A utility iron is a type of golf club that can be used in place of a long iron, hybrid, or fairway wood.
The utility iron resembles a long iron in appearance, but the club’s base or sole will carry a little more weight.
This weight is utilized to assist a golfer in launching the ball and getting out of a tighter lie.
Lower handicap golfers who dislike hybrid golf clubs and seek a better alternative to fairway woods or long irons will appreciate the utility iron.
The utility iron has some amazing features, but it is not for everyone.
Most players will fare better with hybrids than with the utility iron in their hands.
What are the functions of utility irons?
Over the previous few years, I’ve learned a lot about golf equipment from some of the industry’s finest professionals. I used Mark Crossfield and Woody Lashen as sources for this post.
Mark Crossfield’s Take on Utility Irons
Mark Crossfield has one of the most prominent golf YouTube channels, which many of you are familiar with. His data-driven approach has always impressed me, and I’ve learnt a lot from him over the years.
Mark demonstrated how a utility iron could perform versus a hybrid in his test. Despite having comparable lofts, the clubs perform differently due to the center of gravity and clubface design differences.
Pete’s Golf, in Mineola, NY, is co-owned by Woody Lashen. Almost every media organization has named them one of the best clubfitters in the industry. I’m fortunate to have him as a reference for all things clubfitting.
I asked Woody about his ideas on utility/driving irons and how they may benefit different golfers.
The key advantage of a utility iron over a typical long iron, he explained, is that they may propel the ball higher due to a lower center of gravity achieved by a hollow face. They’ll also have a somewhat higher MOI (a measure of forgiveness).
In general, he finds that only about 10% of the players he fits are suitable candidates for utility irons, but there are a few circumstances that frequently lead to him choosing them:
- A utility iron might be a better choice for a golfer who spins the ball more than usual because it can help control the ball with less spin.
- Utility irons are a better suited for those who don’t have a good hybrid match. For some players, gear impact can be a problem with hybrids, however the utility iron can help to mitigate those effects.
- Some players have “emotional” concerns with fairway woods or hybrids, so utility irons on approach approaches may be a better option.
While Woody recommends most golfers to use fairway woods or hybrids instead of longer irons, certain scenarios necessitate the use of a utility iron. He did suggest, however, that the shaft of your utility iron match the profile of the ones you use on your iron set.
More utility irons with higher lofts, such as a five iron replacement, are something he would like to see. They may be more advantageous to a larger spectrum of players than the top of your bag, according to Woody.
Last but not least, he cautioned against only using a driving iron off the tee. Later in the article, I’ll explain why.
What makes a utility iron different from a driving iron?
Utility irons are often larger than standard irons. By any means, these aren’t game-improvement irons. They usually have the same amount of offset as a player’s distance iron; they have some but not a lot of offset. In addition, the loft options are often on the more powerful side.
Are utility irons used by professionals?
Driving irons, also known as utility irons, have gained popularity among PGA Tour pros looking for clubs that will fly the ball lower and roll further than hybrids or fairway woods of comparable loft.
Almost a third of the top 100 PGA Tour golfers use these clubs because of their revised designs, which make them easier to hit than older driving irons. The most frequent driving irons are 3 and 4, with Titleist’s U-500 driving iron topping the list, followed by Callaway’s X Forged UT and Apex UT.
A limited number of PGA Tour professionals use 2-iron utility irons, while another group uses driving irons up to a 5-iron. A 1-iron is not used by any of the top 100 players on Tour.
Some of the best PGA Tour players, including as Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Kisner, have more than one utility club in their bag, while JT Potson has three a 3, 4, and 5-iron version of Titleist’s U-500 driving irons.
The following is a complete list of the irons used by the top 100 PGA Tour players:
The fact that Bryson DeChambeau utilizes both a 4 and 5-driving iron, as is always the case when it comes to Bryson DeChambeau’s golf bag, is probably of little practical value to beginners because the lofts will most likely not resemble anything close to normal.
When it comes to the remainder of the top 100 PGA Tour players that use utility irons, it’s apparent that the 3-iron and 4-iron are the most frequently considered.
What’s evident is that for these top pros, the driving iron is sometimes part of a ‘wider set’ of 15-17 clubs that can be swapped out for fairway woods and hybrids of the same lofts depending on where they’re playing.
Rory McIlroy, for example, alternates between fairway woods and a 3-driving iron at the top of his bag on a regular basis.
