Best Overall: TaylorMade M6 Irons
“The TaylorMade M6 is one of the best game improvement iron sets being made today. It is a long, great feeling iron that any player would be happy to play. It’s expensive, but the extra distance you’ll get is worth it.”
Best Option for Mid Handicappers: Ping G425 Iron Set
“For mid handicappers, the Ping G425 delivers unmatched performance for mid-range iron sets. With high spin from the fairway, the G425 set creates awesome shot-stopping power on the putting surface.”
Runner-up Choice: TaylorMade M4 Iron Set
“Just upgraded for 2021, the M4 will increase distance, boost your launch angle, and provide max forgiveness for less side spin.”
What actually are the game-improvement irons? Will they be good for beginners? How do I choose the best game-improvement iron set for me? Those are the typical questions I will answer during the course of this article.
So without further ado, let us begin by reviewing the best game improvement irons and their characteristics!
Last updated on 2021-09-17. The links are affiliate links. Product images are served from Amazon Product Advertising API.
Table of Contents
- The Rundown:
- Featured Recommendations
- 10 Best Game Improvement Irons
- Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Game Improvement Iron
- Questions & Answers
- What are golf irons?
- What Is The Number In An Iron’s Naming?
- What Is The Game Improvement Iron Category?
- Are There Prerequisites To Using A Game Improvement Iron?
- What Are The Qualities Of A Great Game-Improvement Iron?
- What Type Of Player Should Use Game Improvement Irons?
- Should A Game Improvement Iron Replace The Golf Irons Currently In My Bag?
- Can I Use Game Improvement Irons With Any Golf Balls? If Not, What Are The Best Golf Balls For Game Improvement Irons?
- Should I go for graphite or steel shafts on my game improvement club?
- Do all clubs come with a head cover?
- What are golf irons?
10 Best Game Improvement Irons
Here are the best game improvement irons:
- Best Overall: TaylorMade M6 Irons
- Best Option for Mid Handicappers: Ping G425 Iron Set
- Runner Up: TaylorMade M4 Iron Set
- Best Option for Low Handicappers: Cobra Radspeed Iron Set
- Best Distance Option: Wilson D9 Iron Set
- Best All-Around Performance: Cleveland Launcher CBX Iron Set
- Low Price Best Game Improvement Irons: WaZaki WL-IIs All-Hybrid Iron Set
- Budget Option: Orlimar Golf Intercept Single Length Iron Set
- Best Game Improvement Irons Set: Cleveland Launcher HB Iron Set
- Best Luxury Game-Improvement Set: Honma T/World GS Iron Set
TaylorMade M6 Irons
The longest best game improvement irons tested: great feel and distance with a price tag to match
TaylorMade’s newest offering in the game improvement category is the M6 iron set.
They’re a lovely set, reminiscent of recent Titleist irons, with a distinctive “Speed Bridge” that links the sole and topline to reinforce the clubface and allow for a deeper Speed Pocket. This results in a long, great feeling game improvement iron that any player would be happy to play.
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Ping G425 Iron Set
Best Option for Mid Handicappers
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Mazel Single-Length irons are another budget option for players interested in single-length irons. I’d recommend them to those just starting out: the price is right and the irons are easy to hit with nice trajectories making it one of the best game improvement irons on the market today.
The distance you get from them isn’t very good, but beginners won’t know that. Instead, they’ll be pleased with the ease of using one swing for all shots and hitting the ball straight every time.
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TaylorMade M4 Iron Set
Runner-Up: forged feel and elite technology
The TaylorMade M4 iron set is an excellent choice for players who value great feel and may actually want to work the ball just a little bit.
If you’re not quite ready for blades but you may want to bridge the gap between game improvement irons and blades, the M4s are worth a look. They provide solid performance and elite feel.
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Cobra Radspeed Iron Set
Best Option for Low Handicappers
Cobra’s Radspeed Iron Set provides mid handicappers with an upgraded collection that focuses on increasing their distance with exceptional accuracy. Features for the Radspeed Irons include Radial Weighting, a forged PWRSHELL face, and a 3D printed medallion to produce one of the company’s best innovative club sets.
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Wilson D9 Iron Set
Best Distance Option
Classified as game-improvement irons, the Wilson D9 Iron Set is designed to increase distance. With a low, deep center of gravity, the D9 utilizes the urethane-filled Power Holes to produce flex across the hitting area for better forgiveness and more spring at impact.
