Let’s Golf Better’s Ultimate Golf Iron Guide for Every Player
Why Swing the Right Golf Irons
Before anything else in this golf iron guide, let’s start with why you need irons in your golf club set. Basically, irons fulfill three main roles. One, they’re a great alternative to woods when playing at shorter holes (if the ball is less than 200 yards away from the hole). Two, they can guide your ball to the greens once it lands on the fairway or rough. And three, they can help you get out of sticky situations such as bunkers and shallow waters.
Without golf irons, you’ll have an extremely difficult time playing golf, much less outmaneuvering your opponents. So while golf irons are generally harder to swing than woods or hybrids, you still need to invest in a good one if you want to play like a pro.
Technical Factors to Consider When Buying Golf Irons
There are several types of irons, each painstakingly made to fit a certain skill level. On your search for a new one, you’ll likely come across these different options, so best pick the one that complements or improves your current performance.
Super Game-Improvement Irons
Perfect for beginners and veterans with extremely high handicap scores, super game-improvement irons offer extra forgiveness, as well as enable you to launch your golf balls at higher altitudes and longer distances. They typically come with larger club faces, wider soles, and more state-of-the-art face technology, and the club heads are hollow for more perimeter weight and larger sweet spots. This helps make these irons so forgiving compared to other types.
Meanwhile, game-improvement irons cater more to mid-level players who want to enjoy more forgiveness while playing. Like the super game-improvement irons above, they tend to sport cavity back or hollow club heads and wider soles for better forgiveness. However, their club faces are generally longer to accommodate your off-center hits.
More commonly referred to as blades, player irons allow golfers better control as well as better feel. This allows you to easily and comfortably perform a wider variety of shots. However, player irons tend to be less forgiving since they sport solid, muscleback club heads. So unless you’re already an accomplished golfer, you should not choose this type of iron.
Player Distance Irons
Player distance irons combine the best features of player irons and game-improvement irons. Thus, they have the workability of blades coupled with the extra distance offered by game improvement irons. This makes the irons an excellent choice for low- and mid-handicap golfers who want to produce more distance in their swings. They’re also great for people who want irons that look like blades, but with the performance of game improvement irons.
A golf iron’s shaft will also have a big impact on your performance at the course. So you would do well to find the shaft made from the material that can complement your play style. Shafts for golf irons these days are typically made from the following materials:
Steel shafts are heavier, tougher, and ultimately cheaper, weighing around 120 grams. Most of the time, they’re made using carbon steel, but there are also occasions when stainless steel is used. As they don’t produce torque or cause lateral twisting, they allow you better control of your swings, thus improving your overall accuracy. However, they tend to produce less flex and distance.
In sharp contrast, graphite shafts are lighter, less durable and more expensive, weighing between 50 to 85 grams. They usually come with an extensive range, as well as various flexes and colors. This makes them a good choice for all golfers regardless of skill level, particularly women and senior players. Anyway, graphite shafts offer more flex, and its light weight helps add power and speed to your swings. However, it also sacrifices your control, producing torque and causing lateral twisting as you swing.
Multi-material shafts employ a combination of steel and graphite, producing a shaft that offers the best of both worlds. That is, they offer golfers better control of their swings, while simultaneously offering several varieties of flexes for optimal distance. Multi-material shafts generally have a steel body with a graphite tip.
Aside from material, you also need to consider the shaft’s length. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: playing with clubs that are too long or too short for you will negatively affect your game. For instance, it will increase your off-center hits, which will cause your swings to lose carry distance.
So if you feel that the standard shaft lengths of the irons don’t meet your needs, best have it adjusted before buying. Have your height and wrist-to-floor distance measured. Then refer to the tables below for your recommended shaft length adjustment.
Recommended Shaft Length Adjustments (if the shaft is too short)
Recommended Shaft Length Adjustments (if the shaft is too long)
Another factor to watch out for is shaft flex. Like it or not, it will also affect the way you swing your irons. If your shaft’s flex is too stiff, you’ll end up making more slices than normal. But if the shaft is too flexible, you’ll wind up making more hooks than expected. Either way, it will affect the direction of your ball as well as the distance it travels. So make sure the irons you choose have shafts with the right flex.
