8 Best Golf Irons For High Handicappers – 2023 Reviews & Buying Guide

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Irons are typically the most expensive part of your golf equipment, and this doesn’t change in the case of high handicappers.

For most people, buying a set of golf irons as a high handicapper can be a daunting and overwhelming experience, especially when buying for the first time.

Most high handicappers will want to prioritize distance and forgiveness, as this will help mitigate the effects of poor ball contact. On the other hand, some high handicappers may want to challenge themselves with well-rounded performers or even players irons.

In this article, we’ll give you a few guidelines as to what you should look for in a high-handicap golf iron set, and also review and compare a few of the best irons on the market for high handicappers that were released for the most current golf season or any year prior.

Note: Golfstead has tested and/or conducted in-depth research into all of the products featured in this guide. Our editorial process for these rankings takes into account a mix of many factors which may include performance, reliability, usability, value for money, cost, and the general consensus from other users of the product. The list that follows may be reassessed or updated over time. We do not guarantee that other users will have the same or similar experience with the products as described on this page.

Our Top Picks For Irons For High Handicappers

Based on our own testing, research, and experience, here are our top selections:

  1. Callaway Paradym X Irons
  2. PING G430 Irons
  3. TaylorMade Stealth Irons
  4. Titleist T400 Irons
  5. Callaway Apex DCB 21 Irons
  6. LAZRUS Premium Golf Irons
  7. Cobra AIR-X Irons
  8. PXG 0311 XP GEN6 Irons

1. Callaway Paradym X Irons

Callaway Paradym X Irons - 3 Perspectives

If we had to recommend one iron out of all the iron models we’ve tested, it would be the Paradym X by Callaway.

The Paradym X provides a ton of forgiveness and distance in a confidence-inspiring package that includes wide soles, a thicker top line, offset, and a pre-worn leading edge for improved turf interaction.

This game-improvement iron boasts a 4.8/5 (92% recommended) average customer rating on the Callaway store and won a gold medal on the 2023 Golf Digest Hot List. Its key technologies are:

  • A.I.-Designed Forged 455 Face: Callaway’s A.I. Face Technology is applied to a high-strength forged 455 stainless steel face to create their highest-performing forged face yet. This application is unique to each iron in the set, thus optimizing speed, spin and launch.
  • Hollow Body W/ Speed Frame Construction: the Forged 455 Face Cup is supported and stabilized by a Speed Frame construction as part of a hollow-body design. The added stiffness leads to more face flexion and ball speeds.
  • Dual Tungsten Weighting: up to 79g of internal and external tungsten weights are positioned to optimize launch conditions and greatly enhance forgiveness.
  • Urethane Microspheres: combine with the forged face to deliver premium, high-quality sound and a soft feel.
  • Pre-Worn Leading Edge: the leading edge is rolled into the sole so that it sits closer to the ground at address, allowing the iron to better slice through the turf in firm conditions.

The stock steel shaft is the 2023 True Temper Elevate MPH 85, and the stock graphite shafts are the ALDILA ASCENT PL Blue 50 HB/IR and Project X HZRDUS Gen 4 Silver.

Loft18.5°-56° (4-SW)
Lie61°-64° (4-SW)
Length35″-38.875″ (SW-4)
Offset3.43mm-6.35mm (SW-4)


  • nice high ball flight
  • uber forgiving
  • longer than previous models
  • crisp, explosive feel
  • terrific looks


  • expensive

Final Thoughts

In our opinion, the Paradym X is the more accessible model in the Paradym line of irons.

Take a thicker, more confidence-inspiring profile, add a high level of forgiveness, distance, great feel, and high customer ratings, and you have the perfect iron for the typical high handicapper who seeks modern game-improvement performance that they can rely on.

2. PING G430 Irons

PING G430 Irons - 3 Perspectives

PING was founded in 1959 by Karsten Solheim, a former General Electric engineer. It has long been known as a manufacturer of some of the finest irons in golf.