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Cleveland Launcher CBX Iron Set
Best Game Improvement Irons All-Around Performance: Accuracy, distance and control
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The Cleveland Golf Launcher CBX Iron Set is a game improvement iron set that’ll help a wide range of golfers, from beginners to better players trying to break 80 regularly.
It’s a classic cavity back design with a “Cup Face” and highly effective heel-to-toe weighting that creates a large sweet spot, resulting in long, high shots.
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WaZaki WL-IIs All-Hybrid Iron Set
Low price best game improvement irons for hybrid-curious
The WaZaki WL-IIs All-Hybrid iron set is a beginner’s set designed for players with slow swing speeds. Maybe you’ve been to a driving range and hit your friend’s hybrid great but couldn’t hit an iron to save your life. WaZaki has a set of all-hybrids at a price that won’t scare you away.
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Orlimar Golf Intercept Single Length Iron Set
Budget option: for those curious about single-length irons
If you’re interested in single-length irons but don’t want to spend the money to get a premium brand like Cobra, Orlimar has offered the Intercept Single-Length Irons at an affordable price.
They’re well-made best game improvement irons that serve as a decent introduction to the single-length concept. However, some technological limitations keep them from performing as well as the Cobras.
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Cleveland Launcher HB Iron Set
Best game improvement irons set: ideal for most golfers
This Iron Set can change your game overnight – these are some of the longest, highest and most forgiving best game improvement irons we’ve ever played.
The Cleveland Launcher HB is a set of all-hybrid clubs that give the feeling of hitting a wood, even with the high-lofted short irons. It’s very forgiving.
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Honma T/World GS Iron Set
Best Luxury Game-Improvement Set
While Honma has long stood as one of the best luxury golf club manufacturers on the market, the company has recently begun to create moderately priced club sets for amateurs.
Their latest creation, the T/World GS Iron Set offers terrific playability with a stylish design that is sure to impress your playing partners.
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Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Game Improvement Iron
There are many different factors that can determine an iron’s strengths or weaknesses, even more than other club types.
However, for a general rule of thumb, here are several key qualities you should focus on before making your purchase:
Forged VS Cast, and The Materials
Which one is better, forged irons or cast irons? What materials should I look for?
These two questions are often treated as two separate ones, but the truth is, it should be asked together. Forged is a better method with certain materials, as do cast irons.
To answer the question, we should first understand the basic principle behind the two:
In forged irons, the roughly-shaped metal material is hammered into shape, just like we often see from medieval blacksmiths in the movies. The hammered, commonly carbon steel clubhead is then finished by grinding, milling, and polishing.
Thus, forged method is better for an iron with a singular, one-piece material. Purists will claim that forged irons have better feel, and to some extent, it’s true.
In this method, the liquid metal is poured into a mold. This method allows more complex shape, as well as using multiple materials at once. Not to mention, cast irons are also cheaper to make.
Thus, cast irons are typically better if your club is multi-material in nature.
However, as with many technologies today, there is rapid development in casting technology, allowing cast irons to close the gap in feel to forged irons.
The basic principle, however, still stands. If you are looking for a solid, one-piece iron, forged is the way to go.
You should also take into considerations that multi-material technologies today allow new ways to improve forgiveness and distance. I bet in the near future, cast irons will reach their perfection, and will be better, as well as more affordable.
Sole and offset size
The general rule of thumb is the wider the sole, the lower the center of gravity. Lower center of gravity will translate to a higher natural trajectory of your shots and will bounce more rather than dig at impact.
On the other hand, narrow sole translates to a better feel and control.
The offset is the face behind the hosel, and the larger the offset, the more forgiving the club will be. The smaller the offset, however, will give you more shot-shaping ability.
It’s important to find the right balance between both sizes, that will suit your overall playstyle and needs.
Choosing a proper shaft suitable for your current ability will be highly beneficial to your overall game. If you’d like to go deeper, we’ve written an in-depth guide on picking the best golf shafts.
Here are some pointers:
- If your 6-iron swing speed is 90mph or higher and carry distance 175 yards or more, go with X flex.
- If your speed is 80-90mph and carry 155 to 175 yards, go with S flex.
- For 70-80mph and 130 to 155 yards, go with R flex.
- For 60-70mph and 100 to 130 yards, go with A flex.
- And for speeds under 60mph and carries less than 100 yards, go with L flex.
When choosing the right game improvement iron, it is crucial to understand the difference between cost and value. Many game improvement iron sets, including those on our list, offer incredible performance and terrific value. By finding the right set for your game, while saving money, you accomplish two goals that allow you to reallocate funds onto other aspects of your equipment.
