Have you recently been introduced to golf, or are you a high handicap golfer looking for a new edge to bring down your scores? The Golf Gear Advisor experts have tested and reviewed the most forgiving irons for beginners and high handicap golfers so you can find the best irons for your game.
We know how good it feels to hit every shot right at your target, and we also know what it feels like when you can’t keep the ball on the planet. With these experiences in mind, we have hand selected some of the best irons that will have the most benefit for beginning golfers and high handicappers. We have also gone into detail about different aspects of golf irons and how to choose the right irons for your game.
Our goals is to help you hit more greens, bring down your scores, and have more fun, so let’s get right into it!
Best for high handicap
Taylormade stealth HD Iron Set
best for beginner golfers
cleveland launcher xl halo iron set
Most Forgiving set on a budget
Lazrus premium golf irons
In This Guide
- Most Forgiving Irons At A Glance
- Reviews Of The Most Forgiving Irons For Beginners And High Handicap
- Best Irons For High Handicap: Taylormade Stealth HD Irons
- Best Irons For Beginners: Cleveland Launcher XL Halo Iron Set
- Best Budget Pick: Lazrus Premium Golf Irons
- Best Hybrid Iron Combo Set: Cobra Air X Combo Iron Set
- Most Forgiving Callaway Irons: Callaway Rogue ST Max OS Irons
- Most Forgiving Titleist Irons: Titleist T300 Irons
- Staff Favorite: TaylorMade SiM 2 Max Iron Set
- Another Great Callaway Pick: Callaway Big Bertha B21 Irons
- Most Forgiving Cobra Irons: Cobra LTDX Irons
- Best Full Set: Callaway Strata Men's And Women's Complete Sets
- What Should My Set Makeup Look Like?
- Should I Get Steel Shafts Or Graphite Shafts?
- How To Choose The Right Shaft Flex For Your Irons
- What To Look For When Choosing The Best Irons For Beginners And High Handicaps
- Types Of Golf Irons
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Most Forgiving Irons At A Glance
Reviews Of The Most Forgiving Irons For Beginners And High Handicap
We are excited to bring this list of the best irons for beginners and high handicap golfers to all of you. Irons are often overlooked in the beauty and intricacy of their design, but there is so much to talk about!
Best Irons For High Handicap: Taylormade Stealth HD Irons
In the last decade, Taylormade has separated themselves as the superior golf club manufacturer. This began with drivers but has since expanded to the entire golf bag.
No list of the best irons for beginners and high handicap golfers is complete without talking about the Taylormade Stealth HD Irons. They are a superior feeling super game improvement iron designed with a low center of gravity to help you get the ball in the air.
Our favorite part about the Stealth HD irons is the progressive shaping. The long irons feature a shorter club head that redistributes weight around the edges and helps with forgiveness while the shorter clubs are a more traditional shape.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
We absolutely love these irons for anyone looking to maximize forgiveness. By changing the shape of the irons as they work through the set, Taylormade is able to maintain maximum forgiveness on every shot.
Whether you are a beginner, a high handicapper, or simply need more help getting some of your shots in the air, the Taylormade Stealth HD irons are a top choice without a doubt.
Best Irons For Beginners: Cleveland Launcher XL Halo Iron Set
Cleveland Golf was a top golf club brand in the early 2000's, but they have fallen off as the likes of Taylormade and Callaway have risen.
With the Launcher XL Halo irons, Cleveland has put themselves back on the map with those who are getting into the game. The head of these cast super game improvement irons is hollow with an 8 gram weight that lowers the center of gravity. The entire design gives you the performance of a hybrid without completely sacrificing the iron-like appearance.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
Between the XL head design and the extremely low center of gravity of these irons, you will find it very easy to get the ball in the air. The hollow nature of the club head changes the swing weight a bit, but if you can get the feel they are as forgiving as any on the market.
If you're new to the game and looking for a club that will help you enjoy the game and lower your scores, these irons might be for you.
Best Budget Pick: Lazrus Premium Golf Irons
If you are looking for the ultimate cross between price and quality, look no further than the Lazrus Premium golf irons.
