Best Golf Irons 2021 [A Golf Pro’s Guide]

As a golf coach I’m keen to help golfers get better. Shiny, new golf irons don’t magically turn you into a great golfer. However, having the right golf irons sure speeds up your progress. In this article we’re going to cover the best golf irons for mid-handicappers, high-handicappers, the most forgiving irons, best irons for control and much more.

There isn’t a single best iron set for each use-case, but rather key design features that will help with accuracy, reduce your slice, or create a better launch etc. There are also key features that will help you if you do tend to slice, hook shots or struggle with your strike.

Click on the categories below to jump to your preferred category. If you’re a beginner, head to our best golf clubs for beginners guide, or check out this article for the best game improvement irons.

I’ve also put together some frequently asked questions at the end of the article. If I haven’t covered your question, leave it as a comment and I will get back to you and include it in the article.

Best irons for high-handicappers

Irons for high-handicappers should provide a blend of forgiveness and distance, while still leaving some room for when your game progresses into a mid-handicapper category. For the purpose of this review I’m placing high-handicappers as a 22 handicap and above.

#1 Callaway Rouge Combo Irons

best irons for high-handicappers, in first place are the Callaway Rogue Cobo irons. Pictured here us an iron and 3 hybrid

If you’re happily progressing your golf, but tend to struggle with your iron-play, the Callaway Rouge combo irons are well worth considering. The tungsten weighting and 360-face technology aims to place as much of the club’s mass at the base and around the perimeter of the face. This offers maximum forgiveness and distance for off-centre iron shots.

Similar to the irons, the hybrids offer all the tech available to get your shots airborne and flying as straight and as far as possible. The reason these have secured the top spot for best golf irons for high-handicappers is two-fold.

Firstly, all of the irons offer great forgiveness. Secondly, they provide a great selection of iron and hybrid combinations. These Callaway Rogue irons do go a long way, but please bear in mind this isn’t due to some newly discovered magic. Similar to the TaylorMade M6 irons, the lofts are very strong (the 4-iron has 18.5 degrees of loft!) – this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just don’t beat yourself up if you can’t hit a 4-iron, as essentially it is a 3-iron loft.

This means you need to be savvy when buying your iron set up. For a high-handicapper I would suggest the 4 Hybrid, 5 Hybrid, 6-9 Iron, PW, AW option. The 4 and 5 hybrids will provide more than enough distance for hitting into long par-3s and your second shots on par 4 holes. The 6-iron up to AW will give you great control as you move to shots within 150 yards.

#2 TaylorMade Men’s Rocketbladez

best irons for high handicap players, in second place we have the TaylorMade Rocketbladez

In second place for the best golf irons for high-handicappers we have TaylorMade’s Rocketbladez. These irons aim to provide a powerful and forgiving set of irons that gradually give you more control as you move from the long irons (4 and 5-iron) up to the shorter irons (8, 9-iron) and wedges.

TaylorMade talk about the iron’s ‘speed pocket’ to max out distance and forgiveness. Essentially, this is referring to the big cavity behind the iron face that you can see pictured above. Removing mass from directly behind the face and placing it lower down and further back means that the iron twists less for off-centre hits, and makes the irons more forgiving.

TaylorMade also highlight the ultra-thin face to max ball speed. This design might give a little more face flex at impact and increase ball speed slightly, but I would suggest the visible effect on shot distance will be minimal.

A more useful feature is the polyurethane (plastic) insert behind the club face. This insert absorbs a lot of the vibrations. This leads to well struck shots feeling powerful, and reduces the amount of vibrations and juddering your feel for off-centre iron shots.

The TaylorMade’s Rocketbladez are a great set of irons for a high-handicapper and should see you progress through until you are just above single figures and are looking to trade a little distance for more control with your iron play.

#3 Wilson Staff D350 Irons

best irons for high handicappers. In third place - Wilson Men's D350 irons

In third place for the best golf irons for high-handicappers we have the Wilson D350 irons.

The Wilson D350 golf iron set offers seriously well made and forgiving clubs for a great price (you’ll see them win our best value category). These irons have a large face with a big cavity back design (see the FAQ section below for what a cavity back is). This design will provide a forgiving set of irons and some great distance.

