Golf iron sets are a type of golf clubs, next to wood sets, putter sets, and hybrid sets. Unlike woods, irons are identified by their shorter shafts and their smaller club heads (made of either iron or steel, hence the name “irons”). The head of an iron golf club usually has a large, flattened face with grooves, which is the side that golfers use to hit the golf ball with.
Golf iron sets are the most common type of golf clubs to be used, along with their subtype, the wedges. Wedges usually have higher loft than other irons, and are used by golfers to make many types of utility shots because of their wider soles. Golf iron sets usually number from seven to eleven clubs in a golfer’s arsenal. Another thing to note about iron clubs is that they are numbered according to the angle of the loft of their club faces (typically three to nine). Wedges are also identified by a letter next to their number.
In the past, golf iron sets were made by forging. However, this process was slow and the smiths found themselves on the receiving end of a long waiting list. As time passed and golf spread throughout the world, investment casting was introduced to replace forging. This enabled golf iron sets to be mass produced, with each club uniform and without needing any adjustment. This also let the manufacturers improve the club design, distributing all the club’s mass evenly around the club head’s perimeter, which made it easier for golfers to make their shots.
Forging iron golf clubs is still in practice, however, these clubs are typically custom made with the specifications of the golfer. Custom made, forged iron clubs are expensive and high-end, but allow the smith to shape and adjust the iron for what the golfer needs.
Higher numbered iron club heads are usually heavier than the lower numbered ones, because as the number increases, the shaft length reduces. The shortened shaft length means that the club swing has lower momentum if the club heads were all uniform in weight, but making the club head heavier balances it out.
The grooves found on the club head were mostly untouched throughout the years, but a new rule in 2010 made it so that they are now to be made shallower. Deeper grooves means that more grass can be dispersed when the ball is hit, letting the golfer have more control over the golf ball’s spin. Having golf clubs with shallower cut grooves means that a golfer will be penalized more when he makes shots from longer grass.
The hosel is found at the “heel” of the sole and on the inside face of the club head. The hosel makes sure that the club has the lowest possible center of gravity.
The shaft is the long rod that connects the club head to the grip. A well-designed shaft will increase a golfer’s accuracy, which is why those who order custom-made iron sets painstakingly demand perfection when it comes to the shaft. Iron clubs have shafts usually made of steel, as this allows for better accuracy because it has lower torque than graphite (which is what wood golf club shafts are made of). Iron golf club shafts made of graphite are not unheard of though, and are usually used by ladies and seniors. In contrast, wedges all have steel shafts.
The grip is the covered, upper part of the shaft. The grip allows the golfer to hold the club more comfortably, though this means that it needs constantly replacing because of wear and tear. Grips could be made of rubber or leather, with many golfers opting for the latter. It’s important to note that it’s against the rules for an iron golf club to have a grip that has bulges or a waist (a thin section of the grip with thicker sections above and below it).
There are two types of design for the iron golf club – the muscle back and the cavity back. Muscle backs are the older design model, with the club head made of forged iron. Most muscle back designs put the most weight at the sole of the golf club, making the center of gravity higher. This makes these types of golf clubs harder to play with and master, as their higher center gravity and inertia could easily make a golfer mishit the golf ball.
The cavity back design came about with the rise of investment casting. This design improved upon the muscle back, making the surface of the golf club thinner but still keeping its durability. They are called cavity backs because the design removed the metal from the center of the back of the club head and redistributed it to the toe and heel. This lowers the club’s center of mass and increased its moment of inertia, making it easier to handle for golfers.
Many golf clubs nowadays tend to mix the two designs. Beginner sets usually have wider soles, making them easier to handle. In contrast, sets for skilled players usually have more weight on the center of the head.