I cannot tell you how many golfers we have switched from 3, 4 and even 5 irons to hybrids because they just cannot hit those long irons consistently. But, there are other options available. If you are a good iron player and still like the feel of a crisp 4 iron off the deck, there are some new options.
Shaft Weights: Certain steel and graphite iron shafts are constant weight so the only variable in the feel of the club will be the added weight of the club head as you go down in loft. Each club head is designed to weigh seven grams heavier from the previous one as you go from long irons to shorter irons. As the club gets shorter, this helps maintain swing weight throughout the set. Enter True Temper with the AMT (Ascending Mass Technology) shaft that has a 3 gram progression in weights between each shaft. This was introduced last year in the Titleist AP2 irons and that shaft is now available to True Temper Performance Centers like D’Lance Golf. This progressive weight design does not change swing weights but makes the club feel lighter. If your miss with your irons is a fade or block, lighter shafts in your long irons could help you.
Shaft Flexes: We work with our golfers in our fitting sessions to determine exactly which shaft flex works for them and recommend two builds: Build every iron to the same flex, or vary the flex three-tenths (.3) from 3 iron to PW. So if your 6 iron fitting says 5.2 (FM Precision scale), We would build the three iron at 5.1 and the PW at 5.4. This allows the shaft to feel softer in the long irons without compromising accuracy. If you fade or block your long irons, or have a hard time getting a higher ball flight, this may be a good option for you.
Shaft Design: Over the years there have been several shaft designs that offer higher ball flight in longer irons and lower ball flight in mid and short irons. These designs have been called “flighted”. Most notably the Project X Flighted and Rifle Flighted shafts have had great success. True Temper introduced the DG PRO shafts which are individually designed for each iron with the thought of higher ball flights in longer irons. KBS has just introduced the Tour FLTD shaft in three different weights and flexes with the same thought in mind. If you like the flight of your long irons but think you hit your short irons too high, this could also be a shaft design for you.
Swing Weight: Swing weight is purely a measure of how heavy or light a club feels when you swing it. Another way to make the longer clubs easier to swing is to make them a slightly lighter swing weight. This is actually akin to what is know as “MOI Matching” in club building. The MOI (Moment of Inertia) of a players favorite club is used to build each club. There is an MOI machine that will determine the MOI of a golf club and then allow a club builder to build each club to that MOI number. This is challenging for club builders, and expensive for consumers because the variation in weights of grips, shafts and heads makes the build a time consuming process. So, a better alternative is to do progressive swing weights: lighter in longer irons, heavier in shorter irons. If your long irons feel too heavy to you, this could be a good option.
So what should you do? Before you bail out and go the hybrid club route, talk with an experienced club fitter and see what options may work best for you. I dropped my 3 and 4 iron years ago but I still like the feel of my five iron. I have my irons all the same flex and swing weight but I am seriously thinking of the lighter swing weight option in my longer irons. And be careful about going to a lighter weight steel or graphite shaft unless you have the opportunity to test those shafts with the same club head you are considering purchasing as the lack of consistency in off-th-rack irons is very prevalent.