As a mid-handicap golfer, your irons will play a far more critical role than they did when you were starting out as a high handicapper. You should seriously consider getting measured for clubs by a golf professional, who will be able to guide you through the different possibilities available and find a choice that helps or even improves your game.
The 10 best irons for mid-handicap golfers are a mixture of forged and cast clubs, listed here (in no particular order). If you’re wondering who makes the best irons, keep reading to learn more about these top-performing golf clubs:
- Srixon ZX5
- TaylorMade Stealth
- Ping G425
- Titleist T200
- Callaway Apex 21
- Cleveland Launcher XL
- Mizuno JPX 921
- Wilson D9
- TaylorMade P790
- Callaway Rogue ST Pro
For this article, let’s consider a mid-handicapper as a golfer with average scores of 81 to 90 (when playing a 72-par course).
A 9 to 18 handicap in other words.
In this handicap region, you may consider two types of clubs: Forged or Cast. And we’ll compare/contrast them next, before looking at the best iron set golf club options.
What Irons Should You Play As A Mid-Handicapper?
A cast iron club often uses cavity backing together with perimeter weighting and is probably what you have been playing with as you’ve lowered your handicap this far. This technology makes the irons more forgiving and is ideal for new players and higher handicap golfers.
If you’re at the lower end of this handicap range, you may choose to play a forged set of irons, also known as blades, which have a smaller sweet spot but provide a wonderful feel through the ball.
There is nothing set in stone regarding which type of club a mid (or medium) handicapper should use, but consider a cast set if you are:
- In the 9 – 13 handicap range and struggling with a forged set
- Steady in the 14 – 18 handicap range and happy to play there
- Budget-conscious. There is a notable difference in price between forged and cast irons
Consider a forged set of irons if you are:
- Playing well in the entire mid-handicap range and want to play your way down to single digits
What Are The Characteristics Of Forged And Cast Irons?
At its most basic explanation, a cast club is made by pouring molten metal into a mold or cast. A forged club is machined from a single piece of metal. Since the type of club you buy is enormously important in the mid-handicap range, let’s look at a little more detail:
The technique of forging a golf iron is heating a bar of 1025 steel to around 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, creating a bright red color, at which point it is bent to the required angle. Note, it is the head alone and not the shaft being forged.
In the primary forging mold, an air hammer press is utilized to produce the basic shape, while excess metal is shaved off the edges. The head is then reheated and placed in a second mold, pressed into the final form, and grooves added with microscopic accuracy.
This process is usually done entirely by hand, including the smoothing on a grinder and the polishing and electroplating, often in chromium/nickel, before the head is finally attached to the shaft.
Cast golf irons are much easier and cheaper to produce, which is ideal for the mass market.
Molten alloys or metals are poured into a mold/cast and allowed to cool before grinding, polishing, etc.
Molds are exceptionally carefully made, and all manufacturers have their own ideas of where the perimeter weighting should be to create the largest possible sweet spot, which is the holy grail of the golf shot.
These cast clubs are the easiest irons to hit for most golfers since the sweet spot is so large that slightly inaccurate shots might still result in good flights. They are possibly the best choice for high handicappers and are still played by many mid-handicappers as their handicaps drop from high.
When it comes to finding the top golf irons on the market, it’s important to keep in mind that modern technology has dramatically reduced the void between a forged and cast club.
Cast irons have already started popping up in the golfers’ bags on tour, not necessarily as a whole set, but perhaps as a club or two.
Forged Irons – Pros & Cons
|Very responsive feel||Not as freely available|
|A small sweet-spot forces consistent striking||More expensive|
|Not easy to hit at this handicap level|
|Rusts and scuffs more easily|
Cast Irons – Pros & Cons
|More easily hit||Less responsive feel|
|Freely available||Less control than better golfers require|
|Inexpensive by comparison|
Best Irons for Mid-Handicap Golfers
Mid-handicap golfers are the ones for whom club choice is most important as they have dropped down from high handicap status, probably using entry-level cavity-backed irons. Alternatively, a mid-handicapper may be using a good set of irons but may be ready to step up their game and either move to the lower echelons of their section or drop into the low-handicap arena.
I have chosen ten premium sets of irons to assist you in your journey, but I always recommend you take your choices to a golf pro where you can hit them before committing yourself to one specific range. All ten are superb irons, but not all ten will necessarily work for your game.
1. Srixon ZX5 Irons (Forged)
The ZX5 iron is attractively thin and slightly offset when viewed at address, inspiring confidence from the outset. On the longer irons, the rear of the sole is visible but not unattractive and is not something that poses a problem.
