8 Best Golf Irons For Mid-Handicappers – 2022 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 mid-handicappers.

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

I remember many years ago when I went looking to buy a good set of irons as a mid-handicapper; I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing. Do you prioritize distance, forgiveness, or launch?

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

Each have their own set of features that set them apart from the rest, but all deliver excellent performance.

Note: This article will feature iron models from 2022 and years prior. Older iron models may be available from different sources, usually at a reduced price.


Our Top Picks For Irons For Mid-Handicappers

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

  1. Callaway Apex DCB 21 Irons
  2. TaylorMade P790 Irons
  3. PING G425 Irons
  4. Titleist T300 Irons
  5. PXG 0311 P GEN5 Irons
  6. Srixon ZX5 Irons
  7. Callaway Rogue ST MAX Irons
  8. TaylorMade Stealth Irons

1. Callaway Apex DCB 21 Irons

Callaway Apex DCB 21 Irons - 3 Perspectives

If we had to recommend one iron out of all the iron models we’ve tested, it would be the Apex DCB 21 by Callaway.

This would be the perfect fit for the mid-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)

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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

In our view, the Apex DCB 21 irons belong firmly in the game-improvement category — they’re too forgiving to be considered a players iron, and the spin rate is too low to be considered a “max” game-improvement iron.

This is why, if you’re a mid-handicapper that wants great forgiveness but nothing extreme one way or the other, this iron is the ideal choice.

Having said that, what earns the Apex DCB 21 iron the #1 spot on our list is that it has a wide appeal and practically no standout weaknesses. You can read our full review of it here.


2. TaylorMade P790 Irons

TaylorMade P790 Irons - 3 Perspectives

TaylorMade is a top golf equipment brand that has developed high-performing irons for decades.

The P790 iron, in particular, has elements of a players iron such as a forged construction and a classic design, but yet it has superb distance and forgiveness that really widen its appeal.

The key technologies of the P790 iron are:

  • a forged hollow-body construction: a fairly new trend in modern golf irons, this allows for sleeker, slimmer heads along with enhanced playability.
  • SpeedFoam: this proprietary super-light urethane foam is injected inside the head just behind the face, improving ball speeds across the face as well as feel.
  • redesigned low-profile tungsten weighting: positioned in the lower part of the head, this lowers the center of gravity (CG) and hence promotes a higher launch.

The stock shafts offered with the P790 irons are the True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 (steel) and UST Recoil 780/760 SmacWrap (graphite).

In this case, the steel shaft is recommended for more skilled players that don’t need help launching the ball high, so we generally recommend a graphite shaft for mid-handicappers.

Loft19°-50° (3-AW)
Lie60.5°-64° (3-AW)
Length35.5″-39″ (AW-3)
Offset1.6mm-3.5mm (AW-3)

Pros

  • impressive forgiveness given low offset and other “players” characteristics
  • easy to get the ball up in the air
  • very long with fantastic feel
  • does a beautiful job of balancing players benefits and GI benefits

Cons

  • pricey
  • can have poor results if the shaft or grip are wrong

Final Thoughts

The TaylorMade P790 irons are geared towards more skilled players than the Apex DCB 21 irons (above) are. But what we’ve found is that the forgiveness is nearly as good.

This, along with the tremendous length, makes the P790 irons a great choice for mid-handicappers, particularly those who dislike the chunky look of super-GI irons. Just be sure to get a shaft and grip type that suit you.


3. PING G425 Irons

PING G425 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.

The G425 model is widely regarded as one of the best choices for mid-handicappers due to its well-balanced performance. This includes exceptional forgiveness across the face, speed, launch, stopping power, and a compact profile.

