Should High Handicappers Use Driving Irons To Improve Their Score?
After a few well-played holes, your confidence is going to grow. You stroll to the next par 5 with the driver in hand and zero thought of pulling out the ‘trusty old’ driving iron.
Standing on the tee with the fairway down yonder, a sunny breeze blowing elegantly and you slice the ball out of bounds before wondering, should I have used my driving iron in this situation after all?
It all depends on your confidence in hitting a driving iron and how much accuracy you gain with that club over your driver and if that increased accuracy makes up for any lost distance. Driving irons will also help you to keep the ball lower if you are playing in windy conditions.
The Reasoning Behind Driving Irons For Golfers
When I started playing golf , I was a lot more accurate with my 3 Iron than my driver and on holes where a shorter more accurate shot was called for, I wouldn’t hesitate to break it out of the bag and play it.
I got so good with the 3 iron that I could almost guarantee middle of the fairway every time I pulled it out of the bag, but it just wouldn’t go that far.
Back then I had never heard of a driving iron but if you had offered it to me, I would have instantly seen the utility and started using it.
It’s important to note that not everyone is going to find a huge increase in accuracy with an iron but it is worth testing out for every body, especially beginners.
I had discovered the utility of a driving iron without actually using a fully fledged driving iron in the bag for my drives.
Driving Irons Are Designed To Be Hit Off The Tee
Driving irons are designed for tee shots hence the “driving” part of the name. They can be used on the fairway, hence the name ‘Utility Iron’, but the main purpose of a driving iron is straight a laser like accuracy off the tee.
If you have a relatively high swing speed, the driving iron will not be too difficult to hit. Driving Irons are just like hitting a regular iron except the loft is a bit less to keep it down off the tee.
With their big face, reasonable loft and large sweet spot, it should make it an easy enough club to hit straight, even for beginners.
Using A Driving Iron To Cure A Hook Or Slice Off The Tee
Drivers have long shafts, big titanium heads and low weight graphite shafts that are wieldy and designed for maximum clubhead speed.
They are built for whacking that ball down the fairway as far as possible. The low loft of the driver is designed to keep the ball down and they are a difficult club to master.
The biggest problem high handicappers and beyond have with their driver is the hook or the slice. They may switch to a 3 wood and encounter the same problem but hit their irons dead straight every time.
This is exactly who can benefit most from a driving iron. Sure you are going to sacrifice some distance by not using a driver but landing on the fairway 9 times out of 10 is certainly going to improve your score, rather than landing in the rough or the tress every time.
Shooting Driving Irons Into The Wind
The driving iron is not the easiest club in your bag to hit for everybody but it will always make driving a low shot into an oncoming wind much easier.
I have found that with some practice and experience you can achieve good distances into strong winds by keeping the ball low and preventing the wind from picking it up and throwing it back towards the tee.
Playing in windy conditions requires you to keep the ball low. We are not talking 2 yards above the fairway low, just lower than your normal trajectory.
Golf commentators often refer to keeping the ball below the treetops where the impact of the wind is the least.
Driving irons are built for low penetrating shots keeping the ball below the wind for extra distance.
Specially designed clubheads make them easier to hit
Why Driving Irons Should Not Be Used By High Handicap Golfers
If you are a high handicapper that is hitting long and straight off the tee with your driver or 3 wood, you really have no need to pick up a driving iron in most cases as you will probably lose distance.
Event then, a driving iron might come in handy for lay up shots on Dog Legs or long par 3’s.
The catch 22 for beginners is that the driver is the toughest club in the bag to master and this is why it might be a good idea to try out your 3 wood or driving Iron off the tee to see whether your performance improves or gets worse, while you still need to perfect your driving at the range or through lessons.
Steel Or Graphite? Help Me Choose One
Most driving irons are suitable for either steel or graphite shafts.
Your body type, swing speed, and strength will be a good guide to determine whether you should use graphite shafts or steel shafts.
Slower Swing Speed- Go With Graphite
If you need extra swing speed, a graphite shaft will reduce the overall weight and thus increase your ability to increase the swing speed.
Higher Swing Speed – Go With Steel
If you already swing fast, a steel shaft will give you more control and stability over your shots.
Driving Irons vs Hybrids For High Handicap Golfer
Hybrids are designed specifically to make it easier to hit than drivers, long irons and woods while achieving good distances.
Driving irons are aimed at hitting long, low penetrating shots and are easier for some to hit accurate, straight shots than their drivers.
High handicap golfers will be better off making use of a hybrid rather than employing a driving iron, off the deck but also possibly for some off the tee.
Hybrids are more likely to replace the longer shafted, more uncontrollable Woods than the driving iron, which is a bit of a speciality club admittedly.
Replacing My Driver With A Driving Iron
Hitting a long drive down the fairway into the distance to where you can hardly see it is one of the greatest feelings in golf.