Distance and forgiveness are the most noticeable attributes of the Srixon ZX5 Iron, and they are known as player distance irons. Still, the clubheads are very forgiving despite offering a good launch and the promised distance.
Hit them well, and you’ll be in heaven, but even an imperfect hit may well end up where you were aiming or be very close. These gorgeous clubs are ideal for the mid-handicap golfer and can be used to drop your handicap with alacrity.
As a mid-handicapper, you’ll probably still need game improvement forgiveness from your irons, and the Srixon ZX5 offers this in spades.
Their MainFrame technology is a pattern of grooves, cavities, and channels of variable thickness that increase the ball speed on impact while supplying forgiveness via additional mass behind the strike point.
The ZX5 offers excellent control and a buttery feel, taking the ball from tee to green via masterful technology, and is difficult to beat in its class. The sole is Srixon’s new Tour VT design, and the clear ridge which runs down the middle helps to prevent the club from digging in on chunky shots.
Pros of the Srixon ZX5 Irons
- Good launch and distance
- It feels very soft in the hands
- Stable and reliable
- Forgiving (to a point – it’s a club aimed at mid-handicappers, not high-handicappers)
Cons of the Srixon ZX5 Irons
- The head is a little shiny for my taste, but others love it
2. TaylorMade Stealth Irons (Cast)
- The New Look of Game Improvement - The original Cap Back Design allowed TaylorMade irons to eclipse the performance of traditional cavity backs, using multi-material construction to...
- Fast and Forgiving - Powered by the all-new Cap Back Design with toe wrap construction, Stealth irons feature an intelligently positioned sweet spot that spans the most common...
The Taylormade Stealth Irons are incredible game-improvement irons that you can hit high and robust and will reward just about any shot. They feel outstanding in the hands, which helps provide the confidence you need from the strike.
These are extremely popular irons, and for a good reason, being awarded a gold medal in 2022 by Golf Digest.
TaylorMade’s irons have been at the forefront of technology and innovation for years, and the TaylorMade Stealth Irons don’t offer much new technology. Clearly, they believe that you ‘don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.’
The entire cavity is wrapped by the latest version of the Cap Back, designed to maximize the flexing of the face on impact. At several contact points across the club face, the Echo Damping System employs technology to damper harsh vibrations, giving the soft feel of a forged iron on impact with the ball.
The Thru-Slot Speed Pocket provides forgiveness on shots hit too low on the clubface (a common mishit area) via a slot at the bottom of the sole that increases flexibility, control, and ball speed.
The Stealth irons have a slightly thicker top line, confirming game improvement iron status, and
increases in launch angle and distance are notable.
Pros of the TaylorMade Stealth Irons
- Great launch angle and distance
- Wonderful forgiveness
- Forged qualities in a cast iron
- Well priced
Cons of the TaylorMade Stealth Irons
- Limited stopping power around the greens
3. Ping G425 Irons (Cast)
The Ping G425 irons are an established favorite among mid-handicappers, particularly those closing in on lower handicaps and needing that extra bit of reliability. These are one of the finest game-improving irons on the market.
They are incredibly forgiving of slight mishits, which lose very little distance for the most part.
If you have the ability, these clubs will do what you require of them. Since Karsten Solheim founded the company over 60 years ago, many have considered Ping as the ultimate in irons, and the Ping G425 has upheld that consumer confidence.
The face employs the style of a metal wood, with a variable thickness which significantly increases the flex on impact for startling increases in ball speed, and even mishits benefit from this.
Buttery in the hands, the club allows superb control and provides confidence and results suited to your finest golf shot. Who needs more than that?
Pros of the Ping G425 Irons
- Wonderful trajectory
- Incredible distance control
- Feels great on the strike
Cons of the Ping G425 Irons
- None that bothered me
4. Titleist T200 Irons (Forged Face, Cast Body)
- The Titlest T200 iron set favors powerful blows, thanks to Max Impact technology that improves distance.
- Max Impact Technology: A unique polymer core provides accurate sound and cushioning qualities, favoring maximum speed from almost any point of impact on the face.
For years, the Titleist irons have been considered by many to be unattainable and only for the better golfers out there. However, with the T200, Titleist has shifted focus slightly and directed their attention at the far more extensive group of consumers in the mid-handicap range.
If you’re used to compact club heads, the T200 will be a bit unsettling with its longer profile, but the clubs frame the ball nicely at address and feel oh so soft in the hands. Ball launch is exemplary, and flight is both far and accurate. Don’t wait until you dip below a ten handicap – these clubs may get you there faster.
