Iron is a type of club used in the sport of golf to propel the ball towards the hole. Irons typically have shorter shafts and smaller clubheads than woods, the head is made of solid iron or steel, and the head’s primary feature is a large, flat, angled face, usually scored with grooves. Irons are used in a wide variety of situations, typically from the teeing ground on shorter holes, from the fairway or rough as the player approaches the green, and to extract the ball from hazards, such as bunkers or even shallow water hazards.
Irons are the most common type of club; a standard set of 14 golf clubs will usually contain between 7 and 11 irons, including wedges. Irons are customarily differentiated by a number from 1 to 10 (most commonly 3 to 9) that indicates the relative angle of loft on the clubface, although a set of irons will also vary in clubhead size, shaft length, and hence lie angle as the loft (and number) increase. Irons with higher loft than the numbered irons are called wedges, which are typically marked with a letter indicating their name, and are used for a variety of “utility” shots requiring short distances or high launch angles.
Prior to about 1940, irons were given names rather than numbers. Some of these names, e.g. mashie, and niblick, are found in the literature of the early twentieth century. Although these clubs and their names are considered obsolete, occasionally a modern club manufacturer will give a new iron the old name.