Are 2, 3, 4 & 5 Irons Necessary For The Average Golfer?

Back in the day, almost all golfers carried a 2, 3, and 4 iron, and some of them even carried a 1 iron. I’ve always had a tough time hitting these irons, so I asked a golf coach in my area if I should actually have them in my bag.

The reason these clubs are harder to hit is that the head is thinner, the loft is lower, and the sweet spot is smaller. You really need to have a consistent swing and generate enough speed to get height and distance.

I’m coming at this from an average golfer’s point of view, so if you’re a mid to high handicap, I think this will be for you. If you’re a better player then you might want to have these irons for better control.

Before we jump into each iron, I think it’ll be a good idea to know the loft of each club and what it compares to. It’ll make more sense later on, but here’s a chart that shows everything. The bolded clubs are the ones I have in my bag:

ClubLoft (Degree)
3 Wood15
5 Wood18
2 Hybrid17
3 Hybrid19
4 Hybrid22
5 Hybrid25
2 Iron17
3 Iron19
4 Iron21
5 Iron24
6 Iron27
7 Iron31
8 Iron35
9 Iron40

Now that you know the lofts of each club, it’s time to decide on what you’ll add to the bag. You’ll definitely want a driver, a fairway wood, shorter irons, and wedges, but what about the longer irons?

Do you carry longer irons or do you prefer hybrids and woods? Let me know in the comments below.

Should You Carry A 2 Iron?

For mid to high handicap golfers, having a 2 iron in the bag is not recommended. A 2 iron is that hardest club to hit and that’s why you’d be way better off with a 5 wood or a 3 hybrid.

Pretty much nobody these days has a standard 2 iron in their bag. Some pros might, but when it comes to average players, you’d have a tough time finding someone that can actually hit it well.

The only type of 2 iron you might see is a driving iron. These irons are a bit bulkier and are a lot more forgiving. Just think of something between a typical iron and a hybrid.

Driving irons are used to hit from the tee box. You’d probably never use one from the fairway, but people like them because they offer the control of an iron with the forgiveness of a hybrid.

If you’d like to try one I’d wait until you’re a lower handicap player. Until then, play either a 5 wood or 3 hybrid. I have a 5 wood and a 4 hybrid in my bag, and it seems to be a good enough gap between clubs.

2 Iron vs 2 Hybrid vs 5 Wood

The two clubs that have the same loft as a 2 iron are 2 hybrid and 5 wood. A 2 iron typically has a loft of 17 degrees, a 2 hybrid loft is right around 17 degrees, and a 5 wood loft is 18 degrees.

That being said, not all of them will go the same distance. Even though a 2 iron and 2 hybrid have the same loft, a 2 hybrid has more mass behind it, which would offer more height and forgiveness. A 3 hybrid will be much closer in terms of distance.

Even though a 5 wood has one less degree of loft, it’ll still hit the ball longer than a 2 iron. Fairway woods have longer shafts, so that will get you down the fairway more.

When deciding on which one to get, I definitely wouldn’t recommend more than one. For pretty much all skill levels, having a 5 wood will be the right choice.

I have a 5 wood in my bag and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Butch Harmon has said that there’s no point in having both a 3 and 5 wood, and that 5 woods are much easier to hit from the turf. That’s enough for me.

The average golfer will have a much easier time hitting a 5 wood from the turf compared to a 3 wood.

Butch Harmon

2 hybrids aren’t always that easy to find and 2 irons are just too hard to hit. What I’d recommend is to have a driver, 5 wood, 4 hybrid, and then your irons (5 or 6 should be your longest).

Should You Carry A 3 Iron?

For mid to high handicap golfers, having a 3 iron in the bag is not recommended. The low amount of loft and thin face makes a 3 iron hard to hit and is why you’d be better off playing a 4 hybrid.

Just like with a 2 iron, most of the golfers you’ll see on your local course won’t have a 3 iron. The reason is that they’re just too hard to hit for most. You really need a good amount of speed to get the ball in the air and get any sort of respectable distance.

The only time you might see a 3 iron on the course is if it’s a driving iron. A 3/4 iron is the most common type of driving iron, but they’re mostly played by lower handicap golfers.

Instead of a 3 iron, most people will use a hybrid. The loft of a 3 iron and 3 hybrid are right around 19 degrees. That being said, the shaft on a hybrid could be a little longer and the face has more mass, which will increase distance.

Using a 4 hybrid with a loft of 22 degrees should be really close to a 3 iron. Not only that, but you’ll be much more consistent because hybrids are way more forgiving.

If you’re a mid to high handicapper and want something like a 3 iron, stick to a 4 hybrid for now. If you want a driving iron, wait until you get better (low handicap), but I wouldn’t recommend a traditional 3 iron.

