Does game improvement mean beginner?
Could it be a mid handicapper working to get better?
Here’s the scoop on who needs this type of iron . . .
- You are not the best ball-striker
- The only irons you hit consistently are your wedges, 9, maybe the 8
- Your mishits are generally short or right of the target
- Your handicap is over 10
- Your swing speed is slowing down
- You were a beginner and are now looking for an upgrade
If you fit into this category of player then you should be considering a game improvement golf iron for your next upgrade.
These types of irons have come a long way in the last few years. Historically known as a large clunky club, lots of room to miss and terrible feel.
Today you can find plenty of feel, distance, and forgiveness, all packed into a club that doesn’t look like you are swinging a brick!
In this review, I will give you my favorite game improving irons on the market and some advice for making sure you choose the right clubs for you.
Our Best Game Improvement Golf Irons in 2020
Winner: Cleveland CBX Iron Set
The Cleveland CBX set is an extremely forgiving and long choice put out by Cleveland.
The irons feature progressing shaping so that as you work your way up in the set the clubs become easier to launch properly. Very similar to hybrid technology but place in a classic clean looking iron.
The wedges on this type of iron have never been a strong point. Feel and control can be lost as soon as distance and forgiveness are increased. Cleveland used Laser Milling and Tour Zip grooves to ensure you can work the ball with your shots around the green.
The thin top line on the CBX Iron is another reason that I consider it the winner in this category.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, just because a player is not a scratch golfer does not mean they want to be looking at an ugly club head. This CBX looks great from the top down.
The price point on this iron set is extremely fair. Compared to other companies Cleveland always starts their clubs at a fair value and then they do sales and lower prices when new models come out.
Now that they have launched the UHX Series I expect the CBX set to drop in price and that is your time to jump on this incredible choice.
Runner Up 1: Callaway Rogue and Rogue X
If you have not heard about this series of irons this year I would be very surprised.
Callaway released these sets as an upgrade on the Callaway XR series that was released several years ago. The XR was a bit bulky, not all that long and moderately forgiving.
The Rogue and Rogue X iron sets are incredibly forgiving and long as well.
If you are looking for an easy way to increase distance in your golf game, this is something you need to consider. The clubhead is slightly larger than the CBX irons that we declared the winner in this category.
Golfers with slower swing speeds who struggle to get the correct launch and distance will benefit from the 360 Cup Face installed in this club.
The loft on a seven iron in this set is going to be quite different than that of a seven iron from ten years ago. It will be more like a five iron.
With the shaft choices and improvements made to the clubhead, it’s still possible to hit these lower lofted irons with the correct ball flight and launch.
If you are looking to increase ball speed and you are not worried about ball flight, the Rogue X would be your best choice. The lofts are even lower on these than the Rogue.
Read our Callaway Rogue Irons review.
Runner Up 2: TaylorMade M6
TaylorMade took their original speed pocket technology, made it better and now they call it the Speed Bridge. As I have mentioned in other reviews, TaylorMade is all about ball speed this year.
This set of irons produces some of the highest ball speeds on the market. Golfers who struggle with distance will see improvements when switching to the TaylorMade M6.
Another positive of the M6 is the sound. Although the sound on the CBX is pleasing the Rogues can sound a little hollow. This M6 uses HYBRAR compression damper to decrease vibration at impact and make the sound and feel that much better.
The top line is not as thin as a player’s iron and about the same thickness as the Rogue. Although at the start of last year these irons were on the high end of the price range they have come down considerably throughout the year.
The stock shaft and grip are a perfect combination of both weight and feel for the player looking to shave some strokes off their score.
If you are a TaylorMade person and looking to upgrade from the M2 series the M6 is a great option. If you currently play the M4, I would suggest waiting to see how these SIM irons are before buying the M6.
Best for fixing a Slice: Cobra F9 Speedback & One Length
Although I will admit that this iron does not have the traditional shape that many golfers prefer, it’s worth hitting to see what it can do for your scores.
Cobra F9 Speedback
The Cobra F9 Speedback was designed with a low center of gravity and high moment of inertia. Cobra has since released the SZ series but before that this was the longest and fastest club that they had put out.
The shaping on this iron allows for much more forgiveness on off-center hits but also a very soft feel at impact, something that is hard to achieve with on a game-enhancing set.
Cobra F9 Speedback One Length
The One Length variety is something to seriously consider if you have trouble with slicing your irons. All of the irons in the set are made to be the same length as the 7 iron.
