The Best Golf Irons For 2017

You might start a game of golf with that sweet looking driver or fairway wood. But to reach the green put the ball in the hole, you need the best golf irons. They form the bulk of the clubs in your set. Ranging from the long irons to the more specialized wedges, they cover the long game as well as the short game.

You could actually finish a round of golf with a half decent score without a driver or a wood or a putter, but you really cant do the same without irons. In this buying guide, we will look at some of the best irons across categories to augment your golfing experience in the coming year. If you are a beginner golfer, you might want to check out our shortlist of the best irons for beginners or the most forgiving iron.

Our shortlist of the best golf irons for 2017 includes:

Irons Buying Guide: The Basic Set

All golf clubs follow a well defined serial progression, in terms of length of the club, the angle of loft and the size of the clubhead. The irons are usually sold in sets of numbered clubs, with a maximum of up to 9 different clubs. The numbering and classification of irons into different categories is based on their loft.

The lowest numbered are the long irons, usually numbered 2, 3, and 4. True to their name, they are the longest clubs in the irons category. The 5, 6, and 7 irons are progressively shorter and higher lofted. They fall into the mid irons category. You will find these in all modern iron sets, either with a couple of long irons or hybrids.

The highest lofted irons are the short irons, which include irons 8 and 9, along with the more specialized irons, or wedges.Now, wedges are technically irons, but they were designed for specific situations like pitching from the fairway into the green, or blasting the ball out of a sand bunker. So they have been given specific names like Pitching Wedge (PW) and the Sand Wedge (SW). There are a couple of other wedges as well, but a normal iron set will usually include only a PW or a PW+SW combo.

Irons Buying Guide: Hybrids

Recently, hybrids have become more popular than long irons, especially among newcomers and high handicappers. Developed in the 1990's, hybrids are easier to hit than long irons and combine their best attributes with those of fairway woods. So a modern iron set might possibly replace the long irons altogether with a couple of low lofted hybrids, along with the usual mid irons and short irons+PW.

If you want to switch your long irons for the more forgiving and longer hitting hybrids, the numbering is identical. If you want a replacement for a 3 iron, get a 3 hybrid, a 4 hybrid for a 4 iron and so on. But just remember that you might be looking at an increase in distance of up to 8 or 10 yards when you switch to a hybrid.

Irons Buying Guide: Blades vs Cavity Backs

Back in the day, you only had irons. Now, those thin, hard to hit irons are called blade irons. All irons used the same forging process to create these thin blade irons. You don't really get them anymore in stores. We do have an improved version of the blades, with more metal behind the clubface. These more "muscular" versions of blade irons are quite popular among expert players and pros, and are called "muscle backs".

These days, most of the mass produced irons we see are crafted using the much cheaper casting method, by molding molten metal. This allowed manufacturers to improve on the muscle back design, by shifting that extra metal to the sides rather than concentrating it at the center. The resulting design had a void/hollow area at the back of the clubhead, hence the name "cavity backs".

How are they different? Well, the short answer is:

  • Blades offer extra control and feedback on each shot, so you know exactly how well you have hit the shot. But if you miss with them, you tend to miss big time. They are called "player irons" because they are usually preferred by top golfers. And as forged clubs, they tend to be more expensive.
  • Cavity backs are more forgiving than blades. And they are easier to hit as well. They are usually termed as "game improvement" clubs since mid and high handicappers can easily wield them. Clubs manufactured via casting are generally cheaper as well.

Irons Buying Guide: Categories

Golf is a game for all kinds of players across gender, age limits and skill levels. Golf club manufacturers design their clubs to cater to each specific demographic. There are Seniors, Ladies, Junior and Regular clubs. And then there are specific categories aimed at players of different handicaps. They can be classified as under:

  • Player Irons: aimed at very skilled, low handicap players. You will find a good selection of forged blade irons in this category. Don't bother with these unless your handicap is in single digits.
  • Intermediate Irons: aimed at the more skilled mid handicap players between the 8 or 9-15 handicap range looking for a challenge. These clubs strike a balance between performance and forgiveness.
  • Game Improvement Irons: cavity back clubs with added forgiveness, aimed at mid and high handicappers anywhere in the 10-20 handicap level.
  • Super Game Improvement Irons: the name says it all. Short of cheating, this is your recourse if you are really struggling on a golf course. Clubs are designed with massive heads and maximum forgiveness for people with a 20+ handicap.

Irons Buying Guide: Shafts

Unlike in other types of clubs, these factors don't really matter too much when it comes to irons. For instance, steel is the default choice for adult golfers. Graphite figures prominently in Junior, Senior and Ladies sets, since graphite shafts help counter the problem of slow swing speeds that these category players usually face. If you have an issue with slow swing speeds, get a graphite shaft with more flex. Otherwise regular steel is the way to go.

