Lee Trevino once quipped, “If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron!” We believe he was joking. Either way, the humorous quote has an element of truth to it. The 1-iron is typically considered one of the — if not THE — most difficult clubs in a golfer’s bag to master.
There may be more stray 1-irons in the bottom of golf course ponds than any other club. They are so difficult that many people don’t even bother with them anymore.
With 1-irons tossed — literally sometimes — from the conversation, which club do you think is the hardest to consistently handle?
Perhaps the other long irons — 2, 3 and/or 4?
Maybe the drivers?
How about the 3-wood?
Or the innocent-looking-but-sometimes-evil putter?
There are days when “all of the above” might be the frustrating answer. And, quite honestly, your answer is probably different than my answer. One golf website joked that if you asked three golfers to name the most difficult clubs in their bags, you would get four different answers.
Long clubs are generally thought to be more challenging than shorter clubs, which is why the driver, 3-wood and long irons have garnered their reputation for being difficult, noted golfingfocus.com. Even PGA Tour pros find this to be the case, which is why some top golfers begin their iron set with a 5-iron.
The combination of being a longer club and having a lower loft is what makes these longer clubs harder to handle. Many golfers would pick the 3-wood, but it does come with a couple of advantages: the use of a tee and the bigger sweet spots on the modern style of drivers.
To successfully hit a long iron, golfingfocus.com contends that it takes two particular motions:
— The golfer needs to strike the golf ball with a high amount of clubhead speed to put more spin on it, which keeps it in the air longer and increases accuracy.
— The swing should include a slightly descending blow to decrease the “dynamic loft.”
“But when the average golfer looks down at a low-lofted long iron, they more often than not want to help the ball up into the air,” the website noted. “And this causes them to do the opposite of what is needed with long irons – swing with less confidence and clubhead speed and not with a descending blow. As a result, the ball more often than not goes less far and more off-target.”
But you know who likes how difficult long irons can be?
Hybrids. They’ve replaced many of the more challenging clubs in golfers’ bags and games because of their manageability and versatility.
Utility irons are also popular replacements.
“These will have quite a bit of the same feel that long irons have and a similar look, yet they will be easier to hit than a long iron,” AECInfo.org wrote. “Utility irons allow you to hit the ball higher, and they have a wider sole for hitting the ball out of the rough. In addition, you will hit utility irons with a slightly descending blow similar to the way you hit long irons.”
You don’t necessarily need to replace all of your long irons with more expensive clubs nor resort to using a 7-iron for every shot.
Practice really does make perfect. And in this case, the more you practice with the various clubs in your bag, the more comfortable you will feel as you find your favorites.