5 Iron vs 11 Wood
Modern technology has meant that golfers are now faced with more options at the top-end of their golf bag than ever before. It can be hard to know what you are looking for, but one area almost every club golfer struggles with is their long irons.
Long irons replacements should be a serious consideration for any golfer. Fairway woods, hybrids or driving irons can all offer improved distance, forgiveness and versatility than a standard long iron.
This advantage has led to some golfers considering the benefits of replacing all their longer irons. The use of a 7 wood has appeared in the golf bags of some of the top male golf Professionals, such as Dustin Johnson, in 2021. However, this is even more widespread on the LPGA Tour. Given the professional ladies have a swing speed closer to the average men’s club golfer, this should be a good indication of the potential benefits.
How about going even further and using an 11 wood to replace your 5 iron though? This is the question that we will be discussing in this article.
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When to seek long iron replacements
Low handicap and elite golfers that consistently strike their long irons in the centre can benefit from improved control and workability versus replacement alternatives. However, the majority of amateur club golfers would benefit from having extra forgiveness and a higher ball flight in at least some of their long irons. But, how do you know when to make the swap?
Firstly, every golfer needs to put their ego to one side when it comes to making golf club decisions. Experimenting with different options and finding the style of club that gives you the best results should be the priority.
Golfers that struggle to produce enough height and carry distance on a long iron would benefit from an alternative. Equally, if you find it difficult to stop long irons quick enough to hold a putting surface then it might be worth considering making a swap.
It is worth considering what is the longest iron you honestly feel confident hitting from the fairway into a green. For many mid to high handicappers this will often be the 6 iron. A good test is to see how much further you carry your 5 iron compared with your 6 iron. If it is less than 10 yards, then you could see improvements from a replacement option.
Who will benefit the most from an 11 wood
Switching to an 11 wood from a 5 iron has the potential to benefit any golfer. However, it is golfers with slow swing speeds and high handicappers that are likely to see the biggest improvements.
Golfers with slower swing speeds will find it more difficult to hit a 5 iron, because a lower clubhead speed makes it harder to launch the golf ball in the air. The result is a lack of distance and a low ball flight.
High handicappers will often suffer from the same slow swing speed issues, but they have the added issue of missing the centre of the clubface more often than they would like.
The larger clubhead of an 11 wood allows for manufacturers to create a lower centre of gravity and a higher MOI. This creates the added forgiveness, faster ball speed and higher ball flight that high handicap and slow swinging golfers need.
Any golfer struggling with a low ball flight and stopping their 5 iron on the greens could also benefit from this too. By generating more spin and a higher ball flight, an 11 wood offers more chance of stopping long distance approaches quickly. This can also help give golfers more confidence when carrying hazards and attacking a par 5s in two shots.
Pros for choosing a 5 iron
Lower spin rate results in better accuracy and more consistent distances
You will maintain continuity for longer in your iron set, which can help with distance gapping
A lower ball flight is better in windy conditions
Skilled golfers can benefit from improved workability
Pros for choosing an 11 wood
A lower CG gives much more forgiveness on shots struck off-centre
Easier to create a higher ball flight, which is better for stopping the ball of the green
The shallow clubface and higher MOI makes playing from the rough easier
Golfers with average or slower swing speeds will see improved distances, especially on the carry
Best 11 woods currently sold
Finding a specific 11 wood can be difficult. Many manufacturers will often stop fairway wood production at a 7 or 9 wood.
If you are struggling to find an 11 wood, one option is to find a model of fairway wood with an adjustable hosel. This can sometimes allow you to add loft and change a 9 wood into an 11 wood. You are looking for roughly 25 degrees of loft to replace a standard 5 iron.
Best high lofted fairway woods in 2021
Callaway Epic Max - 25 degrees
Callaway Maverik Max - 25 degrees
PING G425 Max - 23.5 degrees (with 1.5 degrees of adjustability)
Overall, replacing a 5 iron with an 11 wood is going to be most beneficial to slow swinging high handicap golfers. However, if you are someone that hits a low ball flight or plays on a really firm golf course then it might be worth considering.
Remember, an 11 wood is not your only option for replacing your 5 iron. It is definitely worth considering the benefits of a hybrid or driving iron as well.
Hopefully this article has given you some food for thought when it comes to club selection. The importance is for golfers to be open to experimenting with their clubs and recognise that it should be about maximizing the performance of your game. If using an 11 wood is going to help you shoot a better score, why not use it?