We consider their G430 model to be one of the best choices for high handicappers who seek not just outstanding forgiveness across the face, but also tremendous distance, a high launch, stopping power, and a compact address look.

The key technologies of the G430 irons are:

  • PurFlex Technology: a new badge design consists of seven “flex zones” that increase flexion and ball speeds across the face. It also works with the lower CG to improve sound and feel.
  • Hyper 17-4 Face: a stainless steel face with variable thickness created through a proprietary heat-treating process. It’s 3% thinner than the previous generation, leading to even faster ball speeds and a higher flight.
  • Tungsten Weights: a very high MOI is enabled by tungsten toe and shaft tip weights, improving performance in mis-hit regions.
  • Optimized Shape: a shorter hosel lowers the CG, aligning it with the force line and leading to more solid impact low on the face. In addition, bounce is increased by 1° to improve turf interaction and minimize heavy strikes.
  • Hydropearl 2.0 Chrome Finish: repels moisture, maximizing performance in wet conditions.

PING offers an array of steel and graphite stock shaft options including the PING Alta CB Black, True Temper Dynamic Gold, and Nippon N.S. PRO MODUS 3 105. The stock grips are the Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 and Tour Velvet Cord, which are compatible with Arccos Smart Sensors.

The G430 iron is also available in a High Loft (HL) variant, which consists of a lighter stock shaft, lighter stock grip, and lighter tip weights in the head. The G430 HL is designed to help slower swingers increase their ball speed and launch.

Loft19°-58° (4-58W)
Lie60.5°-64.6° (4-58W)
Length35″-38.875″ (58W-4)
Offset0.08″-0.27″ (58W-4)


  • longer and more forgiving than the G425s
  • consistent ball flight
  • stopping power is impressive
  • high launch despite the strong lofts
  • stable feel with quiet sound at impact


  • badge aesthetic is unappealing to many
  • very strong lofts

Final Thoughts

In our experience, the G430 is both more forgiving and longer than the G425 with little to no reduction in stopping power.

While its looks may be controversial, it certainly doesn’t leave you wanting in the performance department. Distance, forgiveness, launch and feel are all there for the high handicapper.

With PING clubs in particular, I do recommend a fitting if possible so that you know what configuration will work best for you. You also might be able to score a really good deal on eBay.

3. TaylorMade Stealth Irons

TaylorMade Stealth Irons - 3 Perspectives

The TaylorMade Stealth irons are designed to produce a ton of distance and forgiveness across the face.

Their goal is simple: to get you from the fairway to the green in fewer shots. And this is what most high handicappers strive for.

The Stealth iron is very popular among golfers, winning a gold medal on the 2022 Golf Digest Hot List and average ratings 4.8/5 (97% recommended) on the TM store and 4.9/5 on Global Golf.

Most of the Stealth’s technologies have been featured in previous TaylorMade iron models:

  • Cap Back W/ Toe Wrap: a next-generation design of the Cap Back spans the entire cavity and is designed to maximize face flexion at impact. It now wraps around the high toe area in a new “toe wrap” construction for faster ball speeds at all the common impact points.
  • Echo Damping System: uses several contact points across the face to channel away harsh vibrations, providing more of a forged-like feel at impact.
  • Inverted Cone Technology (ICT): a variable face thickness that expands the COR zone, increasing ball speeds over a larger area of the face around the sweet spot.
  • Thru-Slot Speed Pocket: a slot at the bottom of the sole that is designed to increase flexibility, ball speed and forgiveness on shots hit low on the clubface, which is a common mis-hit area.

The stock steel shaft is the KBS MAX MT 85, and the stock graphite shaft is the Fujikura Ventus Red. The stock grip is the Lamkin Crossline 360.

