The best golf irons

  • If you're a low handicap player looking for a great set of blade-style irons, the Mizuno Golf MP-5 irons deliver the shot-making and shaping you want from this style of iron, yet they also are more forgiving of off-center hits than is typical.
  • Additionally, this eight-piece set includes a 3- and 4-iron, making it a good value.

Most golfers have heard the saying, "drive for show and putt for dough," meaning big-hitting drives from the tee are impressive, but those who win tournaments make clutch putts.

However, that saying forgets one huge part of the game: Iron play. Hitting an accurate iron shot can make that putt much shorter and easier to make. And strong iron play can make up for some bad shots off the tee.

The design of the irons in your golf bag has undergone quite a few changes in the past couple of decades, delivering greater accuracy and distance for all skill levels. Irons can be expensive, so it's important to buy the right set of irons to your shot-making skills.

A set of irons will consist of several clubs, all featuring a similar look. However, each individual iron in the set delivers a different angle of the clubface to the ball, which results in varying distances and trajectories. Irons will have shafts of different lengths, too.

An iron set should contain at least a 5-iron through a pitching wedge, and include six clubs. A 4-iron will appear in many seven-club sets, while others will substitute a sand wedge. If you want a 3-iron in your set, you may have to search a bit, as many iron sets made for average and high handicap players don't offer long irons anymore because long irons are difficult to hit properly, according to Where's My Caddie.

Here are the best golf iron sets you can buy:

Updated on 10/23/2019 by Owen Burke: Added Mizuno's MP-20 line (replacing our previous, now unavailable top pick, the MP-5), and updated prices, formatting, and disclaimer. Stay tuned for further updates.

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The best golf irons overall

The best golf irons overall
If you have enough skill to play with blade style irons, the Mizuno MP-20 irons are a good value and accommodating of all handicaps.

Mizuno has long been one of the leading manufacturers of blade-style irons, which give experienced players the feel and control they need from their irons. And the MP-20 irons are the company's best set of irons yet.

This complete set of irons features a 2-iron through a pitching wedge to give you nine irons in total. It'll cost you a bit, but there's a reason why Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo favor the MP line.

These MP-20 irons are not quite your traditional blade style of iron. They're made with a copper underlay, which pro in a blind test on tour (not like Chevy Chase in "Caddyshack," exactly, but you get it), PGA players chose it across the board because of its "softer" feel, according to Golf Digest.

Those with a consistent swing will be able to take full advantage of the quality of these MP-20 irons, but according to Golf, "the new MPs offer something for just about everyone including low-, mid- and even some higher handicap players looking for a players distance model."

In all, these clubs are about feel, and how that changes between chrome and copper plating, which is something of a throwback to the brand's research and design from decades ago, and something the pros all seem to favor.

More succinctly, as Golf writes, "The new MP-20 lineup can pretty easily be deemed the most complete and impressive MP family to date."

Pros: Set includes nine clubs, copper underlay for increased softness upon contact with ball

Cons: Probably not a great investment for high handicap players, who will struggle with the blade style

The best for average to high handicap golfers

The best for average to high handicap golfers
A new design gives the Callaway Big Bertha OS irons improvements in distance and accuracy, even on off-center ball strikes to help golfers improve their scores.

Callaway has long received high marks for its ability to create high-quality golf clubs, especially irons. The company has put together an impressive collection of design improvements and upgraded technology in the Big Bertha OS irons.

These irons start with an Exo-Cage structure that reduces weight while creating stiffness in the clubhead. Through this design, Callaway is able to keep the weight of the iron low in the clubface and deliver better speed to the golf ball.

Most high handicap players strike the ball lower on the clubface than more advanced players, so these irons will deliver nice results to inexperienced players. All of these features will help average and high handicap golfers have more success in their shot-making with the Big Bertha OS irons.

Average players should notice a significant difference in the long irons in the set, too. If you normally save your long irons for scooping your golf ball out of the pond, rather than making shots with them, you'll actually be able to use these clubs for a shot on the course because of how forgiving they are.

The Big Bertha OS irons contain a larger-than-average sweet spot, which Golf Magazine says marks a great feature for high handicap players. Off-center ball strikes with these Callaway irons will stay on target better.

