This is our review of the best irons for beginners and high handicappers in 2023.
Buying your first set of golf clubs may be the most important and exciting phase throughout your golf journey. Sadly for most beginners, they dump heaps of money on a slick-looking golf club, just to realize that they can’t use them.
For beginners, they need to prioritize forgiveness first and distance second when picking their first set of golf clubs, especially for their irons. For that reason, we found the TaylorMade SiM MAX irons to be the best irons for beginners and high handicappers for their fair price, quality build, high forgiveness, and great performance.
Throughout our years in golf, we’ve seen too many golfers (particularly beginners) quit from having a bad experience with their new golf clubs. That said, we want to make sure your first set of irons won’t let you down. In this review, we’re going to list out all the best irons for beginners and high handicappers available to you right now. We’ll also cover important factors to consider when buying your first set of irons after the reviews below.
Let’s get started.
Our Top 6 Picks
- TaylorMade SiM MAX (Best Irons for Beginners)
- Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo (Runner-Up)
- Cleveland Launcher CBX (Runner-Up 2)
- TaylorMade P790 (Best Premium Irons for High Handicappers)
- Callaway Rogue (Best All-round Budget Iron Set)
- PING G410 (Best Small Club Head For Beginners)
6 Best Irons for Beginners & High Handicappers
Every option in this list meets most of the criteria in our iron’s buying guide covered below.
1. TaylorMade SiM MAX Irons (Winner: Best Irons for Beginners)
- Designed to generate great distance with a forged-like feel
- Very forgiving
- Decent feedback for a cavity-iron
- Thinner face for increased ball speed
- High MOI and perimeter weighting
- Bang for your buck
- Not the newest model
- No hybrid option
TaylorMade has been dominating the driver and iron industry for the last decade and has a long track record for being one of the most trusted and successful golf manufacturers in history.
The TaylorMade SiM Max is the best bang for your buck set of irons you can get. It checks out all the key features we want for the best irons for beginners and high handicappers.
- Performs great
- High-quality build
- Cavity-back with a forged-like feel
- Decent feedback
One of its main features starts with its Echo Damping System which improves its MOI, removing any vibration or twisting of the golf club from off-center mishits. This, along with its low center of gravity (CG) makes it easy for you to launch the ball high and far. Off-center hits are also straightened out for you, which will greatly improve your playing abilities at the golf course.
Unlike most clubs in this list, the SiM MAX provides good feedback from its forge-like feel. This is possible thanks to TaylorMade’s Speed Bridge technology, allowing the SiM MAX’s face to be 17% thinner than previous models with a well-supported topline. Combined with their Progressive Inverted Cone Technology, the sweet spot is increased and side spins are minimized, leading to less severe slices or hooks and better accuracy.
TaylorMade’s iconic Thru-Slot Speed Pocket is also fitted on these irons. With these, your ball speed and distance are maximized, and nothing feels better than a bombed iron shot.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are three more models of the SiM MAX as of 2022. Those models are the SiM MAX OS, SiM 2 MAX, and SiM 2 MAX OS. Of course, the SiM 2 MAX series are the newer versions of the SiM MAX that were released in 2020. However, since they’re slightly more expensive and feel relatively the same as the regular SiM MAX, we’re not recommending them here. The OS series are super-game improvement irons, meaning they have a larger club face and are a lot more forgiving than their non-OS counterpart. However, even though they are a preferred option for beginners, we believe that the SiM MAX is still the better option in terms of forgiveness to performance ratio.
2. Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo Irons (Runner Up)
- Hybrid-like golf clubs
- The most forgiving set of clubs in this list
- Great to hit out of the rough across all irons
- High MOI and perimeter weighting
- Great for low- to mid-swing speed golfers
- Some may not like the design
- With a hybrid-like design, these irons offer very little feedback
The Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo series have been some of the best options available to beginners and high handicappers, be it their driver or irons.
In terms of their irons, they are the best super game-improvement iron available right now, with the best forgiveness offerable to golfers.
Unlike most clubs in this list, the Launcher HB Turbo is part of the newer chapter of Hybrid Irons with every iron in this set having a hybrid-like design. This allows the manufacturers to place the CG lower and deeper in the club head, meaning a greater launching capability, more forgiveness, and an even weight distribution throughout the whole clubhead to maximize MOI. And just like hybrids, these irons will also make getting out of the rough a piece of cake.
Beginners with a slower golf swing will love this iron set as launching the ball far and high is no longer an issue.
