Best Budget Golf Irons 2023

Golf clubs are expensive – if you’re after the best budget irons then this is for you. We cover some top tips for saving money on irons before we dive into a few top picks to check out. Based on our tips you’ll find we point you towards new irons and a few irons from previous years that are still available. We’ll do our best to keep this up to date when stocks run out, but feel free to leave a comment at the end if you can’t find the offers available.

Top tips to save money on irons

The technology on golf irons keeps moving forward, but has slowed in recent years, so here are some top tips for saving money on irons:

  • Check last year’s and the year before models online and in shops – the small sacrifice you’ll make in tech will often save you $200-400 in price.
  • Buy less well-known brands – marketing costs money, and sponsoring top golfers costs a lot of money. Companies like Tour Edge don’t pay pros to use their clubs, you see them less on TV but they make some great gear.
  • Opt for a smaller set – irons are costed per club, not opting for a 3 and 4-iron can save you $100-$250 for the same set of irons.
  • Buy second-hand – this can be a great option, but be aware of scams and counterfeits. Where possible, use approved retailers. For more check out this link.

Best Budget Irons

Tour Edge Hot Launch C521

Tour Edge Hot Launch C521 6-iron showing cavity back

If you have not done extensive research into the best budget irons, chances are you have not heard of the Tour Edge Hot Launch. These golf irons are a great mix of power and distance technology with a club face that feels a lot better than you would think, considering the price point.

Tour Edge have just released a new version of these irons Hot Launch C523 – so we hope you can find some great deals.

Looks

The Tour Edge Hot Launch C521 is a standard cavity back golf iron with a wide sole and a low center of gravity. The look is going to be somewhat comparable to other budget irons; they are forgiving and have a thicker top down look than a blade of players-style golf iron.

This thin, but large club face provides a great balance between looks and forgiveness.

Forgiveness

This iron is forgiving thanks to its extensive perimeter weighting; when you miss the center of the face, you still get a high ball flight and some impressive stability, keeping your poor shots straight. The perimeter weighting not only keeps your shots straighter but reduces the drop-off in ball speed for miss-hit shots.

Power & distance

The Tour Edge Hot Launch C521 comes with what the company describes as a Power Lofted Setup. The lofts are strong with a pitching wedge at 44 degrees of loft. However, this is balanced out with the low center of gravity, meaning you’ll get a higher launch than you’d imagine from these irons.

The lower lofted and low center of gravity helps increase ball speed and reduce backspin, meaning you will have no trouble getting the distance you need with the C521.

Feel

When it comes to budget golf irons, the feel is always the tricky part. It’s very difficult to create golf clubs with an excellent feel for a low price. However, all things considered, the feel of the C521 is pretty good. Since the iron is so forgiving, there is little vibration on missed shots. Will it feel like a buttery blade when you strike it perfectly? No, but that is the trade-off.

Golf Insider verdict

With options for stainless steel or graphite shafts, fair pricing, low center of gravity, and impressive distance-enhancing technology, the Tour Edge C521 are a really great value. Tour Edge flies under the radar, and you won’t see these clubs as heavily advertised as others. Sometimes the best golf irons are the ones that quietly offer the performance we all need.

COBRA SpeedZone Irons

Cobra Golf 2020 Men's Speedzone Iron Set

This is the first of two Cobra entries in our list. Cobra has produced a wide range of irons in recent years – the excess production has sometimes been a bit of a fad, like the one-length irons. However, the SpeedZone irons are a great pick while they are still in stock.

Looks

These irons feature Cobra’s classic yellow and black branding. They are a big, chunky design with a carbon fibre plate on the back of the cavity. If you’re a fan of forgiving-looking irons these will be a dream for you.

Forgiveness

The looks of these irons are there for a reason, chunky club heads, and large soles both create a lot of perimeter weighting and great forgiveness across the face. The carbon fibre plate allows further weight savings to be made at the back of the club, allowing a lower centre of gravity and high-launching iron shots – this extra level of forgiveness is particularly useful when you reach the longer irons.

Power & distance

These irons fly, we could just leave it there…but if you’d like to know why. The combination of the strong lofts and centre of gravity launch the ball high, but with a higher ball speed. This has been combined with Cobra’s PWRSHELL Technology which aims to maximise ball speed across the club face.

Feel

There is always a trade-off in golfing performance. With the Cobra King SpeedZone irons, you get great forgiveness at an excellent price but these aren’t winning any awards for feel and control. They aren’t bad, but the irons are different from a $1,000 Mizuno set of irons.

Golf Insider Verdict

In our last update of this article, we found these as cheap as $429 / £369. For the tech and performance, this is incredible, we also found them at much higher prices, so do shop around for the best prices.