While these clubs do not feature some of the highly advanced technology of their more expensive counterparts, these are well made cavity back irons that are sure to help you hit more good shots.
The perimeter weight design of the Lazrus set creates a high moment of inertia that maximizes forgiveness, no matter where you hit the ball on the face.
RELATED: The Best Iron Sets Under $500
What We Like
What We Don't Like
We are confident that the Lazrus Premium golf irons will be a hit! What they lack in bells and whistles, they make up for in savings. And what's more, they perform exceptionally well.
Consider these the best irons for beginners and high handicap players who aren't ready to make a major financial investment into their game.
Best Hybrid Iron Combo Set: Cobra Air X Combo Iron Set
A combo set is a set of irons that includes true hybrid golf clubs in the long iron slots to give a player increased utility and forgiveness. When it comes to the top combo sets, none is better than the Cobra Air X.
Featuring a high quality cast cavity back in the irons paired with 4 and 5 hybrids, this set is a perfect game improvement option for a golfer looking for a new advantage. The variable thickness face of these clubs helps you to keep the ball speed up even when you miss the sweet spot, while an increased offset design will really straighten out your slice!
What We Like
What We Don't Like
Hybrid golf clubs aren't for everyone. They are a different feel from traditional irons and some people simply prefer the old school look and feel.
If you want to try a club that is going to help you elevate the ball and make the long irons that much easier to hit, the Air X combo set from Cobra is a great option. Give them a swing and see you score start dropping!
Most Forgiving Callaway Irons: Callaway Rogue ST Max OS Irons
Callaway made some incredible leaps in technology with their Rogue drivers, and they have been able to pass along the gains to the irons.
The Rogue ST Max OS irons are one of the best looking cast cavities on the market, featuring next level perimeter weighting. By creating a slimmer club head, Callaway made the decision to maintain a thicker top line, which is not the most aesthetically pleasing.
The AI designed face is built with urethane for increased speed that will have you hitting your irons farther than ever, just don't be surprised if you hit a couple of shots over the green!
What We Like
What We Don't Like
The Rogue ST Max make this list of the best irons for beginners and high handicap players only as an honorable mention for two reasons. First, they are not the best looking iron out there. While they perform well, you still have to like the way your club looks.
Second, they have the tendency to produce the occasional flier-like shot. Essentially, a shot that feels completely normal off the face has a little less spin and goes much farther than expected.
Overall, the Callaway Rogue ST Max OS irons are a great option that is available at a marginal discount from some of the absolute top shelf options. Consider them if you are primarily looking for an iron that will increase your distance and forgiveness for off-center strikes.
Most Forgiving Titleist Irons: Titleist T300 Irons
Titleist has long been known for their superior production when it comes to the irons. The T300 series takes their reputation to new heights.
Built with 40% more D18 quality tungsten and an enhanced polymer core behind one of Titleist's thinnest faces, the T300 ramps up ball speed, forgiveness, and feedback for a more complete experience than almost any other iron geared towards forgiveness.
We took a deep dive into the Titleist T300s, and you can check out our full review to get a better sense of these market leading clubs!
What We Like
What We Don't Like
Titleist T300 irons are some of the best clubs you can get your hands on as a beginner or high handicap player. The only real downside is the price tag.
Similar to other top brands on the market today, the premium you pay for the title recognition is borderline too much to make the clubs worth it. What the T300 irons offer is a unique blend of high level forgiveness, ball speed, and workability that keeps us interested and lands the clubs solidly among the best irons for beginners and high handicap players!
Staff Favorite: TaylorMade SiM 2 Max Iron Set
As with other Taylormade clubs, the SiM 2 Max irons are a showstopper.
So why are they only an honorable mention on this list?
Well, because Taylormade continued to improve with their newer model irons in the Stealth line! SiM irons provide a ton of feel, speed, and forgiveness in a visually appealing build, and are backed by the pride and reputation of the worlds most trusted club manufacturer. It's hard to go wrong with that pedigree.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
With the SiM 2 Max irons, you are going to get a high end game improvement iron with a cast club head and a bit of a cavity/muscle back mix. They feel great, sound incredible when you hit them, and produce high, repeatable shots.
