7 Best Irons For 20 Handicap Golfers

Updated on

These are the 7 best irons for 20 handicap golfers with the TaylorMade Stealth Irons as our number 1 pick.

Why are low scores so hard to come? Could your equipment be holding you back? When do you upgrade your golf clubs? How does a 20-handicap golfer decide?

When you are learning how to hit irons, when is it time to leave game-improvement clubs behind you? After all, low-handicap players don’t use “easy clubs.” And what about spin and playability, what do you need to know?

Best irons for 20 handicappers

You will be taken more seriously when you start using clubs built for better players. At a 20-handicap, you are on the edge of some exciting lower scores. It is more important than ever that you have the correct golf clubs in your bag. 

Does this mean you have to give up the distance you love with your Game Improvement irons? 

Thankfully no. The leading golf club manufacturers are brilliantly filling the gap between the impressive distance of Game Improvement and the outstanding workability of Player Distance golf clubs, and guess what? We’ve tested a bunch of irons and now present you 7 of the best irons for 20-handicappers for you right here! Let’s dig in.

Very Quickly: If you’re a 10 handicapper, read this instead: Best Irons for 10 Handicap Golfers

  • Huge sweet spot for superior forgiveness
  • Consistent ball speeds, even on mishits
  • Budget-Friendly Irons With a Premium Feel
  • Wider sole for improved turf contact
  • Cutting edge cap back limits vibration for better feel
  • Built to last until you are ready for muscle backs
  • Not suitable for better mid-level players looking for a lot of workability

Our Top 7 Picks

  1. TaylorMade Stealth Iron Set (Winner: Best Iron for a 20 Handicap Golfer)
  2. Mizuno JPX 923 Hot Metal Iron Set (Runner-Up: Best Iron for Distance)
  3. TaylorMade P790 Iron Set (Runner-Up 2: One Of The Most Popular 20 Handicap Iron)
  4. Takomo Golf 101 Irons (Best Quality Iron Set for a Bargain)
  5. PING G425 Irons (Best Straight Hitting Iron)
  6. Titleist T300 Iron Set (Most Workable and Forgiving Iron Set)
  7. Callaway 22 MAVRIK Irons (Best Artificial Intelligence Design)

7 Best Irons for 20 Handicap Golfers

Game Improvement vs. Player Distance Irons: Which Is Better for a 20 handicap Golfer?

The short answer, Game Improvement, but don’t be discouraged. Manufacturers are going out of their way to create irons that go far and have higher spin rates off the club face, so your ball lands softly on the green. 

Any of our highlighted irons are a mix of Game Improvement and Player Distance benefits and will minimize mishits, give you great distance and better feel, and help you get the lower scores you’re working towards.

1. TaylorMade Stealth Iron Set (Winner: Best Iron for 20 Handicap Golfers)

  • Huge sweet spot for superior forgiveness
  • Budget-Friendly Irons With a Premium Feel
  • Consistent ball speeds, even on mishits
  • Wider sole for improved turf contact
  • Cutting edge cap back limits vibration for better feel
  • Built to last until you are ready for muscle backs
  • Not suitable for better mid-level players looking for a lot of workability

Leave it to the techie geniuses at TaylorMade to take the idea of a hollow clubhead and make it even more forgiving. They discovered through the study of thousands of golf shots that high-toe and low-heel misses are the most common. The multi-material Cap Back Design shapes and positions the sweet spot to rescue you from mishits. 

Low-density polymer is used inside the club head, so the center of gravity (CG) is in the precise location to straighten off-center hits. Translation? A massive and perfectly placed sweet spot makes this one of the most forgiving TaylorMade irons on the market and an easy choice for our top best irons review.

The perfectly designed toe wrap moves weight from the toe of the club head to the lower edge of the sole. Now the center of gravity (CG) is even lower, which gives you maximum ball height, impressive distance, and superior stopping power on the green.

Inside the hollow club head of the Stealth iron is the soft Echo Damping System that works overtime to absorb undesirable vibrations at impact for the response and feel this popular iron is known for.