Sometimes the cause of a slice can be not releasing the club. The longer the club gets the harder it is to release. Sometimes a slice can be caused by poor setup and ball position.
Keeping all clubs the same length allows players to develop some consistency in their ball striking. Your setup will be the same for every iron. Now you can focus on the fundamentals needed to start lowering scores.
Best affordable: Wilson Staff D7 Irons
Wilson Staff can sometimes be known as the beginner players’ option. The truth is they have been putting out quality sets for many years.
The D7 is a classic looking iron designed for maximum distance and forgiveness. The price point for the complete sets is affordable. Something that makes them worth considering if you are looking for the best value option.
Wilson kept their technology simple on this set. Very long in the long irons and better feel in the short irons. These irons feature a thin face that helps the ball jump off for a little extra ball speed.
Best for Senior: Callaway Big Bertha Irons
For great senior irons, it’s important to look for lightweight and forgiving clubs as swing speeds tend to slow down as golfers age.
Possibly the best part of the Callaway Big Bertha Irons is their sleek black look. The “Smoke” color option has become quite popular among players and this is no exception.
The Big Bertha Irons also utilize the 360 face cup technology for maximum jump off the clubface. The graphite shafts offered with this club (Recoil ESX) are a great mid-launch, mid-weight to help get the loft you need from your irons.
The Callaway Big Bertha irons are best sold as a combo, something all seniors should consider. The standard option is a 4 and 5 hybrid sold with 5-PW.
They are quite a bit more expensive than some other options put out by Callaway but you are getting some extra technology with this choice.
Best for Women: Callaway Women’s Rogue
Although it can be hard to say which irons are perfect for all women, the Callaway does appeal to a large group.
With increased distance and forgiveness from previous models, these may be the irons that get you up and over that water hazard!
Featuring a club head specifically designed for women and the high-end Synergy 60 graphite shaft. This iron is packed with forgiveness and feel.
Often women’s irons can feel and sound a bit hollow as they are trying to produce maximum distance, these irons have some great feel.
The price point on these is quite fair. For a graphite iron that is a great value.
What to look for when choosing a Game Improvement Set of Irons?
Now that we have covered the best options for Game Enhancing Irons you need some tools on how to pick out what will work specifically for your game.
Club Head Size and Weight
- Most will be larger with large sweet spot
- Topline will likely be a bit thicker
- Club could progressively get wider on the sole as you move up (almost like a hybrid in the long iron)
- Weight should be average, something around 90 grams is best suited for this type of iron
- Tungsten Weighting in club head can help increase consistency and forgiveness
- Choose the right flex, hitting the ball less than 150 yards with a 7 iron equates to needing a Regular Shaft (even if your buddies say you swing fast!)
- Graphite flex is going to give you more distance and less control
- Steel flex is going to give you more control and slightly less distance
- Most sets will have lower loft when compared to the Players iron
- Lower loft combined with the clubhead shape and technology will promote the correct ball flight on your shorts
- If you want traditionally lofted irons, you will need to look at more of a player’s golf club.
- Look for a combination with Hybrids and Irons
- Most mid-handicap players looking to improve their game don’t have the correct swing speed to hit solid shots with a stock 4 iron. Choose the 5-PW and AW instead.
- Look and feel is very important
- Try to find a local golf center where you can test a few sets
- Remember that feel on this Game Improvement type of club is never going to be as good as a forged iron but it should still have a good sound and feel on solid shots.
- Is your best club in your bag your Hybrid? Maybe you need something with a thicker bottom and graphite shafts. Keep in mind your preferences when considering the look and feel of a club.
- Are you getting game improvement irons because you are upgrading from a beginner set?
- Are you getting new irons because you’re getting older or playing less and need something more forgiving?
- Make sure to do some analysis of your golf swing before purchasing, to make sure you are getting something fitted specifically to your needs.
I think the majority of the golf manufacturers in today’s golf world dump the majority of their budget into this category of irons.
The majority of golfers fit into this category of not only looking to improve their scores but having it also be a fun process. Purchasing equipment that makes the game more difficult will not encourage you in any way.
Our clear winner for the best game-enhancing golf irons on the market is the Cleveland CBX. This set stands out in both the look, feel, design, and performance. Even after all of that, they are still reasonably priced.
If you decide against the lesser-known name of Cleveland and want to stick with the Callaway or TaylorMade you certainly won’t be making a poor choice.