3. Cleveland Launcher CBX Irons (Runner-Up 2)
- Performs great for its price
- Most affordable iron set on this list
- Bang for your buck
- Accurate and far hitting
- Traditional, clean design
- Limited custom-shaft options
- Released in 2018
If you liked the features offered by the Cleveland HB Turbo, but prefer your clubs to look more like regular irons, then Cleveland’s Launcher CBX iron set is worth your attention.
These irons are the best budget-friendly options for newbies and high handicappers who still want to play amazing golf.
Though the Launcher CBX was released in 2018, it comes with many advanced features tailored for golfers who want an easier time launching the ball while still having that great club feel.
Rest assured, you won’t be missing the greens as often with these irons. They’ve got a lower loft design which will increase the distance of your golf shots substantially, so you won’t be falling short of your shots all the time. This, coupled with its Tour Zip Grooves and double-laser milling, gives the golf ball more spin which is great for accuracy especially when you’re trying to land the ball on the green.
Lastly, its exclusive Feel Balanced Technology and v-shaped sole will give you more confidence when stepping up to the ball, as you’re able to have a lot more control and forgiveness with this club.
Now that we’ve shown you our top 3 best irons for beginners and high handicappers, let’s dive a bit deeper and review some other really great irons with their own unique features.
4. TaylorMade P790 Irons (Best Premium Irons for High Handicappers)
- The only Player’s Distance Irons in this list
- Probably the best performing cavity-irons if used properly
- Great for high handicappers who are looking for more distance
- Gives some of the best feedback in all cavity-irons
- Optimized center of gravity
- Looks great
- Not as forgiving to beginners due to its blade-like features
- Priced at the higher end of the market
TaylorMade’s P790 is the best irons for high handicappers who are looking to get a slick, far-hitting, and high-quality set of irons.
It’s got the whole TaylorMade package, with the Speed Pocket Technology, Speedfoam, and tungsten weights for improved CG performance, the P790 offers the best feedback out of all the cavity irons in the market.
As they’ve got some blade-like features, they’re often not the best suit for beginners looking for maximum forgiveness. However, with the right shaft, the P790 can work for some beginners and definitely works well for high to mid-handicappers.
In our opinion, these clubs are for those without a budget, who want a set of irons similar to the look and feel of Player Irons but still offer the forgiveness in most of the top-end Cavity Irons (also known as Player Distance Irons). Plus, they look amazing, giving you the ‘wow’ factor whenever you bring them out to the golf course.
5. Callaway Rogue Irons (Best All-round Budget Iron Set)
- Very affordable
- High forgiveness and performs great
- Low CG to boost launch
- Released in 2018
Like the Cleveland Launcher CBX, the 2018 Callaway Rogue Iron Set is a budget-friendly and far-hitting iron set worth looking into.
Despite its affordability, these irons pack a punch with their 360 Face Cup and Variable Face Technology allowing beginners to have a larger sweet spot to work with and still able to generate maximum ball speed for more carry.
Finally, the Callaway Rogues were the first set of irons that were fitted with Callaway’s urethane microsphere technology, giving the irons a better feel and sound, without sacrificing ball speed and distance.
6. PING G410 Irons (Best Small Club Head For Beginners)
- Low CG and high MOI
- High forgiveness
- Small club head
- Great for shot shaping
- Not great for those who struggle to hit with a larger club head
- Not as much offset as most of your cavity irons
PING’s engineering team set out to create their best forgiving yet high-performing irons with the PING G410.
What’s unique about these PING irons is that they’ve managed to make a golf club that’s more forgiving by reducing the size of the club head instead of enlarging it from the previous nine G series. Though the club face may have been reduced, it also means that you’re able to swing faster and shape the ball better than most cavity irons.
Besides that, the weights of the iron have been placed at the toe and hosel of the golf club. The focused weights at the perimeter of the club head increase the club’s MOI and as a result, improve the perimeter of the club by 8% from its previous models. If you don’t get what that means, it simply means the club will stay square even on off-center hits, reducing the chances of a slice or hook.
If you’re a beginner or high handicapper who doesn’t need a larger club face, but just wants a bit more assist on shot-shaping abilities, these are the irons you should get.
Important Things To Consider When Choosing the Best Iron For Beginners & High Handicappers
The best irons for beginners will be different from the best irons for high handicappers. Simply because both golfers are at different stages of their golf journey and thus will need different things from their irons.
For beginners, they tend to struggle with getting the ball up in the air. If your golf shots are rarely in the air and just rolling whenever you hit them, then irons with a larger clubface and higher forgiveness are your best bet, these irons are also known as Super Game-improvement irons (we’ll cover more on what makes an iron forgiving in a bit).
