The golf industry has lost its mind with club naming

Club numbers should be replaced with degrees of loft


I recently purchased a set of golf clubs. Here are the names of the irons, the lofts and what the names of the irons should be. Keep in mind all the clubs in this first table have identical form, look, materials, grind, shaft et cetera. There are no specialist wedges, driving irons, utilities or anything like that. The only differences are length and loft.

Name Loft Better name
4 iron 19° 19° iron
5 iron 22° 22° iron
6 iron 25.5° 25.5° iron
7 iron 29° 29° iron
8 iron 33° 33° iron
9 iron 37° 37° iron
Pitching wedge 41° 41° iron
45° wedge 45.5° 45.5° iron
50° wedge 50° 50° iron
54° wedge 54° 54° iron
Lob wedge 58° 58° iron

Take particular note of the 9 iron, Pitching wedge and 45° wedge. 3 completely different naming formats for 3 clubs that are identical except for length and loft.

Golf club names should be made of 2 components, the loft angle and the form. By form I mean

  • Driver
  • Wood
  • Hybrid
  • Iron

Allow me to continue for the woods.

Name Loft Better name
3 hybrid 19° 19° hybrid
3 wood 15° 15° wood
Driver 10.5° 10.5° driver

Pitching wedges are not wedges and not used for pitching!

The most egregiously mislabeled club in all golfers’ bags is the “Pitching wedge”. Even in sets that include specialty wedges, the pitching wedge is not one of them! It is exactly like a 9 iron except for length and loft so by the numbering convention it should be called a 10 iron. Also unlike wedges it is only ever used for full swings, it is not even used for pitching on to the green!

So why is it called a Pitching wedge? Because the club one step down from the 9 iron used to be used for pitching onto the green. That is because it used to be made at a different loft and players used to have less wedges and less different types of clubs, also club materials, balls, greens, swings etcetera were all different.

Loft is the key

Perhaps the main problem with current club naming convention is that manufacturers change clubs lofts with changes in technology and conventions, such as high lofting shafts and players wanting hybrids, and as a marketing trick.

The reason we should change from, for example, “5 iron” to “22° iron” is because the “22°” part is relevant and important information, the “5” is not, in fact the 5 is meaningless on its own (it’s only meaning is in relation to the 4 and the 6 within its own naming convention).

The important thing about a 5 iron is not the number 5, it’s the length and launch angle that it hits compared to your other clubs, mostly determined by the club loft°, such as 22°, not at all determined by the number 5.

The other reason the current club naming convention does not make sense any more is because there is almost no such thing as a 1 iron any more. That might be less of a problem if the 1 driver flowed to the 2 wood, to the 3 hybrid and then to the 4 iron. But it doesn’t. My bag is a typical example of having a 3 wood and a 3 hybrid with completely different lofts, length and strike distances!

The way forward

Improving golf club naming has to come from the manufacturers because they are the only official source of names. Unfortunately it’s a case of no one wanting to go first. The average golfer is old and set in their ways which includes customers and decision makers at manufacturers.

The manufactures work out ways to use the outdated and illogical club naming conventions for marketing tricks. For example if the old set of irons had a 4 iron with 21° loft then in the new set of irons they will give it a 20° loft and claim they have added 5 yards distance to their irons with superior design technology and materials, which is complete bunk, they got 5 more yard from cheating on the loft! Once they do this a few times the 4 iron is literally what a 3 iron used to be, and this has actually happened with multiple manufacturers, so the manufacturers are making the problem worse.

The media could help but only if every golf commentator and content creator started using the same improved naming convention all at once, which is never going to happen.

When one brave manufacturer does release a series of clubs with logical names we golfers should vote in favor of that with our wallets.


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