While many of the top 100 golfers on the PGA Tour utilize these utility clubs throughout the year, they are increasingly popular during weeks on Tour when the wind is a factor and lower launched shots are preferred to the high flying shots that hybrids and fairway woods generally produce.
Are utility irons suitable for use in the rough?
For a long time, hybrids were only available in one shape. However, because to the club’s growing popularity, they’re now available in both compact profiles for better players and wider footprints for mid- to high-handicappers who need a little more face to play with. Some even have weights that can be adjusted to change the launch, spin, and form of the shot.
What is a utility iron?
Utility irons often have a hollow body, a somewhat expanded sole, and perimeter weighting. In our tests, a utility iron’s face profile keeps a high-toe iron shape and works best with faster swing speeds and a shallower path into the ball.
Utility irons, on the other hand, are both longer and more forgiving than classic long irons, making them appealing choices for better players. For example, Cleveland’s Launcher UHX Utility, which looks and feels like an iron but has a hollow-body design and a variable steel face for distance and greater accuracy on off-center strikes, has a hollow-body design and a variable steel face for distance and greater accuracy on off-center strikes. This is a fantastic place to start if you’re searching for a club that launches like an iron and has a comparable look and feel.
Where do hybrids differ the most from utility irons?
Because hybrids have a profile similar to that of a fairway wood, club designers have greater room to lower and deepen the center of gravity in the clubhead. This results in a greater launch and more spin, which is especially beneficial for players with moderate to slow swings and/or shots from the rough.
The Cleveland Launcher Halo hybrid is a good illustration of this, with a low center of gravity that allows for a greater launch and longer range.
Where do utility irons differ the most from hybrids?
Because utility irons have less backspin and a lower launch, better players can hit fades and draws considerably easier than they can with hybrids. It bears repeating: Utility irons are easier to hit than traditional long irons, despite not being as forgiving as hybrids. They also come in a variety of shapes, including ones that are streamlined with minimal offset to blend in with your iron set.
Try before you buy
Have you ever purchased two pairs of jeans that are labeled the same size but fit differently? When it comes to hybrids and utility irons, this happens frequently. A 3-hybrid and a 3-utility may have the same loft, but their performance could be vastly different. A lot of it has to do with interior geometry, which influences how the club will function in the end.
To discover the optimum fit for your game, make an appointment with a professional club-fitter. A hybrid with a slightly higher loft would be better suited to your gapping and ball speed requirements. Finally, don’t go it alone. If you do, you’ll be wasting both time and money.
Is it true that utility irons go further?
Although we touched on this in a roundabout way before, it is an extremely crucial component of this article. Hybrids are golf clubs that assist you lift the ball high for a gentle approach into a green from a distance or to get out of a difficult lie. Many people referred to them as “rescue clubs” when they initially became popular.
For the most part, the driving iron will go further; after all, they are constructed with distance in mind. Some people refer to these irons as utility irons since they can be used for long fairway shots as well as tee shots. However, try both and discover which one works best for you and your game.
Do hybrids have a longer range than irons?
It’s interesting to note that while few handicap players would choose to carry a 3 iron, the 3 hybrid is the most popular hybrid. In general, a hybrid will fly 8 to 12 yards further than the matching iron, but accuracy and consistency are the most important factors to consider.
It’s tough to compare the two clubs directly because most players use either a hybrid or an iron. Instead, Shot Scope examined the data pertaining to the club’s distance from the target and the outcome.
Is it true that hybrids are simpler to hit than irons?
The answer to the first question is simple: yes. Hybrids are, in fact, simpler to hit than their long iron counterparts. (Keep in mind that long irons and hybrids cover the same yardage; a 3-iron and a 3-hybrid should travel the same distance for the same golfer.) As a result, a golfer will only carry one of the two clubs. Hybrids are supposed to be a replacement for their iron counterparts.)
Which of the utility irons is the easiest to hit?
You have a very forgiving DHY in the Taylormade SIM Max DHY (Driving HYbrid). In contrast to the razor-thinness of a 1 or 2 iron in the past, the bottom of the club is fat and full of meat, which helps with confidence.
Because to the hollow-body structure and low and deep center of gravity, the trajectory is greater than the other Taylormade options in the driving iron category.
It’s crucial to avoid the UDI approach, which is designed for better players with faster reactions. The UDI model is thinner, smaller, and more difficult to strike in every way. By positioning the weight in the sole rather than behind the face, the DHY SIM MAX model is the easiest to strike.
