4 Iron vs 5 Wood: Which one should I carry?

Golfers have plenty of options.

Golfers should also make sure they maximize the 14 golf clubs they can carry in their bag.

Too often, golfers just simple default to the stand 4-9, a couple wedges, driver, fairway wood and a putter without giving it much thought.

The good news is that golfers have multiple options within the fairway wood, hybrid and long irons range.  Matching up the best clubs for your game is essential to reaching your full potential.  

Towards the end of this post, we will give you a same distance chart for each club and how to build one for your game.  It is very important to know how far you hit each club and ensure you do not have a yardage gap of larger than 15 yards anywhere in your bag.

4 Iron vs 5 Wood: Which one should I carry?

The majority of golfers will be better off with the 5 wood instead of the 4 iron.  Once a golfer reaches a swing speed of 100 miles or more with the driver and is a single digit handicap player, the 4 iron becomes a viable option.

Overall, the fairway wood will typically be easier to hit higher and further compared to a long iron.  This is especially true for the golfer that might lack swing speed or strength.  The fairway woods of today are designed to launch the ball at a higher ball flight compared to a long iron.  They are also easier to hit out of the rough and fairway bunker.

Some golfers might select to play both.  It will often come down to how far each golfer hits each club.  Each club does have some specific features that make it a better golf club for some golfers.

Check out the Stock Shot drill at the end of this post.

Benefits of a 5 wood

  • Easier to hit higher
  • Easier to hit further
  • Versatile out of various lies

Benefits of a 4 iron

  • Easier to control shot height
  • Better overall accuracy and shot dispersion

5 Wood: Easier to hit higher

The 5 wood is designed with a low center of gravity to allow the golfer to get quality height from the shot.  The fairway woods and hybrids in today’s golf market are designed with the slower swing speed and higher handicap golfer in mind.  

The goal of these clubs is to provide a tool to allow the golfer to hit higher, quality shots that will land softly and the 5 wood accomplishes this goal.  For many golfers, they will fall in love with their 5 wood and it will be their favorite club in the bag.  

The golfer that lacks swing speed with the driver might find themselves frequently reaching for the 5 wood for their 2nd shot on par 4s and par 5s.

7 wood vs 4 Iron

5 Wood: Easier to hit further

The 5 wood will fly further for most golfers compared to the 4 iron.  It typically has a longer shaft and less loft, making it easier to hit further.  For many golfers, the design of the 5 wood will help the golfer make better contact resulting in extra distance.

If you do not have enough swing speed, a 4 iron can be extra difficult to hit.  While they do make utility 4 irons, the majority of the standard 4 irons in golf set are difficult if your swing speed is below 100 miles per hour with the driver.

How to hit a 5 wood

5 Wood: Versatile out of various lies

When a golfer is in the rough and has a slow swing speed or lacks strength, the 4 iron will often twist and turn due to the design.  The opposite is true for the 5 wood.  It will stay more steady and provide the golfer with the best chance for a quality shot.  

Back to the days of the Adams Tight Lies, fairway woods have changed forever.  They are a great option for many golfers, especially out of the rough.  Golfers can utilize with great confidence from the fairway, rough or even a fairway bunker.

5 Wood vs 7 Wood

4 Iron: Easier to control shot height

The 4 iron is a wonderful club for the single digit handicap golfer and one with a swing speed of 100 miles per hour or more with the driver.  The versatility of being able to hit high or low shots or shots that draw or fade is really pretty special with the 4 iron.  There aren’t many things much better than hitting a pure 4 iron.  The more advanced golfer will appreciate this versatility especially on those longer par 3s that each course frequently has.

I like to play the 9 shot challenge with my iron on my Skytrak Golf Simulator setup to practice hitting pure irons.

Check out the 9 shot challenge – One of Tiger’s favorite drills.

4 Iron: Better overall accuracy and shot dispersion

The 4 iron is typically a club that will fit in the 180-210 yard range for the more advanced golfer.  A golfer at this level needs the accuracy from the range and desire to have about a 30-50 diameter for their shot dispersion.  Being able to have a consistent shot pattern and predictability is important and is more attainable with the 4 iron compared to the 5 wood.