Although the cost of an iron set is significant, it should not be the final reason to discard a set of clubs. At times, spending a bit more on the ideal set of game improvement irons will save you money in the long run because the clubs last longer and perform better.
Distance vs Forgiveness
There are sets of game improvement irons that offer either more distance or forgiveness for golfers. In the perfect world, players would find sets that ultimately improve both of these aspects of their game, but since equipment manufacturers vary in their design, it is up to the golfer to find the set that works best for their game.
Irons that offer more forgiveness may have wider soles along the bottom of the club and perimeter weighting that balances the club head. Irons that focus on distance usually have a lower and deeper center of gravity to increase the launch angle for better carry.
The set make-up is another essential factor to consider when choosing your clubs. Specifically, the iron set’s make-up will affect how many hybrids or wedges the golfer carries in their bag.
Many amateurs love to use hybrids in place of their long irons because they are easier to hit. These clubs also offer a distance and shot shape advantage over long irons.
For the short game, golfers need to determine how many wedges they plan to carry in their bag and how that corresponds with their iron set.
Questions & Answers
What are golf irons?
Back then, drivers and fairway woods were made from, as you may guess, wood materials, and thus they were (and are) called woods, with the driver also often deemed as 1-wood.
Thus, we can guess that irons were made with steel materials.
They are typically smaller, clubhead size-wise, and shorter in shaft lengths compared to the woods, and are designed to propel the ball towards the hole, anywhere after your tee shots and before roughly 200-yards to the hole, where you will switch to your putter.
While wood clubs, especially the driver are designed with the emphasis on distance, irons are designed to be more well rounded, with accuracy and control on the green being the emphasis.
What Is The Number In An Iron’s Naming?
The number in front of the iron indicates the relative angle of its loft, with 1 being the steepest, and 9 being the highest.
The higher number represents a higher loft angle, and the higher the loft angle, the ball will fly in a shorter distance, but higher launch trajectory.
Generally, Irons come in sets that include six to eight individual irons.
The typical iron set consists of, but not limited to the 3-,4-,5-,6-,7-,8-, and 9-irons. A Gap/Approach Wedge (AW), and/or a Pitching Wedge (PW), is also included in the set.
Thus, when shopping for an iron set, you will see them listed as something like 3-PW, 5-PW, AW, or 4-PW.
PW or AW indicates whether a Pitching Wedge (PW), Approach Wedge (AW) or both is included, and the number upfront indicates the smaller iron included in the set, and will always include every number until the 9-irons. For example, a 3-PW would include all irons from 3- to 9- and will include a Pitching Wedge.
What Is The Game Improvement Iron Category?
To answer this question properly, we should first discuss the three different categories for irons available on the market:
- Cavity Back: Also often known as the Max Game-Improvement Irons, and is characterized by a large hollow cavity in the back of the clubhead. The sole and toplines are significantly larger, to allow easier and more forgiving hits. Designated for beginner and those with higher (25+) handicaps.
- Game Improvement Irons: The most popular type of the bunch can fit a wide range of players from 5 to 25 handicap. The cavity is smaller, and the sole and toplines are more compact and thinner.
- Blades: Also called Player’s Irons, Cavity Muscle Back (CMB) or simply Muscle Back (MB), blades are designated, and used, by professionals and single-digit handicap players (below 5). Blades have a flat back with no cavity, making them less forgiving, yet producing better feeling and control when hit properly.
Our focus today is the game-improvement irons, which is suitable for players with handicap ranging from 5 to 25.
Are There Prerequisites To Using A Game Improvement Iron?
The best game-improvement irons will truly be beneficial for players with 25 handicap or below.
If you currently have a handicap above 25, you are better off with cavity-back irons, as the higher forgiveness will help you in improving your game.
On the other hand, many players with the handicap of 5 and below chose to stay with the best game-improvement irons, rather than upgrading to blade irons.
The reason is simple, in the past, blades tend to have the better overall feel, control, and shot-shaping abilities. However, newer technologies, especially in the past few years, allow game-improvement irons to close that gap.
As a result, many professional players opt to have the better consistency and forgiveness of the game-improvement irons today, with fewer sacrifices over feel and shot-shaping compared to say, a decade ago.
With that being said, your game-improvement iron set could be a sustainable investment, even after you went below 5 handicaps.
What Are The Qualities Of A Great Game-Improvement Iron?
To answer this question, let us take a look at how the three different categories of irons are classified:
- Cavity Back: or often known as Super Game-Improvement Irons are designed for maximum forgiveness. We can often see an overly large club head designed for big sweet spot and MOI.