The key technologies of the G425 irons are:

  • Hydropearl Chrome Finish: repels moisture, maximizing performance in wet conditions.
  • Tungsten Toe Screw & Hosel Weight: improve performance in mis-hit regions by expanding and reinforcing perimeter weighting.
  • Hyper 17-4 Face: a stainless steel face with variable thickness and a metal-wood style design produces PING’s fastest ball speeds in the G-Series.
  • Top-Rail Undercut & Patented Cascading Sole: these flex in a hinge-like fashion, resulting in increased ball speeds, higher launch, and better stopping power into greens.
  • Multi-Material 3-Piece Badge: dampens unpleasant vibrations and frequencies by covering more of the face.

PING offers an array of steel and graphite stock shaft options including the PING Alta CB Slate, True Temper Dynamic Gold, and Nippus N.S. PRO MODUS 3 105. The stock grips are the Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 and Tour Velvet Cord.

Loft20.5°-58° (4-LW)
Lie60.5°-64.6° (4-LW)
Length35″-38.875″ (LW-4)
Offset0.08″-0.27″ (LW-4)

Pros

  • elegant looks with minimal offset
  • feels like a better-player iron
  • straight, consistent ball flight
  • pretty easy to launch up in the air

Cons

  • not as long as expected
  • many people dislike the Arccos Smart Grips

Final Thoughts

The PING G425 irons have characteristics of both game-improvement and players irons, which many mid-handicappers are sure to appreciate.

I’m a bit disappointed with the ball speed preservation on mis-hits, and the performance gains over the previous G410 model are small, but other than that, there isn’t much to complain about.

With PING clubs in particular, I do highly 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.


4. Titleist T300 Irons

Titleist 2021 T300 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.

We feel that their 2021 T300 iron, which sits between the less-forgiving T200 and super-GI T400, is an excellent option for mid-handicappers. It’s designed for launch, distance, forgiveness, and premium feel in a chrome head.

The three main features of the T300 are:

  • Max Impact Technology: an enhanced polymer core is located directly behind the face. This ‘hidden power source’ improves the mass efficiency of the club, improves feel and feedback, and increases ball speed.
  • Variable Face Thickness: in the long and mid irons, the face gets thinner as you move towards the heel. This is designed to improve performance in what has historically been one of the worst-performing mis-hit regions.
  • Tungsten Weighting: in addition to using 40% more tungsten in the head, Titleist uses a denser D18 tungsten, which is put through a 2000°F brazing process used in aerospace construction. This leads to solid Tour-like feel while providing an optimal balance of forgiveness, speed and launch.

Titleist offers an array of steel and graphite stock shaft options including the True Temper AMT, Project X, and Mitsubishi TENSEI AV. The stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360.

Loft20°-53° (4-W2)
Lie61.5°-64° (4-W2)
Length35.5″-38.5″ (W2-4)
Offset1.9mm-5.4mm (W2-4)

Pros

  • crazy long and very consistent
  • great forgiveness
  • solid launch
  • feels like a players iron

Cons

  • expensive
  • on the chunky side in terms of appearance

Final Thoughts

The 2021 version of the T300 is a clear improvement over the previous T300 model. One of its greatest strengths is having a feel that resembles a premium players iron while delivering the distance and forgiveness you would expect from a game-improvement iron.

It’s geared towards golfers that want a good deal of forgiveness but aren’t willing to go as far as the “max game-improvement” category.


5. PXG 0311 P GEN5 Irons

PXG 0311 P GEN5 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 James Hahn.

The 0311 P GEN5 is claimed by PXG to be the benchmark to which all other irons are measured. It’s designed to deliver the absolute best in terms of distance and forgiveness.

Compared to the previous GEN4 model, the 0311 P GEN5 irons are even longer and more forgiving. The main technologies behind it are:

  • XCOR2: this is a proprietary polymer filling, designed specifically for GEN5 irons, 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.
  • Ultra-Thin Face: the face of the iron is just 0.058″ thick 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.
  • Robotic Precision: a robotic polishing and laser welding process produces extremely precise sole and face perimeter geometry. This ensures high strength and consistency from iron to iron.
  • Precision Weighting Technology: in addition to five tungsten heel/toe weights, a large weight on the back of the iron can be adjusted to achieve optimal personalized performance. This is meant to be used during the fitting process and not after the purchase.
  • 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.
  • Milled Back Surface: improves iron aesthetics without compromising performance.
  • 5X Forged: forged five times from 8620 soft carbon steel, increasing strength, groove life, feel and looks.

