Getting the right set of irons involves building golf clubs that fit your swing. Many modern irons are not too distant from models that were released more than five seasons prior. By selecting second-hand irons or prior generation models, golfers can often save hundreds of dollars on their golf equipment and improve their game.
It is most important that every iron is built for a specific job. The spacing between each iron should fit your skill level and give you complete distance coverage from anywhere on the golf course. The ability to adjust irons for each player makes it possible to fit most sets to your game. The best way to know what is going to work best for your swing characteristics and skill level is by testing each club in-hand. Understanding where to begin and what questions to ask is where this guide is most valuable.
FYI: Are you looking for the Best Gear of 2019? Then take a look our latest Buying Guides on the Best Golf Drivers, Fairway Woods, Irons, Wedges, Hybrids, Putters, and Golf Balls that can help you take your golf game to the next level. We golf course tested all of these items, and made these buyers guides just for you. Please take a look and let us know what you think!
Top 6 Best Value Irons of 2019
- Smoother turf performance - the new Tour V.T. Sole
- Unsurpassed feel with distance
- More spin control
- Clean lines and shapes with performance packed technologies
- 360 Face Cup helps make each iron longer and more forgiving
- Urethane microspheres for more vibration dampening and sound improvements
- Provides players with everything they need without excess bulk or chunky golf clubs
- Sweet spot gives golfers more distance and forgiveness
- Top choice for Tour players
- Density in the impact area for the ultimate soft, solid, consistent feel
- Stability frame: open at the heel portion to enhance stability and launch
- Larger area of minimum face thickness for consistently increased ball speeds
- 360 Face Cup + VFT for more Ball Speed
- MIM'd Internal Standing Wave for Optimal Flight and Control
- Rogue Performance Package
- RIBCOR localizes face flexibility in the hitting area
- Increased sole Radius and leading edge ski for proper turf interaction
- Stiffened perimeter of the head creating a more rigid structure, enhancing sound and feel
When Do You Use an Iron?
Irons are used from the tee box, from pristine lies in the fairway, across multiple cuts of rough, and to rescue golfers when they are in hazard or trouble areas. The versatility of each iron in a set can create an array of options for golfers that can help them play better golf regardless of what their swing looks like.
Finding the Best Irons for Your Golf Game
The best set of irons for your golf game will differ based on several factors. Budget, swing dynamics, skill level, and visual and feel preferences will dictate a large portion of which iron model you should choose. We take you through each of these aspects to lay out how to find your ideal match.
Budget can be a limiting factor for some and that is why this list is so important. Getting the most for your money in equipment can mean more money to play or practice golf. By selecting an iron set with a reduced retail price, that can leave more money for a proper fitting, club alterations, or upgrading other areas of your golf bag such as wedges or the driver. Understand that oftentimes a well-fit iron set that is several years old will perform just as well as the newest technology.
Top Iron Features
Modern irons use a matrix of materials to give golfers different profiles to fit their game’s needs. Larger cavity back irons can offer higher launches and more forgiveness. Sleeker modern blades offer players cleaner toplines and better turf interaction for more spin rate control and precision distances. Each iron set falls into forged or cast categories that can help them sound and feel exactly the way you want them to.
Forged iron molds are created from a single sheet or block of stainless steel or similar metal. The carving process of each club ensures tighter tolerances and less variability between sets. Forging creates a softer golf club that offers players enhanced feedback and a luxurious feel. Better players and avid golfers often prefer forged clubs but these can carry a higher price tag due to their slower speed in production and greater attention to detail.
Cast irons are produced by pouring liquid metals over molds that have been machine printed or manufactured. The casting process helps engineers to use multiple materials and position the weight precisely within the golf club head. Cavity back irons often more forgiveness and higher launches than single forged pieces and can be great for beginners, high handicap players, or casual golfers. Often, the price of cavity back irons is less than forged counterparts due to the rapidness at which they can be produced.
