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Fairway Woods vs Hybrids – Differences and Similarities

Last Updated on January 12, 2024 by Matt Greene
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Fairway woods and hybrids perform the same purpose in your golf bag - to replace long irons. There are some big differences between them which you may not be aware of.

  1. Fairway woods and hybrids with the same number printed on the bottom are not the same club. 
  2. Hybrids and fairway woods with the same loft, do not go the same distance for most golfers. 
  3. Hybrids are more versatile than fairway woods around the course.

Let's get more in depth.

5 wood vs 3 hybrid

Differences between hybrids and fairway woods

If you're new to hybrids and fairway woods, you might think that a 3 hybrid is the same as a 3 wood or a 5 hybrid is the same as a 5 wood. They are different clubs however and they're different in two ways: shaft length and loft.

Fairway woods have longer shafts with bigger club heads than hybrids. They produce more spin and fly much higher in the air than a hybrid of the same loft which means the fairway wood lands softer with less rollout. 

Hybrids are a combination of a long iron and a fairway wood. Hybrids have smaller heads and shorter shafts than fairway woods. They produce lower ball flights and lower spin rates than fairway woods which means the ball will roll further after landing.  Hybrids usually have more weight in the heel of the club, like an iron does, so most hybrids will create a right to left ball flight.

Hybrids and woods are numbered in a different way

Fairway woods are named after the driver.

The driver is the number 1 wood. After the number 1 wood, follows the 3, 5, 7 and 9 wood. The higher the loft, the higher the number on the bottom of the fairway wood.

Hybrids are designed to replace irons so they are named after the iron they replace. 2 hybrid replaces 2 iron, 3 hybrid replaces a 3 iron etc. 

Loft
Hybrid
Fairway
14-16 degrees
-
3 wood
17-18 degrees
2 hybrid
5 wood
19-20 degrees
3 hybrid
5 wood
21-23 degrees
4 hybrid
7 wood
24-26 degrees
5 hybrid
9 wood


Hybrids have shorter shafts

Hybrids and fairway woods both come standard with graphite shafts, but the fairway woods always have longer shafts than the hybrid equivalents. Sometimes the shorter shaft can make the club more accurate. The shorter shaft in almost all cases, except for scratch players, will mean a shorter shot than a longer shaft at the same loft. 

LoftHybridShaft lengthFairwayShaft length
14° to 16°-3 wood43 inches
17° to 18°2 hybrid41 inches5 wood42.5 inches
19° to 20°3 hybrid40.5 inches5 wood42.5 inches
21° to 23°4 hybrid40 inches7 wood42 inches
24° to 26°5 hybrid39.5 inches9 wood41.5 inches

Center of Gravity differences

The fairway wood club head is bigger and longer, to move the center of gravity further back from the club face. Moving the center of gravity (CoG) further back helps to elevate the golf ball when you hit the fairway wood off the ground without a tee.

The hybrid club head is much smaller so the center of gravity will be closer toward the club face. You can expect lower launch and less rollout from a hybrid when we compare a hybrid and fairway wood of the same loft.

center of gravity hybrid
 vs fairway

The difference in center of gravity may be the reason that a hybrid is easier to use and more versatile as a chipping club and as a rescue club from tough lies in the rough. 

Launch differences of hybrids and fairway woods

The fairway wood launches higher and the ball flies to a higher maximum height than a hybrid of the same loft.

The center of gravity causes the shaft to bend at impact more in a fairway wood, than in a hybrid. That bend helps to launch a fairway wood high when you're hitting it off the fairway. The hybrid launches much lower because the center of gravity is closer to the club face. Center of gravity closer to the club face means there is less shaft bend at impact, which means 

shaft bend hybrid vs fairway wood cog

Swing differences 

The fairway wood works best with a slightly sweeping swing. Fairway woods have large club heads with big soles that allow a skimming of the club, which launches the ball nice and high.

Hybrids work well with a downward strike like with an iron. Catching the ball on the lower part of the club face is forgiving, but the ball does not fly as far.

How do hybrids and fairway woods with the same loft compare?

From the data we have collected, we conclude that a hybrid will carry a shorter distance than a fairway wood with the same loft.

If we were to use the same length shaft, with the same loft, the carry distance would be identical but the total distance would be longer with a hybrid. The hybrid is a lower spinning, lower launching club which means you will get more rollout than a fairway wood, if we keep shaft length and loft the same. 

Fairway wood vs hybrid distance chart

In this table, we compare the carry distance of a 90mph driver swing speed:

ClubCarry 
3 wood (15°)195 yards
5 wood (18°)185 yards
2 hybrid (18°)180 yards
3 hybrid (20°)175 yards
7 wood (21°)176 yards
4 hybrid (22°)169 yards
9 wood (26°)165 yards
5 hybrid (25°)159 yards

Fairway woods vs hybrid comparisons

3 wood vs 3 hybrid difference

A 3 wood is a fairway wood with 15 degrees of loft while a 3 hybrid is a long iron replacement with 19-20 degrees of loft.

Not only is the loft different by 5 degrees, but the length of the shaft in a 3 wood is 43 inches while a 3 hybrid is only 41 inches. The 3 woods lower loft and extra length will produce a much longer shot than the 3 hybrid.

An example golfer with 90 mph swing speed will carry a 3 wood around 192 yards but a 3 hybrid around 170 yards. 

The actual hybrid equivalent of a 3 wood is a 1 hybrid because both 3 wood and 1 hybrid replace 1 iron in the golf bag.

Which hybrid replaces a 3 wood?

There is no hybrid that replaces a 3 wood. A 3 wood is around 15 degrees of loft and any hybrid of that loft will be too difficult to hit in comparison to a 3 wood. 

The old 1 iron was once the 3 wood equivalent but in modern day golf, the 3 wood is the only option in the 15 degree loft range. 

5 wood vs 5 hybrid difference

The 5 fairway wood has 17 to 19 degrees of loft but a 5 hybrid is made to replace a 5 iron with 24 or 25 degrees of loft.

The loft difference ranges from 5 to 8 degrees, and the length of the shaft in a 5 wood is 42 inches while a 3 hybrid is 40 inches. A 5 wood will produce a much longer shot due to the longer shaft and lower loft. 

A golfer with 90 mph swing speed will carry a 5 wood around 185 yards but a 5 hybrid around 156 yards.

5 wood and 3 hybrid

Differences: The 5-wood and 3-hybrid can be similar in carry distance for fast swing speeds, but with a longer shaft, the 5 wood will generally go further than a 3 hybrid for most average swing speed golfers. At a moderate swing speed, a 5 wood carries 185-190 yards while the 3 hybrid carries about 180-185 yards for male golfers.

Loft

5 wood loft: 16-19 degrees

3 hybrid loft: 19 degrees

Shaft Length

5 wood shaft length: 42 inches

3 hybrid shaft length: 40 inches

Draw bias

3 hybrids are made with offset to help to pull the ball toward the left side, preventing those big left-to-right shots.

5 woods usually have a neutral face but because of the higher loft between 16 and 19 degrees, it is easy to hit with less shot shape than lower lofted clubs. 

When to use hybrids vs fairway woods

In my experience, the fairway wood and hybrid are useful in a number of situations but the hybrid is more versatile.

Fairway woods

  • More accurate tee shot - 5 wood or 7 wood can ensure a shot in the fairway. 3 wood are not easy to hit and should be avoided.
  • Long approach shots or long par 3s
  • Higher spin, higher maximum shot height for soft landing with minimal rollout
  • Easiest to hit from the fairway or fluffed up lies in the rough
  • Lower dispersion due to higher spin rates means you can control the ball better

Hybrids

  • More accurate tee shots
  • Long approach shots and long par 3s
  • Punch shots out of the trees where you need to keep the ball low
  • Chipping around the green if you hit bad chips with your wedges
  • Lower launch, penetrating ball flight with more rollout due to lower spin
  • Easier to hit from tough lies in the rough than irons and fairway woods
  • More controllable due to shorter shaft but draw bias can increase dispersion

Conclusion

Mostly the choice to play a hybrid or a fairway wood comes down to preference of ball flight and the type of shot you need.

A fairway wood launches high and lands softly.

A hybrid launches lower and rolls out further.

If you like the look and feel of an iron, the hybrid may be best. If you like the look and feel of fairway woods, they will perform better for you. It all depends on what your goal is. Now you know the differences, you can make the best decisions on the course. 

Upright vs Flat Lie Angle (How It Affects Your Shot)

In the dynamic world of golf, every detail matters. From your grip to your swing, each element plays a pivotal role in determining your success on the course. Among these often-overlooked factors, the proper lie angle of your golf club can significantly influence the outcome of your shots. In this article, we'll look at how this seemingly minor adjustment to your golf clubs can have a major impact on your game.

What Is Lie Angle and How Do You Measure Lie Angle

In golf, the lie angle of a club refers to the angle formed between the sole of the clubhead and the shaft when the club is placed in a horizontal position on a flat surface. It is a crucial aspect of club fitting because it directly affects how the clubhead interacts with the ground at impact. The lie angle can be measured using specialized tools known as lie angle gauges. These gauges determine the angle at which the sole of the clubhead should be in contact with the ground for the golfer's specific swing.

lie angle

How To Check Your Lie Angle

Checking your lie angle is a fundamental step in club fitting. To do this, you can use impact tape or foot spray to mark the clubface, make a swing, and observe the mark's location on the clubface after the shot. If the mark is towards the heel (closer to the hosel), the lie angle may be too upright. Conversely, if the mark is towards the toe, the lie angle may be too flat. Additionally, professional club fitters use launch monitors and high-speed cameras to analyze ball flight and clubhead impact to determine the appropriate lie angle for a golfer's swing.

What is a lie board?

A lie board, also known as a lie angle board or lie angle tape, is a tool used in golf club fitting to determine and adjust the lie angle of irons or wedges. It is a flat, rigid board with a series of lines or markings on it. Golfers and club fitters use lie boards to assess whether the lie angle of a golf club is appropriate for the golfer's swing and posture.

Here's how a lie board works:

  1. Placing the Club: The golfer addresses the ball on the lie board as they would on the golf course, with the clubhead resting on the lie board's surface.
  2. Impact Mark: When the golfer makes a swing, the clubhead makes contact with the lie board. This contact leaves an impact mark or a pattern of marks on the sole of the club. The location and direction of these marks indicate how the clubhead is interacting with the ground at impact.
  3. Analysis: By examining the impact marks on the sole of the club, a club fitter can determine whether the lie angle needs adjustment. The ideal lie angle is one that results in a flat, even mark across the club's sole. If the marks show that the toe or heel of the club is making more contact with the lie board, adjustments may be needed.
  4. Adjustment: If necessary, the fitter can adjust the lie angle of the club by bending the club's hosel. This adjustment is made to ensure that the clubhead sits flush with the ground at impact, promoting a more accurate and consistent ball strike.

Lie boards are particularly useful when fitting irons because the lie angle can have a significant impact on shot direction and ball flight. By using lie boards, golfers and club fitters can fine-tune the lie angle of irons to match the golfer's swing mechanics and body posture, ultimately improving the golfer's accuracy and performance on the golf course.

Effect of A Flat vs. Upright Lie Angle On Your Shots

The lie angle of your club can have a profound effect on your shots. A flat lie angle tends to produce a lower ball flight, potentially leading to hooks for some golfers. On the other hand, an upright lie angle generally results in a higher ball flight, which can help counteract a hook tendency. It's essential to find the right balance to optimize your shots for distance, accuracy, and consistency.

loft lie chart golf

What Does It Mean To Be Too Upright?

Being too upright means that the clubhead is oriented too vertically when addressing the ball. This can cause the toe of the club to be off the ground, leading to the potential for hooks and inconsistent shots. Golfers who are too upright may struggle with directional control and may not achieve the desired ball flight characteristics.

Adjusting Your Lie Angle

Lie angle adjustments are typically made by bending the club's hosel. A club fitter can use a specialized bending machine to make these adjustments. For clubs with adjustable hosels, golfers can often make minor lie angle adjustments themselves. However, it's crucial to consult with a professional club fitter before attempting any changes to ensure the modifications are correct and will improve your game.

Lie angle chart

standard lie angle for golf clubs

Using A Lie Angle Adjustment To Help Improve Your Swing

A properly fitted lie angle can help you improve your swing mechanics and ball-striking consistency. By optimizing the lie angle, you can reduce the chance of slicing or hooking the ball and increase the likelihood of hitting straighter, more accurate shots. It's an essential component of club fitting that can lead to better performance and a more enjoyable golfing experience, helping you reach your full potential on the course.

Lie angle - Irons vs Woods

Lie Angle in Irons:

  1. Impact on Ball Flight: The lie angle of irons has a direct impact on the direction and trajectory of your shots. A correctly fitted lie angle in irons ensures that the sole of the club is in proper contact with the ground at impact, allowing you to strike the ball cleanly. An incorrect lie angle in irons can result in shots that veer off target and may not reach their intended distance.
  2. Consistency: In irons, lie angle consistency is critical throughout the set. As you progress from short irons to long irons, the lie angle may need to be adjusted slightly to maintain consistent ball flight and accuracy.
  3. Fitting Process: To determine the appropriate lie angle for your irons, club fitters often analyze your swing and ball flight using launch monitors or high-speed cameras. They may make adjustments to individual irons to ensure optimal performance.

Lie Angle in Woods (Drivers and Fairway Woods):

  1. Less Pronounced Impact: The lie angle in woods, particularly in drivers and fairway woods, has a less pronounced effect on shot direction and trajectory compared to irons. This is because you're generally hitting these clubs off a tee or a clean lie in the fairway.
  2. Ball Flight Adjustment: While lie angle in woods may not be as critical as in irons, it can still influence ball flight to some extent. For instance, a flatter lie angle in a driver might promote a slightly lower ball flight, which can be desirable for some golfers seeking more roll after landing.
  3. Static Lie Angle: Before the introduction of adjustable loft sleeves on woods, having the lie angle adjusted on your 3 wood or driver was tricky to do. Now a skilled club fitter can use the options available to them to find the optimum lie angle and loft for your swing. The right lie angle with a wood can help you to get the golf ball started on the right target line and hopefully influence the shot shape that you're trying to play. The wrong lie angle can mean the ball starts on the wrong line for your intended or natural shot shape.