Now most golf clubs come with shafts with different types of flex ratings, including the following:
- Extra Stiff (XS)
- Stiff (S)
- Firm (F)
- Regular (R)
- Senior (S)
- Amateur (A)
- Ladies (L)
You need to choose your iron’s flex rating based on how strong you swing a club. For example, if your swing is weak, then pick an iron with a flexible shaft. That way, you can propel your ball higher and farther. But if you have a stronger swing, you need an iron with a stiffer shaft.
To determine the recommended flex for your clubs, simply swing the iron and then measure the carry distance and swing speed it produces. Then refer to the table below.
Loft AngleAs a newcomer to the world of golf, you’re probably asking yourself what the hell those numbers in the golf clubs mean. To answer that, those numbers represent a club’s loft, the angle created between the ground and the clubface. These angles will affect the distance and height your ball will travel. Basically, the higher the number, the higher the loft angle. And the higher the loft angle, the shorter and higher your ball will go. As mentioned earlier, irons are typically used once your ball is less than 200 yards away from the green. Depending on your ball’s current position, you need to use differently-numbered irons. Refer to the table below:
Distance from the Green
The grip is where you make contact with your golf iron, where you transfer energy from your muscles to the ball, and where you build synergy with your club. If this connection goes awry, then you’ll perform badly at the course. So make sure the irons you choose come with the best grips for your play style.
Now picking grips is like choosing the golf club itself. There are numerous factors to consider when getting the best ones for your clubs, including:
Golf club grips are made using various materials. The most notable among these are cord, plastic, rubber, chamois, leather, velvet, composite, and wrap. Each of these materials can add different benefits to the grip and iron. For example, velvet grips feature small repeating cross patterns that give it a light texture as well as better traction. Meanwhile, cord grips come with interweaving cord fabrics that provide better traction and improved firmness.
Golf club grips also come in different shapes. You have round grips which you can orient whichever way you prefer (some golfers even like facing the grip’s logo up or down). You have ribbed grips whose small protruding ridges help you feel its bottom so you can properly handle the club. And you have the recently released alignment grips with their distinct ridges.
Golf grips come in different outer sizes as well, including Standard, Midsize, Oversize or Jumbo, Undersize, and Junior. You need to pick the right size for your club since it will affect how well you swing your iron. If it’s too small for your hands, you’ll end up working harder just to swig properly. But if it’s too big, you’ll end up swinging slower as well as have a harder time keeping the clubface straight as you swing.
At the same time, you should mind the grip’s inner core, too. Make sure it’s the same size as the shaft’s outer diameter. Otherwise, you’ll find the grip slipping off the shaft mid-game. Thankfully, most club makers aim to match the outer diameters of their shafts with the core size of the available grips.
Golf grip are typically available in three profiles: tapered, non-tapered, and reduced taper, or non-tapered. Before choosing which profile to go with, try holding the iron’s newly installed grip to see how it feels. If the grip feels off for you, then you can proceed with wrapping it with tape. As an added bonus, these extra tape will help reduce over gripping and improve your swing control and accuracy.
Depending on the materials making them up, golf clubs grips usually have a limited lifespan. Things like your area’s climate and how well you take care of it will shorten this lifespan even further. So make sure you pick the grip that matches your lifestyle and climate. For example, if you live in wet or high-moisture areas, then best go with cord or composite grips. But if you live in a sunny area, then lamkin or IOMIC grips would be the better option.
When it comes to golf grips, you have three “feel” options: Soft, Medium, and Firm. Soft grips tend to be more comfortable to handle, and they absorb impact more effectively. On the other hand, firm grips provide more feedback to the hands during impact. While this can sometimes be an uncomfortable experience, it can help you refine your swings based on feel. Then there are medium grips that serve as a cross between Soft and Firm. whichever you choose, make sure it’s the option you’re most comfortable with.
Perimeter weighting plays a huge role in a golf iron’s performance, and two things directly affect it. The first is sole thickness. As you probably already figured out, a club’s sole is located at the bottom of the club head. The thicker it is, the lower the club’s center of gravity, which means it will be easier for you to swing.
In contrast, thinner, narrower soles mean the weight is spread more evenly on the clubhead. You’ll have to put more effort on your swings just to produce the same speed and distance you can get using thick-soled clubs.
Obviously, beginners and high-handicappers should go for irons with wider soles, while more experienced players can make do with both.
