Driving Irons: A Complete Guide to Taming and Using Them

Driving Irons: A Complete Guide to Taming and Using Them

Picture this: you’re golfing with your father-in-law (insert “girlfriends dad,” if you’re a youngin’) and his pals. You walk up to the first tee. It’s downhill. Trees and water are right; OB left. The tiniest sliver of fairway down the center 

Here we go again.

Your father-in-law rips the driver. OB left. His pal also rips the driver. Water right. The other guy, learning nothing, rips the driver. In the woods right, but don’t worry, he’ll find it. He always finds it.

You step up to the tee box, driver in hand, because you’re a big boy. The longer you look at the fairway, the thinner it gets. The danger widens until your target is about as thick as Bryson DeChambeau’s grips.

But wait, you remember something. You’re the certified owner of your very on utility driver iron. You swap your driver for your UDI. Angelic music is heard as a beam of light shines down on only you. What’s this? The fair is dummy thick! The danger? Tis but a pond and an unreachable wood.

Ball on the turf, you rip a butter, low, piercing 2 iron 230 yards, center of the fairway.

Everyone else hits three off the tee.

Back to reality, and by reality, I mean this blog post. This scenario could be true, but look at yourself; you don’t own a driving iron. It makes me sick. That’s why I’m writing this today. Consider this your induction into the Church of the Utility Driving Irons (UDI).

Let’s explore what these versatile beauties are and what they can do. Ultimately, let’s see if a UDI belongs in your bag.

What Are Driving Irons?

Essentially long irons, often 1, 2, 3, or 4 irons, UDIs offer more forgiveness and versatility than traditional long irons do. Imagine an iron with the shaft and loft of a hybrid. Bingo.

Engineers design them with features like hollow-body construction and a low center of gravity weighting to provide more speed, forgiveness, higher ball flight, and greater distance.

Most driving irons come with graphite shafts, which are lighter and boost swing speed, resulting in more distance. Imagine a hybrid, but instead of that weird rounded head, it’s a forgiving-looking iron head. Boom, a utility driving iron.

What's the Difference Between a Driving Iron and a Utility Iron?

So you’ve come across the terms "utility iron" and "driving iron" and are wondering if there's a difference. Historically, they were distinct in their usage, with driving irons being the go-to for tee shots. 

As golf evolved, absolute animals started using these “driving irons,” off fairways, rough, sand, and their mate’s booty cheeks for a viral video. This is where the term “utility iron came from.” Today, these terms are used interchangeably and often compressed into “utility driving iron.”

The more you know.

In essence, driving irons offer precision but come with a dose of forgiveness. This unique combination makes them a favorite among both professional golfers and amateurs

So, why should you consider these clubs? Well, are you seeking more control over your shots? UDIs offer the unique advantages of traditional woods (*cough, cough* distance) that irons can't match, but often in a forgiving and familiar form factor.

You don’t want that? Wrong article, pal. Keep movin’.

What Sets Driving Irons Apart From Other Golf Irons?

Unlike standard irons, driving irons are designed with a more robust, low-center-of-gravity structure. The added bulk around and beneath the sweet spot and and longer bounce, enables higher and longer shots. This is why people love them off the tee. 

They sit in a category of their own. Not an iron, not a hybrid, certainly not a putter. UDIs offer a balance between control and distance. 

Benefits of Using a Driving Iron

We can't overstate the importance of driving irons in modern golf. These specialized clubs have gained immense popularity due to their versatility and performance advantages over traditional long irons. 

We asked seven random guys we found at the range why they use driving irons. Here’s what we found:

  • Forgiveness: One of the primary reasons driving irons have grown in popularity is the forgiveness they offer. Compared to traditional long irons, like the 2-iron and 3-iron, driving irons are far more forgiving on mishits, making them a valuable addition to any golfer's bag.

  • Increased Ball Speed: Engineers design both driving irons and utility irons to generate higher ball speeds, which lead to greater distances. This feature is especially advantageous when you're teeing off on short par-4 holes or attempting to reach a par-5 in two shots.

  • Flight Control: The design of driving irons and utility irons allows for superior control over ball flight. This means you can adjust the trajectory to better navigate windy conditions or obstacles on the course.

  • Versatility: Another hallmark of utility irons is their adaptability. Whether you're teeing off or hitting from the fairway, utility irons provide a reliable and versatile option. No reason to not go for the par 5 in two when you have one of this bad doggies in your bag.