All of this in a reduced price tag thanks to Taylormade's habit of coming up with even newer and better clubs. These irons are the perfect set if you want a top of the line brand without breaking the bank!
RELATED: Taylormade M4 Irons Review
Another Great Callaway Pick: Callaway Big Bertha B21 Irons
Related to the driver of the same name, the Callaway Big Bertha B21 irons are a perfect option for the golfer who struggles with the dreaded slice.
The exaggerated offset on these irons is a classic solution for a slice that gives you more time to square the face before you make contact with the golf ball. That means even your fade shots won't curve off the planet and you will keep more shots close to your target!
Put that in a package with Callaway's advanced technology using AI to refine their designs, and you will discover an iron that looks good, feels great, and performs as well as any on the market.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
This cast game improvement iron features a small cavity back that will make you feel like you're playing a pro's iron.
Callaway uses AI to incorporate a Flash Face Cup that increases your ball speed without sacrificing precision. Increased tungsten weighting allows them to move the center of gravity back without increasing the size of the club, helping you hit higher and better shots more often.
The B21 irons are one of the best irons for beginners and high handicap golfers, but find themselves on the honorable mention list because they may not perform well for golfer who already hit a draw.
RELATED: Mizuno MP 15 Irons Review
Most Forgiving Cobra Irons: Cobra LTDX Irons
Cobra is one of those brands that has been in the golf industry for longer than most people realize. Over the last decade, they have made a resurgence as one of the top club manufacturers in the game.
The LTDX is a cast iron set built with Cobra's proprietary PWRCOR technology. This steel power bar construction positions the center of gravity behind the hitting zone, making the LTDX a more efficient iron for transferring energy into the golf ball. All this adds up to longer, higher iron shots.
A bonus component of the LTDX is the option to purchase a combo set that features a hybrid club in the 5 iron slot. This creates a better option for players with lower club head speed who may struggle hitting the longer irons high.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
In our opinion, Cobra clubs are underrated. With the LTDX, you receive a game improvement iron that looks better than most of its competitors and is easy to hit. PWRCOR technology allows Cobra to create a flexible, forgiving club that still looks almost like a players' iron.
All of that in a package that is 70% the cost of the best irons on the market, it's easy to see why the LTDX from Cobra is such a popular iron set.
Best Full Set: Callaway Strata Men's And Women's Complete Sets
If you want the best balance of price and utility for a true beginner, look no further than the Callaway Strata men's and women's complete sets. These clubs go beyond irons to offer every club from putter to driver.
While they are not the most technologically advanced club, they provide everything that a golfer needs when they are just starting to play the game.
At such a low price point for a full set of clubs, this complete set is a no brainer for anyone who wants to learn the game of golf without spending their whole budget. The money left over can be used for golf lessons to help you learn how to use each club!
What We Like
What We Don't Like
While this set of clubs may not give you the same quality as Taylormade or Titleist, it offers everything that a beginner golfer needs to learn and enjoy the game.
The biggest advantage is that you get more than just the irons for a price that is lower than most iron sets. You can even choose between 9, 12, or 14 piece sets! While the Callaway Strata complete set might not be the highest quality for every golfer, it is definitely one of the best iron sets for beginners and high handicap golfers.
RELATED: Golf Essentials For Beginners
What Should My Set Makeup Look Like?
A typical set of irons begins with a gap or pitching wedge and goes all the way to a 4 or 5 iron. The exact set that works best for you could have some variation to it. For example, you may find it easier to hit hybrids rather than long irons, or you may like to have a sand wedge that matches your set.
In order to make the right decision for yourself, it is important to understand the differences in these clubs and how they can impact your game - which is why we are going to explain all of that for you!
Should I Get Gap And Sand Wedges Too?
This is entirely a matter of personal preference. Some golfers find that they have more confidence when their wedges match the rest of their set. Others prefer to know that their wedges are made with the best materials and techniques refined for wedge play.