Designs of Irons
Blade or muscle back irons are preferred by the best players in the world and offer better turf interaction and precise distance controls. These irons often feature very thin toplines and soft forged metals. Blades can be difficult to manage for amateur players due to their intimidating profiles and lower launches. However, if you are a player with quick enough swing speeds, your ability to play blades may surprise you. Do not remove all tour-level options from your testing list just based on your handicap or playing ability alone. Sometimes even high handicap players can find their most well-balanced ball flight with muscle back irons.
Cavity Back Irons
Cavity back irons feature enhanced regions around the golf club perimeter and behind the center of the club face. This additional weight can offer more height from an increase in launch angle and more protection from strikes away from the center of the golf club. Cavity back irons have become the preference of most golfers and several PGA Tour players as well. Modern irons often feature the best of both worlds with perimeter weight and clean visual appeal to fit the eyes of a large network of golfers.
Sets of Irons
Irons can be bought as single clubs but are often sold as a set. This set is comprised of between 5 and 8 clubs. Typically iron sets are bought with 3-iron through pitching wedge or 4-iron through pitching wedge setups. However, as 3 and 4-irons become less common in many players bags due to the introduction of hybrid golf clubs, more manufacturers are offering iron sets beginning at 5 or 6-iron.
Hybrid Sets of Irons
As alluded to above, manufactured have shifted their focus from difficult-to-hit long irons to more forgiving hybrid clubs. These hybrids are now offered directly into some iron sets with lofts that blend for better distance gapping.
Golf Iron Shafts
Steel shafts are still the most popular iron shafts on the market. Steel shafts offer a traditional feel that many golfers prefer. Steel shafts are often heavier than graphite options and appeal to stronger players.
Graphite shafts are growing in popularity as club fitters and golfers are becoming more aware of their benefits. Graphite materials allow shaft makers to make lighter shafts that reduce shock and take the stress away from the golfer. Lighter weights can also help players gain swing speed and distance. Next time you are buying irons, do not count out graphite shafts as an option. See a club fitter and see if saving weight can help improve your scores.
Multi-material shafts feature components of both graphite and steel iron shafts. These shafts look to leverage the malleable nature of graphite with the traditional feel and stability of steel shafts. The intended result is a shaft that is lighter in weight but as stable and responsive as heavier, stiffer options.
Iron shafts often range between ladies or amateur flexes all the way to extra-stiff or tour-extra-stiff flexes. The differences in these flexes can affect your ability to return the golf club to the golf ball consistently and can help influence where you strike the golf ball across the face. Matching your swing with a shaft that loads and unloads properly can help you play better golf by giving you more distance, more control, and more accuracy. Traditionally, shaft flex has correlated with swing speed. Slower swingers need softer flex shafts. Recently, however, more data is coming to light that show this is player specific and many golfers should not discount shaft options just based on their swing speed.
How to Hit Golf Irons Video
Frequently Asked Questions
Due to the many options in golf irons, the shapes, set compositions, and material offerings, consumers often have questions. We have provided a few below to help you get started.
Q: How long do golf irons last?
A: If properly cared for, irons can last many many years. Irons can often last beyond five seasons of heavy use without any detriments in performance. The largest thing to check within your iron sets is that the lofts and lies do not get bent from play or storage. Each season it is recommended to replace your golf club grips and have them checked for specs to ensure that the equipment you were fit for is the equipment you still have.
Q: Where is the sweet spot on irons?
A: The sweet spot, or center of gravity, on an iron is most often located in the geometric center of the golf club face. Blade or muscle back designs can have a center of gravity that is slightly heel side of the golf club due to the reduced perimeter weighting of this iron. This heel side sweet spot can lead to irons that are fade bias. Manufacturers often use tungsten weights in the toe to align the center of gravity with the middle of the club face for more distance and better results.
Q: What are game improvement irons?
A: Game improvement irons feature larger club heads designed to give golfers more confidence and help them as their strikes vary across the club face. Larger iron heads can help improve launch at slower swing speeds and get players more distance. Golfers that struggle to hit the center of the club face can get more ball speed from the heel and the toe and leave their golf balls short less often.
Q: How do you clean golf irons?
