Driving Iron; Vs Woods Vs Hybrids (Which Club Do You Need?)

driving iron golf club


What is a Driving Iron?

A driving iron, as the name indicates, is a special type of golf club. This club is quite different from a hybrid or a driver that you may have in your golf bag.

Driving irons can increase shot flexibility and are ideal for hitting lower shots. They also have low degrees of loft, and are bulkier on the rear compared to a standard iron.

The trajectory of a golf ball hit using a driving iron is very close to the ground. As a result, the club will render a low shot that hits the ground and rolls rather than have a soft landing.

Furthermore, the added bulkiness increases the swing weight, and helps in hitting long distances off the tee.

You will often need to have a top-level swing to strike a driving iron consistently. Also, you’ll require a lot of practice to develop your skill to give your best performance with this iron club.

As the driving iron is usually less versatile than other irons, they were rarely used in the 1980s. However, these clubs are now regaining popularity and are more forgiving after manufacturers began making certain adjustments to the center of gravity of the clubs.

Also, present-day driving irons have more weight at the bottom of their heads in the form of extra weight, tungsten or weight screws to pull the center of gravity downwards.

They are also hollow so that the hitting areas are capable of flexing more efficiently when there is an impact. These two aspects help them in generating more distance and ball speed.

Last but not least, the shafts of driving irons have also been modified to promote ease of use.


Should you Use a Driving Iron?

Here are a few instances when you should consider using a driving iron.

  1. You like playing a game of golf in poor playing conditions, such as when it is windy. The driving iron helps to keep the ball down.
  2. You want to hit the golf ball under trees.
  3. You have a higher than normal swing speed.
  4. You plan to use the iron club along with your fairway hybrids or metals rather than as a replacement.
  5. You hit off the tee shotson straight narrow and tight holes.
  6. You like your golf ball to have a low trajectory that is as near as possible to the ground.
  7. You tend to play in golf link courses.
  8. You prefer a golf club that is compact at the address point as well as quite forgiving.
  9. You want the ball to go slightly higher and a little farther than a standard iron.
  10. You want a club that is forgiving and offers the same control as a hybrid but is not as lengthy as the hybrid.
  11. You want your golf ball to roll over the course rather than have a soft landing.
  12. You are a tour player looking for a versatile club that a hybrid may not be able to help with.


Advantages of Using a Driving Iron

Although some golfers are not comfortable with driving irons and prefer keeping them out of their golf bags, these iron clubs do have their fair share of advantages. A few of these advantages are as given below.

  • A driving iron can be an asset on hard grounds or a windy day because of its ability to produce low and long shots. Such shots ensure that the ball rolls along the turf upon landing.
  • A driving iron proves its mettle when you are trying to avoid the trees on a golf course. The iron club will help you to get the ball into an ideal position and below the branches without having to compromise on your distance.
  • A driving iron has the look and feel of a standard iron that usually makes it more appealing to golfers when they set up their ball.
  • A driving iron is often forgiving on off-center hits and a better choice for off the tee shots compared to drivers or fairway woods.
  • A driving iron helps to generate ball speed because of its extra weight in the toe and heel.
  • The present-day driving iron is easy to play with because of the bend profile and shaft advancement that results in the club shaft weighing somewhere in between an iron shaft and a wood shaft.
  • A driving iron has a shorter shaft and head than a fairway wood or a hybrid that helps to hit the ball more consistently and at a lower trajectory.
  • A driving iron with a steel shaft is less prone to hooking than a hybrid with a graphite shaft.


Disadvantages of Using a Driving Iron

Even though a driving iron has several advantages as highlighted above, this iron club has a few disadvantages as well that are worth keeping in mind.

  • A driving iron has a small clubface in comparison to most other golf clubs that make many golfers apprehensive of using this club.
  • Although most manufacturers offer consistency with their driving irons these days, some players find it difficult to achieve this with their clubs.
  • A driving iron can be difficult to use for beginners because it needs a swinging style similar to that of a 4-iron or a 5-iron which are usually hard clubs for amateurs and starters.
  • A driving iron produces too much rollout that can be useless and challenging unless it serves as a second shot towards the green.
  • A driving iron cannot be used efficiently to play a game out of the rough and on poor lies.
  • A driving iron is shorter in size than a fairway wood or hybrid which may mean greater swing speed is required.


What is the Distance of a Driving Iron

The distance offered by a driving iron depends on the loft that it is designed with. On average, the overall distance covered by this club is a little more than what you will cover with a standard iron of the same loft.

With a well-struck driving iron, the distance covered is around 10 to 15 yards lesser than that covered by a 3-wood. So, if your 3-wood helps you hit approximately 200 yards, you should be able to hit close to 185 yards with your driving iron.