Here at Golf Gear Advisor, we use Vokey wedges. There are lots of great options out there, but all of us prefer to have wedges specifically designed for feel and precision rather than matching our sets.
Should I Get Hybrids For 3, 4 and 5 Iron?
The choice to get hybrids for your long irons is mostly based on how well you hit a long iron.
Most people who prefer hybrids have a hard time getting any significant height on the ball with a long iron, even when they hit it solid. A hybrid club is designed to help you elevate the ball from all kinds of lies.
Golfers with slower swing speeds and steeper angles of attack often benefit the most from using hybrid clubs.
Should I Get Steel Shafts Or Graphite Shafts?
If you watch the professionals, most of them are using steel shafts. Does this mean that graphite shafts are inferior?
NO! The pros are, for the most part, in the extreme upper end of speed, efficiency, and precision, meaning steel shafts tend to fit them better. Graphite shafts are a great option for anyone who feels like they need more height on their iron shots, help spinning the golf ball, or is simply looking for a way to pick up a couple of miles per hour.
How To Choose The Right Shaft Flex For Your Irons
Choosing the right shaft for your game can be tricky. Shaft flex is mostly based on swing speed since speed is directly related to the amount of force you are able to apply to the shaft.
To make your search a bit easier, here is a basic table so that you can get a sense for how swing speed and carry distance relate when hitting a 7 iron. If you are more familiar with your driver numbers, you can check out our similar chart in our article about the best drivers for beginners and high handicappers!
7 iron Swing speed
7 iron carry distance
While these numbers are good to give you a general idea, every golfer is different. We recommend you choose the two flexes that best represent your game and go somewhere to test them out. You can usually demo clubs free of charge at your local PGA Tour Superstore or Golf Galaxy!
RELATED: Does Shaft Flex Matter In Wedges?
What To Look For When Choosing The Best Irons For Beginners And High Handicaps
There are a number of factors that go into finding the best iron for a golfer of any skill level. When it comes to beginners and high handicappers, the most important things are forgiveness and utility. Let’s have a look at how to find the right combination for your game.
RELATED: How To Choose Golf Irons
Forgiveness refers to the difference between a solidly struck shot versus a mishit. The more forgiving the golf club, the less difference there will be. Here are the major characteristics of the most forgiving irons:
Center Of Gravity
Center of gravity refers to the point on the golf club where all of the weight is evenly distributed. Golf club manufacturers often move the center of gravity lower and further back within the club head in order to provide greater forgiveness in the form of faster ball speed and higher launch angles. These are both forms of higher forgiveness that help you hit more good shots, even when you don’t hit the ball well.
RELATED: Titleist 620 CB Irons Review
Adding perimeter weighting to a golf iron is a commonly used technique to increase forgiveness. This is exactly what it sounds like - moving weight away from the center of the golf club and towards the edges. The technique is how cavity back irons came into existence.
One benefit of perimeter weighting is that it moves the center of gravity in a way that produces higher launch angles, as we discussed above.
Perimeter weighting also creates a more flexible club face, which in turn produces faster ball speeds.
The final and most important effect of perimeter weighting is the creation of a higher moment of inertia. We know, those are words that sound more like rocket science than golf, so we’re going to go into more detail.
Moment Of Inertia
Ok, stay with us here. Moment of inertia refers to the ability of an object (the club head) to resist twisting due to impact with another object (the golf ball). The higher the moment of inertia, the less the club head is going to twist due to an off center strike, and the straighter the ball will fly when you don’t strike it on the center of the face.
The largest factor that increases the moment of inertia is perimeter weighting. By moving more weight the edges of the club, there is a higher density of material transferring energy into the golf ball and therefore less of a reaction force passing back to the club head, resulting in the most forgiving irons available.
The material of the shaft can have a major impact on the performance of a golf club. There are different benefits and neither of them is a “one size fits all” for beginners and high handicappers.
Steel shafts tend to be heavier than their graphite counterparts. The difference in weight means steel shafts tend to provide a higher level of feedback to the player, as well as aiding the player with control and accuracy.
Players with lower swing speed may have a hard time controlling the golf ball with steel shafts, and may not be able to produce enough spin to keep the ball in the air. These are the people who should consider graphite shafts.
