 iron far better off the deck than my 3 wood because its shorter - and it's almost as long on an equivilent perfect shot.

Granted, my 3 iron is a modern cavity backed, ultra forgiving hot faced version - not a muscle back or blade 3 iron that were standard issue years ago.

Just for my piece of mind, I would love to hear the basis of why long irons are considered tougher to hit than much longer shafted fairway woods ?   Thanks

I am in the same boat as you.   I have so much less trouble hitting an iron solidly than I do a fairway wood or hybrid (off the ground) and I really have no idea exactly why.  I think it has something to do with the steepness of my swing, but I'm not really sure.  When I'm looking down at a 4 iron behind the ball, I have all the confidence in the world that I'm going to hit it solidly.  My 3 hybrid?  Not so much.  It's at the point now where I've temporarily, at least for the most part, sworn off those two clubs.  If it's a tight driving hole and I don't want to use a driver, I break out the 4 iron.  And unless it's a really short par 5, or super wide open, I'm always laying up with my seond shot.

I have a fun experiment coming up ... I'm flying to Montana and am meeting my parents there (who are driving) and instead of shipping or bringing clubs, I just sent my old set with them.  It's got a driver, a 4 wood, and a 2-pw set of titleist irons.  Should be interesting to see if that 2 iron still works for me. :)

Originally Posted by WUTiger

I have PX 5.0 Rifle Flighted shafts. The flighting gives the longer irons get a little extra boost on launch to get the ball up, and keeps the short irons from ballooning.

Also, you can softstep the shafts on your 3i and maybe 4i. This involves putting a shaft tip-cut for a 2i into a 3i head, a 3i shaft into a 4i head, etc., and then butt-cutting the shaft to length. This softens the flex a little, and helps get the ball up. (This is the same principle involved in flighted shafts).

I have no idea what you just said. :(

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Originally Posted by inthehole

As a relatively new player - this confuses me.     I leaned my 3 iron up against my 3 wood & it's about 2 inches shorter.      To me, what makes a club "tough to hit" is the length of it.      I hit my 3 iron far better off the deck than my 3 wood because its shorter - and it's almost as long on an equivilent perfect shot.

Granted, my 3 iron is a modern cavity backed, ultra forgiving hot faced version - not a muscle back or blade 3 iron that were standard issue years ago.

Just for my piece of mind, I would love to hear the basis of why long irons are considered tougher to hit than much longer shafted fairway woods ?   Thanks

I think that is a old addage back when longer irons were thin, little bounce, and muscleback. With larger clubheads, added bounce, cavity backs, longer irons are not hard to hit at all. Honestly old blade weren't that hard either. The problem is that most people just don't get enough weight forward to hit the ball first, and they don't trust that the loft will get the ball in the air. If you hit down on the ball, you can hit a low lofted iron pretty easily.

But, technology has definitely evened the playing field.

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I have a set of the '92 Titleist DCI Gold in 1-PW. I could hit the 16* 1 iron ok--it is offset and cavity back. I get about the same performance from my 3 hybrid with less effort in an easier to hit club.

I am one of those guys that still has a 1 iron in the bag. It's 15.5 degrees and I only use it for tee shots in windy conditions to be honest.. It's crazy, nobody seems to be able to hit it, not the pro's at the course I play, almost none of the 'low handicap' players I meet.. So I think it's pretty cool I can and to be fair it isn't hard, it's just a mindset. Prepare for a 5 iron shot with a long shaft and you'll hit it the way you should. I just bought a 4 wood and am going to put the 1 iron in the garage and only take it out to act tough or when I'm melodramatic I think ;) The 3i will probably be replaced by a hybrid soon too ;)

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Originally Posted by Fourputt

When I see you hit your 3I from 3" deep thick rough, then I'll believe that you have the right idea.  But I'll still keep my hybrid.

The trick is not to hit your tee shot in the rough, especially not so far back from the green that you need a long club. Although, funny story, I did do that 2 weeks ago. 3 iron from 267, got a flyer and got a low knuckleball that ended up about 12 yards away with a putt for birdie. But I'm sure I'd have gotten closer with a hybrid. ;)

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Originally Posted by Fourputt

When I see you hit your 3I from 3" deep thick rough, then I'll believe that you have the right idea.  But I'll still keep my hybrid.

Not sure what you mean. For a longer shot out of the rough, I would use a 7W or a  4H. I use a 3i as a driving iron from the tee, just on those two courses.

Originally Posted by WUTiger

Also, you can softstep the shafts on your 3i and maybe 4i. This involves putting a shaft tip-cut for a 2i into a 3i head, a 3i shaft into a 4i head, etc., and then butt-cutting the shaft to length. This softens the flex a little, and helps get the ball up. (This is the same principle involved in flighted shafts).

Originally Posted by Golfingdad

I have no idea what you just said. :(

Glossary Matches

Soft-Stepping

A process of assembly in which a shaft with a longer tip section is put into a club that would normally require a shorter tip section in order that the club play to a softer flex. Installing a #2 iron shaft into a #3 iron to gain more flexibility is an example of this process.

Softstepping gives you a longer tip section on the club, which softens the shaft by about 1/3 a flex. Tip section is the more flexible end of the shaft, and you cut a bit off the stiffer butt section to retain shaft length for the particular iron. More length in the flexible tip allows the shaft to launch the ball higher.

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Originally Posted by WUTiger

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fourputt

When I see you hit your 3I from 3" deep thick rough, then I'll believe that you have the right idea.  But I'll still keep my hybrid.

Not sure what you mean. For a longer shot out of the rough, I would use a 7W or a  4H. I use a 3i as a driving iron from the tee, just on those two courses.

Okay.  I've never carried an iron just for tee shots.  Even back when I carried a 2 iron, it was for much more than just tee shots.  I've never had the room in my bag for a dedicated driving iron.

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