Best Golf Irons 2021

A golfer’s choice of iron can make or break their performance for the day. In this article, we outline the best irons for every standard of golfer, from high handicappers, mid handicappers, to the best player irons.

Each section links to a full review article for each category. We also answer some of your commonly asked questions when buying irons at the end of this piece.

Most forgiving irons

TaylorMade Sim Max irons 6 iron with cavity back and speed bridge

Some golfers want forgiveness over everything else. If you are one of them, check out the TaylorMade Sim Max irons. These irons have been redesigned with a new cavity to maximize forgiveness and maximized launch angle for higher ball flight.

They push forgiveness to the limit but still offer good playability and control. For this reason, they topped our list of the most forgiving irons.

Best irons for high-handicappers & beginners

Best irons for high handicap golfers reviewed

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, We’re categorising high-handicappers as 23 handicaps and above.

In first place, we have the Cobra F-Max irons. These clubs are designed for high-handicappers with their forgiving design, yet they still have excellent distance and good levels of feel and control. Even better…they come in at a great price meaning that you don’t have to break the bank for a good set of clubs (and have some spare money for golf coaching).

Best game improvement irons

TaylorMade Sim Max irons 6 iron with cavity back and speed bridge

Game improvement irons are designed to help golfers improve their game and lower the average score. They are also an excellent choice for high-handicappers, as they will have good levels of forgiveness but still leave room for you to grow as a player.

This category is littered with good picks, but the TaylorMade Sim Max and Mizuno HMB irons stood out to us. We’ve covered above how forgiving the Sim Max irons are, and they are a great choice for golfers wanting forgiveness and distance.

The Mizuno HMB irons are designed for golfers who want forgiveness and distance, without sacrificing control or feel. They don’t quite match the Sim Max irons for distance or forgiveness, but they aren’t far behind and wow do these feel great to hit with.

To learn more about our top choices in this category you can read through our article on the best game improvement clubs here.

Best mid handicapper irons

Ping G425 irons review header

There are no strict guidelines when it comes to handicapping, but for this review we consider mid-handicap golfers to be playing between a 9 and 20 handicap. It is a wide range that makes creating this review challenging; however, these days people have an abundance of choices!

In first place, we have the Ping G425 irons. These irons offer a great blend of forgiveness, control and feel making them perfect for mid-handicappers. They are affordable, and the performance is great making them our top choice in this category.

The Mizuno HMBs were again a runner up in this category based on the forgiving design with excellent control and feel.

To learn more about some of the other options available for mid-handicap golfers you can read through our article on best irons for mid handicappers here.

Best player irons

Are you look for an iron that provides ultimate precision and control? Well, player irons are the perfect choice for you. These irons have been designed with the needs of a player in mind and will give you maximum control over your ball flight from tee to green.

In first place for the player iron category, we have the Mizuno MP-20 MMCs and MP-20 MB irons. Yes, having two irons is a slight cop-out, however, these two irons offer low handicap and professional players maximum control, exceptional feel, with a choice of ball flights and levels of forgiveness depending on the option you select.

You can read our full review of the Mizuno MP-20 iron range here.

Best value irons

Best value is certainly subjective to a degree, but for this review, we’ve looked at irons that offer excellent performance and value for money.

Best irons for high handicap golfers reviewed

For higher handicappers, the Cobra F-Max Irons are our best value pick with these clubs offering great levels of forgiveness alongside a good blend of feel and control. They won’t break the bank as they come in under $500.

Forged irons have a soft feel, however are expensive to produce. Here we must make note of the Wilson D7 irons, which despite being forged come in at a great price and offer excellent levels of forgiveness. These irons are a great choice for golfers with mid-handicaps and offer very good levels of forgiveness.

Equally worth your consideration are the Ping G25 Irons which have been designed with all the latest tech but came out at a price far below what you would expect and below rival brands.

Frequently asked questions when buying irons

In this section, we’ll cover some of the questions golfers have when looking for new irons.

Set make-up

Should you opt for a 3-iron to pitching wedge or drop a long iron or two and opt for more wedges? For most golfers, and with modern iron lofts, I would rarely recommend a 3-iron or 4-iron for most golfers, and instead opt for hybrids, fairway woods or another wedge or two.

For more on wedge setups, loft and bounce check out this article.

Shaft options when buying golf irons

Shaft options go far beyond steel or graphite – flex, torque, kick point and weight are just a few of the important variables to consider. You’ll need a custom fitter for these, but there are different options that you can select from when purchasing new irons.

The correct shafts aren’t just about maximising distance, they can also help reduce your shot dispersion and improve the feel of your iron shots.

Should a 20 handicapper get fitted for irons?

Players of all standards can usually benefit from custom fitting. A great custom fitter can create a set of irons that suits you now, but also grow with you as your game improves.

If you are a 20 handicap golfer, we recommend going to a custom fitter and getting fitted for clubs that suit your current level of play as your main priority. You have been previously fitted, however, if there have been some major changes in your swing over time then this may be an indication that you need to go through a revamped fitting process.

Is custom golf club fitting worth it?

I’m likely biased as a golf pro, however, in many cases custom fitting is worth the investment.

The best golfers are always looking for any edge they can get by finding a suit of clubs that perfectly complements their games and swings. After all, it’s your game right? Why not spend some time getting fitted with irons that will give you maximum benefits on every shot.

Even if you end up with a standard set up at least you’ll have the confidence when playing that the irons are perfectly suited for you.

What are the best golf irons for a 10 handicapper?

As a 10 handicapper you best fit into the mid handicap player range. Check out our article on the best mid handicap golf irons for more information.

The Ping G425 was our top pick in this category due to its excellent balance of forgiveness and control, along with fantastic feedback from players who rated it highly. The Mizuno MP-20 HMB irons were also a great option if you want an iron that provides an exceptional feel and a neutral ball flight.

What are the best irons for a 20 handicapper?

As a 20 handicap golfer, you best fit into our game improvement range. The top pick in this category is the TaylorMade Sim Max for its forgiving design, excellent distance and feel. The Mizuno HMB irons were also a great option if you want an iron that provides forgiveness without sacrificing control or feel.

Summary

That wraps up our article on the top best golf irons available. We covered everything from iron sets for high handicappers to game improvement irons for pros, so you’ll have no problem finding the perfect set of clubs that suit your needs and level of play.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider UK

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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”

  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

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