Why would you want to replace that feeling by using a driving iron? Well, there are days where your driver refuses to cooperate with you, or maybe it is most days. If you are slicing or hooking your driving and hitting your driving iron straight, it might be time to make the switch.
Sometimes the wind blows into your face and you have to keep the ball lower than what you can do with a driver and the utility is a good one to have in your bag.
Under normal conditions, it is unlikely that you will get the same distance from a driving iron as you can get by using your driver but then again, accuracy is most important, especially for beginners.
Having an alternative in place for your driver will provide you with confidence that you can get off the tee with accuracy, every time.
If you replace your driver with a driving iron, you will still want to work on your driving at the range as it is an important club to master for distance.
Driving Iron vs 3 Wood
A 3 wood generally has more loft than a driver and very comparable to a 1-iron. It is common to have a 3-wood with a 15-degree loft.
This makes the decision whether to hit a driving iron off the tee more difficult for beginners since it is typically easier for high handicap golfers to hit a fairway wood than a driver.
The larger club head of a fairway wood compared to an iron makes it easier to achieve more distance without over-swinging but the longer shaft means you may have less control and miss the sweet spot more often.
If you can keep the 3 wood straight, high handicap golfers will probably benefit more from hitting a 3 wood but then again it always comes down to the individual circumstances.
If you are hitting a 3 wood too high, going with a driver or driving iron will be a better option.
Both driving irons and 2-hybrids are not the most frequently seen clubs in the game but they can definitely off utility.
The driving iron offers a smaller, more compact head design than a hybrid, yet more forgiveness than a traditional 2 iron.
The design of the 2-hybrid brings it closer to the look and feel of a fairway wood. It is designed to make it easier to hit and to achieve slightly more distance than the similarly numbered iron and keep the ball a bit lower with the lower loft,
It’s all about having a mix of clubs you are comfortable hitting in any situation and to cover any distance gap.
Lofts Found On 1 Iron And 2 Irons
1 and 2 irons are the scarcest clubs that you will see in any golf bag. The reason is quite simple, 99% of people use a driver off the tee, even if they suck at using it.
The 1-iron is the lowest lofted and longest iron available in 14 or 16 degrees of loft depending on the brand.
2-irons are generally available with 18 degrees of loft, which is equal to the loft of a five wood.
1 and 2 irons face stiff competition from woods, hybrids and the driver and choice to go with a driving iron is usually a deliberate one made for accuracy off the tee over distance.
These clubs are perfect for low and long shots off the deck too.
Best Driving Irons For High Handicap Golfers
Cobra Golf- King Utility Black Iron Graphite
Cobra Golf created a thinner and stronger L-CUP face with its PowerShell Face Technology.
This aided in thinner and stronger sole structure for a large Sweet Zone for high ball speeds and increased distance, even on mishits.
A full hollow body design offers a low center of gravity for improved launch angles and distance from nearly any lie and turf condition.
Having 100% CNC milled face & grooves create perfect conditions for consistent spin across the entire face.
High-density tungsten weights are strategically placed on the toe which lowers and centers the center of gravity behind the face for increased precision.
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2020 TaylorMade SIM Max UDI Utility Iron
The 2020 TaylorMade SIM Max UDI utility iron shape is inspired by the requirements of professional tour players.
A refined leading edge, thinner topline, and a moderate sole will assist with turf interaction in almost all turf conditions.
Having minimal offset that is preferred by more advanced golfer increase confidence and workability.
Injected with ultra-light urethane foam inside the head push the envelope in design limits. This increases face speed and feel.
A low and forward center of gravity is achieved through the use of TaylorMade’s Hollow Body Construction delivering a powerful and penetrating ball flight.
The ultra-thin face is forged from C300 steel produces a lightweight and stronger face for fast ball speeds.
TaylorMade’s Inverted Cone technology creates a large sweet spot for a straighter ball flight.
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Ram Golf FX Hybrid Driving Iron
The Ram Golf FX hybrid driving iron is a confidence-inspiring long driving iron crossover with the appearance of an iron but with the characteristics of a hybrid. It is built to provide absolute forgiveness.
A high moment of inertia (MoI) and large sweet spot provides forgiveness on off-center strikes.
Using a low center of gravity, Ram Golf created a driving iron to get the ball airborne quicker for a longer ball flight.
Watch this video to see the differences between driver vs driving iron.
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The general impression among golfers is that driving irons off a ton of accuracy off the tee but not as much distance. If you have trouble with your driver consistently and can hit your irons dead straight, you are probably best to go with a driving iron.
As a beginner, the driver can be the hardest club to learn so it might be worth your while to test out your 3 wood or 3 Iron off the tee to see if you can improve your performance.
If you are hitting the 3 Iron the best, you should consider a driving iron as a high handicapper.
Select the driving iron that meets your swing and ability that will inspire confidence when you stand on the tee and require a low penetrating shot with accuracy in mind over distance.