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Staring down an approach shot as it lands softly on the green is an exhilarating feeling. You get to head to the green with an opportunity to sink a birdie!
Let’s be honest though, as a beginner or someone with a high handicap, having these opportunities won’t happen often but at the very worst, you want an approach shot to still land somewhere near the green. Reason being, you’ll have a good opportunity to save par or at worst make a bogey.
We’re all going to hit bad shots but there’s a saying that the less worse your bad shots are, the better off you’ll be.
That’s why selecting the the best irons for beginners and high handicappers is such an important decision.
In this article, we’re going to be reviewing the following irons:
- TaylorMade SIM2 Max OS
- Mizuno JPX921 Hot Metal
- Ping G710
- Callaway Big Bertha B21
- Titleist T400
- Srixon ZX4
- Tour Edge Exotics E721
- Wilson Staff D9
To see our other most forgiving and top clubs for beginners and high handicappers in 2020, check out these articles: Most Forgiving Golf Clubs in 2022 and Best Golf Clubs for Beginners and High Handicappers in 2022!
Before we get started about what to look for in a set of irons, let’s talk a little bit more about this often overlooked piece of equipment.
Beginners Guide To Irons
The Most Used Clubs
With irons being such a versatile and often used club, it’s important to select the correct ones for your swing in order for you to play your best. You’re allowed to carry up to 14 clubs and irons can make up about 11 (or over 75%) of them.
About half of your shots will be hit with an iron and they are generally used when you’re trying to hit an approach shot onto the green. But they can also be used when teeing off or when you’re ball is just off of the green.
While distance is an important factor, the primary attribute a beginner or high handicap golfer should be looking for is accuracy. You not only want the ball to go consistent distances but you also want them to not stray too far off your target line.
The primary goal of any golf swing is to hit the sweet spot with the highest swing speed along the ideal swing path. If you can do those things correctly, you’re guaranteed to hit awesome golf shots.
Making solid contact is difficult enough, but the biggest challenge rests on being able to do it consistently.
Unless you’re an elite athlete, producing consistent swings can take years to develop.
As a beginner, you don’t have that time available and in order to produce good golf shots on off-center hits that still land on or close to the green, forgiveness is crucial.
Irons are generally designed for golfers seeking 2 types of purposes; those wanting maximum forgiveness (game improvement irons) or those wanting maximum control (player irons). Now there are irons that blend these together but for simplicity’s sake we’re just focusing on these 2.
Game Improvement Irons
As a general rule, game improvement irons are designed more for mid and high handicap golfers.
Not to beat a dead horse but the primary struggle for beginners and high handicappers is the ability to consistently hit the sweet spot.
These irons are specifically designed with larger club heads and more perimeter weighting to make the sweet spot larger and provide maximum forgiveness. This will result in less distance lost and less dispersion from the target line on off center strikes.
Game improvement irons come with a couple big drawbacks though; the ability to control your shot and the lack of feedback.
With forgiveness comes a loss of control and the ability to shape your golf shots to put you in the best possible position.
Feedback is important because it lets you know whether or not you made solid contact which is important to determine if you made a good golf swing.
Often times with game improvement irons an off center strike can feel very similar to a sweet spot strike.
For skilled golfers where hitting a sweet spot the size of a penny isn’t an issue, then player irons are a good option.
These irons offer a golfer the ability to have more control of their ball and put them in the best possible position to shoot their lowest scores.
As opposed to game improvement irons, these clubs have smaller club heads and less perimeter weighting. As a result, off center strikes will see a significant loss in distance and feel very harsh.
When it comes to iron design, they are again generally divided into 2 types; cavity back or muscle back/blades. Similar to the iron categories listed above, there are irons that blend these together but for simplicity’s sake we’re just focusing on these 2.
These irons have a cavity on the backside of the club to allow weight to be distributed to the outside of the club.
Without needing an engineering degree and to make things simple, the more energy you can transfer from the club to the ball at impact, the farther the ball will go.
When you hit the sweet spot, the maximum amount of energy is transferred to the ball and the further you hit from the sweet spot, the greater the loss in energy transfer.
The benefit of the cavity is that with off center strikes, there is less energy lost.
Muscle Back aka “Blades”
We have to say, these things are a beauty with their sleek and minimal design!
Now for the sake of simplicity, the exact opposite of what applies to cavity back irons applies to blades.
With more concentrated weight behind the ball at impact, the greater the ability to control the shot. Likewise, with less weight behind the ball on off center strikes, the greater the loss of energy transferred to the ball and therefore a significant loss in distance.