Some players have achieved 200 to 215 yards with their driving irons when they cover a distance of 235 yards with their Stiff flex 3-wood club. Other golfers have managed to achieve a longer yardage of nearly 287 yards including the rolling distance with their modern-day 18-degree driving irons.


Driving Iron Shaft Length

The shaft length of driving irons varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and according to the weight of the shaft.

The Tour AD series utility driving irons (UDI) feature graphite shafts and come in two options of 85 grams and 95 grams shaft weight. Both versions are compatible with the present-day utility driving iron heads and have a 0.355” taper tip.

The 85 grams shaft is available in orange and white or black and white color options with a Stiff flex. Both the variants come as 3-irons with a shaft length of 39 inches.

The 95 grams shaft comes in Stiff and X-Stiff variants in black and white color combination with 39 inches shaft length. This shaft is also available in orange and white with the same variations as 3-iron, 4-iron, and 5-iron. These three irons have shaft sizes of 39 inches, 38.5 inches, and 38 inches respectively.

Some players use a utility driving iron with a 40 inches shaft but have trouble playing off the deck. On the other hand, some golfers use 39.5 inches UDI or a 3-iron with the same length as a driving iron without any problem.

Similarly, a few players use a couple of utility driving irons with lengths of 39.75 inches and 40.5 inches to play off the deck and the tee respectively while there are players who are comfortable using a 39 inches driving iron.


What Degree of Loft is a Driving Iron?

As mentioned above, a driving iron is typically an iron club with a low loft. Driving irons usually come in options of 2-iron, 3-iron, and 4-iron. A 2 driving iron has a loft ranging between 17° and 19°. On the other hand, a 3 driving iron has a loft varying between 19° and 22° while the loft of a 4 driving iron is between 22° and 25°.

Some players prefer to use their 3-irons with a slightly lesser loft of 17° or 18° as driving irons because the lower loft makes the 3-iron have the same properties as that of a driving iron club.


16 Degree Driving Iron Vs 18 Degree Driving Iron

There are some key differences between a 16-degree driving iron and an 18-degree driving iron that are worth keeping in mind.

  • Some players have felt that they can elevate the ball better with a 16-degree driving iron when compared to an 18-degree one.
  • Some golfers find that a 16-degree driving iron can cover a slightly longer distance than an 18-degree driving iron.
  • 16-degree driving iron is a better choice for firm fairways compared to an 18-degree driving iron.


18° Vs 20° Driving Iron

The following are some differences between an 18-degree driving iron and a 20-degree driving iron.

  • An 18-degree driving iron tends to perform better than a 20-degree iron on imperfect lies.
  • Some golfers have found that they can give their best off the turf and tee shots with an 18-degree driving iron when compared to a 20-degree driving iron.
  • There are a few players who can achieve a higher launch and a longer distance with a 20-degree driving iron over an 18-degree driving iron.
  • A 20-degree driving iron at times works more efficiently than an 18-degree driving iron on trajectories that can hold the green better with an approach shot.
  • 18-degree driving iron is a better choice for tight holes while a 20-degree driving iron performs better for stopping the ball on the green.


19° Vs 21° Driving Iron

  • A 21-degree driving iron is capable of performing better than a 19-degree driving iron when both the driving irons are put to task on a hard fairway.


How to Hit a Driving Iron

The following are some general tips for you to get the best out of your driving iron.

  1. Place the golf ball towards or as close as possible to your front foot.
  2. During a back-swing, move the driving iron backward by around two feet before you commence your swing.
  3. Adopting the strategy shown in step 2 will prevent you from struggling with consistency and bringing the club down very steeply on the ball.
  4. Rotate the driving iron all the way through the golf ball after it makes contact in such a way that your chest points towards the target. This will help in releasing the clubface through an impact.


Some players who use a long iron as a driving iron position the club inside their left heel, tee it close to half an inch above ground level and swing the club as they would do with a driver. A few others also take care to ensure that the ball is forward in stance.

As mentioned above, some golfers recommend using a driving iron for playing on a tight course or a links course, tighter holes, windy days, and knock down shots off the tee. Golfers find the driving iron to be a good replacement for a long iron as they find it to be more forgiving.

Also most players will find that their driving iron will help in avoiding unexpected and random hooks that they would normally experience with hybrids. Some golfers even use their utility driving irons to hit fades and draws.


Hitting a Driving iron Off the Tee

Tee the driving iron like you would do with a standard iron to gain a little height. You can tee it upwards by half an inch above the ground level. The bottom of the golf ball must rest just above the grass and in front of the stance that is roughly similar to a hybrid. However, it need not be placed too far ahead like a driver.