The second thing that affects perimeter weighting is the clubhead’s design. Golf irons now-a-days either come in cavity back design or muscle back design. And they’re as different as anything could be.
Cavity Back Clubheads
Cavity back irons feature a hollow club head (hence why it’s called cavity back), with wide soles to lower the club’s perimeter weighting and the cavity usually situated at the back. This makes it significantly more forgiving than its muscle back counterpart. As an added bonus, they offer swing consistency, higher launches, and better looks.
However, cavity back irons fall short in terms of workability and feel. Not only is it hard to handle when making draws or fades, but it’s also quite uncomfortable while held.
Muscle Back Clubheads
Meanwhile, muscle back irons are more suitable for low handicappers and veteran players. More commonly referred to as blades, their soles are thinner than their cavity back cousins’. This makes it better in terms of workability and feel.
That being said, muscle back irons aren’t quite as forgiving as cavity back irons. As they’re made for skilled golfers, they won’t help you keep your swings consistent either. To top it off, they cost more.
Yet another decision you’ll have to make when buying new golf irons involves the clubhead’s construction. In case you didn’t know, an iron’s club head is either made from forged or cast steel. Both types of metals can have a positive impact on your game as long as you know which one is best for you.
Forged irons are made from a solid piece of steel. This chunk of metal is heated until it’s malleable enough, then pressed out to form the shape of the clubhead. From there, further work will be needed (i.e., buffing, grounding, detailing) before the clubhead can be shafted. Needless to say that the entire process is quite time consuming.
Forged irons are notable for their excellent feel and feedback. Their blade or muscle back shapes, compact sizes, and smooth lines also makes them visually pleasing, which is why so many players love them. That being said, forged irons are more suitable for more advanced golf players, as they don’t dampen the feel of mishits and off-center strikes (although they’re still forgiving in their own way).
Cast irons are made using molten steel. A chunk of metal is heated until it’s liquified, then poured into a clubhead-shaped mold. After the molten metal sets and cools, the mold will then be removed and the clubhead will be finished and shafted. The entire process is significantly faster than those used when making forged irons, which is why more cast irons are available in the market.
One of the best things about cast irons is that they can be tinkered with during the manufacturing process. For example, you can place a small chunk of tungsten in the mold prior to pouring the liquid metal. This will help add perimeter weighting to the iron, lowering its center of gravity to make it easier to swing. Easy to manufacture and loaded with many forgiving features, cast irons are unsurprisingly suitable for golfers of all levels.
Looks and Style
A lot of people believe that looks and style aren’t important when buying golf clubs. This golf iron guide disagrees. You should know how important it is to find an iron that looks great to you, especially while you’re at the address. Aside from satisfying your need to look at something, good, it will make you feel better mid-game.
While it ultimately comes down to your personal preferences, a golf iron’s aesthetics is still something you need to consider when buying one. After all, there’s no point in having all those fantastic features if you don’t like how it looks and feels. So best go for golf irons that can make you feel confident while playing, as well as inspire you to swing better again and again.
How to Pick the Best Golf Iron for You
Evaluate Yourself ThoroughlyFirst, you need to assess yourself intensively and extensively. Start by gauging your current golfing skill level. This will help you decide which type of iron to buy, whether it’s a super game improvement iron or a player distance iron. Additionally, you also need to consider your personal preferences. So aside from the technical details mentioned above, you need to think about other factors, too. These include distance, distance control, trajectory, and more.
Try Swinging a Few Samples
Next, you need to swing a few golf irons out to see how they feel in your hand. This is where the fun part begins. Head to your favorite local golf store, select three to five of the golf irons that caught your eye there, and ask the clerk if you can try swinging it out.
Most golf stores have indoor mini golf courses for such occasions. But in case they don’t, you’ll either have to ask them to come with you to the nearest course or take their word and the iron at face value and buy them without trying them out.
Anyway, while swinging the irons out, note how they feel, as well as the grip, shaft length, and clubhead weight. Then rate the clubs based on the following:
- Distance control
- Shot shaping
Pick the Best Irons (and Have Them Customized)
After you’re done trying out the clubs, all that’s left is picking the best iron among the ones you swung. Now bear in mind that the clubs you’ve just tested come with the standard specs. In case some of these specs feel off for you, then you can have the iron adjusted until it meets your needs and preferences.