  • Confidence: Using a driving iron can instill a level of confidence that many golfers don't feel with a traditional long iron or wood. This game can sometimes be entirely mental. When you’re locking down at a stocky UDI, you can’t help but feel confident.

  • Gapping and Set Composition: Driving irons and utility irons seamlessly fill the distance gap between your fairway woods and your longest iron, contributing to more effective course management. This is naturally dependent on the configuration of your bag. Generally, let’s say you have a 3-wood and your next shortest club is a 4-iron. Your 3-wood might go 230, but your 4-iron is capping out at 200. A 2 or 3-iron could be the perfect plug for this hole.

  • Shaft Options: The variety of shaft options available for driving irons, including lightweight graphite shafts, can help you achieve increased swing speed and distance. Imagine two 4-irons: one is a utility driving iron with a highly specialized, longer graphite shaft, and the other is a traditionally steel-shafted iron. Which do you think is easier to pipe balls down the fairway?

When Should I Use a Driving Iron?

Driving irons are exceptionally potent tools, but they require some speed and consistency to get the most out of them. To fully benefit from a driving iron, you'll need to generate a swift impact through the club at the point of contact. Be mindful, though, every UDI is different and will come with varying levels of forgiveness. If you can’t necessarily strike the ball consistently in the middle (or middle-ish) of the clubface, find a more forgiving model.

With that said, here’s when to pull this bad boy.

  • Navigating Tight Fairways: If you're faced with a tight fairway and you're concerned that a driver might send your ball into the rough—or worse, out of bounds—a driving iron is an excellent choice. The club's design prioritizes control and accuracy, making it easier to keep the ball on the fairway.
  • Conquering Par-5s: The unique combination of distance and control makes utility irons an ideal choice for your second shot on a par-5. You’re 230 out. Your tee shot was ideal but the green is tight and trees creep in. Your woods are trash. UDI time, baby.
  • Playing in Windy Conditions: Driving irons excel in windy settings. The enhanced flight control of driving irons and utility irons offers a significant advantage when playing in the wind. These irons naturally lend themselves to these conditions due to their low loft. Keep the ball low and out of the wind and you’ll be a happy golfer.
  • Risk Mitigation: In situations with water hazards, OB, or bunkers close to the landing area, a driving iron provides a safety net. The forgiving nature of these clubs can be a lifesaver, reducing the severity of poorly executed shots and are loften as easy to aim as a traditional iron.
  • When You're Struggling with Other Clubs: If you find that your driver or fairway wood is not performing up to par during a round, switching to a driving iron might just turn your game around. It’s long. It’s forgiving. Don’t be afraid to put your woods on timeout if they’re mistreating you. UDI has you covered

How to Choose the Best Driving Iron for You

Alright, the moment we’ve all been waiting for… our opportunity to give you a sales pitch for the brand new Takomo 101U…

Just kidding. 

Not every driving iron is going to work for every golfer. Let’s chat about a few factors you should consider before buying a specific model.

Selecting the right driving or utility iron isn't just another golfing decision; it can be a game-changer that can equip you with a lethal tool on the course. These versatile clubs come with shapes, sixes, and configurations, each catering to different skill levels, needs, and shot requirements. Let's delve into what you should focus on:

Loft Options

Lofts on driving or utility irons range from 16 to 24 degrees. For the seasoned golfer aiming for distance and a lower trajectory, lofts between 16 and 18 degrees are ideal. On the flip side, higher lofts of 20–24 degrees offer easier launch and added forgiveness. What’s perhaps more important to consider when selecting which loft makes sense for your game is figuring out the gap in you’re bag that you need to fill. Maybe you need to get a ball 190 yards, maybe 220, maybe 250. Maybe you’re last name is Borgmeier and you need to fill that classic 390-yard gap between your 4 iron and 5 wood. Either way, select a club that makes sense. There is no use having two clubs that go the same distance.

Shaft Choice

A graphite shaft in a driving iron offers a lighter touch and the potential for greater swing speeds, translating to more distance. Your perfect shaft isn't just about material; it's a blend of flex, weight, and length that harmonizes with your swing. Not every UDI comes with every shaft option. Make sure you understand what you need to optimize your performance. Additionally, used UDIs will come with whatever shaft they have attached, so unless you’re willing to buy a shaft separately and replace it… heads up.

Check out our in-depth guide on shaft selection to make an informed decision.