Loft18.5°-59° (4-LW)
Lie61.5°-64.5° (4-LW)
Length35″-39.125″ (LW-4)
Offset1.5mm-5.8mm (LW-4)


  • a distance machine
  • forgiveness is as good as anything
  • forged qualities are a nice bonus
  • exceptional turf interaction
  • not too expensive


  • features don’t stand out much from previous models
  • controllability into greens is limited by low spin

Final Thoughts

The Stealth irons should be at the top of your consideration list if you like the TaylorMade brand, want distance and forgiveness, but don’t necessarily care much about having a high level of control into greens.

The lower spin and trajectories can limit stopping power unless you have a high enough swing speed. But it’s worth noting that the vast majority of people who have tried the Stealth irons just love their performance.

4. Titleist T400 Irons

Titleist T400 Irons - 3 Perspectives

You may think of Titleist as mainly catering to the professional crowd, but this isn’t really true; they also offer plenty of game-improvement options that live up to the Titleist standard of quality.

Their T400 model is the most forgiving iron in the T-Series and is is ideal for many high handicappers, particularly those who have moderate swing speeds. It’s designed for maximum distance, forgiveness, and high launch in an oversized head.

The main features of the T400 are:

  • Super Thin L-Face: found in the 5-7 irons, this thin L-Face insert increases energy transfer to the ball. The L-Face wraps around the sole, preserving ball speed low on the face.
  • Strategic Tungsten Weighting: up to 100 grams of tungsten is strategically placed in the toe and heel of the 5-7 irons, lowering the center of gravity (CG) and increasing launch.
  • Hollow Construction: allows for substantial weight savings that are redistributed to increase MOI, resulting in more forgiveness across the face.
  • Split Sole Design: this unusual design preserves excellent game-improvement distance and forgiveness while helping the turf interaction feel more like a players iron.

The featured stock shafts are the True Temper AMT Red (steel, mid-high launch) and Mitsubishi FUBUKI MV 50/45 (graphite, high launch). The stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360.

Loft20°-55° (5-W3)
Lie62°-64° (5-W3)
Length35.25″-38″ (W3-5)


  • amazing distance
  • some of the best forgiveness on the market
  • thick and confidence-inspiring at address
  • doesn’t sacrifice launch for added length


  • can be challenging to hold some greens
  • expensive

Final Thoughts

The Titleist T400 irons are insanely long and, despite the very strong lofts, manage to produce a nice high launch thanks to the low center of gravity. Stopping power is a bit lacking, however, which means it can be difficult to hold some greens.

The T400 irons are easy for high handicappers to pick up and start swinging with great results. If you’re a fan of Titleist equipment, you should give this iron very serious consideration.

5. Callaway Apex DCB 21 Irons

Callaway Apex DCB 21 Irons - 3 Perspectives

The Callaway Paradym X iron featured above, as well as the Rogue ST MAX OS, have chunky looks that may be unappealing to some high handicappers.

Enter the Apex DCB 21. This is the perfect fit for a high handicapper who wants a very healthy dose of forgiveness and distance, but also with feel and looks that resemble a players iron.

The Apex DCB 21 iron has a lot going for it. Its key technologies are:

  • A.I. Flash Face Cup: designed by artificial intelligence, this consists of a complex face architecture that is unique for every iron in the set. It results in unprecedented ball speeds, distance control, and spin robustness.
  • Tungsten Energy Core: up to 50 grams of tungsten are contained in the mid and long irons, allowing the center of gravity (CG) to be precisely positioned for high launch and added forgiveness.
  • Premium Forged Feel: the body is made from 1025 mild carbon steel, while proprietary urethane microspheres help absorb mis-hit vibrations without sacrificing feel or sound.

As is standard with Callaway, the Apex DCB 21 irons have excellent stock shaft and grip options that the majority of golfers are sure to have success with.

