Best Overall: Callaway Rogue X Iron Set
“If you’re looking for maximum distance, look no further, the Rogue X is designed for you. A lower center of gravity and tungsten metal in the cup will give it extra bounce – perfect to go get these extra yards on the course.”
Most Forgiving: TaylorMade SIM MAX OS Irons
“A first-rate iron set that has exceptional distance with a high launch angle, tailored for beginners and high handicappers. It’s not cheap but you won’t find any set more forgiving than this one.”
Best Budget Option: LAZARUS Premium Forged Set
“If you want the true 80/20 of iron sets, you’ve found it. It’s easy to play & usable by golfers with fast or slow swing speeds. It’s basic, but at such a bargain price, it is perfect if game maintenance is what you’re looking for.”
Irons are one of the most important clubs next to the putter. On almost every hole on the course, golfers will be required to pull an iron out of the bag.
This means the iron set selection is incredibly important to lowering a golfer’s score. Material, ease of use, and club face design are critical to golfers’ growth and use of irons over the long term.
After reading this guide, you will be able to select the perfect set of irons that fit your needs and make your game better. This guide walks through different iron sets and answers questions around the different designs and what each set can help you improve your game.
Last updated on 2021-02-26. The links are affiliate links. Product images are served from Amazon Product Advertising API.
Table of Contents
- The Rundown:
- Featured Recommendations
- 9 Best Golf Irons
- About Golf Irons
- Current Trends and Technologies for Iron Sets
- Choosing Your Irons
- Choosing The Right Shafts For Your Irons
- Things You Need to Consider When Buying the Best Golf Irons
- Questions & Answers
9 Best Golf Irons
Callaway Golf Men’s Rogue X Irons Set
Best Golf Iron Overall: All that Callaway has to Offer in a Single Set of Irons
Golfers looking for maximum distance should consider the Rogue X Iron set from Callaway. A total overhaul of previous year iron packages resulted in an explosion of power and distance in golfers hands. Part of the Rogue line of clubs, this iron set includes all the best technology Callaway has designed over the years.
A lower center of gravity and specialty tungsten metal used in the cup face gives this cirons extra bounce. Callaway goes the extra mile and adds urethane balls into the cup face to create TV worthy contact sounds. Callaway balances all the best technology with a playable set of irons.
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A first-rate iron set that provides exceptional distance with high launch is the TaylorMade SIM MAX OS Irons. The set features such innovations as the Speed Bridge, Speed Pocket, and an ultra-thin face that is one of the company’s hottest ever.
For golfers that need more distance and accuracy from their irons, the SIM MAX OS set delivers top-tier performance. Each of the noted features work together to boost shot height, while keeping the speed at maximum level.
Powered by the Progressive Inverted Cone Technology, the deep, low center of gravity works to increase the accuracy of each shot, no matter the iron number you are using.
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For golfers not interested in the premium label or a second set to store a vacation house, these will fit the mold. Lazarus claims of manufacturing their clubs using the same manufacturers as the Callaway’s and Titlelist’s without the price tag. These irons don’t have all the over engineering and design dollars that larger brands spend and make their money on.
If game maintenance is your ultimate goal this set will work nicely. The shafts are made of stepped stainless steel and currently only offered in regular stiffness. A club head that is designed to maximize spin and control works for most golfers looking to maintain their game.
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TaylorMade SIM MAX Irons
Upper-Tier Game Improvement Irons for Mid Handicappers
The TaylorMade SIM MAX irons hit the market recently with a significant bit of fanfare. These new cavity-backed irons from TaylorMade attempt to reinvent the game-improvement iron with innovations that increase distance, improve accuracy, and provide muscular confidence to your second shots. After testing these irons out for several rounds, we must admit that the company was wholly successful.
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Callaway Mavrik Irons
Best Game Improvement Irons for Mid Handicappers
The Callaway Mavrik Irons is the company’s latest addition to its very popular line of equipment. The irons, slotted for the game-improvement crowd, offer various exciting features that boost swing speed and distance.
What makes the Mavrik irons exceptional is the company’s attention to detail. Not only are the irons well-crafted, but each iron features unique characteristics to help you create shots that produce maximum distance and your preferred shot shape.
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TaylorMade M4 Iron Set
Best Club Designs: Well balanced and Complete
Looking to upgrade your current set, the M4 irons are some of the most balanced clubs available on the market. Designed by legendary TaylorMade master craftsmen, the M4 balances performance with feel. The M4 employs TaylorMade’s RIBCOR technology that maximizes the transfer of energy from club face to ball generating higher ball speeds than other sets.
