What do the numbers on your golf clubs mean?

Thomas Tanner
Feb 28, 2023
14 minutes
On this page

If you are new to golf and are a little bit confused about what all the numbers and letters on your golf clubs mean, that's understandable. Depending on the clubs you have, you could have two or even three #5s, others with a single-digit number, some with a double-digit number, some with numbers in various places, and even some with letters!

Know what you're looking at

Before we talk about the various numbering systems used in golf, we first need to understand what we're looking at. Knowing which type of golf club you have in your hand will go some way to explaining the numbering (and explain why you might have some clubs with the same number or numbers on them).

You can divide the golf clubs in your bag as a beginner into two broad categories - woods and irons. Your woods are the bigger golf clubs that hit the ball the furthest, while irons are smaller and more compact in their appearance for the more precise shots in the game.

The numbering system for both follows the same logic – the lower the number the further the ball will go. However, there is a bit more than that as there will probably be more than one number on the head of your golf club.

Numbers that indicate loft

The biggest and most obvious number on your golf club will relate to how far it will hit the ball – as we mentioned above, the lower the number, the further the ball should travel. An iron with a #4 on it will hit the ball further than one with a #9 on it.

Numbers on drivers

Modern woods (even though they're not made out of wood anymore!) are more likely to have the actual loft stamped on them rather than a simple number. However, not long ago, your driver, which could be anywhere from 8-12-degrees, would have been labelled #1-Wood, marking the start of the 'scale' on where your other woods will slot in.

Numbers on fairway woods & hybrids

Following on from this, we know that any other woods you have in your bag will have a higher number, which means more loft. For example, if you have a club with a #3 on it will have more loft than your #1-Wood, but less than one with a #5 on it.

Like drivers though modern-day fairway-wood will likely have the actual loft stamped on them (as well as the number in some cases). This is so you know the starting loft when you’re adjusting via hosel adjustability – if available.

You can get woods in almost every loft from 8-degrees up to lofts in the mid-twenties or from #1 to #9.

Where do hybrids fit in?

For a lot of golfers long irons are no longer viable golfing equipment and have replaced them in their bags with hybrids. This club type can bridge the gap left (between you mid-irons and woods) by not carrying longer irons.

A hybrid is not an iron, and it's not a wood; it's something in between which takes the best characteristics of both!

One of their main uses is as an iron replacement - in the video above - Instead of having a 4-iron as part of his iron set Donal has a #4 hybrid which will replace it. The hybrid will have a #4 on it, indicating this. It could also have the loft stated too.

Below is an illustration of how your bag could be building up and how the club numbers relate to the loft.

Numbers on irons

In the same way as woods, numbers on your irons will directly translate to the loft on the club.

However, where it can get a little confusing is the starting point. Most modern sets of irons only start at a #4 - leading to the question where are #1, #2, and #3? Before the dawn of hybrids, manufacturers used to make irons form #1 - #9. As the game has changed, these clubs have become almost redundant, so the manufacturers chose not to make them.

But as the principal is the same, wherever your irons start, you'll then have a simple to understand run of clubs (for example, form #4-#9) which will hit the ball slightly decreasing distances.

Letters that indicate loft

Now we’ve got a better understanding that the loft of a golf club can be represented by a number in a sequence, or just have the loft stamped on it the game throws us a curve ball and introduces letters.

Why no #10?

Golf is strange for many reasons, and a bit of a quirk in the clubs is there is no #10 iron! Instead, after #9, the numbers change to letters because they are speciality irons called "wedges."

The next club in your set will look and play like your irons; it'll just have a P or PW stamped on it. You can consider it a #10 iron, though, as it is slightly more lofted than a #9 iron and used for hitting slightly shorter shots into the green.

The final club in your iron set is likely a sand wedge, represented by an S or SW. This will play like your other irons, but as you can see from the diagram below, this cannot be thought of as a #11 iron - but more a #12.

There are wedges available - handily called gap wedges - which are the appropriate loft to bridge this gap left between your PW and SW.

What other letters are used?

The table below shows all the different letters (and the difference) you might find on the bottom of your golf clubs which relate to the loft. Thankfully there is an almost universal acceptance of three of the four main names.

