The Definitive 5-Iron Golf Club Guide: When To Use It, Distance, Specifications

For many, the 5-iron is now the longest iron in their bag.

With hybrids and more lofted fairway woods replacing the harder-to-hit 2,3 and 4 irons in the bag, the 5-iron takes on the mantle of the longest iron.

This point is also backed up by the major manufacturers who offer some of their iron sets starting at the 5-iron and going to pitching wedge.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the 5-iron, including:

  • 5-iron loft and specification,
  • 5-iron length,
  • 5 iron distance range: how far does a 5-Iron go?
  • 7 tips to set up a great 5-iron shot.

Let’s see how we can maximize its potential and make it a valuable club to have in the bag!

5 iron club guide

What is a 5-iron?

As mentioned, the 5-iron is typically the longest iron in most people’s golf bags.

The 5-iron is considered when we have a lengthy approach to the green, either from the fairway or on a par 3 of suitable length.

This, for some, provides a slightly intimidating dynamic when considering pulling the 5-iron out of the bag.

The length of the shaft and not seeing a lot of loft on the face of the five iron can also add to the intimidation factor.

But we need to remember that, like any other iron in our bag, the most important factor of the 5-iron is accuracy.

Along with full shots, you can use the five iron for lower-flighted punch shots to keep the ball out of the wind, and we’ve got a great example of this type of shot to share with you later.

lady golfer holding 5-iron club

5-iron Loft

Like all irons, five iron lofts can vary substantially.

A traditional bladed-style 5-iron golf club can be lofted anywhere between 26 and 28 degrees. The more aggressive, distance-focused 5-irons can have lofts as low as 21 degrees.

Stronger lofted irons might give us more distance, but it can also mean sacrificing trajectory.

Lower lofted 5-irons won’t fly as high if your club speed is low, which could make it difficult to flight the ball in such a way that you can confidently hold greens with approach shots.

An alternative might be a hybrid with a similar loft which will launch the ball higher and give an overall higher trajectory.

golf club and ball

5 Iron Length: Is There A Standard 5 Iron Length?

The average shaft length for a 5-iron is 38 inches for men and 37 inches for women.

Notice the use of the word average here.

Golfers come in different shapes and sizes, and having an ill-fitting iron can cost accuracy with your shots.

If you are taller than average, you may need longer shafts than standard and the lie angle of the 5-iron to be more upright- the opposite is true if you are shorter than average.

Never alter your set-up to counter a five iron that is the wrong length and lie.

If you are looking to order new clubs, consider visiting a fitting specialist who will help you ascertain the correct length of shafts and lie angles.

golfer swinging 5 iron club

5 iron Distance Range: How far does a 5-iron go?

We know that 5-irons are used for longer approach shots but what are the average 5 iron distances for each handicap bracket and how do they compare to the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour averages?

Let’s take a look:

Average 5-Iron Distance By Handicap

High handicaps: 140 yards (128 meters)

Mid handicaps: 160 yards (146 meters)

Low handicaps: 185 yards (169 meters)

PGA Tour average: 194 yards (177 meters)

LPGA Tour average: 161 yards (147 meters)

Even in the professional ranks, there are distance discrepancies.

While the tour average is 194 yards, Rory McIlroy averages 219 yards with his 5-iron.

To put that into context, Rory’s average 5-iron distance is 4 yards longer than the average driving distance for male amateur golfers (215 yards)!

close up of 5 iron club

When to Use a 5-iron

So now we understand a little more about distances, we have a better understanding of when to pull out the 5-iron for approach shots and teeing off on par 3s of a suitable distance.

Some golfers strive to hit their five irons as high as possible to emulate what they think they see the professionals do on TV.

The TV can distort the height pros hit their 5-irons, but you also have to remember that they generate more club head and ball speed than most amateurs which naturally adds more height to their shots.

golfer swinging iron golf club

Our 5 Iron Driving Range Challenge

If you pull the five iron club out of the bag, the focus should still be on hitting your target.