Club Head Design

Utility irons are often built with a hollow body design, lowering the center of gravity and yielding higher launch angles and greater forgiveness and ball speed. Blade length, offset, and sole width are all important and will do different things for different golfers.

Longer blade length offers more forgiveness. I don’t think we need to explain how. More blade = more sweet spot.

More offset allows additional time to square the clubface during your downswing. If you typically leave the club face open, more offset will help you hit straight or draw the ball. If you have no trouble squaring the face, less offset would be ideal.

A wider sole offers a safety net for slightly fat strikes, while also enabling low-center-of-gravity weighting or back of club weighting that would encourage consistent launch, distance, and forgiveness. Wider soles are an excellent choice for those who prioritize the above.

For the skilled golfer, a narrower sole provides the versatility required for a broader range of shots and uses of the iron across different lies.

Know Your Game

If you're like most casual golfers, hitting a 2-4 iron makes your knees shake more than… something that shakes a lot. This lack of confidence often results in disappointing worm burners that veer off course. The issue often lies in swing speed and ball compression. 

Understanding your own skill level will help you choose a club that compensates for your weaknesses while enhancing your strengths.

By considering these variables, you're not just buying a club; you're investing in a game-changer that will elevate your golfing experience to new heights.

Now that you’ve learned a ton about driving irons, how about we chat about a UDI that’s quite literally ⅓ of the price of other UDIs on the market while being made from the same materials and performing just as well. 

Can Driving Iron Replace 4-Iron?

4-iron is notoriously well known for the fact that it is the hardest iron to hit from a standard iron set. And why is that? Well, 4-iron has a lot less loft, which means that the player needs to generate more ball speed to launch the ball far. It also has the longest shaft in the iron set, which means that it is harder to feel the club head compared to shorter irons. Speaking of the club head, 4-irons usually have a very small head compared to utility irons. Utility irons usually feature a longer club head with a thicker sole.

As we've covered in this article, utility or driving irons are easier to use because they are built and designed so that the player can produce more club head speed effortlessly. Shafts are usually made of graphite, which also contributes to generating more ball speed due to their lighter weight. They also have a lower center of gravity, which usually helps the golfer find more forgiveness, club head speed, and distance.

So the short answer is yes, driving iron is a good replacement for 4-iron. 

Takomo 101U Driving Iron

We are extremely proud to announce that we have just released our first-ever driving iron, the Takomo 101U, your go-to for explosive power and unrivaled forgiveness.

In the words of Samuel L. Jackson’s character from Jurassic Park (whose name I can’t remember), “hold onto your butts,” because this UDI is bonkers long.

Designed as a hollow-body utility iron, the 101U is perfect for golfers seeking a game-changing alternative for tee shots. With options in 2, 3, and 4 iron configurations (18°, 21°, and 24°, respectively), this driving iron offers a blend of control, distance, and low spin that results in piercing ball flights.

4 Reasons Why the 101U is the Best Driving Iron You'll Ever Use

The 101U doesn't just offer distance; it's engineered for forgiveness. Thanks to its increased perimeter weighting, longer blade length, and thick, low-CG weighted sole, you'll experience consistent shots time and time again. This thing is more forgiving than my mother, whom I've consistently let down.

The hollow-body design coupled with precision milling of the face ensures next-level ball speeds. Constructed from 431 carbon steel, the 101U is crafted for medium- to fast-swinging golfers. Note that this beaut is made from the same materials and features the same grade shaft and grip as the UDIs offered by the big manufacturers. Biggest difference? The 101U cost $115 USD versus $300 -something from the competition.

What is the result of this rigorous engineering? Distance and control allowing you to hit your targets with unprecedented reliability. Also, let's face it, it’s an eye-catcher.


Let's be honest—golf can be as frustrating as trimming a green with toe-nail clippers. One minute you're considering if you could actually qualify for the US Open, the next you're sending out search parties for your ball in the rough.

The driving iron and utility iron have carved out a special place in golfer’s bags, offering an unparalleled blend of control and forgiveness. These clubs have evolved beyond their traditional roles, proving to be invaluable for tee shots, long approaches, and even tricky lies in the rough.

If you're contemplating adding a new club to your set, consider our just-released Takomo 101U. This driving iron is meticulously designed to enhance your game, offering everything you'd expect from top-of-the-line utility irons. With multiple loft options and a performance-driven design, the 101U stands out as a versatile and forgiving driving iron that can meet the needs of various skill levels.