8 Best Irons For High Handicap Golfers (2023)
Looking for the best irons for high handicappers?
Trust me, we get it.
Sometimes we all need an upgrade to our set of irons. While the driver tends to get the most upgrades, because everyone loves trying to hit it as far as possible, don’t neglect your irons too.
As more and more technology comes out, it’s essential to play a set of irons that matches your skill level. Way too many golfers try to play irons that aren’t suited for their game and suffer the consequences.
But if you want to make golf as easy as possible, play the clubs that are right for your game. In this post, we’ll review the best irons in 2023 to save you time shopping around. We’ll provide our best picks not to mention an easy guide to compare irons and the top questions most golfers have.
Let’s dive in…
8 Best Irons For High Handicappers
Step One: Buying the Right Clubhead
Today we’ll take you through the journey of buying the right iron set. As you’ll learn, it’s more than just finding the right clubhead for your game. It’s also about getting the right shafts and wedges to complete your set.
Let’s start with step one… finding the right club heads that inspire confidence on every swing.
1. Titleist T400 Irons
Starting off our list of the best irons for high handicappers is the Titleist T400 irons. These are the most forgiving of the new T-collection of irons from Titleist which include the T100, T200, and T300 as well. Like most Titleist golf clubs, these look amazing and are very simple, without an overly clunky head shape.
The T400 irons are all about max speed and forgiveness, making them great for mid to high handicap players. As Titleist said on their website, “Every aspect of Titleist T400 irons is engineered to produce greater playing distance – starting with the incredibly fast Super Thin L-Face. The lower edge of the face wraps around the sole, maintaining ball speed even when impact is made lower on the face.”
Unlike a lot of their competitors this is a small, compact head shape as well. Despite a smaller head, they are still easy to launch thanks to 100 grams of tungsten into the toe and heel of the 5-6-7 irons. This feature lowers the center of gravity and makes it easier to launch the ball higher with longer clubs.
But they still have a thin topline and small cavity that you can hardly see at address. As they transition into the shorter irons, they blend perfectly with Titleist Vokey wedges too.
These irons are available in 4-PW and come with True Temper AMT red steel shafts or the Mitsubishi Tensei AV red graphite shafts. If you’re committed to the game but still need some help with consistent performance with irons, these are a great option.
Bonus Option: Titleist T300 Irons
While the T400 is great for high handicap golfers, I wanted to include another option from Titleist since they make such great irons. The T300 is a smaller design, geared towards more mid-handicap golfers who still want distance, forgiveness, and consistent performance.
If you need more forgiving clubs, opt for the T400 series, which are designed for launch and distance. But if you are looking for a club that can work for your game now and if you do become a mid-handicap golfer in the future, opt for this set instead.
The T300 offers a slightly smaller clubhead design and a forged face for optimum performance. There is also extra Tungsten weight in the mid to long irons, which helps a ton on off center hits. While the short irons are less forgiving and geared toward players who want to flight the ball and use different trajectories.
The biggest difference between these and the T400 are the lofts. As the T400 are more game improvement irons, the lofts are significantly stronger to help golfers with slow swing speeds get plenty of distance. For example, the T300 7-iron loft is 29 degrees, while the T400 is 26 degrees.
2. Cleveland Launcher XL Halo Irons
Cleveland Launcher XL Halo Iron Set
- XL HEAD DESIGN - This is huge: a bigger head means an MOI of 2,908 g-cm2 in the 7-Iron—our most ever in a Cleveland Golf Hybrid-Iron
- Gliderail in the long Irons gradually transitions to a V-Shaped sole in the short Irons and ultimately a 3-Tiered Sole on the Dual and Sand Wedges.
If you love hybrids more than irons, this new set from Cleveland might be just what your game needs. The new Cleveland Launcher XL Halo irons provide hybrid-like performance with every swing. I’d define these iron as “super game improvement” clubs as every iron has a large, XL head design.
There’s no doubt about it – these clubs are huge and might turn off some players by the look of the club. But if you want maximum forgiveness and fun with every shot, it’s easy to get over the slightly clunky design pretty quickly.