Graphite shafts, being lighter in weight, have the primary benefit of producing faster swing speeds and higher launch angles. This is the reason that they are typically the better option for players that do not naturally swing the club at a high speed. Graphite also does not transmit vibration nearly as much as steel, so graphite shafts are a lot easier on the hands and arms if you find yourself missing the sweet spot relatively often.
Graphite shafts are also significantly more expensive that steel, so they are financially not an option for some people. If you are the kind of player that is on the border between needing a graphite and a steel shaft, you are better off going with the steel option for both cost and performance purposes.
Shaft flex refers to the amount of “whip” that the shaft experiences through impact. A more flexible shaft will release more, producing higher launch angles and more spin.
It is important to find the right shaft flex for your game, otherwise you will not be able to get the most out of your clubs. Check out our chart above for a guideline to the proper shaft flex for your game.
The estimates on the chart are based purely on swing speed with a 7 iron and may not be 100% accurate. They are intended to give you a starting point in your search for golf clubs.
One of the most common problems that beginning golfers and high handicappers struggle with is a slice. Offset is a characteristic that all the best golf club brands use to help their customers fight the dreaded ball flight.
Offset is the angle that occurs at the intersection of the shaft and the club head - the hosel. A larger offset is essentially a bigger, more noticeable angle, which makes the leading edge of the club sit behind the shaft. By setting the club head farther behind the shaft, the player has more time to rotate the face square to the ball. The more the face rotates closed, the less the ball will slice. In some cases, offset can even help players hit a draw!
RELATED: Golf Shot Shapes
Cast Or Forged Irons
Casting and forging are the two major methods of producing a golf club. Each one is used for a different purpose and each type of iron has its own pros and cons.
Cast irons are created by pouring liquid metal into a mold. This makes it easier to produce them in large quantities and manufacturers can achieve a wider variety of characteristics. The downside is that air bubble tend to form in the metal as it cools. This creates distortion in the metal that leads to inconsistency from one iron to another, and reduces the feel of the club in your hands. In short, while cast irons are less expensive and are more likely to be highly forgiving, they tend to be less consistent from club to club and will not feel as solid as a forged iron.
Forged irons are clubs that are created by heating a solid piece of metal in order to press and shape it until the desired shape is achieved. The benefits of forging irons include creating a club head with tighter molecular structure for more consistency and reliability, as well as controlling the grain of the metal. The major downsides to forged irons are a higher cost for consumers, as well as increased need for general maintenance due to the softer metal that is required in the forging process. Forged irons should be checked for loft and lie angle changes at least 2-3 times per year.
Golf Iron Styles
We’re sure you’ve heard people talk about at least some of these styles. Blades are often associated with the best golfers in the world, and hybrid clubs have become more popular over the last few years. But there are more that you should consider when making a decision about your own clubs.
RELATED: How To Clean Golf Clubs
Cavity Back Irons
Cavity back irons are the most popular among beginners and high handicap golfers. These are the irons that often look like someone literally scooped the middle out of the back portion of the club head, creating a big cavity.
Cavity back irons are typically cast, and have the highest level of perimeter weighting to aid with forgiveness. They are designed specifically for high handicappers and beginners, as you often sacrifice fine control in exchange for enhanced forgiveness.
Muscle Back Irons
Muscle back irons can be thought of as a transition club between a blade and a cavity back. They are intended for players that consider themselves to be good ball strikers, but do not want to sacrifice all the forgiveness of their irons. This is the most common style of iron played on the major tours.
Muscle back irons will often look like a blade from the top view, with an added mass of material on the bottom half of the back of the club to grant the player some of the forgiveness of a cavity back.
Hybrid irons get their name from their appearance of being a cross between an iron and a fairway wood - a true hybrid golf club.
The benefit of hybrid irons can be reaped mostly on the longer, lower lofted clubs. They are designed with extra material built up on the back of the club - where the appearance of a fairway wood come into play - in order to move the center of gravity as far back as possible. This makes it easier for players of all skill levels to launch the golf ball with enough height to maximize their carry distance, and also allows the golf ball to stop faster when it lands. All of this results in more control and utility from different lies and situations.
