***If you’re looking for the most recent reviews for 2021 gear, we will be updating this page in the summer after we’ve had a chance to review them!
If you’re in a hurry and just want to know our top choices, here they are:
Today’s game improvement irons come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. In the past, a game improvement iron was simply a cavity-back club that provided you with a lot of forgiveness until you were ready to “graduate” to a set of blades. On today’s PGA Tour, about 70% of golfers use cavity-backed clubs because of their increased forgiveness and good distance. The following is a list and review of some of the best game improvement irons on the market today. While many of these clubs are more setup for players with higher handicaps, some of them were created for scratch golfers who get many of the features of a blade with the forgiveness of a cavity-backed club.
Best Game Improvement Irons of 2020 Reviewed
Game improvement clubs without the offset. The JPX 921 are very long and very forgiving but they have the look of a performance set. These clubs are very easy to hit and they are some of the longest clubs on the market. Game improvement irons are meant to be long and straight and very forgiving and the JPX 921 Hot Metal checks all of those boxes.
They do not have the same feel of a Mizuno forged club because these are cast from a very hard metal. That casting process, however, allowed them to make an ultra-thin face that produces incredible ball speed. To add forgiveness, they use the cup face design which gives it the perimeter weighting to extend the sweet and also to add distance and forgiveness to even the worst of off center strikes. We put these clubs at the top of the list because they are very long, very forgiving, and one of the easiest clubs on the market to hit.
- One of the best combinations of distance and forgiveness out there.
- Chromoly metal face is strong and hard enough to be one of the thinnest faces on the market which provides very high end ball speed.
- The cup face provides the forgiveness and perimeter weighting.
- The leading edge acts as a hinge for that extra face flex and even more distance.
- Off center shots still go long and straight.
- The low center of gravity gives you a really high ball flight.
- One of the straightest and most accurate clubs out there.
- A ton of perimeter weighting with a toe bias gives you more stability on off-center strikes.
- Differentiates itself from other game improvement irons by removing any offset from its design.
- These irons are long and they are forgiving.
- More difficult to shape shots either way.
- Lack of an offset may turn some higher handicappers off.
- The traditional forged feel of Mizuno is not present in these irons.
Another set of irons that was made to be long and forgiving. The Speed Bridge Technology supports the topline of the iron for explosive distance without sacrificing forgiveness. The Speed Pocket maximized face flexibility for increased distance and great forgiveness on “low face” strikes.
This club screams distance but the shape design of this club promotes maximum forgiveness. With an oversized head and a very wide sole, these clubs look easy to hit and they perform just like they look. The center of gravity is very low in the club head as well giving you a high and penetrating ball flight.
- Built and designed with beginners and high handicappers in mind.
- A great price for the quality.
- Very long and very forgiving club.
- The Speed Bridge Technology supports the topline of the iron so that you do not lose forgiveness and feel as you gain distance.
- An oversized head and a wider sole make it easy to hit and it looks great at setup.
- ECHO damping system eliminates harsh vibrations to give you increased feel with losing the face flexibility.
- Great feel for a game improvement club.
- The larger face gives you a larger sweet spot.
- The wide sole coupled with the majority of the mass being shifted to bottom of the club give it a really low center of gravity and high ball flights.
- The oversized head and wide sole can be difficult for some lower handicap players.
- Not much shot shaping capability.
- Other than shape design, there is not as much technology focused on forgiveness.
In our opinion, the top 3 clubs on this list have set themselves apart in the game improvement market. The Mavrik Max from Callaway uses the same Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that they used in creating their driver and fairway woods to create this set of irons. AI allows Callaway to make repeated subtle changes in each club and then test it in a matter of seconds.
Rather than creating hundreds of clubs with small changes in them and testing them, the Mavrik Max was created by electronically testing a seemingly infinite number of design possibilities in a matter of days until the optimal design was reached. The result is a very long and very forgiving set of irons. Each iron has its own face architecture so that the technology of each is aligned with its length and loft. Callaway’s Flash Face technology has created industry leading ball speeds with a ton of forgiveness and feel.
- Contains a face architecture that is designed specifically for each loft.
- First irons to be created with Callaway’s AI technology.
- Flash Face technology gives you a ton of ball speed and distance.
- The high MOI construction, large head, and huge sweet spot makes this one of the most forgiving irons out there.
- Diamond-shaped urethane microspheres are placed throughout the face to absorb unwanted vibrations to create some of the most pure feel of any iron.
- The tungsten energy core gives you a high launch and penetrating ball flight.
- Progressive center of gravity placement means that each iron will launch at the optimal angle.
- Developed for lower handicapped golfers.
- There is increased feel, but it still does not touch what you can find in a high end blade.
- While the features are geared toward lower handicap golfers, the design is not.
If you are looking for something different than your traditional game improvement iron, then look no further. The Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo is a set of “hybrid-like” irons that are made specifically to be easier to hit for handicap players. Studies show that average golfers (no specifications as to what “average” means) hit the green from 150-200 yards about 20% of the time. That is not very often. Think about how many strokes golfers lose by being consistently off of the green from 150+ yards out.