What’s great about these forgiving irons is that they transition well from longer clubs to short irons and wedges. As Cleveland said, “Glide rail in the long Irons gradually transitions to a V-Shaped sole in the short irons and ultimately a 3-tiered sole on the dual and sand wedges.”
Not to mention they have loft specific grooves too; meaning the longer hybrid-irons have wider and flatter grooves (as you don’t need as much backspin). While the short irons and wedges have higher spinning, deep grooves.
Another aspect of this iron set is they have “Action Mass CB” in the grip. This is an extra 8-gram weight that is placed inside the grip to deliver more balance and control without any more effort.
Finally, these hybrid-irons also have two stock shaft choices which is an unexpected perk. The True Temper XP 90 is a steel shaft with mid-high launch and spin. While the Project X Cypher graphite shaft is a high launch, high spin that is super lightweight (about 60 grams).
If you want extreme forgiveness and love hybrids more than anything, this is the set for you!
3. Callaway Paradym X Irons
Callaway Golf Paradym X Iron Set
- Paradym X Irons combine a Forged 455 Face with the all-new Speed Frame, giving you the best of incredibly long distance technologies and premium forged feel
- Industry-leading A.I. face technology is applied to a high-strength Forged 455 face
- Fast ball speeds from forged 455 face cup & hollow body with speed frame construction
If you have a Callaway Paradym driver, you might need to add these Paradym irons to your bag too. Callaway has another hit on their hands with the new Paradym X – a long distance iron that is extremely forgiving.
What’s crazy about these irons is that they used A.I. to build them (a trend that originally started with their woods/drivers). Here’s what Callaway said about them on their website,
“Industry-leading A.I. face technology is applied to a high-strength Forged 455 face, creating our most powerful forged iron face ever. Each face is uniquely optimized for more speed, higher launch, and increased spin consistency.”
The hollow body design also has “Speed Frame” construction which adds more support for additional accuracy. While the Forged 455 Face Cup helps you hit it longer than ever thanks to increased ball speeds off the face.
To make these irons even more forgiving they also have dual tungsten weighting. This helps improve speed on mishits and also launch the ball higher. This feature can make the difference between finding the dance floor and ending up short in a bunker.
Compared to the Callaway Paradym irons, the X series are more offset and additional weighting to make them more forgiving. The solid is slightly wider and the head is slightly bigger making them a game-improvement iron. Plus, the lofts are stronger too (7-iron is 27.5 degrees).
Finally, one of the biggest reasons to buy these irons is the four shafts to choose from without paying any extra fees. They have one steel shaft (True Temper Elevate, 85 grams) or three graphite shafts with weights ranging from 50 to 70 grams. This makes it much easier to find a shaft that is synced perfectly with your swing.
Callaway recommends these irons for players who are a 12 handicap or higher. The longest club is a 4-iron while you can buy an extra AW, GW, or SW too.
4. PXG 0311 XP Gen 5 Irons (Best Looking)
Let’s face it, a lot of game improvement irons are clunky and huge at address position. A lot of golfers enjoy a muscle back look but hate the performance as they aren’t very forgiving. But PXG has found a way to create a forgiving high handicap iron that looks amazing – talk about the best of both worlds.
The 0311 XP Gen 5 irons are no doubt the best looking game improvement iron on the market. The chrome or all black design screams “I know how to play golf” vs. “I hope these clubs help all my bad shots.” But as they mentioned online, these irons are for players who want maximum forgiveness in a confident, inspiring head.
What makes them so forgiving is the XCOR2 technology. Here’s how PXG described it,
“Extremely lightweight, XCOR2 helps reduce the mass of the core. This enables more weight to be positioned low and to the perimeter of the backside of the clubhead, dramatically increasing MOI and forgiveness.”
Paired with ultra-thin face and Power Channel technology, these clubs will help improve ball speed and distance. Plus, they have precision weighting technology with five tungsten heel or toe weights and one main weight on the back of the head. This allows you to optimize the swing weight to match your swing.
If possible, do a fitting at PXG (or with a certified retailer) so they can ensure the weights are in the correct position for your swing. These aren’t to be adjusted afterward.
Finally, these clubs are offered in 4-GW with five shafts to choose from. This gives you tons of customization options to dial it in perfectly for your swing.
5. Ping G430 Irons
Ping makes a huge selection of irons but the G430 are the most forgiving and easy to hit. Plus, unlike a lot of other irons on this list, they are much more compact.
Here’s how Ping described their most forgiving irons. “The more compact shape provides a clean look. The shorter hosel helps lower the CG and align it with the force line to increase ball speed and ensure solid impact, especially low on the face. A hydropearl 2.0 chrome finish delivers consistency from wet or dry grass.”
Despite strong lofts, they have tons of ball speed and a thin face to promote longer distance with every club in the bag. The reason these irons are so long is that they have PurFlex technology. This increases ball speed across the face thanks to a lower CG which also helps promote better sound too.
Not only are these irons long but they are forgiving too. They have a Tungsten toe and weights in the tip of the shaft to enhance MOI and make them wildly forgiving. Plus, they have an extra degree of bounce to improve turf interaction and hopefully minimize fat shots.
One of the problems with a lot of forgiving irons is they have very strong lofts which makes it hard to gap your wedges properly. But Ping realized this (the PW loft is only 41 degrees) and came up with a solution – they have a gapping solution with a 45.5, 50, 54, and 58. You can play these clubs all the way up to your lob wedge for a transition into shorter clubs.
Finally, Ping also has another feature that most brands don’t offer – a HL (high launch) option. This includes a lighter shaft and lighter grip (not to mention removing weights) to help slower swinging golfers hit it higher. The design makes it easy to increase clubhead speed, add distance, and improve launch without making swing changes.
6. TaylorMade Stealth HD Irons
Taylormade Stealth HD Irons
- The low profile head has a shallow face height and a wide sole with a large step down to keep CG low for easier launch. Increased sole curvature assists with turf interaction.
- The multi-material Cap Back Design utilizes high-strength stainless steel and ultralight weight polymers. Designed to maximize distance, forgiveness and feel with an extremely low CG.
TaylorMade has a monster hit in the driver world in the Stealth and Stealth 2 drivers but makes some great irons too. While we’ve discussed in-depth the P770 vs. P790 (read our full comparison here) neither of these irons are great for higher handicappers.
Instead, most golfers will benefit more from the TaylorMade Stealth HD Irons. The Stealth irons are also a solid choice but aren’t nearly as forgiving.
These irons are high launching and easy to hit. As TaylorMade said on their website, “Designed for golfers looking to hit more successful shots more often, Stealth HD irons feature an ultra-low CG that progressively shifts it higher throughout the set for easier launch and playability in the long irons, while optimizing trajectory and spin in the scoring clubs.”
This is a great design feature that more and more golf club manufacturers are moving towards. The longer irons (which are typically harder to hit for amateur golfers) have lower CG. This helps improve launch for longer, straighter, and higher shots from long range.
While the mid and short irons are more about control and slightly less forgiving. These irons have more stability and less spin to hit more flighted golf shots.
Additionally, these irons are designed for forgiveness thanks to their Cap Back Design. These irons have a massive sweet spot that will help deliver explosive ball speed across the face. Even if you hit it off the toe or the heel, these clubs can help you hit much better iron shots.
They also sound great too thanks to the ECHO damping system. This also helps improve feel and won’t send any unwanted vibrations through the shaft if you hit it a little thin.
These TaylorMade irons also have a built-in draw bias to help you straighten out that slice. Paired with high launch and fast ball speeds, these clubs can change your iron game for good.
Finally, let’s not forget about the two shaft options either. The KBS Max 85 steel shaft (available in S or R flex) is a high launch, high spin shaft that weighs only 93 grams. While the Fujikura Speeder NX red/silver shaft (available in A, R, or S flex) is also high launching and very lightweight.
Bonus Option: TaylorMade Stealth HD Combo Set
While these irons are great for high handicappers, sometimes a combo set is needed. This replaces the long irons with Stealth 2 rescue clubs for the most amount of forgiveness possible.
The Stealth 2 HD hybrids have a deep CG that produces high launching shots with ease. Plus, like the irons they have a built-in draw bias so you can straighten out your trajectory. You can customize the set to add a 3, 4, and/or 5 hybrid too.
7. Mizuno JPX 923 Hot Metal
Mizuno also offers a great high handicap iron set in the JPX 923 Hot Metal series. These clubs are nearly as good-looking as the PXG ones above but still incredibly forgiving. The forgiving speed cavity makes these a great option for mid to high handicappers.
These new irons are 35% stronger than the original Hot Metal design but have a thinner clubface. This means more effortless distance without swinging out of your shoes. As Mizuno said, “Combined with Mizuno’s vibration controlling V-Chassis and deep CG design, the JPX923 Hot Metal irons are as enjoyable and controllable as they are long.”
Plus, these irons allow you to buy matching wedges too. Whether you need a matching GW, SW, and/or LW (or all three) these clubs will surely help your short game. These are built from a softer X30 steel for more feed and control in your short game. Plus, they have CNC milled grooves so you have more spin, even on partial knockdown shots.
8. Cobra King Aerojet Irons
Cobra King Aerojet Irons
- An innovative floating weight design enables 30% more face flexion to deliver untethered distance. The weight is suspended in a soft polymer filler to tune acoustics and feel.
- A forged PWRSHELL face insert delivers more flexibility across a larger area of the face for faster ball speed and higher launch.
The Cobra Aerojet irons are a large, game improvement iron that is all about speed! If you want more distance than anything else from a new set of irons, these might be the ones for you. Thanks to a PWRSHELL insert, these irons have more distance and forgiveness than ever before.
Like other manufacturers, Cobra used A.I. to make the most forgiving irons possible. These have H.O.T face technology delivers more speed and spin for the biggest sweet spot possible
If you don’t love long irons, you can also opt for the combo set too. This replaces the 4 and 5-iron with a 5H (24 degree) rescue club.
Plus, they have the Arccos Caddie “Smart Sensor” technology. This allows you to measure and analyze shots thanks to the built-in sensors in the grips.
With this tool, you can learn more about your game than you probably thought possible. The feature is free for a 90-day trial with purchase.
Related: 5-wood vs. 3-Hybrid
Step 2: Finding the Right Iron Shaft
While I’m confident you will love all of these irons, it’s important to discuss the importance of finding the right shaft. While the head needs to inspire confidence at address, the shaft plays a big role in distance, trajectory, and spin rates. Too many golfers focus on the clubhead and skip the shaft entirely.
When it comes to picking the right iron shafts you want to consider graphite vs. steel and flex more than anything else. Since this article is all about irons for high handicappers, I’d assume that most players would benefit from a graphite shaft. These are lighter, easier to swing faster, and make it easy to add distance.
Graphite Shaft vs. Steel Shafts
Why go with graphite?
A few reasons…
As Jonathan Wall pointed out in this Golf.com article, graphite shafts are better on your joints. “A lot of graphite products perform like steel but offer some hidden benefits like vibration-reducing technology that’ll reduce wear and tear on your joints during those lengthy practice sessions.”
Additionally, graphite shafts can help improve shot dispersion as technology has changed drastically in recent years. Plus, they’re easier to swing faster and hit it further.
It’s time to drop the stigma of playing graphite shafts as they can change your game.
Aside from choosing the right shaft material, don’t forget about flex either.
This will unlock your potential and get the most out of your new iron set. Choosing flex is easier than you think – it’s all about determining your driver swing speed.
Using a launch monitor, measure your swing speed with an average of 10 golf balls. Once you have a good baseline, then you can figure out if you need a lite (A flex), regular, or stiff flex.
- 72 – 83 mph = lite/senior flex
- 84-96 mph = regular flex
- 97-104 mph = stiff flex
The faster you swing the club, the more flex you need to tighten your shot dispersion, improve launch, and maximize distance.
