Choosing The Right Irons

Buying a good set of irons can cut scores and lower golf handicaps, but only if they’re right for you. When an iron feels right, your confidence soars. The higher your confidence, the better you’ll play, as I’ve said in my golf tips. The lower our confidence, the poorer you’ll play. That’s why you need to do your homework before buying a new set of irons. The goal is to choose a set of irons that’s right for you.

But choosing the right irons involves several considerations. It also takes time and thinking to sort out the different models. Unfortunately, the process turns some golfers off. Instead of taking their time selecting the best irons for their games, they get frustrated, head to the nearest golf store, and buy whatever’s on sale. Fortunately, there’s an easier way to do it.

Key Considerations
First, we need to be realistic about our needs—and about how we play the game. Are we a weaker or stronger player? The beginning golfer doesn’t need the same things in an iron that an experienced player does. Nor does he or she play the same way. That’s why I always tailor my golf instruction sessions to the individual player.

Nevertheless, most golfers play better with irons that have a degree of offset, simply because these clubs are easier to square at impact. Also, irons with wider soles are more forgiving because they have more bounce. Irons with narrower soles have less bounce and tend to dig in more, especially for players with steeper swings.
In addition to these factors, there’s also cavity design, center of gravity (CG), and momentum of inertia (MOI) to consider. Irons with larger cavities (and wider soles) have a lower CG, making it easier to get the ball airborne. On the other hand, the larger the clubhead and/or the more the designer incorporates perimeter weighting in the design, the higher the clubhead’s MOI. In other words, the more the club tends to turn in your hands.

The Maltby Playability Factor
Thankfully, there’s a rating system for golf clubs that can help when buying irons. It’s called the Maltby Playability Factor (MPF). Developed by famed club designer Ralph Maltby, this rating system ranks golf clubs based on how easy or how difficult they are to play for golfers at different skill levels. The MPF charts golf clubs from the easiest to master to the most difficult to master.

The MPF factor fits clubs into six different categories, ranging from most forgiving to least forgiving: Ultra Game Improvement, Super Game Improvement, Game Improvement, Conventional, Classic, and Player Classic. Better players excel with a club from any category. Weaker players have a better chance of success with clubs from the game-improvement categories. The latest MPF ratings on irons can be downloaded at for those buying clubs.

A Tip on Trimming
If you decide to re-shaft your clubs instead of buying new ones, the question of butt or tip trimming may come up. Although it sounds confusing, the choice is actually fairly simple:

* If you want to shorten a shaft without significantly affecting the flex profile—the way the shaft feels and performs—trim the butt end of the shaft. That’s the end where the grip resides.

* If you want to stiffen the shaft’s flex (and change the club’s feel), trim the tip section.

Golf clubs usually come with a set of instructions on trimming provided by the manufacturer, so the guidelines are clear. Just remember, if you tip-trim a shaft, you’ll change how the club feels AND performs. Changing how a club feels and performs, as I said in my golf tips, can change how you play. That, in turn, can change both your scores and your golf handicap.

Buying a new set of irons can be exciting and confusing. Using the MPF charts makes the process a little simpler. But if you really want clubs tailored to your swing, the best approach is buying custom made golf clubs. They can be fit exactly to your needs and specifications, and provide the feel you’re after. Either way, the game’s more fun when playing with clubs that feel god.

Copyright (c) 2007 Jack Moorehouse