Best Golf Irons for Mid Handicappers 2019

Ah, the mid handicap zone. Without a doubt, when I'm choosing my betterball partner, there's no better man than a mid handicapper!

You hit the ball straight down the fairway, you can chip, you can putt and you can make those amazing pars and birdies at the perfect moment. Mid handicappers are always in the prizes and I play a lot of golf with mid handicappers. 

What I've noticed though is hitting greens is often a concern especially as the holes get longer. We all want to hit longer with our irons but also we want it to go straighter to make more of those coveted pars and birdies. With modern technology, the best golf irons for mid handicappers make it WAY easier to hit straighter and longer.

What is a mid handicapper, actually?

A mid handicapper is a golfer who plays off a handicap between around 7, 8 or 10 up to about 17 or 18. That means you can generally break 90 every other round or shoot in the 80's every round. It's a wide range but the goal is always the same, break 90 consistently or break 80.

There's no hard and fast rule on the classification of low, mid and high but we all know roughly where we fall.

Rick and I winning the pairs tournament as mid handicappers (we wear flip flops after golf in Asia)

When should you buy new clubs?

I have two theories for when the right time is to buy new golf clubs.

Situation 1: IMPORTANT - You look down at your clubs and you don't LOVE them

Half your clubs are irons and you'll use them for more than 50% of your shots on the course so when you look down at them and you don't LOVE them, then there is a serious problem.

If you've seen my Youtube channel, you'll know I am all about that mental game. If you look down at clubs that fill you with confidence, you've won 70% of the damn battle!

There is no award for the guy who struggles with clubs he dislikes to prove it's the workman and not the tools. They say a bad workman blames his tools, but I say a master craftsman knows when to replace them!

If you look at a picture and LOVE the look or hold a club and LOVE the way it feels, I will bet you that you'll hit that club like a boss, immediately. Our brains are very powerful and in golf, it's especially important to be comfortable over the ball. If you're not loving your irons at address, I really suggest replacing them. Now.

Situation 2: Yours are old and out of date

Now, I don't believe most of the BS lingo and catch phrases the manufacturers throw at us every few months with the latest and greatest. But one thing I can personally confirm, is that anything made in the last 6 to 8 years is far superior to anything prior.

Modern irons have been designed to launch higher than ever. For example, an old 6 iron's loft was maybe 28° so it was easy to get it in the air. With modern technology, they've been able to reduce that loft to 25° or 26° so you get more distance but at the same time the ball still launches at the same angle as the old 6 irons. That means you can get them landing a few yards further with an improved trajectory into your target.

They've also made shafts lighter to get you swinging faster and improved the club faces of the new irons to increase the sweet spots so you hit it longer and straighter even off mis-hits, very often not knowing the difference between a good strike and a bad one. 

Top Choice for Mid Handicappers:
Taylormade M4 irons

Taylormade make such easy to hit clubs that even when you're not trying, they're a breeze to hit. The latest iteration is an improvement on their most popular line, the M2. Much sleeker in design and more formidable ball-striking.

Best Golf Irons for Mid Handicappers


Taylormade M4 Irons

Best irons for mid to high handicappers

The M4 upgrade of the M2 irons is a much sleeker, more professional looking club.

But don't be fooled into thinking this is a club only a pro can hit - in fact it's almost effortless to get the ball up in the air and on target. It's difficult to hit a ball far off target with the M4s which brings real meaning to game improvement iron. The sweet spot is so big that it's difficult to distinguish when you hit it badly.

Of course, there is some distance loss and some deviation from your intended line but you'll be around the green hitting easy chips instead of getting yourself way right or left of the greenside bunkers, short-siding yourself.

Longer irons in the set have a deeper cavity back with a small hollowing behind the face to get more distance and forgiveness on center and mishit strikes. They come standard fit with a light weight shaft to make swinging them effortless despite the aggressive and thick top line of the club. 

The lofts are stronger in this set and keep in mind the SW is 54° when picking your wedges to go with the set. You might consider a 58° to round off the set to give yourself a good loft gapping.

You will probably see a distance increase but it will be due to the more upright lofts and less to do with other variables. They can decrease lofts on the clubs because they've produced them so well to come out higher and easier to get off the ground. Simply amazing technology that just wasn't around years ago.

Pros
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    The ball goes straight and in some cases reduce shot shapes to baby fades and draws
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    High-launching and glides through the turf
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    Crisp sound at contact
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    Lofts of the clubs printed on the bottom so you can buy the right wedges and hybrids!
Cons
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    Not for finesse - more for power and accuracy
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    If you have a wedge set already, consider that the PW in the set is 43.5°; AW is 49° and SW is 54°

Cleveland Launcher CBX Irons

Game improvement irons to forgive mid handicappers

They're way more famous for high quality wedges made for mid to low handicappers, but Cleveland have designed a set of irons aimed entirely at the average mid handicapper to boost distance while at the same time dishing out ample forgiveness.

