Most Forgiving Irons in Golf 2018

'A bad workman blames his tools'. We've all heard that one when we look to upgrade equipment in life. I always like to tell the naysayers 'a master craftsman knows when they need replacing'. 

Now you might not be a master craftsman just yet, but maybe you're upgrading from a set that doesn't suit you or a used set your buddy gave you from his dad's garage. Maybe, like me, you're looking for something a little more forgiving to get that confidence back up by hitting some greens! 

Whatever your situation, it's an exciting adventure and finding that set of irons that gives you an extra club in distance or the confidence to have a good whack at the ball is so rewarding. If you're looking for forgiving irons, keep reading below.

best most forgiving irons of all time

Get that good feeling standing over the ball with a set of forgiving irons

When should you buy new clubs?

Getting a new set of clubs is one of the best investments you can make in yourself as a golfer. The clubs nowadays have been designed to make golf easier and more fun without any stress when you're standing over the ball. Get a new set of clubs when you feel your clubs are holding you back. The difference will be amazing when you hit that ball and think you've hit it badly but it still gets to the green!

My best friend, Harvey, has just dropped his handicap from 10 to 4 in three months after his clubs went missing on a recent trip to Italy. He got himself some more forgiving irons than the muscle backs he was playing with and instantly he started finding the sweet spot again and now he has to give me shots on the course for a change!

If you're a beginner golfer, another option is to investigate getting a complete set of golf clubs. 

Most forgiving irons ever:
Cleveland Launcher HB

It's practically impossible to hit a bad shot with these clubs. They're a hybrid style set that have massive sweet spots and only know one direction: STRAIGHT. A perfect set for you if you struggle to hit high handsome iron shots. 

What makes the most forgiving irons?

The most forgiving irons:

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    Contain ​5 iron through to pitching wedge and maybe sand wedge
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    Have an offset hosel
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    Be cavity backed
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    Have perimeter weighting

The basic idea is to find the easiest clubs to hit and cavity backs are the right choice.

Where are the 3 and 4 irons? These are incredibly difficult to hit and I've found some fairway woods and hybrids to replace them to make your set the most forgiving irons possible.

Most Forgiving Irons on the Market in 2017

  1. Taylormade M2 irons (best for all players over 12 handicap)
  2. Cleveland Launcher HB irons (most forgiving irons ever)
  3. Callaway XR OS irons (max game improvement irons that look like pro clubs)
  4. Taylormade HL Burner irons (excellent budget option for mid handicappers)
  5. Callaway X 416 series irons (best for beginners and slower swingers)

Taylormade M2 Irons

Easy to hit for any level of golfer

Taylormade have gone the extra mile with the M2 Super 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 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.

High flying and easier to hit than someone wearing a blindfold

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. I recommend the 5 iron to PW or the 4 iron to PW set as one of the most forgiving irons today.

Pros
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    Massive sweet spot for 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 abnormally 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

Cleveland Launcher HB Irons

Most forgiving irons set on the list

The HB (Hi Bore) irons are the new Super Game Improvement clubs from Cleveland designed to help you hit more consistent shots with ease. We're talking straight to the target and way up in the air. They're almost impossible to mishit.

It's not the first time Cleveland have produced these weird looking clubs. The older Cleveland Altitudes won over a lot of golfers with their extreme forgiveness and consistent ball flight. This style of progressive hybrid and iron combination set's really easy to hit and the only thing stopping most golfers from switching over to them is ego. A lot of golfers want to look like the pros with standard looking irons in their bag. 

But if you're struggling to get the ball to fly decent distances with standard irons, these clubs could revolutionize your entire golf experience.

Full set progression

It's like legal cheating

The set starts with a 4 iron shaped exactly like a hybrid and as the set progresses toward pitching wedge, the hybrid back of the club gets smaller until you can't see it on the pitching wedge. The thick sole created by the hybrid design of the irons makes them easy to hit out of any lie. It just can't be stated enough how easy they are to hit.

Cleveland have colored the hybrid back of the irons black to calm down the appearance to give it a more streamlined look because it can be distracting if you're used to standard irons. 

Do yourself a favor and try these clubs. You might find they're the most forgiving irons you've ever hit.

Pros
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    Unbelievably easy to hit consistently well
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    High spin numbers even with the hybrid back
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    Flat face, not rounded like most hybrids for a more iron-like look 
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    Wide sole for easy movement through turf
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    Much easier to hit mid and long irons
Cons
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    Hybrid look on each club can be a turn-off for some
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    Adjustment period to get used to the new design
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    No sand wedge included

Callaway XR OS Irons

Extreme forgiveness and distance in a very SLEEK package

The Callaway XR OS irons make golf a hell of a lot easier and far more fun!

While the Cleveland Hi Bore irons in this guide might scare you because of the beginner-ish looks, Callaway took your exact worries and created the Callaway XR OS irons. These clubs look good, like old-school-Ping-iron good. Even though they don't look like Max Game Improvement irons, they are.

We all need somebody to lean on

We all need help with hitting a golf ball but a lot of golfers have an ego and would prefer to put a set of irons in their bag instead of 6 or 7 hybrids. If that sounds like you, these XR OS irons are some of the clubs you'll find. In fact, one of my golfing buddies, David Roberts plays with this set off a 17 handicap. He is a bit of a Callaway fanboy, but swears that these are the best irons he's owned.