Lie angle is important for both irons and woods, but it tends to have a more significant impact on the performance of irons due to the nature of the shots they are used for. Golfers should still pay attention to lie angle in their woods, especially when custom-fitting, to ensure that it complements their swing and desired ball flight characteristics. However, it's generally less variable and less adjustable in woods compared to irons.

Lie angle for shorter players

Shorter golfers, due to their lower stature, tend to have a more upright posture at address. This natural tendency in their normal playing position can lead to the heel of the club making contact with the ground first if the lie angle is too upright. As a result, shorter players may experience inconsistent ball striking and a tendency to pull or hook the ball.

To address this, a flatter lie angle is often recommended for shorter golfers. A flatter lie angle allows the clubhead to sit more level with the ground at impact, promoting cleaner and more consistent ball striking. It can also help reduce the likelihood of a hook, as it encourages a more neutral clubface angle at impact.

As always, it's crucial for golfers of all heights to undergo a proper club fitting process to determine the ideal lie angle based on their individual swing mechanics and body posture. This ensures that the lie angle is optimized to improve performance and ball flight characteristics. Thank you for pointing out the correction, and I appreciate your understanding.

Lie angle for taller players

Taller golfers indeed often benefit from an upright lie angle rather than a flatter one. Here's why:

Taller golfers typically have longer arms, which can lead to a more upright posture at address. This upright posture can cause the clubhead to sit more upright on the ground naturally. If a tall golfer were to use a flatter lie angle, it could result in the toe of the club making contact with the ground first, leading to inconsistent ball striking and a tendency to push or slice the ball.

Conversely, using an upright lie angle for taller golfers helps ensure that the clubhead makes proper contact with the ground at impact, promoting a more consistent and accurate ball strike. It can also help reduce the likelihood of a hook, as it encourages a more neutral clubface angle at impact.

So, for taller golfers, an upright lie angle can be a beneficial adjustment to help optimize their club's performance and ball flight characteristics. As always, it's essential to undergo a proper club fitting process, preferably with the assistance of a professional club fitter, to determine the ideal lie angle based on individual swing characteristics and body posture.

Cast vs Forged Clubs For Adjusting Lie Angle

Whether you have cast or forged clubs, you can typically adjust the lie angle to suit your swing characteristics and body posture. Both types of clubs can be bent to achieve the desired lie angle, but there are some differences to consider:

Cast Clubs:

  1. Material: Cast clubs are made by pouring molten metal into a mold. They are generally made from stainless steel or other alloys.
  2. Adjustability: Cast clubs are less malleable than forged clubs, meaning they may be more prone to breaking or cracking if bent too much. However, they can still be adjusted once.
  3. Bending Process: When adjusting the lie angle of cast clubs, it's important to work with a professional club fitter who has experience with cast materials. They will use specialized equipment to carefully bend the clubhead to achieve the desired lie angle.

Forged Clubs:

  1. Material: Forged clubs are made by shaping solid metal bars through heat and pressure. They are typically made from softer carbon steel or other metals.
  2. Adjustability: Forged clubs are more pliable and easier to adjust when compared to cast clubs. This allows for a wider range of lie angle adjustments.
  3. Bending Process: Forged clubs are well-suited for lie angle adjustments because of their malleability. A professional club fitter can precisely bend the clubhead to achieve the desired lie angle with less risk of damaging the club.

Both cast and forged clubs can be adjusted for lie angle, but forged clubs are generally more accommodating to significant lie angle changes. If you're considering lie angle adjustments, it's advisable to consult with a professional club fitter who has experience with your specific club type and material. They can help you achieve the desired lie angle while minimizing the risk of damaging the club head.

Final thoughts on upright vs flat lie angles

Here are some final thoughts to consider when evaluating whether an upright or flat lie angle is right for you:

  1. Custom Fitting is Key: The most important aspect of choosing the right lie angle is undergoing a proper custom fitting. This process takes into account your unique swing mechanics, body posture, and ball flight tendencies to determine the ideal lie angle for your clubs. A professional club fitter can provide valuable insights and recommendations.
  2. Upright Lie Angle: Golfers who benefit from an upright lie angle often have taller stature, a more upright swing plane, or a tendency to slice the ball. Upright lie angles can help promote straighter shots and better contact with the turf for these individuals.
  3. Flat Lie Angle: Shorter golfers or those with a flatter swing plane may find that a flatter lie angle improves their ball striking consistency. It can help ensure that the clubhead sits flush with the ground at impact, reducing the likelihood of digging the clubhead into the turf.
  4. Individual Variation: The ideal lie angle is not one-size-fits-all. Each golfer is unique, and their lie angle requirements can vary. Even within a single golfer's set of clubs, different irons or wedges may require different lie angles to optimize performance.
  5. Adjustability: Many modern clubs, especially irons and wedges, offer some degree of adjustability in terms of lie angle. This can be useful for fine-tuning your clubs to match your evolving swing or posture.
  6. Professional Guidance: When in doubt, seek the guidance of a professional club fitter or golf instructor. They have the expertise and tools to determine the ideal lie angle adjustments for your specific needs.

So, the choice between upright and flat lie angles is highly individualized and dependent on various factors. What's most important is that your lie angles are tailored to enhance your ball striking, accuracy, and consistency on the golf course. A professional club fitting is the best way to ensure that your clubs are optimized for your unique swing, ultimately helping you play your best golf.

What are Golf Balls Made of?

Modern-day golf balls are classified based on the number of layers of rubber materials in their core, such as 2-piece, 3-piece, and 4-piece. The outer covers are usually made of either urethane or surlyn. While some might wonder about the mysterious contents of a golf ball, it's safe to say that they are not filled with rubber bands or water.


The History of the Golf Ball

The evolution of golf ball composition has been quite intriguing. Early humble golf ball versions were simple wooden spheres, later replaced by featherie balls in the 15th century. These were leather balls filled with feathers and painted white, but they had their limitations due to water absorption and irregular shape. In the 19th century, the gutta percha ball, made from natural latex, gained popularity, being more affordable and uniform in shape.

A significant breakthrough came with the creation of Haskell balls by winding rubber strands around a solid core and coating them with gutta percha. These balls featured dimples on their surface for improved flight characteristics. Over time, advancements allowed for the elimination of layered rubber cores, resulting in the widely used 2-piece balls today.

Presently, the modern golf ball is categorized by the number of cores they have, and their composition is carefully engineered for different performance advantages. For example, Titleist Pro V1's are 3-piece balls, but their premium materials set them apart. Throughout history, golf ball design has aimed to increase distance and provide better control around the green. This won't stop golfers from blaming the ball or talking to it out on the golf course.

Why is Golf Ball Design Important?

Golf ball design is crucial because it directly impacts a golfer's performance and overall experience on the course. Here are some key reasons why golf ball design is essential:

  • Distance and Accuracy: A well-designed golf ball can significantly affect the distance a golfer can achieve with their shots. Factors like core compression, cover materials, and dimple patterns influence the ball's flight characteristics and aerodynamics, leading to greater distance and improved accuracy.
  • Spin Control: The ability to control the spin of a golf ball is essential, especially for approach shots and shots around the green. Golf ball design, including the cover material and dimple pattern, plays a vital role in determining the amount of spin a golfer can generate.
  • Greenside Control: Premium golf balls with specific cover materials, such as urethane, offer better greenside control, allowing golfers to execute delicate shots with more precision and spin.
  • Feel and Feedback: Golf ball design affects the overall feel of the ball when struck. Some golfers prefer a softer feel, while others prefer a firmer feel. The feedback a golfer receives from the ball at impact is essential for evaluating the quality of their shots.
  • Swing Speed and Compression: Golf balls are designed with different compression levels to suit golfers with varying swing speeds. Matching the right compression to a golfer's swing speed can optimize ball flight and distance.
  • Player Skill Level: Golf ball design takes into account the skill level of the intended user. For example, high-handicap golfers may benefit from a ball with a focus on distance and forgiveness, while low-handicap golfers may prefer a ball that offers more control and workability.
  • Weather Conditions: Golf balls designed for different weather conditions can help golfers adapt to varying environments. Some balls are specifically engineered to perform well in hot or cold temperatures or in windy conditions.
  • Brand Differentiation: Golf ball manufacturers continuously innovate to differentiate their products in a competitive market. Unique features and technologies in golf ball design can attract golfers seeking specific performance advantages.
  • Overall Enjoyment: Playing with a golf ball that suits a golfer's preferences and game style enhances the overall enjoyment of the sport. Golfers tend to have more confidence and satisfaction when using a ball that fits their needs.
  • Advancement in Technology: As golf ball design evolves, advancements in materials, aerodynamics, and manufacturing processes lead to improved performance, which benefits golfers of all skill levels.

Golf Ball Manufacturing Process - Step by Step

The golf ball manufacturing process involves several steps to create the final product. While there may be variations in the process based on the type and design of the ball, here is a general step-by-step overview:

  1. Core Formation:
    • The manufacturing process begins with the creation of the core. For two-piece golf balls, this core is typically a solid rubber sphere.
    • Rubber compounds, usually polybutadiene or a blend of synthetic rubbers, are mixed with other additives to achieve the desired compression and feel characteristics.
  2. Core Molding:
    • The rubber mixture is shaped into a spherical core using a process called compression molding or injection molding.
    • In compression molding, the rubber is placed into a mold, and pressure and heat are applied to form the core shape.
    • Injection molding involves injecting the rubber mixture into a mold to shape the core.
  3. Mantle Layer (for multi-layer balls):
    • For multi-layer golf balls, an intermediate layer called the mantle may be added between the core and the cover.
    • The mantle is made of different materials and can vary in thickness to provide specific performance attributes, such as spin and distance.
  4. Cover Material Preparation:
    • The cover material, which is typically urethane or surlyn, is prepared separately.
    • The material is mixed with other additives to achieve the desired hardness, durability, and feel.
  5. Cover Molding:
    • The cover material is molded into two half-shells using injection molding or compression molding techniques.
    • The dimple pattern is also created on the inside of each half-shell during this stage.
  6. Core Encapsulation:
    • For multi-layer balls, the core is placed within one half of the cover shell.
    • If a mantle layer is used, it is placed on top of the core in this step.
    • The other half-shell is then placed on top, enclosing the core and mantle (if applicable) within the cover.
  7. Cover Bonding:
    • The two cover half-shells are fused together by applying heat and pressure to create a seamless and durable bond.
  8. Finishing and Trimming:
    • The golf balls are then trimmed to remove any excess material and achieve uniformity in size and weight.
  9. Painting and Printing:
    • The golf balls are painted and printed with brand logos, model names, and other markings.
    • High-quality golf balls may also have alignment aids or personalization options.
  10. Quality Control and Inspection:
  • The finished golf balls undergo rigorous quality control checks to ensure they meet the manufacturer's standards for performance, consistency, and appearance.
  1. Packaging and Distribution:
  • The golf balls are packaged and ready for distribution to retailers and consumers.

What Are the Different Types of Golf Balls?

There are several different types of golf balls available on the market, each designed to cater to specific playing styles, skill levels, and performance preferences. The main types of golf balls are:

  1. Two-Piece Golf Balls:
    • Two-piece golf balls are the most common and widely used type of golf ball.
    • They consist of a solid rubber core and a durable cover made of materials like surlyn.
    • Two-piece balls are known for their distance and durability, making them popular among casual and high-handicap golfers.
  2. Multi-Layer Golf Balls:
    • Multi-layer golf balls have three or more layers in their construction, including a core, mantle layer(s), and a cover.
    • The core is typically made of rubber, and the mantle layers are designed to optimize spin, control, and distance.
    • These balls offer a balance of distance, feel, and control, making them suitable for a wide range of golfers, including mid-handicap players.
  3. Tour-Level Golf Balls:
    • Tour-level golf balls are premium offerings designed for advanced players, including professionals and low-handicap golfers.
    • They feature urethane covers, which provide excellent spin, control, and feel around the greens.
    • Tour-level balls are known for their performance in terms of distance, accuracy, and shot shaping.
  4. Distance Golf Balls:
    • Distance golf balls are engineered to maximize distance off the tee.
    • They often have a low-compression core and a harder cover to promote long shots and minimize spin.
    • These balls are suitable for golfers seeking added yardage without significant concern for greenside control.
  5. Low-Compression Golf Balls:
    • Low-compression golf balls are designed for golfers with slower swing speeds.
    • Their soft core compresses easily, generating higher ball speeds and distance with slower swings.
    • These balls offer a softer feel and better control for players with slower swing velocities.
  6. High-Compression Golf Balls:
    • High-compression golf balls are designed for golfers with faster swing speeds.
    • They have a firm core that resists compression, offering enhanced control and reduced spin for high-velocity swings.
  7. Women's Golf Balls:
    • Some golf balls are specifically marketed to cater to women golfers.
    • These balls often have features like softer feel, low compression, and aesthetically pleasing designs.

It's key to choose a golf ball that matches your playing ability, swing speed, and personal preferences. Trying out different types and brands can help you find the ball that suits your game best.

What Are the Materials Used In The Golf Ball Manufacturing Process?

The manufacturing process of golf balls involves various materials to create the core, cover, and other components. The materials used in golf ball manufacturing can vary depending on the ball's design and intended performance characteristics. Here are some of the common materials used in the golf ball manufacturing process:

  1. Core Materials:
    • Rubber: Synthetic rubber compounds, such as polybutadiene or synthetic rubber blends, are commonly used in the core to provide the ball's primary elasticity and resilience.
    • Thermoplastic Resins: Some modern golf balls use thermoplastic materials as part of the core to achieve specific performance attributes, such as high compression or a soft feel.
  2. Cover Materials:
    • Urethane: Urethane covers are widely used in premium golf balls. Urethane provides a soft feel, high spin rates, and excellent greenside control. These covers are often found in tour-level and high-performance golf balls.
    • Surlyn: Surlyn covers, a type of ionomer resin, are used in many mid-range and distance-oriented golf balls. Surlyn covers are more durable and resistant to cuts and scuffs, making them suitable for recreational golfers seeking a balance of distance and durability.
    • Thermoplastic Urethane (TPU): Some golf balls may use a blend of urethane and thermoplastic materials to achieve specific performance characteristics.
  3. Mantle Layers:
    • Some multi-layer golf balls have a mantle layer between the core and the cover. The materials used in the mantle can vary and are often designed to optimize spin, distance, and feel.
  4. Dimple Pattern Coatings:
    • A golf ball's dimple pattern is critical for aerodynamics and flight characteristics. Some manufacturers use special coatings on the dimples to reduce drag and enhance performance.
  5. Additional Additives:
    • Manufacturers incorporate additional additives or materials to fine-tune the golf ball's performance, such as fillers to adjust the ball's weight and balance.

