What Are the 'Short Irons' in Golf?

The term "short irons" is one that most golfers apply to the 8-iron, 9-iron and pitching wedge, collectively. Those three golf clubs are grouped together as "the short irons."

There is not universal agreement among all golfers everywhere that those three clubs, and only those three clubs, make up the short irons. That is just the most common definition.

Some golfers might include their 7-iron when thinking of the short irons. Others might tack on any other wedges they carry: gap wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge. There is not a standard, industry-wide, sport-wide definition. But again, the 8- and 9-irons plus the pitching wedge are what are most commonly thought of as the short irons.

The name "short irons" stems from two things. First, those clubs are the shortest of all the irons (excluding wedges) in a golfer's bag, in terms of actual measured length. And they are also the shortest-hitting clubs in a standard set of irons — they are the irons used for shorter shots relative to the other irons in the golf bag.

A standard, traditional set of golf irons includes the 3-iron through the pitching wedge: the 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-, 8- and 9-irons plus PW. Most golfers break those down into three traditional groupings: the 3- and 4-irons are the long irons; the 5-, 6- and 7-irons are the mid-irons, and the 8- and 9-irons plus PW are the short irons.

The short irons are also sometimes referred to as the "scoring irons" because they are played for shorter approaches into the green.

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