Long Irons: A Different Game

Long irons are a thing of the past for most, except when needed

Golf in the United States has changed throughout the years. The game is primarily played thorough the air, which differs from the game that is typically seen each year during The Open Championship, where the game is played more on the ground.

But due to hard, dry course conditions, strong winds and undulated fairways and greens PGA Tour players are forced to change strategies during The Open Championship, unlike typical PGA Tour events the players swap fairway woods and hybrids for long irons. The reasons for these changes are fundamental: fairway woods and hybrids are designed to assist the players in getting the ball airborne, which can be affected by the strong winds; the long irons fly lower and with the harder course conditions will bounce and roll down the fairway.
Player’s such as Tiger Woods, and Adam Scott in this year’s Open Championship showed the value of the long irons. Tiger’s strategy was simple: with so many fairway bunkers surrounding the landing areas for woods, he chose to take the bunkers out of play by hitting two and three irons short of the bunkers. This however forced him to hit longer irons into the greens.
That strategy is not as simple for most amateurs.
Long irons are not easy to hit properly. Many players do not complete their swings when they try to hit long irons, which need to be swung in a similar fashion as hybrids and fairway woods.
Also, because long irons do not have much loft – typically 18-21 degrees – and because club’s center of gravity is closer to the face, they need to be used by a player who generates a high rate of club head speed. Most amateurs do not swing their irons more than 80-90 mph, and have a very steep angle of attack the long irons are very difficult to get airborne.
Long irons are best used by better players in place of hybrids and fairway woods, either as a club to tee off on short to medium narrow par fours and at times as second shot approaches into par fives. Unless the golf course conditions dictate that the ball be played low through the wind, or the fairways are firm and fast, I recommend that most golfers stick with their hybrids and fairway woods.

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