With less offset and a thinner top line, the club is an excellent weapon in your war against your handicap, and even turf interaction has been addressed, with the Titleist T200 iron having a thinner sole to assist with cleaner contact.
The technology employed by Titleist gives the T200 iron an improved launch angle and increased ball speed off the long irons and ensures the shorter irons have more forgiveness, control, and precision.
The T200 iron represents Titleist’s most significant advance in the T-Series, utilizing a proprietary Max Impact technology and denser D-18 tungsten weighting. This is packaged into a tight, player-preferred design, resulting in a golf iron that excels on every front. In addition, an upgraded polymer core was added by Titleist, improving both mass efficiency and off-center speed during impact.
Pros of the Titleist T200 Irons
- Easy to launch
- Offers a far carry
Cons of the Titleist T200 Irons
- Can intimidate buyers new to using the brand
5. Callaway Apex 21 Irons (Forged)
- Apex is the first forged iron designed with A.I. and it’s engineered to deliver superior performance with iconic feel on every swing. There’s nothing like our best…and that’s Apex.
- The unique A.I. architecture in each iron creates high ball speeds and increased spin robustness across the face. They’re engineered for impressive distance and pinpoint control.
The Callaway Apex 21 Irons have facial architecture (love that term!) created by Callaway’s innovative Flash Face Cup (Artificial Intelligence based) technology. This tech provides incredible ball speeds and spin consistency across the entire face. In essence, strikes at the toe or heel receive less side spin, and the ball remains closer to the target line.
A redesign of the Apex iron allows for improved interaction with the turf, and the new tungsten energy core creates forgiveness that beggars belief. The strike could be a little softer, but the results are excellent. However, the head of the Callaway Apex 21 Irons is forged entirely from mild carbon steel, and some report a wonderfully good feel off the face.
Pros of the Callaway Apex 21 Irons
- It forgives the imperfect strikes of a mid-handicap golfer and can even be helpful to higher handicappers looking to drop to the teens
- The sweet spot is massive, and a decent golfer will struggle to miss it
Cons of the Callaway Apex 21 Irons
- The club head is chunkier than many, which may put purists off
6. Cleveland Launcher XL Irons (Cast)
- XL HEAD DESIGN This is huge: a bigger head means an MOI of 3,081 g-cm2in the 7-Iron—ourmost ever in a Cleveland Golf game-improvement Iron. It’s maximum distance with maximum fun.
- MAINFRAME Designed using artificial intelligence, MainFrame variable face technology increases ball speed while unique weight pad designs ensure maximum forgiveness across the face.
Many golfers buy split sets of irons as they chase lower handicaps and purchase longer irons that assist with ball striking while offering optimum distance, and shorter irons for feel, control, and spin properties. The Cleveland XL Launcher range seems to have achieved this.
Cleveland has produced a hollow-headed design for the 4- to 7-irons and maintained precise cavity backs from the 8-iron through to the Gap-Wedge. This is ideal for a mid-handicapper wanting to launch the ball easier and with more consistency while still getting considerable distances from the longer irons.
The Cleveland Launcher XL also features a V-shaped sole creating an elevated leading edge that provides optimal line through the strike surface resulting in fewer fat or thin shots. Couple this technology with the enormous head, and you feel ultimate confidence in the club’s sweet-spot and its ability to put the ball where you want it.
Pros of the Cleveland Launcher XL Irons
- Large head
- Easy to launch (hence the name!)
- Inspires a confident strike
Cons of the Cleveland Launcher XL Irons
- Could offer longer distance
7. Mizuno JPX 923 Hot Metal Irons (Cast)
Mizuno utilized Nickel Chromoly to make the face of the JPX923 an incredible 8% thinner (while increasing the strength by 35%) over the JPX 921s. This increases the size of that elusive sweet-spot we are all looking for and elevates forgiveness at contact.
The launch is excellent, and the distance is premium from the Mizuno JPX923 Hot Metal Irons, which are incredibly soft in the hands yet still feel solid through contact. The club is beautiful on address (and in the bag), but is also a workhorse providing every shot you have the ability to play.
It delivers excellent spin rates, and the ball flights arc well, resulting in no difficulty getting the ball to check on the greens and providing enormous confidence and control on approach.
Pros of the Mizuno JPX 923 Hot Metal Irons
- Soft in the hands
- A powerful striker
- Very forgiving
Cons of the Mizuno JPX 923 Hot Metal Irons
- None for me
8. Wilson D9 Irons (Forged Or Cast)
- EFFORTLESSLY HIGHER SPEEDS AND GREATER DISTANCE: Strategically positioned, urethane-filled Power Holes enable maximum face flex for improved speeds and an expanded sweet spot you can’t...