Could it get better? Yes, it could. You can order this set in almost any sequence of clubs you desire. Below is my recommendation to choosing the ideal set:

I highly recommend any set starting with 5 iron and 6 iron and ending in PW or SW depending if you own your own Sand Wedge. Check out my guide on the best sand wedges for bunkers.

In the bag, you won't notice the huge cavity back and extra wide sole which makes your golf bag look more like a pro's and less like a handicap golfer. When swinging the club, you'll notice the extra weight in the sole gets more weight under and behind the ball for superior shots that fly high and far, landing softly at your target.

Well struck shots sound pure to the ears and feedback from the clubface is sufficient to tell you when you've hit it flush and when you've mishit it. The best part for you is the mishit isn't going to be 30 yards short of a well struck shot. These clubs are forgiving, and give you maximum distance for your efforts.

Pros
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    Oversized heads mean HUGE sweet spot
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    Wide sole to get it airborne quickly
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    Consistent and forgiving, delivering good shots even on mishits
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    Super Game Improvement irons that look like standard low handicapper clubs
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    Callaway's famous Face Cup Technology for booming distance
Cons
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    Somewhat pricey
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    Some guys won't see a distance improvement but increased accuracy is most widely experienced

Taylormade Aeroburner HL Irons

Timeless older model performs like a champ

Taylormade Aeroburners were the predecessor to the 2016 M2 irons and a lot of inspiration from these went into the new designs. 

Without making too many comparisons to the M2 irons which are a later model, the Aeroburner HL irons are high-flying, straight irons that go a long way. Maybe not as long as the M2 with their new cavity back design, but the value for money with these irons can't be beat.

The thick sole gets through the grass and sand with ease, preventing tangling and digging into the ground. Just nice, high altitude iron shots that drop and stop on the greens.

A 4 iron to pitching wedge set is perfect. You'll need to get your own sand wedge.

These were the M2's before the M2's

When you hit these irons well, you get that instant feedback up your arms saying you nailed it.

The offset design and cavity backs make the club forgiving but with the first appearance of the Speed Slot in Taylormade irons, these clubs are on another level of forgiveness. That Speed Slot makes the face of the club work for you by letting you hit it anywhere on the face and still get a straight and long shot. They're simple, point-and-shoot irons for an easy to use set of spades on the course.

Pros
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    Face technology to maximize distance
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    Thick top line of clubs at address promotes confidence
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    Wide sole helps with contact in heavy and deep rough lies
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    Consistent carries throughout the set mean you know exactly how far each club goes 
Cons
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    Doesn't prevent fades as well as other sets
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    Feedback from the face is lacking due to large sweet spot

Callaway X Series 416 Irons

Great for slower swingers and beginners looking to upgrade

Very simply, Callaway have made an accessible set of clubs for a moderate price. The priority with these is forgiveness and ease of use. It's a simple entry level set of irons that you can just put in the bag and trust will perform.

While the X Series N416 irons might not offer extra distance, they do offer you the ability to hit the ball very very straight which is more important as a beginner or high handicapper looking to improve and have more fun on the course.

If you're a slower swinger, you'll find an improvement in your accuracy and might be surprised with some extra yardage gains.

Nice price and no slice

More than likely, you're at a point where you won't be able to tell the difference between a $1000 set and a high value, low price set like this. It's a great upgrade from an old set or a complete beginner set like the Callaway Strata

Pros
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    Ball jumps off the face​​​
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    Very low price - high value offering
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    Simply straight shooting clubs you can trust
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    Large sweet spot emphasizing forgiveness to make golf so much more fun
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    Crisp sound at contact
Cons
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    Value set of clubs - paint job isn't chic
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    Not massive distance - more focused on forgiveness

Guide to what makes the most forgiving irons 


How forgiving irons can improve your enjoyment

When you hit more greens and hit straighter shots with confidence, you're gonna enjoy golf. When you know where the ball is gonna go, you'll love golf. A set of forgiving irons designed for your skill level can get you there.

To do this, golf clubs need to:

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

Like with drivers and fairway woods, iron sets need to be very forgiving. It’s very common to miss the sweet spot quite often. Forgiving irons are designed with huge sweet spots so even your mishits find the sweet spot! You still end up around the green on a mishit, instead of in the deep stuff or 40 yards short.

Buying a set of irons is a big investment but the improvement in your game with a set of Max or Super Game Improvement irons will be dramatic. While your swing naturally develops, the game improvement irons you use will enhance your results by giving you extreme confidence regardless of how you’re swinging.


What makes a set of irons forgiving?

Two things: shafts and club head design create the most forgiving irons.

Shafts

There are two types of shaft in irons – steel and graphite. Graphite is very 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 forgiveness over muscle backs

    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 for forgiveness.

    Wider 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.

    Additionally, newer golfers and high handicappers hit more balls in the rough and a wider sole will move through long or thick grass easily, allowing for good contact with the ball. The most forgiving irons out there will get you out of every lie: rough, sand, hard-pan and yes the fairways!

    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.

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