Best Irons for Beginners & High Handicappers in 2020

golf irons in a bag

High handicappers and beginners always get put into the same group when it comes to categorizing golf clubs.

This is done because there are a few common features that both beginners and high handicappers need in a golf club.

The most important factor is forgiveness and the second is consistency.

Surprisingly distance is not something that all high handicappers struggle with. Many can hit it plenty long, but doing it consistently and with accuracy is what makes the game much more complicated.

In this review, I tried to not only give you my overall picks but also break it down into some specific categories. I’m hoping this will help you find exactly what you need to help your game.

If you are looking for something on a budget, a club with better feel, something to stick with long term or an iron that increases your distance I have that all covered for you.

Our Best Golf Irons for Beginners and High Handicappers in 2020

2020 Cobra T Rail Combo (Best Overall Winner)
Callaway Mavrik Irons (Runner Up 1)
Cobra F Max Irons (Best Low Price Option)
TaylorMade Kalea Iron/Combo Set (Best for Women Beginner)
Cobra SpeedZone Irons (Best for Slice)
Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal Irons Set (Best Long Term Option)
TaylorMade P790 Irons Set (Best for Feel)

Best Overall Set for High Handicap: 2020 Cobra T Rail Combo



Years ago Cobra introduced the Baffler T Rail Hybrid. It was different than anything on the market at the time.

There were two small bars (rails) on the bottom of the club that were supposed to help the club pull through even the most difficult lies. At first, I was skeptical thinking the rails would decrease solid turf interaction on fairway shots. I was wrong.

The T Rail Hybrids were amazingly easy to hit and one of the best clubs that Cobra put out. When I first saw this 2020 Cobra T Rail Combo set released I was interested in seeing if they kept similar technology. Fortunately, they used the same design but created an incredible, easy to hit set of hybrid irons.

The Cleveland Launcher HB set has been leading the way with Hybrid Irons for several years and it’s about time they get some solid competition. If you never saw yourself playing with a hybrid iron you may want to reconsider.

The T Rail Combo set is a hollow body iron set. It’s a progressive set where the clubs move to a full hybrid. They are considered to be hybrid Irons however they have the feel of traditional irons with the distance of a hybrid. The black finish on the entire iron set makes them quite appealing and sleek looking.

As a beginner or high handicapper golfer, you are likely not in the fairway as often as you would like to be. That will come in time.

In the meantime having a club that cuts through rough (without incredibly fast swing speeds) is incredibly important. The rails on the bottom of these clubs will give you the confidence you need out of a divot, or rough or even a fairway bunker!

Cobra used their E9 technology on this iron, to give it variable face thickness. The variable face helps to ensure maximum distance, even on off-center hits.

It takes time and practice to continually hit the ball in the center of the clubface, choosing an iron set with a larger sweet spot is a smart move for a beginner or high handicapper.

Being this T Rail set is a distance and forgiveness set it comes stock with a graphite shaft. Remember that when you see the pricing of this set. Most sets are advertised at the steel price and then have an upcharge for graphite.

The stock graphite shaft is the Cobra Ultralite. It is available in stiff, regular and senior flex. Each shaft is about 55 grams, they are high launch and high spin shafts.


Runner Up 1: Callaway Mavrik Irons



If a hybrid set of irons is not your cup of tea then you need to take a look at this Callaway Mavrik Iron that was just released.

The Rogue Iron was the new release for Callaway in 2019 and they proved to be one of the best selling golf irons of the year. There were a few small issues, mostly feel and sound but overall an impressive club.

Callaway came back with the Mavrik and addressed the feel and sound issues to put out a set of irons that beginners are going to have a hard time complaining about.

For the first time in the history of golf Callaway has used Artificial Intelligence to craft each club of the set individually.

In the past, the only difference between a 7 and 8 iron was the loft. That is no longer the case with the Mavrik irons. The tungsten weight has been moved in each club to increase launch and accuracy and get the center of gravity to the perfect location.