Loft20°-48° (4-AW)
Lie60.5°-64° (4-AW)
Length35.5″-38.75″ (AW-4)
Offset2.79mm-5.08mm (AW-4)


  • produces mid-high launch, low spin & high ball speed, allowing for big distance with stopping power into greens
  • exceptional forgiveness
  • benefits from powerful performance-enhancing technologies
  • has some of the best turf interaction out there


  • lower spin can be problematic in certain situations
  • has many of the drawbacks that come from more forgiving irons including reduced workability and shot feedback

Final Thoughts

We think the Apex DCB 21 irons belong firmly in the game-improvement category. They’re too forgiving to be considered a players iron, yet the spin rate is too low to be considered a “max” game-improvement iron.

This is why, if you’re a high handicapper that wants great forgiveness but nothing extreme one way or the other, this iron is an excellent choice. It has a wide appeal and practically no standout weaknesses.

6. LAZRUS Premium Golf Irons

LAZRUS Golf Irons

We understand that some high handicappers aren’t willing to pay the premium price tag attached to “big name” brands. That’s completely understandable.

In that case, one of your best options are the LAZRUS irons. These were designed with weekend warriors and normal everyday golfers in mind, and the performance is comparable to many irons that cost at least three times as much!

These best-selling irons have glowing customer reviews and are great all-around performers, offering forgiveness, distance, spin, feel and playability in an oversized cavity-back design. Deep grooves provide enhanced spin and control.

The LAZRUS irons come with regular-flex stepped steel shafts and custom LAZRUS grips.

Loft13°-45° (1-PW)
Length35.5″-40″ (PW-1)
ShippingFree to US & Canada


  • fantastic value for a very affordable price
  • feels like a premium club
  • good distance
  • crisp sound
  • good spin & control


  • only one shaft and flex option
  • shaft and grip are not the greatest

Final Thoughts

The LAZRUS irons are terrific for the price. Are they truly on the same level as irons from premium brands like Callaway or PXG? Probably not, but they’re plenty good enough for most people. As a nice bonus, you can even pick up a 1 or 2-iron if you want.

The main problem with these irons is that you’re locked into one mediocre shaft and one mediocre grip. In addition, many golfers would benefit from a different shaft flex but there’s only one flex option.

7. Cobra AIR-X Irons

Cobra AIR-X Irons - 3 Perspectives

Founded in 1973 by amateur golf champion Thomas Crow, Cobra has grown to be one of the biggest brands in golf equipment, maintaining endorsement deals with many top pros.

If you’re looking for a lighter club that launches high and provides maximum stopping power into greens, you can’t get much better than the AIR-X, especially since many high handicappers have slower swing speeds.

The main features of the AIR-X irons are:

  • Lightweight Design: the head, shaft and grip are lighter than normal, making the iron easy to swing for players with slower swing speeds.
  • Variable Thickness Face: a “fast face” is thinner in the heel and toe for enhanced ball speed preservation on mis-hits.
  • Low-Profile Design: an easy launch is enabled by a cavity-back design with weaker lofts.
  • Offset Hosel: helps reduce or eliminate misses to the right.
  • Upright Lie Angles: lie angles in the longer irons are more upright which helps promote the squaring of the club at impact.

The stock steel shaft is the Cobra FST Ultralite (97g), and the stock graphite shaft is the Cobra Ultralite (45, 50). The stock grip is the Lamkin R.E.L. Standard 58R.

Loft22°-55° (4-SW)
Lie62.5°-64° (4-SW)
Length35.5″-39.25″ (SW-4)
Offset0.97mm-6.74mm (SW-4)


  • super lightweight and easy to swing
  • excellent forgiveness
  • no obvious weaknesses
  • great for seniors and novice golfers
  • very affordable


  • availability outside of the Cobra store is limited

Final Thoughts

The Cobra AIR-X irons are a refreshing change from the usual expensive “maximum distance and forgiveness irons” that we see come out these days.

The light weight creates an ideal opportunity to gently build up your endurance and the strength of your golf muscles so that you can eventually grow out of the “high handicapper” classification. And the affordability is the sweet cherry on top.