While for high handicappers, struggling to make solid contact is not always their biggest issue. In fact, if you’re making good contact with the golf ball but hitting short of the green on most of your shots, you can transition to irons that are made for more mid-level players like the Game-Improvement or Player’s Distance irons.
The Four Categories of Irons
There are four categories of golf irons. Each category of irons is designed and made in its own ways to suit golfers of every skill level.
Super Game-Improvement Irons
As we mentioned earlier, Super Game-improvement irons are one of the best iron options for seniors and beginners. They offer optimal forgiveness with a large sweet spot, high MOI, more perimeter weighting, and generally have a larger sole than most irons. They also tend to have a bit more of an offset design to reduce the effects of the dreaded slices. These clubs also have a thicker topline, which is the upper edge of the club head, to make it easier to launch the golf ball.
Some examples of these super game-improvement irons mentioned in our list of irons are the Cleveland HB Turbo, the TaylorMade SiM 2 MAX OS, and the TaylorMade SiM MAX OS.
Game-improvement irons have become extremely popular over the last decade. They’re slightly less forgiving than the one mentioned previously but provide better performance in terms of distance and trajectory.
As a result, these irons are great for high and mid handicappers as they may already have a decent ball-striking ability but just want that extra distance and performance.
Beginners who have a tighter budget should also consider getting a set of game-improvement irons instead of super game-improvement irons. Since those using the former would eventually need to transition to a set of game-improving irons, a good option is to simply use a set of game-improvement irons as their first set of golf clubs.
Most of the irons in this list are game-improvement irons.
Player irons are not meant for beginners or high handicappers. These are your typical ‘bladed’ irons and have the least amount of forgiveness, offset, and overall club head size. Any hits off-center with these irons will result in bad shots, but shots on the sweet spot will create the farthest golf shots out of all the iron categories. Not to mention, low handicappers love these clubs due to their incredible shot-shaping abilities and feedback. Therefore, these irons are ideal for lower handicap golfers and professional golfers.
Player’s Distance Irons
Improvement irons and Player irons. For beginners, these irons will not be the best choice as they’re not forgiving enough. However, for many high handicappers who have a consistent golf swing but want more distance, these irons should be your go-to.
The TaylorMade P790 is an example of Player’s Distance Irons.
Irons come in all types of designs, and every design on a golf club is meant to affect the forgiveness, aerodynamics, and feel of the club in some way. As a result, it’s important to find the right style of irons as they may dictate whether they’re suitable for you as a beginner or high handicapper.
Cavity-back irons have a cavity/ gap at the backside of the club head. This allows for better weight distribution around the edges of the clubface (also known as better perimeter weighting distribution), which increases the MOI and forgiveness on any off-center hits.
The downside to these irons is that they don’t offer much feedback on mishits as they’re somewhat tough to figure out what you did wrong.
Nevertheless, these are the go-to options for beginners, high handicappers, and mid-handicappers.
Most Player Irons have a muscle-back design and are often referred to as forged clubs. They’re more minimalistic with a thin topline and sole.
Unlike the style previously mentioned, the weight of the club in the muscle-back irons is focused on the center of the club face (at the sweet spot), allowing optimal ball flight when hit at the center as well as maximum shot-shaping capabilities. These clubs tend to also have less of an offset to them as they’re mainly focused on golfer’s who already have a good golf swing.
Golf technology is constantly evolving, and over the past few decades, the newer ‘hybrid’ irons have become a popular choice for beginners and high handicappers. It’s quite a genius concept.
Since hybrids are used to substitute the 3- and 4-iron, why not do it for every club in your golf bag? Doing so, allows even some of the easier clubs to be even more forgiving as manufacturers are able to place the CG of the club lower and deeper in the clubhead. This promotes a higher launch and added spin which is great for those with a slow to mid swing speed or to hit out of the rough.
The Build of The Iron
Steel is the most common material used to make an iron’s club head, with graphite coming in second and titanium third. When it comes to how the irons are built, manufacturers either go with a cast, or they’ll forge it by hand.
These irons are made from pouring molten metal into a cast/ mold shaped like a club head. It’s later shaved off any access to form a smooth iron head.
As these irons are a lot cheaper to make, they’re also sold for cheaper than the forged irons making them a better option for beginners.
It’s quite tempting to show off a set of forged irons if you have one. These irons are made oftentimes by hand and are shaped while the steel is red hot, making the club have a softer and more compact feel (like forging a samurai sword).
