2 Iron vs 5 Wood: Tips on When to Use Each Club

As a longstanding proponent of the blades, I will always prefer long irons over fairway woods (if the conditions permit).

However, I suggest the opposite for the average golfer, and I will explain why in this post. I am reviewing the differences between a 2 iron vs 5 wood to show why the latter is easier for amateurs to swing.

Fairway woods typically contain a low center of gravity (CG) with weight positioned in the heel, delivering rapid ball speed to prompt a higher launch. This helps the average golfer produce greater distance in their long game. Besides their ease of launch, I will compare the remaining design features between the two.

 

Overview of The 2 Iron and 5 Wood

A 2-iron and 5-wood both contain an average of 18-degrees of loft. However, they deliver different performances. Both clubs are employed in your long game and can substitute your driver off the tee. In addition, they help you reach par 5s and longer par 4s in 2.

A  5-wood typically produces a high launch to help you clear the drink or the sand on approach and maximize distance. Mid and high-handicappers enjoy more consistency and forgiveness with a 5-wood compared to a 2-iron.

 

Differences Between a 2 Iron and 5 Wood

Design

A 2-iron carries a blade structure, with the CG positioned low and back. The face is narrower but taller than a fairway wood, leaving a reduced sweet spot. This means that you may lose distance and accuracy on off-center strikes.

Conversely, a 5 wood carries a crown construction and wider sweet spot, resulting in an expanded active zone that maintains ball speed and ensures low spin off the clubface. The outcome is optimal yardage and accuracy on the golf course.

Shaft Length

The next difference between these clubs is the length of their shafts. A 5-wood clubhead fitted with a steel shaft typically measures 41.5-inches, while graphite shafts reach 42-inches. Conversely, those who love steel shafts can expect a 39.5-inch construction on a 2-iron. In addition, a graphite shaft on the iron is 40-inches long.

Shaft length impacts your ball position in your stance. The longer the shaft is, the further forward your ball should be in your setup. US Golf TV shows you where to position the ball for fairway wood shots off the turf in the video below:

Contrary to the 5-wood setup, a 2-iron golf club strikes the cleanest when the golf ball is 2 to 3-inches back in the stance.

It is essential to adjust the golf ball position between a wood and iron club for clean contact. If your ball is too far forward for a shorter shaft, you may swing out, to in, and slice your shot.

Furthermore, you risk generating insufficient spin when the ball is too far back at address for a longer shaft. You will likely attack the ball from a steep angle and strike with low loft, leading to low ball flight and a loss of total distance.

Launch

When I moved to Cape Town in my late teens, it was my first experience in constant gale-force winds. I had never endured breezes on that level and decided I had no more space in my bag for a 5 and 7-wood. The time had come to employ a lower launching club, and I added a 2-driving iron into the mix.

It provided minimal forgiveness on off-center strikes, but the ball flew low and generated increased roll. The outcome meant less time in the rough and more approach shots from the fairway. Although this is what I needed in the Mother City, it is not the option that suits beginners or a high handicap golfer.

A 5-wood produces a higher trajectory and helps your ball into the air on all shots. This is beneficial, as it produces consistent distance, but it costs you yards when playing into the wind.

Despite that, it boosts your confidence and total strokes to get the ball into the air. Hacking around with a challenging iron is frustrating for you and your playing partners.

Roll

Another pro of the 2-iron is that it produces increased roll, an asset on drier courses and in windy conditions, where keeping it low pays off. As I mentioned earlier, that was my reasoning for adding the iron with less loft.

A 5-wood delivers moderate roll in perfect conditions. However, the higher trajectory in the wind can obliterate forward momentum, causing the ball to stop immediately upon landing. However, the high flight is ideal for clearing obstacles in your line and landing it relatively quickly.

Forgiveness

The final difference between the two is forgiveness. The 5-wood helps golfers launch consistently high, even on off-center strikes. As a result, you enjoy consistent carry distance on all shots.

On the contrary, a 2-iron produces little forgiveness on off-center strikes. Your COR is reduced, which minimizes ball speed and distance.

 

Which Club Typically Hits Further?

