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Do You Still Need a 4 Iron?

Do I need a 4 Iron

Your golf equipment can make it more difficult or easier. Since golf is already so challenging, it’s vital to play the right golf clubs and give yourself every advantage possible.

Long irons are one of the most important areas in which technology has impacted the game. The golf world’s running joke is “Long irons”. “God himself couldn’t hit a 1-iron.” 

Well, most everyday golfers can’t hit a 1, 2, 3, or 4-iron. Many players have trouble with 5-irons. Fortunately, companies that make golf clubs have realized our difficulties and created alternatives.

If you’re debating on carrying a 4-iron or alternative, you’re in the right place. Continue reading to find out everything you need to know about putting together the right equipment. 

Do I Really Need a 4 Iron? 

Is the average golfer using a 4-iron?

Yes, some golfers… but not very many these days. What is it that has caused golfers to trade their 4-irons for new clubs?

They are a difficult club for golfers to hit. In the past, golfers had to deal with it and figure it out – but that’s not the case anymore. Now, there are so many alternatives that playing golf with a 4-iron doesn’t make sense for high handicap golfers.

Who should play long irons? 

While 4-irons aren’t as common today, they’re not extinct by any means. In fact, a lot of beginner and high handicap iron sets don’t even come with them. Most sets were made between 10 and 15 years ago with a 3-PW, or 4-PW. 

Iron sets are more common in 5-GW and 4-PW versions for mid handicap irons. Some iron sets also include long irons that can be replaced by shorter, easier-to-hit hybrids. 

So who should play long irons, then?

A 4-iron is best for single-digit handicap golfers or scratch players.

These golfers are fast and have a consistent swing so they can hit long irons regularly. They are adept at navigating a golf course thanks to their excellent turf interaction.

4-irons are preferred by skilled golfers because they can shape shots into greens and hit them off the fairway. They also fly the ball more accurately than hybrids and woods. They also are great weapons to use when playing in the wind, flighting it low under tree branches, or playing links golf. 

For the average golfer, 4-irons can be hard to hit so we recommend other clubs. Golfers should instead look at the three alternatives below to help get the ball moving faster. 

4-Iron vs. 7-Wood

A 7-wood is the best option to replace a 4-iron.

This wood is more lofty than a longer iron, making it easier to hit. Even if you don’t get the sweet spot it’ll still produce a decent result. 

A 7-wood also goes longer than a 4-iron or hybrid as it’s slightly longer. Plus, it has a lighter shaft so it’s easier to swing faster and create more clubhead speed. This will allow for a high-launching shot, which is almost impossible to achieve with a long iron. 

A 7-wood is recommended by many golfers, from beginners to intermediate high handicappers. It’s easy to hit on tee shots, from the fairway, and even in light rough unlike other clubs. The only problem is that they can leave a gap in distance so plan accordingly.

4-Iron vs. 4 Hybrid

A hybrid is the other option to a 4-iron in your bag.

Hybrid clubs are easier to hit than long-irons and have gained popularity over the past 5-10 year. They’re smaller than woods but still much larger than long irons so you hit shots in the sweet spot more often.

A hybrid has a similar flight to a long-iron, but is much easier due to the larger and more forgiving clubhead. The graphite shaft is usually lighter, which helps to produce a higher ball-flight.

For intermediate to advanced golfers, a hybrid replacement is a great choice. A lot of golf companies offer various sizes of hybrids to suit different types of players.

Titleist, for example, offers three versions. One is larger and more like a fairway wooden than a hybrid for beginners. Another version allows golfers to have more forgiveness while still working the ball. The smallest version is designed for elite ball strikers who prefer more shot shaping than forgiveness.

Compare the iron and hybrid distances. You should remember that even though they have the same loft, the distances between the hybrid and iron will be longer, so plan accordingly if you decide to replace it. Click here to find out how to hit a Hybrid now. 

Driving Iron vs. 4Iron 

A driving iron is the final option to a traditional 4-iron.

These clubs are most similar to a normal long iron in appearance, but the clubheads are larger and more flexible. These clubs are popular with lower handicap golfers as they offer the advantages of a 4-iron and the forgiveness of a hybrid. 