Best Irons of 2017 Reviewed

We start off our reviews in the high handicappers category with the best Super Game Improvement Iron set out there in our estimation:

Mizuno JPX EZ Irons

The super game improvement has many decent iron sets from all the major manufacturers. You could select any one of them and get a good experience. But we chose the Mizuno JPX EZ because it actually straddles the line between game improvement and max game improvement clubs.

The chunky cavity-back design has all the forgiveness a high handicapper would need, yet still has enough performance to keep you coming back for more even as your handicap drops over time. The set comes with steel and graphite shaft options, and you get a PW and a GW along with the 4-9 irons.


  • As a high handicapper, you need maximum forgiveness and that is something the JPX EZ provides in spades.
  • Despite all that added forgiveness, this iron set gives you class leading feel and feedback.
  • What sets it apart from other max game improvement irons is its versatility from all kinds of lies.
  • The understated design with a dark metal finish is another big plus.


  • There are other irons with more forgiveness on offer.

In the very crowded Game Improvement category, we have opted for two sets:

Cobra King F6 Irons

The F6 series from Cobra has ranked highly in several categories of clubs this year. Their iron set is one of the more unusual products on offer in the game improvement category of irons. You get a couple of hybrids taking the place of the 3-4 irons, there are a whopping 4 different head designs used in the set.

Cobra also offers a wide variety of choice, with 4-GW, 2-4 hybrids and 5-PW, 3-5 hybrids and 6-GW among the options.


  • Highly versatile clubs, with the different club designs optimizing them for different situations
  • An excellent balance between forgiveness and accuracy, ideal for mid handicappers.
  • The addition of hybrids adds to the potency of the set, especially from bad lies and roughs.


  • Some players find the graphite shafts a bit too lightweight
  • The colors and design could have been a bit better

A firm favorite in the mid handicapper category, the AP1 is a cavity back design with added CG and improved spin, thanks to extra tungsten in the clubhead. There are both steel and graphite shaft options.

The irons come in a 4-9 configuration with different wedge options, from the just a PW, to PW-AW and PW-GW.


  • The higher CG adds to the height capabilities of these irons. That helps a lot when dealing with awkward lies and hazards like low bunkers and heavy roughs.
  • If you are a mid handicapper looking for a quite forgiving iron that covers up all but the most blatant mishits, the 716 AP1 could be a great option for you.
  • The clubs are excellent for sharpening your consistency levels thanks to their great balance and stability.


  • Wedges feel slightly out of place in the pack due to lack of refinement

The intermediate level has an interesting choice for us, in a forged blade design from Callaway with a composite head technology for extra forgiveness.

Callaway Apex CF 16 Irons

A truly outstanding set of irons, both in the looks as well as the performance department, Callaway has managed to pull off something special with the CF 16. Callaway opted to go the high tech, forged route for these irons and it shows. The irons have a single piece forged carbon steel head with six other pieces of various materials added to improve performance.

It comes in a multitude of configurations, ranging from 3-PW to 6-PW and 4/5-PW, AW and more.


  • It is more forgiving than a true player iron, but the advanced forged design give you enough leeway for some creative shots.
  • Extremely versatile set of irons that do a great job in every conceivable lie.
  • The smallish head and classic looks give this set great character and stands out easily from the pack.


  • The long irons in the set are not suitable for players with a light swing, you might have to switch them for hybrids.

In the more exacting player irons category, we have a serious offering from Adidas.

TaylorMade PSI Tour Irons

TaylorMade certainly weren't fooling around when they branded these for the "seriously good players". The tour oriented muscle back design and thin sole shows that this not a club you can hope to fool around with. The design includes speed pockets on the club sole, but don't let that lull you into any kind of complacency.

Mishits with these irons will shave off yards from your distance without mercy. The set comes with a steel shaft in two flex options and a 3-PW and 4-PW configuration.


  • The look says it all. The forged muscle back design exudes an air of professionalism and is an out and out winner.
  • Each individual iron has been optimized and their lofts fine tuned for performance.
  • The feel and feedback from the irons are exactly what you would expect from a set in this class.


  • The least forgiving irons in class out there probably. Only for players with single digit handicaps, the lower the better.


The evolution of golfing technology has probably affected irons more than any other club. The arrival of hybrids have significantly altered the club configuration of the average golfer.

The pros may still predominantly prefer muscle-back blades for that extra control and finesse. But the mid to high handicapper can look towards modern technology to make life easier for them on the course with optimized cavity backs and composite head designs.

We hope you enjoyed our guide+review and found useful insights into the fast evolving world of golf irons.