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What is included in an iron set?

An iron set is a collection of golf clubs, specifically designed to cater to the diverse needs of golfers looking for precision, distance, and control in their shots. The typical iron set consists of seven clubs from a 4 iron to a pitching wedge, each with varying degrees of loft and shaft length. The lower numbered irons will have a longer shaft and lower loft angle, which helps generate greater distance for the golfer. As the numbers increase, the loft angle of the clubs also rises, providing additional spin that allows golfers to exercise more control over their shots. Iron sets often feature the option to purchase add-on clubs such as a 3 iron, approach wedge, sand wedge and lob wedge for golfers looking to fill additional yardage gaps with a more comprehensive arrangement of irons.

Types of Golf Irons

Irons can be categorized by a variety of defining characteristics, including the club construction, club head design, and player skill level.

Forged vs Cast Irons

Club construction refers to the method used to create the club head of an iron. The two primary construction categories include forged and cast irons.

Forged Irons

Forged irons are crafted from a single piece of metal, typically carbon steel or soft stainless steel, which is heated and then hammered or pressed into the desired shape. This process results in a more consistent grain structure and a softer feel, providing golfers with enhanced feedback and workability. Forged irons have become increasingly popular among golfers of all skill levels.

Cast Irons

Cast iron golf clubs are created by pouring molten metal into a mold, producing a club head that is then cooled and finished. This method allows for intricate designs, such as perimeter weighting and multi-material construction, offering a firmer feel compared to forged irons. Cast irons are commonly found in complete golf club sets and are an affordable option for new golfers looking for greater forgiveness on off-center hits.

Cavity Back vs Muscle Back Irons

While shopping for new irons, you will likely come across the terms cavity back and muscle back irons. Compared to a standard iron, cavity back and muscle back irons feature distinctive club head designs tailored to meet specific needs of different playstyles.

Cavity Back Irons

Cavity back irons feature a hollowed-out section in the back of the clubhead, which redistributes weight to the perimeter. This design can help increase forgiveness on off-center hits and promote a higher ball flight. While a large majority of golfers can find success with cavity back irons, some may prefer using specialized irons such as deep cavity backs and tour cavity backs depending on their unique playstyle.

Muscle Back Irons (Blades)

Muscle back irons, also known as blades, feature a solid and compact clubhead with a thin top line and minimal offset. Muscle backs will be more consistent on purely struck shots out of the center of the club face, but will not offer the same forgiveness of a cavity back on a mis-hit. This design offers maximum workability and shot-shaping ability, making them a popular choice among low handicap and professional golfers.

Skill Level

Game Improvement Irons

Game improvement irons are designed to help beginners and mid to high handicap golfers. These irons typically feature larger clubheads, perimeter weighting, and wider soles, which contribute to increased forgiveness, distance, and ease of use. They often have a low center of gravity, promoting a higher ball flight and making them easier to hit for those with slower swing speeds.

Player Performance Irons

Player performance irons cater to experienced golfers, such as mid to low handicap players and professionals, who demand optimal workability, feel, and control. These irons usually have smaller clubheads, narrower soles, and less offset, which contribute to increased shot-shaping ability and feedback. They often have a more compact design and higher center of gravity, enabling golfers to control their ball flight and trajectory with precision.

Tour Preferred Irons

Tour preferred irons are designed specifically for professional and low handicap golfers who demand the utmost in control, feel, and workability. These iron sets can feature muscle back irons or a combination of muscle back and cavity back designs, offering the perfect balance between forgiveness and shot-shaping ability.

Iron Shaft Flex

Arguably one of the most important factors to consider is the shaft flex of the golf club. Shaft flex will significantly impact performance and choosing the right shaft flex for your swing speed will help you achieve optimal distance, accuracy and consistency. 

Here are the general recommendations to help you choose the appropriate shaft flex based on your 6-iron swing speed: 

Extra Stiff Flex (X-Stiff): Recommended for 6-iron swing speeds above 90 mph
Stiff Flex: Recommended for 6-iron swing speeds between 80-90 mph
Regular Flex: Recommended for 6-iron swing speeds between 70-80 mph
Light Flex (Senior Flex): Recommended for 6-iron swing speeds between 60-70 mph
Women's Flex: Recommended for 6-iron swing speeds below 60 mph

It’s important to note that iron swing speeds are typically slower than driver swing speeds and the differences between shaft flexes may be less pronounced in irons. For example, if a golfer uses a stiff flex driver shaft, it does not necessarily mean that a stiff flex iron shaft will best suit them. Because of this nuance, consulting with a reputable club fitter is always recommended for personalized advice based on your unique swing mechanics, preferences, and the type of iron you're using.

Buying the right irons for you

Irons are an essential part of a golfer’s arsenal of clubs and choosing the right irons will help you get the most return on your investment.

Now that you learned about what goes into buying an iron set and the decisions that are in play, it’s time to pick the set that’s best for you. 

Whether you're looking to buy new or pre-owned irons, Callaway offers a wide selection of golf clubs, guaranteed to fit any play style. For more expert resources, check out our complete collection of golf club buying guidies.