Callaway X Hot Iron Set

Callaway X Hot Iron set 6, 9 and pitching wedge

If you are a fan of Callaway, you know that they are known for maximum forgiveness and appealing to the average golfer. Regardless of your handicap, there is a complete set of Callaway irons out there that will work for you. The Callaway X Hot is not a new release to the market, but Callaway keeps making this set of irons available year after year.

Looks

The Callaway X Hot is a standard cavity back golf iron with extreme perimeter weighting and standard golf tech. This is not the prettiest set of irons that Callaway puts out and looks nothing like the Apex series. However, the cavity back short irons, which is what you usually get in the budget range, are highly forgiving and produce maximum distance.

If you can get over the look, chances are this iron could be a decent choice that stays within your budget.

Forgiveness

The Callaway X Hot Iron set is a very forgiving design. Each club is equipped with the Flash Face technology, something that Callaway features in quite a bit of its golf equipment. The extra forgiveness will help with off-center shots, but it also increases the total distances that you can hit the shot as well.

With the X Hot golf irons, don’t expect the latest designs, but if you need help with a few off-center hits, the X Hot irons have your back.

Power & distance

Overall, power from the Callaway X Hot is decent. In many ways, the Callaway X Hot reminds us of the Callaway Strata golf clubs. This is an option for those that trust the Callaway name, want to invest in some of the same performance but also can’t afford the golf equipment prices that many manufacturers ask.

You don’t lose distance switching to this iron design, but the ball certainly doesn’t rocket off the clubface like it might on some other iron sets, like the TaylorMade Steal irons.

Feel

The overall feel of the Callaway X Hot is about what you would expect from an iron set that is priced for less than $500. If you hit the ball near the center of the face, it feels quite good, but overall the club has a harder feel to it.

The harder feel helps increase overall power and gives slower swing speed players higher ball speeds. We would consider adding some higher-quality blade-style wedges to this iron set. Something with great feel in the gap wedge, sand wedge, and lob wedge would be an excellent addition to these affordable golf irons.

Golf Insider verdict

There is a reason Callaway keeps making a set that is now considered “old” in the golf world – golfers like this club, it fills a gap in the market, and they are reasonably priced. For a solid all-around set of irons on a budget these are a pretty good options whilst they are in stock!

Cobra F Max Iron Set

Cobra F-Max 7-iron in blue and back

When we set out to look for the best budget irons on the market, there were two stops that we made first, Cobra and Cleveland. The Cleveland Launcher XL Irons are a great club, but the pricing is still not quite in the budget category. However, we were happy to see that Cobra F Max is actually quite affordable. Cobra does such a good job balancing feel, playability, and cost.

Looks

The Cobra F Max has a standard cavity back design with a slightly thick top edge and a wide sole. Cobra makes these F Max irons a little more rounded than some of their Speedback or Radspeed golf irons, and we actually like that.

As great as some of the Cobra irons are, they don’t always have the best look, but these are classic looking game improvement irons.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is strong with this lightweight design. Cobra aims to make the entire club easier to swing and, therefore, more forgiving, as players are subject to less fatigue. The overall club weight is very light, but so is the shaft.

You will notice that there is heel-biased weighting in the club head that helps overall control and keeps the shot on target. The overall way to describe the forgiveness on these irons is that they help with consistency throughout the entire golf course.

Power & distance

For many years Cobra seemed to be behind when it came to power. However, as we have learned more about golf technology, we have seen that the addition of forgiveness in a golf club head can very often lead to power and distance.

Your distance and power here come from the lightweight design and the ability to swing this club faster. Remember that more distance is a result of more clubhead speed.

Feel

The feel of the Cobra irons was our favorite among the budget sets. There is a progressive construction that allows for varying degrees of offset throughout this set. The result is unique performance in the longer irons, mid irons, and shorter irons.

Finding a good mix of high ball speeds, soft and responsive feel, and fair pricing can be tough. Cobra did an excellent job of it here.

Golf Insider verdict

With other manufacturers like Callaway, we told you that although the budget irons were great, they don’t feel the same as the more premium offerings from that brand. However, with the Cobra F Max, the feel is actually quite good. If you make solid contact with the clubface and can swing with any degree of consistency, these golf irons can make a difference in your game.

What To Look For In Budget Golf Irons

Unfortunately, finding a great set of irons for a fair price is becoming increasingly difficult. Golf irons are made with new technologies and materials like tungsten that significantly increase the pricing. However, there are a few key things you can look for to ensure that you end up with a great value set of irons and not just a cheap set of golf clubs.

