One frequent question we get is what are game improvement irons and are they really helpful?
Well, we can say confidently that they are very helpful, and knowing what it means can help you choose irons wisely when shopping for clubs of your own.
There are so many intricate details in golf for a person to learn that it can often be daunting. Golf clubs alone come in so many variations: different sizes, different styles of manufacturing, and materials used in crafting them, and they are even made specifically for certain types of golfers.
In this article, we’ll tackle the definition of Game Improvement Irons, who should use them, how they differ from Player’s Distance irons, and more:
What Are Game Improvement Irons In Golf?
The name (game improvement iron) hints at these clubs’ ability to improve the game of novices and get lower handicaps.
Game improvement irons are generally cast iron. They will also possess thicker soles and larger sweet spots that help with enhanced distance and accuracy.
Cavity backs are created using mold casting, which is more affordable and enables manufacturers to produce the design at scale. Due to the cavity backs, they're easier to launch, and more forgiving than the forged iron ones. If you're unsure what the difference is, don't worry - you're not alone! See our article on Forged vs Cast Irons.
That being said, many high handicappers have managed to get into a mid-handicap range thanks to their very forgiving cast iron clubs (game improvement clubs).
Golf can be quite a difficult game in and of itself. Trying to get lower handicaps, on the other hand, makes things even more complicated.
Seeing the need of many golfers to improve their game, manufacturers began designing and marketing Game Improvement irons starting in the 1960s.
These irons were made to help golfers hit straight, higher, and farther than the traditional irons of the time.
Before we discuss how they managed to do this, we first need to explain the meaning of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the ability of a particular club to compensate for mishits or off-center shots. So, when a person says that this particular iron is very forgiving, what they mean is that the club can hit and launch the ball even when the swing and impact were less than perfect.
Game Improvement irons are, by nature, very forgiving. This is achieved through a cavity back design.
The club heads of Game Improvement irons are designed with a cavity at the back. The material from this cavity is spread around the perimeter of the clubhead, offering a wider center of gravity. This has the effect of reducing the number of twists and vibrations in the club if you miss hitting the sweet spot.
On top of that, additional weight is added to the bottom of the club, around the sole or toe. This lowers the center of gravity and raises the moment of inertia. The weight is essentially guiding the club throughout the swing.
Who Should Use Game Improvement Irons?
We would recommend that complete beginners or high handicappers use Game Improvement irons. Mid-handicappers can also use Game Improvement irons in between their practices with Player’s Distance irons.
If you’re a beginning player, you’re going to need a set of irons that can compensate for your lack of skills early into your golfing journey.
In a game where the lowest number comes out on top, you need clubs that can help you achieve lower scores and get a lower handicap. This is what Game Improvement irons are for.
As you build up confidence, experience, and skill, Game Improvement irons can help you compete effectively and keep your score low. They are also great learning tools that can teach you the basics of swinging and accuracy, getting you prepared to take on more efficient but harder-to-use clubs and challenge more skilled players.
You likely won’t see many clubs being labeled as Game Improvement but you can easily spot one based on the cavity on its back.
One final note, if you're new - there is no shame in using game improvement irons, and it's not considered 'cheating' or sneaky in any way. They're where I started myself, along with many pro golfers! Golf lessons may also be worthwhile if you want to improve your game quicker.
If you're looking for something better geared towards better players, check out the Taylormade P770 Irons. They're geared toward those with a better handicap, from +4 to 24-.
Features of Game Improvement Irons:
The clubhead of Game Improvement irons is generally larger in size and a bit thicker. The larger size allows for more room for error and expands the sweet spot area. Even if the shot is off-center, a more sweet spot can mean the ball can still make an impact and launch decently.
Behind the sweet spot, there should be a hollowed-out space or cavity. This is to distribute the weight evenly around the parameter of the clubhead. Doing so allows for more forgiveness and easier swings since the club’s weight is working alongside gravity.