How Long Do Golf Balls Last?

The lifespan of a golf ball can vary depending on several factors, such as the quality of the ball, frequency of use, storage conditions, and the golfer's playing style. Generally, golf balls can last for a significant amount of time, but their performance may gradually deteriorate over extended periods. Here are some considerations for the lifespan of golf balls:

  • Quality of the Golf Ball: Higher-quality golf balls, such as premium tour-level balls, are often more durable and maintain their performance characteristics longer than lower-quality balls. They are designed to withstand more shots and maintain their performance over time.
  • Frequency of Use: Golf balls that are frequently used, especially during practice sessions and on rough terrain, may experience more wear and tear. Repeated impacts can lead to scuffs, scratches, and loss of performance.
  • Storage Conditions: Proper storage can extend the lifespan of golf balls. Keeping them in a cool, dry place, away from extreme temperatures and humidity, can help preserve their performance.
  • Playing Style: Golfers with high swing speeds or those who regularly hit shots with excessive spin might wear out their golf balls faster than those with slower swing speeds or a smoother playing style.
  • Damage: Golf balls can become damaged due to hitting trees, cart paths, or other hard surfaces. Such impacts can affect the ball's performance and durability.
  • Water Exposure: If golf balls spend a significant amount of time submerged in water (e.g., water hazards), they may absorb moisture and lose performance characteristics.

As a general guideline, golf balls used in normal play can last anywhere from several rounds to several months, depending on the factors mentioned above. Golfers should regularly inspect their golf balls for signs of damage, scuffs, or significant wear, as this can impact the ball's flight and feel. If you notice any considerable changes in performance or visible damage, it may be time to replace the golf ball.

For serious golfers or those playing in tournaments, it's common to switch out golf balls more frequently to ensure they are in optimal condition and perform consistently throughout the round. For recreational players, using golf balls until they show signs of significant wear or damage is generally acceptable.

What Is The Difference Between Soft And Hard Golf Balls?

The difference between soft and hard golf balls primarily lies in their feel, compression, spin rates, and overall performance characteristics. These differences can significantly affect a golfer's game and are often a matter of personal preference. Here's a breakdown of the key distinctions between soft and hard golf balls:

  • Feel:
    • Soft Golf Balls: Soft golf balls have a softer cover and core construction, which results in a more pleasing and gentle feel when struck. Many golfers prefer the soft feel as it provides a sense of control and feedback at impact.
    • Hard Golf Balls: Hard golf balls, on the other hand, have a firmer cover and core, giving a firmer feel when hit. Some golfers prefer this firmer sensation for a perceived sense of distance and responsiveness.
  • Compression:
    • Soft Golf Balls: Soft golf balls typically have lower compression, meaning the core is more easily compressed upon impact. These balls are ideal for golfers with slower swing speeds, as they allow for more compression and distance with slower swings.
    • Hard Golf Balls: Hard golf balls have higher compression, making them more suitable for golfers with faster swing speeds. The firmer core allows for less compression, which can result in more distance for higher swing speeds.
  • Spin Rates:
    • Soft Golf Balls: Soft golf balls tend to produce more spin, especially around the greens. This increased spin can provide better control and stopping power on approach shots and short game shots.
    • Hard Golf Balls: Hard golf balls typically produce lower spin rates, which can lead to more roll-out on the fairways and less spin around the greens. They might be preferred by golfers who want a more penetrating ball flight.
  • Distance:
    • Soft Golf Balls: Soft golf balls are not known for maximizing distance off the tee, especially for players with higher swing speeds. However, they can provide better overall control and precision.
    • Hard Golf Balls: Hard golf balls are often associated with greater distance due to their lower spin rates and higher compression. They may be favored by golfers seeking maximum distance.
  • Green-side Control:
    • Soft Golf Balls: Soft golf balls generally offer better greenside control due to their ability to generate more spin, allowing golfers to stop the ball more quickly on the green.
    • Hard Golf Balls: Hard golf balls may be more challenging to control around the greens, as their lower spin rates make it harder to stop the ball quickly.

Best Irons for Mid Handicappers and Average Golfers 2024

best mid handicapper irons

Last Updated on February 2, 2024 by Matt Greene
*Read our review guidelines.

What are the best mid handicap irons? As a golfer, you know what looks good to you, and that is 80% of the decision.

Many specially engineered iron sets exist purely to help mid handicappers have more fun. To find the right one for you, please hold these factors in the front of you mind:

  1. Try testing your favorite 2-3 sets of irons by actually hitting them. Narrow down to the best one.
  2. Get fitted for the set of clubs that you like the most. You're a good golfer now, so you'll benefit from fitting.
  3. You have the option to come home and purchase your irons online with the exact same specs the fitter gave you!

In this review of the best irons for mid handicappers, we'll tell you our expert teams experience with the clubs on and off the course, and any other key information that you might not know, to help you make a better decision.
*This post contains affiliate links and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links.

Best Irons for Mid Handicap Golfers 2024









Best overall irons for a mid handicapper

srixon zx5 mkII irons

Srixon ZX5 Mk II irons

Easy to launch: 

Distance:

Forgiveness:

The Srixon ZX5 MkII stood out after hitting them and playing them on the course. They are a decent upgrade from the ZX5 with much better looks but the same top of the line materials and feel.

Turf interaction: The sole of the club is shaped with a slight 'V' shape and that is what makes it a winner in my eyes. The interaction with the ground is the best I have found.

When you hit a shot, the leading edge of the ZX5 will first enter the grass and the bottom of the sole (the bottom of the V) will bounce off the turf beneath the ball. You can actually feel that small action as the club glides right through the turf instead of digging. 

Looks and feel: At address, my eyes saw minimal offset and I found the top line was in the middle of the blade and super game improvement thickness. When I look at them in the bag, I can't tell if they are game improvement or players cavity back.

The clubs felt soft to me and that is because Srixon use some of the softest materials and forge almost all of their irons. Something to note is that there is a tungsten insert in the toe of the the 3 iron down to 7 iron while in the 8 iron down to approach wedge, the grooves are deeper and narrower to increase spin. 

Accuracy and performance: When I mis-hit shots badly with the MK2 irons, I noticed the ball lost only a few yards. If the strikes was just off the sweet spot, toward the toe, I noticed almost not difference in distances. On both good and bad strikes, the ball travelled straighter than I expected especially compared to my blade irons. 

One small issue I found was that when I hit one very sweet, the ball went much further than my stock distance, sometimes putting me in a hazard or a bunker 10-20 yards past the target. 

Highlights

  • Amazing turf interaction with the specially V shaped sole
  • Consistent distances on mis-hits with soft forged feel 
  • Looks like a players iron but performs like a game improvement iron
  • Low center of gravity and lowered sweet spot for easier crisp contact

Cons

  • Very sweet hits travel further and overshoot the mark at times 

Best value forged irons

Takomo 201 irons

From $500

Easy to launch: 

Distance:

Forgiveness:

Takomo 201 irons are forged cavity back irons specially created for the everyday average amateur in mind. The materials used are buttery soft and this is the first iteration from the new company Takomo. I have been playing Takomo for one year now and they are excellent.

Looks and feel: The Takomo 201 iron is a players cavity back. The feeling I get when hitting the club is softness in the center of the face and when I hit off-center, I felt enough feedback to know I mis-hit the ball. A lot of cavity back clubs can cover up the bad strike and make you feel like it was a very solid hit.

I like that when I miss the center of the face when I hit the Takomo 201s, it doesn't feel like a center-strike. This can help you understand where you are missing - toward the toe, or high in the face or toward the heel. 

The offset is small on these irons and they are really a set you can use all the way down to scratch golf.

Performance and accuracy: I hit the 201s with the KBS shafts Takomo fit standard in their irons. I used the stiff and X-stiff KBS Tour shaft. It's unbelievable that you can get a forged players cavity back with a KBS Tour shaft for under $600 per set.

The hard part with cavity back irons is consistent distances off the center strikes. I found the Takomo 201 launched high with a steep drop angle into the green with the stiff shafts, and the distances were very consistent. The ball did not jump off the face and fly much further than my expected distances. That makes them a winner because when you aspire to single figure golf, you need consistent distances on your iron shots. 

With the X-stiff shafts, of course, my launch was lower and penetrating, but with enough spin to stop the ball within a yard of my pitch mark. 

Conclusion: If budget is your concern, and even if it is not, for the money, you will not find a better iron as a mid handicapper trying to get to low single figures. The consistency of distances and minimal offset make the 201s a must-have.

Highlights

  • A mini V shaped sole means turf interaction that prevents digging
  • Most consistent distances I found on center strikes on players forged cavity backs
  • The most forgiving players cavity back available
  • Direct to consumer with a good team behind customer support
  • The value is crazy - under $600 which includes KBS Tour and Tour Lite shafts with Lamkin grips standard fit

Cons

  • Back order can take a while due to popularity and demand

Most forgiving mid handicap iron

Callaway Apex DCB Irons- Srixon ZX5 Irons - best golf iron for mid handicappers

Easy to launch: 

Distance:

Forgiveness:

Callaway make some of the most forgiving irons available. The Apex DCB is an excellent option for a 10 to 15 handicapper. Ben Hogan Apex irons were always a pure irons and Callaway have integrated the principles of Apex after acquiring Hogan.

Look and feel: The Apex DCB are forged and cavity backed - the DCB stands for Deep Cavity Back - which means they do feel soft and are very forgiving. I noticed that the club heads are very large with a very wide sole and a thick top line. 

Accuracy and performance: I noticed a normal amount of offset for a game improvement iron. When I hit the Callaways, I noticed the ball fly very long with a definite bias to move right to left. If you fade the ball, these might be good to straighten out your shots. 

The lofts are quite strong in comparison to other models so my flight was low but long. The Flash Cup Face is designed to make the ball go further and I found that it works. I would predict for medium swing speeds, the flight would be perfect but I don't see these irons spinning that much. 

I am a mid ball flight golfer and I believe these irons are best for golfers who hit the ball medium to high. If your ball flight is too low, I do not believe these irons will hold the green, unless you roll the ball up to the green. 

Conclusion: With stronger lofts, you'll notice a distance increase. While the flight is high in relation to the lofts, be careful if you're a low ball hitter as you may find some shallow landing angles when approaching greens. 

Highlights

  • Fat sole for easy skimming turf interaction making fat shots go further
  • Very forgiving and soft club head with a deep cavity back for pleasant off center hits
  • Crisp sound at contact - more hollow sound toward longer irons
  • You'll be hitting one club shorter to every green - stronger lofts but high flight

Cons

  • There is no SW in this set
  • If you are a low ball hitter, the strong lofts will keep your flight low

Easiest irons to launch

Cleveland Launcher XL Halo Irons - Srixon ZX5 Irons - best golf iron for mid handicappers

Cleveland Launcher XL irons

Easy to launch: 

Distance:

Forgiveness:

The Launcher XL irons are the upgrade to my prior favorites, the near perfect Cleveland Launcher UHX. I've recommended the UHX to 8 friends, who all game them and I will continue to recommend the Launcher iron range for casual golfers, not looking to become scratch golfers.

Look and feel: The Launcher XL are in fact very large club heads. When i place the club head behind the ball, it's obvious that the main purpose of the Launchers is Game Improvement. The club heads are also much longer than most other irons and it's noticeable at address which gives you a lot of surface area to hit the ball with. 

Cleveland include the loft on the bottom of the club to help us stop being attached to the number iron you are hitting, and more understanding of the loft that creates that distance. Cleveland is owned by the parent company which owns Srixon, so the Cleveland Launcher irons also feature a V-shaped sole. These clubs did not dig into the ground when I played them. 

Accuracy and performance: The extra surface area on the club face means that on off-center hits, you don't get punished as much as a smaller head.  There is a progressive design in the iron, which means the 4 iron to 7 iron have a hollow body and the short irons are cavity backs.

Hollow body clubs are designed to reduce the shock and poor performance of mis-hits. I actually kept the 4 iron in my bag with my usual set because it was so much easier to hit. The cavity back short irons are jus as easy to hit. 

Distance was much longer than most irons I tried. I was around 10 yards longer on average compared to other models on the list. It is partially because of lower lofts, but Cleveland are known for making irons that travel higher despite lower lofts and that is what I noticed. My friends who play the Launcher models all notice much softer landings on the greens. 

Conclusion: Any time a mid handicapper friend asks me for recommendations on new irons, I have to gauge how much golf they play and their expectations. The Cleveland Launcher series is perfect for a golfer who is between a 10 and 18 handicap who plays around 4 times a month without any ambitions of being a scratch golfer.  

These irons are fun to hit, and help you enjoy your weekly game of golf more than most sets on this list. 

Highlights

  • Very large club heads with variable face thickness for maximum forgiveness
  • The ball goes straighter with less shape and doesn't lose massive distance on bad strikes
  • High-launching and glides through the turf because of raised leading edge and V shape sole
  • Great irons for mid handicap golfers who play once a week and want more fun

Cons

  • Matte finish on the clubs can wear off easily

Best irons for a 10 handicap

Ping g430 irons

Easy to launch: 

Distance:

Forgiveness:

PING irons are synonymous with mid handicap golf and the Ping G430 are the upgrade of the G425 which I rated highly. Changes from G425 are minor, mainly in aesthetic, and performance of the clubs is very similar.