You can opt for the 5-iron to pitching wedge & gap wedge option, or the 4, 5 hybrid & 6-iron to gap wedge option (pictured above). The 5-iron to gap wedge will provide a great set of golf irons, and leave you room to purchase a fairway wood or hybrid at a later stage. The 4, 5 hybrid and iron option offers two hybrids that make longer shots from the fairway and rough far easier to hit.

If you’re not sure which one to pick, start with the 5-iron to gap wedge option. You can always purchase a fairway wood and hybrid at a later date. In summary, the Wilson D350 golf iron set is a great buy if you’re looking for a solid set of golf clubs with high levels of forgiveness.

Best irons for mid-handicappers

Mid handicap golfers often show great potential, but struggle with consistency. When you play well, you dip into the 70’s; when you play badly those mid to high 90’s still appear on the scorecard. For mid-handicappers I suggest a set of irons that offer a blend of forgiveness and distance with the longer clubs, whilst still providing control for shots inside 120 yards and for chipping. The best irons for mid-handicappers listed below reflect these needs.

#1 TaylorMade M6 Irons

In first place for best irons for mid-handicappers we have the TaylorMade M6 irons. These irons offer a great mix of forgiveness and control. The M6 irons have a larger head than the M5, along with a little more off-set and stronger lofts.

The large cavity, added mass to the sole and toe of the club combined with their speed bridge means you have all the tech in the world to improve your off-centre hits. You’ll still lose some distance, but they really are a forgiving iron.

This combination of power and forgiveness makes the M6 irons a great option for mid-handicappers, as it provides a powerful flight with longer irons, and a nice level of forgiveness.

There are many configurations to choose from with the 5-iron – PW & AW, or the 4-iron – PW & AW options proving popular. These irons have low lofts, hence why they are so long. The 4-iron has 19 degrees of loft, I wouldn’t suggest a mid-handicapper needs any less loft on an iron. At the other end, the pitching wedge has 43.5 degrees of loft, and the approach/gap wedge 49 degrees of loft.

If you’re not sure what this means, don’t worry I’ve had a good think for you. If you want all out distance and forgiveness, grab the 4-iron to AW option and get yourself a 56-degree sand wedge separately. If you want great irons but more options around the green, opt for the 4 or 5-iron to PW set, then build yourself your own wedge set up – I would suggest a 50 and 58-degree, or 49, 56 and 60-degree set of wedges.

All in all, these are a great set of golf irons for mid-handicappers. They are top-end irons, but offer great tech and performance in return for their price tag.

#2 Wilson Staff C300 Irons

in second place for the best irons for mid handicappers we have the Wilson C300 golf irons.

In second place for best irons for mid-handicappers we have the Wilson C300 irons. These provide a great blend of distance and forgiveness in an iron that looks sleek and unlike a standard game-improvement club. The set comes at a great price and includes 4-iron to pitching wedge and a gap wedge too.

Wilson’s marketing team have really pushed the idea of the ‘speed holes’ that have been placed into the perimeter of their iron head. This is not some magic new technology, however it does provide two key benefits for your golfing performance.

Firstly, the speed holes allow the club face to flex slightly on impact. This provides a spring-like effect and gives you a little more distance. Secondly, these holes allow the designers to place more of the club head’s mass down low and further away from the club face. This keeps the club face more stable on off-centre hits and makes the irons more forgiving.

The lofts on these golf irons are strong (meaning they have a degree or two less loft than other clubs). Many manufactures are playing the same game these days, just be aware that the pitching wedge is 44 degrees of loft (the same as an old fashioned 9-iron), hence the need to add in a gap-wedge (48 degrees of loft). The advantage is that you’ll feel mighty strong against any of your playing partners.

The Wilson C300 irons come with the kbs 90 shafts as standard. These shafts are light (90-grams), making the overall iron mass lighter, allowing you to generate more club head speed.

The last two features to discuss are the thin top-line and minimum offset. The thin top-line of the irons makes them look like a classy muscle-back iron, and yet they are really forgiving.

The minimal off-set provides a sleek looking appearance as you address the golf ball and is a great option if you have a straight ball flight, or hit a draw.

Golf Insider tip: More offset on a golf iron encourages the club face to rotate through impact and increase a draw/hook This is great if you slice your iron shots, but if you hit the ball straight or have a draw, find forgiving golf irons with minimal offset.