The Launcher CBX irons give the best of both worlds by making it easier to hit longer irons and have more control over the shorter clubs.

While not massive on Tour as much as when Vijay and David Toms played for them, Cleveland have remained a favorite among us mere mortals especially the easy to hit drivers. 

The top line of the club is quite hefty but the offset in the longer irons looks minimal so it looks very professional. A V-shape sole promotes the club moving through the turf to give rock solid hits even if you hit it a little fat. 

The Cleveland CBX irons have a much larger cavity back in the long irons for more forgiveness and a larger sweet spot and as you progress to the shorter irons, the cavity back reduces for a more control-based feel to knock it close.

Most golfers notice an increase in distance anywhere from half a club to a full club with this set and it could be down to the stronger lofts. Cleveland actually engrave the degrees of loft on the sole of the club - a nifty idea indeed. 

Pros
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    Very good for players who hit it toward the toe
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    The ball goes straight and in some cases reduce shot shapes to baby fades and draws
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    High-launching and glides through the turf
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    Crisp sound at contact
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    Lofts of the clubs printed on the bottom so you can buy the right wedges and hybrids!
Cons
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    Matte finish means scratches are much more pronounced.
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    Not for golfers who want to shape the ball flight

Mizuno JPX 900 Irons

Best for mid handicappers fed up with their muscle backs and wanna shape the ball

The upgrade to the Mizuno JPX 850 is forged and has a more U-shaped sole for less digging in the turf interaction. As always, Mizuno forged irons are buttery soft but what's normally reserved for the better players is available to anyone now.

You'll be able to shape the ball both ways with these. there are a lot of mid handicappers who were once single figures who still like a fade or draw into a tight pin. There's still hope out there my good man!

What's special about the Mizuno JPX 900s, is that one you move south of the double digit handicap, you'll still be playing these clubs. They're timeless in design and with all the latest technology coming out being not-much-different to the previous one or two years, these will serve you a long time. 

They have the look of professional style clubs with more forgiving and bigger clubs heads in the long irons and more compact shorter irons for precision shots. They have a tiny bit of offset so if you prefer a more classical style head but with massive forgiveness, the Mizuno's cater to you.

Most Mizuno users are Mizuno users for life and you'll very rarely find a second hand sets being traded in by someone who hates the clubs.

Pros
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    Soft buttery forged iron feel and sound
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    They moved weight into the edges of the club face for more forgiveness and ball speed
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    Classic design and look at address appeals to purists
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    Shot-shapers will love this iron
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    It's a Mizuno, very little can be wrong
Cons
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    Not nearly as forgiving as some of the irons like M2, M4, Rogue and Cobra F7
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    Matte finish to the clubs is classy but over time, will wear off

Callaway Rogue irons

Super distance with professional golfer looks

The Callaway Rogue irons are aimed at mid handicappers and they've made these irons as close to a true point-and-shoot as you'll find. 

The face flexes and rebounds more than previous models which results in a much longer ball. Some golfers find a gain in distance of one club. What's more is that you have a choice of sets where you can choose which clubs to include in your set and Callaway has been well-known for this customization.

The sound from the club face is crisp and clean. Differentiating between mishits and sweet strikes is a little difficult but when the result ends up where you want it, that's a minor complaint. When we're all looking for more accuracy and greens in regulation, the Callaway  Rogue irons deliver with effortless smooth strikes from the entire club face coupled with a high and straight ball flight. 

Are they miracle clubs? No, but if you have a smooth swing and are a well-grooved and consistent mid handicapper, these are the perfect clubs to start getting closer to the number 79 with a bit more distance and better direction.

Pros
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    Best value for money mid handicap clubs
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    Point and shoot straight hitters
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    Suited to mid handicappers specifically
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    Distance increase after upgrading
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    Look very executive
Cons
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    Not for fast swingers (95+ mph with driver)​​​
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    Mishits are difficult to gauge from feedback on forgiving club face

Srixon Z 585 Irons

So easy to hit

The Srixon Z 585 irons might not be on your radar, but they should be. This range has been aimed at the mid handicapper who likes shot shaping and forgiveness in one package. The best part is they will last you even as a low handicapper. I went on a recent trip to South Africa and the number of guys playing these was amazing. Every fourball had one or two bags of Srixon z 585's.

You can see me playing the back 9 with them here.

The clubs have a formidable but not bulky sole as well as a deep cavity back to help shift the center of gravity lower and move the sweet spot down in the face to get even crisper contact on the ball. 

