Best Game-Improvement Irons of 2015 (Reviews)

Best Game-Improvement Irons of 2015 (Reviews)

The following is a review of several top rated golf game-improvement irons from reputable brands such as CallawayTaylorMadeCobra, Nike, PING and others, released for the 2015 golf season or any year prior.

Scroll down to view the comparison chart! 

Below the comparison chart (which compares the prices, features, pros and cons), I will list the irons according to my personal rating from highest to lowest and talk about their features, benefits and overall reception.

Any reviews of irons listed here that exist on Golfstead will be linked to in the appropriate sections.

Note that the irons that follow are game-improvement irons, which typically have wide soles, thicker top lines and larger heads overall; they usually have limited workability, great forgiveness and are designed for higher handicap players.

If you prefer a thinner head with more workability (shot shaping ability), you should look at some available better-player options.  Reviews and discussions of these other types of irons will eventually be posted to Golfstead if they haven’t been already.

Please note that the prices below (in the table and the summaries that follow) correspond to a 4-PW (pitching wedge), AW (approach wedge) right-handed iron set with a steel shaft and regular flex, unless otherwise stated.  Exact prices depend on shaft material, shaft flex and configuration and are subject to change.  Specifications for the iron, stock shafts and/or stock grips can be found in the provided individual reviews or on the manufacturer’s official website.

Want to view larger images of any of these irons?  Click on the pictures in the chart and navigate the photos on the left side!

IronPrice in USD (subject to change)Strengths and WeaknessesAmazon Review RatingMy Rating
1. Callaway XR

Full Review

callawayxr
$684.90 + free shipping on AmazonStrengths:
• shots tend to fly high and straight
• forgiveness is excellent across the face
• length is outstanding
• easy to swing
• great feel and stability

Weaknesses:
• feedback could be better -- mis-hits and center hits feel similar
• workability is limited
• hot face is sometimes inappropriate for certain shots off the green
• golfers with quick swings may experience consistency issues and trajectories that are too high
5/54.9/5
2. Cobra Baffler XL

Full Review

cobraBafflerXL
Less than $300 on eBay (with free shipping options)Strengths:
• very good forgiveness; resists sidespin
• easy to get up in the air whether from the rough or a tight lie
• solid and reliable distance
• easy to swing and hit
• cool profile
• a ton of value for the money

Weaknesses:
• weight of the iron is a little uncomfortable for some
• some struggle with trajectories that are too high
• not the longest iron
4.5/54.8/5
3. Callaway Big Bertha

Full Review

callawaybigberthaIrons
$639.99 + free shipping on AmazonStrengths:
• top quality construction and build
• distance and forgiveness are both among the best on the market
• a tendency for a high and straight ball flight helps suppress slices/hooks and allows soft landings into the greens
• impact feel is very soft and smooth

Weaknesses:
• relatively expensive
• shot shaping ability is limited, particularly out of trouble lies (rough, etc.)
• very chunky clubhead may be unsightly for some
• feedback could be a bit more distinct
4.8/54.8/5
4. Callaway Apex

Full Review

callawayapex
$799.95 + free shipping on AmazonStrengths:
• good workability (shapes and trajectories) for a game-improvement iron
• long with great distance control and accuracy on solid strikes
• very good forgiveness
• nice minimalist look
• impact feel is crisp and satisfying

Weaknesses:
• not quite as forgiving as some other game-improvement contenders
• balls can tend to fly a bit lower than desired
4.8/54.8/5
5. Nike Vapor Speed

Full Review

nikevaporspeed
$499.98 at Dick's Sporting GoodsStrengths:
• does a good job of handling tough lies
• easy to shape shots with
• ball flight is consistent
• soft impact and stability through the ball
• plenty of useful hit feedback

Weaknesses:
• some may find the iron to be a little too light
• forgiveness is decent but could be better
• thinner sole and relatively small amount of offset can make solid strikes a little more difficult to pull off, particularly with long irons
4.8/54.7/5
6. PING G30

PINGG30irons
$799.99 (black dot) at Dick's Sporting GoodsStrengths:
• incredible forgiveness, both in terms of distance and direction
• distance results are long, reliable and consistent
• impact feel is crisp and consistent across the face -- what we've come to expect from PING

