Best irons for beginners & high handicappers for consistently lower scores

In my opinion the irons are the crème de la crème of one’s golf bag.

Whether you are just beginning or someone who shoots 100, if you aspire to get consistently lower scores, the area that will have the most impact is not your putting, driving or short game. It is your iron play!

Having a set of irons you can trust is a great way to start building your golf bag.

With a good set of irons, the longest hitting and the shortest hitting irons are where the rest of the clubs in the bag should stem from. Creating more yardages above with the woods and below with the wedges.

We will have a good look at what makes an iron forgiving and what the best irons for beginners are.

Types of Irons

The irons one can expect to come across, range from easiest to use to most difficult.

Super Game Improvement Irons  

These tend to be the largest option of irons. The larger surface area gives more room for the ball to be struck.

More volume within the head to place weight low and away from the clubface, packs in more forgiveness on mis-hits.

Biggest head, widest sole, most offset, strongest loft and thinnest face. Aimed at maximum distance and forgiveness. Always a harder cast metal for maximum ball speed.

Game Improvement Irons 

Still aimed at fantastic distance and forgiveness, toned down a notch from the super alternatives.

Very good with maintaining ball speed on mis-hits and hitting the ball higher. This is a result of a healthy amount of cavity.

Bigger head, wider sole, more offset, stronger loft and thinner face. Aimed at incredible distance and forgiveness. Normally made with harder cast metals for extra ball speed.

Players Distance Irons 

These are smaller sized clubs and are more suited to shape a golf ball than larger options. Often referred to as cavity back (CB) irons.

Personally I see these used by golfers that are on their way to, or from greatness, and want a little more help from the club.

They are more forgiving and go further than player irons, yet maintain some of the looks and feel associated.

Smaller head, thinner sole, smaller offset, weaker loft and slight cavity. Aimed at higher spin and playability. Often made with softer forged metal, harder cast or a combination of the two.

Player Irons

These are the smallest of the irons, often called muscle backs (MB) or blades. The weight on the head is higher which produces a lower flight and higher spin. Not for the faint-hearted and built for the golfer that hits the middle more often than not.

Smallest head, thinnest sole, smallest offset, weakest loft and minimum cavity. Aimed at highest spin and maximum playability. Normally made from softer forged metal.

Clubhead Style

Why more cavity?  

You’ll see more cavity on the super game improvement and game improvement irons. This involves more mass at the bottom and the sides, behind the clubface.

More weight at the bottom of the clubhead and below the middle of a golf ball, helps launch the ball higher with less spin.

More weight on the sides or heel and toe of the head, puts mass behind the off-center hit and reduces twisting thereby.

Why less cavity? 

You’ll see less cavity on the player distance irons and player irons. This involves slimmer, thinner and weight concentration more centrally in the head.

Removing weight from the bottom of the clubhead and aligned higher on the golf ball, helps launch the ball lower with more spin.

More weight in the middle of the head, puts mass directly on the centered strike and gives more feedback when missed.

Recommending the Best Irons for Beginners and High Handicappers

Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo 5-PW

These are the most forgiving clubs in the line-up. They are well in the category of super game improvement. The larger heads have a nice large sole that has more surface area to bounce from the turf and helps you launch the ball higher.

Often this ‘hybrid’ design is only seen in the long irons like 3 and 4. Here we have the whole way through tp PW. This allows the faces to give faster ball speeds and the weight to be placed very low and back from the face for higher launch.

The shaft availability is graphite only which combined with the larger head is very easy to use as graphite is much lighter and generally has more bend.

Iron category: Super game improvement irons


  • Progressive shaping to increase forgiveness in harder-to-hit clubs
  • Turbocharged face = faster ball speeds
  • Hollow head and lightweight shaft for hand speed and ball speed
  • Widest sole = Easiest from the rough


  • One shaft option
  • 5-PW Only
  • Needs a separate SW

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TaylorMade Golf M6 Iron

Taylormade released these fantastic irons in early 2019. They have since been replaced by newer models. The great news is that this means a better price for you. The downside is the availability and choices start to reduce over time.

The choice of shafts is regular flex in graphite and stiff flex in steel. The steel shafts in these are very light at 85g. (Check the Shaft Choice’ section below for more talk about shafts)

Sitting in the category of game improvement irons, these irons have a generous supply of technology to help you hit the ball higher and longer. Inverted cone technology and a speed pocket carried over from previous models are a great combination to do just that.

Iron category: Game improvement irons


  • Inverted cone technology + speed pocket = faster ball speeds
  • Speed bridge makes the strike feel solid
  • Wider sole = Easier from the rough


  • Limited to Regular Graphite or Stiff Steel.
  • 5-PW or 5-PW, AW
  • Needs a separate SW

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Callaway Golf 2018 Men’s Rogue Individual Iron

Callaway has an option here with a similar dynamic to the Taylormade M6. This Rogue iron is a 2018 product and has a more limited selection available as the model has stopped being manufactured.