The DHY can be utilized from the rough as easy as any hybrid because to its thick sole. It’s a significant plus because driving irons are frequently mistaken for tee clubs. I could imagine this club being used to punch out down the fairway beneath trees, but I’d be concerned about chunking the ball from the fairway due to the large sole. The DHY will sparkle on the tee and rough.
The DHY has far more offset than the UDI variant, resulting in less slice. Higher lofted options of 19, 22, or 25 degrees will provide more leniency and keep the ball from flying off the course.
Can you hit a fairway wood off the tee?
The “driving” element of the name refers to the fact that these irons are built for tee shots. Although they can be utilized on the fairway, hence the moniker ‘Utility Iron,’ the primary function of a driving iron is to provide straight, laser-like accuracy off the tee.
The driving iron will not be too tough to hit if you have a somewhat fast swing speed. Driving Irons are similar to conventional irons, but with a lower loft to keep it down off the tee.
With its broad face, appropriate loft, and spacious sweet spot, it should be simple to hit straight even for beginners.
Are there any professional golfers who utilize a 1 iron?
The 1-iron, winner of countless major tournaments and a longtime help to history’s greatest winners, is on the verge of becoming extinct, with nearly no major club manufacturers now producing the product.
An older Tommy Armour model 1-iron, reportedly on the edge of extinction for the past several years, is still clinging to life in the bag of PGA Tour professional Joey Sindelar, although few other variants are being used on the pro tours.
“I’m not sure it’s dead, but it’s definitely in the late phases of intensive care,” said Sindelar, who won a Wachovia Championship playoff with the club in 2004.
The 1-iron was only used 50 times during tournament play in 2005, according to the Darrell Survey, a business that tracks club usage on the PGA Tour, with Sindelar accounting for more over half of those instances.
In recent years, the number of players that use the club on tour has decreased substantially. Only 0.75 percent of professionals utilized the one-iron in 2005, compared to 17.10 percent in 1996.
“It’s a club that looks like a black-and-white television,” Sindelar explained. “When I was worried, didn’t like the shot, or needed to hit it straight, I just knew if I put my swing on the club, it would travel down the fairway no mystery.”
The 1-iron has been looked after by its brothers, the 2- and 3-iron, during their descent.
The 1-iron had one son, despite never marrying; the 0-iron made its way into the bag of PGA Tour player John Daly in recent years, but he retired early due to a lack of consistency.
While the 1-iron spent years in professional bags alongside other long iron clubs, its demise was precipitated by a rivalry with a cousin, the hybrid club.
The hybrid was a new invention of golf equipment manufacturers, and it swiftly supplanted the 1-iron in most bags, as well as other long irons and fairway woods around the world.
“There weren’t these other options around when I first started using my 1-iron,” Sindelar explained. “They used to use metal fairway woods, but now they can do fantastic things with these clubs.”
Of fact, for most inexperienced golfers, this isn’t such a bad thing. For amateurs, the 1-iron has a reputation for being merciless.
In the Los Angeles Times, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Jim Murray remarked, “The only time I ever got out a 1-iron was to kill a tarantula.” “And it cost me a 7 to accomplish it.”
The 1-iron has had a long and profitable career in professional golf, being dubbed “Butterknife” by friends, “driving iron” by colleagues, and “cleek” by European counterparts.
Ben Hogan’s 1-iron approach to the final green at Merion during the 1950 US Open is one of the most iconic shots in golf. Hogan made par and went on to win the tournament in a Monday playoff.
During the 1997 Ryder Cup in Valderrama, Costantino Rocca defeated Tiger Woods in a singles match with a 1-iron. After blocking his tee shot on the 16th hole, the Italian hit “the ideal shot,” playing through the trees with a 1-iron to reach the green.
Rocca said, “I played the most beautiful shot of my life.” “A 1-iron was the kind of shot you couldn’t try or rehearse.” “It was the shot that put me in the hole and gave me the win.”
And 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus has a trio of one-liners on his list of favorite shots. At Baltusrol, there occurred the 1967 US Open final hole. He hit a 1-iron to 22 feet and made the next putt to go up three shots. Five years later, on the par-3 17th hole at Pebble Beach, Nicklaus hit a 1-iron to within 6 inches of the hole, thus securing victory. The Golden Bear struck a massive 1-iron shot on the 15th hole at the 1975 Masters that fell 15 feet short of the hole and stopped rolling 10 feet past. He made a birdie on the hole to claim his fifth of six green jackets.
“I’d say the best shots I’ve ever played in golf, and the ones I remember the most, have all been 1-iron shots,” Nicklaus stated.