This set has one of the most complete and simplistic club face designs. Taking extra care on the grooves helps golfers control spin even on mishits. With multiple shaft stiffnesses and material types available, the M4 can be tailored to fit a golfers game with a few minor tweaks.
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Mazel Single Length Golf Club Irons Set
Best for Beginners looking for More Control
Best for new golfers looking to manage control and have a single swing to work on. Single length clubs popularized recently by Bryson DeChambeau make it easy for golfers to learn one swing with one length of club. Mazel emphasizes making golf fun for beginners.
A low center of gravity and evenly distributed club face weight help inexperienced golfers stay on or near the fairway from the first round to the last. The single length clubs help new golfers repeat a swing over and over without having to adjust stance or compensate for club length. Mazel makes it easy to play these irons right out of the box or bag.
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Japan WaZaki Hybrid Iron Golf Club Set
Best Golf Iron Set for Distance and Accuracy
This hybrid iron set brings Japanese design and precision to the golf course. Hybrids naturally make hitting irons out of the fairway cleaner. The design of this all hybrid set is top in the class of irons available. A unique shaft material design makes these clubs incredibly durable with a long life.
A unique hybrid shape only made by this club manufacturer delivery both distance and accuracy rivaled only by few. On top of world class performance, the irons are incredibly easy to look at with a unique color scheme. The major drawback is the all hybrid set can be unappealing to some. If you struggle with hitting hybrids, this is not a set for you.
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TaylorMade Golf MCGB Men’s Iron Set
Best Swing Speed Enhancer
Great for players looking for additional swing speed with irons. Taylormade consistently designs and engineers premium irons and clubs. This set is specially designed for golfers that want faster swing speeds with their irons. These irons focus on speed by changing the center of gravity towards the bottom of the iron face.
Even the hosel, which connects the shaft to the club head, is fluted to maximize aerodynamics. The design goes far add milled titanium coins near the bottom of the club to increase the trajectory height and balance power and control. Designed for speed and power, this Taylormade iron set pushes the limits of club head speed and distance.
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About Golf Irons
You will use your Irons the most, covering everything from short, mid and long-range shots, excepting when you are less than 200 yards away from the green.
Thus, you will need more than one Iron, and 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.
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. 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.
Here’s how to choose your golf irons:
Current Trends and Technologies for Iron Sets
Modern iron sets nowadays also come with steel or graphite shafts, and as with drivers, the flexibility of your shafts will greatly affect your performance.
Technological developments surrounding the iron sets are focused on getting the clubhead to travel quicker at impact without requiring more swing speed. Thus, modern iron sets have reduced shaft weights while the clubhead weights are increased.
Some manufacturers have also developed hollow body irons to further reduce the weights of the shaft, while the heads are made in a couple of pieces.
Forgiveness is also a major issue for an iron set, and thus many new technologies are developed to adjust the center of gravity of the iron to improve stability.
Choosing Your Irons
There are three major types of iron sets. They are designed to fit a particular skill level, so you might consider choosing one that suits your current level:
- 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.
Many beginners replaced the long irons, such as the 3- and 4- with hybrids, which are easier to hit with better forgiveness on off-center hits. Using fairway woods such as 7- and 9- woods will also produce similar effects. You might consider modifying your iron set with woods or hybrids for easier playability.
Choosing The Right Shafts For Your Irons
Here are the general guidelines in choosing the right shafts for your iron set. Use the 6-iron as your baseline.
- 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.
Things You Need to Consider When Buying the Best Golf Irons
Most of us don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on custom fitting sessions and custom built clubs. For most casual to semi-serious golfers off the shelf or out of the box clubs are perfect and will fit most needs. Golfers can get a high quality series of irons without breaking the bank or spending hours in simulators getting fitted for clubs.
An important consideration and factor into the price of iron sets is the number of irons in the set. Some iron sets go from 4 – PW or 4 – SW. Material is another consideration. Any iron set with titanium will normally carry a higher price tag because of the value of the metal. Many other premium brands have invested millions in the technology and the more they add the higher the price tag
Golfers don’t typically buy things unless they will help improve their game. Especially on a major purchase like an iron set. Many premium brands have been able to manipulate some of their top performing tour irons into a cavity back designed clubs to be more forgiving. The recent spike in golf technology means manufacturers are able to make minor improvements that go a long way for improvement.