Look and feel: Ping have shortened the heel to toe distance since their last model by creating a more classic shaped head with a thinner top line. That was my main gripe with Ping irons before.  

Accuracy and performance:The G430 irons have been designed to behave more like fairway woods by making the face of the club variable in thickness. I noticed that the irons suited more of a sweeping swing as opposed to my typical steep swing which digs into the ground. 

I noticed that with a more sweeping swing, the ball pops up into the air much better than when i struck hard down onto the ball. A lot of people who are scared of taking divots will definitely benefit from a set of G430 which allow you to sweep and elevate the ball easily, to help you get on or around the green more often.

PING removed some of the unwanted frequencies of sound by dampening the club behind the face with epoxy. A tungsten screw in the toe creates strong perimeter weighting which makes them very forgiving.

Conclusion: These are the type of mid handicap irons that do not dig into the turf and suit a sweeping style of swing. If you do own the G425, then I would not consider an upgrade but if you have a sweeping swing and are playing thin soled irons, I would suggest picking up a set of G430. If you're in the 12 to 20 handicap range, these are great. 

Highlights

  • Sweeping style of swing suits these irons perfectly
  • Easy to get airborne and elevated without much force
  • Thick sole for easy gliding interaction with the turf 
  • You can keep these irons in the bag for a very long time - very reliable and high quality

Cons

  • Not for fast swingers (95+ mph with driver)

Best intermediate golf irons

mizuno 923 hotmetal irons

Mizuno JPX 923 Forged

Easy to launch: 

Distance:

Forgiveness:

As always, Mizuno forged golf irons are buttery soft and while the new JPX 923 look like a forgiving muscle back , they are actually a cavity back. I was not a fan of the prior JPX 919 and I resold them after 5 rounds but the JPX 923 upgrade improved on them. The 923 version feels higher quality on off-center hits and center hits really feel soft compared to the 919.

Look and feel: The look of the Mizuno JPX923 is similar to the prior JPX919 model and with minimal colors, combined with matte finish, they are easily the best looking iron on the list. They have the look of PGA Tour professional clubs with more forgiving and bigger clubs heads in the long irons moving into more compact shorter irons for precision shots. 

There is a very small offset to the clubs for added forgiveness. 

Accuracy and performance: The sole of the Mizuno has a more U-shaped appearance for less digging in the turf interaction in a similar way to the Srixon ZX5. In my experience with the clubs, there is almost no difference between them and the Srixon ZX5. 

Conclusion: You'll be able to shape the ball both ways with these. There are a lot of mid handicappers who were once single figures who still like a fade or draw into a tight pin. It's fun to shape shots if you can.

For high-mid handicappers, I would suggest the Hot Metal version because the sweet spot has been moved lower in the face specifically to help inconsistent striking.

Highlights

  • Soft buttery forged iron feel and sound
  • They moved weight into the edges of the club face for more forgiveness and ball speed
  • Classic design and look at address appeals to purists
  • Shot-shapers will love this iron
  • It's a Mizuno, very little can be wrong

Cons

  • Less forgiving than Stealth, PING and Cobra
  • Matte finish to the clubs wears off

Best irons for max distance

cobra aerojet irons

Easy to launch: 

Distance:

Forgiveness:

Cobra irons are definitely mid handicap irons but have a much more mid-sized club heads. The top line when you address the ball is not as chunky as most mid handicap irons. Like with most of the new irons in this category, they've made the club face thinner to promote more ball speed off the flexible face to hit it longer. 

Behind the face (Powershell Hot Face first seen in the Radspeed) is the updated Pwr-bridge insert they've created to not only increase distance, and improve the forgiveness, as they always do, but also create a very pleasing sound at impact. 

Cobra built the Aerojet irons for 10-20 handicappers specifically and they want these players to be able to hit a 7 iron 155 yards + on the fly with these bad boys. 

The head looks really long as well so don't expect a small blade face. 

The light weight of the clubs and decreased lofts can help your swing speed and distance enough to prevent you from moving to softer shafts.

The cavity back is 3D printed which some people may find cool and hip, but to be fair, it's aesthetics. I care about the performance Cobra continue to create some of the easiest to hit clubs on the market.

Cobra continues offering the Arccos Caddie GPS system with sensors in the butt of the club, which can be paired with the Cobra Connect feature. 

Highlights

  • 3D printed cavity back filling
  • Mid sized club head more palatable than most mid handicap irons
  • PWR Bridge in the back of the club to increase launch and speed as well as forgiveness
  • One of the highest flying irons

Cons

  • Very strong lofts 7 iron  27.5° and PW 42.5°
  • Extreme length on shots is because of the stronger loft

Best irons for a 15 handicap

TaylorMade Stealth Irons - - best golf iron for mid handicappers

TaylorMade STEALTH irons

Easy to launch: 

Distance:

Forgiveness:

TaylorMade have gone the extra mile with the STEALTH irons. They’ve made a thinner and hotter face than their predecessor the SIM z Max for more distance and speed. The biggest difference however is the coloring and club head aesthetics.

I've included the Stealth irons on this list because they are older, you can find them used or new, at a very decent price.  

I like TaylorMade irons. I never play them in the player's irons because I prefer Srixon. But I have tried their irons every year since RSi clubs and would rank them up there with Srixon ZX5 range for forgiveness and ease of use. They are SO easy to hit and straighten up your ball flight. 

The sweet spot is so wide; it extends over almost the entire groove area so when you mishit the ball it still goes a long way and straight as an arrow. The offset on these irons is a lot more moderate than a lot of mid handicap irons and you don't feel like it's going to hit the ball way left. 

TaylorMade's STEALTH set has been specially designed to increase the height of your shots. The short irons get up quickly and mid irons are so forgiving, you'll think they're wedges. With that increase in height, the ball comes down soft on the mid irons to stay on the green and give you more birdie and par putts.

Balls launch high when you hit them and the wide soles help to get under the ball especially in deep rough to get your golf ball moving toward the green and out of the weeds. The heavy perimeter weighting means you can swing it and trust the club to do the work for you. There's no stress wondering what's going to happen next.

TaylorMade has designed the STEALTH iron set with forgiveness in mind. They're extremely accurate golf irons and with the offset hosel, cavity back design, they tick all our boxes. The STEALTH are one of the best mid handicap irons on the market.

One top tip is to get yourself some cavity back wedges if possible if you're going to play these types of irons. it's difficult to go from a cavity back iron to a blade style wedge. 

Highlights

  • Massive sweet spot to hit it pure every time
  • Easy to hit the ball high in the air
  • Mishits go an unusually long way
  • Low stress clubs you can trust on every shot

Cons

  • Face is bouncy for chip and runs
  • Lofts are very strong

Performance data of mid handicap irons

We tested the irons in the review using a mid handicap golfer with a moderate swing speed (98 mph with the driver). We used a Trackman bay with a 7 iron from each set of irons. You will notice the lofts range from 26.5° to 32° which will make a drastic difference to carry distances. 

ModelIronLongest CarryShortest CarryAverage CarryAve Spin Rate
Brand(Loft)
YardsYardsYardsRPM
Takomo 2017 iron (32°)166.7154.8159.35,982
Srixon Zx5 Mk II7 iron (31°)166.2157.5160.65,478
Callaway Apex DCB7 iron (30°)171.2158.3164.75,340
Cleveland Launcher XL7 iron (29°)174.5161.8163.15,089
Ping G430 7 iron (29°)169.2157.2163.45,233
Mizuno JPX 9237 iron (30°)167.5160.2162.56,231
Cobra Aerojet7 iron (26.5°)178.6165.2165.35,203
TaylorMade Stealth7 iron (28°)177.3158.4165.15,657

How to select alternative mid handicap irons

My method for selecting irons for mid handicappers

My foolproof method to select golf clubs goes like this:

  1. Pick the irons that look best to you. How do you like the sole, the top line and the offset? You must love how the irons look immediately. It's very difficult to 'learn to love your irons and when you hit them badly, you'll start to hate them. Pick the irons you LOVE the look of.
  2. Then how do they when you place the irons look behind the ball? 80% of your decision comes from the first two steps and that is just how powerful the looks are.
  3. The next 10% of the decision comes down how does the club feel in your hands? Waggle the club, feel the weight and take a swing with no ball. Does it make you feel great? 
  4. Hitting the ball with the irons completes the process. Why only 10%? If you don't like the look of the clubs, the feel of the clubs and the weight of the clubs, it doesn't matter how well you hit them. You'll give up on them in the future. If you love the look, feel and weight, your fitter can make the irons work with your swing to get a good strike.

Hit the golf clubs, preferably outdoors but indoors works too.

  • Is the trajectory of the shots low, medium or high? Pick the flight that works for you.
  • Does the club make your bad shot worse? If you fade, does the iron make you fade MORE? 
  • Does the club help to straighten your ball flight?
  • Do you need more height, spin or distance? It can be difficult to get all 3 in one set but with a fitting, you can get at least 2 out of your 3 priorities. 
  • Hit the irons and gauge how many shots you hit from the center of the face. Do you feel a sweet strike more often than any other set?
  • If you mis-hit the ball, did you notice big performance changes or minor? Pick what you need from your set.

Other considerations for your iron set

Price

Every large brand name club companies make golf irons for mid handicappers and they price their irons between $750 and $1500. 

Boutique brands like Takomo provide high quality clubs at less than $650 per set. Pick the budget you need and understand that boutique brands create clubs in the same factories as the big name manufacturers, but do not spend many on sponsorships and wasteful adverts.

The big name manufacturers price their clubs so high because they sponsor pros and produce tens of thousands of sets at one time, so they need to make sure even if many go unsold, they make a profit.

Type of club head design and material

cavity back vs blade

Forged vs Cast irons

1. Forged - the factory stamps the club head out of a single piece of soft steel.

2. Cast - the factory pours liquid metal alloy into a mold and the alloy sets hard.

Muscle back vs cavity back

1. Muscle back blade - Traditional iron heads with most of the steel mass behind the sweet spot, without any cavity back. You may struggle to hit muscle back or blade irons initially but with a lot of practice, you can find the sweet spot. You will receive a lot more feedback on your shots with a blade iron because when you hit it bad, you can feel it.

2. Cavity back - cavity backs are blades without the mass behind the sweet spot. The manufacturers grind out a cavity in the back of the club, to redistribute the excess steel to the perimeter of the iron. The cavity backs are much easier to hit than blades and a recreational mid handicap will enjoy the forgiveness that they offer. 

I recommend mid handicap golfers play with cavity back irons, preferably forged because a fitter can bend forged irons to fit your lie angle without breaking the club. The cast iron can be bent only one time. The second attempt cracks the club.

How to pick the shafts for your iron set

Shaft flex dominates as the key factor to consider when you purchase a new set of irons. Which flex you use can change your ball flight drastically.

The actual flex of each shaft will vary between shaft manufacturers because no standard flex ranking scale exists. I consulted Tour fitter and expert club builder, Eric Chong of Impact Golf Malaysia about iron shafts to get his insights.

In his 20 years of fitting clubs Eric finds that:

  • Slow swing speeds should use softer flex shafts
  • High swing speeds should use a firmer flex shaft

Which flex shaft is right for you?

These flexes are ranked from stiffest (firmest) to softest (most flexible)

  • Extra Stiff (X): When you swing your driver faster than 105 mph
  • Stiff (S): When your driver swing speed reaches between 90 and 100 mph
  • Regular (R): The average golfer will use a regular shaft and is the most popular
  • Senior (SR): When your swing speed with the driver dips below 80 mph
  • Ladies Flex (L): Ladies generally swing slower than men so there is a specific shaft for them

Eric points out that the shaft you select needs to match your tempo and transition more than your swing speed. He recommends to always get a fitting with a qualified club fitter to ensure you play the perfect equipment for YOU.

You can even change your trajectory, distance and even your ball flight shape with the correct shaft.

How to select the shaft material steel or graphite

Steel or graphite shafts dominate the market. You will see mostly steel shafts in the bags of golfers at the local course.

Graphite shafts are less popular but there is no recommendation from me or Eric on this because it would be irresponsible to recommend without seeing your swing.

Graphite can be a little more expensive but because they are often lighter, they can increase your club head speed. 

The best option is to try some clubs with graphite and steel shafts in them. More than likely, you will prefer a steel shaft.

Best irons for a 20 handicap

A 20 handicap should play forgiving irons like deep cavity back irons with lightweight shafts like the XXIO 12 irons.

Best irons for a 10 handicap

The best irons for a 10 handicap are cavity back irons like the Ping G430 irons because a 10 handicaps average score is around 87 so his ball striking needs improvement. A 10 handicap would benefit from the Ping G430 because they provide ample forgiveness which will leave him on the green or around the green with ease.

Best irons for a 15 handicap

The best irons for a 15-handicap are the TaylorMade Stealth irons because they launch high, travel far and are the easiest to hit to break 90. A 15 handicapper averages a score over 90 and he needs most help to hit fewer terrible shots. Stealth irons can help him avoid catastrophic holes on the golf course because they are so forgiving. 

When should I switch to blades?

When a golfer can hit the center of the blade club face at least 7 out of 10 times, they can change their irons to blade irons. If you can hit the center of the club face on a blade iron 7 out of 10 times, don't forget about players cavity back irons. Players cavity back irons are slightly more forgiving than blades and perform identically out the sweet spot. 

What are best irons for average or intermediate golfers?

In my expert opinion, the best irons for the average or intermediate golfer are the Takomo 201 irons because they are forged, high quality heads with top of the line KBS Tour shafts at a price below $700.

Conclusion

The Srixon ZX5 Mk II iron is my number one pick for mid handicappers because of the high quality shafts and steel used in the heads. The Takomo 201 is a close second because both of these iron sets are made of forged steel, with extremely high quality KBS and Nippon shafts.

The materials used by both companies are top of the line. 

Thanks for reading my review and comparison of the best irons for mid handicappers and average golfers in 2024.

Blade Irons vs Cavity Back – What is the Difference?

Last Updated on February 4, 2024 by Matt Greene

Blade irons are generally golf clubs that pro golfers and low handicappers use. They provide more control of the ball flight than a cavity back for the skilled golfer, but are much less forgiving because of the small club head and tiny sweet spot.

