What is the Most Difficult Golf Club to Hit? Take it Easy!

Saying golf is a hard game is often thought to be the biggest understatement ever made.

Perfection in golf is impossible even for the greatest golfers of them all and many think it is the most difficult sport in the world.

So given golf’s inherent difficulty it would seem a sensible approach to try and avoid as much as possible the most difficult club to hit when you are putting together your set of clubs.

But what is the most difficult golf club to hit?

As a general rule long irons are the most difficult golf clubs to hit. 1 irons historically were the most difficult but these have now virtually vanished from the modern game making 2, 3 and even 4-irons the most difficult club group. Drivers and 3-woods are a very close second to long irons for the vast majority of amateur golfers.

If you asked 3 golfers however what the most difficult golf club was in their golf bag you would likely get 4 answers for the simple reason that the answer to this question often depends on who you are asking as it varies from golfer to golfer.

It is generally agreed though that long clubs are harder to hit consistently well than shorter ones hence why when any surveys are done the vast majority of amateur golfers highlight either driver, 3 wood or long irons as their most difficult clubs to hit.

As golfers get better clearly things change but even the top pros on the PGA Tour, with all the latest golf club tech available to them, in general find long irons the hardest to hit well all the time.

And they find this to such an extent that some of the top 100 PGA Tour players miss out long irons from their bag completely and don’t start their standard iron set until their 5-iron!

Long Clubs Are Typically the Hardest to Hit

However good you get at the game of golf there is unfortunately one universal truth.

There will be a club that you have the least confidence in and find the most difficult to hit. The thought then and of having to use it to play your next shot fills you with dread.

For different golfers that club will vary but there tend to be groups of clubs that golfers of all standards find the most difficult to hit.

And given the overall rule of thumb is the longer the club, and the lower the loft, the harder a golf club is to hit the assumption is therefore that the driver is automatically the hardest club to hit as it is both the longest club with typically the lowest loft of all golf clubs.

But on average the hardest golf clubs to hit are the long irons of 1-iron through 4-iron rather than the driver. Drivers are still hard to hit consistently well but golfers benefit both from being able to use a tee when playing them and also from the large sweet spots which exist on modern drivers.

Don’t get me wrong though. A huge number of amateur golfers still find the driver hard to hit well and for good reason.

It is indeed the longest and lowest lofted club in the golf bag, creates the most ball speed and as a result any bad shots hit with it will typically go off line more than any other clubs you play including your long irons.

“If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron!”

6-time Major champion, Lee Trevino

However the reason longer irons are slightly more challenging to hit than a driver typically is that they are also long and low lofted and although not as much as the driver other factors at play make hitting them consistently well more difficult.

For one to hit a long iron well a golfer needs to strike the golf ball with a slightly descending blow and a high amount of club head speed.

The descending blow helps decrease the amount of what is called ‘dynamic loft’ while the increased swing speed helps to deliver more spin on the golf ball, keeping it in the air longer and with increased accuracy.

But when the average golfer looks down at a low lofted long iron they more often than not want to help the ball up into the air and this causes them to do the opposite of what is needed with long irons – swing with less confidence and club head speed and not with a descending blow.

As a result the ball more often than not goes less far and more off-target.

And it is for these same reasons that a 3-wood needing to be played off the fairway is for many a more difficult shot than hitting sweeping a driver with a nice big sweet spot off the top of a nicely placed tee peg.

You will be glad to know however that is it not just us average golfers who have difficulty hitting long irons.

The best players in the world also find them hard to hit consistently well and as a result many of the pros simply swap out their long irons in favour of higher numbered fairway woods, hybrids or driving/utility irons.

Indeed when we looked in detail at the golf club set up of the top 100 PGA Tour pros we found that if you took driving/utility irons out of the equation 72% of this elite group started their traditional iron set with a 4-iron or higher.

And even when you take account of driving irons, which are easier to hit than traditional irons, only a tiny number of the PGA Tour pros carry 2-irons and not one of the top 100 on Tour uses a 1-iron.

So if the conclusion is then that long irons are the hardest clubs to hit what is the hardest iron of them all to hit?

A 1-iron is the hardest iron to hit because it is the longest and has the lowest loft of between 14° and 16°. The rise of hybrid clubs to replace long irons however means in the modern game 1-irons and 2-irons are very rare indeed resulting in 3-irons and 4-irons in reality being the most difficult irons to hit.

[Note – If you are interested in checking out our detailed analysis on what clubs the top 100 PGA Tour players use check out our article on this here.]

Short Clubs Can be Hard to Hit Too

As we have mentioned all long golf clubs – whether that be drivers, 3-woods and the long iron group of #1 through #4 – are hard to hit for all standards of golfers, including the pros.

And when we are talking about what is the most difficult club to hit we are clearly discussing what is the hardest club to hit ‘consistently well’.

We can all usually make contact with the golf ball with any club the vast majority of the time but whether it then goes in the right direction for a decent distance is often another matter!

But every player is different and different players, especially those who have played the game for any length of time, will find different individual clubs harder to hit well than others and they don’t always have to be the longest clubs with the lowest lofts as you would typically expect.

For many beginners and high handicap golfers it is the sand and/or lob wedge which is their nemesis and they come close to losing their will to live any time they see their ball head towards the sand or are faced with lofting the ball over water in front of them.

When you have wedges that have 56 degrees of loft, as the typical sand wedge does, all the way up to lob wedges of 64° loft, it is very easy to flatten out the clubface and slide the club almost completely under the ball resulting it in hardly going any distance at all.