Many golfers need help to get better. Doing what they have “always done” does not help, but switching up your irons to a set of hybrid-like clubs might just do the trick. The focus of these clubs is that they are designed to be easy to hit and to get a great launch off of the ground. They have a huge sweet spot and a low center of gravity so that getting the ball off of the ground and flying straight is easier than ever.
- So many golfers struggle with just getting the ball off of the ground and these clubs make that easier than ever.
- Very few golfers can find the green from 150+ yards away and these clubs will help you fix that.
- The hi bore crown features a lower and deeper weighting which helps you launch the ball easily off of the ground.
- A huge sweet spots helps to mitigate mishits and keep your ball flying straight often.
- The turbo charged face uses ultra-thin, high strength steel to provide increased distance even at the higher ball flights.
- Short irons take a more compact shape to give you more feel and control around the green.
- The higher ball flight aids in landing the ball on the green.
- Many golfers will be turned off by the hybrid-like design.
- The distance is not even close to many of the other irons on this list.
- Requires a different type of swing than a traditional iron.
The Titleist “T series” of irons are very well respected and highly rated, and the T300 irons are the most forgiving of these sets. The sole of the T300 is much deeper than the other in the line which gives you more forgiveness and a lower center of gravity for a high launch. The T300s feature a deep, undercut cavity and a very small offset that looks clean and simple at setup and performs very well.
They are a very forgiving club so that even mishits and off center shots do not end up as poorly as they would with other clubs. The silicone polymer core and tungsten weighting give it a lower center of gravity and perimeter weighting that make the sweet spot as large as possible. Unlike many game improvement irons, Titlelist was able to increase the size of the sweet spot without increasing the size of the club head which makes it look better for the majority of golfers.
- Very long and very forgiving.
- A very low center of gravity that produces a really high ball flight.
- A smaller head than many game improvement options make it look great at setup.
- The tungsten weighting is behind the face for a higher MOI and a lower center of gravity.
- The silicone polymer core increased the MOI even more and make it a long and forgiving iron.
- Progressive design optimizes the face technology for every loft.
- Max Impact Technology extends maximum speed and forgiveness across a very forgiving face.
- Lacks some distance control.
- While game improvement irons are not known for their feel, there is little to focus on feel in the T300.
- Not as forgiving or as long as the first 3 clubs on the list.
These irons are all about distance and they do not even try to hide that fact. The hollow construction and Launch Pad technology combine to give you really high end ball speed. The Launch Pad technology gives you a trampolining effect while the hollow construction adds to both the flexibility of the face and the forgiveness of the club. The cup face design creates huge face flexibility and a ton of forgiveness as well.
Add to all of that the spider VFT technology that acts as a web across the entire face of the club thus enhancing the sweet spot across the hitting area, and you have a very long and very forgiving club. The “ramped sole” creates better turf interaction so that you can make sure solid contact occurs even if you hit the turf first. You can really feel the weight of these clubs as they make impact with a really MOI and great distance and forgiveness.
- The combination of forgiveness and distance is almost that of the clubs landing higher on this list.
- A great price point for the quality provided.
- The Ramped Sole design gives you great turf interaction.
- The Forged Cup Face produces enhanced forgiveness and good ball speed.
- The Launchpad Tech gives you a trampolining effect while also absorbing shock and providing good feel.
- The Spiderweb VFT Tech makes almost the entire face of the club a sweet spot. These clubs perform very well on off center and “mis” hits.
- Extreme weighting gives you really high MOI.
- Not a lot of feel.
- Difficult to do anything but hit them straight.
- Does not look as good at setup as some of the other clubs.
- Does not produce the same launch or consistency.
Another iron set that really focuses its technology on providing additional ball speed and distance. These clubs boast wide soles, a generous offset, and a thick topline to give you the most forgiveness and distance possible. The “Big Bertha” brand of Callaway clubs have been around for a long time and they have yet to disappoint.
The B21 irons are great at what they were made for, distance and forgiveness. Just like the Flash Face technology found in Callaway’s drivers and their Mavrik offerings, these are the first Big Bertha clubs to be created with Artificial Intelligence technology.
- Very long and very forgiving.
- Created with AI so that each club face is setup for maximum performance on each loft.
- A towering trajectory on well struck shots.
- The draw bias is obvious and can really help those who struggle with a slice.
- The shaping of the club lends itself to a lot of forgiveness.
- The wider sole is both forgiving and aids in launch.
- Flash Face cup technology provides a long and forgiving face.
- The visible tungsten energy core is both visually appealing and helps with the launch.
- Very similar to the less expensive Mavrik line of irons.
- Not a lot of feel.
- Not as forgiving as the irons at the top of the list.
Made for players with slow to moderate swing speeds, these clubs focus on adding distance and launch without the high swing speeds. By pushing the weight to the tips of the club, the club feels very lightweight making it easy to control and easy to find effortless distance. The hot, forged titanium face plate gives a lot of ball speed while the tungsten sole weight lowers the center of gravity so that the ball is easier to launch.