- On the other end of the spectrum, the Blade irons, or Player’s Irons are designed for maximum responsiveness, control, and shot shaping
- Then, we can understand that the Game-Improvement Irons are designed to sit in the middle and to have the balance between both worlds, and that is the exact quality you should look for.
The ideal best Game-Improvement Irons should have both the maximum forgiveness and maximum control. We also recommend checking out Ping’s irons. They have some great game-improvement irons.
What Type Of Player Should Use Game Improvement Irons?
The game-improvement irons will be suitable for a lot of players with handicap ranging from 5 to 25.
That is a very broad range, and we can imagine there are a wide array of different types of players within the range.
Players striving for a well-rounded, balanced game will definitely benefit from using the game-improvement irons.
Do any PGA tour players using the Game-Improvement Irons? Yes! Based on PGA Tours’s official report, there is an increasing trend of using game-improvement irons on tour, especially the long irons.
Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell, Brian Harman, and Sean O’Hair are some notable examples of such players using Game-Improvement Irons.
Let us see Keegan Bradley’s statistics during 2016 for example. Bradley is exceptionally strong on the Tee-to-Green game, ranked 17th overall for Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.
Using a game-improvement iron for his 3-iron helped him achieved such feat, boosting his overall flight height will reducing mistakes.
To summarize, if you are looking for a balanced and well-rounded game, especially between the tee and the greens, the game-improvement irons might improve your game further.
Should A Game Improvement Iron Replace The Golf Irons Currently In My Bag?
In this modern era of golf, with seemingly you will get new technologies and new trends in club developments every few months, it’s true that the clubs in your bag can be outdated faster than half a decade ago.
It’s hard to judge whether it is time for an upgrade, but as a consideration, here are some questions you should ask yourself.
Are Your Golf Irons At Least 3-years old?
Three years of a club age has been deemed as the average benchmark for obsoleteness. If your irons are at least 3-years old from when it was released, you will definitely feel the upgrade in buying new ones.
Has Your Game Changed?
Do you have a significant increase in your swing speed or accuracy in hitting the sweet spot? (Hey, congrats!)
If you feel you are hitting a wall to improve more as a player, then it’s definitely the time for a change.
On the other hand, you might be hitting your ‘senior’ year, and your swing speed is simply not what it used to be. It’s maybe time to switch from that blade to game-improvement irons with more flexible shafts.
Are Your Irons Still in Good Conditions?
It may be obvious, but if you see too much wear and tear, then it’s definitely the time to buy new ones.
Can I Use Game Improvement Irons With Any Golf Balls? If Not, What Are The Best Golf Balls For Game Improvement Irons?
Yes, If you are using high-quality game-improvement irons, you will definitely get the benefits by using any golf balls.
Golf balls have different qualities to each other and will suit different types of player. As we have mentioned, game-improvement irons can cater those with 5 to 25 handicap, a very broad range.
And within that range, we can expect all sorts of different types of player. Some might have a problem with straightness and will need the ball to help them with that issue. Others might need more distance to improve their overall game.
Check out our previous guide on the best golf balls for high handicappers. Although the article is mostly focused on high-handicap players, any players can get some insights on choosing their golf balls.
Should I go for graphite or steel shafts on my game improvement club?
Both graphite and steel shafts are viable options in game improvement irons. Traditional knowledge dictates that faster swing speeds and better players will prefer the accuracy of stiff or extra stiff steel shafts. Indeed, you see most professionals using steel iron shafts. Graphite is typically for slower swingers who are looking for lighter, more flexible shafts.
However, current graphite shafts such as the UST Recoil combine the best of both worlds, with steel-like weight and accuracy but the soft feel and vibration absorption of graphite shafts.
If you typically hit your 5-iron longer than 175 yards, I’d go with steel or a steel-like graphite shaft. If you’re hitting 5-iron less than 175, I’d suggest graphite shafts to get more distance.
Do all clubs come with a head cover?
Most of the best game improvement irons neither include a head cover nor do they need them. Perfectionists may purchase headcovers to keep their clubs looking brand new, or people just trying out clubs who might want to re-sell them might as well. But most players don’t use head covers on their irons. The minor marks, known as “bag chatter”, don’t affect performance and add a bit of character to the clubs’ look. And even if you do use head covers, they’ll still get marked up from normal use. So it’s mostly just an unnecessary expenditure that slows play down.
The exception would be if you use hybrids or hybrid-style irons such as the Cleveland Launcher HB reviewed above. These have black paint that will get scratched up and look bad if you don’t use headcovers. But for 99% of iron sets, they’re unnecessary.