Cavity back irons have a larger club head design to improve consistency when you miss the center of the club face. Club designers cut out a cavity in the back of the club and move the excess steel to the perimeter of the club head, increasing the size of the sweet spot, for extra forgiveness.

Cavity back irons usually have a wide sole, a big club face and some offset to make hitting the ball easier for every skill level especially golfers with higher handicaps. Blade irons have minimal offset, a thin top line and a very small club head. 

cavity back blade iron comparison

Biggest differences between blade and cavity backs

The biggest difference you will notice when you hit a blade and cavity back is that a cavity back has much more forgiveness on off-center strikes. 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness refers to the clubs ability to give you a relatively straight shot with decent distance even though you missed the center of the club face. Blade irons physically hurt you when you mis-hit them. You feel shockwaves through your hands and arms on off-center hits. You lose a lot of distance like this and the result of your shot is much worse than you planned. 

Cavity back irons have a much bigger sweet spot than the blade, so if you miss the dead center of the face, it will steel feel quite good in your hands and arms. You can miss the sweet spot by a much bigger margin and still get a good result from your shot. 

Why is it 'easier' to hit a cavity back?

The forgiveness of a golf club is determined by 3 important factors, working in unison to make a golf club easier to hit.

Forgiveness factor 1: Bigger sweet spot

Cavity back irons have a thin face with a lot of metal around the edges, called perimeter weighting. They originate from a blade iron, but the sweet spot on a blade iron is the size of a penny on the club face. You need to strike the ball within fractions of an inch of the sweet spot to hit a shot that feels good.

To make it easier to hit the clubs, designers drill out a cavity in the back of the club and place the extra materials that they remove, around the edges of the club instead which is called perimeter weighting. This creates a thinner club face (more trampoline-like) and lowers the center of gravity to make a more forgiving club. The sweet spot size is much bigger in a cavity back. 

cavity back and blade iron sweet spot comparison

Forgiveness factor 2: Offset

On most cavity back irons, the heel and leading edge of the club is placed behind the hosel and shaft. The distance between the heel and the hosel is called the offset. Club manufacturers use offset to help golfers hit the golf ball with a square club face, improving the chances of a straighter flight.

The offset moves the club head’s center of gravity back from the shaft, which helps create a higher ball flight. 

offset in irons

Most clubs will have a little offset, but you will find more offset in cavity back irons in the game improvement sets. The game improvement cavity backs are aimed at higher handicaps. As skill level and ball striking improves, you might find you need less offset to help you hit the ball straighter.

Forgiveness factor 3: Sole of the club

Blade irons have a very narrow and sharp sole. Golfers who play blades are expected to get the timing correct of the golf club entering the turf at the golf ball. If you hit the ground before the ball, the blade iron will dig into the ground. We call that a fat shot.

The cavity back irons often have much thicker, wider soles to prevent this digging. The bad shot for less skilled ball strikers is to hit fat shots. Wider soles on the cavity back irons prevent the digging that you find in blade irons. 

You will find the biggest difference between the blade and cavity back sole-turf interaction on a golf course that is slightly wet. The blade will get stuck in the wet turf while the cavity back will glide through the ground without getting stuck. 

Summary of iron forgiveness factors

FactorCavity back ironsBladed irons
ForgivenessHighLow
DistanceStrongestLow
FeelAverageBest
Shot shapingLowHigh
Ball flightHighLow
Player HandicapMid-BeginnerLow/Pro

My Youtube video on cavity back and blade irons

My video has had over 100k views on this topic. Check it out below. 

What is a cavity back iron?

Cavity back irons have a cavity in the back. When they put the excess materials around the edge of the club, the design keeps the club head more stable on off-center strikes.

The thicker and bulkier top line and sole of the cavity back are a more modern look than blades. Blades are very old school. Average golfers that don't hit the center of the club face should usually play cavity backs. The entire design of the cavity back is to help golfers launch the ball into the air easier, and have the ball fly further on all their shots. 

There are two types of cavity back nowadays since more golfers want the forgiveness of cavity back and shot shaping ability of blades.

Game improvement cavity back

Game improvement clubs have very thick soles, very thick top lines and very thin club faces with a low center of gravity. The amount of offset is large on the GI irons. 

Manufacturers place the center of gravity lower in a cavity back iron club head so the ball can fly higher but because of the higher flight, the loft of the cavity is often lower than the blade.  That is the biggest surprise I found playing with game improvement cavity backs.

I KNOW that the loft is 30 degrees on a cavity back 7 iron but 34 degrees on my blade 7 iron. I hit the ball with both clubs, and the height of the shots are identical. That should not happen but the technology in a cavity back means it is possible. 

Cavity backs sacrifice more control and shot shaping ability (not needed for 80% of golfers) for a bigger sweet spot, the ability to hit the ball higher and straighter, easier with maximum distance. But there is a second category of cavity back irons aimed at golfers who want the look and feel of a blade, with a touch of forgiveness. 

Players cavity back

Not all cavity backs are aimed at high handicap or beginner golfers. There is a category called players cavity backs and they have been made for better ball strikers. 

Players cavity backs have much less offset, a thinner top line and a thinner sole. There is a marked increase in forgiveness from a traditional blade. There are low to mid handicappers playing irons that look like blades but want to enjoy good shots on their mis-hits. The payers cavity back should be played by people who can hit the ball in the center 6-7 out of 10 times. 

Who should play cavity back irons?

Almost every golfer over a scratch handicap 'should' play cavity back. A players cavity back will more then likely benefit a low handicap more than a set of blades. The main reason non-elite golfers play blades is ego. 

If you struggle to hit the sweet spot, or you do not play regularly, cavity back game improvement irons are 100% recommended to enjoy golf to the maximum. 

What is a blade iron?

Blade golf clubs are typically preferred by lower handicap golfers that can consistently hit the center of the club face. Please be aware that blades are also referred to in modern times as muscle back irons.

Blade irons are always forged from a single piece of metal. They have smaller club heads, thin soles and thin top lines - almost razor thin sometimes. There is a reason they are called blades. They look like knives!

A blade iron sacrifices forgiveness and instead promises a good ball striker, the ability to shape shots and control distance very effectively. Blades usually have 2-6 degrees more loft on the the club. A 7 iron in a cavity back set of irons might have 30 degrees of loft while in the blades, the loft of the 7 iron might be between 32 and 35 degrees.

Who should play blade irons?

PGA Tour pros, elite college golfers and low single digit handicap golfers will prefer blades. It is not completely based on handicap, but more on ball striking ability who should play blades. The key is to play blades only if you can hit the center of the face with consistency and regularity. I would estimate you should be able to hit the sweet spot at least 7 out of 10 times, preferably 8 or 9 times. 

What is a split or blended set?

There are iron sets available that combine the precision of the blades with the forgiveness of the cavity backs. These sets usually contain BLADE 8 iron, 9 iron and pitching wedge. 7 iron, 6 iron and 5 iron in the blended set will be CAVITY BACK.

Most people have trouble hitting the longer irons (4-5-6-7), so these split sets help decent ball strikers to get the ball closer to the target with the longer clubs and be really mercenary on approach shots with the short irons. 

When should you switch from cavity backs to blades?

Personally I changed from cavity back to muscle back blades when I was confident I could hit the center of the face 8 or 9 times out of ten. I was playing to a 5 handicap at the time and when i switched to blades, I dropped to a scratch handicap within a few months.

These factors will determine when to switch from cavity back to blades:

  1. You hit the center of the club face at least 7 out of 10 times
  2. Well struck cavity backs are not providing consistent distance control on approach shots
  3. You NEED to shape your golf shots (be honest with yourself if you really need to)
  4. Your turf conditions are firm and the wide soles of cavity backs is causing thin shots
  5. You are able to enter the turf at the golf ball, not behind the ball

When to NOT play blades

Do not listen to people who tell you that the only way to learn to hit the ball properly is with blades and that cavity back or game improvement irons will not help because they just cover up your flaws. These people do not know anything about golf. 

The idea is to want to continue playing golf. How do you do that? You hit nice shots and feel good hitting them. Blades are very difficult to master especially at the beginning of your journey. First get the ball airborne, then do it a lot, and once you are super confident in the way you strike the ball, try blades. Keep in mind, that it may take years and years to get to that confidence level.  

Why do I hit blades better than cavity backs?

The reason you might hit blades better than cavity backs is because you have excellent hand-eye co-ordination or excellent swing fundamentals. Usually people who have played bat-and-ball sports in their lives are able to find the sweet spot in almost any object. The blade iron is no exception and if you find that you hit blades better than cavities, you should play them until you find you no longer can. 

There is no hard and fast rule that you MUST play one or the other. Use your best judgement that will create the most enjoyable golf for you. 

Which are cast or forged irons?

Cavity backs are often cast irons which means liquid metal alloy is poured into a mould and left to set. You will most often find cast cavity back in the super game improvement iron category and beginner category. There are occasionally higher end models which are cast but it is rare. The feeling of a cast iron is often a bit firmer than the forged clubs but the sweet spots are always the same size - large.

Cavity back can also be made of forged steel which means the club is stamped out of a single piece of soft metal. They are usually the higher end models aimed more toward people who are playing regularly. Forged steel is much softer in feeling when you hit the golf ball. Regular golfers want a softer feel as they gain more experience on the course. 

Note: If you need different lie angles in your irons, cast irons can be bent perhaps one time. If you bend the lie angle a second time, it will crack. Forged irons can be bent back and forth almost without limit. The steel is softer and malleable. 

Blade irons are ALWAYS forged. They are often the most premium set in the ranges of the top manufacturers

Summary

Thank you for allowing me to clarify the differences between blades cavity back irons. I would almost always recommend golfers play cavity backs but the choice is always yours. Take into account the things important to you on the golf course and you can't go wrong.

Just remember be honest with yourself, because you will be the golfer playing the clubs! Picking the right one should be easier for you now. 

Matt Greene Golf Sidekick

Waddaplaya golf shirt

Owner, Creator and Founder of Golf Sidekick
Expertise specialties: Club testing, golf video tutorials, golf training aid testing, golf ball testing.
Socials: FacebookInstagram, Twitter
Youtube

Who is Matt from Golf Sidekick

  • The most trusted Youtube golfer for information that actually helps you score. The Golf Sidekick Youtube channel has over 230,000 subcribers.
  • Played golf for over 25 years, learning course management, scoring low, the mental game and particularly the short game.
  • Founder & Owner of Golf Sidekick.
  • The number one Lithuanian and South African golf Youtuber in the world. Follow the channel for more info on scoring low, having more fun and breaking your scoring barrier.
  • Ambassador of Waddaplaya Golf.
  • Extensive hands-on testing of golf clubs, balls and bags since 2014, contributing to the trust in, credibility and reliability of Golf Sidekick content.

Experience

With nearly three decades of constantly striving for a better game on and off the course, Matt is the quintessential golf nerd. From trying to figure this game out for himself with magazines and VHS tapes, to seeking professional help from coaches like Michele Low, Eric Chong and Graeme Whale. 

He developed his skill in player analysis by observing every playing partner, from plus-handicappers and pros to mid and high handicappers. He has video journaled countless golfers journeys on his Youtube channel, Golf Sidekick. The Golf Sidekick channel has had over 50 million views, helping hundreds of thousands realize their true golfing potential.

What sets Matt apart is his constant dedication to hands-on testing. Since 2014, he has undertaken rigorous evaluations of golf clubs, balls and bags providing the core of Golf Sidekicks trusted recommendations. This methodical approach means that readers get the most accurate, reliable and trustworthy insights when making decisions about their golf equipment.

Matt keeps a close relationship with 15 to 20 golfers and golf equipment experts to provide the most current information with industry insider knowledge. He not only tests and writes about golf gear, but he also creates golf video tutorials on every aspect of the game. His wide network of coaches, expert fitters like Eric Chong, as well as amateur golfers playing the equipment he writes about makes Matt a unique expert in the field. 

Such a collaborative approach is what puts the Golf Sidekick team at the tip of the spear in golfing expertise. 

Golf History and Journey

I started playing golf at the age of 12, when my friend and I took his dads golf clubs to the local executive course. Executive is a strong word because it was nothing more than a cow pasture with some dodgy greens cut out of it. You can see the first course I ever played in the video below. It's been upgraded in the 20 years since I first played it!

I always played cheap golf clubs or hand-me-downs from my dad's friends. I was pretty broke as a kid so i had to learn to strike persimmon woods properly to be able to compete with people playing steel headed clubs. 

I mainly played with mid handicap older guys growing up. They were always at the course and as a junior, it meant a reliable weekday game. As I got older, I played with more low and mid handicappers around my age. Nowadays, I play with everyone, and particularly low mid and high handicappers because it's so easy for them to cut some shots from their game. 

That is how i developed all my guides - by playing with actual golfers, using the equipment and learning from professionals as well as equipment experts/fitters.

For the last 15+ years I have been between a scratch and 5 handicap or so handicap. My swing was really good once, but as I spent hours, days, weeks and years behind a computer screen, my body dictated a newer, less athletic swing. Luckily I have good hands to save the day!

Golf Sidekick was a site and Youtube channel born out of an idea to change peoples game using techniques on course, and better understanding of their equipment and how it improves their games.

Check out my popular How to Break 90 video:

Best Golf Pencil Bags 2024

Last Updated on January 2, 2024 by Matt Greene
*Read our review guidelines.

best golf pencil bags golf sidekick

Golf pencil bags are the lightest and easiest bags for you if you like to play a quick round in the evening. The best golf pencil bags have light storage for some balls and tees, and a half set of clubs.

Pencil bags are also a lot lighter than many of the best golf bags and take up very little space so you can always have your clubs on the back seat, ready to go. It's a cool look; arriving at the golf course with a pencil bag under your arm, ready to rock.

Pencil bags are underrated and can be used together with your main bag. You can take half a set to the course, or just a few clubs to the range for practice without lugging the full bag with you. In this guide, we'll explore some of the best options. Make sure you read some of our other posts on the best golf bags for push carts and best golf stand bags.