The design of these irons allows the ball speed to remain consistent across a larger section of the club face, providing the extra distance, according to My Golf Spy. This means when you strike the ball a little off-center, you'll still receive a high level of ball speed.

Golfalot says the Big Bertha Irons live up to claims that they'll deliver extra distance over previous Callaway irons. For a golfer looking to cut his or her scores, having a little extra distance in the irons is helpful.

Golf Digest gives these Callaway Big Bertha Irons a perfect score in performance, innovation, and feel, saying these irons help with launch, distance, and direction.

However, Worldwide Golf Shops reviewer Tgt says it's tough to gain consistency with these irons, as some ball strikes create a lot of vibration in the hands, leading to stingers. You can also find women's irons here.

Pros: Excellent design that allows for a precise weight distribution in the club face, should deliver more distance and accuracy for off-center ball strikes, long irons are more playable in this set

Cons: Extremely expensive for inexperienced players, may cause some vibration in the hands during ball striking

The best irons for low handicap golfers

The best irons for low handicap golfers
The Titleist 718 AP2 irons are its best set of irons yet, especially for low handicap players.

The Titleist 718 AP2 iron set has been proven successful on the professional tour, and the same technologies and design features in these irons that appeal to pro golfers also make them an excellent choice for low handicap amateur players.

These Titleist irons are forgiving for any shots slightly struck off-center, which allows you to maintain a precise distance control. Titleist changes the center of gravity from club to club in the individual irons in this set, maintaining a lower center of gravity in the long irons to deliver consistent performance, which is a great feature for people who struggle to hit long irons.

As you move through the shorter 718 AP2 irons, Titleist moves the center of gravity higher on the clubface, delivering a good feel for the shorter shots where low handicap players will want more control.

Titleist uses a steel face insert in its longer irons through the 6-iron. From the 7-iron through the pitching wedge, the club construction consists of a carbon-steel face and body. Along with the steel face insert in the long irons, Titleist has placed tungsten in the heel and toe of the 718 AP2 long irons, which The Golf Warehouse says keeps the clubface on line and delivers a higher launch at impact.

Golf Digest says these variances in the materials used to construct these irons yield better distance in the longer irons and better accuracy and feel in the shorter irons. Golf Monthly writes that the Titleist 718 AP2 irons will give you a consistent ball speed, even with strikes that are a little off-center, which creates nearly the same distance on every shot.

Those upgrading from the previous version of these Titleist irons, the 716 AP2, will be able to make a smooth transition, according to National Club Golfer, as the 718 AP2 irons don't give a significantly different look at address, even with the added design features.

Pros: Minimal but significant design upgrades from previous version, perfect design for low handicap players, long irons will deliver a consistent distance, forgiving clubface design keeps off-center shots on line

Cons: Very expensive set of irons, not really designed for average or high handicap players

The best golf irons for extra distance

The best golf irons for extra distance
The black finish on the Cobra King Forged TEC Black irons will grab your attention, and the extra distance you get from these clubs will impress you.

Part of the reason Tiger Woods began wearing red on the PGA Tour was the intimidation factor. If you'd like your game to deliver a little more intimidation to your regular weekend foursome, wearing red probably won't do it (unless you have a young Tiger's length off the tee and signature fist pump). So consider using golf clubs that provide a little intimidation, like the Cobra King Forged TEC Black iron set.

These attention-grabbing black irons look amazing, but they also deliver some excellent design features that will help you hit the ball farther, which is more likely to intimidate your foursome partners than the occasional fist pump.

The Cobra King irons use a thin steel insert that delivers outstanding distance versus most irons. Additionally, the irons feature tungsten in both the heel and toe of the iron, which helps you keep these irons on the correct swing path, again leading to more distance.

Finally, these impressive irons include a carbon-fiber insert just behind the hitting zone in the face of the club. This absorbs any vibration that you may have from an off-center ball strike, which allows you to finish the swing strong and gain all of the distance you're seeking.

Golf Monthly says the thin steel face generates extra ball speed, which is the key to the extra distance you'll receive with these clubs. The materials inside these Cobra King irons deliver consistent ball strikes that will give you extra distance versus other types of irons, according to Golf Digest, which awards these irons a gold ranking.