One way you can challenge yourself is to go to the driving range and choose a target that is the right distance for your 5-iron shot.

Once the target is chosen, select 10 balls and see how many out of the 10 you can hit onto your target.

The focus is on how many balls you can get on your target.

Keep challenging yourself to improve your score and see if you can reach 10 out of 10!

If you are getting consistently high scores, narrow the target down to increase the challenge.

Remember, not every green you approach with a 5-iron on the course will be the same size.

golfer taking shot with 5 iron club

7 Tips to Set up for a 5-iron

Your set-up is critical to the overall success of your shot.

Getting your fundamentals correct is something that even the best players in the world revisit if they are struggling.

If you are playing a full 5-iron shot, here are some key tips to think about in creating a good set-up:

  • Tip #1: Keep your grip pressure light to minimize tension
  • Tip #3: Your stance should be marginally wider than shoulder width
  • Tip #4: Weight distributed 50% – 50%
  • Tip #5: Maintain a slight flex in your knees
  • Tip #6: Keep your hands marginally ahead of the club face at address
  • Tip #7: Have the ball positioned a couple of inches forward from center

For more on swing technicalities, there are some great guides elsewhere in Golf Guidebook to help you improve your backswing and create good momentum in your downswing.

golfer striking ball with 5 iron club

Knockdown/punch shot 5-iron set-up

We can, at times, look to deliberately set up to play a lower-flighted knockdown shot with a 5-iron.

This can be useful to us if we are playing into the wind or if we are a little errant with a tee shot and need to recover back into play.

The key differences in how we set up to play these shots are:

  • Narrow your stance to just under shoulder width apart
  • Play the ball more toward the middle of your stance
  • Grip down a couple of inches on the club

So now we have some good ideas on how to set up to hit our 5-iron successfully, let’s take some inspiration from one of the game’s greats: Nick Faldo.

5 iron golf club

Faldo’s finessed 5-iron brilliance

In the early 90s, two golfers dominated the world scene – Nick Faldo and Greg Norman.

Faldo was leading the way when it came to the all-important major victory count having racked up 4 majors to Norman’s 1 by the time they got to the Open Championship at Muirfield Golf Club in 1992.

Going into the final round, Faldo was in a commanding position and was the crowd and bookies’ favourite to capture his third Open title.

Things however did not go according to plan and coming to the 15th hole Faldo was two shots behind American golfer John Cook.

After finding the fairway off the tee, Faldo was left with 167 yards to the pin.

With the wind blowing into and off the left Faldo needed to manufacture a shot if he had any chance of getting the ball close to the flag and re-ignite his chances.

Faldo selected a 5-iron and played what he later called a “half 5-iron” shot which kept the ball low under the wind and with a slight hint of fade on it.

The ball landed on the front of the green and rolled out to within 3 feet of the pin to set up an easy birdie.

Faldo went on to win his third Open after another birdie at 17 put him one ahead of the faltering Cook and a par at the last saw a very relieved Faldo celebrate his victory.

lady taking golf shot on fairway

5-iron Key takeaways

The five iron is still a valuable club for us to have in the bag.

It can offer us the opportunity to hit the green from a fair distance out with a full shot, or we can play lower-flighted punch shots.

The key factor with the 5-iron is hitting accurate shots -so get out there, practice, and make friends with your 5-iron!

Check out our in-depth guides to Gap, Pitching, and Sand wedges too!

Photo of author
Golf has been a passion of mine for over 30 years. It has brought me many special moments including being able to turn professional. Helping people learn to play this great game was a real highlight especially when they made solid contact with the ball and they saw it fly far and straight! Injury meant I couldn't continue with my professional training but once fully fit I was able to work on and keep my handicap in low single figures representing my golf club in local and regional events. Being able to combine golf with writing is something I truly enjoy. Helping other people learn more about golf or be inspired to take up the game is something very special.

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