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Most Forgiving Irons for Beginners & High Handicaps


Bryson Dechambeau Iron Swing

Welcome to my review of the most forgiving irons for beginners and high handicappers.

I know the beginner and high handicap golfer will often have different requirements from their clubs.

I've combed through the best of the super game improvement iron category, brought you the best, and took a pass on the rest.

These are the clubs you need to be looking at...no question.

Here's what you'll learn:

  • Does the manufacturer really matter
  • How to pic the right shaft material
  • How to pic the right shaft flex
  • What you can expect to spend 
  • Links to the best places to get your clubs & I always try to give you a couple choices
    • I link directly to the manufacturer or smaller reputable retailers when it makes sense, but also link to the big A as an option. 
  • The best irons for each different needs

***All clubs included in our recommendations have all the Distance & Forgiveness you need. Your choices will come down to price, manufacturer preference, & personal taste.***


Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo Irons

To learn more about what the "Approved" symbol means, please click here. (It pretty much means this stuff is 100% LEGIT!)

LAUNCHER HB TURBO 6-iron

Who are these for...

Beginners or high handicappers that demand max forgiveness

After pouring through customer feedback, we consider these the best beginner irons overall for a few reasons

  • Best combination of iron-like accuracy and hybrid forgiveness
  • Looks very forgiving at address for added confidence
  • Hit these just about anywhere on the face and your ball will move toward your target 
  • You can still get performance with well-struck shots. 

Cleveland has made a big play for the beginner golfer market with the Launcher HB Turbos. 

If you are just starting out or just like tons of forgiveness, the HB Turbos are worth a look

Pros

  • Look super-forgiving at address
  • Easy ball launch with super-low center of gravity(CG)
  • Hot all over the face for better ball speed
  • Playable and accurate too

Cons

  • Don't really look like irons
LAUNCHER HB TURBO IRONS Customer Review

Get 8% OFF w/ Coupon Code: GolferGeek at Global Golf


Callaway Mavrik Max Irons

To learn more about what the "Approved" symbol means, please click here. (It pretty much means this stuff is 100% LEGIT!)

Who are these for...

The Beginner or High handicap golfer that needs it ALL

  • Maximum forgiveness
  • A large club head to inspire confidence at address
  • Irons built to get the ball up easily 
  • Max out your ball speed with Flash Face Cup Technology 

We rate the Mavrik Max as the best of the best in a VERY competitive field

Callaway has been the most trusted name in game improvement and max game improvement irons for decades...with good reason. These carry on that tradition.  

Pros

  • Best overall performer at a Good Price
  • All the Forgiveness you need
  • Gets the ball up So Easily
  • All the Distance you need
  • Love the looks

Cons

  • Nada
Callaway Mavrik Max Iron Customer Review

Get 8% OFF w/ Coupon Code: GolferGeek at Global Golf


 Taylormade Sim Max OS Irons

To learn more about what the "Approved" symbol means, please click here. (It pretty much means this stuff is 100% LEGIT!)

Who are the these for...

The beginner or high handicap golfer that needs...

  • Help getting the ball airborne and also helping with a higher ball flight from low low CG (center of gravity) due to weight being redistributed from high in the clubhead to the sole
  • Max forgiveness across the face with oversize iron shape
  • Superior accuracy with progressive Inverted Cone technology
  • Mucho help with distance from greater ball speed due to 8% thinner faces

Taylormade has Really come on strong with their game improvement irons over the last few years and the Sim Max OS is a superior club for the beginner golfer. 

Pros

  • Super forgiving
  • The ball gets up really easy w/ great ball flight
  • Crazy big sweet spot
  • Great all around club

Cons

  • Reviewer complaints of durability issues with chrome finish
Sim Max OS Irons Customer Review

Get 8% OFF w/ Coupon Code: GolferGeek at Global Golf


Ping G710 Irons

To learn more about what the "Approved" symbol means, please click here. (It pretty much means this stuff is 100% LEGIT!)

Ping G710 7 Iron

Who are they for...

The beginner or high handicapper that likes a little more of a "player" look and...

  • Needs help getting the ball in the air easier
  • Needs good results without having to have great contact
  • Needs help generating ball speed on off-center hits
  • Needs to look down at an iron that will give them confidence
  • Wants a club they can keep playing when their handicap starts dropping

To my surprise, I see that these irons are also favored by lower handicappers, proving there's some serious performance hiding underneath all that super game improvement exterior.

Amazon does NOT carry the G710 irons for whatever reason.

