Game improvement irons are one of the best investments you can make in your bag as a mid or high handicap player. With advancements in technology making huge strides, big golf brands are putting out the most forgiving irons they’ve ever released, year in and year out.
Having a forgiving set of irons in your bag could mean the difference between shooting a 90 or an 80. Naturally, playing with the right set of irons makes a big difference in your game. With better and more forgiving irons you’ll have better mis-hits, which is a key to playing better golf.
We’ve evaluated the market for the most forgiving irons you can find in 2020; check out our findings below!
Best Overall: The TaylorMade M6 Iron Set
Our Budget Pick: The Mazel Single Length Golf Irons Set
Best Hybrid set: The Cleveland Launcher HB Irons Set
The Most Forgiving Irons: Factors to Consider
Cavity VS Non-Cavity Backed Irons
To make golf irons more forgiving, manufacturers will add a cavity to the back of the club head. Cavity backed irons add weight to the clubhead, which directly contributes to your shots having better loft and distance. Generally speaking, cavity back irons make it much easier to get the ball into the air. Virtually all players can benefit from using cavity backed irons; around 70% of PGA players use cavity backed irons to directly improve their performance.
The alternative to cavity backed irons is to play with blades or muscle backed irons. Simply put, a lot more can go wrong when playing with blades. They are amazing for shot shaping, but if you don’t hit a shot pure you will be punished. Unless you’re a low handicap player with many years of experience in the game of golf, I’d avoid spending the money on muscle backed irons. You will be hurting your game more than you help it.
Iron sets that have a wider sole will naturally be more forgiving, as the sole will help lower the center of gravity of the iron to help you hit the ball with a higher trajectory. Not only that, but a wide sole doesn’t cut through turf in the same way a blade or half cavity will; it bounces off the turf more, reducing probability of chunking the ball. A wide sole can easily cut through thicker grass like a hybrid can, helping produce better shots from the thicker cut of the rough. Wide soles will definitely help you hit the ball in the air, but can hinder a mid to low handicapper. We recommend a wide sole iron set for high handicappers only.
Large Sweet Spot
You need a large sweet spot in a set of forgiving irons, period. The larger the sweet spot is on your irons, the better your shots will be. This is a fundamentally important aspect of forgiveness; off center hits get a lot better when the sweet spot is larger. If you struggle to hit the ball straight with an iron, make sure you go for irons with a nice sweet spot. This means you should avoid irons that are marketed as “pro” or “tour” style, as those clubs are specifically targeting more advanced golfers.
The Most Forgiving Irons in 2020: Our Findings
Best Overall: The TaylorMade M6 Iron Set
The TaylorMade M6 Iron Set is built to deliver you explosive distance, while still providing unparalleled forgiveness. The M6 irons are built with Speed Bridge Technology, which enhances energy transfer, resulting in amazing distance, feel, and sound that is rarely found among game improvement irons. Speed Bridge also uses Taylormade’s fastest thru-slot Speed Pocket for incredibly high ball speed, even on a mis-hit. The M6 irons include a fluted hosel and a 360-degree undercut, which increases both your ball speed and your launch angle so you get a ball flight that is penetrating and stronger even if you experience a low-face impact.
Simply put, these well refined, forgiving golf irons that will improve your accuracy and distance in your iron play. This is a set that will be fun to play with as you grow in experience, and is relevant for both high and mid to low handicappers. If you’re looking for the best overall set of irons, this is probably your best option.
The fact that the M6 Irons are just out of season, they’re also a great bargain for the forgiveness and performance they bring, making this out top pick overall.
More Recent Irons: TaylorMade SIM Max Irons
While we love the TaylorMade M6 irons, we really love the SIM line TaylorMade unveiled in 2020, and the SIM Max set is the most forgiving iron set TaylorMade put out this year. TaylorMade still features the Speed Bridge and Speed Pocket in these irons, and the MAX version are specifically engineered to be the best fit for forgiveness and have a larger profile than other options. The SIM Max irons have a thinner face, and feature an echo dampening system that filters out vibrations. Overall this is a better set, but of course it comes with a higher price. If you want some of the latest technology, we recommend these irons.
