At the outset, the iron categories described below are names that have become established over the years. The golf equipment is very extensive, and the irons terms can sometimes be tricky. There are not fixed laws and many iron sets fall between the categories of golf players irons and blades. In addition, the lines demarcating each category are often blurred with each other.
Golf Players Irons
Two groups of golf irons fall under the category of Players Irons. The first is the blades, also called muscleback blades. They are very thin and sporty shaped cavity back irons. This upper category aims at the professionals and those who want to become professionals.
A classic muscleback iron delivers an extremely direct feel at impact. Better golfers need and want this kind of equipment. Furthermore, the look is much narrower, more compact. One characteristic that stands out between other variants of golf players irons and blades is that the controllability of the blades is at a maximum.
Skilled golfers thus conjure up precise draws or fades into the greens or deliberately let the balls fly higher or flatter. Due to the higher centre of gravity, the balls tend to launch flatter and have more spin. The disadvantage is the forgiveness. The centre of gravity is high and most of the weight is centred rather than distributed, and therefore the failures have disastrous consequences.
Although blades are less forgiving than cavity irons, they tend to have less offset, better turf interaction and better workability compared to cavity irons. They also force better players to be consistent in their swing, which is why they remain a favourite of tour pros.
Cavity back irons, although it sounds very bumpy, also mean “hollowed out back irons”. This makes the principle of these irons quite simple to understand. Metal is hollowed out on the back of the iron, creating a kind of cavity. The weight is much more distributed to the edges – simply not so centred on a small surface.
What is the point of all this?
Due to the distribution of the weight, the inertia as well as the forgiveness is higher. In addition, the hollowing out lowers the centre of gravity. The higher stability means that the miss results better as the the power transmission also works out better. The club twists less if the balls impacts at the heel or the toe. The lower centre of gravity leads to an easier launch of the ball.
Cavity back irons are the basis for game and game-improvement irons. The classic and very sporty cavity back irons fall under the players irons term due to their minimalist construction.
If you take a look into the bag of the pros, you will see irons with a small cavity back everywhere. Many stars also mix their iron sets with traditional blades on the short irons and cavity back irons on the long irons to take advantage of both worlds.
Players Distance Irons
A rather newer phenomenon in the golf equipment world is the Players Distance irons. In terms of look, control and feel, they come close to the classic Players irons. However, they put more emphasis in increasing the distance – hence the name. They count with technologies that often affect the hitting surface in order to increase the speed and thus the distance.
This category has grown the most in the last decade. Golfers who prefer the classic look but seek for speed support are ideally served here. The typical game-improvement irons players also look to this category because the look and feel are a little more sporty.
The Game Improvement Irons live up to their name. These clubs are designed to make you a better golfer, to improve your game. The goal of their technologies aim at increasing distance, forgiveness, consistency and feel.
Compared to the Players irons, the footprint of these irons is significantly larger. The clubface, the sole, the top line and the cavity back is one dimension more spacious. This allows the weight to be distributed quite differently in the club. A thick sole, for example, lowers the centre of gravity massively. The result of the low centre of gravity is that the balls gain height much more easily, and thus launch more steeply.
Furthermore, the principle of the cavity back helps to distribute weight to the edges to increase stability and forgiveness. Meanwhile, the use of tungsten is also common. This metal has a very high density, which is why even small amounts have a great influence on the internal weighting. This “miracle metal” belongs to almost all the club categories.
The disadvantage of game-improvement irons is often the feel and sound. That is why manufacturers are now coming up with new technologies that reduce the vibrations to improve the sound.
Super Game Improvement Irons
Super Game Improvement Irons are the next escalation level of Game Improvement Irons. Recall everything you have just read about Game Improvement irons and multiply this by a factor of X. The sole becomes wider and wider, and the centre of gravity sets even lower. The ball launch is easier and the ground absorbs a lot more the failure effects.
Other iron sets that relates to the Super Game Improvement category are the hybrid irons and the lightweight iron sets. Light-weight clubs are a perfect fit for golfers with slow swing. The weight is cut at every turn to make the clubs as light as possible. The trick is quite simple, due to the lower weight, the player can swing them faster, which leads to a larger length.
Another alternative is the hybrid iron sets. Here, there is a progressive construction within the iron set. From a distance, the long irons almost seem hybrids, while the short irons look much more compact and classic. Usually, the longer the iron, the more difficult it is to play. However, technology tries to narrow down the difficulty gap to where even the 5, 4 or 3 irons result easy to manoeuvre in the air.
Driving or Utility Irons
For the sake of completeness, let’s mention also the driving irons or utility irons. These irons replace the long irons, which are more difficult to play, and thus compete with hybrids, which is why some golfers compare both of them. As a rule, driving irons have a wider sole, a hollow construction. They are also packed with technologies that increase distance.
However, there are serious differences between the individual models of the various manufacturers. The group of utility irons is very heterogeneous. Some irons are suitable for bringing balls into play flat and then letting them roll out a lot. This shows at the British Open, as the wind and the dry fairways tempt such shots. But yet, others deliver great flight and launch the ball more steeply into the air.