Overall the Wilson C300 irons are great for a mid-handicap golfer who is looking for great distance and forgiveness in a sleek looking iron.

Best value golf irons

#1 Wilson Staff D350 Irons

best value irons winner - Wilson Men's D350 irons

In first place for the best value golf irons category we have the Wilson D350 irons.

The Wilson D350 golf iron set offers a seriously well made and forgiving clubs for a great price – hence their victory. These golf irons have a large face, with a big cavity back design (again, see the FAQ below for what a cavity back is). Importantly, this will provide a forgiving set of irons and some good distance.

Wilson also offer a couple of great packages. You can opt for the 5-iron to pitching wedge & gap wedge option, or the 4, 5 hybrid & 6-iron to gap wedge option (pictured above). The 5-iron to gap wedge will provide a great set of golf irons, and leave you room to purchase a fairway wood or hybrid at a later stage. The 4, 5 hybrid and iron option offers two hybrids that make longer shots from the fairway and rough far easier to hit.

You will pay a little more for this second option – if you’re not sure which one to pick, start with the 5-iron to gap wedge option. You can always purchase a fairway wood and hybrid at a later date.

In summary, the Wilson D350 golf iron set is a great buy if you’re looking for a solid set of golf clubs with high levels of forgiveness.

#2 Wilson Velocity HDX Golf Irons

best value golf irons second place - Wilson velocity HDX golf irons

In second place for best value golf irons we have another Wilson entry. The Wilson Velocity HDX golf irons are pitched at a slightly lower price point than the Wilson D350 listed above, but still provide a great option.

These irons come in a 4-iron to pitching wedge set, with a sand wedge thrown in for good measure. As you’ll see in our FAQ section below, you don’t need a 3-iron these days as a beginner, or really at any other stage of your golfing career. You are better off adding a hybrid or fairway wood for longer shots.

The Wilson Velocity irons have a big head, and a lot of weight pushed to the base and perimeter. This design is great for golfers who struggle to strike their iron shots well and get the ball up in the air. They also offer great distance on all of your iron shots. Purchase these irons if you’re really looking to maximise height and forgiveness and are on a budget.

Frequently asked questions when buying golf irons

With the joys of modern marketing I’m sure you have 101 questions when it comes to buying shiny new golf irons. In this section I’ve put together a FAQ list. However, if you have any other questions, just leave a comment at the end of the article and I’ll update this section to share with you all.

Shaft options when buying golf irons

Golfers tend to worry too much about different shaft options. All good quality iron sets (all featured in this review) come with good quality shafts.

If you’re strong and swing the club fast, opt for steel shafts in your irons. If your swing is a little slower, you’ll find a few extra yards with graphite shafts and they will be lighter to swing. The downside is that graphite shafts do increase the cost of irons sets by around $150-200.

Should I buy cavity back or blade irons?

CAVITY BACKS! I’ve coached far too many amateurs who buy blades because they look good. Cavity backs are far easier to hit. I’ve been a pro for 13 years and I play with cavity backs. A slight miss-hit with a bladed iron loses you around 6-10 yards, compared to 2-6 yards with a cavity back. Amateurs miss-hit around 70% of their iron shots. Check out this link for a whole article on the most forgiving irons.

What is an offset iron?

Offset refers to how far the club face sits behind the shaft when looking down at an iron. More offset tends to improve forgiveness for miss-hit shots, and encourages a draw.

If you fade your iron shots then some offset is a good thing. However, if you tend to hook golf shots, a little offset is fine, but you don’t want too much. In the list for best irons for mid-handicapper and high-handicappers I’ve tried to included at least one iron set that doesn’t have too much offset to provide some options for you all.

Summary – best golf irons

That summarises our review of the best golf irons – I hope you’ve found it useful. Any questions you have just leave a comment below. If you would like a free weekly article to help you improve your golf, come join the Golf Insider weekly post.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider

How useful was this post?

Click on a trophy to rate it!

Average rating 4.3 / 5. Vote count: 6

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this article useful...

Would you mind sharing it to help me grow this site?

Sorry that this article was not useful for you.

Would you mind helping me improve this article?

Tell us how we can improve this post?

A PGA golf professional, with a PhD in Biomedical Science and MSc in Sports Biomechanics & Psychology. I currently spend my time lecturing part-time at Leeds Beckett University and working with elite athletes. In my spare time I build Golf Insider UK.