Having said that, they’re probably not suitable for those with fast swing speeds or excessively high RPMs.

8. PXG 0311 XP GEN6 Irons

PXG 0311 XP GEN6 Iron

PXG is a relatively new golf equipment manufacturer that was founded in 2014 and has quickly gained a foothold in the industry. It is backed by a slew of PGA Tour professionals including Zach Johnson and Joel Dahmen.

Their 0311 XP GEN6 model is all about maximum forgiveness and distance. This iron was engineered to industry-leading standards and has an even thinner face than the previous generation, resulting in the highest COR and ball speeds PXG has ever produced.

Compared to the P model in the 0311 GEN6 family, the XP has the most offset, widest sole, and longest blade. The key technologies are:

  • Variable Ultra-Thin Face: the face of the iron is just 0.05″ thick (15% thinner than the GEN5) and made from high-strength HT1770 maraging steel. Combined with the new XCOR2, this leads to maximum COR and high ball speeds in mis-hit areas.
  • XCOR2: this is a proprietary polymer filling that is injected behind the face. It’s very soft, and its light weight reduces the mass of the core so that more weight can be placed low and around the perimeter for higher MOI.
  • Power Channel: this U-shaped imprint on the inside of the face improves face flexion in the top region, increasing ball speed and improving launch.
  • 5X Forged: forged five times from 8620 soft carbon steel, increasing strength, groove life, feel and looks.
  • Milled Back Surface: improves iron aesthetics without compromising performance.

These irons are highly customizable. The stock shaft options are the True Temper Elevate MPH 95 (steel) and Project X Cypher 60i 5.5 (graphite).

Loft18°-60° (4-LW)
Lie60.5°-63.5° (4-LW)
Length35.5″-39.375″ (LW-4)
Offset0.03″-0.25″ (LW-4)


  • large, confidence-inspiring clubhead
  • slightly better forgiveness and distance than the GEN5 model
  • exceptional ball speeds
  • super soft feel
  • wide sole for superb turf interaction


  • very expensive
  • strong lofts and lower spin limits stopping power into greens

Final Thoughts

PXG continues to innovate and improve with each new generation of golf clubs, and the 0311 XP GEN6 is longer and more forgiving than ever before.

This iron is best suited for the high handicapper who just wants to hit it straighter and longer, thus reaching the green in fewer shots. Launch angles are impressive considering the strong lofts.

PXG also offers what they call an “Xtreme Dark” finish with a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating. This coating, which is unique to golf, has extremely high wear resistance, so it’s a nice bonus to have this option.

Buying Guide

As a high handicapper, when you’re looking to invest in an iron set that will serve you for years to come, there are some key things that you should take into consideration.

1. Your Goals

Your performance goals will drastically change the kinds of irons you should consider.

In particular, how much forgiveness do you want in your iron? Do you want an iron with more of a balanced look and feel that will challenge your game, or do you want to play it safe with a chunkier profile?

In general, high handicappers are expected to play game-improvement irons because they would benefit from the forgiveness offered. But this certainly isn’t the only way to go.

If you play a less forgiving iron, you may score worse initially, but over time, you’ll learn to adjust and improve your ball striking.

Recreational golfers may just want to enjoy themselves with a GI iron. But those who are more serious about improving their game may want to consider irons that trade some forgiveness for added control and feel. This is why, in this guide, we tried to include irons with varying forgiveness levels.

2. Iron Style

Cavity Back vs. Muscle Back iron example

Irons normally come in two different styles: cavity back and muscle back.

The cavity back features a hollow construction on the back of the head that is ideal for amateur golfers since it offers a lot of forgiveness both in terms of accuracy and distance.

The muscle back, which is almost always forged, gives the golfer better feel and better control to shape shots. Hence, it is preferred by seasoned players who have the skill and experience to control their ball.

As you might guess, a high handicapper should generally steer clear of muscle back irons as they’re just very unlikely to do well with them. Cavity back irons will offer the forgiveness across the face that the typical high handicapper needs.

