Golfers of a certain age will remember the days when 1 and 2 irons were regularly seen in golf bags.
How easy these clubs were to use was another question.
In fact, when it came to the Open Championship and U.S. Open, professionals would opt for the 1-iron off the tee as they preferred the control of those clubs compared to the small-headed persimmon drivers.
How times have changed.
There weren’t many alternatives golfers could explore if they simply couldn’t hit “the butter knife” as the 1-iron was nicknamed.
In the modern game, the equivalent of the 1 and 2-iron can now be seen in driving irons which feature similar lofts to their forebears.
Higher lofted fairway woods were available but not used a lot.
They were seen as clubs preferred by older golfers who could no longer master long irons and therefore not used in the mainstream.
Hybrids or rescue clubs were the newcomers to this segment of the golf bag hitting the market in 2003.
These clubs offered a visual compromise between the hard-to-hit long iron and the higher-lofted wood but with forgiveness built in for both professionals and amateurs alike.
So where do we stand today?
There are more options available for golfers to consider now than there ever have been and it's a competitive area of the golf bag to cover.
Opting for either a lofted fairway wood, a hybrid or maybe a driving iron the one advantage they all have in common is that they can be custom fitted for your exact requirements.
But how do we then know which is best for us?
One area we can look at is to consider the playing characteristics of the golf courses that we play most frequently.
- You might play a course that has some reachable par 5s in two
- Maybe you face a lot of long approach shots to par 4s
- There are some par 3s you play that you just can’t reach with your longest iron
Another thing to take into account is categorising the types of courses you play most frequently which can fall into two camps:
- Predominantly parkland layouts
- Exposed, links-style courses
So why is this assessment important?
Well, each club offers something slightly different.
Lofted fairway woods will offer different flight, launch and spin characteristics compared to driving irons with hybrids sitting somewhere in the middle.
A driving iron will naturally offer a lower-flighted shot so would be a handy weapon on links courses, especially in the summer with hard and fast fairways adding additional distance.
With the exposed nature of links golf, the lower trajectory might also favour tee shots that are into the wind
But what if you don’t play links-style courses?
What if the courses you play are more sheltered inland courses that feature thicker but shorter rough compared to the links long and wispy rough?
These courses can play more into the territory of the hybrid and certainly lofted woods.
Lofted woods are ideal because they can offer launch and spin benefits that allow a ball to hold greens more effectively.
This is aided by how modern lofted fairway woods are engineered where the centre of gravity can be positioned deeper and further away from the face.
The increased trajectory is a useful asset if, as mentioned previously, you face a lot of par 5s that could be reached in 2 or long par 4 and long par 3 approach shots.
Some lofted fairway woods feature contoured soles that allow them to interact with the turf better either from the fairway or rough helping produce more solid contact.
The hybrid can offer similar options to lofted fairway woods but with a slightly smaller profile behind the ball at address.
Hybrids can follow a similar design to lofted fairway woods in terms of weight placement which means they too will promote overall higher ball flights than their driving iron counterparts.
And this is where for golfers it can come down to simply what they prefer looking at sitting behind the ball.
Some golfers don’t like the look of hybrids whereas others might not like the amount of loft that’s presented at address in the fairway wood.
For some golfers, the driving iron might still look a little too intimidating.
Driving irons do however offer the option to shape shots more effectively compared to hybrids which adds another layer of versatility to these clubs.
What time of the year we’re playing golf can also play a part in which clubs are to be found in our golf bags.
In the summertime, courses can get hard and the fairways play fast.
The lower flighted driving iron trajectory can be offset by the additional run out of the fairways maximising overall distance.
But as winter comes around we might prefer switching to a hybrid or lofted wood of similar loft to add additional carry to our shots compensating for the softer ground.
For the inland courses, if you already have a lofted wood or hybrid in your bag you may not need to make any changes when the course softens up in the wintertime.
It goes without saying that we pretty much all carry a 3-wood in the bag.
But then if the next club in the bag is potentially a 4-iron or maybe a 5-iron it means we have a big distance gap which will hamper us out on the course.
If you try and hit the 4 or 5-iron hard to cover the distance, you can lose accuracy and strike as you force the shot.
Throttling back on the 3-wood isn’t a great alternative either as it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to get a sufficiently high enough trajectory due to the ball coming out with low launch and low spin.
So whether you choose a lofted wood, hybrid or driving iron working out the desired distances and trajectories each club needs to cover will give you optimal gapping.
This is something that can easily be sorted if you go for a custom-fitting session.
So, in conclusion, take a little bit of time to assess:
- The types of golf courses you regularly play
- The typical types of shots you face on these courses
- How exposed the courses are to the elements
- How the golf courses’ playing characteristics change from season to season
Custom fitting for lofted woods, hybrids or driving irons is one way that you can ensure you get what you need as you explore the options with a fitter.
Check out the wide range of lofted fairway woods, hybrids and driving irons that are available at GolfTech UK.
You can also get in contact with us to book a fitting session or check out the customisable options we have available on our website.