Weaknesses:
• a little on the expensive side
• the large offset heads are disliked by some
• less workable than many other irons
--4.7/5
7. TaylorMade RSi 1

Full Review

taylormadersi1
$699.99 + free shipping on AmazonStrengths:
• very playable; fairly easy to control ball height and curvature
• superb forgiveness; minimal dispersion and great distance retention on mis-hits
• non-slotted irons, in particular, feel very solid

Weaknesses:
• sound and feel for the slotted irons are questionable -- can be described as "hollow" or "clicky"
• some might be distracted by the black lines on either side of the hitting area
4.9/54.6/5
8. Cobra Fly-Z XL

Full Review

cobraflyzxlirons
$319.99 + free shipping on AmazonStrengths:
• great accuracy and overall forgiveness
• solid shots fly a consistent distance and direction
• easy to get height on shots from almost any lie

Weaknesses:
• may not be ideal for golfers with strong swings and a high ball flight
• not the longest iron on the market
• can be difficult to engineer low-trajectory shots
--4.6/5

1. Callaway XR Iron (2015)

Check out Golfstead’s full review of the XR iron here!

Price and where to buy online new:  $684.90 on Amazon (see chart for link)Callaway XR Iron

Overview/Features:  See the “Overview and Features” section of the full XR irons review (link above) for details.

Reception:  At the time of writing, the XR irons have a perfect 5-star rating on Amazon (those customer reviews can be read right here) and a 4.7/5 rating with over 80 reviews (96% recommended) on Callaway’s official website.  These are very popular irons (#6 best selling iron on Amazon) and one of Callaway’s biggest successes.  Reviewers have lauded these irons for their great feel, relatively large sweet spot and crazy long distance.  They’re also a noticeable improvement over the previous X Hot and X2 Hot irons.

My rating:  4.9/5

2. Cobra Baffler XL Iron

Check out Golfstead’s full review of the Baffler XL iron here!

Price and where to buy online new:  Less than $300 on on eBay (see chart for link)Cobra Baffler XL Iron

Overview/Features:  See the “Overview and Features” section of the full Baffler XL irons review (link above) for details.

Reception:  The Baffler XL irons have been superbly received by customers — they have a 4.9/5 (100% recommended) on the Dick’s Sporting Goods website and a 4.5/5 on Amazon (click here to see those customer reviews), among others.  They have been praised for their easy-to-hit cool-looking profile, very generous mis-hit forgiveness, reliable distance, fantastic value for money and also being easy to get up in the air from a variety of lies.  In terms of negatives, some golfers find the weight of the iron to be uncomfortable, and others find the trajectory to be too high for their tastes.

My rating:  4.8/5

3. Callaway Big Bertha Iron (2015)

Check out Golfstead’s full review of the Big Bertha iron here!

Price and where to buy online new:  $639.99 on Amazon (see chart for link)Callaway Big Bertha Iron

Overview/Features:  See the “Overview and Features” section of the full Big Bertha irons review (link above) for details.

Reception:  The Big Bertha irons have been received extremely well — perhaps not surprising given the fact that, well… it’s Callaway!  They have glowing reviews on Amazon — 4.8/5 stars with over 29 customer reviews (see those right here) — and on the official Callaway website — 4.6/5 stars and 92% recommended.

Customers have lauded the irons for their amazingly good distance (many have reported gaining 15-20 yards or more with their mid irons), amazing feel even on off-center strikes, sound trajectory (a tendency for a straight shot or slight draw) and excellent forgiveness.  In terms of potential negatives:  some are a little bothered by the substantial offset, and others feel that the workability (shot shaping ability) of the irons could be better.

My rating:  4.8/5

4. Callaway Apex Iron

Check out Golfstead’s full review of the Apex iron here!

Price and where to buy online new:  $799.95 on Amazon (see chart for link)Callaway Apex Iron

Overview/Features:  See the “Overview and Features” section of the full Apex irons review (link above) for details.