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

Loft20.5°-49° (4-GW)
Lie61°-64° (4-GW)
Length35.5″-38.875″ (GW-4)
Offset0.04″-0.22″ (GW-4)

Pros

  • among the best forgiveness on the market
  • tremendous distance
  • feel is more solid and satisfying compared to GEN4
  • sharp, premium, luxurious look
  • unique dark finish available

Cons

  • very expensive
  • lower spin can reduce controllability

Final Thoughts

Although the PXG 0311 P GEN5 irons are objectively longer and more forgiving than the previous GEN4 irons, you should keep in mind that they also tend to produce lower spin, less launch, and less stopping power into greens.

If you can handle the high cost of these irons and can access a custom fitting, there’s absolutely no reason not to give them a try. You might just be blown away by the performance.


6. Srixon ZX5 Irons

Srixon ZX5 Irons - 3 Perspectives

Many people are familiar with Srixon as one of the top manufacturers of golf balls. It turns out that they make excellent golf clubs too.

Srixon’s ZX5 iron sits between the max game-improvement ZX4 and players ZX7. It has a medium sole width and is designed to deliver game-improvement distance and forgiveness in a thin, workable, forged-like chassis.

The ZX5 has received excellent ratings including a 4.9/5 (55+ reviews) on the Srixon store, and it also won a GolfWRX award for best iron in 2022 and silver medal on the 2022 Golf Digest Hot List.

The main technologies of the ZX5 are:

  • Multi-Piece Construction: combines a forged SUP10 face with a forged 1020 carbon steel body and tungsten in the toe of the long and mid irons. The result is increase MOI, stability, forgiveness, speed and distance, as well as less vibrations on impact.
  • Mainframe: this is a milled pattern on the back of the ZX5 iron that maximizes COR for more ball speed and distance.
  • Sole Notches: located on the heel and toe, these are designed to improve workability without sacrificing forgiveness.
  • Tour V.T. Sole: a V-shaped sole that is designed to glide through the turf so that hitting behind the ball will be much less penalizing.
  • Progressive Grooves: grooves become sharper, narrower and deeper in the short irons and wedges in order to enerate maximum spin and stopping power.

The ZX5 irons come stock with the N.S. PRO MODUS 3 Tour 105 (steel) and UST Mamiya Recoil 95 (graphite) shafts. The stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360.

Loft20°-50° (3-AW)
Lie60°-63.5° (3-AW)
Length35.5″-39″ (AW-3)
Offset1.9mm-4.2mm (AW-3)

Pros

  • great balance between players and GI performance
  • amazing turf interaction
  • superb forgiveness
  • quality stock shaft options

Cons

  • not much longer than the more workable ZX7
  • lofts are on the strong side

Final Thoughts

The Srixon ZX5 is simply a great iron. Many would argue it performs just as well as irons from name brands like Callaway, TaylorMade and Titleist.

The mix of players and game-improvement characteristics makes it an attractive option for many mid-handicappers. We just wish it was a little more affordable than the current four-figure price tag for a full set.


7. Callaway Rogue ST MAX Irons

Callaway Rogue ST MAX Irons - 3 Perspectives

The Rogue ST MAX is one of Callaway’s newest iron models, designed for maximum speed and game-improvement forgiveness.

This iron has wonderful customer ratings (4.9/5 (96% recommended) on the Callaway store) and won a gold medal on the 2022 Golf Digest Hot List.