As it takes more time and resources to make these irons, they’re slightly more expensive. But, if you’re at a point where the quality and feel of the golf club are important to your progress, then consider buying a set of forged irons (applies to most mid handicappers to low handicappers).
None of the irons in this list are forged irons.
First things first, what does offset really mean in a golf club?
An offset club is where the leading edge of the club head sits back/ behind from the hosel. This is done to allow more forgiveness for those who have a hard time squaring the club face at impact or those who struggle with a slice, as the offset allows the club head to arrive a split-second later than one without an offset, giving the club more time to square itself at impact.
Though this may sound great for most golfers, not everyone should use an offset golf club. Don’t get us wrong, they do work, but there have also been many cases where these clubs convert a cured slice to a bad hook when the golfer begins to master squaring their club head overtime.
For beginners, a graphite shaft is ideal as it’s less stiff and lighter to swing with. However, those with a faster golf swing should consider the heavier steel shafts to slow down their golf swing as swinging on tempo is often what beginners struggle with the most. A steel shaft has a naturally higher flex, making it not bend as easily during a fast golf swing.
For shaft flex, it really depends on how fast your swing speed is, but for most beginners, a Regular (R) is often their best choice for men, Ladies (L) for amateur female golfers, and Senior (A) for seniors.
Forgiveness of the Iron
Beginners should always prioritize forgiveness for their first set of irons. Besides what we just mentioned for you to look out for when it comes to picking the best irons for beginners and high handicappers, here are a couple more things you should keep in mind.
Center of Gravity (CG)
Where the center of gravity is located on the club head will affect how well you’re able to hit the golf ball. For beginners, the ideal CG is at the low of the club head allowing them to hit more downward at the ball as well as promoting a better launch when hit on the sweet spot.
Most golf sets that are sold to beginners come with the 5-iron and down to the pitching wedge. This is because the longer irons such as the 2-, 3-, and 4-iron are often too hard to hit due to their lower lofts and longer club lengths.
As a result, most beginners and high handicappers often find more success with hybrids as substitutes for the 3- and 4- irons. They’re a lot easier to hit with and are designed to get the ball up in the air, carry just as far as the longer irons, and require less effort to get the golf ball out of the rough.
Which irons should beginners start with?
The best clubs to master or at least get decently consistent with are the 7- and 8-irons. These golf clubs will be what you’ll be using most in the golf course; whether that is hitting your approaching shot from the fairway on a par 4 or 5 hole, or teeing off from a par 3.
How far should I hit my 7-iron?
For male beginners, a good distance with the 7-iron is roughly 130 to 140 yards and for women, a good starting distance with the 7-iron is from 100 yards to 120 yards.
Why should beginners substitute the 3- and 4-iron for hybrids?
Longer irons like the 3- and 4-iron are quite hard to hit properly with due to their lower lofts and longer shaft lengths. In most cases, beginners and even many mid-handicappers avoid using these longer irons and substitute them for hybrids instead.
Unlike the longer irons, hybrids are designed to make launching the golf ball easier as golf manufacturers are able to place the CG farther deep and back of the club head. This, along with the shape of the club head makes it easier to hit shots out of the rough which are areas most beginners and high handicappers will be in at the golf course. However, hybrids provide less feedback than irons aren’t the easiest to shape shots with.
What’s Moment of Inertia (Moment of Inertia)?
MOI is the ability for a golf club to resist any twisting or jerking from any off-center mishits. This is accomplished by distributing more weight around the edges of the club head, also known as perimeter weighting.
Beginners tend to struggle most with squaring the club face at impact, leading to bad hooks or slices. As a result, getting golf clubs with higher MOI will help straighten out off-center shots by allowing the club face to maintain relatively squared at impact.
Do Professionals Not Use any Forgiving Clubs?
They do! Many professional golfers make sure to have one or two ‘more forgiving’ golf clubs in their golf bags. Not all of their clubs are Player irons.
Conclusion: Best Irons for Beginners & High Handicappers
Irons today come with many features and technologies that make our golf experience a lot easier and more fun than ever. As a result, the sport has attracted more younger players than ever before as more people are able to enjoy the sport earlier on.
That said, we’ve seen many beginners make the mistake of buying the coolest, most expensive golf clubs just to end up ruining their golf swing and playing ability.
Playing with the right set of golf clubs according to your skill level is crucial. That’s why we recommend the TaylorMade SiM MAX iron set for any beginner or high handicapper looking to start or excel in their game.
Got any questions? Feel free to come to us with any of your questions!