These Taylormade game improvement irons are gorgeous in your bag thanks to design details essential in Tour-level equipment. 

2. Mizuno JPX 923 Hot Metal Iron Set (Runner-Up: Best Iron for Distance)

  • Crisp feel and sound at impact
  • Perfect combination of distance and forgiveness
  • Hot Visuals and looks fabulous in the bag and at address
  • Great Price
  • Increased distance might cause gapping problems approaching greens

What if a game-improvement iron had the landing prowess of a blade? Mizuno takes it seriously. The prototype of the Hot Metal iron was too hot to be illegal. They determined to push the limit by expanding the hitting surface. 

With the addition of Nickel Chromoly 4335, they accomplished their goal. The single-piece casting design of the JPX 932 Hot Metal plus the V-Chassis offers clubhead design geometry, making the ultra-thin-faced club feel more like a forged iron. 

The ball launches with astounding speed and lands soft and sure. Game improvement irons are becoming more like player distance irons every season. It is even rumored that several pros carry one of the Hot Metal JPX 923 long irons in their bag because of its player distance visuals and golf-improvement benefits.

As a 20-handicap player, the ball speed elements ensure you get your distance and, more importantly, that your ball goes as straight as possible. The Hot Metal club face is optimized to generate more spin without sacrificing ball speed.

Mizuno doesn’t use foam or other dampening agents to control vibration at impact. The V-Chassis reinforces the cavity by engineered support around the perimeter and sole of the club. When you adjust the loft by manipulating the CG (center of gravity), you no longer need to sacrifice spin. Thank you, Mizuno!

You would not know this is a “game improvement” club looking at them lined up in your bag. 

3. TaylorMade P790 Iron Set (Runner-Up 2: One of the Most Popular 20 handicap iron, Man it Looks Good)

  • Oustanding looks in the bag and at address
  • Flexible, ultra-thin face helps increase ball speed
  • Explosive ball speed
  • Maintains straightness on mishits
  • Delivers optimal distance with impressive launch angle
  • More problematic for slower-swinging golfers to hit the long and mid irons 
  • Not as high forgiveness due to better workability

Sexy and forgiving, the P790 scores again with a golf improvement iron with decidedly player distance visuals. The first-generation clubs were great performers for mid handicappers, but TaylorMade contends the new P790s feel better than previous models.

It takes work to improve on perfection. Behind the ball, the topline is just thin enough, and the satin chrome brushed surface is eye candy. The muscle back design screams power and looks inviting to hit with just a hint of offset.

The big story is Speed Foam Air, which makes for less mass in the head, 3.5 grams per head, to be exact. The clubface is now 37.5% thinner, making for unmatched ball speed. Using Tungsten components, more weight goes to the perimeter of the club.

The sweet spot is nearly 60% bigger than the original. No wonder the TaylorMade P790 is the best-selling club ever. Flies far and lands soft as a feather, just like you want. The P790 is not  for scratch golfers but is ideal for improving players trying to break a 10 handicap.

It is not as strongly lofted as others in its class, making the club slightly more workable. The transfer of power from the club to the ball feels and sounds first-rate; consistent, uniform, and forgiving.

Players report that the long irons are a cinch to hit compared to other brands. The performance is consistent across the face meaning that shots tend to stay straighter and land softer on mishits.

The visuals are hot, the price reasonable, a compelling option.

Comparing the Stealth and the P790 by TaylorMade:

Comparing the P790 to the P770s, check our review here: P770 vs p790

4.  Takomo Golf 101 Irons (Best Quality Iron Set for a Bargain) 

  • Sounds fantastic and looks great
  • Super forgiving oversized sweet spot
  • Ultra lightweight construction for blazing ball speed
  • Plays as good as brand-name clubs
  • Can be a long wait for delivery
  • No option for in-person demos

Coming in fifth position and rising fast, we have the Takomo Golf 101 Irons. Takomo has an innovative approach. By going direct to consumers, they can redirect the money saved on marketing and retail to product development and upgraded material in construction.