Is the shaft too long and short? Have it adjusted based on the table above. Do you prefer graphite shafts over steel ones. Ask the clerk to have the club fitted right away. Are you unsatisfied with the grip? Have it replaced with better ones. At any rate, this step is entirely up to you, so be ready to make a judgment call.
Top Golf Iron Brands to Check Out
Being one of the biggest golfing brands in the world, Calaway has been producing top-notch clubs and equipment for decades. And although much of those years are spent developing fantastic drivers, they have nevertheless introduced some of the most impressive irons to date. They’re also among the first brands to harness AI to develop their clubs, allowing them to improve their products’ overall performance and capabilities. Notable Callaway irons include:
- Callaway Apex DCB 21 Custom Irons
- Callaway 2020 Rogue X Irons
- Callaway Rogue ST Max OS Irons
- Callaway Mavrik Irons
- Callaway X Forged CB
Notable for offering high-quality, long-lasting clubs at a fraction of the cost, Cleveland Golf is another brand to consider when looking for new irons. Each of their products are made with expertise and quality craftsmanship, with many special features added to provide workability and comfort. Best of all, their irons are significantly cheaper than those offered by Callaway, TaylorMade, and many other golfing brands. Notable Cleveland irons include:
- Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo Irons
- Cleveland CBX Irons
- Cleveland RTX 2.0 Irons
- Cleveland Smart Sole Irons
- Cleveland Tour Action Irons
Innovation has been one of Cobra Golf’s main objectives since the moment they opened shop in 1973. For example, they’re the golfing brand who gave the world the “Baffler”, the first utility wood. Regarding irons, they’re the first U.S. club manufacturer to offer them with graphite shafts. By 1994, Cobra irons had set the standard for other irons in the market, and it continues to introduce new technology and features to this day. Notable Cobra irons include:
- Cobra 2020 Speedzone Irons
- Cobra 2021 Radspeed Irons
- Cobra 2021 T-Rail 2.0 Combo Irons
- Cobra F-Max Superlite Irons
- Cobra Air-X Irons
Founded in 2018 in Vancouver, Canada, Haywood Golf is a relatively new golfing brand that nevertheless aims to provide quality clubs and equipment at affordable prices. From introducing their first line of wedges, they have since branched out to producing other golf clubs. That being said, their irons offer the perfect combination of power and feel, as well as enable their wielders to launch their balls farther with better spin control. Notable Haywood irons include:
- Haywood Signature Irons
- Haywood CB Irons
- Haywood MB Irons
- Haywood 100’s Irons
- Haywood Signature Driving Irons
Established in 1957 in Himeji, Japan, Miura is a golfing brand built on family, passion, and precision. Designed by master craftsman Katsuhiro Miura, their clubs have the elegance and finesse that only the art and discipline of the samurai could achieve. Their irons exceed all standards, balancing weight, size, center of gravity, and bounce to give golfers a consistent and reliable club. Notable Miura irons include:
- Miura MB-101 Irons
- Miura TC-201 Irons
- Miura CB-301 Irons
- Miura PI-401 Irons
- Miura MC-501 Irons
Manufacturing golf clubs since 1933, Mizuno has been widely praised by professional and amateur golfers alike. Mizuno’s forged irons are considered by many as being player irons. They not only offer excellent feel, but they also offer tremendous performance, control, and workability. Notable Mizuno irons include:
- Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal Irons
- Mizuno MP-20 HMB Golf Irons
- Mizuno JPX 921 Tour Irons
- Mizuno Pro 221 Irons
- Mizuno Pro 225 Irons
Founded in 1959 as a garage business, Ping has since grown into a leading US golfing manufacturer, producing some of the best clubs, bags, and equipment the world has ever seen. By using investment casting during the manufacturing process, their clubs are cheaper without compromising on quality and features. That’s why Ping irons are considered icons in the golfing industry. Suitable for golfers of all skill levels, their irons offer excellent feel and enable high performance. Notable Ping irons include:
- Ping i210 Irons
- Ping G410 Irons
- Ping G Le 2 Irons
- Ping i500 Irons
- Ping Blueprint Irons