Shaft flex is just as important for golf clubs as the clubhead is. The flex or bend of the shaft is dependent on the speed of the swing. Generally, Game Improvement irons tend to have softer flex shafts which transfer the energy generated from the swing more efficiently. This provides newbie golfers, or those looking for improvement on their performance, with the technical assistance they need during those crucial learning stages.
With a softer flex, the golfer does not have to exert too much force in the swing since the flex itself can generate the power on its own momentum. Usually, game improvement irons come fitted with these softer shafts but, if necessary, the shafts can always be changed at a later stage once you are more confident in your swing.
Let's look at some of the Pros & Cons of using game improvement irons!
Pro of Game Improvement Irons
- Easier to use. As you might be able to guess from the things talked about above, a set of Game Improvement irons can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. In a time when you’re just learning the ropes of golf, having a set that can essentially score your hole can boost your confidence and pursue the game further. Without Game Improvement irons, many professional golfers might have quit early in their careers due to frustration.
- Effective in lowering your handicap. If by some weird logic, you decide to forgo using Game Improvement irons early in your golf journey, you’ll probably learn at a slower pace than others. Without clubs that can make up for your lack of skills, you’re going to score such a high handicap that, by the time you’ve developed enough to hold your own, you’re faced with such a large handicap that the only people you’re qualified to play with are beginners. Game improvement irons are great for keeping your handicap low during your formative stages. They’re even better for trying to get from the high to the mid-handicap range.
- They build up your confidence over time. Confidence is a quality in golf that cannot be overstated. Despite what it might seem, the game can be very daunting for beginners. More than simply learning how to make a decent swing, a player also needs good decision-making skills and makes on-the-spot judgments on aim and trajectory. Though anyone can develop these traits, the main hurdle you have to face as a beginner is self-doubt. With clubs that help make sure you hit the ball every time, your self-esteem and confidence in your capabilities build up over time.
- Generally more affordably priced than Player Distance irons.
A more practical benefit of Game Improvement irons is that they are relatively cheaper than Player Distance irons - clubs more commonly used by mid to low handicappers or professionals. In a time where you’re still learning to make decent swings, choosing the more affordable but quality option would be the wise thing to do, financially speaking.
Cons of Game Improvement Irons
- Harder to control. Game Improvement irons can ensure a hit even on off-center shots. It cannot guarantee that the ball is going to land in the right place every time though. The ball will go straight ahead but can’t do tricks like being able to do a draw or fade shot. In the end, there’s no good substitute for good aim and a well-calibrated swing.
- Less height. Less than impressive height could also be another negative aspect of Game Improvement irons. This is especially the case if you are playing in very windy conditions and are trying to stay out of the jet streams or hazards.
How do Game Improvement Irons differ from Player’s Distance Irons?
The short answer to this question is that the main difference rests on the fact that the Game Improvement irons are primarily designed for distance and forgiveness and Player’s Distance irons are designed primarily for workability and feel.
Most golfers that use Game Improvement irons are also simply looking to drive the ball to the center of the golf green.
Those that play with Player’s Distance irons are going to be thinking about hitting shots to different areas of the green. They will also start to control the ball and hit draws and fades.
When to switch from Game Improvement to Player’s Distance?
Though it’s different for every golfer, a rule of thumb is that if you are starting to see your scores drop below 80, you are probably ready to try practicing with Player’s Distance irons. Keep in mind that there will be an adjustment period.
The main reason golfers make the switch is workability. If you are at a point where you want more control over your shots and the ability to hit a draw or fade when necessary, you should consider changing.
A Few Of The Best Game Improvement Irons
And that was all you needed to know about Game Improvement irons. The way we see it, it’s like learning to ride a bike. You’re going to need to start with training wheels before you develop enough confidence and balance to ride without them.
It’s the same with Game Improvement irons. Using them, and allowing yourself to be instructed by them, can do wonders for your game overall.
Still not sure where to start? Check out our top golf irons for the year!