By borrowing from classic Scandinavian design and applying simplicity and functionality to golf equipment, Takomo succeeds in designing a game improvement club with a sleek, forged look and feel.

They are brilliantly designed to appeal to the player distance mindset with super sharp muscle back detailing. 

The hollow-bodied iron with the ultra-thin face gives much-appreciated stopping power on the greens. The face is precision-milled thin for trampoline-like spring, compressing the ball for higher trajectory and improved distance, even on mishits.

Premium Lamkin grips give a deluxe feel in an amazingly affordable club. The offset and slightly larger club head give the 20-handicap golfer the advantage of an enormous sweet spot for keeping the ball straight even on mishits. They look high-end and feel even better for the price.

What makes the Takomo 101 the perfect choice for a 20-handicap player is the hollow body design for its expanded sweet spot and forgiveness on mishits. Plus, the muscle back detail makes this club gorgeous in your bag and behind the ball.

You won’t find a better value when buying golf clubs online. Similar to TaylorMade or Ping in club head design.

5. PING G425 Irons (Best Straight Hitting Iron)

  • Consistent performance across the board
  • Eye-popping good looks for a game-improvement iron
  • Famous Ping forgiveness
  • Feels sweet; is both solid and smooth
  • High launch trajectories
  • High flight path may lower distance

The red-hot G series has been on the market for years, and it is easy to see why. The G425 has the typical PING attributes of the notched hosel and Tungsten weighted screw to ensure the heel and toe weighting system corrects for swing inconsistencies.

The G425 Irons feature the design features they are known for with their fairway woods. The Variable Face Thickness (VFT) design increases the amount the clubface can flex inward during impact, which keeps off-center hits going straighter and farther.

Ping claims that the G425 is their softest and most responsive club yet. Multi-material badging on the back contributes to the softer feel. They have added 3% more inertia through perimeter weighting and space-age materials. 

The MOI (Moment of Inertia) in the Ping G425 is more significant than in previous generations, which helps the mid-handicap golfer square the clubface at impact. This club is built for consistent performance across the board. The proof is on the scorecard.

Ping’s waterproof matte Hydropearl 2.0 finish on the club face is not only super sharp visually, but the surface ensures clean shots out of wet grass in case you miss a fairway.

Ping’s proprietary AWT steel shafts (made by Nippon Shaft in Japan) provide slightly lighter long iron shafts to help you square the clubface at impact. The short iron shafts are a degree heavier, improving your feel and control around the greens.

You can’t go wrong with PING, credited by many for designing some of the best game improvement irons of all time.

6. Titleist T300 Iron Set (Most Workable and Forgiving Iron Set)

  • Great visuals; in the bag and at address
  • Generous sweet spot for keeping mishits straighter
  • Variable face thickness to handle off-center hits
  • Tungsten weighting for low CG
  • Good distance
  • Feel not as responsive or soft
  • A bit on the pricey side

Although Titleist T series irons are popular with low handicap players, the T300 game improvement irons are gaining popularity due to technology designed to enhance your launch angle, distance, and spin on landing while promising maximum forgiveness. 

Behind the promise of the T300 is a clubface backed by a surefire power source. The addition of a specialized polymer core makes a big difference in the feel of the club at impact. Club head  speed goes up, and the ball flies farther.

As a 20-handicap golfer with the drive to become a single-digit player, the T300 offers a sweet advantage. Advanced engineering, usually reserved for Tour level clubs, is the backbone of the T300.

Titleist uses 40% denser D18 tungsten created by a 2000ºF brazing process often used in aerospace construction. The center of gravity placement puts the extra weight in the perfect position for maximum speed, accurate launch angle. Titleist forgiveness in one sweet singing club.

20-handicap players are helped considerably by variable face thickness technology, which improves performance by changing the thickness on the clubface to ensure straighter shots on the longer clubs. The bottom line? Misses go straighter and farther, and scores trend lower.

This club brings a degree of shot-making and workability to the mid-level player, which will make this set last longer, all the way to the low handicap zone.

