In the last 20 years, many new types of golf clubs have entered the market. From driving irons to hybrids, new entrants to the category have been aimed at eliminating the need for low-lofted irons. The reasoning for this is because of the generally-shared thought that low-lofted irons are difficult to hit. This has led many golfers to wonder: are 3-irons still necessary?
As with most similar questions, the answer truly comes down to your own style of play and skill level. To help you decide whether or not a 3-iron is necessary for your game, let’s examine why they’ve been considered by so many golfers to be hard to hit.
1. It has low loft
Low irons — 1, 2 and 3-irons — are tough to hit for a number of reasons. The first challenge to hitting a 3-iron is its low loft. Typically, 3-irons carry lofts ranging from 21 to 24 degrees. This low loft makes it difficult for many players to get the ball high enough in the air to carry long distances and land the ball safely where intended.
For instance, a 3-iron shot into a green will be much more difficult to stop on the putting surface than a shot with a 7-iron or another high-lofted club.
2. It has a smaller club head and face
Secondly, the club heads and faces of the 3-iron in many of today’s sets are smaller than the other clubs. The reason for this is the influx of “combination iron sets.” Combination sets feature low irons that are smaller and more “blade like” — no doubt a feature that excites highly-skilled golfers.
3. You need supreme distance and accuracy
Perhaps the biggest reason golfers consider a 3-iron among the most difficult golf clubs to hit is because of the nature in which you’re hitting it. When hitting a 3-iron — especially from the fairway or rough — golfers are typically facing an extremely difficult shot. No matter the skill level, a golfer needs supreme distance and accuracy when hitting a 3-iron. This fact alone makes it perhaps the hardest club to hit for most golfers.
Alternatives to 3-irons
The question of whether 3-irons are necessary really stems from the available alternatives. Golfers now can enjoy similar distance with a higher likelihood of solid impact when hitting a hybrid, driving iron or fairway wood.
A hybrid is a wood-like club that came into the golf industry in the early 2000s. The small-headed clubs carry low-iron lofts but are designed like metal woods. This combination makes it easy for golfers to hit the ball a long way with ideal trajectory.
Golfers have also been opting for driving irons in recent years. These clubs are basically low-irons with weight and mass in the back of the club. The added weight makes it easy to get the ball in the air while not losing distance.
Finally, golfers can opt for a fairway wood. Golfers can choose from one of the many manufacturers to get a fairway wood customized to their swing type and carry added confidence on shots that would otherwise require a low-lofted iron similar to a 3-iron. The recent influx of customized clubs makes it easy for golfers to dial into the exact loft specifications needed to replace their former 3-iron distance with a fairway wood.
So, are 3-irons still necessary? It depends on who you ask. While many golfers still enjoy having the 3-iron available in their bags, the club is no longer necessary, thanks to the available alternatives.
— Ben Larsen