As the newest golf brand on this list, Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG) was born out of Bob Parsons’s desire to make the sexiest golf equipment in the world. With their elite selection of high-performance irons, you’ll have a wide range of club heads and styles to choose from. This helps ensure that you find the right club that will help you achieve your goals, complement your unique swing, and maximize your game. Notable PXG irons include:
- PXG 0211 ST Irons
- PXG 0211 Z Irons
- PXG 0311 P Irons
- PXG 0311 GEN5 Irons
- PXG 0311 ST Irons
As part of the Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Srixon offers a full range of golf clubs, golf balls, and accessories. Dedicated to helping golfers improve their game, their clubs promise high quality and performance for all kinds of players. That being said, Srixon has produced many award-winning forged irons, some of which are considered the best irons in the market. With their perfect blend of distance, accuracy, and control, these irons will make an excellent addition to your club set. Notable Srixon irons include:
- Srixon ZX5 Irons
- Srixon ZX7 Irons
- Srixon ZX4 Irons
- Srixon ZX Utility Irons
- Srixon Z-Forged Irons
From their humble beginnings, TaylorMade has since evolved into a favorite golfing brand of many amateur and professional golfers. With their emphasis on maximum ball speed and great feel, their clubs will definitely help you launch your balls higher and farther. So whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you would do well to have a TaylorMade iron or two in your set. That way, you’ll be able to easily swing your ball out of any sticky situations. Notable TaylorMade irons include:
- TaylorMade SIM Max Irons
- TaylorMade P770 Irons
- TaylorMade P790Ti Irons
- TaylorMade M6 Irons
- TaylorMade P7TW Irons
The Titleist brand when Phil Young had his golf ball x-rayed after losing a game to a friend. Observing that the ball’s core is off-center, Young dedicated his life to developing the best performing golf balls in the world. Today, Titleist has expanded to making top-notch golf clubs, gears, and other equipment, too. Their irons can appeal to any golfer regardless of their preferences or handicap. And if you’re looking for an iron that delivers great feel as well as ensures your performance at the course, Titleist is your best bet. Notable Titleist irons include:
- Titleist 620 MB Irons
- Titleist T400 Irons
- Titleist T100 Irons
- Titleist 2021 T300 Irons
- Titleist 2021 T200 Irons
When he was just starting out, David Glod had a vision of providing cutting edge yet affordable golf products to everyone. Thus, Tour Edge was born! Today, Tour Edge golf clubs have appeared in many PGA Tour Major Championships, as well as in multiple Ryder Cups. more specifically, their irons are designed to help players swing their balls far and high regardless of any situation. Made from military grade steel, they come with several state-of-the-art golf tech alongside their amazing features. Notable Tour Edge irons include:
- Tour Edge Hot Launch E522 Irons
- Tour Edge C522 Irons
- Tour Edge Exotics C722 Irons
- Tour Edge Exotics C721 Irons
- Tour Edge Limited Edition EXS Pro Blade Irons
Formerly known as the Ashland Manufacturing Company, Wilson Sporting Goods is one of the oldest sporting brands in the US (if not the world). So it shouldn’t be surprising that they’ve been in the golfing industry as well. In fact, many of the best golfers of all time have endorsed many Wilson clubs, most notably, Walter Hagen. As for their irons, they’re designed in such a way that it can help you perform better during a game. Notable Wilson irons include:
- Wilson Launch Pad Irons
- Wilson D9 Irons
- Wilson Staff Model CB Irons
- Wilson Staff Model Blade Irons
- D9 Women’s Irons
Finally, XXIO offers clubs with remarkably lightweight designs, revolutionary swing technologies, and unmatched dedication to mid-level golfers. Their irons forgo the heavy, tour-developed design others sport, preferring a lighter build instead to deliver outstanding speed. As one of the brands pioneering high balance point club designs, their irons also provide a genuinely effortless swing feel, which is great for golfers with moderate swing speeds. Notable XXIO irons include:
- XXIO 12 Irons
- XXIO X Irons
- XXIO Prime Irons
- XXIO Prime Royal Edition Ladies Irons
Get the Best Golf Irons for Your Game
Irons will probably be the clubs you’ll use the most during a game (aside from putters). Through this golf iron guide we’ve provided, we hope to help golf lovers like you find the best set of irons to play with. So best read it thoroughly before heading to your nearest local golf equipment store.