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What Do the Numbers on Golf Clubs Mean?

By Tom Gresham

Most of the golf clubs in a set are marked with a number. These numbers do not correspond to a specific measurement, but they do indicate in general the loft of the face of a club head and the length of its shaft. Numbered clubs include irons, which can range from the rare 1-iron to the widely used 9-iron; woods, which range from the 1-wood (also known as the driver) to the 9-wood; and hybrids, which are a combination of a fairway wood head and the shaft of an iron. Hybrids have the same numbers as woods. Putters and wedges do not have numbers.

Clubs and Loft

Golf clubs with lower numbers, such as a 2-iron or 3-iron, have less loft on the face of the club head and a longer shaft than those clubs with higher numbers. The result is that players hit the ball farther and with less height on average than they do when striking the ball with clubs with higher numbers. Those low-numbered clubs are used largely for distance, while the high-numbered clubs, such as the 9-iron, are used to hit the ball high, soft and at targets that are relatively close. They produce better accuracy. Wedges have the highest lofts of any of the clubs.

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