Interestingly the options are offered in a single club selection. This could be ideal for those that don’t feel they can make full use of the entire set of irons. Equally the beginner still ‘testing the water’ may do well trying a single club.

We have a regular and senior flex graphite option of a shaft and a stiff steel alternative. The steel shafts in these are 95g. These options will diminish as sold.

Game improvement irons at their finest here, long and forgiving with lots of weight on the heel, toe and sole.

Iron category: Game improvement irons


  • Individual irons good to try golf
  • 360 cup face = faster ball speeds
  • Speed bridge makes the strike feel solid
  • Wider sole = Easier from the rough


  • Limited availability
  • 6, 7, 8, 9, AW and SW
  • May not be able to fill in the gaps later to fulfill the set

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TaylorMade SIM MAX Irons

A newer offering here from Taylormade with updates and improvements on some key technologies found in the M6 irons. The key one for me is the ultra-thin 1.5mm face which will allow the face to launch the ball that little bit faster than before.

Being a newer model, there are a lot more options and choices in the makeup of the set; with long irons and wedges able to be added or dropped. This means each golfer can choose a set up that better suits their needs.

Shaft options here have more than one flex per shaft material.

Iron category: Game improvement irons


  • Progressive Inverted cone technology + speed pocket = even faster ball speeds
  • Speed bridge makes the strike feel solid
  • Wider sole = Easier from the rough
  • Far more choice in set makeup


  • Higher price point

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Callaway Golf 2020 Mavrik Max

Callaway stepped up a notch here with the precise placement of tungsten weight in these irons. Allowing weight to be put in the optimum positions in each iron to get outstanding performance.

Technology derived from a super-computer assisted the development of face thickness in Callaway woods. They have managed to create unique variable face thickness in every loft of these irons, resulting in faster ball speeds.

Iron category: Game improvement irons


  • Artificial Intelligence and 360 cup face = even faster ball speeds
  • Tungsten weighting for higher launch and lower spin
  • Wider sole = Easier from the rough
  • Far more choice in the number of clubs


  • Higher price point

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What to look for while buying the Best Golf Irons for High Handicappers and Beginners


You will see one of two methods of construction in sets of irons. Golf irons are made with softer forged metal or a harder cast method.

Cast Irons are harder metals. They take longer to wear down and they rebound the ball faster. You see this more in-game improvement and super game improvement irons as mentioned earlier.

Forged irons are softer metals. They absorb more vibrations and feel softer. Being softer, they also wear much quicker. You see these more in player irons and player distance irons.

Shaft Choice 

The two materials used in a golf club shaft are steel or graphite.

Graphite is lighter and has more flex or bend. This bends on the backswing and releases into the ball to help you swing it faster. Vibrations are also reduced and this can be a good option for those with elbow problems or any arthritis. If your speed is likely to stay the same, this can be good to help keep it at its best.

Steel shafts have less bend and are mostly heavier than the graphite alternatives. This is for the player with more speed or that is more athletic. The bend and release are more suited to the extra speed. If you feel you are likely to get faster as you learn, this could be good to carry you through to that.

Length & Weight 

The length and weight on the reviewed irons for beginners will all be “standard”. There is no option for a custom fit. These standard specs will suit most men of height 5’6” to 6’2”. The standard specs on game improvement irons are normally 0.5” longer than the alternative player irons. This is to allow more speed as the heads are very forgiving.

Beginner golfers within those height parameters will be fine to use standard length and get a great feel for the game. It is always possible to take them to a local golf professional to see if any length adjustments could be useful for your golf.

Anyone shorter or taller should do this sooner rather than later as it will play into the posture you can stand to the ball with. The cost for adjustments should be reasonable in most golfing establishments.

Set Make-Up 

Often you will find lots of wedges with letters instead of numbers;

Pitching Wedge (PW), Alternative Wedge (AW) / Gap Wedge (GW) / Utility Wedge (UW), Sand Wedge (SW) and Lob Wedge (LW).

This is the order they will normally flow in. AW, GW and UW are the same and only the letters vary from brand to brand.

I would advise any beginner golfer to get a Gap Wedge instead of a 4 iron.

As lofts get stronger, the ball goes lower. Some may struggle to hit the 4 iron as long as the 5 iron because it is that much harder to get the ball in the air. You won’t be missing out as a beginner at all and may just appreciate the 4 iron later in your golfing career.

Forgiveness (CG) 

You may have read a few times that the lower and farther back weight is great. CG can affect the height and spin, as well as how the club reacts in case of mis-hit.

The reason is, with a lower center of gravity, the ball launches higher. The spin also reduces which will give less curvature through the air.

With the CG away from the face, the mis-hit keeps more speed. If the weight is right in the middle of the face, the toe and heel strike will twist the face. The weight farther back gives more resistance to that twist.