These clubs ship with a set of Arccos 360 sensors that you can connect to your clubs to track the distance and accuracy of each shot using a smartphone app, helping you learn to dial in the distance on these irons more quickly, according to Golf Punk HQ.

Pros: New design and materials deliver extra ball speed for more distance, carbon-fiber insert absorbs vibrations at impact for comfortable ball strikes, black finish on these irons will grab attention

Cons: You'll pay a little extra for the new features, those with slow swing speeds won't receive a huge distance jump

The best golf irons on a budget

The best golf irons on a budget
The affordable Wilson Staff D300 irons deliver consistently long distances, even when struck a bit off-center.

If, when shopping for new irons, you're undergoing a lot of sticker shock, the Wilson Staff D300 should be more in line with your budget. The D300 set is a little older than some of the irons we've listed previously, but it delivers helpful design features that make it the best set of irons available at a bargain price.

Additionally, most average to high handicap players don't need the feel and precise design features more expensive irons deliver. The Wilson Staff D300 will give you what you're seeking: a consistent distance when you strike the ball on the center and a limited penalty when you have a slightly off-center ball strike.

Wilson's irons feature a black urethane material, visible in slots around the perimeter of the clubface. This interesting design feature allows the clubface to flex just a little bit at impact, which leads to the desired combination of ball speed, accuracy, and distance. Roughly three-quarters of the face touches this urethane material, rather than the club head chassis, which allows the flex in the club to keep shots on line.

The Wilson Staff D300 irons have a lightweight feel with an all-steel construction that allows you to generate a high level of ball speed at contact. This extra speed will give you extra distance versus other irons, as these irons (compared with our previous pick, the C200s) have q little more meat behind them, according to Steve Fonseca at Golf Unfiltered.

Golf Magazine says these clubs generally offer more yardage, but the longer shafts mean they're a little more difficult to get the loft of shorter irons. Overall, though, the editors at Golf say it provides "ample forgiveness," and makes for a "good option for higher-handicappers."

Golf Digest gave the D300 a gold-star review on their "Hot List" of 2018.

Pros: Great price point that has dropped recently, delivers more distance than most similarly priced irons, especially forgiving of off-center strikes toward the toe, good all-around irons that deliver fast ball speed

Cons: Clubs don't necessarily excel in any one area, slightly older irons, some people will not like the look of these irons

Everything you need to know about the different types of irons

Everything you need to know about the different types of irons

Irons are split into groups based on the type of shot they can deliver, as The Golf Warehouse explains.

  • Long Irons: Long irons deliver the greatest distance on the shot at the lowest trajectory. Some golfers will use them off the tee, because they can hit them straighter than drivers, choosing to sacrifice distance. The 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-irons are considered long irons, although 1-irons are rarely made for today's golfer.
  • Mid-Irons: Mid-irons give you the best mix of trajectory and distance, and they're easier to hit than long irons. The 5-, 6-, and 7-irons are considered mid-irons. Most average and high handicap players will find the 7-iron easier to hit accurately than the 5-iron, so some people consider the 7-iron a short iron.
  • Short Irons: The 8- and 9-iron are the short irons, delivering a high trajectory on a short shot into a green with the idea that the ball will hit the green and stop close to where it landed. These are the easiest irons for beginners to hit. Some people place wedges into the short iron category, but there are so many different types of wedges available these days that they're often in a category all their own.

Golfalot explains that there are a couple of different designs for golf irons.

  • Blade: A blade-style iron features a thin club head and a small sweet spot in the middle of the club face. This design allows the manufacturer to place more weight behind the sweet spot, providing maximum ball speed and distance on properly struck balls. The blade-style also gives you the most feedback on the quality of the ball strike, Plugged in Golf says. Low handicap players will receive the biggest benefit from blade irons. Some people call blade irons cavity muscle back or muscle back irons, according to Global Golf.
  • Cavity: A cavity-style iron has a cavity in the back of the club. This design allows the manufacturer to place more weight around the perimeter of the club head, which helps average and high handicap players keep the club face on target throughout the swing. The cavity-style iron has become popular in the past couple of decades, as Golf Bidder explains. The equal distribution of weight is more forgiving for off-center ball strikes. However, this design makes it tougher to control spin and trajectory, as you can with blade irons.

Check out our other great golf gear guides

Check out our other great golf gear guides
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