Or alternatively it is just as easy for many golfers to hit the ball with the leading edge of these high lofted clubs – or ‘blade’ or ‘skull’ it as golfers often call it – and send the ball way over the green.

And it is with good reason that some golfers find high lofted wedges hard to hit because they are difficult clubs to hit with a full swing.

Whatever the bounce or grind option there is on such wedges you will find sometimes even the best players struggle to hit a full shot with such a high lofted wedge simply because the ball tends to go straight up and down and not very far because there is so much loft.

For others the hardest club to play well with is their putter.

The most dreaded words in all of golf – ‘the yips’ – afflict golfers most often with their putter.

Even the greatest players in the game, including multiple major champions such as Bernhard Langer and Ernie Els, can succumb to this affliction which results in them missing very short putts because of essentially a block in their brain.

It is a horrible thing to see happen to any golfer, and it can also happen although more infrequently, with chipping as well as putting, and for any player who succumbs to this there is never any question as to which club in their bag they find the most difficult to hit.

So although as a general rule the vast majority of golfers will find the long clubs in their bag the hardest to hit it is the shortest club of all, the putter which can prove the most problematic for others.

Take Advantage of Every Golfing Aid you Can

Golf is a hard game for sure but for some reason many golfers do not take advantage of all the ways that they possibly can to make their life easier.

And with the rapid advances in golf technology over the last 20-30 years especially the golf club manufacturers have come up with a number of ways to make even the most traditionally difficult clubs to hit much easier for all standards of player.

In response to all golfers finding long irons the hardest to hit in general the hybrid golf club has made an appearance to take their place.

Put simply hybrid irons are easier to hit than long irons – and a great option for everyone even the pros – for the following main reasons:

  • Hybrids are more forgiving than longer irons by being specifically designed to be much wider and thicker. This allows more perimeter weighting meaning a lower centre of gravity further back from the clubface than an iron.
  • Their design allows all players to hit the ball higher which helps with clearing any hazards in the way, getting more distance and giving them a better chance of staying on the green and hitting more greens.
  • Hybrids allow golfers with slower swing speeds – one of the main issues stopping players hitting long irons well – to hit the ball higher and with faster ball speed compared to standard long irons which again helps with distance and shot quality.

In addition to hybrids the rapid development of cavity back or ‘game improvement’ irons has provided the average golfer with another means of being able to hit the dreaded long irons, and indeed all their irons in general, much better.

Any golfer who played golf back in the day will remember the difficulty which ‘blade’ long irons posed and also the ‘stinging’ hands which sometimes resulted from not hitting them well.

Thankfully those days are long gone and the cavity back iron options are now so good that many people recommend that there is no good reason why almost every golfer on the planet should not be taking advantage of cavity back clubs.

“I can’t hit a blade. It’s too difficult, and I’m a pro golfer. I think a blade goes shorter. Off-center hits aren’t going to perform as well as cavity-backs. I don’t see a reason why you would want to play a blade. I really don’t. I played blades in my early 20s, maybe one year – when I was dumb. But I’m wiser now and play a cavity back.”

4-time PGA Tour winner, Kevin Na

And don’t forget simple things like a ‘tee’ when it comes to making the hardest clubs to hit easier for you.

Jack Nicklaus’ approach to teeing up the ball on a par 3 is one great example of this.

He has often talked about how he can never understand why all players do not automatically tee the ball up on every par 3 they play.

As Nicklaus puts it “….why is the tee there? You have an opportunity on a par 3 to tee it up, so why not take advantage of that and give yourself the best lie possible? In the fairway, when the ball sits on the ground, you might hit it thin or fat. But if you tee the ball a little higher on a par 3 … you’ve just eliminated the two things you don’t want to happen.”

As arguably the greatest golfer who has ever lived and someone who has played some of the greatest par 3 tee shots in history this is hard advice to argue against.

[Note – We have produced another article listing 16 different top and simple tips such as this from some of the greats of the game to help you improve your golf game without taking lessons. Check it out here.]

What is the Easiest Club to Hit?

Now that we have covered what the hardest clubs are to hit the natural question which follows is what is the easiest club to hit in golf.

On average the easiest golf club to hit is the 7-iron. 6-irons and 8-irons come close because these mid-iron clubs deliver high launch angles for all standards and their appearance gives confidence when players look down at them. They also rarely require the half-swings which amateurs find difficult with very short irons.

As with the hardest clubs to hit however the answer will be different for different golfers however the fact that most golf stores will make a 7-iron available for you to try out as a demonstration club is a decent indication that it is viewed as at least one of the easiest clubs to hit.

Because if you grab a club and hit it well straight away in a golf shop you are more likely to make a purchase!

Again as we have already discussed when it comes to irons cavity back or ‘game improvement’ or even ‘super game improvement’ irons are the most forgiving golf clubs and the best choice for beginners and high handicappers especially.

Indeed there seems to be very little argument why even the best amateur golfers playing of scratch shouldn’t be using them as well!

[If you are interested in getting, or switching to, cavity back irons to take advantage of their benefits check out the best ones according to Golf Digest and Today’s Golfer on Amazon.

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Graeme Hay

Graeme Hay is the owner of GolfingFocus.com. Graeme started playing golf when he was only 4 years old and has loved the game ever since. A single figure golfer all of his adult life and a member of Royal Troon Golf Club he lives in London and still enjoys playing whenever he can with friends and family.

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