Best Sunday Pencil Golf Bags 2024

  1. Sunday Golf Loma Pencil Stand Bag (Editor's pick - best specialist pencil bag)
  2. Titleist Premium Carry Pencil bag (most unique mini stand)
  3. Cobra Ultralight Pencil Bag (best golf pencil bag without a stand)
  4. Mizuno BR D2 Quiver Bag (best deluxe pencil golf bag)

Sunday Golf Loma Pencil Bag

sunday loma pencil bag

Why we like it:

  • Specialist golf bag manufacturer in the small bag market - premium and built to last
  • The lightest bag at 2 lbs in weight 
  • Full length legs make it easy to access clubs without needing to bend down
  • The widest color selection in the pencil bag market
  • Velour lined valuables pocket for your keys, wallet and phone
  • Cooler pouch to keep the drinks cold

What you need to know: The Loma pencil golf bag comfortably carries 6-7 clubs and is a specialist pencil bag from the leading minimalist golf bag manufacturer in the world. The strap is only a single strap. 

The Loma XL version may be more appropriate if you want a bag for more than the pitch and putt course or driving range.


Titleist Premium Carry Pencil bag 

best golf pencil bag titleist

Why we like it:

  • The apparel pocket is full length for plenty of jacket and hat storage
  • Lightweight only 3 lbs in weight 
  • Mini legs are unique and keep the bag from lying totally on the ground
  • The bag can actually fit 14 clubs
  • External water bottle pocket for easy access while walking
  • With no clubs in the bag, you can fold it, and store it under your car seat

What you need to know: The bag has no support to inside the fabric and is a true pencil bag. If you try stand it upright, the bag will fold over. You rest the bag on the ground and the top area of the bag is propped up by a mini stand, only a few inches off the turf. The stand is not like normal golf stand bags.


Cobra Ultralight Pencil Bag

best golf pencil bags cobra

Why we like it:

  • One of the few bags with a double or single strap option
  • Lightweight only 3 lbs in weight 
  • Mini legs are unique and keep the bag from lying totally on the ground
  • 5 pockets for ample storage of gear and balls
  • With no clubs in the bag, you can fold it, and store it under your car seat

What you need to know: The Cobra Ultralight is a simple bag without a stand. It is a basic pencil bag that allows you to carry your clubs and some gear without any bells and whistles. 


Mizuno BR D2 Quiver Bag

mizuno pencil bag

Why we like it:

  • Excellent pocket system with a detachable pouch if you want to take your valuables with you into the clubhouse
  • Lightweight only 3 lbs in weight 
  • Dual shoulder straps
  • Mini stand legs to keep the bag off the ground with water resistant coated underbelly
  • Four basic red, black, blue and white options
  • The bag can take a beating and shows minimal sign of wear and tear

What you need to know: The legs on the bag are shorter than most anticipate. It will rest above the ground but the legs are around half the usual length of regular stand bags. Keep in mind you will need to bend down to retrieve your clubs. 


What is a Sunday Golf Pencil Bag?

A Sunday golf pencil bag, also known as a Sunday bag or pencil bag is a lightweight and minimalist type of golf bag designed for golfers who prefer walk the course with only a few clubs.

They are also popular bags for the driving range or pitch and putt courses. These bags are often used for casual rounds, practice sessions, or when playing only a few holes. They are named "Sunday bags" due to their historical association with golfers who would use them for leisurely rounds on Sundays.

Things to Consider When Buying A Pencil Bag

From functionality to style, here are the key considerations for selecting the best golf pencil bag for you:

  1. What will you use it for? Pencil bags great for the driving range to take a few clubs. They can also be used for pitch and putt courses or if you enjoy using half a set on the golf course. They would not be suitable for 14 club play and if you need a bag for driving on carts. 
  2. Storage Capacity: Understand you will only be able to store a few essentials. Some pencil bags have quite a bit of storage for a jacket but you will be limited to what you can store in a pencil bag.
  3. Durability: While pencil bags are compact, they still need to withstand the rigors of the golf course. Look for durable materials, reinforced stitching, and quality zippers to ensure your bag can endure the elements. While it is a secondary bag for most people, you don't really need to buy one every year, so it's best to find a high quality fabric like the bags in this article.
  4. Comfort: Get a pencil bag with a nice strap with padding that sites in a good position on the shoulder. No matter how light the bag is, an uncomfortable strap can make you regret carrying in a few holes. 
  5. Stand style: If you want a bag that stands in a way you can reach your clubs without bending, you need a full length stand pencil bag. If you don't mind bending over to retrieve clubs, then the short stands or mini stands are suitable for you. It can be annoying to bend down a lot if you did not factor that into your purchasing decision.
  6. Weather Resistance: Naturally you want a bag that suits your climate conditions to protect your clubs from the weather. 

What are Golf Pencil Bags Used For?

Golf pencil bags are small, lightweight alternatives to traditional golf bags, designed to carry only the essentials.

  1. Minimalist Carry: 5-8 clubs and some balls.. 
  2. Quick Rounds: When you want to turn up, grab a few clubs and chill out.
  3. Practice Sessions: I always use pencil bags for the driving range, usually taking only driver, 4 iron, 7 iron, pitching wedge. I don't like lugging the whole golf bag from the car to the house and from the car to the range. 
  4. Walking Courses: This is good for people starting out walking and using only a few clubs to get used to the idea of carrying. 
  5. Casual Play: Pitch and putt courses and executive golf courses where only 3 or 4 clubs will do and there is minimal chance of losing a ball.

Conclusion

They make the perfect bag for a quick nine holes, a practice session, or make it easy to play a half set. The balance between functionality and aesthetics, storage and simplicity, makes these bags great alternatives to bringing the big bag everywhere all the time.

In the end, the choice of the best pencil golf bag comes down to your playing style. Whether you're a proper walking golfer, a casual enthusiast, or in need of a bag for the driving range, pencil golf bags offer you options that can elevate your game, lighten your load, and help chill you out on the course.

Best Golf Balls for Spin 2024

Last Updated on January 2, 2024 by Matt Greene
*Read our review guidelines.

We all want to see our wedge shots rip back on the green like Tiger Woods and dance around the flag like Rory McIlroy. But unlocking the secrets to achieving superior spin on the golf course requires finding the right golf ball for you. In this article, we'll explore the best golf balls designed to get you out of low spin hell, helping you finesse those critical shots and elevate your game to the next level.

Best Golf Balls For Spin 2024

  1. Vice Pro Plus (Editor's choice for best golf ball for spin)
  2. Titleist Pro V1 (The best golf ball for most players) 
  3. Kirkland Signature (Best value golf ball for spin)
  4. Callaway Chrome Soft (Softest feeling golf ball)
  5. TaylorMade TP5 Pix (Best for putting and short game)

Vice Pro Plus

Direct to consumer value for a premium golf ball

vice pro plus golf balls

Vice Pro Plus golf balls are a direct to consumer option and fantastic choice if you're aiming to add more spin to your golf game.

These balls are engineered to excel in the spin department, particularly on your approach shots and around the green. When you need the ball to stop precisely where you want it, the Vice Pro Plus delivers.

The Vice Pro Plus balls provide a soft feel when you strike them. Whether you're chipping onto the green or playing a delicate pitch, the Vice Pro Plus offers the control you need.

One of the less talked about features of Vice balls is their consistency. They maintain a reliable level of spin and control, round after round. This is crucial for golfers who rely on consistent shot-makin to slash scores from their handicap.

While high-spin golf balls are often associated with reduced durability, the Vice Pro Plus manages to find a sweet spot. They can endure regular play and provide a reasonable lifespan, ensuring you don't need to replace them after every round.

These balls strike a balance between performance and cost. While they may not carry the premium price tag of some other brands, they still offer the spin characteristics you're looking for, making them an excellent value for money.

A nice thing with Vice is that their golf balls come in various color options, including bright and high-visibility choices. I like the lime green for use on my YouTube channel.

Reasons to buy

  • Direct to consumer - great pricing
  • Crazy levels of spin
  • Street cred for using a cooler ball
  • Super soft feeling cover 

Titleist Pro V1

The king of the golf ball market

titleist pro v1

If you want a tour golf ball with a consistent spin rate, the Titleist Pro V1 is hard to look past.

Also, if you're like me and want to add some serious spin to your game, these babies are a great choice.

First off, spin, spin, and more spin. The Pro V1s are like your secret weapon for those short game finesse shots. Need to stop the ball dead on the green? These balls got you covered.

What's cool is the soft feel they give when you hit 'em. It's like they whisper to your hands and let you control the ball like a boss. And who doesn't love control on the golf course?

Consistency is the name of the game with these Titleist legends. You can trust them to deliver spin and control round after round. No surprises, just solid performance.

Now, here's the best part: they're not just one-trick ponies. They strike a sweet balance between spin and durability. So you get that spin you crave without having to change your balls every few holes.

Oh, and did I mention they come in various models, like the Pro V1x? You can pick the one that matches your playing style and preferences, giving you even more control over your game.

So if you're looking to add some wicked spin and precision to your game, the Titleist Pro V1s are a real treat. They're all about that spin, offer great control, and they're backed by the Titleist name. What more could you want in a golf ball? Go give 'em a try!"

Reasons to buy
  • The top dog when it comes to golf balls
  • A spin level which will suit 80% of golfers 
  • Great feel all all clubs - including the putter
  • Used by most pros on tour who aren't contracted to use another ball

Kirkland Signature

Yes, they're from CostCo and yes, they're good

kirkland-signature golf ball

Let's dive into the Kirkland Signature golf balls – the budget-friendly spin seekers. If you're like me and don't want to empty your wallet for some extra spin, these balls might just be your jam.

First off, the price. These balls won't make your wallet cry. They're a premium quality 3 piece golf ball - perfect if you're on a budget but still want to finesse your short game.

Now, about the spin. These bad boys spin a ton on your approach shots and around the green. It's not the rip it back stuff you see on the TV but it's more than enough for the average golfers out there. You can control your ball and get it to stop where you want, what more do you want?

The feel is pretty balanced. You get a soft golf ball without sacrificing durability. That's a win-win in my book because no one wants to buy new balls after every round.

For the price, you get a decent balance between spin, distance, and durability. These balls stand up to the pricier ones, and for two dozen golf balls costing the same as a premium dozen, they're the everyday golfer's dream – practical and budget-friendly.

So, if you're looking to add some spin to your game without going all-in on expensive golf balls, give Kirkland Signature a shot. They offer a practical level of spin, a soft touch, and the kind of value that's hard to beat.

Reasons to buy
  • Insane price
  • Get them at CostCo when you're buying that 24 pack of New York Strip steaks
  • Tour level feel from 3 piece construction 
  • Great spin to dollar ratio 

Callaway Chrome Soft

Soft like butter and they spin a lot - nice.

callaway chrome soft truvis golf balls

If you're a golfer looking to add some serious spin to your game, the Callaway Chrome Soft golf balls are here to deliver. They're renowned for their spin capabilities, especially around the green, making them a go-to choice for those who crave that extra finesse in their short game.

These balls provide fantastic control, allowing you to shape your shots and place the ball exactly where you want it. Whether you're aiming for the flagstick or navigating tight fairways, you'll love the precision these balls offer.

The Chrome Soft golf balls are known for their soft feel when you strike them. It's like your club is making sweet music with the ball, giving you that sensory connection and an extra layer of control.

Callaway maintains a strong reputation for consistency in its golf balls, and the Chrome Soft is no exception. You can trust these balls to deliver consistent spin and control round after round, so you can focus on your game without surprises despite what MyGolfSpy say.

While they prioritize spin and feel, these balls manage to strike a great balance with durability. They won't wear out after a couple of rounds, ensuring you get your money's worth.

Callaway is a trusted and respected brand in the golf world, and many professional golfers rely on their golf balls. The Chrome Soft series lives up to the brand's reputation for quality and performance.

Reasons to buy
  • Probably the softest feeling premium ball out there 
  • Great durability for a soft spinny ball
  • The Truvis option is a game changer 
  • Just as good as a Pro V1

TaylorMade TP5 Pix

The best looking high spin golf ball you can get

taylormade tp5 pix golf balls

If you're all about spin, the TaylorMade TP5 Pix golf balls are worth checking out. These balls are like spin magicians, giving you that dance on the green you're looking for. They're your go-to for approach shots, chips, and putts, delivering the control you need.

What's cool is the Pix pattern – not only does it look awesome, but it also helps with alignment. It's like having your own built-in target practice, making those tricky shots a bit easier to handle.

And the feel of these balls? It's as soft as a pillow. Your club and the ball have a comfy chat, giving you that extra connection and control. You'll love it.

Consistency is key, and TaylorMade knows how to keep the party going. The TP5 Pix balls give you spin and control round after round, no surprises, just good times.

Even though they're spin-focused, these balls aren't flimsy when it comes to durability. You won't be shopping for new balls after every round, which is a win in my book.

Reasons to buy
  • Used by Tommy Fleetwood and Ricky Fowler 
  • The guys who use them say they offer more consistent spin than the Pro V1
  • They just look great and super good for chipping and putting 

The verdict: Best golf balls for spin

When it comes to the best golf balls for spin, the Vice Pro Plus is a strong contender. These golf balls are designed to deliver exceptional spin, especially on approach shots and around the green. They offer a soft feel and precise control, making them a great choice for golfers who want to finesse their short game. The Vice Pro Plus golf balls provide a good balance between spin and durability, all at a reasonable price, offering excellent value for money. If you're seeking to enhance your spin and control without breaking the bank, these balls are a solid option for your game.


Are Titleist Pro V1's the best golf balls?

Titleist Pro V1 golf balls are pretty darn good and many golfers love them. They've got a reputation for quality and are popular among pros and low-handicap players. But whether they're the absolute best for you depends on your playing style and what you like.

Titleist say that 80% of golfers will fit the Pro V1. It suits slower swing speeds and those who want more greenside spin while having a core which will allow all players to maximize distance off the tee. It's also good for stronger faster players who want a high ball flight to get the ball to stop on the green quickly from a long distance.

Different golfers prefer different balls. Some folks might find that other brands or models suit them better. So, it's not a one-size-fits-all situation. The best way to find your ideal ball is to try a few out and see which one feels and performs the best for your game. Your swing speed and personal preferences play a big role, so don't be afraid to experiment.