Pros

  • Easy launch and distance with green holding ball flight
  • Ping's most forgiving iron and largest sweet spot
  • Great accuracy
  • Best looking high handicap irons by far

Cons

  • None really. 
Ping G710 Customer Review

Cobra T-Rail Irons

To learn more about what the "Approved" symbol means, please click here. (It pretty much means this stuff is 100% LEGIT!)

Cobra T-RAIL 5-Iron

Who are they for...

The beginner or high handicapper

  • Needing even more help generating ball speeds and distance due to a lack of clubhead speed

The Cobra T-Rails are even allowing some high handicap golfers to start hitting longer irons with confidence again...no small feat. These irons have adopted more of a hybrid design or a hybrid of hybrid and irons. 

These are Cobra's most forgiving iron set and are getting glowing customer reviews and received Golf Digest's highest ranking in their 2020 club test. 

Pros

  • Huge sweet spot means easier distance for slower swing speed golfers
  • Forgiveness all over the face 
  • Extra help getting your ball in the air fast
  • Makes hitting long irons much easier

Cons

  • Not tons of playability
Cobra T-RAIL IRONS Customer Review

Get 8% OFF w/ Coupon Code: GolferGeek at Global Golf


Cobra King Speed Zone Irons

To learn more about what the "Approved" symbol means, please click here. (It pretty much means this stuff is 100% LEGIT!)

Cobra KING SPEEDZONE 7-iron

Who are they for...

The beginner or high handicapper

  • Wanting extra distance and an iron look without giving up any forgiveness

The Cobra Speed Zones are Cobra's most popular game improvement iron

They have "Four zones of optimized speed"

  • Carbon fiber topline adding strength and decreasing weight to move lower in the clubhead
  • Forged pwrshell face for 35% larger sweet spot
  • Speedback shaping w/ extreme heel and toe weighting for lower CG and higher MOI
  • Co-mold medallion insert for better sound and feel

These Cobras have more of a traditional iron look with all the forgiveness and technology the beginner or high handicapper needs.

Pros

  • Huge sweet spot means easier distance for slower swing speeds
  • Forgiveness all over the face 
  • Extra help getting your ball in the air fast
  • Makes hitting long irons much easier

Cons

  • Not tons of playability
Cobra King Speedzone Irons Customer Review

Get 8% OFF w/ Coupon Code: GolferGeek at Global Golf


Taylormade Sim Max Irons

To learn more about what the "Approved" symbol means, please click here. (It pretty much means this stuff is 100% LEGIT!)

Who are they for...

The high handicapper

  • Looking for a "bridge" iron that can serve them well as a high handicapper and...
  • Take them into mid handicap world and serve them very well there for a good long while

They are very good high handicap irons and great mid handicap irons. Taylormade designed overlap in them for this purpose.

Pros

  • Very long and forgiving
  • Large sweet spot
  • Easy Trajectory
  • Can carry you from high handicap to mid handicap

Cons

  • Reviewer complaints of durability issues with chrome finish
Taylormade Sim Max irons customer review

Get 8% OFF w/ Coupon Code: GolferGeek at Global Golf

How To Choose the Most Forgiving Irons for Beginners & High Handicap Golfers


You need two things and two things only from a set of irons as a beginner or high handicap golfer...

  1. HELP getting the ball in the air...lots of it
  2. TONS of forgiveness...yep TONS

Beginners and high handicap golfers have never had it better in the game of golf. Top manufacturers have their eyes on you.

Today's game improvement and super game improvement irons offer everything

  • Superior forgiveness
  • Great ball speed and distance
  • Playability
  • Looks
  • The ability to test irons at local golf stores before you buy

So, take your time and choose wisely. Do it right and these new sticks will be with you for a while.

Pricing your iron set

Price per club is the metric we pay attention to, not price per set of irons. 

An important distinction. Why...

The makeup for a set of irons varies WIDELY in general and especially for the beginner or high handicap golfer. 

In fact, if you are a beginner, you don't need to have a 5-iron or a lob wedge in your bag. 

Heck, I'm a 10.5, was a 5.6 and I still had(have) issues with contact with my 5-iron sometimes. I suggest trading off your long irons ( 4 and 5) with hybrids to make your life much easier. 

A few options for set makeup offered by the top guys:

  • 6 iron- PW | 6-iron - AW | 6-iron - SW | 6-iron - LW
  • 5-iron- PW | 5-iron - AW | 5-iron - SW | 5-iron - LW
  • 4 iron- PW | 4-iron - AW | 4-iron - SW | 4-iron - LW
  • Etc.