P – Pitching wedge (or 10-iron)

46-50 degrees

A, G, or U – Approach, Gap, or Utility wedge (or 11-iron)

50-54 degrees

S – Sand wedge (or 12-iron)

54-58 degrees

L - Lob wedge (or 13-iron)

58-64 degrees

Titleist in their wisdom have tried to simplify this further my introducing W, W2, W3 to replace the traditional Gap, Sand, and Lob wedges. There are a number of reasons for this – they make excellent specialist wedges via Vokey Design and also iron lofts are getting stronger so there is more room at the bottom of the bag to be filled to ensure you can still hit the shots required.

No letters, just numbers

The above is only relevant to “wedges” which re part of an iron set As you get better and add more clubs to your bag instead of a traditional number or letter, it could be the case that any new wedges have the loft stamped on them - anywhere from 46- 64. This number will represent the club's loft, and as we now know, the more loft, the shorter distance the ball will fly.

This is so better players can choose their wedges to perfectly gap the clubs in their bag so they can hit the ball the exact distance required.

Three clubs, all #5!

Before we move on to number and letters which don’t relate to loft let’s look at a couple of scenarios which need further explanation.

There could be an instance where you could have three clubs, all with a #5 on them. The below illustrates how, although they all have #5 on them because they're in different categories (woods in orange or irons in blue), their lofts are different, and therefore you could justify having them in your bag.

Three clubs, all 18-degrees!

Similar to the above there could be a case where you have three clubs which are all 18-degrees in lofts. This scenario is even harder to get your head around as they’re the same loft, not just the same number. The difference (and justification of having them in your bag) comes from the design of the club and the flight they’ll each put on the golf ball. The below shows how the ball should fly differently when hit by an 18-degree fairway wood, hybrid, or utility iron.

Numbers & letters that don’t indicate loft

Now loft and numbers relating to it is taken care of, what about the numbers on your golf clubs which do not relate to loft.

Bounce angle on wedges

As the golfing public has become knowledgeable the manufacturers have started giving them more information. One area where this information is common place is the bounce now being stamped next to the loft on wedges.

What is bounce? The bounce on a wedge is the angle created by the leading edge when the wedge is placed on the ground. It will have an impact on the strike and make club easier to hit for some golfers.

Making sure you have the right bounce for you and the course you play is very important if you want to hit better wedge shots.

Grind on wedges

Linked to the bounce is the grind on your wedge which will be represented by a letter.

What is grind? The grind on your wedge allows better golfers to manipulate the face on their wedge when playing very precise shots around or close to the green. For example some of the heel will be ground away to allow the face to open a little more for some extra loft while still letting the club sit square on the ground.

Making sure you have the right grind for you and the course you play is very important if you want to hit better wedge shots.

Hosel adjustability

Hosel adjustability in modern drivers is here to stay and is represent via a series of numbers and letters on the hosel. Every manufacturer does it differently but in  most cases the number (+/-) will relate to the change in loft, whereas the letter will change the lie and face angle of the clubs.

Below is a table summarising the different manufacturers approach.

Callaway

Numbers - +/- from stated loft

Letters - S, stated loft; N, neutral flight; D, draw flight

Titleist

Numbers - 1, 2, 3, 4

Letters - A, B, C, D

When paired together (e.g. A1) they correspond to a setting on the Titleist Sure-Fit chart.

TaylorMade

All letters (actually words) - HIGHER, add loft; LOWER, remove loft; STD, stated loft; DRAW, draw flight

Cobra

Numbers - +/- from stated loft

Letters - STD, stated loft; DRAW, draw flight

Moveable weight

The final set of numbers that you might find on your golf clubs are on and moveable weight technology that could exist. The number will be the weight of the cartridge or plug in grams. The heavier the number the bigger impact is will have on the playing characteristics of the club.

So there we have it, a run down of all the numbers and letters you might find on your golf clubs and what they relate to. We have loads more information available so please read more using the links below.

Further reading

What are the differences between a 5-wood, 5-hybrid, and 5-iron? When should you use them? Which one do you need? What are their equivalents? All questions answered here.

One of the most confusing things when assembling a set of golf clubs can surround the choice between an 18 degrees fairway wood, hybrid and/or utility iron. They may all share the same loft, but this does this mean they do the same job?