Why is golf ball spin rate important?

Golf ball spin is a big deal for a few simple reasons:

  1. Control: Spin helps you steer your shots. Whether you want your ball to stop quickly on the green or curve around an obstacle, spin is your best friend.
  2. Accuracy: Spin lets you be precise with your shots. You can aim for specific spots and predict how the ball will behave when it lands.
  3. Stopping Power: Backspin is like a brake for your ball. It helps it stop faster on the green, so you can get closer to the hole.
  4. Distance Control: Spin helps you control how far your ball goes. You can fine-tune the carry and roll, which is super important for those approach shots and chipping near the green.
  5. Shaping Shots: You can use spin to make your ball curve in different ways. That can be handy for getting out of tricky situations or hitting the perfect shot.
  6. Wedge Play: Spin is crucial for wedge shots near the green. It helps you stick the ball on the green and avoid it rolling too far.
  7. Versatility: Spin lets you adapt to different conditions. Whether the course is wet or dry, windy, or still, knowing how to use spin can save your game.

So, in a nutshell, golf ball spin is your secret weapon for control, accuracy, and versatility on the golf course. It can turn a good shot into a great one.

Why are premium golf balls more expensive?

Premium golf balls cost more because they're made with fancy materials and technology. They've got cool features that make them perform better, like going farther or having more spin.

Companies that make these balls are really picky about quality, so they spend a lot to make sure each ball is just right. They also do a ton of research to come up with new ball designs, and that costs money too.

Big brands in the golf world, like Titleist and Callaway, charge more for their balls because they're famous and people trust them. They also spend a bunch on ads and marketing, which gets added to the price tag.

Sometimes, you'll find premium balls in limited editions or made with special materials, and those can be super expensive because they're kind of like collector's items.

But remember, you don't have to break the bank for good golf balls. There are plenty of affordable options that work great for most people. It's all about what feels right for your game.

How long do golf balls last?

The lifespan of a golf ball can vary depending on several factors, including the quality of the ball, how often it's used, the conditions it's exposed to, and your individual preferences. In general, golf balls can last for quite a while, but they may lose some of their performance characteristics over time. Here are some considerations:

  1. Usage: Golf balls that are frequently used and subjected to high impact and friction from clubface contact, bunkers, and cart paths will wear out faster. This can result in a decrease in the ball's performance.
  2. Quality: Higher-quality golf balls are typically more durable and tend to last longer. Premium balls are designed to maintain their performance characteristics over a more extended period.
  3. Storage: Proper storage is essential. Storing golf balls in a cool, dry place, away from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight, can help preserve their lifespan.
  4. Environmental Conditions: Playing in harsh weather conditions or in water hazards can affect a ball's longevity. Exposure to moisture, extreme heat, or chemicals can degrade the cover and core of a golf ball.
  5. Player Preferences: Some golfers are more sensitive to changes in a golf ball's performance characteristics, while others may not notice or mind. If you're very particular about your ball's performance, you may replace them more often.
  6. Quality Check: Golfers should periodically inspect their balls for signs of damage, such as cuts, scuffs, or deformation. Damaged balls can impact performance and should be replaced.

A well-maintained golf ball can last for several rounds of play, and even longer if you're not too particular about performance changes. However, avid golfers and professionals often replace their golf balls more frequently to ensure they get the best possible performance. If you notice a decline in the ball's performance, such as reduced distance or control, it may be a sign that it's time to replace it.

Best Golf Balls for Beginners 2024

Last Updated on January 2, 2024 by Matt Greene
*Read our review guidelines.

I'll be real with you and tell you that the best golf balls for beginners in 2024 are second hand golf balls.

If, however, you want to use new golf balls, then we need to find you a ball that will stay in play and give you maximum distance. That's going to help you get better quickly and enjoy the game more.

We've been testing all the golf ball options on the market to help you find the right ball to stay in play so you lose fewer. Our research is the most comprehensive for beginners golf balls and we use our expert knowledge to find the best golf balls for beginners to give you our recommendations. 


Best Beginner Golf Balls in 2024

  1. Srixon Soft Feel golf balls (editor's pick - best golf balls for beginners)
  2. Kirkland Signature golf balls (best value golf ball in the world)
  3. Callaway Warbird golf balls (best for maximum distance)
  4. Titleist TruFeel golf balls (best for new golfer swing speed)
  5. Volvik Vivid golf balls (hardest golf ball to lose)
  6. Wilson Tour Velocity golf balls (most popular with beginner golfers)

Srixon Soft Feel Golf Balls

The best golf ball for beginners to move from used balls

srixon soft feel

The Srixon Soft Feel is a two piece golf ball that will give you long distance and durability.

Srixon Soft Feel also do not feel hard as a rock. 

Whenever someone asks me about a good golf ball for beginners, I'm all in for the Srixon Soft Feel. I've been a fan of these babies since my days as a mid/high handicapper, and even when I got better with a 5 handicap, they still rocked. These are a soft golf ball and give fantastic distance off the tee. You're gonna dig 'em.


Kirkland Signature Golf Balls

Cheap premium golf ball for any golfer even beginners

kirkland-signature golf ball

These are premium golf balls that beginners can buy and tee up with confidence. If you lose one, you will not feel bad because they cost around a buck a ball.

You will not find a better value three-piece design with a urethane cover. Why is this important? The ball plays like a professional golf ball you see on TV. The urethane cover is made to spin and feel soft around the greens. This is the only premium designed ball on the list and at the price, it is a must-play golf ball.

Despite the soft urethane cover, the Kirkland Sig is durable and delivers top notch performance even if you use it for 2 rounds.

Where this ball truly excels is in iron-play – it holds greens like a pro Tour ball. I had the pleasure of using these for a couple of months after buying a bunch in the USA and I shot 75 at Pebble Beach with them.  

If you're confident in your shot accuracy, this golf ball will give you excellent chipping spin, green side performance and feels very gentle on the putter face for easy putting. If your shots are a bit unpredictable going left and right with big shot shape, you should avoid this ball as the extra spin will make that shape even bigger. 


Callaway Warbird Golf Balls

A simple pick for beginners for maximum distance

callaway warbrid golf balls

The Callaway Warbird is the best ball for speed and distance for beginners, and this latest version lives up to the reputation.

Warbirds are a two-piece design with a big core under the cover that helps to transfer power from your club into the ball to help elevate your shots. If you're a beginner golfer struggling with getting the ball in the air and then keeping it in the air, this is the ball.

In our testing we noticed much more yardage from the Warbird. Of course, there were just a few extra yards of carry distance but because of the lower spin, the ball rolled out a lot longer than other balls on the course. 

Approaching greens, we noticed that the ball does need to roll up and will stop quite a long way from its pitch mark if it lands on the green. Keep that in mind if you decide to game the Wardbird balls. 

For green side chipping, you want to allow for a lot of roll out. 


Titleist TruFeel Golf Ball

Great overall ball for medium swing speeds

Titleist trufeel golf balls

The Titleist TruFeel is one of the softest balls that Titleist make, and is a ball perfect for beginner golfers.

In the beginning of 2022, the TruFlex cover was created for this model and Titleist also created a larger TruTouch core for longer distance. You can hit this ball and not feel like you're hitting a stone.

This latest TruFeel is also much lower spin do when you whack it with your driver, the ball will roll out and fly much further.

When we tested the TruFeel, we noticed that it felt very soft off our wedges and the data backs it up. There was plenty of spin and softness around the green to stop quickly. I would rate this golf ball similar to the Srixon Soft Feel. 


Volvik Vivid Golf Ball

Best ball for finding in the rough

volvik vivid golf balls

The Volvik Vivid is the brightest golf ball on the market and helps beginners to find the ball mid-air and in the rough.

Tracking the ball in the air as it flies is easiest with the Volvik Vivids and finding them in the rough is easy with the high contrast brightness of the cover. 

The ball is very firm but the cover is a matte finish to make it feel quite 'sticky' on your club face. That helps around the greens where the ball has a medium to low spin rate. Off the driver face, you will notice what low spin looks like.

I found that when i hit the Vivid with the driver, the ball seemed to stay in the air a second longer than I expected. It travels far with long roll out thanks to the 75 medium compression. It's really a golf ball designed for beginners swing speeds and accuracy. 

There are many colors available from bright orange to green to red and yellow. I would suggest the orange, yellow and green only. Red and blue are tough to see. 


Wilson Tour Velocity

Best low compression golf ball for beginners

This Wilson Tour Velocity has low-compression inner core and that is covered with a hard ionomer (surlyn) cover material. If you wrap a hard cover around a soft compression golf ball, the main objective is POWER and DISTANCE. 

In my testing, we tried low, medium and high swing speed, and noticed for low and medium swings, this ball goes as far as possible. The dimple pattern also helps to get the ball elevated as soon as possible to stay in the air longer. The longer the ball can fly, the bigger the carry distance.

I tested this golf ball with a 28 handicapper friend who just recently started golf. He hit it good distances but the impressive part was how durable the ball was. He hit it into the trees, onto the cart path, in the street and the ball held up well. You could use one ball for 4 rounds if you didn't lose it.

Make no mistake, the Tour Velocity is a distance golf ball so around the greens, you will need to account for more roll out. If you paired this golf ball with low spinning chipper clubs, you will see impressive results for your short game. 

Keep in mind that this ball is very hard on the outside so it will feel firm on your putter. It is made for distance only and at less than $20 a dozen, we don't see any downside. 


Do golf balls make a difference for beginners?

Yes, golf balls do matter for you as a beginner, partially in terms of performance of the ball on the course, but also mainly for your mental performance as a new golfer avoiding fear and dread. The mental side of golf balls is not spoken about enough for beginners. 

Here are some key factors about the golf ball you use that influence your game as a newbie:

Distance

The right golf ball that has been designed for distance can help you as a beginner start reaching the green in regulation or regulation-plus-one. So on a par 4 or par 5 you could get near the green in 3 or 4 shots.

The balls in this article are designed to go LONG. Once you gain experience, you can look for more premium golf balls when you want to dial in your control instead of distance. 

Spin and control

Balls that spin too much can reduce your distance and if you hit the ball sideways, the increase in spin can accentuate that sideways movement.

Low spin golf balls like the ones in this article can help to straighten out your flight and prevent lost balls. 

Cost

As a beginner, you should always find the cheapest, best value option.

In my opinion, the best option is second hand cheap golf balls that you can bash and not care about. That is where the beginning of confidence comes from. If you grow fearful of losing balls, you hit worse shots. If you learn to take free swings without worrying about the golf ball getting lost, you will carry that confidence into the future.

The bonus of the big old bags of second hand balls is that you can get a wide range of models and makes. You will start to prefer one or two or three models and that can be your starting point for your new ball purchasing adventure. 

Confidence

Confidence is a the biggest weapon you can have in golf. From confidence, you can try new things, hit the ball better and feel better on the course. If you use golf balls that you are afraid of losing because of cost, or you use a golf ball that is designed for a Tour pro, you will stunt your confidence growth.

You want to always use equipment, from balls to drivers, to irons and woods and wedges that give you maximum confidence. Your ego will grow in golf, I promise, and then you can look at equipment designed for specific purposes. For now, build your confidence by simplifying everything in your game to beginner friendly gear like on my website. 

Progression

Starting with the best beginner golf balls can make you value a better golf ball later in your career. I remember when I moved form Pinnacle Extreme (VERY HARD) to Srixon Soft Feel (medium) to Maxfli Revolution (soft) as I got better and better.

If I started with the premium Maxfli, I would not have enjoyed the good feelings of moving from one ball to another as I got better!

Enjoy the ride, and start simple.

Worst golf balls for beginners

The worst golf balls for beginners are expensive, tour quality golf balls such as Titleist Pro V1, Callaway Chrome Soft and TaylorMade TP5 (unless they are cheap second hand).

Tour quality golf balls have been designed to spin a lot, and you need a high level of skill to use them. Without the necessary skill, the premium balls will actually be worse for a beginners game.  High spin urethane balls will fly further left and right than the cheaper, 2 piece golf balls.

Losing balls as a beginner is common and when you lose a $4 or $5 golf ball, you dread hitting more shots because you don't want to waste more money every time a ball flies into the water or OB. That is not the way to have maximum fun. Buy cheap balls that you can accept losing and you will keep playing this game for a long time.

How many golf balls should you take for 18 holes?

Beginner golfers should take as many golf balls to the course as can fit in their bag. I would recommend taking 2 balls per hole as a beginner so a total of 36 balls for 18 holes or 18 balls for 9 holes. You can lose a lot at some golf courses, so it's better to be prepared.

I highly recommend buying a huge bag of 72 golf balls second hand and hacking away at those at the early stages of your golfing career. 

Conclusion: What are the best golf balls for a beginner?

The best golf balls for beginners are the Srixon Soft Feels or the Callaway Warbirds. 

I would recommend always looking for second hand ball deals. They are everywhere on Amazon or eBay. From there, you will experience many kinds of golf balls and you'll get a feeling from the second hand ones, which you prefer.  

Seek advice, practice, and stay within your budget. Remember that golf is a journey – enjoy the process of learning and improving on the course.

Best 56 Degree Wedge 2024

Last Updated on January 2, 2024 by Matt Greene
*Read our review guidelines.

This is my review of the best 56 degree wedges on the market in 2024. 

I tested each and every wedge in this article both on the course and around the green.

Sand texture, grass type, chipping conditions, pitching conditions and the moisture in the ground will all be unique to your geographical location. These factors affect the loft and the bounce you need in a 56 degree.

In this best 56-degree wedge review, I will note benefits and features of each sand wedge and give my recommendations. 

Best 56 Degree Wedge 2024

  1. Cleveland Smart Sole 4 Wedge (Editor's choice - the best wedges)
  2. Titleist Vokey SM9 Sand Wedge (Most consistent spin and distance control)
  3. TaylorMade MG3 Wedge (Top Tour choice)
  4. Callaway Mack Daddy CB Wedge (Most spin)
  5. Cleveland RTX Zipcore Wedge (Best feel and value for money)

Cleveland Smart Sole 4 Wedge

You won't find an easier to hit sand wedge from any lie

Cleveland Smart Sole S Wedge

Ok - This is a 58 degree wedge, I'm sorry but it's so good that I've put it at the top of this list.