Prices per club can vary a little or a lot. For example

  • Callaway Mavrik irons go for about $114 / club
  • Taylormade Sim irons go for about $112 / club
  • Ping G710 go for about $162 / club
  • etc.

More on my recommendations for your set makeup later...

Choosing the brand of irons you will play

Going to get this out of the way. All major manufacturers make great sets of irons these days...Period

  • Callaway
  • Taylormade
  • Ping
  • Cleveland
  • Cobra
  • etc.

I've contended for a few years now that a lot will come down to personal preference and idiosyncrasies in your own swing and game.

Brand loyalty is a part of this. Most of us like to "go with what we know" and I ain't here to knock that. 

My advice is to go someplace where you can get your hands on a set or irons you think you may like and start hitting them. You can also borrow a friends, test the floor models in the local pro shop, etc. 

Should I choose a cavity back iron or a muscle back iron?

You're going to need to choose cavity back irons.

Cavity back irons = more forgiveness
Muscle back irons = less forgiveness

There's so much more club manufacturers can do with perimeter weighting, cup face, lower center of gravity, higher MOI, etc. that there really is no debate on this topic. Don't think about forged irons or muscle back irons until your handicap is knocking on the door or in the single digits.

You have top pros in the world playing cavity backs

Most Forgiving Irons: Set Make Up  


Let's face it...you won't be making a ton of contact with the sweet spot on your irons, especially longer irons.

So, we have to maximize your set makeup.

The beginner or high handicap golfer looking for the most forgiving irons will need what I call a modified or a blended set of clubs.

Your have a couple options for your set makup:

  • 4H, 5H, 6-iron to SW or
  • 4H, 5-iron to SW

This will be rounded out with your fairway woods, of course. The only constant will be the short irons. 

Why have I not included a lob wedge? My reasoning is:

  1. Lob wedges aren't that easy to hit full shots with for even more accomplished ball strikers. So you won't be using it much.
  2. Competence around the greens with multiple wedges takes a lot more practice. 
    1. Get really good with your sand wedge first (at this point your handicap will be dropping)
    2. Then consider adding a lob wedge

How To Pick The Best Shaft for my iron set


So, we have two choices in shaft material and a whole bunch of choices when it comes to shaft flex. There are also kick points, shaft length, weighting, puring, etc.

There's a lot, but those of us without unlimited budget need only pay attention to a few variables.

If you feel the need to get DEEP into the subject of golf shafts, there's plenty of material out there or you can get in touch with a reputable fitter.

This will not be a full treatment of the subject and I always suggest doing testing if you are up to it. 

Shaft Flexes: Weakest to Strongest


Unfortunately for us, there is no industry standard for shaft flex. It's up to each manufacturer to categorize their shafts. This is where testing and fitting come in. 

Basically:

  • Slower swing speeds = weaker flex
  • Faster swing speeds = stiffer flex

I categorize the difference in shaft flexes below. Keep in mind, none of this is written in stone and opinions vary.

  • Ladies Flex: you can guess who this flex caters to
  • Senior Flex: see above
  • Regular Flex: the bulk of beginners and high handicappers will do fine with this flex. Even lower handicap seniors will likely find these work fine.
  • Stiff Flex: better players with driver swing speed approaching 100 mph are probably best served with this flex
  • Extra Stiff: start getting past 105 mph driver swing and you can start considering these.

Swing your friends clubs. Test out different clubs from the pro shop. Test out stuff in golf stores. Etc. There's no substitute for putting in a little work to find the best shafts for you. 

When it comes to shaft flex, there is no industry standard and manufacturers can label their shafts whatever flex they want.

How To Pick Shaft Material


Shaft materials come in two flavors...Steel or Graphite

What are the differences between steel and graphit shafts?

  • In general, graphite shafts are a bit more flexible, lighter, less durable, and allow you to hit the ball farther.
  • In general, steel shafts are a bit stiffer, heavier, more durable, and offer more stability and consistency. 

You can get stock graphite or steel shafts for the same price from most, if not all, golf club makers these days. You will run into premium pricing when you start picking premium shafts. 

Should I Get My Set Custom Fit?


I’ve got a simple philosophy on custom fitting that I’ve expressed in other reviews on this site. 

But...I have stronger opinions for beginners or the really high handicap golfers

  • No...Your swing changes so erratically from swing to swing, forget about day to day,  it will be a massive waste
  • Get lessons first

You would benefit from a static fitting if you are very tall or very short. This will involve only the length and possibly lie of the club. 

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