Driving iron Vs Driver

The following list highlights some differences between a driving iron and a driver.

  • Driving iron is a better choice over a driver for off the tee shots with a fairway ahead.
  • The backswing of a driving iron tends to be a bit higher and more upright than that of a driver.
  • Unlike using a driver, the ball should be further forward or closer to the left foot for a right-handed player when a driving iron is used.
  • A driver often helps in covering a distance of about 30 yards more in contrast to a driving iron.
  • Driving iron is at times harder to hit with than a driver because of its small clubhead.


Driving Iron Vs 3-Wood

Some differences that golfers have experienced when playing a driving iron and a 3-wood are as follows:

  • A few players have felt that they are more confident with a driving iron than a 3-wood especially when they play in windy conditions.
  • Some golfers who have high swing speed find using a driving iron to be a better option than a 3-wood.
  • Few players find that they can hit off the deck better with a 3-wood in comparison to a driving iron although some of them find this challenging.
  • Some golfers hit better with a driving iron than a 3-wood.
  • A driving iron works well for chasers and low tee shots while a 3-wood helps better for shots from the fairway or rough.


Driving Iron Vs 5-Wood

Somepoints are given below that highlight a few differences between a driving iron and a 5-wood that are worth noting.

  • Some golfers have experienced a better address with a driving iron as against a 5-wood after playing with both the golf clubs.
  • The driving iron with a low trajectory is best suited for a game on a windy day whereas a 5-wood with higher trajectory works better in softer and calm conditions.
  • A few players who are not high ball hitters feel that they can get the ball into the air more easily with a 5-wood rather than a driving iron.
  • A 5-wood may have an upper hand over a driving iron because of its descent angle and spin especially if you want to play approach shots into par 5’s.
  • Driving iron is preferable over a 5-wood when playing on open courses where the rollout is not a major concern.
  • Driving iron is often more accurate for off the tee shots and provides better control while a 5-wood is more convenient to hit from the turf and easier to launch.
  • Many golfers have found that their driving irons are more versatile than their 5-wood golf clubs.
  • Some players feel that with practice that they can generate more distance with control using a driving iron when compared to a 5-iron.


Driving Iron Vs Hybrid

The list given below highlights some differences between driving irons and hybrids.

  • According to a few golfers, a driving iron is more accurate than a hybrid because of its shorter length.
  • Driving iron is a club with more of a run and a low flight whereas a hybrid offers more height and bounce.
  • Driving iron is ideal for playing off the tee shots and on windy days while a hybrid works better for the deck and semi-rough shots as well as hitting into the greens.
  • A driving iron suits players with higher than average swing speed whilst a hybrid is good to go for slow swingers.


Driving Iron Vs Long Iron

There are some differences between a driving iron and a long iron that are worth keeping in mind.

  • Some golfers find that a driving iron has about five yards more carry distance and makes the ball fly close to 10 feet higher than a long iron.
  • A driving iron is more forgiving and often generates better speed than a long iron golf club.
  • Players who would like to opt for low flight tend to choose a driving iron over a long iron.


Best Driving Irons

You can check out driving irons from various manufacturers to understand their specifications and decide which will work the best for you.


Callaway Apex UT

This club features a forged hollow carbon steel construction and has a satin finish. The club has an 18 degrees loft and is easy to use. This easy to control club is forgiving on mishits and serves as a comfortable replacement for traditional long irons.

Players can adjust the weight using a port in the sole that makes the spin and launch easy. The golf club is a great option to play short and narrow Par 4’s. On the flip side, the club is fairly expensive.


Titleist 718 T-MB

The Titleist golf club has a compact clubhead and offers a better launch and spin along with a good roll out and distance. It is quite versatile in terms of shot shape and trajectory. The club is suited for seasoned players and professionals. The drawback is that the club is less forgiving and is difficult to stop when approaching a narrow green.


TaylorMade GARP MID Golf Club

The golf club offers a straight ball flight and very good trajectory control. It is designed to have an iron profile and a few advantages of a hybrid. The club easily wins in terms of the distance covered, looks, forgiveness, distance hit, and stinger potential. The biggest disadvantage of this driving iron is its very high inbuilt trajectory.


Best Driving Iron for Mid Handicappers

Mid handicappers are very likely to be able to hit straight with their driving irons. However, they may encounter problems when trying to establish consistency with their distance. It is also worth bearing in mind that bad strikes with driving irons may result in losing out on ball speed.

Some driving irons that mid handicappers tend to like more are Mizuno MP H5 or MP 18 MMC Fli Hi, Ping G or G400 Crossover, Callaway X Forged UT, and Srixon irons with graphite shaft.


Ernie loves documenting interesting facts about golf.

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