7. Callaway 22 MAVRIK Irons (Best Artificial Intelligence Design)

  • Good Distance no matter where you hit it on the clubface
  • Tons of forgiveness
  • High, straight ball flight
  • Great sound and feel
  • Very long, maybe too long, not easy to control distance
  • Not a great club for beginners

Mid-handicap golfers were excited when the Calloway Rogues appeared on the scene in 2019. The Rogues didn’t disappoint the lower-handicap players. Distance, straightness, and forgiveness performed as expected. 

The only issue was the feel and sound at impact. When you mishit a Rogue, you get a sting in your hands. Back to the drawing board for Calloway. Flash Face Cup Technology allowed Callaway to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to lace each face with power. 

Each iron has its own unique design. Tungsten Energy Core technology combined with urethane microspheres backing the badge allow the clubhead to absorb unwanted vibrations. The result? A silky smooth feel through the hitting zone, whether on the center of the face or not, is phenomenal.

The face of the 22 MAVRIK is designed to minimize distance loss on mishits. When you hit it on the screws, the results are stellar but don’t worry; the whole face works to correct for swing errors to ensure your ball flies straighter and farther.

You just can’t go wrong with Callaway game improvement irons. As a 20-handicapper, prepare for impressive performance in getting to the next level. Longer irons launch just right and fly high. Mid and short irons give you better control than other game-improvement clubs.

Even though the  MAVRIK irons are strong-lofted for improved launch angle and explosive ball speed; the soft approaches will have you walking up to the green putter in hand more often. 

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Irons for a 20-Handicap Golfer

Is Forgiveness Still Important?

Yes. The proof of this is in the bag. Many high-level players and even professionals carry one or more of the clubs we reviewed on this page in their bags. At the 20-handicap level, forgiveness keeps your misses straighter, and that helps you get lower scores.

Price Point

A good rule of thumb is to buy the best golf irons you can afford. The technical brilliance of higher-priced equipment is hard to match in budget clubs. If you want a budget set of clubs, lean toward Takomo for a good club at a budget-conscious price point.

Forged, Cast, Muscle Back, or Cavity Back

As a 20-handicap golfer, it is vital that you have a basic feel for the terms you will hear when looking for clubs. The bottom line is that each manufacturer has one goal in mind for players like you; well, actually there are two: greater distance and softer landing.

Better golf course performance is the whole point behind manipulating the clubhead design. The information in the mini-reviews above detail those design elements. For the record, here are the definitions of these standard terms:

  • Forged irons are made from a solid piece of metal and pressed into the appropriate shape and loft. 
  • Cast irons are made from molten metal poured into a  mold.
  • Muscle back irons are best for low-handicap players. It means the iron has a complete back as opposed to a hollowed-out back of the club head. Special Note: Muscle backs can be forged or cast.
  • Cavity Back irons are highly specialized clubs using various space-age materials to get the center of gravity and perimeter weighting adjusted for maximum game improvement.

Best Club Head Structure: Compact or Thick?

When it comes to the most desirable club head structure for the 20-handicap golfer, it all comes down to personal taste. Most mid-level players want the biggest, sweetest sweet spot they can find. Low-handicap players tend to prefer a lower-profile iron with no extra bells and whistles. 

The bottom line is that you want what goes the farthest and lands the softest right now, so bigger is better. You can’t beat the TaylorMade Stealth Iron set for an impressive blend of Game Improvement and Player Distance details in club head research and design.

Flex and Shaft Type

I bet you didn’t know there are sophisticated systems to help a mid handicap choose the correct shaft. There are many factors to think about. Do you prefer graphite or steel golf shafts? Next, you will get lower scores if you have the best shaft flex, kick-point, torque rating, and length for your game.

Holey Moly, right? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a golf shaft flex calculator you could use? Good news! Golfers of all levels need a shaft flex guide to achieve the lower scores they are searching for. Contacting a golf professional is the quickest way to learn what you need, however; there is only one thing you need to know right now.

The slower your swing speed, the more flex you need in your golf club.

This is why Tour players use X – eXtra Stiff. The faster your swing speed, the stiffer the shaft. Your golf club needs to flex at the exact moment of impact for the best possible distance at your skill level. You can see why it is critical to have the proper flex.

The other flexes available are S – Stiff, R – Regular, A – Amateur or Senior, and L- Ladies. 

FAQ: Best Irons for 20 Handicap Players

What’s the difference between a High Handicap Golfer and a 20 Handicap Golfer? 

High-handicap golfers (25 and above) lose a lot of strokes on the course, causing their scores to skyrocket. Not only do they hit low shots, fat shots, and even whiff sometimes, but they also need help with the short game and four-putting is painfully frequent.

Low handicap golfers (10 and under) know how to save strokes on the golf course. They practice and take notes. They use player distance clubs so they can “work” their shots, meaning they can create shots by manipulating the club head. They often have a relationship with a golf professional for club fitting, lessons, and advice.

Mid-Handicap golfers (10 to 25) still have many unforced errors on the course, but they are better players. They understand how game improvement irons work to improve their scoring, they are comfortable around the greens, and are eager to shoot lower scores.

Is it time to get custom fitted as a 20 Handicap Golfer?

Getting fitted by a professional is a great reward for an aspiring golfer. Fortunately, it is not necessary, as club designers are doing a phenomenal job of building award-winning performance into clubs you can buy in a set. Generally, once a player gets down under a 15 handicap, custom fitting has more value.

How Crucial is Workability and Feel for a 20 handicapper?

At a 20-handicap, you can expect both workability and feel to be a work in progress. Muscleback irons are tempting. Sleek and seductive, they may be calling your name. The trouble is, even touring pros can struggle if their timing is off. A bad day on the golf course with the wrong clubs is a very long day.

The game improvement irons you love are simply not going to give you the workability and feel of a forged club. However, as you can see by the above reviews, our heroes, the golf club engineers, are bringing an almost forged sound and feel to today’s game improvement irons.

What irons should I use For a 20 handicap?

A 20-handicap golfer should be playing cavity back irons that are in the game improvement categories. Truth is, even when you’re shooting +20, forgiveness is still more important to you than workability. At this stage, you’re likely still hitting a few slices here and there along with mishits. Therefore, cavity back irons are still your best bet and can be used to when you’ve reached a 10-handicap.

What’s My Golf Handicap? Am I a +20 Player?

First of all, what is a golf handicap? This term has many definitions, but according to the USGA a golfer’s handicap is referred to as a golfer’s handicap index. This index is a “measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty

In short, it’s the average score you are expected to hit on a golf course of standard playing difficulty.

It’s a lengthy process, if you’re a serious golfer and want to know more to read more here.

The Verdict: Best Irons for 20 Handicap Golfers

As an improving player, having clubs that look and perform more like player distance irons carries a lot of weight and is excellent for building confidence and inspiring aspiring players to have more success in the game.  

We feel the TaylorMade Stealth Iron is the best all-around club for improving golfers; however, any of the irons reviewed here on this page are valid options.

Congratulations on taking the time to research the technology used to make the game easier for you. 

When you don’t make your best swing, isn’t it nice to know that your clubs will work FOR you? With the right clubs, your mishits are minimized, the ball flies farther and higher and lands softer, and that makes for lower and lower scores.

Like what you read? Here are other related posts that might just be what you’re looking for:

Photo of author
Catherine is a Short Game Coach, Master Motivator, and Peak Performance Geek on a mission to make golf less embarrassing for beginning golfers. Known for spending more time practicing than playing, her claim to fame is dropping her handicap from 33 to single digits in two seasons. When Catherine is not writing golf tips, she hikes with her dogs, creates acrylic paintings, and reads Tarot Cards. Her favorite golfer of the moment is Lydia Ko, who lives unapologetically and leads by example. Golf career highlight: Meeting Arnold Palmer.

Connect With Us

48-Hour Discounts on Brand New Golf Clubs with FREE & FAST U.S. Shipping For Purchases Over $149

Browse Deals Now!

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy through our links, I will receive a commission at no additional cost to you.