Its key technologies, which build on those of the MAVRIK and take inspiration from the Apex 21s, include:

  • A.I. Flash Face: a complex face architecture unique to every iron in the set increases launch, improves spin consistency, optimizes landing angles, and boosts ball speeds (COR) to unprecedented levels.
  • 450 Steel: this high-strength material combines with the Flash Face to further increase ball speeds across the face.
  • Precision Tungsten Weighting: the center of gravity (CG) is precisely located with as much as 62g of high-density tungsten, improving launch conditions and speed across the entire face.
  • Urethane Microspheres: these provide the benefits of urethane (absorbing unwanted vibrations and improving sound & feel) while still retaining the very high COR of the Flash Face Cup. Now, the microspheres are shifted farther up the face to the sixth groove.

The stock steel shaft is the True Temper Elevate MPH 95, and the stock graphite shafts are the Mitsubishi TENSEI AV Blue (65 and 75) and Project X Cypher Black 50 HB/IR. The stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360.

Loft18.5°-56° (4-SW)
Lie60.5°-64° (4-SW)
Length35″-38.875″ (SW-4)
Offset3.2mm-7mm (SW-4)

Pros

  • crazy length
  • very good forgiveness
  • solid and pure feel
  • decent mis-hit feedback and workability
  • reasonably affordable

Cons

  • lofts are strong and trajectories are a little low

Final Thoughts

While the Rogue ST MAX irons are undoubtedly some of the longest on the market with excellent forgiveness, their lower trajectories can limit stopping power into greens unless you have a high enough swing speed.

Aside from that, they really have no weaknesses.


8. TaylorMade Stealth Irons

TaylorMade Stealth Irons - 3 Perspectives

The TaylorMade Stealth irons are similar to the Rogue ST MAX irons above in that they’re designed for essentially the same purpose: to produce a ton of distance and forgiveness across the face.

The goal of the Stealth irons is simple: to get you from the fairway to the green in fewer shots. It’s very popular among golfers, winning a gold medal on the 2022 Golf Digest Hot List.

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 (SW-4)

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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.


Buying Guide

As a mid-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. They are:

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 players-like look and feel that will challenge your game, or do you want to play it safe with a chunkier profile?

In general, mid-handicappers are expected to play game-improvement irons because such irons tend to be in line with their skill level. 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 designed for low-handicappers or even scratch golfers. 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 professionals who have the skill and experience to control their ball.

A mid-handicapper might want irons that have game-improvement features but also offer the playability and feel that more skilled golfers seek.

3. Clubhead Size

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

Medium-sized clubs are great for people who aren’t total hacks but are looking to improve their game, such as mid-handicappers.

Large club heads are very forgiving and come the closest to guaranteeing that you hit a solid shot, making them ideal for amateurs and newbies.

4. Shaft

The shaft of the club 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.

Graphite vs. steel golf club shafts
Graphite vs. steel shafts

Graphite

Graphite shafts tend to be lighter and more flexible than steel shafts.

For new or inexperienced golfers, graphite might be a good choice because it will allow those with slower swing speeds to generate more club head speed through the ball.

Steel

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.

5. Your Handicap

You might be a mid-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 mid-handicap range (around 10), you might opt for an iron with a little less forgiveness.

Conversely, if you’re on the high end of the range (around 18), you might choose an iron with more forgiveness and a thicker profile.

6. Budget

Money bag

Not everyone can afford iron sets that cost $2000+ like the PXG model featured on this page, 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 a $800 set than with a set that costs $1900.

This is why, unless you have a big budget, you shouldn’t worry about choosing a model that is considered “cheap”. There is a limit to this, though; if you’re looking for good 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 $800 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.


Conclusion

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 mid-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 no iron will tick every box, many do well to satisfy the majority of them.

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. Feel free to share, leave a comment below, or check out our guide for the best golf rangefinders to supplement your course play.

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11 Comments

  1. Kevin Branson September 17, 2018
    • Paul September 17, 2018
  2. michael miller September 13, 2019
    • Paul September 13, 2019
  3. Paul Saridakis August 19, 2021
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  4. John Lia September 12, 2021
  5. Michael May 14, 2022
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  6. Bob niemiec September 30, 2022
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