One of the biggest game improvement aspects is control. The review looks at each of the control aspects and assigns a better rating for more control features. Conversely, if the control elements go too far, then the distance is sacrificed which brings the overall game improvement score down. Another important aspect of game improvement is how the manufacturers are able to have options available to golfers of all skill levels.
Club Head Design
This is where the swing transfers all the energy of a swing into the ball. Manufacturers that focus on increasing the Coefficient of Restitution (COR) which is essentially how fast the ball can bounce off the club face. Many different factors go into the COR calculation including material type, cavity depth, and balance of weight in the club head.
For example, a softer metal translates to a lower COR factor and translates to less distance. Another factor important to a high-quality club head is how the weight is distributed in the face. Different center of gravity locations translates to higher or lower launch angles which move the distance of each club. Also, the grooving and face design is a factor in how it translates to on-course performance.
Club and Material Construction
Many of the premium manufacturers have perfected their club construction. The weak points are the hosel which connects the iron head to the shaft. Any manufacturers that have a weakness at this junction point will see club heads fly off down range. A critical characteristic is in the manufacturing process of the materials.
Many clubs use standard stainless steel which is a high-quality material but not as good or usable for golf clubs, there are many other metals usable in golf club design. A harder metal is more advantageous to distance and pushing the higher COR value. Manufacturers that use more durable materials in their club head and shaft design are more desirable for golfers that don’t have thousands to spend each year on a new set of clubs.
Questions & Answers
What characteristics should I look for in great golf irons?
Great golf irons are only as good as the comfort golfers have when swinging with them. You will want to visit a local pro shop or free professional demo center to see if the clubs you are swinging are comfortable. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to purchase custom length or shaft stiffness irons, golf stores with demo areas can give golfers multiple options.
You will want to look for clubs made of good materials like stainless steel, carbon fiber, or titanium. Great irons will also suit your skill level and style of play. Iron club heads need to be similar material to the shafts. Avoid club heads that have iron in them as they tend to be more brittle.
Don’t worry too much about the grips, most golf shops can easily replace the grips with something that fits your hands for a small fee.
What are the different types of irons available?
There are three different types of golf irons typically made by golf manufacturers like Ping. Tour, forged, and cast. Tour irons are made for the pros and are the least forgiving irons since they are able to hit a smaller sweet spot consistently there isn’t a need for weight distribution or cavities.
Forged irons are great for advanced skill players because they are made from a single piece of steel and typically have stronger properties born from the forging process.
Cast irons are poured into a mold. They are best for add-ons like perimeter weighting or screw ins to move the weight around in the club. Most clubs in the non-professional market are going to be cast. It is easier to adjust the weight and make a club more forgiving.
What is the difference between blade and cavity design?
The nickname of blades comes from the thickness of the iron near the bottom of the club. Several years ago, club designers figured out they could more weight near the bottom center of the club. This gives golfers more control and better feedback of shots when they hit them well. On the converse, inexperienced or lower-skill golfers will have trouble hitting blades. The focused center of gravity means mishits are more likely to go further of the current path. Less experienced golfers should avoid buying blades because their game will suffer.
Cavity-backed designed clubs work almost the opposite. They are more forgiving for lower-skilled players. The cavity spreads out the weight more evenly throughout the head of the irons. This translates into less sporadically fired shots but reduces the feedback and ability to shape shots like the pros. For golfers that don’t have the luxury of hitting a thousand golf balls every day or professional trainers perfecting their swing, opt for a cavity-backed designed club.
What shaft should I pick for my iron set?
The shaft will depend on your club head speed. A stiffer shaft will lend to give stronger players more club speed and whip through the contact zone of their golf swing. A stronger golfer wouldn’t benefit from a less stiff shaft because the over rotation and speed of the swing would work against them as the club head will always lag behind the hands causing the club head to remain open through contact.
Consider making a trip to your local golf pro or store and ask the local shop pro to measure your club head speed. They will be able to point you in the right direction of club shaft stiffness. The stiffness is measured as the flex and ranges from Extra Stiff (XS) to Ladies (L). To give a better idea of what each of these means, a golfer that can hit a 6 iron 175+ yards would need an extra stiff. A golfer that hits with a 6 iron between 130 and 155 yards requires a stiff shaft.
Weight is also a factor in an iron set, especially if you are getting custom clubs. The biggest effect weight will have is on swing tempo. Too light, club head speed increase but accuracy decreases greatly. Too heavy, club head speed decreases, and ball shape changes greatly.