- CONSISTENCY EQUALS CONFIDENCE: Wilson’s lowest-ever center of gravity in an iron increases launch angles and delivers a steeper angle of descent for increased green-side control.
The D9 Forged irons have replaced the D7 irons and continue to provide classic shaping and that soft forged feel that low and mid-handicappers desire. More playable than a traditional blade or even many cavity backs, the Wilson D9 Irons offer increased ball speed and ultimate control.
‘Power’ holes included along the sole of the long- and mid-irons help the face flex more at impact, providing consistently fast speeds from across the face. In addition, an 8620 carbon steel forged face provides a delicate yet responsive sensation on impact.
The Wilson D9 boasts a shorter blade length and relatively thin top line than one might expect and is pretty compact in the players’ distance iron category.
The launch was superb, but I feel it is more suited to faster swing speeds, so consider this when choosing your irons. The soft snap felt on contact with the shorter irons has to beexperienced to be believed, and the club is quick to respond to your working of the ball.
The Wilson D9 is an iron that gives delightful feedback via the forged head, and those high launch angles I mentioned deliver the ultimate in control and stopping power. These are one of the finest irons for upper low-handicappers to lower mid-handicappers looking to improve their game by aggressive flag-hunting.
Pros of the Wilson D9 Irons
- Lovely to put to work
- Very attractive
- Beautifully workable
Cons of the Wilson D9 Irons
- A slower swing speed might not suit these irons
9. TaylorMade P790 Irons (Forged Face, Cast Body)
- Newly engineered SpeedFoam Air is 69% lighter than its predecessor. It provides up to 3.5g of weight savings that has been redistributed to further optimize mass properties for better launch...
- A new 8620 carbon steel construction makes the head thinner by up to 37.5% in strategic locations, allowing for a significantly lower CG placement. This new thin-walled design pairs with a...
Not the newest irons on the market, TaylorMade has stuck close to the original ‘P’ Range design for good reasons.
Very blade-like in appearance, the forged face is effortless to play with, offering excellent forgiveness on imperfect hits with the longer irons. In contrast, the shorter irons provide the expectedly superb feel on approach.
Confidence starts or ends on the tee box, and the TaylorMade P790 Irons are extraordinarily long and produce startling speeds off the clubface, providing plenty of faith to get those handicaps down. The slimmer, sleeker head provides enhanced control, and was created by a new-ish trend in irons: A forged hollow-head creation.
Tungsten weighting is positioned low in the clubhead, lowering the center of gravity, resulting in a higher launch, and speedfoam is injected into the head to provide an improved feel and ball speeds across the club’s face. Mid-handicappers who struggle to launch their golf balls might consider a graphite shaft instead of the standard True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 steel shaft.
Pros of the TaylorMade P790 Irons
- Very long with excellent feel
- Many ‘Players’ characteristics
Cons of the TaylorMade P790 Irons
- Not for weaker Mid-handicappers
10. Callaway Rogue ST Pro Irons (Cast Hollow Body)
- Rogue ST Pro Irons are Callaway’s fastest players irons ever. They’re designed using hollow body construction to deliver the look and feel of a players performance iron, with the...
- For the first time in the industry, they’ve combined high strength 450 steel with our A.I. designed Flash Face Cup. This delivers more ball speed and better ball speed consistency.
The Callaway Rogue ST Pro Irons are a stunning new club for low handicap to lower mid-handicap golfers who can still appreciate the help offered by an improvement iron. It is a beautiful golf club at address (and in your golf bag), though the mirror chrome finish will put some golfers off.
The ST Pro irons provide a traditional players’style, tungsten head that resembles a muscle back blade, and the weight distribution is exactly to my liking. As a result, it’s a club I can swing confidently, and you will too. In addition, Callaway’s new A.I. Face-Optimization technology is unique for each of the irons to create a consistent spin rate across the face.
Pros of the Callaway Rogue ST Pro Irons
- Wonderful to play with
- Very powerful and highly forgiving
Cons of the Callaway Rogue ST Pro Irons
- Too shiny for some, but others love it
Conclusion: Best Irons for Mid Handicap Golfers
Choosing a set of irons for the mid-handicapper is no easy task. The first thing is to consider whether you wish to maintain your handicap status or forge forward to push for a low handicap. Next, consider your age, health, and freedom to play regularly, and be brutally critical.
Once you’ve decided, make sure you hit the irons you are considering and don’t rush the final choice. All the sets discussed above may help your game, but you might not like them, so test them stringently.