Even for the best players in the world, blades are often not the best option. Often referred to by golf diehards as “butter knives”, blades get their name from the thin, almost knife like appearance of the club from the top view.
Blades have minimal material built up on the back of the club, and what material exists is evenly distributed reducing the perimeter weighting. Every characteristic of a blade is geared towards maximum fine control - meaning players who use them might be able to feel the difference between a 150 and a 152 shot - but sacrifices any and all forgiveness.
RELATED: How To Get Rust Off Of Golf Clubs
Types Of Golf Irons
These types of golf irons are a different way to categorize them that might help you choose what is best for you. These categories are based on a different set of characteristics that are more based on performance and less on physical attributes.
Super Game Improvement
Super game improvement irons are specifically designed for maximum forgiveness for the golfer that struggles to get the ball in the air. They can often be recognizes as cavity back irons with exaggerated attributes such as a deeper cavity with larger edges.
If you are someone living in the lower end of the club head speed spectrum, or you are simply a golfer who has a hard time hitting the ball in the air, check out super game improvement irons first.
Similar to super game improvement irons, regular game improvement irons tend towards forgiveness. With that in mind, they start to exhibit some of the attributes of a players iron as well. You can consider irons like the Titleist AP3 a game improvement iron.
When we start talking about players irons, we are beginning to talk about clubs that are less forgiving but will offer a higher level of control over both distance and ball flight. It is more common to find muscle backs and thinner cavity backs in this category.
My personal iron of choice, the Titleist CB series, are a forged cavity back that can be considered a players iron.
Players Distance Irons
Players distance irons are the niche in between a true players iron and a game improvement iron. They feature better aesthetics and precision than a game improvement iron while still offering some of the forgiveness and playability.
They tend to be forged irons that have been created with some of the characteristics of a game improvement iron. This allows manufacturers to reap the benefits of the forging process while achieving the good aspects of game improvement irons.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should a beginner look for in a set of irons?
A beginner should be looking for maximum forgiveness in a set of irons, as well as ensuring that you are not buying counterfeit clubs!
Golf is a difficult sport that requires a high level of precision, and a certain amount of that precision comes from lots and lots of practice. With this in mind, a cavity back game improvement iron, or even super game improvement irons are the right choices for a beginner.
What should a High Handicapper look for in a set of irons?
A high handicapper should look for an iron that gives forgiveness as well as some offset.
Most high handicappers have played enough golf to confidently hit the ball up in the air with decent consistency, however they commonly struggle with a slice. Added forgiveness to help with the off-center strikes combined with offset to provide some relief from the big fade will help high handicappers play with more consistency.
What is a forgiving golf club?
A forgiving golf club is one that helps the golfer to hit good shots, even when the shot is not well struck. Clubs like hybrids and super game improvement irons are the most forgiving clubs, while blades and muscle backs are much less forgiving.
What are high handicappers in golf?
High handicappers in golf are players who tend to shoot scores significantly higher than par.
Handicap measures a player’s potential based on recent performance, and is measured on a numerical scale. Anyone with a handicap higher than 18 is considered a high handicapper.
What is my handicap if I shoot 100?
Your handicap is around 30 if you shoot 100. The exact number can vary based on the course you play.
Handicap index is calculated using the golf course rating, so a course with a lower rating will produce a higher handicap for the same score than a course with a higher rating.
What is my handicap if I shoot 90?
Your handicap is in the range of 20 if you shoot 90. This can vary based on the course rating of the courses where you are posting your scores, so estimating your handicap based on a score is not a perfect science.
No matter whether you are brand new to the game of golf, or you have been playing for a while but you’re struggling to bring your handicap down, there is a golf iron for you.
RELATED: How Long Do Golf Irons Last?
In our search for the best and most forgiving irons for beginners and high handicap golfers, we were able to compile a list of great options that will help you with every issue from tops to duffs to slices and more! Take your time to understand the different styles, attributes, and features of these different irons, and we are confident that you will end up with something you love.