What are the best golf iron sets for mid handicappers? I looked at irons from three of the most popular brands on the market, TaylorMade, Callaway and Mizuno and compared them side by side to see who the winner was in the bunch.
Game Improvement Irons or irons aimed for golfers who fall in the mid to high handicap (if you’re newbie check out best irons for beginners article instead) range and are arguably the category of clubs that applies to most golfers out there.
Not all of us are scratch players and if you head to your local course on a weekend you’ll likely see a host of players whizzing balls off into the wrong direction. These irons are aimed at us.
If you fall into this group of player and are considering buying a new set of irons soon here is what you should look out for and keep in mind before dropping cash on your new irons.
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If you want to take another step towards lowering your scores then you might want to invest in a rangefinder. It doesn’t have to break the bank – read our budget rangefinders article to see what are the best affordable rangefinders on the market.
What to Look for When Buying Irons for Mid Handicappers
Arguably the most important trait when selecting irons is to improve your game. The clubs shouldn’t be consistently difficult to hit for the average player. Although golf is a difficult game to learn some clubs are easier to hit than others. Game improvement irons often aim to help the player with any issues they may be having such as achieving a straighter shot or getting better lift off of a normal lie.
Nearly all golfers want more distance out of their clubs however this is especially true with mid-capability players. If your irons allow you to get the distance you’re capable of while also allowing you to attain accuracy the game gets becomes a lot more fun to play. A good game improvement iron should be capable of achieving a sufficient amount of distance for its user.
Many players agree that the moment a golfer begins to be able to feel where his/her shot went right or wrong is the moment where they first begin to really advance in their playing. If you’ve ever swung a bulky or unresponsive club that makes it difficult to feel what’s going on beneath the grip you’ll know what I’m talking about. The clubs should feel good in terms of response and feel and shouldn’t be too heavy or too light for you to swing. Pay close attention to this characteristic.
While this isn’t the most essential attribute to consider, you shouldn’t punish yourself and spend your hard earned cash on something your ashamed to show to your playing partners. There are some great looking (and hideous) clubs out there. Take some time into considering what works for you.
What Are the Best Irons for Mid Handicappers?
TaylorMades’s AeroBurner series continue to impress with this set of high lofted irons which is designed to help those who struggle to get the ball up off of the ground consistently and off onto a high enough shot path. Many players who are still in the early stages of their game and even more experienced golfers have trouble getting the ball up on the correct trajectory, especially out of a bad lie.
The AeroBurner irons are for the most part forgiving irons which were designed with the mid-handicapper in mind. The face of each iron felt fat which makes it easier to hit consistently long shots. The overall feel of the clubs is pro-distance and I felt my shots reflected that. I was able to pick them up and shoot very similar shots to my own irons, which says a lot since I’ve obviously had much more time to practice with my personal clubs. I really liked the feel of the fat club face which gives a good weighted feel that allows for easier club head speed for me. However If I had to choose a downside it would be that some people may feel the AeroBurner’s are a bit heavy and chunky.
- Very consistent face
- High trajectory
- Fast club head speed
- Some players may find the club head feels too heavy and chunky
These Callaway irons have become legends in the game and are extremely popular. Chances are you’ve played these clubs or you know somebody who has and there’s a good reason for that: they work well! Like many irons focused on game improving, the clubs include an offset (OS) design which helps create more of a draw for players who struggle from a slice. The 2017 Callaway Big Bertha irons feature a large cavity back head that helps generate greater club head speed as well as a large sweet spot which certainly helps with forgiveness. Callaway claims that the Exo-Cage technology in the club’s face allows the club maker to save weight on top and put the weight where it benefits the swing more which in turn creates a more forgiving striking surface. In terms of feel the club head feels responsive and the low center of gravity in the head makes it easier to get around quickly, helping those who struggle with club head speed. What really stood out with the Big Bertha irons was the higher than normal ball flight which is a feature that I think a lot of golfers will enjoy. The clubs really help the player get the ball off of the ground and onto a favorable trajectory without sacrificing distance. In regards to distance, the Big Bertha irons may be the longest hitting improvement irons I’ve ever come across. However one thing that I did notice upon closer inspection is that the clubs are numbered slightly different to most other clubs on the market. The angle of the lofts on these irons is about one club off of irons made by other club makers in the market. In other words an eight iron in the Big Bertha irons would have the same amount of loft as a seven iron in TaylorMade’s AeroBurner set. Devious trickery in order to “create” false results? I don’t know, but golf is mental as well so if users think they’re getting better yardage it may just be what they need. If there is one thing that I had to complain about it would be the sheer size of the club head. They are quite large and unappealing from a cosmetic perspective.
- Loads of distance
- Great ball flight of face
- Weight distribution in club head makes for a nice feeling club
- Cosmetically the club head size may be off putting
The Mizuno JPX-900 irons run away with the title of best looking irons in the game improvement category. Although they have a strong resemblance to the blades that many of the tour pros have in their bags the JPX-900 forged are aimed at the less capable player who is likely watching from the sidelines since they are as forgiving as any other club you’ll find in this review. The forged irons created the best feeling club strike that I experienced when testing the three competitors side by side and felt better a lot of other clubs I’ve swung this year, regardless of category. I could feel every ball strike through the face of the club and though my hands, regardless if it was a bad hit or not. I felt that this really helped with adjusting my striking and promotes consistency. Although they are nice to look at and feel great, in my opinion the real strength of the irons is their accuracy. I was able to get used to the irons fairly quickly and after only a few minutes I was (for the most part) putting shots wherever I wanted to. I credit the clubs’ feel for being able to be accurate and felt that they did particularly well with pitch shots that I would typically use to get on the green. The one noticeable downside to the Mizuno JPX-900s was that they do not feel like clubs that offer a whole lot of distance and my shots seemed to reflect that. If you’re a mid-handicapper looking for more yardage or just someone who struggles with distance these clubs probably aren’t the first place to look for a solution to your distance dilemmas. However if distance isn’t an issue for you, I’d highly recommend taking a swing or two with these clubs.
- Cosmetically the best looking irons in the category
- Capable of great accuracy
- Amazing feel
- I found it difficult to get distance out of the irons
Conclusion: What’s the best set of irons for mid handicappers?
Well after playing with these three sets over the last week I’m going to have to say it was the Callaway Big Bertha OS irons. I nearly chose the Mizuno JPX-900s however I felt that they wouldn’t provide the distance that many intermediate players require. The Big Bertha irons are a nice blend of playable, capable of getting plenty of distance and feel great while being struck. There’s a reason these irons have been around as long as they have and as long as they are providing results like these they’ll likely remain as a serious contender in the game improvement category.