Unsurprisingly on a launch monitor, I hit a 5-wood 8-yards further on average than a 2-iron. This is because I am hitting off a clean lie, with very few elements impacting the result of my golf shots. My average with a 5-wood is 218-yards, while I send my 2-driving iron 210.

Conditions will cause these results to vary. However, I will take them based on perfect scenarios. When I am playing into high winds, I can almost guarantee that I will hit a 2-iron further than the high-launching fairway wood.

 

Which Club is Considered Easier to Hit?

A 5-wood is, by far, the easiest club to hit for the average golfer. The low and back CG placement promotes a high-flying golf ball to maximize carry distance. In addition, the wider sweet spot maintains ball speed on off-center strikes and limits sidespin, promoting a straighter shot.

On the other hand, a 2-iron requires increased clubhead and ball speed for maximum distance. Plus, the reduced forgiveness means you lose height, yards, and accuracy on mishits. That is why a 5-wood is easier to hit.

 

Do You Need Both Clubs in Your Bag?

It is not necessary to carry both clubs in your bag, but it is wise to own a 5-wood and 2-iron. This is to prepare yourself for any golf course or condition. I advise against carrying both clubs simultaneously.

In my post titled how many golf clubs do you need in your bag, I explain that you can carry a maximum of 14. This makes it a tough choice, but I always recommend leaving sufficient space for at least 3 wedges, including your pitching wedge.

A 5-wood is ideal for layouts where you need to fly water hazards or bunkers from far out. They also work in clear conditions with minimal wind.

Conversely, a 2-iron works well off the tee and on approach in the wind. Sure, it does not deliver the distance of a driver or 5-wood, but it flies low and straight. This will reduce the wind’s impact to give you more control.

If you are playing a links course, you can employ a 2-iron to maximize the roll on the finer sweet vernal or fescue grass.

Carrying the correct tools for the occasion goes a long way to making you a better player. As a youngster, I played tournaments across my homeland and abroad. The exposure to varying courses, climates, and grass types showed that a one-strategy approach would not take me far.

 

Tips on When to Use Each Club

Off The Tee

2-iron

A 2-iron is handy to use off the tee when playing in windy conditions. The low launching iron helps your ball fly under the wind with optimal forward momentum. Therefore, you gain added distance from the roll.

I recommend using this on par 4’s as an alternative to your driver or 5-wood. The woods can cause you to launch your ball directly into the oncoming wind, losing carry distance and roll. You can also use it on par 5’s, but it will cost you a significant distance. As a result, you may need 3 solid 2-iron strikes to reach a 540-yard par 5.

Furthermore, I am not a fan of using these irons on par 3’s with tightly guarded greens. The added roll can cause it to come in hot and run off the green. If you have the space, you can let it rip, but be mindful of the surroundings.

5-wood

A 5-wood is the ideal substitute for a driver off the tee. Players with faster swing speed will still bomb the big stick further. However, high handicappers may struggle to generate sufficient clubhead and ball speed to get the ball in their air.

The weaker lofted 5-wood is easier to launch and achieve consistent distance off the tee. I only suggest swinging this fairway wood in clear conditions, where high flight is rewarded with optimal carry distance.

In addition, the high flight and softer landing are suitable for achieving green in regulation on long par 3 holes.

Off The Deck

2-iron

A 2-iron is a suitable option off the deck when the winds are up and you need to fly the ball low. Many of these irons are fitted with wider soles to improve turf interaction. That helps the clubhead glide through the turf to ensure a clean connection from any lie.

Most average golfers will not require the long iron for a par 4 approach shot. However, when the wind is howling, you may consider a half or ¾ swing with the 2-iron. That helps keep the ball low to run it up to the green.

In addition, the increased roll produced by a 2-iron is ideal for your 2nd shot on par 5’s if the turf is firm. That enables you to gain extra distance and occasionally roll your ball onto the dancefloor.

5-wood

You shouldn’t need a 5-wood for par 4 approach shots. Therefore, it is most commonly used for 2nd shots on par 5 holes. Its high launching nature promotes consistent carry distance to set you up for a short iron or wedge into the green.

Like, the 2-iron, a 5-wood produces exceptional turf interaction. This helps you make clean contact with the ball from the fairway and rough and get it airborne.

 

 

Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years.