Once I started golfing better, I had the opportunity to get some better golf clubs. This REALLY improved my game. I was amazed at just how forgiving “game improvement clubs could be.
I also recommend getting “fitted” for clubs. If you are lucky enough to live near a golf store or club that lets you try clubs before you purchase, I highly recommend it. Keep your eyes open for demo days or other store specials when they may have club representatives on site. I was fortunate enough to have a Ping rep. let me try about 10 different club head, loft, shaft stiffness, and length combinations until I found what worked for me.
Don’t rule out the irons. I originally got fitted for a driver, but later for irons then a 3 wood. Start with a 6 iron, this will give you an understanding of the entire set. If the 6 works, try the pitching wedge. Don’t worry so much about distance, but consistency, straightness, sound, feel. If you are taller don’t hesitate to ask to try a longer shaft, (or shorter if needed).
If you can’t afford an entire new set consider rotating your purchase. For example, a driver one year, irons the next, then wedges or fairway woods. This can spread the cost over 3-4 years and you are getting new equipment every year.