Step 3: Adding Wedges to Your Iron Set
While playing the right shaft is insanely important, another thing to consider with each set is buying matching wedges. Here’s the thing… If you’re buying a set of forgiving irons like these ones, you need forgiving wedges too. Unfortunately, too many golfers skip this step and their short game struggles greatly.
For example, if you play a set of combo irons/hybrids with graphite shafts but then use a blade wedge with a steel shaft, that’s a tough transition. Instead, you want to make your irons to wedges feel like a seamless transition so you can swing with confidence.
If you’re playing graphite shafts in your irons, you should play graphite shafts in your wedges (just slightly heavier). If you’re playing with forgiving cavity back irons, you should likely play with cavity back wedges too.
Using wedges that match your iron set won’t just make it easier and more natural to swing but will:
Minimize Distance Gaps
Too many golfers buy aftermarket wedges but don’t consider the loft of their standard PW or gap wedge. This can lead to having a 5-8 degree gap that might leave 20–30 yards between clubs. This obviously makes it very challenging to swing with confidence as you’re forced to hit a lot more knockdown shots on the course.
When you buy a GW, SW, and/or LW from your iron set, it ensures that each wedge is spaced out properly. This will make it easier to hit better shots regardless of the distance to the pin on the golf course.
Wedges are supposed to be easy to hit but a lot of golfers struggle. But when you play wedges that match the rest of your set, it’ll be much easier to swing with confidence. Since they’re the same design as your irons, it makes it easier to trust your swing and not try anything different.
Iron Buying Guide
Now that you have a better understanding of what some of the big names have to offer in terms of forgiving irons, let’s simplify it. Use this iron buying guide to easily compare different iron sets from different manufacturers to find the best ones for your swing.
Swing and Skill Level
The first thing to consider is your swing and skill level. To play your best and shoot the lowest scores possible your clubs need to match your swing.
If clubs are too advanced for you (too heavy, too stiff of shafts) it’ll lead to a lot of mishits and frustration. While clubs that aren’t good enough for you (too light, too forgiving) also can lead to some issues too.
If you’re an avid golfer who wants to improve (and trending that way), you might want to buy an iron set that is geared toward mid-high handicappers. These clubs have smaller heads and have more workability than some of the other larger, oversized irons. But if you’re a senior golfer or someone who plays more recreationally, opt for the most forgiving irons possible.
The more forgiving a set of irons are, the less “workable” they are – meaning it’s harder to shape shots and control trajectory. While we’re all for using forgiving clubs, just make sure it doesn’t hinder your control or ability to hit different shots.
For example, if you like to hit draws and fades with irons, you might want to skip the Cleveland Launcher XL Halo set. These irons are more “hybrid-irons” and the bigger design makes it harder to shape shots in either direction. Plus, it is much harder to flight the ball down as the design encourages a high loft.
Another big factor when it comes to buying a new iron set is the makeup of the set itself. A decade ago this wasn’t an issue – pretty much every set came with a 3-PW. But now, you have a lot more customization options.
While some sets are still a traditional 3-PW (8 clubs), there are tons of other options including:
Not to mention a lot of companies allow you to buy individual wedges as well. Regardless of your set makeup, just make sure to check the lofts so they mesh with the rest of your set.
For example, you don’t want your 5W to be 19 degrees then your next iron at 25 or 26 degrees. This will leave a huge distance gap that is hard to manage on the course. Try to space out each iron/hybrid 4–5 degrees so you are prepared for any shot on the golf course.
As discussed thoroughly in the previous section, shafts can make or break your irons. They’re arguably 50% of the equation when it comes to buying new golf clubs. Do not just buy any shaft and think having the right flex is enough.
You need to consider the shaft flex, weight, and characteristics (like launch/spin) so it matches your swing. Check out the specifications page of every website to learn more about the dynamics of each shaft to ensure it’s right for your swing.
Finally, the last thing to consider is the price of your iron set. Unfortunately, some of these clubs are not cheap by any means. A lot of higher handicap irons are more forgiving with tons of new technology and it comes with a price.
Not to mention graphite shafts cost substantially more than steel shafts. But as a newer golfer or someone with a slower swing speed, you absolutely need graphite.