The Mavrik Iron comes equipped with the 360 face cup technology that the Rogue had. The difference is that Callaway also used their flash face in this iron.

The flash face has been very effective on Drivers and Woods in the last few years and they were able to incorporate them into an iron for the first time.

Beginners and high handicappers will have the option to go with the Mavrik or the Mavrik Max irons. Callaway states that the Mavrik is longer (lower lofts) and Max (higher lofts).

Technically because of the lower lofts the standard Mavrik model will be longer and the ball flight will be lower. If you struggle with getting the ball in the air and need a slightly bigger sweet spot the max is the way to go.

Keep in mind that the lofts on these clubs are still lower than they were years ago, don’t let the higher lofts on the Max steer you away. They are a tremendous set of irons for beginners.

The stock shaft in the steel is True Temper Elevate 95, a 90-gram shaft available in regular and stiff flex. The graphite stock shaft is the Project X Catalyst. All of the shafts are high spin, high loft, exactly what beginners golf clubs should have in them.

Since the Mavrik is a brand new option they are still available with many custom choices. My advice to beginners is to stick with the stock options unless you are very tall or short and need length taken on or off the club.

Read our Callaway Mavrik Irons review.


Runner Up 2: Cleveland CBX Iron Set



The Cleveland CBX Iron Set is one of the best golf clubs for a beginner because of all the features it offers at such fair value. If you are looking for a club you can stick with for years to come this is the one.

The CBX iron has a progressive v-shaped sole, cavity back design, laser milling, and Tour Zip Grooves. All of this for a very affordable price!

If you are looking to improve ball speed and distance these irons are a perfect option. They are lower lofted clubs with a high launching high spinning stock shaft in them.

As you move from the short irons to the long irons you will see the size of the sole increase, helping to improve launch and forgiveness.

The Tour Zip Grooves installed in the wedges give this set some of the best feeling beginner irons for around the greens.

Many of the irons for beginners are pure distance and forgiveness and feel is pushed to the side. This is fine when you first begin the game but as you get better you need a club that rewards you for good shots. Feel around the greens is imperative on the short irons when it comes time to score.

One of the key features of this iron that is not talked about enough is the look of the club. Beginner irons can look and feel bulky.

They look like they have lots of technology but don’t resemble a golf club of the past in any way. The CBX is one of the most classic looking beginner and high handicapper irons on the market.

The combination of weight, sole shape and increased speed and distance make this set of irons a perfect option not just when your handicap is high but as you improve as well.

Something to seriously consider if you are going to be working to lower your scores.


Best Low Price Option: Cobra F Max Irons



Why does Cobra end up on the best low price option so often?

It’s simply because when they release their golf irons they release them at a fair value. As the season goes on, they continue to drop and then when the next model is released the price drops even more.

They follow this cycle almost every year. The key is that they are almost always a fair value to begin with.

The Cobra F Max Iron set is no exception.

5-PW is a great value for beginners.

It’s important to note that if you have a faster swing speed this is not the set for you. This Cobra F Max set has an ultralight configuration designed to get the slowest swingers more speed.

Like many of the best golf clubs for beginners, the Cobra F Max is also an offset design, helping to square up the clubface and promote a draw.

Most beginner clubs are going to have quite a bit of offset, some are more visible than others. The Cobra F Max is pretty visible. This is a look that some beginners like, they combine it with a slight forward press and use it to control ball flight.

Similar to the CBX Irons with the Tour Zip Grooves the wedges in the F MAX set are designed to help with control around the greens.

Distance and speed do not help when it comes to feel and finesse around the greens. Cobra considered that and made sure the weight and the groves on the pitching wedge, and gap wedge were designed properly.

The Cobra F Max iron set also comes in a combo version that includes Hybrids. For a beginner golfer who has never played the game this option is much better than the majority of complete sets on the market.

Investing in this set is something you won’t regret a few years down the road.


Best for the Women beginner: TaylorMade Kalea Iron/Combo Set



The most difficult thing for women who are first starting is getting the ball in the air.