Everything about this club screams “ease” so that you get additional launch, additional distance, and additional control without changing your swing. The technology of these clubs gives you game improvement features without overswinging or increasing your swing speed.
- Made for players with moderate swing speeds.
- Effortless launch.
- The double undercut cavity looks great at impact and provides some added forgiveness.
- Provides a lot of swing speed without increased effort.
- Works well for an already established swing.
- A very expensive option, especially for the features provided.
- A smaller sweet spot than any other club on the list.
- Not as forgiving as the other clubs.
The Wilson launchpads were developed for players with higher handicaps that struggled to get the ball off of the ground. Many of us have been there in our development as golfers before. Where it seemed like every shot was a struggle and if you got the ball into the air, no matter where it went, it was a win. The Launch Pad irons will help you get the ball off of the ground, give you some distance, and they have the forgiveness to keep your shots straight.
Do they look pretty? No. In fact, many golfers are turned off by the looks alone. But the hollow construction, extra wide launch pad sole, and a huge sweet spot make these irons perfect for the low handicapper. It will help make golf fun as you begin to see your ball fly through the air and directly for your intended target.
- Unabashedly a game improvement club.
- Helps increase distance and accuracy.
- Very easy to launch.
- Very easy to hit.
- The lower irons have smaller profiles to make them more useful around the green and give them increased feel.
- A very wide sole makes mishits less likely and the center of gravity very low.
- A very inexpensive option.
- The look and the size of the club will turn some players off.
- Not as forgiving or long as many of the other clubs on this list.
- A focus on getting the ball off of the ground at the expense of everything else.
- Has a very small focus audience.
What Is a Game Improvement Iron?
A game improvement iron is exactly what the name suggests…An iron that gives you technology and features that should “improve” your game. Game improvement irons are cavity-backed irons with increased forgiveness and a lot of distance. Blades or muscle-back irons are referred to as “performance” irons and help players to shape their shots and give you added feel and feedback.
Distance, Launch, or Forgiveness?
What is the most important aspect of a game improvement iron set? Some people are looking for forgiveness first and foremost so that mishits are a thing of the past. Others want as much distance as possible as long as forgiveness and a low center of gravity are part of the package.
Still other golfers struggle so much with getting the ball off of the ground that focusing on launch angles and ball flight are the most important to them. The truth is, there is no wrong answer.
In our opinion, the majority of golfers will be best suited for the long term with an iron set that focuses on forgiveness. If you made enough off center contact or taken as many mishits as we have, then you know they never really go away.
Our suggestion is to look for the most forgiving iron for your swing and then hope that the launch angle and distance are there as well.
Features To Look For In Game Improvement Irons
Sweet Spot. One of the most important aspects for a game improvement iron is the size of the sweet spot. This affects the forgiveness, distance, and general playability of a club. Obviously, if all other factors are equal, the bigger the sweet spot the better.
Sole Size. In general, the wider the sole, the lower the center of gravity. On the other other hand, in general, the narrower the sole, the better the feel. For game improvement irons that are generally meant for players with higher handicaps, the lower center of gravity will help you get the ball off of the ground and give you a higher ball flight.
Offset. Almost every golfer in the world struggles with a slice. If you are shopping specifically for game improvement irons, then the likelihood that a slice is a part of your game is even higher. The greater the offset, the less likely you are to hit a slice and the more forgiving that your iron will be.
Shaft. There are a lot of different shafts from which to choose and different reasons to choose a specific shaft. For slower swing speeds, you want to look for more flexibility in the shaft and for higher swing speeds you want less. Choosing the right shaft will give you more control, higher ball speeds, and correct club weighting.
Set Makeup. Long irons are considerably more difficult to hit than wedges and higher lofted irons. A game improvement iron set should go no higher than a 6-iron and then supplement fairway woods and hybrids for the higher irons. With new hybrid technology that makes them very easy to hit, there is no reason to ever hit a 4-iron again.
Do I Really Need Game Improvement Irons?
The vast, vast, vast majority of golfers really do need game improvement irons. The technology of these clubs increase forgiveness, provide a lot of distance, and usually give you a low center of gravity for a high launch.
As the technology of game improvement irons continues to grow, it is quite possible that muscle-back irons will be a thing of the past for all but the most traditional of golfers. Many game improvement irons, in addition to being long and forgiving, have also added a lot of feel to their high end clubs.
Just a few years ago, almost every PGA Tour player was carrying a set of blades as their primary iron set. Today, almost 70% of touring pros have turned to cavity-back, game improvement irons and we see that number growing in the near future.
The combination of length and forgiveness make these cavity-back irons one of the best game-improvement options on the market. The ball speed produced by these clubs combine with how easy they are to hit to make them some of our favorites.
Mizuno did not add any offset to this club which makes it easier to shape and the perimeter weighting of these clubs make the sweet spot as big as any other iron out there.
There are a few options that are more affordable than others, but the combination of their affordability and high end features make this our choice for most affordable game improvement iron.