Reception:  The reception for these irons are tremendously positive.  They have a 4.8/5 rating on Amazon and a score of 4.8/5 on Callaway’s website with over 120 reviews.  Almost all reviewers have lauded these irons for their excellent soft feel, extra distance (in part due to strong lofts) and mis-hit forgiveness.  Relatively speaking, though, it doesn’t appear to be the most forgiving iron on the market.

My rating:  4.8/5

5. Nike Vapor Speed Iron (2015)

Check out Golfstead’s full review of the Vapor Speed iron here!

Price and where to buy online new:  $499.98 at Dick’s Sporting Goods (see chart for link); stiff graphite set available on AmazonNike Vapor Speed Iron

Overview/Features:  See the “Overview and Features” section of the full Vapor Speed irons review (link above) for details.

Reception:  The Vapor speed irons have been received extremely well.  They have a 4.8/5 rating on Amazon and a 4.5-star rating on Nike’s official website.  Reviewers have lauded these irons for their great feel, aesthetics, distance and height, as well as being a big improvement over the previous year’s Nike Covert 2.0 irons.  Some feel that the forgiveness isn’t quit up to par with other irons in the game-improvement class, and also, some feel that the look at address isn’t very confidence-inspiring.

My rating:  4.7/5

6. PING G30 Iron

Price and where to buy online new:  Global Golf (call for price), $799.99 at Dick’s Sporting Goods for black dotPING G30 Iron

Overview/Features:  The Ping G30 irons offer progressive lengths and lofts, as well a thin face that will help you launch the ball high and long without sacrificing control.  Faster ball speeds are provided by the “Custom Tuning Port” (CTP) which sits very low and supports a thin face.  The low-back center of gravity (CG) optimizes launch and forgiveness while contributing to a solid feel.  Slightly longer heads also boost the moment of inertia (MOI), and a new sole design ensures solid contact.

For more information on the features and specifications of the G30 irons, see this page on PING’s official website.

Reception:  The G30 irons have received great ratings from consumers and professional critics alike.  They are generally regarded as being very versatile with top-of-the-line forgiveness, amazing feel and a plenty-high trajectory that still results in very satisfying distance results.  Drawbacks mostly come down to personal preferences and tastes.

My rating:  4.7/5

7. TaylorMade RSi 1 Iron (2015)

Check out Golfstead’s full review of the RSi 1 iron here!

Price and where to buy online new:  $699.99 on Amazon (see chart for link)TaylorMade RSi 1 Iron

Overview/Features:  See the “Overview and Features” section of the full RSi 1 irons review (link above) for details.

Reception:  As you might expect for a set of irons in the higher-end price range, the TaylorMade RSi 1 irons are generally rated very positively; they have a 4.9/5 customer score on Amazon.  Most reviewers have lauded these irons for their outstanding mis-hit forgiveness, consistent ball flight and long distance.  In terms of negatives, some find the black lines around the hitting area at address to be distracting.  Additionally, not everyone enjoys the feel at impact, which can be described as hollow or “clicky”.

My rating:  4.6/5

8. Cobra Fly-Z XL Iron (2015)

Check out Golfstead’s full review of the Fly-Z XL iron here!

Price and where to buy online new:  $319.99 on Amazon (see chart for link)Cobra Fly-Z XL Iron

Overview/Features:  See the “Overview and Features” section of the full Fly-Z XL irons review (link above) for details.

Reception:  The Fly-Z XL irons have been received very positively.  Customers and reviewers have lauded them for their solid workability (best for hitting a draw, but can be shaped any way), great forgiveness, accuracy, look and feel — nearly everything one would look for in a good iron.  In terms of negatives, some golfers tend to have difficulty engineering lower trajectory shots; also, some golfers have been dissatisfied with the carry distance of the irons and the clarity of mis-hit feedback.

My rating:  4.6/5


If you’re a beginner or intermediate golfer and are on a tight budget, something like the Cobra Baffler XL or Fly-Z XL would be an excellent choice.  If you’re willing to pay extra for something a little more high-end, you should check out irons like the Callaway XR or PING G30.

Like most things, which irons are best for you depends on your specific needs, preferences and budget.

Note that you can get all of the irons mentioned above used at lower prices through .

Best of luck shopping for a game-improvement iron set!


Images courtesy of:  Amazon

13 Comments

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