Should You Carry A 4 Iron?

For mid to high handicappers, having a 4 iron in the bag is not recommended. The longer shaft, low amount of loft, and thin face make it too hard to hit for most golfers and is why a 5 hybrid is the better choice.

I haven’t had a 4 iron in my bag for the longest time, and even when I did, I never used it because I couldn’t hit it. Most people on the local course won’t have one either, and the ones who do either never use it or are low handicappers.

The reason these irons are hard to hit is that the face is thin and there’s no mass behind the club. This means that the sweet spot is super small. You really need to hit it consistently and generate enough speed to get any sort of distance (don’t know about you, but I’d get laughed at).

The only time you might want a 4 iron is if it’s a driving iron. Either a 3 or 4 iron is the most common type of driving iron, but you’d only want to consider it when you get better.

These irons have more mass behind them and are a cross between an iron and a hybrid. You’ll get the forgiveness of a hybrid with the control of an iron.

For most, you’ll get way better performance with a hybrid. The loft of a 4 iron is 21 degrees, so you might think that a 4 hybrid is the best choice. I actually found that a 5 hybrid was much closer in terms of distance.

The longer shaft, more mass behind the face, and higher launch of a hybrid add quite a bit of distance. The 4 hybrid goes 10-15 yards more than a 4 iron. The 5 hybrid and 4 iron were pretty close.

Should You Carry A 5 Iron?

The only golfer who should carry a 5 iron is one that can hit their 7 iron more than 150 yards. Golfers who hit their 7 iron less than 150 yards should replace their 5 iron with a hybrid and have a 6 iron as their longest iron.

I had actually heard this in a magazine or on the golf channel a number of years ago, but the coach I asked actually said it too. I guess the main reason is that if you can’t hit your 7 iron that far, you’ll get so much more distance with a hybrid compared to a 5 iron.

5 irons are still pretty common on the course and are the lowest iron I’d have in my bag right now. I might add a driving iron when I get better, but for now, a 5 iron works.

Driving irons are also available for 5 irons, but I’d probably stick to a standard one because they’re better for hitting off the turf (driving irons are designed to hit off a tee).

Basically, to sum things up, if you can hit your 7 iron more than 150 yards consistently, give the 5 iron a try. I’ve found that most senior and female golfers prefer hitting hybrids over the longer irons.

5 Iron vs 5 Hybrid

If you’re debating between irons and hybrids, you might be thinking about getting a 5 iron or 5 hybrid. Both of them are between 24-25 degrees, so you’d expect them to be similar. That might not be the case.

Since hybrids could be a bit longer and they have more mass behind them, they typically hit the ball longer. I’ve noticed that hybrids with the same loft normally hit the ball 10 yards more.

So, the better choice might be getting a 6 hybrid. I don’t think they’re as available as the others, but the distances should be a bit closer. Everyone is different though, but that’s what I’ve found.

To get the same distance with a 5 hybrid, you can take a 3/4 swing instead or you can grip down 1-2 inches. Both of those should cut off 10 yards.

10 yards really isn’t that big of a deal for average players, so if you can only find a 5 hybrid, it should do the job. Just think about how often you hit your clubs pure. Most of the time we don’t, so a lot of the time you’ll find yourself right at your 5 iron distance.

The Clubs I’d Play

Most golfers think they need to have every single club out there to play good golf. That’s really not true at all, you can get really good off the tee, dial in your 100 and 150 yard shots, and shoot some pretty good scores.

For a number of years, I only had every second club. It saved me some money and was plenty for where I was at. This is especially true with the longer clubs. You only need a couple to play good golf.

So, for most mid to high handicappers, here’s what I’d get to set up my bag:

That’s what my bag looks like currently, and I have no intention to change it. Adding more clubs won’t make you a better golfer, if anything, it’ll hurt your game because you’ll have a harder time gaining consistency with your clubs.

What To Do Next:

Enter Our Gear Giveaway: Like free golf stuff? A few times per year, we pick a few of our viewers and send them some gifts. Click here to learn more.

Deals & Discounts: We’ve worked with brands to offer discounts to our readers. See our deals and discounts page to see our current promotions.

Write For Us: Calling all hackers, whackers, and golf enthusiasts. Out Of Bounds Golf is looking for writers. If you’d like to get paid to write about golf, click here for more info.

About Jon Webber

Jon Webber is Out Of Bounds Golf's main product tester and editor. He's been in the golf world for 10+ years and has personally tested over 100 products, from balls to clubs to bags. He started this site for the average player, to make the game a little easier to understand.

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments