The Long Iron Is Dead!

Long Live the Hybrid

Are you wasting money on clubs you seldom play? More pointedly, are you denying yourself opportunities to play better and more enjoyable golf, simply because your bag is equipped with clubs totally unsuited for your game?

In all likelihood, the answer to both questions is yes. Here’s why:

Since the 1980s, golf equipment manufacturers have forced major changes in golf club specifications, in particular how club loft is measured.

For example:

  • 3-irons, a tough-to-swing 24-degree club on a good day, have been de-lofted over the past three decades to 18-20 degrees (becoming less than a traditional 2-iron);
  • 4-irons, which historically were set at a 28-degree loft, were de-lofted to between 21 and 23 degrees (becoming less than a 3-iron);
  • 5-irons, which before had been set with a 32-degree loft, have been de-lofted to between 23 and 25 degrees (thus becoming what a 3-iron used to be).

Why the de-lofting of irons? One word: distance. The less-loft, more-yards model appealed to a golfer’s inexhaustible desire for hitting it longer, which systematically resulted in selling millions of “new and improved” golf clubs.

As a result of shrinking loft angles, 3-, 4- and 5-irons swiftly became harder to hit for the vast majority of golfers. And what happened to the 2-iron? Check the garage.

Then, about 12 years ago, along came the hybrid metal, an ingenious alternative to hitting today’s hard-to-hit long irons. Hybrid benefits include:

  • Getting a ball airborne easier than an iron of the same loft;
  • Accurately targeting longer length par-3s;
  • Consistently hitting out of short and long grass, as well as hard-pan;
  • Playing bump and run shots from around the greens.

Sales of hybrids soared after Todd Hamilton used one to win the 2004 British Open. Ten years later, they account for more than 30 percent of all club sales.

And, as any club-maker will tell you, custom-fitting your hybrid will bring even better results.

Said esteemed golf club designer Tom Wishon of Wishon Golf: “When it comes to hybrids, professional club fitting—built with quality designed components and custom built to fitting specifications that ideally match each golfer’s individual swing characteristics—is absolutely critical.”

And in case you hadn’t noticed: If you rent clubs while on vacation, don’t be surprised if the bag’s 2-5-irons have all been replaced with a set of metal hybrids.


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Callaway’s Re-Engineered Irons and Hybrids

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Chris Duthie is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via