Best Budget Choice: The Mazel Single Length Golf Irons Set
The Mazel Single Length Irons are literally all the same length, which is unique when compared to most iron sets on the market. In recent years, this trend has been popularized by “The Mad Scientist” Bryson DeChambeau and is gradually going more mainstream. The idea of single length irons itself is a game improvement strategy, aiming to provide more consistency across the golf bag. These irons offer a large sweet spot, contributing to better overall hits and accuracy. They are available as either steel, or 100% graphite; all of the irons are 37.5 inches. They provide more even weight and feel so that you get consistent hits whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced player.
The nine-piece set includes sizes 4-9, PW, AW, and SW. The Mazel irons have a lower center of gravity and therefore a ball flight that is faster, longer, and straighter. Some golfers have reported that the single length option causes them to lose distance, which is the only drawback I see with these irons. If you want an affordable set of One Length clubs, this is definitely your best bet.
Best Hybrid Iron Set: The Cleveland Launcher HB Irons Set
The Cleveland Launcher HB Irons set are in the arena of “super” game improvement irons. With the exception of the short irons and wedges, all the irons in this set are hybrids. In general, a hybrid is always easier to hit than an iron. The hollow back of a hybrid makes it much easier to grab great contact with the ball, and hybrids are much more forgiving on mis-hits. These hybrids are matched with lofts that mirror any normal set of irons, making this hybrid set an easy transition for those used to playing with traditional irons. These clubs come in three flex options and three different configurations. The hollow construction of the hybrids provide for great feel and sound on every shot. Cleveland constructed these hybrid irons with a face made from extra-strong Ht1770 steel for a very modern, progressive design.
If you struggle to get the ball in the air and get good distance consistently, hybrid irons are probably your best bet. These irons are extremely easy to hit, and will help you get more distance and better ball flight; some players report getting 10-20 yards more vs traditional irons. These are great for beginners who are trying to get their first iron set, who don’t want to buy a complete club set. Overall, this is a great option and easily one of the most forgiving iron sets on the market.
Best Oversize irons: Cobra King Oversize Irons Set
The Cobra King Oversize Iron Set is another awesome game improvement set, and is definitely one of the most forgiving irons on the market. Cobra deploy a PowerShell Face with thinner and stronger sole structures for great distance and great ball speed every time. The club is designed to bring tons of forgiveness and distance to your game. Cobra did a great job delivering a face that will deliver feel, using an improved CNC milling process that allows for better grooves so you can get the best spin and the most control on your trajectory.
In addition, because of its hollow design, you get a great sound as you play, not to mention a lower CG so that both density and consistency are improved. The larger club head also makes for better speeds and even better distance and overall forgiveness.
With these irons, you also get better precision and easy-up distance, thanks to the low-density tungsten weight that is positioned low on the club head’s toe and therefore provides a CG that is both lowered and centered. If you want explosive distances and amazing ball speeds, this is a great option.
Best for Slow Swings: Callaway XR OS Irons Set
Callaway’s XR OS Irons Set is optimized to deliver maximum ball speed; this setup is perfect for those who struggle to produce a fast swing. Thanks to more progressive lofts and lengths, you can easily hit the ball much farther much more consistently. The XR OS iron set has wider soles, and it’s face cup technology improves the speed and the distance of your ball flights
These golf irons are lightweight and easy to handle, allowing you to create more speed with the club face. Thanks to an improved sweet spot, mis-hits with these irons are far less punishing than with other iron sets. Overall, if you’re looking for a set of irons that will deliver tons of distance, matched with forgiveness, these are a great option.
Worth a Look: Wilson Staff D7 Forged Golf Irons
The Wilson Staff D7 Irons are optimized for the distance player. These irons have unique power holes placed on the bottom of the club, designed for more efficient energy return, faster ball speed and more distance. These irons have a carbon steel cavity that make this iron look and feel more like a blade, but still deliver optimal forgiveness.
If you’re looking for a performance set, Wilson delivers a great option here that still provides plenty of forgiveness.
As a high handicap player, having a forgiving set of irons is critical. You need to be able to get the ball in the air to have fun, otherwise the game can be completely frustrating. For me, the most forgiving irons we found are the Taylormade M6 Irons. The M6s look great in the bag, and are optimized to be ultra forgiving, yet workable. We recommend these for any mid to high handicapper who wants a classic looking iron that can help them lower their scores.
Thanks for reading! Did you like this article? Check out our post on the best golf balls for high handicappers!