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The Best Irons for Beginners

By Jim Thomas

As "Golf Digest" states, "Golf can seem terribly complicated to the uninitiated." It can also seem overwhelmingly difficult. The right irons enable you to progress faster, hit more solid shots and increase your enjoyment of the sport during your neophyte days. You don't have to shell out big bucks for the gleaming models of irons the pros play to acquire a set that best fits your particular swing and physical characteristics.

You're Forgiven

The pros strike the ball in the center of the clubface most of the time. Beginners strike the ball all over the clubface and sometimes miss the ball altogether. Fortunately, club designers take this into account and modify clubs for different skill levels. There are three categories of irons: players clubs for talented golfers; game-improvement clubs for average golfers; and super or max game-improvement irons for high-handicap and beginning golfers. Super or max game-improvement clubs don't provide the same type of high performance as players clubs, but they compensate on off-center hits by giving you straighter and longer shots.

Club Characteristics

Max or super game-improvement irons are engineered with a larger "sweet spot" than other irons, explains Gorilla Golf. Also known as cavity-back irons, the clubs have more weight distributed around the clubface, instead of concentrated in the center of the club. As a result, you'll hit the ball with more force when you miss the center of the clubface and the ball won't veer to the right or left as abruptly. In addition, these irons have larger and more rounded soles, so you're less likely to dig into the turf and chunk the ball. The clubs also feature a lower center-of-gravity, making it easier to launch shots into the air.

Getting the Shaft

The right shaft is essential, whether you're a beginner or a pro. Shafts are manufactured with differing amounts of bend, known as shaft flex. By matching the right flex with your swing speed, you'll maximize both distance and accuracy. A relatively stiff shaft is designed for players with fast clubhead speeds and more flexible shafts fit those with slow swings. If your shaft is too whippy, you'll spray the ball all over the place. It it's too rigid, you'll lose distance and have trouble squaring up the clubface at impact, which usually produces sliced and pushed shots. You can get your swing speed measured at many pro shops and golf shops.

For Your Consideration

"Golf Digest" recommends starting out with just four irons a 6-iron, 8-iron, pitching wedge and sand wedge. Global Golf suggests opting for a good quality set of used clubs, giving you a high degree of performance at a more reasonable price. You might save 50 percent to 75 percent by buying a set of irons that are a few years old but still in excellent condition. Both Golf Discount and "Golf Digest" recommend buying hybrids, a cross between a fairway wood and a traditional iron, instead of long irons, such as a 3-iron or 4-iron, which are very difficult for beginners to hit.

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