3 Iron vs 4 Iron

The 4 iron is an excellent option from 180-210 yards on approach shots for the more advanced golfer.

Next Steps: 4 Iron vs 5 Wood

  • Test out
  • Build a distance chart
  • Practice a stock shot

Next Steps: Test out your options

We made a large generalization with the swing speed below 95 and a handicap of 12 or higher, but there are always exceptions to rules like this.  This is why we recommend testing out the different options that are on the golf market today.  

Even on the PGA Tour there are certain preferences for certain clubs from golfer to golfer.  Knowing what club best suits your game is improtant and data and feel are two ways to measure.

How to hit a 4 iron: 5 Tips

I would highly recommend every golfer using the technology that is available in launch monitors like the Skytrak or Mevo+.  These devices can be great to track data such as the following:

  • Ball Speed
  • Carry and Total Distance
  • Shot Dispersion
  • Launch Angle
  • Spin Rate
  • Spin Axis

Here are the top 3 options to check out:

Next Steps: Build a distance chart

With any of the three launch monitors listed above, we would also recommend building a distance chart that will look like the one below:

I would highly recommend each golfer create a distance chart like the sample below:

ClubCarry Distance (100%)90%80%
2 Utility Iron210
4 iron190
5 iron181
6 iron171
7 iron163
8 iron153
9 iron143
P Club130123115
Pitching Wedge118110102
SW Club1059791
LW Club908274

This might be the most important information you can use to help you play quality golf.  I have heard so many stories and have seen it first hand where golfers completely over estimate how far they hit each iron.

They hit one 7 iron 165 yards one time and think this is their carry distance.  So they step up to a 165 yard shot, hit the 7 iron and end up in a bunker.  They blade it out of the bunker and are looking at a double bogey as their reality.  Instead, if they had the right club and hit the 6 iron, their chance of hitting the middle of the green would increase greatly!

How can you create your own chart?

Best Option: I would highly recommend a launch monitor!

These portable devices can be used at the driving range, golf course or set up in your home net or golf simulator.  These devices are game changers not only on being able to map your bag and know your distances, but they also provide quality feedback after on every shot and provide the following information:

  • Carry Distance
  • Spin Rate
  • Launch Angle
  • Spin Axis
  • Total Distance
  • Ball Speed

This information will help you map your bag, decide on which clubs are best for your game, develop a stock shot and much more.  I love using my SkyTrak 365 days a year in my golf simulator setup.

The process for mapping your bag can looking something like this:

  • Hit 5 shots with each club in your bag.
  • Log the carry distance and total distance for each shot.
  • Eliminate any outlier numbers (poor hits or low spin rates).
  • Take the average and create a map of your bag.

If you visit any PGA Tour event you will see plenty of golfers utilizing their launch monitors.  While most can’t afford a Trackman, there are some very affordable options in the 500-2000 dollar range.  I own the Skytrak and think the world of it.  

The Skytrak is a game changer! Play golf 365 days a year and truly get better!

Next Steps: Practice a stock shot

Regardless if the 5 wood or 4 iron is best for your game, the bottom line in order to play our best golf we must be able to control the start line and the curve of the ball.  No matter what your current ability level is, the stock shot drill is our go to drill to help us find the consistency that we crave.  When golfers describe the consistency they want it is often about having a predictable shot pattern.

The Drill: Stock Shot Drill

  • At the driving range, set up an alignment stick about 6-8 yards in front of you, straight down your target line.
  • If you have a second alignment stick, set the stick 3-4 feet right of the first stick (for a draw) or left of the first stick (for a fade).
  • Complete your initial assessment see how many times out of 10 you can start the ball to the right or left of your target.  Pick one side and measure your game at this point.
  • The goal is to eventually get 7 out of 10 shots to start to the correct side and draw back towards the target.

My Secret To Golf Improvement

Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently.  About three years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage.  I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.

This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.  I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day.  I can practice or play rounds of golf.  I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.

It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.

Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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