A set of golf clubs can be the most expensive purchase a golfer will make and can be a daunting investment for those who are just starting out in golf for the first time. Which is why I suggest that no, you don’t need a full set of irons to start playing golf. The rules of golf state that a maximum of 14 clubs are allowed for a golfer but you do not need to fill your bag to the full courtesy. While a driver, some type of sand wedge and paddle are essential, the number of irons required depends on your ability and enthusiasm levels.
A good starting point for irons if you’re new to the game is to pick a half set (often called a short set) or even just a three-piece set of 5, 7, and 9-iron. This will be enough to cover different shooting distances as you work on the type of iron you like the look of and the type of performance you want to try. As a beginner, your strike pattern will probably be quite inconsistent and therefore it makes no sense to invest in a complete set of seven irons from 4 iron to wedge. The benefits of having a full range come when you are able to hit the ball correctly on a semi-constant basis in order to hit the ball different distances depending on the shot you have in hand. A side benefit of having less iron in your bag is that it will be lighter to carry, thus reducing stress on the body.
However, there are some very good iron sets for beginners as well as bundle set options that include a full set of irons without the premium cost. While you don’t necessarily need a full set of irons, it’s a good idea to have a complete matching set and most bundle sets come with matching irons as well as a bag to carry around the course.
When choosing your half or three-piece set, be sure to choose the model that prioritizes tolerance. Look for distinguishing features such as a wide sole, thick topline, and generous overall size—these will increase margin of error on off-center hits and produce better distance and accuracy. Watch the ball’s flight and shooting pattern – is the ball flying too high and spinning too much? You may need stiffer shafts. Is the ball missing right? You may need more offset to balance out the racket face. Consider these factors for your next set once you learn how to hit the ball more consistently.
Also think about what type of iron and at what distance, when to upgrade your irons as well as where you want to start your set. For many golfers, the 4-iron is redundant because it’s so hard to hit, so consider starting your collection with a 5-iron and opting for a gap wedge instead to help you on those short iron distances.
As you become a more accomplished ball forward, you may want to invest in a complete kit that has a bit more technology inside the heads while coming in a slightly more refined package. Alternatively, you can fill in the gaps in your collection by purchasing the missing clubs individually. Many of the best mid-handicap irons still offer plenty of distance and tolerance despite their slim profile. For premium brand irons on a budget, consider a set of used irons but be sure to check the condition and specifications of the clubs to make sure they match exactly what you need. We all want to know how to pay less for our next set of irons, as long as it doesn’t sacrifice performance.