Srixon have made these clubs look easy to hit when you look down at them, but they're not oversized at all. If you're worried about your clubs looking very chunky, these ones will quell your fears.

If you can get them with the NS Pro shafts in them, you'll have a great time with these clubs.

If you want to save a few bucks, the previous model is almost as good. The Srixon Z 565 are superb. 

Pros
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    Consistent performance across the face 
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    Light and easy to swing 
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    Low center of gravity and lowered sweet spot for easier crisp contact
Cons
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    Honestly, not much!

Cobra King F7 Irons

Best for low hitting mid handicappers

Cobra King F7 irons are definitely game improvement irons but have a much more mid-sized club heads. The top line when you address the ball is not as chunky as most game improvement irons. Like with most of the new irons in this category, they've made the club face thinner to promote more ball speed off the flexible face to hit it longer. 

The best part is they are a model or two old, so you can pick them up for really cheap both new or used. Find your preferred shaft stiffness and order online for major savings!

You can see Tshepo using these irons in my video here.

Progressive hollow design gets shallower further into the set

Longer irons in the set have a more hybrid appearance with a hollow area behind the entire face and as you go through to the short irons and wedge, the cavity reduces in size. You can expect to improve those mid irons greatly with the design of the cavity back. They're far more forgiving than other golf clubs. 

Progressive hollowness through the set

The lightweight of the clubs can help your swing speed enough to prevent you from moving to softer shafts.

Pros
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    Progressive hollow cavity back design for forgiveness
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    Mid sized club head more palatable than most game improvement irons
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    Very light for increased swing speed
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    One of the highest flying irons
Cons
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    Hybrid look might take time to get used to 
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    Just want to go dead straight - you won't be able to shape them much

Taylormade M2 Irons

Easy to hit for any level of mid handicap

Taylormade have gone the extra mile with the M2 Game Improvement irons. They’ve created a hollow Speed Pocket behind the face to make the face flex and give you more distance anywhere you hit it on the face.

The sweet spot is so wide; it extends over almost the entire groove area so when you mishit the ball it still goes a long way and straight as an arrow..

Taylormade's M2 set has been specially designed to increase the height of your shots. The short irons get up quickly and mid irons are so forgiving, you'll think they're wedges. With that increase in height, the ball comes down soft to stay on the green and give you more birdie and par putts.

Easy to hit and the ball flies high

Balls launch high when you hit them and the wide soles help to get under the ball especially in deep rough to get your golf ball moving toward the green and out of the weeds. The heavy perimeter weighting means you can swing it and trust the club to do the work for you. There's no stress wondering what's going to happen next.

Taylormade has designed the M2 iron set with forgiveness in mind. They're extremely accurate irons and with the offset hosel, cavity back design, they tick all our boxes. The M2's are one of the best mid handicap irons on the market.

Pros
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    Massive sweet spot to hit it pure every time
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    Easy to hit the ball high in the air
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    Mishits go an unusually long way
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    Low stress clubs you can trust on every shot
Cons
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    Pricey
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    Looks very busy and less classic

What's the difference between irons for mid handicappers and low handicaps?

Mid handicapper irons should:

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    Contain at the longest, a 5 iron, and go through to pitching wedge and maybe sand wedge
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    Be cavity backed for a wider sweet spot on the face
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    Have perimeter weighting to increase the sweet spot
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    Have an offset hosel to promote a straighter ball flight

Most sets nowadays don't come with a 3 or even a 4 iron because they're difficult to hit and are usually replaced by fairway woods and hybrids to complete what should be the best golf clubs for mid handicappers.

On the other hand, low handicappers often get the impression they need to upgrade to a professional style golf club. Which leads onto the next point....

Which clubs to avoid!

Low handicap golfers believe they need a more 'professional' style of club so they upgrade to a set of musclebacks or blades. Avoid any golf iron that has "muscle back", "MB", "blade", "Tour", "players irons" or "pro" in their name unless you really LOVE them! Generally I don't think anyone who plays less than 3 times a week or isn't off a single figure should buy blades. 

But as mentioned above, if you LOVE them and BELIEVE they will improve your game, guess what! They probably will, just through positive association.

The main characteristics of these types of irons are GENERALLY the things we don't want when looking for the best golf irons for mid handicappers:

  • Contain 3 and irons (difficult to hit)
  • Have no cavity back and are solid metal on the back of the club (reduced sweet spot)
  • Most of the weight is located behind a tiny sweet spot
  • The hosel is not offset because these golfers shape it both ways (easier to slice if you slice)

Guide to what makes the best mid handicapper irons


How mid handicapper irons can help your game

When you hit more greens, you're going to love going to the course. Once you know where the ball is gonna go, you'll aim at your target with confidence. And when you hit it closer, you'll make more pars and birdies and in the end drop that mid handicap into the single digits.