As opposed to woods, golfers normally have a two options when selecting the shaft material for irons; steel or graphite. Steel shafts are the most common option to see with irons but graphite is definitely gaining popularity since is also a very good option.
When it comes to steel, there are 4 distinct advantages; stiffness, consistency, durability, and cost.
Compared to graphite, steel is more stiff and twists less on impact which leads to more control and accuracy. As we mentioned before, irons are often used on approach shots where accuracy and distance control is the primary goal.
The characteristics of steel provides consistency from shaft to shaft which leads to more predictable distance control.
Steel is a strong material and therefore can endure much more wear and tear. Unless you’re like the guy below, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever need to replace a shaft.
On a per shaft basis, each one is about $10-15 less expensive than graphite.
There and 2 main benefits when selecting graphite for irons; weight and vibration dampening
Graphite shafts can weigh about half the weight of steel and as a result you’re able to generate more clubhead speed and hit farther golf shots.
For those with arthritis, or just sensitivity in your arms and hands, graphite absorbs much more vibration. This benefit can lead to less pain and overall discomfort in the golf swing.
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Irons For Beginners and High Handicappers
Go Game Improvement
Unless you’re shooting in the low 80’s or occasionally breaking 80, as a beginner, game improvement is the definitive way to go.
While not as aesthetically pleasing as a set of blades, game improvement irons will save you a lot of stokes. These irons are “chunkier” looking behind the ball and are much larger but that’s all for a specific purpose.
As a beginner, off center ball strikes are going to be very common and therefore you need a lot of forgiveness so the ball still travels a good distance and doesn’t stray too far off line.
Swap Out Long Irons (Maybe Even Mid Irons) With Hybrids
Without a doubt, one of the hardest clubs to hit in your bag is a long iron (2, 3, or 4 iron). The length of the club combined with a smaller club head can make even an excellent player a little nervous.
A hybrid is a club that combines both of the features of an iron and a wood and have gained popularity over the years because of their easiness to hit over a traditional long iron. Today, you’ll even see some PGA Tour Professionals carrying a 2 or 3 hybrid instead a long iron.
Long irons can be difficult to hit because of their length, but can also be difficult to get the ball in the air. Hybrids are still relatively longer clubs but with its blended design, it allows beginners and high handicappers 2 big advantages; 1) more forgiveness with off center hits and 2) the ability to get the ball in the air quicker for slower swing speeds.
Graphite Or Steel?
This decision really relies on whether you think you’re going to gain or lose swing speed over the next few years and whether or not you struggle with your iron distances.
As a general rule, if you’re an older golfer who might lose some athletic ability over the years, graphite makes more sense. If you’re a younger golfer and you think your swing speed won’t change or you might even gain some speed over the years, we suggest you sacrifice distance in favor having more control with steel shafts.
Almost all iron sets will include a pitching wedge and some will even offer additional matching wedges in different lofts.
You’ll want at least 3 of these 4 wedges in your bag; pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge, or lob wedge. Now there are some subtle differences between the design of these clubs but they primarily differ by the loft.
A pitching wedge is usually around 44-46 degrees, a gap wedge is around 50-52 degrees, a sand wedge is around 54-56 degrees, and a lob wedge is around 58-60 degrees.
The main thing is that you have a variety of options available to you depending on the shot you face.
Now selecting the best wedges is a topic for another article but for beginners, if the iron set comes with the option to add additional wedges, it’s safe bet to add those to your bag.
Most Forgiving (Best) Irons For Beginners and High Handicappers in 2022 Reviewed
TaylorMade SIM2 Max OS
The TaylorMade SIM2 Max OS was built for speed and forgiveness, the exact features that most beginners and high handicappers want in a set of irons. These irons look great in the bag and on the course, and that new cap back design is both functional and looks great.
The SIM2 has a thinner and faster face than its predecessors so that you get more ball speed and distance, and the new “hybar” material which gives you more feel and a better sound at contact.
The SIM2 is a hollow body design which usually means you substitute feel and accuracy with distance and forgiveness, but with these irons you get a little bit of both worlds.
Distance and forgiveness are king, but these clubs are really consistent and have good feel for the price and for the way the club is constructed.
- A great looking iron and well designed iron.
- The cap back design maximizes forgiveness and distance while lowering the center of gravity for a higher launch.
- Really good clubs at a really good price.
- If you are a beginner or higher handicapper and want to keep the ball in play and add some distance to off center shots, these irons are worth a look.
