Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Irons Get Longer and Longer

Irons Get Longer and Longer

We’ve referenced the change in iron lofts over time as one reason you can’t head to the mat to test prospective new clubs for your bag without having a bit more information. Nike provides a great example of this with their latest line of irons, the VR_S Forged.

The Nike VR_S Forged 7-iron has a loft of 31 degrees. Doesn’t mean anything to you? To most players, it won’t (who has the lofts of their clubs memorized?). Let’s compare the this to the Nike VR Pro Blades 7-iron, which has 35 degrees of loft. To get 31 degrees of loft in the VR Pro, pull the 6-iron. You can see where we are going with this…

Two different models (from the same manufacturer even) with a full club of difference in loft. What this means is that you shouldn’t be blindly smitten when you stack up the two head to head and find that the VR_S 7-iron has an additional 15 yards on other 7-irons you’re testing (we aren’t just comparing these two Nike models, we are talking generally here). Given the relative lofts, that can make sense.

So before you pick your next set of irons based on which set you hit the furthest (we aren’t saying that is how you are supposed to decide, we leave that one up to you), make sure to check the club specs to ensure you are comparing apples to apples as best you can. There are a number of factors that will impact distances, and a 4 degree difference in loft is absolutely one of them. For those that are willing to spend a bit to get professionally fit, any decent custom golf club fitter should have all clubs specs at hand.

To highlight the change in decreasing loft over time, check out this table from Tom Wishon‘s book, The NEW Search for the Perfect Golf Club.

Table 1. The Dreaded Vanishing Loft Disease

Club 1960s-70s 1980s 1990s-00s 2010+
1-iron 17 17 16 NA
2-iron 20 20 18 NA
3-iron 24 23 21 18-21
4-iron 28 26 24 22-24
5-iron 32 30 27 24-27
6-iron 36 34 31 27-31
7-iron 40 38 35 31-35
8-iron 44 42 39 35-40
9-iron 48 46 43 40-44
PW 52 50 48 44-48
GW N/A N/A 52 48-52
SW 56 56 56 54-56

Anyone else in favor of simply getting rid of club numbers and putting lofts on them, ala Ryan Moore’s Scratch irons from years ago?

  • dgmcshane

    This is really late, but Ben Hogan Irons (Ft Worth and PTX) have lofts on them and have them available for all lofts from 20 through 47 degrees. I wish I was consistent enough to play either model.

  • Don O’Brien

    Since I don’t brag how far I can hit a 4-iron (actually before or since – not far), all I need to know is does it feel good, hit solid, and what is the yardage I need/it goes. Over time, with improvements to club faces and moving tungsten weights around, there may be improvements not related to just loft. My AP3 7 iron (31 degrees) is as long as my 716 AP1 6 iron (28 degrees) Shafts and overall weight also factor in, but I have a better launch and distance w/o all the magic in the loft. But I get that if all that is new in an annual update is loft and shaft length, that can be misleading. BTW, Ben Hogan doesn’t cater to a LH like me. I always have to check the specs first.