Driving Iron vs 3 Iron: Which One Should I Carry?

The great news about being a golfer in today’s game is the number of options we have when it comes to golf club selection.

We all strive to maximize the 14 golf clubs we are allowed to carry in our bag to ensure we have a club for every distance we might face.

Our goals for certain clubs might include: accuracy, ease to hit, versatility, launch height, spin rate, etc.

If you are a single digit handicap golfer that is looking for the best options in your bag for those 200 plus yard shots, you might be considering a driving iron or a 3 iron.

Maybe you have struggled with having the accuracy you need with a hybrid or a fairway wood and are now exploring if a driving iron or 3 iron would be best for your game.

Driving Iron vs 3 Iron: Which One Should I Carry

The driving iron was designed with the tee shot in mind, but can be used from a variety of lies.  Overall, the driving iron is typically easier to hit and provides more forgiveness and ability to launch the ball higher.  While the 3 iron is ideal if you are looking for accuracy and precision in carry distance.

Pros of the Driving Iron

  • Great for tee shots
  • Extra forgiving
  • Easier to launch

Pros of the 3 Iron

  • Versatility
  • Accuracy
  • Distance Control
On a shorter par 4 or narrow par 4, the driving iron is a quality option!

Who should pick a driving iron?

If a golfer is seeking an easy to hit club that provides forgiveness and is easy to launch with decent height, then the driving iron is a great option.  I personally hit a 2 driving iron and it is one of my favorite clubs in the bag.  

It is very helpful on short par 4s, long par 3s and on par 5s.  I find it easy to hit and easy to launch high and far.  Compared to a hybrid, I have more accuracy and less fear of the hook shot.

When to use a driving iron?

Who should pick a 3 iron?

If a golfer is seeking pure accuracy, versatility and the ability to control distance, then the 3 iron is a great option.  The golfer with a high swing speed and plenty of strength might prefer the long iron due to the accuracy and distance control features. For years, I played the 3 iron and could dial in distances and accuracy quite well.  Over time, I preferred to go with a club that had great forgiveness and was extremely solid off a tee and the driving iron provided that for me.

Driving Iron Pro #1: Great for tee shots

When a golfer has the golf ball in hand and can tee it up, the driving iron is a superb club.  The ability to tee it up and let it fly and maintain a high level of accuracy is rather impressive. 

If you are someone that struggles with some accuracy off the tee with the driver, the driving iron 2 is a wonderful option for golfers to have in the bag.  Whether it is a tee shot on a shorter or narrow par 4 or a long par 3, you are set up for success with the driving iron.

Driving Iron vs 3 Wood: Which one should I carry?

Driving Iron Pro #2: Extra forgiving

Most people that have ever hit a 1, 2 or 3 iron knows the difficulty in hitting a ball off center.  These shots do not feel great at all with a traditional long iron. However, with the driving iron 1, 2 or 3 the extra forgiveness both from a feel perspective and carry distance is rather remarkable.  While you can feel an off center hit, it doesn’t feel as bad and the loss of distance is not as significant compared to the traditional 1, 2 or 3 irons.

3 Iron vs 5 Wood

Driving Iron Pro #3: Easier to launch

The extra thickness in the club and the lower center of gravity makes the club easier to launch.  I was debating between a driving iron 2 or a driving iron 3 and went with the 2 because I could hit it plenty of high and wanted the little extra distance.  

I can hit the shot between 215-230 yards depending on the shot needed and how much height is ideal.  It is also a quality shot into the wind as a golfer with high skill can also flight the ball low with ease.

Whatever club you select, make sure you practice frequently. Check out our recommendation on launch monitors for feedback after every shot!

3 Iron Pro #1: Versatility

Golf is played from a variety of lies.  From the tee, to the fairway, to the rough and even out of fairway bunkers.  The 3 iron is ideal for these shots for the highly skilled golfer that has plenty of swing speed.  The golfer that can often hit the perfect sweet spot shot will appreciate the versatility from various lies that the 3 iron provides.

How to hit a 3 iron!

3 Iron Pro #2: Accuracy

Every golfer wants to control two things:

  • The start line of the shot
  • The curve of the shot

With the traditional 3 iron, these two items above are easier to control with the 3 iron compared to the driving iron, especially if you are someone hitting the sweet spot at a high frequency.  The 3 iron helps the golf with the accuracy of the start line and a predictable shot pattern.  The elite golfer will truly benefit from the precision of the 3 iron that they can gain.

Utility Iron vs Long Iron

3 Iron Pro #3: Distance control

If you are playing golf at a high level and need to carry a shot 215 and not 230, the 3 iron might be a great option.  With the smaller face and the more focused sweet spot, the distance control abilities increase with the 3 iron compared to the driving iron.  If a golfer is seeking more distance control, they are better off with the more traditional player like long iron.  If a golfer is seeking more forgiveness, they are better off with the thicker, larger looking driving iron.  The great news is that there are options out there for what the golfer needs.

What type of course are you playing for your next round? What clubs might you need the most?

Next Steps: Test Out Both Clubs

We believe that golfers should have a place to test out and experim;ent what club is best for their game.  Whether you head to the local golf store to hit in a similar or have your own launch monitor, we highly recommend hitting 10-15 shots with both clubs and comparing data on the following:

  • Carry and Total Distance
  • Shot Dispersion
  • Shot Height
  • Spin Rate
  • Distance Control

Ultatimely, the golfer has to decide what is most important to them out of the list of check items below:

  • Tee shots vs Versatility
  • Forgiveness or Accuracy
  • Easy to launch vs Distance Control

I prefer to test out clubs in my own setting with my Skytrak Launch Monitor.  This device provides the immediate feedback I need.  I own around 18-20 cubs that circulate through my bag depending on the time of season, how I am currently swinging and what course I will be playing.  I would highly recommend one of the three launch monitors linked below.  They might be more affordable than you realize.

The data I receive with each and every shot is fantastic.  This includes:

  • Carry and total distance
  • Launch Angle
  • Spin Rate
  • Spin Axis
  • Ball Speed

I can spend all winter tinkering and training to improve my overall score.  The launch monitor has been a game changer for my scores and overall improvement as a ball striker.

This data in combination with the shot tracer helps me visualize the shot I am hitting with key data at my fingertips.

Plus when paired with my TGC software I can play some of the most amazing courses in the world including Augusta, Pebble, Whistling Straits and St. Andrews!

Here are the top 3 options for launch monitors to check out:

Final Thoughts: Driving Iron vs 3 Iron

Test out and figure out what is best for your game.  Have a variety of hybrids, driving irons, long irons, wedges and putters.  Matchup what is best for your game at the time and don’t forget to have fun!  Part of the fun for us is testing out different options and trying to put together the perfect combination for that upcoming round!

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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