To do this, the best mid handicap golf irons need to:

  1. Get the ball into the air high and handsome with little effort
  2. Land softly on the greens
  3. Be very forgiving particularly on mishit shots

There's just no need to go get yourself a "player's iron set" or a muscleback or blade club because it's expected of you as you get better. The technology out there is so powerful now, while the musclebacks have remained almost identical since Arnold Palmer was a young guy.

Buying a set of irons is a big investment in yourself and the improvement in your game with a set of mid handicapper Game Improvement irons will be dramatic. There's no need to handicap yourself further with a smaller more concentrated sweet spot unless you're playing 5 days a week. But let's face it, most of us mid handicappers are out there once a week when we get to escape our wives and girlfriends.

Make it fun!


What makes a set of irons forgiving for mid handicappers?

Two things: shafts and club head design will define the best golf irons for mid handicappers.

Shafts

There are two types of shaft for your irons – steel and graphite. Graphite is popular in drivers and hybrids. For irons, the extra weight offered by steel gives golfers a better “feel” than graphite.

Graphite can help with distance and should be looked at if your swing speed is very low. The reduced weight of the shaft can help you pick up a few more mph in swing speed and with that, more distance.

As a general rule, steel shafts are the best option for the vast majority of golfers and a Regular flex is going to be the best for most golfers based on swing speeds. 

Tips for shaft flex based on 6 iron swing speed and carry distance
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    X Flex  - 6 iron swing speed 90 mph and carry 175 yards
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    Stiff (S) Flex - 6 iron swing 80-90 mph and carry 155 - 175 yards
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    Regular  (R) Flex - 70-80 mph and 130 - 155 yards
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    A Flex - 60-70 mph and 100 - 130 yards
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    L Flex - Less than 60 mph and carry under 100 yards

It's always best to go get tested and get advice from a fitter or a local pro to truly maximize your purchase to your requirements.

Club Head Design

There are 2 club head designs: 

Muscleback vs cavity back

    • Muscle Back/Blade irons - used almost exclusively by low single digit handicappers and professionals
    • Cavity Back irons - this is what we are looking for and the most forgiving irons ever have all been cavity back. 

    How cavity back gives extra performance to mid handicap over 'players' irons

    Perimeter Weighting

    Cavity back irons usually have perimeter weighting, which is just a jargon term to mean they hollow out the back of a muscle back iron and put that spare metal around the border of the back of the club.

    Jargon explained

    The perimeter weighting thus adds more weight behind the ball on off-centre strikes.

    A muscle back iron the pros use has the majority of its weight mainly behind the TINY sweet spot. If you miss the sweet spot on a muscleback, the pain that shoots up the club into your fingers is stunning!

    The cavity back iron with perimeter weighting has a massive sweet spot because the face is encased with reinforcement through the perimeter weight.

    Moderately Wide Sole

    The wider sole lowers the clubs center of gravity which means more weight can get under and behind the golf ball on your shots. This produces an arching high ball flight even on mishits.

    The extra beef on the sole will improve shots where you hit the ground before the ball too. That extra weight will “bounce” off the ground instead of digging into the earth like a thin sole would.

    ​For newer golfers, it's better to have a really really fat sole but for mid handicappers we are looking for a moderately fat sole. Those Super Max Game improvement irons don't work as well because mid handicappers have much more skill to be able to already get the ball airborne.

    Offset Hosel

    According to club designer Tom Wishon, “Offset is a design in clubheads in which the neck or hosel of the head is positioned in front of the face of the clubhead, so that the clubface appears to be set back a little from the neck of the club.”

    “The more offset, the farther the head's center of gravity is back from the shaft. And the farther the CG is back from the shaft, the higher the trajectory will be for any given loft on the face. More offset can help increase the height of the shot for golfers who have a difficult time getting the ball well up in the air.”

    Offset vs Standard hosels

    The most forgiving irons on the market are going to have offset hosels. The low handicappers playing blades or muscle backs have such skill to square the club face at impact, they don't need the offset. The offset encourages a draw and reduces workability of the club to hit fades. Highly skilled players want to hit the ball both ways.

    Avoid irons with 'Tour Preferred', 'Tour' or 'Pro' in the name

    These are for low handicap and professional players. You'll get there one day but for now they wouldn't be a wise investment. It would be like starting a video game on Expert setting from the beginning. These 'Tour' clubs are not the most forgiving irons as you can imagine.

    Leave a Comment:

    1 comment
    James says

    Noticed on the Mizuno description you have two different versions. JPX EZ Iron vs JPX EZ Forges Iron. I believe you meant the former but listed the later at the top of the article. just an FYI.

    Great stuff by the way. I am learning a lot about what I should be using.

    Reply
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