Golfing Irons: Numbered Irons

You take a sneak peek into any run-of-the-mill, average Joe golfing bag anywhere in the world from Pennsylvania to Peru and you're going to see numbered irons in there. You just can't play a game of golf without them, and knowing how to use your numbered irons is bound to improve your golf.

What Do Those Numbers Mean?

You've probably heard a pro golfer and his caddy discussing whether a good five iron or seven iron is the best to get out of the rough. You've probably heard arguments about numbered irons among the members of a foursome too.

Following these conversations isn't difficult when you know what the numbers mean. Golfing irons are numbered to differentiate them from each other in terms of loft.

When you look at the clubhead of a golfing iron, you'll notice that it isn't completely straight, but lies at an angle. This angle is called the "loft" of the club and the loft in turn determines the trajectory the ball will take when it leaves the surface of the clubhead when struck.

In an average set of golf clubs you can expect to see a set or irons numbered from four to nine. Professional players can have lower numbered irons that have the ability to punch the ball further, but they tend to be very difficult to master for accuracy.

For longer distance shots that are usually made at the start of a game of golf, the lower numbered irons are a good choice.

The two, three and four irons have less loft, meaning the face of the clubhead is almost vertical and therefore propels the golf ball with a forward movement rather than a high arc.

These lower numbered clubs are called "long irons" because they have a longer shaft than their higher-numbered counterparts.

As the numbers increase up the range, the five, six and seven irons gain an increase in loft for generally shorter shots, and the length of the shaft decreases. Not surprisingly, these clubs are termed "mid-irons."

"Short irons" are at the upper end of the scale with the shortest shafts and higher lofts. These are generally the easiest irons to use and amateurs particularly like them for this reason. Although they can't hit the ball as far, they offer a much greater degree of accuracy.

At the extreme end of the scale, the clubs with the highest lofts and shortest shafts are called "wedges." These are used predominately to get out of a sticky situation, such as the rough or a bunker. They can chip the ball in a high arc with a great degree of accuracy, but you must sacrifice distance.

Numbered irons are versatile and can be used in many different ways during a golf game. They're entirely appropriate to use straight off the tee, and in most Par Three holes, that is definitely the case.

Most of the time, the fairway is the place where numbered irons are used. For this reason, the clubs have a "leading edge" on the clubhead to help if the club strikes the grass and takes out a chunk of earth. It does happen and this leading edge is designed for this.

Take a good look at the players in major golfing tournaments such as the U.S. Open and you'll see true mastery of the numbering system. Those players know exactly how far they can punch a ball with each iron and that only comes with time and practice.

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Born Golfers. (n.d.). How to Secure the Best Golf Tee Times at Top Courses. Retrieved from

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