A: Taking proper care of your irons after every round will keep them looking their best and ensure they perform consistently every time you hit the links. Irons should be cleaned between each shot and thoroughly after each round. Golf clubs should also be stored in a moisture free environment in moderate temperatures. Players can damage their equipment by leaving them outside or in the trunks of cars during hot or cold days. The club face of an iron should be washed with water or with mild dish soap. Each grip should be wiped with a dry towel. Be careful not to soak your golf clubs in hot water as the heat can melt the epoxy and break the bond between the shaft and club head.
Top 10 Best Value Golf Irons of 2019
1. Srixon Z-765 Irons
Srixon consistently makes golf irons that are highly awarded despite their scarcity in the United States. Srixon irons provide more value than similar sets from larger-named companies. The Z-765 irons have been reduced in price even further due to the recent release of their newest Z-785 irons. A mid-sized players iron, the Z-765 offers superior shot shaping ability while providing enough help to protect you on your worse swings. Players looking to save money but sacrifice nothing in terms of feel and performance must check out the Z-765 irons if they can find them.
2. Callaway Apex Pro 16
Replaced by the most awarded set of irons in history, the Callaway Apex Pro 16 irons are still one of the premier golf iron sets on the market. Players looking for the best performance for their money may find it by opting for the Apex Pro 16’s rather than the newest Apex Pro 19’s. Apex Pro 16s feature a players cavity back iron with precision placed tungsten weights for more ball speed and forgiveness. The Apex Pro 16 irons are built for players of almost any skill level and swing speed. They provide a better players look and feel with industry-leading ball speed and forgiveness metrics. Budget-conscious players in the market for recently reduced priced irons can find an absolute steal with the Apex Pro 16s.
3. Titleist 716 AP2
Still present on the PGA and other WorldWide golfing tours, the Titleist 716 AP2 irons provide players with everything they need without excess bulk or chunky golf clubs. The AP2 irons continue to be Titleist best-selling iron offering and for great reasons. The sleek profile that many golfers prefer with added help away from the sweet spot gives golfers more distance and forgiveness than blade offerings. The choice for Jordan Speith until the release of the 718 AP2 irons, the 716 model is still more than enough club for most golfers.
4. Mizuno JPX900 Forged
Mizuno’s JPX range continues to be celebrated by players and club builders. Mizuno’s patented Grain Flow Forging process helps create some of the best feeling and sounding irons in the world. The JPX 900 Forged iron is the mid-class players iron that helps many golfers find forgiveness without a large profile. Created based on the JPX profile designed for Brooks Koepka, the JPX range has been Major Championship validated several times. The 900 Forged iron model takes that technology of the Tou version and packs in more help for the average golfer. Unrivaled in terms of craftsmanship and forging prowess, Mizuno irons are highly sought after and a great choice for players at any price.
5. Callaway Rogue Pro Irons Set
Similar to other irons in this list, Callaway packs game-improvement forgiveness into a smaller profile to help golfers get the best of both worlds in visual aesthetics and performance. The Rogue Pro irons use urethane microspheres to create a tour-level feel and feedback response. 360 Face Cup has been introduced to provide explosive ball speeds and more forgiveness on off-center strikes. Rogue Pro is a distance iron in a players profile. Players looking to get more from their money but know they need help with their iron game can get industry-leading performance at a fraction of the price with the Rogue Pro irons from Callaway.
6. TaylorMade M3 Irons
Reinforced with RIBCOR technology, the M3 irons from TaylorMade still hold pace in performance with newer release irons. Made less expensive since the release of the M5 and M6 iron sets, the TaylorMade M3 still packs the same distance and forgiveness many players are looking for without the premium price tag. This perimeter weighted cavity back iron helps players achieve more distance through better launch and ball speed conditions. More height can mean more stopping power on the greens and more distance can mean hitting a shorter club into greens. A sleeker package than the M4 offering from TaylorMade, the M3 iron set is designed to appeal to avid golf fans that need more help on their worst swings.