Nothing will take a beginner golfer to the card room or tennis court faster than hitting shots that never leave the ground.

The good news is that the majority of golf clubs made for women are forgiving and high launching. It’s much harder to find a women’s set geared toward a low handicap player.

The Kalea is a combo set that includes Driver, 3W, 4H, 5H, 6-PW, SW and the price is very good. The only thing this set doesn’t include is the bag.

The shafts and club heads are very lightweight. This TaylorMade lightweight design is to help women golfers get more swing speed. Swing speed will help both distance and launch when the player can start swinging consistently.

Since this comes as a complete set the lofts are all perfectly matched so there are no large gaps between clubs. If you find yourself making solid contact but your hits are still not long enough a lighter club with the features of the Kalea could be a great option for you.

If you do have a little extra money to spend and want an option that includes the bag, TaylorMade just released the Kalea Set With Bag. In addition to the bag, the set comes with a version of the Spider Putter that is very popular among pros on tour.


Best for Slice: Cobra SpeedZone Irons



Here comes Cobra again with another win in the beginner golf club category. This iron is not just for beginners and high handicappers it is also a great mid handicapper option as well.

The brand new speed zone iron is the first iron by Cobra to feature a carbon fiber top line. The carbon fiber topline has decreased overall weight, allowing the center of gravity to be lowered as well. With the center of gravity lowered the ball speed increases.

The heel and toe weighting is done in such a way to create a very stable clubface. This is important for off-center hits. As a beginner or high handicapper, you can’t expect to hit the ball on the clubface every time. The last thing you need is an iron that twists and sends the ball spinning in the wrong direction.

One of my favorite things about the Cobra SpeedZone irons is the Cobra Connect technology. There are sensors in the grips of these irons that will record how you are hitting them. This may seem a little advanced for beginners but I believe that beginners will benefit from this more than a lower handicap player will.

As a beginner, your swing will change quite a bit. A buddy might give you a tip on a Thursday, you may take a lesson on a Saturday and watch golf on Sunday.

All of this information will be coming in and as you process it you will make tweaks in your swing. These irons may be able to help you figure out what works and what doesn’t. (FYI the old “Keep your head down” is not the best tip out there!)

Cobra did not disappoint with this new SZ iron set. With the steel stock shaft in it, you will be spending a fairly good price for the 4-PW. The set is available in both the regular and stiff flex. It’s a high launch, high spin, forgiving set of clubs that will last you for many years.

Don’t forget to look into the Cobra Speedzone One Length option as well. All clubs will be the same length as your 7 iron, making setup and stance much less complicated. Cobra has offered a one length version of many recent sets.

One concern that people have with going to the one length is a lack of distance. Due to ease of setup, confidence in a repeated swing and the correct loft on the club most players are saying they have seen increased distance.

Read our Cobra Speedzone Irons review.


Best Long Term option: Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal Irons Set



Not all beginner and high handicap golfers plan on staying in that category for a long time. If you are a competitive person, looking to improve fast and have the time to put in these are irons you will want to consider.

The Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal Iron Set has the forgiveness and distance that a beginner needs but it has the feel that will last you long term.

The Hot Metal Iron is constructed with High Strength Chromoly 4140M for incredibly soft feel. They have a new brushed metal finish to them to help reduce glare.

The Hot Metal irons have a stability frame that helps to promote launch but still keep their amazing feel.

The irons come stock steel with KBS C Taper Lite which is a high launch, lighter weight, higher spinning shaft. A perfect option for beginner or high handicapper.

The JPX 919 Series is also offered in the Forged and Tour Model. As you move to the forged and tour you will see the top line get thinner, the clubs lose some of their forgiveness and potentially distance as well.

The lofts on Mizuno irons are more similar to a traditional set from several years back. They did not lower the lofts to help increase distance. Distance is increased using high-end components, lighter weight, and higher spinning shafts.

For a beginner looking for a set to grow with these are all features you will need.


Best for Feel: TaylorMade P790 Irons Set



The TaylorMade P790 Irons are irons that will work for beginners, mid handicappers and with the right shaft, they will work for low handicappers as well. That says a lot about a single set of irons.