3. Clubhead Size

Irons come is a variety of shapes and sizes. Better players tend to prefer a smaller-sized club head because it allows for more touch, precision and control.

Larger club heads, which are ideal for high handicappers, typically fall into one of two categories: game-improvement or max game-improvement.

Game improvement irons normally have more offset, longer blade lengths, thicker top lines, and wider soles, all of which are designed so that the club is easier to hit and sub-optimal contact still produces a decent result.

Max (or super) game-improvement irons have more of all of this — the most offset, thickest top lines, widest soles, and longest blade lengths. The goal of this is to provide as much forgiveness as possible.

4. Shaft

The shaft of an iron has a big influence on swingweight, feel, trajectory and spin. Choosing the right shaft is a highly individual matter.

When you’re looking for a good iron set for your needs, pay attention to the shaft. Shafts are made out of two types of materials: graphite and steel.

Best Golf Irons For Mid-Handicappers
Graphite (bottom) vs. steel (top) shafts


Graphite shafts tend to be lighter and more flexible than steel shafts, but they are less common with irons than with woods and drivers.

For some high handicappers with slower swing speeds, graphite might be a good choice because it will allow them to generate more clubhead speed through the ball.


If you’re strong enough or have a high enough swing speed, steel can be preferable because it is generally heavier and is less liable to deviate from the plane during the swing.

These days though, there is not a clear cut answer as to whether amateurs would benefit more from steel or graphite shafts. Professionals use both. You’ll have to figure out yourself whether you perform better with steel or graphite shafts.

Another important factor related to the shaft is flex. It’s important to know which flex suits you best because it can make a big difference in your performance. In general, faster swing speeds call for a stiffer flex.

5. Your Handicap

While a mid handicap typically falls in the range of 11-20, a high handicap is normally 20 or greater.

You might be a high handicapper, but where you are on that handicap range can give you a hint as to what type of iron you’d play best with.

For example, if you’re on the low end of the high-handicap range (around 20), you might opt for a standard game-improvement iron or players-GI hybrid type iron.

On the other hand, if your handicap is closer to 30 or beyond, you might choose a super GI iron which offers the most forgiveness.

6. Budget

Money bag

The price of irons and golf equipment in general continues to go up due to inflation, supply conditions, and other factors.

These days, not everyone can afford iron sets that cost $1500+, and fortunately, there are options that cost well below this amount.

When it comes to irons, it’s not at all uncommon to find that you perform better with an $800 set than with a $2000 set. This is why, unless you have a big budget, you shouldn’t worry about an iron being “too cheap”.

There is a limit to this, though; if you’re looking for great performance, we wouldn’t go under $500 in terms of cost.

In this guide, we’ve included iron models that span a wide price range, from around $300 to $2000+. But the great thing is that there are ways to reduce both the final cost and risk of the purchase.

For example, one of our top recommended online golf equipment stores, Global Golf, offers club trade-ins as well as a program called Utry that lets you try an iron before you buy it. There has never been this much allowance for finding your ideal clubs, and you should take advantage.


A set of reliable, quality irons can be a huge boon to a golfer’s toolkit. Finding a model that does the job you want it to do as a high handicapper is certainly possible with some research.

There are many things to look out for. Some irons provide better forgiveness and more distance, while others sacrifice some of this in order to provide better control and feel.

While it’s suggested that high handicappers play game-improvement irons because of their forgiveness and distance, they could do well with other types of irons as well.

Each of the iron models reviewed above deliver exceptional performance. We’ve given you the information you need to make a decision; now it’s up to you to go the rest of the way.

I highly recommend reading consumer and professional reviews to acquire some useful insights as to how iron models actually perform. This will help you a lot in the decision-making process.

Thanks for reading this guide. Which irons are you interested in as a high handicapper? Feel free to share by leaving a comment below.

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