Can You Play Golf With Just Irons? (Pros & Cons)

Playing golf with just irons is a great way for amateur golfers to improve their game.

However, there are pros and cons of this decision that you should be aware of before taking on this challenge.

Let’s take a look at some of these so you can make an informed decision about whether or not playing golf using just your irons is right for you.

So if you’re a golfer who has been struggling with your game, it might be time to consider playing Golf with just irons.

picture of a golf ball on a tee

Why you should consider using just irons for your next round of golf

Many amateur golfers find themselves in a position where their game has plateaued and they are looking for ways to improve.

One strategy that is gaining popularity among amateurs is playing without using drivers, fairway woods or hybrid clubs.

Contrary to what many people think, this can actually be a quick way for golfers of all skill levels to improve their scores and enjoy themselves more while on the golf course.

Rather than consistently hitting poor tee shots with your Driver, which can often result in either a 3-off the tee situation, which quickly adds shots to your round.

Or perhaps you find that you’re having to chip out sideways, or even backwards, from the trees or rough for your second shot, again doing this quickly adds shots to your round.

Hitting lots of poor shots with Driver is a sure way to hit more poor shots with Driver in the future…it can get in your head.

It’s all about confidence.

What Are The Benefits of playing Golf with just irons

Golf is also about strategy (Course Management)

It’s not just about how far you hit the ball, it’s also about your ability to plot your way around a golf course in a way that will get you as close to the hole with as few strokes as possible.

And when it comes to course management, one of the most important things is deciding which club to use and when.

For instance, if there are the above mentioned trees blocking your path from tee-to-green then you may want to bring out your driver or fairway wood.

But what happens if these longer range clubs are off limits and you’re only using irons?

The pros of this strategy include:

It will allow you to work on your all round iron play

You will have more control over the direction of your ball because you can’t hit as far with irons only, which usually means you will be more accurate

If you have more confidence finding the fairways off the tee with your irons, even if they don’t go as far as a well struck driver, you will quickly make up for it by not dropping shots and being in the hole right away.

I often find the more good irons shots I hit….the more good irons shots I hit.

It will also increase the challenge level of the course you are playing by putting you into areas on the course that you might not be used to playing from during your normal round.

The disadvantages of playing Golf with only irons

Lack of length off the tee is the most obvious disadvantage, to only using irons, but if you are gaining the accuracy that you are looking for then that’s easier to deal with, especially if you’re playing stroke-play or stableford.

If it’s in match play golf then there could be a hidden disadvantage that you may not have though of.

It was certainly not something I had thought about.

In my own game I can hit a decent ball with Driver but it’s not the most reliable club in my bag and can sometimes end up anywhere except my intended target.

So it’s not unusual for me to hit a 3-iron off the tee, which is my fairway finder, but I do lose a lot of distance compared to my driver.

I hit 3-iron around 200-210 yards, so I’m probably sacrificing 40-50 yards

In normal circumstances, on the golf courses that I play, the par 4’s are usually less than 400 yards, so it’s not a problem for me as I feel, with a decent shot, I can still usually reach the green in regulation with an element of control, and if I don’t then I’m not too far away and I have a decent short game to help me recover.

It’s also not such a good idea in Matchplay

Where it became a noticeable problem was when I played matchplay singles, especially where I was giving shots on a hole, which is almost every game.

With the guys I usually play with, normally when I hit a decent Driver, I will be longer than my partner, often 30-40 yards further, sometime more.

Being so far behind usually makes them take more risk on their second shot, as they feel compelled to keep up with me and try to stay in the hole.

Often forgetting that they have a shot on the hole.

This change of tactic, for them, usually ends up with them hitting a poorer second shot compared to if they had played within themselves as they might do in Stableford

When doing this, I always feel like I have a better chance to win the hole, but that does need me to hit driver well.

If I am not hitting driver well, and I sacrifice distance for accuracy off the tee by using an iron, then my opponent is under far less pressure, as we are usually in a similar position after our tee shots.

and then they always remember that they have a shot on the hole.

I find it harder to win a match play game, where I am giving shots, using irons only than I do bombing driver past them. But if I am not giving shots then I am more likely to use irons

Reducing Length Off The Tee Does Make the game harder

When my game is going well I feel like I can play with only irons and I’ll still be able to put a decent score together.

But the lack of length is a factor even when you are playing well

I had one recent round at Manor House Golf Club where I used irons only, I made three birdies in a row, 12, 13 & 14, which had me all fired up to try and make it four in a row.

The only downside was I just couldn’t reach the par 4 15th in regulation, as it was playing in to the wind and at 436 yards, using two well struck 3-irons… I just couldn’t reach the green.

I forced my third shot chasing a birdie and I subsequently made bogey.

Steve King Scorecard playing with only irons

Final thoughts about playing with only irons

Golfers of all skill levels can improve their game by playing with just irons, but distance is important, so long as you have some control over that distance.

Using just irons to play golf means you will be artificially lowering the ceiling on your ability to put a good score together

It is a good option for those who are struggling to find the fairways and need to rebuild some confidence n their game.