The 4 Most Popular Types of Golf Irons

Irons account for nearly half of the clubs that a golfer is allowed to carry in their bag. Standard golf sets feature 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 irons. Irons are available in different shapes and sizes and they are made out of different materials. In this article we will take a look at everything about the golf iron, we will examine different iron types, design features and we will also look at which iron type is best for who. 

Different irons have different clubhead styles and designs. Clubhead style is a very important aspect that one should consider before purchasing a new set of irons. Are you a beginner that requires the assistance of game improvement irons? Is your ball striking good enough for a set of muscle-back irons? These are the types of questions to keep in mind when deciding what type of irons is best for you and your game. 

1. Blade / Muscle Back Irons 

Titleist 620 Muscle Back Iron
Titleist 620 Muscle Back Iron

Muscle back irons are commonly known as blades because they resemble the look of a butter knife. These irons with their small clubheads are commonly found in the bags of professional and low handicap amateur players that are exceptional ball strikers. 

Muscle back irons also offer exceptional workability and this is one of the main reasons why professional players opt for blade irons. Muscle back irons have very small clubheads, if you miss the sweet spot it will be evident in the results. Blades with their sleek designs do look good but these irons are only suitable for a very small portion of the golfing population. 

2. Cavity Back Irons

Titleist 718 Cavity Back Iron
Titleist 718 Cavity Back Iron

Cavity back irons offer the best of both worlds in terms of forgiveness and performance. Cavity back shaped clubheads are becoming popular features in the bags of professional golfers. The world’s best ball strikers seem to prefer the forgiveness of cavity-back clubheads over the workability of muscle back irons. 

The slick design of cavity back irons is visually appealing to many golfers and the exceptional forgiveness and feel of these irons add to the popularity of cavity back irons. The versatility of cavity back irons is why these irons are suitable for players of all skill levels. 

3. Game Improvement Irons 

Titleist T300 Game Improvement Iron
Titleist T300 Game Improvement Iron

If added distance and consistency with your iron play is on your wishlist then you should think about investing in a set of game improvement irons. Game improvement irons feature a larger profile which might not appeal to all golfers but one can’t argue with results that these oversize irons deliver. 

Game improvement irons offer more than just big clubheads, the design of these irons are packed with other game improvement technological advances. Game improvement irons feature design characteristics that enhance distance, promote a stronger/higher ball flight, and consistency on off-center hits. 

4. Super Game Improvement Irons

Titleist T400 Super Game Improvement Iron
Titleist T400 Super Game Improvement Iron

Super game improvement irons feature a big profile that resembles the look of a hybrid. Super game improvement iron sets traditionally feature long irons with hybrid-like designs and short irons with a traditional iron clubhead design. 

These irons might not look very appealing to the traditional golfer, but beginners, ladies and senior players with slow clubhead speeds will all benefit greatly by using these irons. Super game improvement irons promote added distance, a high ball flight and exceptional forgiveness on off-center hits. 

Cast vs. Forged Irons

Forged and cast refer to the two different ways that iron clubheads are made. When cast irons are manufactured hot metal is poured into a mold or a cast which gives the iron heads it’s distinct shape. In comparison forged irons are carved out of a solid piece of metal. Forging is an intricate, expensive process but the consensus amongst golfers is that it does produce a better iron head. 

Forged irons are softer than cast irons and these iron heads can be adjusted with ease in terms of lie and loft, cast irons, on the other hand, aren’t easy to bend. Forged irons are more forgiving than cast irons and this along with their ability to be adjusted are the main reasons why pros and low handicap players prefer forged irons. To learn more about how these two different clubheads are made click here

Iron loft & lie angles explained 

Loft and lie angles are terms that get used loosely amongst golfers. Loft and lie angles, however, are two very important factors to consider when buying a new set of irons. 

Beginners won’t be affected by these angles as much but players that have fairly good turf interaction at impact definitely will. Players with good ball-striking capabilities need to ensure that they are playing with the correct loft and lie on their irons. 

The loft of the club determines the distance that the golf ball will fly through the air. If all of a sudden your 9 iron and your 8 iron fly roughly the same distance then it could be that the loft on one of them is out. If your home club has a loft and lie machine it is recommended to check your lofts regularly to ensure that they are the same as when you bought your set.

Also, different manufacturers have different standard lofts, make sure to check the standard loft of your current irons as well as on your new irons if you were to purchase a new set. It could be that there is a 2-3 degree difference which could result in nearly a 10-yard difference. Standard lofts also differ amongst iron types regardless of manufacturer. 

It is common practice for game improvement irons to have slightly stronger standard lofts in comparison to either cavity back or blade irons. If you are planning on switching between these respective clubhead styles make sure to check the standard lofts for personal reference. 

Lie angle affects the direction of the golf ball. The lie angle of the club refers to the angle between the ground and the hosel of the club. Lie angle plays a role with turf interaction which in return affects direction. If a club is too upright the toe will dig into the ground first and vice versa with a club that is too flat. 

A smashboard is a great tool that will assist you with checking your lie angles. Make sure to visit your local pro shop or golf retailer, they will be able to assist you with checking and adjusting your lie angles if needed. It is important to keep in mind that the lie angles of forged irons are easily adjusted, but with cast irons, only small adjustments can be made. Cast irons can snap in the hosel if it is adjusted too much or regularly. 

A general rule of thumb is that taller than average golfers will need clubs that are slightly upright and shorter golfers such as kids will need irons with flatter lie angles. This is just a general rule of thumb, arm length, the golfer’s setup and a host of other factors can also influence which lie angle is best suited for you. Loft and lie angles can be confusing, to learn more about this topic click here

Best Iron Types for Beginners

Beginner golfers differ vastly in terms of ability and skill. It is impossible to compare a junior golfer that takes up the game to a senior golfer that wants to start playing golf after they retire. 

With that being said it is important for beginners of all levels to start with a good set of irons that will kickstart their golf journey. 

Game improvement irons are great irons for beginners regardless of skill level. These oversize irons are more affordable than forged cavity back irons, they promote added distance and height and they offer maximum forgiveness as a result of their big sweet spots. Super game improvement irons are renowned for their forgiveness but the market is packed with other forgiving iron options. To find out what the 5 most forgiving irons currently available on the market are click here

Best Iron Types for Low Handicappers

It is safe to assume that a low handicapper can hit the ball fairly well. Players with above-average ball-striking abilities can benefit greatly by playing with forged cavity back irons. Forged irons can be adjusted with ease in terms of lie and loft, this is key for a low handicapper to ensure good turf interaction and distance control. 

Forged cavity back irons don’t have the big sweet spots that game improvement irons do. As a result cavity back irons offer exceptional workability because their design doesn’t reduce spin which is the case with game improvement irons. For high handicappers, spin equates to wild shots all over the place, for low handicappers optimal spin equates to either a controlled draw or fade.   


The 4 most popular iron types are muscle back, cavity back, game improvement and super game improvement irons. Each of these iron types features different design characteristics. Muscle back irons are most common amongst professionals and super game improvement irons can be found in the bags of beginners and senior players that want added distance and height to their iron shots. 

There is no right or wrong as to what type of irons you should play with, at the end of the day it comes down to your individual needs and skill level. 

This article was last updated on February 14, 2022 .

Bertine Strauss
Written by
Bertine Strauss
The Golf Blog