There isn’t much that the TaylorMade P790 iron set doesn’t have. The feel is there, the speed is there, the launch is there, the look is there. They pretty much checked all the boxes with this set of irons.

This wouldn’t be a typical set of irons for beginners but the forgiveness is still there. Beginners need added forgiveness and the great looking clubs don’t normally pack as much forgiveness as this set.

In addition to the speed pocket technology, the P790 set also uses Speedfoam and tungsten weights for improved Center of Gravity performance.

The TaylorMade P790 has been around for a few years now. The 2019 irons have changed slightly in the shape of the clubhead. The change is not significant if you can find a set of these for a lower price that is a 2017 model.

Read our TaylorMade P790 Irons review.


What to look for when Picking a great set of Irons for a Beginner?

Now that I have given you some amazing options to choose from it’s time to start to narrow down exactly what you need and why.

Even if you have your mind made up on a certain brand, there are still countless options within each brand.

It’s hard to purchase a set of golf clubs. There are many options across a large range of prices but there are some features you need to be sure of when purchasing the best beginner golf clubs.

Club Head Size and Weight

  • Look for something with a larger clubhead
  • Increased sweet spot
  • Low center of gravity
  • Thicker top line
  • Lightweight irons are for those who need more swing speed
  • Beginners sets will normally have a thicker sole
  • Progressive sole technology will help with the more difficult to hit long irons

Shaft Options

  • True beginners, especially those over age 50 should be looking at graphite shafts
  • Steel shafts in beginner irons are generally around 90 grams
  • Mid Weight, High Launch, High Spin are all important
  • Graphite will generally give you more distance but less control
  • Even if you swing a Stiff shaft in your driver, you may need regular in irons. They are heavier and require more swing speed

Loft

  • Beginners and high handicappers need lower lofted irons for distance
  • If you truly struggle with getting the ball in the air try to choose a mid-launch set (Mavrik Max vs. Mavrik)
  • Getting a set of irons that gets and keeps the ball in the air is more important than distance irons for beginners

Set Makeup

  • Stay away from the 4 iron until you can hit an iron consistently
  • Look for a 5-PW, AW and purchase a hybrid
  • Don’t be afraid of a hybrid set of irons for a true beginner- the features make it much easier to launch, especially out of a difficult lie

Look/Feel

  • The top line on beginner sets will be thicker than low handicap sets
  • It is difficult to get soft feel in true distance irons
  • If you are looking for the best feeling you will find that in a forged iron (but pay more for it)

Cost

  • Keep in mind that golf irons can cost anywhere from $300-$2000
  • Forged will cost more
  • Graphite will cost more
  • Look for models that are 1-2 years old to save money
  • Consider purchasing a five iron through pitching wedge as a first set

Brand

  • Brand is less important than feel
  • There are some knock-off options and very low priced options on the market, these irons do not have the latest technologies
  • Golf professionals will tell you when it comes to golf clubs you get what you pay for
  • TaylorMade, Cobra & Callaway generally release new irons every year
  • Titleist, Cobra, Srixon and Mizuno sometimes release every other year
  • As long as you stay with a major brand and keep the technology three or less years old, you will have the features you need to succeed

Conclusion

Although some will disagree with me that the best irons for beginners is a hybrid set I will still stand by my choice. The Cobra T Rail 2020 Hybrid Combo set checks all the boxes on a perfect set for beginner golf irons.

The sleek black look to the club, the ability to launch the ball so easily and some serious yards, everything needed to keep players involved in the game.

Sadly beginner golfers are very likely to quit. Even the best of athletes know that golf is not an easy game. Successful businessmen, high power political figures, the Nobel prize winner everyone is subject to the occasional slice, shank, top, grounder, etc. Golf does not discriminate.

Irons for beginners much have the key features that produce distance, forgiveness, and launch. The things people need to stay with this game. Anyone who has caught the golf bug can explain that all it takes is a single good shot to keep you coming back.

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