7 thoughts on “Best Golf Irons 2021 [A Golf Pro’s Guide]”

  1. Hi Will,

    Long time reader and have read most of your blog posts on multiple occasions…Thanks for the consistently great content.

    I started playing golf in January 2018 with a set of Ping G15 irons bought from eBay. My initial handicap of 23 has come down to 14 and I’ve been wondering whether a new set of irons might help me reach my initial goal of a 12 handicap. Do you think the irons mentioned in this post are worth upgrading to…Has the tech really improved that much since the G15s came out (2011)? Also, is getting fitted worth it? I feel as though my swing is constantly evolving so have doubts that a fitted club today would fit me a couple of months down the line. Your thoughts would be most appreciated.

    Thanks again,

    Llew

    Reply
    • Good afternoon Llewelyn,

      Firstly, so sorry it has taken me a while to reply – there was quite the backlog after a couple of weeks away. On to your question:

      Firstly, great work with your progress! I doubt you are far away from your goal and then moving towards single figures. In terms of tech, there have been small improvements, particularly with forgiveness, but nothing you are missing out on.

      Rather than worry about your handicap and when to change clubs I would focus on your swing mechanics. If you feel you want to make some big changes (grip, posture, improve swing path) to get down to 7 or 5 in the next couple of years then hold off until you are working through those changes. If you are planning to stick with your current swing and slowly refine it then you can update your clubs as and when you wish.

      Yes – if you can, head to a club fitter, ideally with a launch monitor. I think the numbers are worth it just to give you the confidence in knowing you’re buying the right clubs. I realise this isn’t possible for all golfers.

      I hope that helps.

      Will

      Reply
  2. Hi Will,
    Great advice as always.
    I’ve got down to 6 and recently decided on new irons. I moved from Callaway XR Pro’s to Ping i210’s.
    Was fitted by Ping and been happy with my new set. Would you think these would make the difference in future, or is it all psychological?
    Also, I feely I have a gap at around the 200 yard mark.
    What clubs should I think about? I have Driver (270+), 4 wood (235+), hybrid (200, but very inconsistent), XR Pro 5 iron (@185+) then Ping 5 iron (175).
    Keep up the great work,
    Cheers
    Matt

    Reply
    • Good afternoon Matt,

      How are you sir? Great to hear of your progress. I’m starting to worry I’ll be the worse performer on the Golf Insider mailing list soon. Custom fit clubs will make a small, but really beneficial improvement when you get to 9 and below. Just ensure that as you keep improving your technique the shaft flex and lies are still suitable (possibly once a year).

      In terms of you gap it is a common problem. You’re spot on to highlight the distance you need to fill. Keep that in mind with what comes below. Loft is what you should take note of. You 4 wood loft is probably around 16.5, your 5-iron around 26 degrees. That is a big 10 degree gap. Your options would be any long iron, hybrid or even a 7 wood around 20-21 degrees of loft. Consider if at this distance you need low running shots (opt for a long iron), medium flight (hybrid), or high shots into the green (fairway wood).

      No rush is making a decision, just waiting until you find something that really fit. For me it is a 2-iron as a play a lot of links golf. However a pro I work with on the Europro and Challenge tour has a 7-wood, because there are so many par 5s that require a high-soft 2nd shots.

      I hope that helps.

      Will

      Reply
  3. Will its Graeme from Battleback.

    You will kill me. I bought the JPX 919 Tour irons.

    Had them two weeks. Trading them in on Monday. Impossible to hit well at my handicap of 23.

    My club pro said he wouldnt even dream of using them and was disappointed that a pro sold me them knowing my handicap. Typical rash, shiny object decision from myself.

    Looking at the Callaway Rogue or the i500s. Will see how it goes Monday.

    Hope you are well. Your performance diary is coming out over the winter.

    Reply
    • Graeme, great to hear from you!

      Ahh that is less than ideal, I don’t think I’d fancy hitting them, but glad you are getting them exchanged.

      How is the golf going? Are you still making fine progress?

      I sure hope the performance diary is of use. More skills games coming over the winter on this site for you to try out – however, I am manically trying to finish this PhD and lecturing starts next week, so we’ll see where I get to by xmas.

      Will

      Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.