2 Iron vs 3 Wood: Which Is Better For Your Game?

Photo of author

While a 2 iron can often be difficult to find, they do still exist!

If you’re a golfer that loves using traditional long irons, choosing between a 2 iron vs 3 wood for that final slot in the bag can be a difficult decision to make.

Personally, I’m more of a 3 wood player. I love its versatility, and it’s also a great option for tee shots when the driver is feeling particularly rusty.

Having said that, I’ve worked with plenty of students that enjoy the 2 iron for its penetrating ball flight. Nothing beats a pure strike with a long iron.

In this article, I’ll show you what to expect from a 2 iron and a 3 wood. I’ll cover the major differences between the two clubs, and which is the right one for you.

Ready? Let’s get into it.

2 Iron vs 3 Wood

A 2 iron is a 17-degree club designed for penetrating golf shots from a clean lie in the fairway or even as a driver alternative from the tee box. The 3 wood has a loft angle of 15 degrees, a larger club head, and almost always uses a graphite shaft.

What is a 2 Iron?

what is a 2 iron
Gary Woodland’s 2 iron — with a dauntingly thin profile!

The 2 iron is a long iron that has about 17 degrees of loft. Loft changes from one manufacturer to another, but this is a general range you can count on. With the 2 iron, expect a very thin clubhead with not much bulk to it. 

The sweet spot on a standard 2 iron is not all that large, and the length of the club itself is longer than a 3 iron or 4 iron. On average, golfers that put a 2 iron into play tend to hit it about 200 to 240 yards. 

One of the great things about a 2 iron is the low and penetrating ball trajectory.

However, the downside is the skill level it takes to hit a 2 iron. There is a reason that most manufacturers stopped making 2 irons — they are really difficult to hit.

While you might see some of the best in the world hitting pure 2 iron shots — like the legendary Tiger Woods — be aware that it takes a lot of skill to find the sweet spot.


  • Clean top-down look at address
  • Long distances
  • It can be a good alternative to a driver for golfers that like irons 


  • Difficult to hit because of long club length and low loft
  • Very little forgiveness out of the rough 
  • Small sweet spot 
  • Best for the fastest swing speed players

What is a 3 Wood?

what is a 3 wood
Jon Rahm’s Callaway 3 Wood

A 3 wood typically has around 15 degrees of loft, but with adjustability in 3 woods, you can see options with as much as 17 and as few as 13 degrees of loft.

The great thing about the 3 wood is the large, forgiving club head.

With the average 3 wood clubhead size sitting around 175cc, it can help give the everyday golfer lots of confidence about making good contact with the ball. 

Although hybrid golf clubs tend to give a better launch angle out of difficult lies or golf course conditions, some players do quite well when a ball is sitting up in the rough. The 3 wood is shorter than the driver, so it can be easier to keep the ball straight.

The forgiving club head also makes it ideal for players with a slower swing speed.


  • Confidence-inducing look
  • Often comes with an adjustable loft 
  • Good substitute for the driver


  • Lowest loft out of the fairway woods, making it a little less forgiving 
  • Can be quite expensive with new technology

Differences Between a 2 Iron and 3 Wood

differences between a 2 iron and a 3 wood

In short, 2 irons and 3 woods are sometimes compared to one another because of their similar loft angles and roles on the golf course: long-distance shots.

Here are the main differences between the clubs and what you should know.

Club Length

Typically, the 3 wood is usually around 43 inches, whereas the 2 iron often measures between 39 and 40 inches from the tip of the shaft to the sole of the club.

With a shorter golf club, you can stand closer to the ball. This allows you to better locate the center of the clubface, which can help you control the ball flight. Put simply, this can help you experience lower dispersion rates and dial in your accuracy.

Loft & Distance

The loft of 2 iron is about two degrees more than the loft of a 3 wood.

Due to the 3 wood loft being slightly lower — along with the fact that this club is built for distance with materials such as titanium carbon, graphite, and tungsten — you will typically get more distance out of a 3 wood than a 2 iron. 

Many golfers can hit a 3 wood 250 yards when it’s struck well. Conversely, it’s a little harder to hit the 2 iron that same distance.


The 2 iron is a great club for workability and shot control.

If you’re trying to hit a ball and have it land next to a pin, it’s always easier to have an iron in play than a wood. The 2 iron has better spin and can allow you to stop the ball on the greens from long approach shots — provided you make good contact.

The 3 wood can be forgiving if you choose something that has game improvement technology, but expect it to be a little less workable.

Both clubs do well from the tee and the fairway. From the rough, I wouldn’t hit a 2 iron, and the 3 wood can be used when the ball is sitting up in the grass.


The 2 iron and the 3 wood are not all that forgiving.

Many would agree the 3 wood is more forgiving due to the larger club head size. This allows for a bigger sweet spot, so you don’t have to strike the center every time.

Each of these clubs tends to perform better for golfers with faster swing speeds.


I hate to break it to you, but if you are set on the 2 iron, your options are limited.

Some golf manufacturers are not even making 3 irons in some of their sets because the clubs are just very difficult to hit — most package sets start at the 4 iron.

That said, some manufacturers make specialist 2 irons in the form of utility irons. These are low-lofted irons, designed for tee shots and tight fairway lies.

Before you sell yourself on the 2 iron taking the spot in the bag, check availability.

How to Choose the Right Club For Your Game

Now that you have the basics of the 2 iron vs 3 wood down to a tee, I’ll give you my best tips for choosing which one is the right club for your game.

  • The slower your swing speed, the more you should consider the 3 wood.
  • For golfers with lower handicaps, the 2 iron can often be a better fit.
  • If you hit your irons really well, the 2 iron is a good choice.
  • But if you are more of a woods and hybrids player, stick with that.

Another great way to determine which club is best for you is to head to a golf club fitting and do a complete club comparison. You can compare your accuracy, total distance, and shot control to decide which is best for you.

In the end, the club has to have the right feel to make it a fit for your golf game.

Share This Article:

Photo of author

Britt's passion for golf began at age 7, and she's been playing for over 30 years. A Division I College Athlete with a +1 handicap, she's also a former PGA Teaching Professional. Now a business owner and published author, Britt's love for the game continues to inspire golfers of all levels, as she shares her insights and expertise.