The good news is that irons last years (oftentimes much longer than a driver) so that does help offset some of the costs. Try to think of these clubs as an investment in your game and remember that buying the right clubs means you won’t have to replace them as often. To save money, you can always sell your clubs on eBay or other third party platforms as well.
Top Questions About Irons
Do you have additional questions about finding the right set of irons? Keep scrolling through some of the top questions to get more answers now.
What are the longest and most forgiving irons in golf?
All the iron sets on this list are extremely long and forgiving. It just depends on what type of iron style (hybrid vs. cavity back) you prefer. Plus, finding the right shaft to make the clubs as easy to hit as possible.
Should I use hybrids or long irons?
Higher handicappers (and most amateur golfers) should use hybrids instead of long irons. A hybrid is so much easier to hit in terms of consistency and forgiveness. While long irons are challenging even for elite ball strikers.
Related: Hybrid vs. Driving Irons
What type of iron should a 10 handicap play?
A 10-handicap golfer should play clubs that are a good mix of forgiveness and workability. You might want to skip super game improvement or even game improvement irons and focus on distance irons. These clubs are still forgiving but also allow you to control the ball more easily.
Additionally, you might need to switch from graphite to steel shafts too (depending on swing speed). This can also help with approach shot control and hopefully lead to lower scores and maybe shooting more in the 70s.
What is the easiest to hit golf iron?
In terms of equipment, mid to short irons are the easiest to hit. Longer irons are much more difficult to hit consistently well as they’re longer clubs with less loft. These require higher and more consistent swings to hit them consistently well.
In terms of which brand or model is the easiest, all the ones in this list are extremely forgiving. It’s all about finding the right set of irons or combo irons that work for your swing.
What is a mid-handicap golfer?
A mid-handicap golfer is someone who typically shots in the 80s or low 90s. Mid-handicappers can become low handicappers by mastering their driver, adding distance, and dialing in putting.
How do I choose the right iron shaft?
Choosing the right irons shaft is one of the most important parts of buying a new set. If possible it’s best to test out different shaft/head combinations in person with a launch monitor. This makes it easy to evaluate objective data and compare different shafts.
But this isn’t always the case depending on where you live. If you can’t easily test out different shafts in a custom fitting, the easiest way to find the right shaft is by measuring your swing speed with a driver. Once you know your average swing speed, you can find the right shaft for your swing speed.
What is my handicap if I shoot 90?
One of the biggest mistakes that so many golfers make is thinking their handicap is their average score. For example, a lot of players think “If I shoot 90, my handicap is 18 (Par 72 + 18 = 90). But this is not the case.
Handicaps are more like scoring potential, not average score. Handicaps take into account your best 8 of 20 scores, not your average score over a certain time frame.
If you shoot a 90 on average, your handicap is closer to 13-15 range.
What is a respectable handicap?
According to the USGA the average handicap for males is 14.2 while the average for females is 27.5. I wanted to share these facts with you because there is no “respectable” handicap in golf – everyone has to start somewhere.
Some golfers learn quickly and have more time to practice. While others only play or practice a few times a month and might take longer. Some golfers are great drivers while others are putters.
The point is golf is a constant battle against yourself and your potential, not anyone else. It’s always best to compare yourself vs. your former self, not anyone else. But you should enter your scores into the handicap system regularly so you can monitor your progress over time.
If things aren’t progressing as fast as you’d like, make sure to find a coach and work on your short game more often. Plus, mastering the mental game won’t hurt either.
As you can tell, there are some great picks if you’re in the market for new irons.
The biggest thing to remember is to play clubs that are right for your game, not anyone else. Don’t make a buying decision because your scratch golfer buddy plays them or your favorite professional golfer.
Instead, play the ones that are right for your unique swing. You want to make sure they have plenty of forgiveness and accuracy too.
Also, don’t forget to choose your shaft wisely. Graphite vs. steel shaft and choosing the right flex can make a big difference to launch angle and total distance for each iron.
Have you tried out any of these irons yet? If so, what has your response been?
Let us know in the comments!