The S wedge comes in 58° which in my eyes is ideal for a sand wedge - like a love child of a sand wedge and a lob wedge. There's massive bounce in the Smart Sole making every wedge shot something you look forward to. It's so difficult to make a mess of a pitch or bunker shot, they're practically fool-proof.

Here's where this thing shines. You'll never fear sand again.

These things work, period.

You can find me using both C and S wedge in this video on my Youtube channel. The newest version of these wedges now includes a G wedge so you have C, G and S for a full complement of wedges.

So simple: Line up to the target. Don't manipulate the club face like you do with a normal sand wedge. Swing and hit the sand behind the ball. That's all! The club will do the rest. Is this a miracle club? I don't believe there are any, but yes this is the exception. Practice a little with this thing and you'll get out of the bunkers first time every time.

Pros

  • Extra wide Smart Sole for the most forgiving wedges available
  • Get out of bunkers first time
  • Chipping could not be simpler around the green, no more fat or skulled shots
  • Simplified technique to escape bunkers
  • Good out of the rough with thick sole

Cons

  • Will take some practice to dial in how to hit these unique looking clubs

Titleist Vokey SM9 Sand Wedge

You can't go wrong with Vokey wedges

vokey sm9 wedge

The SM9 wedge provided me with a delightful sense of control over my ball flight, all thanks to its forward center of gravity (CG), which would undoubtedly appeal to lower handicappers. I found it remarkably easier to square the clubface at impact, resulting in improved accuracy compared to previous SM wedges.

Titleist's decision to extend the grooves right to the edge in this 56-degree wedge was a game-changer, delivering sensational spin. During my testing, I loved the controlled trajectory my ball took before gracefully landing on the green and stopping quickly. The level of command I had over the ball's spin and shot shape left me thoroughly impressed.

With three distinct sole grinds tailored to different attack angles and conditions, the SM9 accommodates all player needs. While the F-grind may be a favorite among tour players, I found the D-grind's forgiveness and neutrality more to my liking.

Lastly, the Titleist SM9 caters to personal taste with three distinct finishes: Jet Black, Tour Chrome, and Brushed Steel, ensuring every golfer can find a wedge that matches their style and preferences. With its impeccable design and impressive performance, the SM9 undoubtedly cements itself as a top-notch wedge option in the golfing world.

Pros

  • Classic minimalist look
  • Extremely consistent shot shape and reaction on the greens
  • High spinning with groove system specially made for higher loft
  • Less spin on the lower loft so when you hit it full, it stops instead of zipping back too far

Cons

  • Best suited to better players

TaylorMade MG3 Wedge

Always a contender - used by the best in the game

Taylormade Milled Grind Wedge

When it comes to mastering your wedge game, a soft feel and precise feedback are key for consistent distance control. Without finesse, gauging the necessary power becomes a challenge. Enter the TaylorMade MG3 SB, a standout in this category, delivering accurate flights and heightened control.

The Raw Face Micro Ribs provide superior texture across the clubface, combining a raw surface with raised grooves that expertly grip the golf ball upon contact. This imparts exceptional spin, allowing you to stop the ball rapidly near your target with unmatched precision.

The ZTP Raw Groove design takes spin performance to the next level, preserving spin even in wet conditions and across an expanded area of the clubface. For superior golfers, the broad weight distribution ensures an accurate flight and a drop-and-stop spin that'll have you performing like a pro.

Opt for the standard Satin Raw Chrome finish, reminiscent of tour player's wedges, or go with the Satin Raw Black for reduced glare. The choice is yours, but I prefer the glare-resistant option for maximum focus on my shots.

Crafted with a standard sole grind, the MG3 SB caters to the average player with a moderate angle of attack. This design ensures versatility and playability, making it the ultimate 56-degree wedge for elevating your short game and dominating the greens.

Pros

  • Classic minimalist look
  • Excellent out of the rough
  • Three styles of bounce and grind
  • High bounce option has optimal bounce for majority of golfers

Cons

  • Less forgiving
  • Standard bounce and low bounce tend to dig

Callaway Mack Daddy CB Wedge

Spin it like Phil Mickelson

Callaway Mack Daddy CB

Mid-handicappers seeking the perfect 56-degree wedge value forgiveness, increased spin, and clean turf interaction as essential qualities. Wedges like the Callaway Mack Daddy CB excel in providing optimal shot-stopping ability, accuracy, and consistency, making them a top choice for improving short game performance.

The Mack Daddy CB's cavity back design equips the clubhead with perimeter weighting, creating a wider sweet spot that preserves ball speed and spin on every strike. This results in improved distance control, benefitting both full swings and delicate flop shots. The impressive JAWS Grooves contribute to this wedge's performance by generating rampant spin with their precise sharpness. These edges grip into the golf ball cover, promoting greater friction and spin around the green, ultimately enhancing control and the ability to stop the ball closer to the target.

For added versatility, Callaway engineers offer the Mack Daddy CB in two wedge grinds - the full and W-grind. After a few tests, the W-grind emerged as the preferred option, delivering a clean turf interaction and heightened forgiveness on a variety of shots. This makes the W-grind particularly well-suited for the average golfer seeking a wedge that can tackle diverse course conditions and shot scenarios with ease.

Pros

  • Very good for players who don't hit the sweet spot on wedges
  • Many loft options to craft a whole set of wedges in future
  • Glides through the turf with the S grind on many types of turf
  • No need to replace these other than if you wear out the grooves - these are top quality

Cons

  • The head shape is a bit large make sure that it suits your eye

Cleveland RTX Zipcore Wedge

Best value premium wedge

cleveland rtx zip core wedge

Cleveland's long-standing reputation for crafting exceptional wedges is only further amplified with the RTX ZipCore, solidifying its status as a legendary golf companion.

These well-balanced wedges exhibit superior and consistent performance across various lies and conditions, thanks to the innovative ZipCore technology that shifts the center of gravity. This significant advancement has earned them widespread acclaim.

The Ultizip grooves are equally remarkable, boasting deep and sharp features that generate ample spin around the green and on partial shots, enhancing overall shot control.

Cleveland's commitment to delivering value shines through in the heat-treated heads, ensuring enhanced durability and reduced need for replacements, translating to long-lasting performance.

The wedge heads strike a perfect balance between traditional shapes reminiscent of the revered 588s and modern design elements, seamlessly blending classic aesthetics with contemporary innovation.

The RTX ZipCore wedges have earned universal acclaim, a testament to their unwavering quality and performance. For golfers seeking an extraordinary short game experience, Cleveland's RTX ZipCore stands as an exceptional choice that lives up to its legendary heritage.

Pros

  • Absolutely crazy amounts of spin
  • Ability to hit high or low shots with ease
  • Really nice design and finish
  • Classic overall head shape
  • Premium shaft options

Cons

  • None 

The verdict: Best 56 degree wedge

In our search for the best 56-degree wedge, one standout performer is the Cleveland Smart Sole 4. Ok it's a 58 degree technically, but with its game-improvement features, the Smart Sole 4 embraces a revolutionary design that excels in the short game arena. The advanced cavity back design and optimized sole grinds make this wedge deliver unparalleled forgiveness, allowing golfers to confidently tackle any lie or bunker.

The Smart Sole 4's Feel Balancing Technology enhances consistency, providing an impressive sense of control and precision on every shot. Its forgiving clubface and wider sole inspire newfound confidence, particularly for those seeking to simplify their short game.

For beginners and high handicappers aiming to elevate their scoring abilities, the Cleveland Smart Sole 4 emerges as a top-tier choice, blending innovation, forgiveness, and versatility. Elevate your short game to new heights with this exceptional 56-degree wedge, and enjoy more rewarding results on the greens.


What Is A 56 Degree Wedge Used For?

A 56-degree wedge is a type of golf club used for specific situations around the green, typically within 100 yards from the hole. It is a type of sand wedge, and the 56-degree loft angle refers to the angle between the face of the club and the shaft.

The 56-degree wedge is versatile and can be used for various shots, including:

  1. Pitch shots: When you need to hit the ball high in the air and have it land softly on the green, a 56-degree wedge is a good choice. This is particularly useful when you have a short distance to the pin and want to stop the ball quickly.
  2. Chip shots: When you want to keep the ball low and rolling for a short distance, a 56-degree wedge can be used for chipping around the green.
  3. Bunker shots: The 56-degree wedge is often referred to as a sand wedge because it is effective for hitting shots out of sand bunkers. Its high loft helps the ball get out of the sand and land softly on the green.
  4. Flop shots: When you need to hit the ball over an obstacle, like a bunker or a mound, and have it stop quickly, a 56-degree wedge can be used for a flop shot.

What Is The Difference Between A Blade Style And A Cavity Back Style Wedge?

The difference between a blade-style wedge and a cavity back-style wedge lies in their design and construction, particularly in terms of the clubhead's shape and weight distribution. These differences can significantly affect the wedge's performance and playability for different types of golfers.

  1. Blade-style wedge:
  • Design: Blade-style wedges have a more traditional and classic appearance with a simple, compact clubhead design. The back of the clubhead is relatively smooth and straight, resembling the shape of older golf club designs.
  • Weight distribution: Blade wedges usually have a higher center of gravity (CG) and place more weight behind the sweet spot or the center of the clubface. This concentrated weight gives them a smaller sweet spot, making them less forgiving on mishits.
  • Playability: Blade wedges are generally preferred by skilled and experienced golfers who have consistent ball-striking abilities. They offer more shot-shaping control and allow better players to work the ball with precision, manipulating spin and trajectory as needed.
  1. Cavity back-style wedge:
  • Design: Cavity back-style wedges have a more modern appearance, featuring a cavity or cavity-like indentation in the back of the clubhead. This cavity redistributes weight around the perimeter of the clubhead, which creates a more forgiving design.
  • Weight distribution: The weight distributed around the cavity back wedge's perimeter increases the moment of inertia (MOI) and enlarges the sweet spot. This enhanced forgiveness helps reduce the impact of off-center strikes, leading to more consistent distance and accuracy, even on mishits.
  • Playability: Cavity back wedges are well-suited for a broader range of golfers, including mid-to-high handicappers and beginners. They provide more forgiveness and help golfers achieve better results, especially when their ball-striking is not as consistent as that of more skilled players.

Choosing between a blade-style or cavity back-style wedge depends on your skill level and personal preference. If you are a highly skilled player looking for maximum shot-shaping control and feel, a blade-style wedge may be the preferred option. On the other hand, if you seek more forgiveness and consistency on your short-game shots, a cavity back-style wedge might be the better choice. Many golfers also opt for a mix of blade and cavity back-style wedges within their set to cater to different shot requirements.

Does The Shaft Matter In My Sand Wedge?

Yes, the shaft of your sand wedge can indeed make a difference in your overall performance and feel while using the club. The shaft plays a crucial role in the wedge's performance, and choosing the right one can help you optimize your short game shots, including bunker play and delicate shots around the green. Here are some key considerations regarding the shaft in your sand wedge:

  1. Shaft Material: The most common materials for wedge shafts are steel and graphite. Steel shafts are more prevalent in wedges due to their stability and ability to provide better control for short game shots. They offer a solid feel and are preferred by many golfers for their consistency. Graphite shafts, while lighter, are less common in wedges and are typically found in full iron sets, but they might suit players with slower swing speeds who need additional assistance with launch and distance.
  2. Shaft Flex: The shaft flex determines how much the shaft bends during the swing. For most golfers, a regular or stiff flex is suitable for a sand wedge. The choice between regular and stiff depends on your swing speed. Players with faster swing speeds might benefit from a stiffer shaft to maintain control and prevent the clubface from opening up too much on full swings. However, given the nature of most sand wedge shots (shorter and finesse shots), the impact of shaft flex is not as pronounced as it is with longer clubs.
  3. Weight: The weight of the shaft can influence the feel and swing characteristics of the sand wedge. A heavier shaft may provide a more stable feel, particularly for full swings and controlling shot trajectory. On the other hand, a lighter shaft could help increase clubhead speed for some players, providing additional distance on partial shots.
  4. Length: The standard length of a sand wedge is typically similar to that of other irons in your set. However, some golfers prefer slightly shorter or longer wedge shafts to better suit their swing and shot preferences. Shorter shafts can offer more control, especially on delicate shots, while longer shafts might provide additional distance but could potentially sacrifice some accuracy.

The Differences Between Wedge Lofts

Wedge lofts refer to the angle between the face of the wedge and the shaft. The loft angle determines the trajectory and distance the ball will travel when struck with the wedge. The three most common wedge lofts are:

Pitching Wedge (PW):

  • Loft: Typically, the pitching wedge has a loft angle between 44 to 48 degrees.
  • Usage: The pitching wedge is usually included as part of a standard iron set and is used for approach shots from the fairway or rough when you need a little more distance than a higher-lofted wedge. It can cover distances from around 100 to 140 yards, depending on the golfer's skill level.

Gap Wedge (GW) or Approach Wedge (AW):

  • Loft: The gap wedge is usually in the range of 50 to 54 degrees, although some sets may have a loft as low as 48 degrees or as high as 56 degrees.
  • Usage: The gap wedge is designed to fill the "gap" in distance between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. It is handy for shots that require a bit more loft and control than the pitching wedge, typically covering distances from around 80 to 100 yards.

Sand Wedge (SW):

  • Loft: The sand wedge usually has a loft angle between 54 to 58 degrees.
  • Usage: The sand wedge is primarily designed for shots out of greenside bunkers, as the higher loft helps the ball escape the sand and land softly on the green. It is also useful for short approach shots from the fairway or rough around 70 to 90 yards.

Some golfers may choose to carry additional wedges with even higher loft angles, such as a lob wedge (60 to 64 degrees) or an ultra-lob wedge (64+ degrees). These specialized wedges are used for shots requiring extreme height and a short carry distance, such as hitting over obstacles or stopping the ball quickly on the green.

It's important to remember that the loft gaps between wedges are critical for optimizing your short