Driving irons are great for hitting the fairway or off the tee. Driving irons are lighter than standard iron shafts and have a greater swing speed. These are much easier to hit when combined with the larger clubhead. 

Driving irons can be used for long par 3s, putting in position on tight par 4s, or attacking par 5s quickly in two. They’re very versatile and so much easier to swing with confidence compared to a typical long iron.  

Click here to find out more about a driving machine.  

FAQs about Long Irons

Are you looking for more information about choosing the right equipment to help your game score lower? Continue scrolling to learn more about improving your golf game.

What club does a 4-iron substitute for? 

A 4-iron is equivalent to a 5-hybrid or 7-wood. These clubs all have around 21 degrees of loft, however they all produce different types shots. 

Is a 5-wood better than a 4-iron?

No. A 5-wood is not a substitute for a 2-iron or 3-iron, depending on the loft. A 7-wood is the equivalent of a 4-iron. 

Both have approximately 21 degrees of loft. A 7-wood is easier to hit than the 9-iron. It launches higher, has more forgiveness, and tends go longer.

A 5-hybrid is the most suitable hybrid to replace a 4 iron. Most golfers think they can just swap a 4-iron for a 4H but that’s not the case. 

Even though the lofts of hybrid and iron clubs are identical, a hybrid club will produce greater ball speed and distance due to its larger head. Many hybrids also have lighter shafts that make the club more comfortable and longer. 

Is it easier to hit a 7-wood than a 4-iron?

Yes, hitting a 7 wood is easier than hitting a 4 iron. It is a great alternative to long irons because of its larger clubhead and lighter shaft. 

Do pro golfers use 4-irons?

Yes, professional golfers use 4-irons. Some even use 3-irons. While a small number of players use 2-irons, it’s very uncommon these days. Even though they may carry longer irons, many of them are much easier to hit utility irons (even Tiger Woods).

Learn this vital lesson from the pros – play golf clubs that are easier to hit. Don’t make golf even more challenging by playing hard to hit long irons if your swing isn’t good enough! 

Do I really need a 4-iron for a beginner?

No, beginners golfers should avoid 4-irons.

These clubs are long, heavy, have low loft, and aren’t easy to hit. These clubs should only be used by elite scratch players and handicappers with single digit handicaps.

Even these players may benefit more from a high-lofted or hybrid fairway wood. You could also consider a utility 4-iron, which is more flexible than the standard set’s long irons. 

How far can Tiger Woods hit a 4-iron golf course?

Tiger is one of few golfers who can hit long irons almost with every swing. Depending on wind, weather and playing conditions, his 4-iron can travel 200-240 yards. If there’s anyone I trust with using a long iron, it’s Tiger. 

Why is it so hard to hit a 4-iron? Why is it so difficult to hit long irons?

For several reasons, traditional long irons can be so difficult for average golfers.

First, the head is very small. Longer blade irons were more like butter knives in the past than golf clubs. For exceptional turf interaction, this smaller head requires a precise swing. If you miss it, the results aren’t great either.  (Read our full article about blade vs. cavity back irons.

Second, they’re heavy and hard to swing with enough swing speed. If you use long irons that match the rest of your set, it’s hard to generate enough clubhead speed to hit them consistently well.

Finally, it’s a mental thing for a lot of golfers. Too often players try to swing too hard and it throws off their tempo when hitting long irons.

We recommend using a hybrid, driving or fairway iron for all of these reasons. 

Final Thoughts on Long Irons 

A 4-iron is too difficult for most golfers so it’s best to stick with a standard club like a hybrid or wood. These clubs have a higher launch.

  • Help approach shots landing softly on the greens
  • You will find more fairways off of the tee than long irons.
  • You can improve your ball speed and find the sweet spot faster.
  • The longer shaft of hybrids helps you hit it better (and makes misses easier).

High handicappers have many more benefits. A utility 4-iron can be a more beneficial option than a set of 4-irons for iron players with consistent swings. 

Even if you own a 4-iron, I challenge to you to try a driving club with a different shaft. I think you’ll be impressed with the difference in distance, clubhead speed, and the ability to work the golf ball. 

Last but not least, test different clubs with a launch monitor so you can determine which one works best for you.