- The cone shaped variable thickness pattern provides high end forgiveness and is focused on 2 areas where the majority of mishits occur.
- A pretty noticeable increase in the size of the sweet spot between the previous SIM Max irons and the SIM2 Max.
- The soles are pretty thick which may turn some golfers off.
- Not very workable.
- The feel of these irons leave a lot to be desired.
Mizuno JPX921 Hot Metal
If you are looking for the best feel in the game improvement irons category, look no further than the Mizuno JPX921. The JPX 921 Hot Metal have the look and feel of performance clubs but with the distance and forgiveness found only in game improvement irons.
These cavity back clubs are really easy to hit and provide some of the longest distance of any irons on the market. If you are looking for long, straight, and extra forgiving irons, the Hot Metal from Mizuno is a great set.
Being cast from a hard metal, these clubs do not have the same feel that Mizuno forged clubs are known for, but what they are lacking in feel they make up for in forgiveness and distance.
The Chromoloy face, classic on Mizuno irons is really thin and produces some of the fastest ball speeds on the market. The irons are perimeter weighted for increased forgiveness and a huge sweet spot.
The variable thickness sole design gives the face a lot of flexibility for even higher ball speeds. The center of gravity is low in the club so not only do you get great distance, but you get a great launch and ball flight as well.
You will not be able to work these clubs around the course because they produce very little spin. What that means is that you will have fewer mishits and a much straighter ball flight.
This is a pure game improvement club that helps you hit the ball long and straight with forgiveness that is unmatched. Mishits will still go pretty long and pretty straight no matter where on the face you strike it.
- If you are looking to add some distance to your iron game, this set has a lot of features to increase ball speed.
- The perimeter weighting gives you a big sweet spot and a lot of stability through contact.
- A high launch because of the low center of gravity.
- These clubs function like a game improvement iron, but they look great at address.
- One of the straightest and most accurate clubs on the market.
- Differentiates itself in the game improvement iron by removing any offset from its design.
- The leading edge cuts through the turf well and helps you make consistently solid contact.
- The Cup Face technology provides good forgiveness and extra perimeter weighting.
- Good price point for the features offered.
- Mizuno irons are known for their soft feel, but you do not get that with these forged clubs.
- Really hard to shape your shots because it is designed for little to no spin.
The Ping “G” series has been around for a long time and have become some of the most popular and oft-purchased irons out there. The G710 is another great addition to the game improvement line of irons for which Ping has come to be known.
These clubs have a unique look, but one that is very pleasing. These club heads are long and have a very inviting look that makes you want to crush the ball.
These are Ping’s longest and most forgiving irons. Ping has made some great game improvement clubs, but these find themselves high on this list partly because of their size. They have a huge MOI and the center of gravity is low and forward which gives you great launch and extra forgiveness.
Everything about these clubs scream ball speed and forgiveness and those are 2 things that you get from these irons.
- These clubs look great, especially the black heads on each iron.
- The 17-4 stainless steel body gives you good MOI and a lot of extra forgiveness.
- There is a lot of size in the back of the head which leads to higher launches and even more forgiveness.
- There is a maranging steel face insert surrounded by a hollow body that adds a ton of distance while maintaining top notch forgiveness.
- The thin topline gives you the look of a blade.
- Very long and very forgiving.
- The clubs look great both in your hands and in the bag.
- Expensive irons, and especially for high handicappers.
- Not as durable as some of the other choices.
- Even for a game improvement iron, the sound and feel leave much to be desired.
Callaway Big Bertha B21
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. They also have the tungsten energy core you can see which looks great and then also lowers the center of gravity of the irons and provides a higher and effortless ball flight. Callaway has gotten back to their roots as one of the premier game improvement iron designers, and the new Big Bertha will help make the game a little easier.
- 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.
- Urethane microspheres give these irons surprisingly good feel and a lot of firmness as well.
- 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.
- Not ideal for lower handicappers.
Some consider the T400 irons the longest and most forgiving irons Titleist has ever made, and whether or not that is true, they are a really good set for players looking to hit the ball long and straight.
As a general rule, Titleist has been known throughout the years more for their players irons, and the T400s are nothing close to what Titleist has been known for.
They are big irons with a modern look, and they play just like they look. The T400s feature a hollow body for added forgiveness and explosion, tungsten weighting for a lower center of gravity and a higher launch, and the size of these irons produce high MOI and make them easy to hit.
They play so long and are so forgiving that you would never know that this is Titleist’s first real attempt to enter the super game improvement market.
- Great distance and forgiveness.