Feel

The feel is probably the part where budget irons struggle the most. It’s tough to get the feel that you see in Mizuno irons or Titleist irons without upping the price of the club. When it comes to feel, look for something like the Cobra F Max that has a slightly softer yet responsive overall feel. Lowering the amount of vibration at impact always helps to increase feel, and that can be done with a stainless steel club head.

If you move from budget irons to clubs that are considered “cheap,” feel becomes a real problem. These clubs would likely be fine for a few rounds per year, but you won’t want them as your day-to-day golf set.

Distance

Distance is partially determined by the club in your hand and partially determined by your ability to swing it. Many budget irons are offered with steel shafts simply because they are cheaper than graphite shafts.

If you struggle with distance and are a slower swing speed player, the graphite design could be an excellent option to consider. In addition, it’s important to look at distance enhancing technology that the golf irons have incorporated. A low center of gravity and power lofted irons can often help give you those extra yards you may need.

Forgiveness

Luckily most budget golf irons have quite a bit of forgiveness built in. You may also notice that many of these sets do not include long irons. Players looking for budget irons often find that the 5 iron is the highest iron they need and can go with more wedges and an extra hybrid to complete the golf set makeup.

Most budget irons have a large sweet spot, low center of gravity, and high launch, increasing the overall forgiveness. This is one category that will allow performance almost as good as the more expensive clubs.

Overall Pricing

We considered budget irons to be in that $500 or less range. Considering many iron set choices on the market are well over $1000, and something like the hollow body design P790 from TaylorMade being more like $1500, it’s quite a deal to find a set in the $500 or less range.

Pricing can sometimes be lower when you look for a set that is just 6-PW; keep that in mind if you don’t use your long irons all that much.

What Is The Main Difference Between Budget Irons and Expensive Irons?

The question of whether expensive golf irons comes up quite often. Although the answer to this question will not be the same for every person, there are a few important things to consider.

For the most part, the main difference between budget irons and expensive irons is performance. We see this in other areas of the game as well, especially when looking at golf ball technology. Take, for instance, a two piece golf ball and compare it to a five piece golf ball.

The two piece is good; it goes far, won’t crack, and rolls a long way. However, the five piece golf ball offers performance from the tee, around the green, great feel, and impressive overall distance.

The same can be said between budget irons and expensive irons. Budget irons still have high ball speed, forgiveness, and even high ball flight. Will they offer the same feel or control, or increase your ability to work the ball on the golf course? Probably not.

For most players, the budget irons are going to work just fine. If you are very focused on performance, trying to get your golf game to the next level, or simply have the money, go for the more expensive golf clubs.

What About Used Golf Irons?

When on a budget, it can make a lot of sense to look into used golf irons. The used golf clubs will be lower in price, but they can offer more advanced technology than the budget irons. Used golf clubs lose value very quickly, but a club that is just a year or two old has really great technology built in.

Many golfers are combatting these higher prices for irons and drivers by simply waiting a year or two and purchasing something slightly used.

In all honesty, it’s easier to purchase used golf irons than it is to purchase used woods. Used golf irons hold up well, and they don’t have too many imperfections. In addition, if you choose steel shafts, you won’t have much to worry about the condition of the shaft or its ability to hold up once the clubs are in your hands.

Take a look at the grips of the used clubs; this can be an added expense.

How Much Should A Beginner Spend On Golf Irons?

Beginners typically should spend around $500 if they are buying an iron set and a bit more if they are purchasing a complete beginner set. The thing to remember here is about how often you would like to make an investment. Some golfers prefer to invest quite a bit of money upfront and then not have to update their golf clubs for several years.

Other players want to get involved in the game of golf, see if it is a good fit for their game and then go from there to decide if it’s worth upgrading.

Golf can be very addicting, and it’s a great sport, but it’s not for everyone. If you are afraid to choose a set of golf clubs and then find out you don’t love the sport, something in the $500 range is likely your best bet.

Conclusion

We hope you now feel more knowledgeable about the golf club options in the budget category. For the most part, ball speeds, forgiveness, and overall playability are not lacking in the budget category. Keep a close eye on feel and workability as these will likely have some impact.

The golf irons you choose should have an appealing look and a leading edge that gives you confidence. The Tour Edge C521 is a perfect solution for a wide range of players. This club has a classic look to it, modern distance technology, strong lofts, and high ball flight to help you stop a golf ball on the green.

If you have never tried Tour Edge golf equipment in the past, now is the time to give it a try. You will likely be quite surprised by its performance capabilities.

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Britt Olizarowicz is a former teaching and Class A PGA professional with more than 25 years spent with a golf club in her hand. Britt is a small business owner, author, and freelance golf expert that knows this game inside and out. She lives in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children.

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