Ah, the mid handicap zone. Without a doubt, when I'm choosing my betterball partner, there's no better man than a mid handicapper!
We hit the ball straight down the fairway, we can chip, we can putt and we can make those amazing pars and birdies . 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. So I hope to highlight some of the best golf irons for mid handicappers below.
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 so often or shoot in the 80's every round. It's a wide range but the goal is always the same, break 90 consistently (guide) 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.
My best friend, Harvey, dropped his handicap from 10 to 4 in three months after his clubs disappeared on his recent trip overseas. He bought some more forgiving irons with cavity backs because his less forgiving muscle backs just didn't suit his mid-handicap game at that moment. He almost instantly started finding the sweet spot again and now he has to give me shots on the course for a change!
Get new clubs whenever you feel your existing clubs are holding you back from achieving that next step whether you want to become a 10 handicapper or a single digit maestro.
Mid handicapper irons should:
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....
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. Only golfers playing off a 3 handicap or less should bother with professional clubs.
The characteristics of these are the things we don't want when looking for the best golf irons for mid handicappers:
The M4 upgrade of the M2 irons is a much sleeker, more professional golfer 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 in the truest sense of the word.
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 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 15 years ago.
The Callaway XR 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 360 Face Cup technology in the XR irons mean that the face flexes and rebounds more than previous models which results in a much longer ball. Some golfers find a gain in distance of once 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 XR 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.
The Mizuno JPX EZ forged irons are simply beautiful as with all Mizuno iron sets - created with care and precision. They've moved away from making irons for better players only and now make sets aimed at mid handicap golfers.
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.
While these clubs are precision made and feel amazing, there is a caveat: they do look chunky when you address the ball. The top line is very thick and while it doesn't appeal to some, it instills confidence in other golfers. With that chunkiness comes a large sweet spot and up to 10 yards more distance on a 6 iron compared to the previous model.
Something to keep in mind with this set is that the sand wedge is 55 degrees. The bounce on it isn't very much so if you prefer a big bounce sand wedge, you'll want to replace it with your own. Overall, this is one of the best-made iron sets for high 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.
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.
The lightweight of the clubs can help your swing speed enough to prevent you from moving to softer shafts.
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.
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.
The manufacturer most famous for high quality wedges made for mid to low handicappers, 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 shouldn't turn off the better player. A V-shape sole promotes the club moving through the turf to give rock solid hits even if you hit it a little fat. Combined with the Tour Zip grooves, the Launcher CBX irons get the ball in the air easier and make it stop quicker on the greens.
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. 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.
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:
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!
Two things: shafts and club head design will define the best golf irons for mid handicappers.
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.
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.
There are 2 club head designs:
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.