Hybrids vs. Game improvement irons 

Hybrids were introduced to the market to bridge the gap between fairway woods and long irons, with the hotter face of a wood and the length based control of an iron. They soon replaced long irons for many golfers.

We can see the hybrid club has been utilized all the way down the iron set in the Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo Irons. These have a bigger surface area and more room for error than the game improvement irons.

Hybrids may be well suited to the beginner golfer with less exposure to other sports that involve hand-eye coordination like tennis or baseball for example.

Think of them as a very large tennis racket.

For those that normally progress quicker in most sports, you may want to look at slightly smaller heads to increase the variety of shots available to you.

This is where the game-improvement irons will provide the forgiveness needed but will give good feedback at the same time.


This can vary from one golfer to the next, no one is here to judge you. Older models can attract a lower buying price but the downside is there will be less choice in shafts and the makeup of the set.

Often this is good enough but it will be harder to add the missing wedge that matches or the 4 iron you later want to add.

Companies like Cleveland often fetch a lower price point as they are not as dominant in the market. That’s not to say they aren’t a fantastic product.

Taylormade and Callaway will naturally find a higher price point and they justify it with some revolutionary technology in their clubs. With a higher budget you will open yourself up to the likes of these two whales.

FAQ when buying best golf irons for Beginners

How Many Golf Irons Should Be in a Set for beginners?

From the way my Father helped beginners, less is more. Beginners should use fewer irons at the very start of the game to keep one thing constant.

If the beginner golfer has more clubs to choose from it can get complicated.

If you buy fewer clubs and later want to fill the gaps, this is always possible. One brand’s 7 iron can play completely differently from another brand.

It’s better for the irons in a set to be the same brand and model.

I think it’s best to have a full set of irons and slowly introduce them to your game.

Start with using two different irons routinely. If you have a favorite, use it more.

Get used to them and create two different distances. For example a 7 iron and GW.

Later introduce more irons to fill in distance gaps. The middle point here is the 9 iron.

Continue to develop your game in this way. Gradually introduce the irons from your golf bag, to your game.

What about Wedge Selection?

Some of the iron sets have more wedges than others. There are 3 wedges after a PW, the beginner golfer would benefit from at least one SW.

Typically you will find something like this in an established golfers bag:

PW at 45°, GW at 50° and then SW at 55°.

These typical lofts will vary from brand to brand and model to model. 

Over time, the loft has got stronger to make the golf ball go lower and longer. The SW has not changed as much.

This means there is a bigger gap between the PW to the SW.

Ideal for beginners to progress with: 5-PW, GW, SW.
Ideal for beginners to use regularly: 7 iron, 9 iron, GW.

Without the set SW, you may need a wedge around 54°- 58° of some description. This would be to use nearer the greens and from bunkers. May have to be purchased separately if not included.

Lob wedges (LW) around 60° can be useful but may be something to look at later in the game.

What is a High Handicap in Golf?

A handicap is the number of shots a golfer, on average, will shoot over par on an 18 hole golf course.

An 18 handicap would suggest 1 shot per hole, above par on average.

I would consider 36 and higher to be a high handicap in golf. This would allow 2 shots per hole above par on average. 

Sometimes you will find a handicap of 54. This is to encourage people to play on the golf course and get out and enjoy the game. This would allow 3 shots per hole, above par on average.

What Is the Ideal Handicap For Beginner Golfers?

The ideal handicap for a beginner golfer would be in the region of 54.

Some golfers may progress quicker than others.

It’s best to make the game enjoyable and not daunting for the beginner. The handicap will change as the beginner golfer submits scores which change the handicap up or down.

What are the average and lowest handicaps in golf?

The average handicap for Men in the USA is 14.4.

For a golfer to have a handicap of 0, they would on average, par every hole.

Some handicaps get very low and turn into a “+” figure, like +4. This means that the golfer has to add 4 shots to their score instead of the normal subtracting. Making it much harder!

Which Irons are the Easiest to Hit for high handicappers?

The easiest type of irons for the beginner golfer will be the super game improvement irons.

They provide the most help for hitting the ball higher and reduce twisting on mishits.

The game-improvement irons will also be very easy to use and may be a better stepping stone for those looking to have more spin into the greens and shape on the ball.

Recap and Conclusion

To recap, the best irons for beginners are between the ‘super game improvement’ and the ‘game improvement’ categories.

The placement of the weight on these irons is designed to help the ball launch higher and spin less. This is good for gaining distance and reducing curvature.

The Cleveland Launcher Irons fit this category very well and would be most useful for many beginner golfers.

More spend in the Callaway Mavrik Max and Taylormade Sim Max gives a bigger choice in matching wedges and more playability in comparison.

The usefulness of the entire set of clubs will not be obvious at the start. Find a favorite club and use that as much as possible to learn the technique. Gradually introduce more clubs as you improve.

5-PW and SW would be plenty for most, a GW would be a better option than a 4 iron if looking for more clubs.