7. Bridgestone Tour B JGR HF1 Iron Set
Not often thought of as iron craftsmen, Bridgestone has made headlines with their Tour B JGF HF1 iron set. A long name to describe an iron that is packed with technology and performance gains. A thick, hollow cavity back club head helps players more distance with a balanced golf ball flight. The right amount of spin and height creates golf shots that can hold green regardless of playing condition or rolling speeds. These forged golf clubs are soft and responsive so you know exactly where you’ve struck your golf shots. More feedback means better results on the practice area and on the course. Still our favorite Bridgestone iron, the Tour B JGR HF1 iron set is a must try for players unfamiliar with Bridgestone golf clubs.
8. Callaway Steelhead XR
The Steelhead XR irons are the ultimate distance iron in a player-inspired profile. Complete 360 Face Cup ensures maximum ball speeds across the face of each iron throughout the entire set. Longer blade lengths promote confidence and give you more room to miss standing over your golf shots. Bulky but made soft by the infusion of polyurethane layers make the Callaway Steelhead XR surprising to hit. A soft feel coupled with explosive distance can give golfers the performance they have been searching for without sacrificing feel.
9. Cleveland Golf Launcher HB Iron Set
The best hybrid-iron set on the market makes the Cleveland Launcher HB set a clear choice for golfers looking for the most help possible in their game. Often overlooked due to their larger club footprints, the Launcher HB irons can help your game in several ways. Larger bodies club heads are easier to hit from the fairways, the rough, and from bunkers and hazard areas. The Launcher HB irons are ultra-forgiving and high launching. More launch without sacrificing spin can give slow swing speed players more distance and effortless power. The Launcher HB irons are the best option for players that want to play golf with as little stress as possible.
10. PING G400 Black Dot Irons
Ping sacrifices nothing when it comes to performance in each golf club. An engineering team that prides itself in never releasing new equipment unless they can outperform what is currently on the market, Ping releases product not on cycles but rather on innovation. The G400 irons have been replaced by the G410 iron making them a dream for players looking for performance without premium price tags. These cavity back, cast irons are built with precision weight pockets that give players more distance and forgiveness through improved launch conditions. Golfers can be assured that the G400 irons are the absolute standard of excellence in the prior generation golf club market. If you are looking for a game-improvement cast iron that doesn’t come with the financial regret of the latest technology, the G400 is the clear choice.
What Golf Iron Should You Buy?
Choosing from the hundreds of iron set makeups and individual iron specifications can be overwhelming. Understand what you are looking for in an iron can help simplify the process. Only clubs that are better than what you are currently playing should go into your golf bag. Your ideal iron set helps you play better golf even during your worst swings. MAke sure that each iron fills its specific role and goes the distance you need it to go.
Lastly, if budget is your primary factor in choosing an iron set then choosing to get an older model club fit can be a great option. Properly fit equipment will often outperform the most advanced technology in any golfer’s hands. Getting a balanced set up that provides proper distance coverage for your game is more important than brand names or shiny exteriors.
As always, it’s best to try a club out for yourself before making your final decision. Visit your local pro shop or retail fitting locations to work with club fitters that can put the best clubs into your hands. Ask questions and understand why some clubs perform better than others during your testing. Remember that golf is played outdoors in many different weather conditions so take every shot you will play into consideration when building your set. Thanks for reading and be sure to check out our other guides and reviews to fill the rest of your golf bag this season.
- Top 6 Best Value Irons of 2019
- When Do You Use an Iron?
- Finding the Best Irons for Your Golf Game
- Top Iron Features
- Designs of Irons
- Golf Iron Shafts
- How to Hit Golf Irons Video
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Top 10 Best Value Golf Irons of 2019
- 1. Srixon Z-765 Irons
- 2. Callaway Apex Pro 16
- 3. Titleist 716 AP2
- 4. Mizuno JPX900 Forged
- 5. Callaway Rogue Pro Irons Set
- 6. TaylorMade M3 Irons
- 7. Bridgestone Tour B JGR HF1 Iron Set
- 8. Callaway Steelhead XR
- 9. Cleveland Golf Launcher HB Iron Set
- 10. PING G400 Black Dot Irons
- What Golf Iron Should You Buy?