- A hollow body design spreads the weight around and makes even your mishits go longer and straighter.
- Very easy to hit and very easy to get off the ground.
- A high launching club.
- You get extra distance with very little effort.
- A true game improvement iron that helps where most beginners need help.
- The price puts these irons out of reach for many beginners and high handicappers.
- Very little workability, they are simply straight and long.
- Sound and feel leave a lot to be desired.
Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, Srixon created a set of irons with some of the most technologically advanced face designs on the market.
Each iron face has a variable thickness pattern milled into the backside of the face to maximize ball speed and give the club the durability needed to make the shot whenever it is needed. The club looks great on the ground with a wide sole and an oversized head that inspires confidence and provides a high MOI. You hit a lot fewer shots fat when the sole is as wide as these. There is a tungsten weight that brings the center of gravity very low in the face and helps to increase both the launch angle and the speed at which the ball gets off the ground.
- The wide “V sole” gives you great forgiveness and cuts through the turf well.
- These irons launch the ball quickly and with a lot of altitude.
- Really long and really forgiving.
- The multi-piece construction increases speed and distance because it increases flexibility in the face.
- The hollow body makes them easier to hit, more giving, and the ball really flies off the face.
- The longer irons have wider shallower grooves while the short irons have deep narrow grooves for more spin and playability around the green.
- On the expensive side.
- Not as much distance as some of the other clubs on the list.
Tour Edge Exotics E721
The Diamond Face 2.0 technology that makes the Tour Edge Exotics driver one of the better on the market, is also present in these irons. The diamond shapes are located behind the face of each club and provide extra strength and flexibility along with a trampoline effect that really gets the ball off the face quickly.
There is a new technology called “dual vibrcor” that is placed inside the clubhead to increase feel without losing distance or forgiveness.
The high strength steel body allows for great flexing and distance, not to mention the 360 undercut design that gives you one of the highest launches out there. These irons are also toe-weighted for more consistent forgiveness and distance.
You do not get all of the bells and whistles that you find in some of the other models, but these irons are solid and perform well for those golfers who are looking for straight and long iron shots.
- The least expensive on this list.
- Great forgiveness, especially on mishits.
- Really good feel for a game improvement iron.
- 360 undercut design gives you more face flex for better energy transfer as well as a higher launch.
- Extreme toe weighted for more consistent distance and forgiveness.
- The “dual Vibrcor” is a thermoplastic polyurethane placed inside the clubhead to enhance feel without losing distance or forgiveness.
- Not as long or as forgiving as some of the higher end clubs.
- The wedges and short irons do not perform as well as the higher irons.
Wilson Staff D9
When you want to find a good piece of golf equipment at a good price, Wilson is one of the first places you look. The D9 took the previous model (D7) of Wilson irons and made some improvements.
They used AI to determine the ideal head size and shape along with the precise number of “power holes” were needed for maximum ball speed. The Power Holes were place well and have increased the speed noticeably while the head shape looks and performs well too. The D9 irons improved on the D7 in almost every way. You also get an ultra-thin face to provide the ball speed necessary. Wilson also lowered the center of gravity since most beginners struggle with getting the ball off the turf and on a high trajectory path. You also get pretty good spin for a game improvement iron so that you can work the ball around the course when needed.
- Power Holes 2.0 are a huge success, increasing ball speed noticeably.
- A low center of gravity sets up for a high launch.
- The ultra-thin hot face gives you really good ball speed and energy transfer.
- A really good price.
- Wilson used AI technology to test out thousands of clubs in just minutes and to see how even the smallest of changes can make the club better or worse.
- A very forgiving club.
- Not as consistent or straight as some of the other clubs.
- By moving the center of gravity farther down in the club, you lose some perimeter weighting and subsequent forgiveness.
Final Thoughts On The Most Forgiving (Best) Irons For Beginners and High Handicappers in 2023
Best Overall: TaylorMade SIM2 Max OS
The SIM2 Max OS irons were built first for speed and distance and second for forgiveness, and these qualities are exactly what most beginners and high handicappers are looking for.
They want a club that helps them get the ball off the ground and adds a little bit of distance to their swing. They want a club that will help them stay out of the woods and moving toward the hole. The SIM2 Max OS irons help keep mishits away and help you move the ball down the course.
Most Affordable: Tour Edge Exotics E721
It was close between the Wilson D9 and Tour Edge Exotics E721 irons in terms of price, but the E721s can be found at a better price in many places. They are also really good clubs with a good combination of distance/forgiveness and feel.