are game improvement irons actually effective?

If you have played golf at least once or twice in your life, you have probably heard the debate going on about effectiveness of game improvement clubs. Whether they are effective and worth the money is being discussed everywhere, on the golf course as well as online blogs and forums. General consensus is that, while beginners do indeed need extra forgiveness that game improvement clubs can provide, experienced golfers are often better off with blade irons. There are some irons for beginners too, you can read about them in this guide. The latter part is pretty self evident, because most of the professional golfers on tournaments play with blade irons. Deciding when you’ve reached the level to switch from game improvement irons to blades is also kind of confusing, and probably a problem better suited for later discussion.  In general, i think we’ve established that effectiveness of game improvement clubs is hotly discussed topic, which is why i wanted to share my 2 cents on it. I will be attempting to answer this age-old question using some data, not just based on my opinion.

First of all, first common misconception that i wanted to tackle is that if you are skilled enough to be playing with blades, then you can hit super game improvement irons too. While that is technically true, it doesn’t take into account few important details about the nature of SGI clubs. 

It makes sense that expert golfers should be able to play clubs that are made for beginners, but that’s precisely where the problem lies. SGI clubs are made for beginners, so in exchange for forgiveness, their designers decided to sacrifice certain qualities that blade irons have. That’s why the research after research into results with SGI and Blade irons show that experts perform consistently better with the blades. SGI clubs have certain advantages too, like extreme forgiveness, but these are the kind of advantages that professional golfers don’t need, so their usefulness is negated. Not to mention the fact that SGI clubs usually feel much different from other irons, so when someone is used to playing with blades, their performance will naturally suffer. The fact that they feel different isn’t SGI clubs’ fault per se, but the thing is that game improvement clubs are derivation from the norm, so the fact that they feel so different is kind of their fault.

On the other hand, one interesting pattern that emerged from observing the data, is that shots hit with SGI irons were more consistent in distance. Distance covered by balls hit with blade irons was, on average, longer, but it also varied wildly. In a way, what this data means is that if you play with blade irons, you have to be absolutely certain that you’re going to get the shot right. If you make even one small mistake, impact on your overall results will be significant and noticeable. So if you have confidence, then i would go for blade irons, otherwise, if i were you, i would stick with super game improvement irons.

That’s all i had to say about the dilemma of using game improvement clubs or not, hopefully it helped someone.

How to choose utility iron

With rising popularity of hybrids, you’d think that people are giving up on irons, and while that might sometimes be true, utility irons still remain extremely popular to this day. So, what are they? What is it exactly that utility irons do? I’m going to answer these two questions that probably come to most readers’ minds. Utility irons are the irons with special design that increases distance while trying to minimize the sacrifice of accuracy. You might think this is too good to be true, but some manufacturers have actually pulled off the feat of designing great utility irons. They are also called driving irons, and are often used instead of woods and even the driver. Some people, especially the beginners who like the ease of use that hybrids provide, use hybrids to replace woods. So, for hitting a golf ball off of fairway greens, there are three major options – woods, utility irons and hybrids.

In general, average hybrid will be much easier to play with than, say, average utility iron. Because of that, when a golfer making choice between these three options is a beginner, the choice i always recommend is hybrid. Utility irons, on the other hand, require some training and experience to properly swing. That’s why professionals usually stick with utility irons and the standard choice, which is the wood. I’d say, woods are also better than irons for beginners. Irons are often very useful in windy conditions, regardless of experience level of the golfer. Balls hit with utility irons usually don’t have high backspin, so they stay close to the ground. Because of that effect, it is harder for wind to affect the trajectory of the ball, thus allowing it to travel through the air undisturbed.

At first glance, noticing differences between various utility irons is kind of difficult. To the eye of a beginner, they might all look the same. All of them are advertised as having revolutionary game improvement design and other features, but it’s hard to figure out what that actually means. Most important of these features, is being easy to hit. Good utility iron must have simple, yet effective design. Weight proportioning is pretty much as important as the physical design of the club. Utility iron must also have excellent, light shaft. In my experience, i’ve found that the best material for shaft is graphite. This material is expensive, so utility irons with graphite shafts are usually on the pricier end of the spectrum.

Basic utility irons, which are made by unknown brands or have no brand name attached at all, can be found for less than hundred dollars. One can’t say whether these off-brand irons are necessarily good or bad, it’s just that they are unpredictable. On the other hand, you can trust brands like Callaway, TaylorMade and Cobra to make excellent utility irons, even without reading reviews of that driving iron. But utility irons made by these famous golf club manufacturers are in fact more expensive. Quality utility irons cost between two to three hundred dollars. If you’re casual golfer and don’t have unlimited budget, that may seem a lot. Two solutions to that problem that come to mind, are buying entire club of sets, which tend to be cheaper on per-club basis, or buying used golf clubs. The latter method requires some experience in golf, so for beginners who want to play with utility irons, despite hybrids being easier to hit, i’d recommend buying club sets that come with utility iron.