Golf in 2020 is not quite what it was in the 1960s or ‘70s. Sure, the rules of the game are still the same. The objective is still to get the ball off the tee and in to hole with least amount of shots. But the equipment has changed.
Technology has not just led to an evolution, but a revolution in terms of golf clubs: the sheer number of designs and categories available at the moment is simply mind boggling.
And more than the expert crowd, it is the beginners and high handicappers who have gained the most from modern golfing technology.
Every sport needs to retain existing players and attract more in order to prosper and grow. And golf has certain quirks that make it quite difficult to do it as effectively as, say sport like basketball, pool or even, bowling. It requires wide open, rolling spaces and a lot of time and patience to master.
So a lot of focus has gone in to golf club design to make them more forgiving and accessible to beginners, to help people learn the ropes with less pain and frustration. Irons are one set of clubs that have been affected probably more than any other, by technology.
We have already looked some of the most forgiving irons (insert link for “most forgiving iron sets”) as well as irons that are designed for beginners (insert link for “best irons for beginners and high handicappers”).
Here we will combine the best of both and try to shortlist our selection of best irons for beginners and high handicappers to buy in 2020. The candidates include:
Top Irons for Beginners & High Handicappers
Irons Sets in 2020: A Beginner’s Guide
Irons don’t need much in the way of introduction. They form the backbone of any good golf club set. They are invariably most numerous category in any golfer’s bag.
You can have a maximum of 9 different irons in an iron set retailing in the market, as well as a couple of wedges thrown is as well. But since wedges are more specialized irons, they are general considered a separate category.
Irons may not be as glamorous as putters or drivers, or even fairway woods, but they are invaluable in their contributions to your game. If you want to effectively traverse the treacherous terrain of your local fairways, you need irons.
ou cannot always bet on your drivers and woods to land you on or near the greens every single time. This goes double for the longer holes, par 5 and above.
You still get them in sets anywhere from 7 to 11 clubs, often with a couple of wedges attached, depending on the make, model and manufacturer. And they are still graded and numbered according to their loft angles, starting with 1 (or commonly 2) for the lowest lofted and longest iron.
Lofts are progressive with proper spacing maintained to the order of a couple of degrees or more in each set.
The lowest lofted irons (#1-4) are the long irons, called so because of their length. The shaft length tends to decrease as the loft angle increases. Long irons are optimized for distance and a flatter ball trajectory. They are best suited as your second or third shot club on the fairway, to get the ball closer to the green.
Traditionally, they are interchangeable with fairway woods for this purpose. We spay traditionally, because modern hybrids have started replacing both sets of clubs for this purpose in many golfers kits.
Irons #5, #6 and #7 are generally considered as mid irons. Thanks to their higher loft, they help the ball climb higher with more curved trajectories. They are ideal if you have small hills or other obstacles in your path on the fairway.
They are also more easier to wield for beginners, when compared to the long irons. Mid irons are shorter, and have bigger, more forgiving clubheads that make them beginner friendly.
These round off the iron set, starting at #8 and ending at, well #9! They are the highest lofted and with the shortest shafts, making them ideal if you want to get the ball to goo steep in the air, usually from a bad lie.
You would use these clubs as you close in on the green. They are often used interchangeably with the higher lofted wedges, which are basically the irons that follow the sequence after #9 iron.
If you want the ball to land on the green with a bit of a roll, from say 90 yards away, you could use a short iron. But if you want that ball to land softly without any further motion, you might want to use a wedge, a PW, or GW.
A Brief Word on Hybrids vs Irons for Beginners
Modern golf club technology has profoundly altered the way amateur golfer look at and plan their golf set composition. An average 14 club regulation golf club set before the advent would have had the following clubs:
- a driver (or a #3 wood)
- a couple of fairway woods (often interchangeable with a #2-#4 iron)
- iron set (starting anywhere from #2 to #5, depending on whether you added woods)
- a couple of wedges
- a putter
But now hybrids are all the rage, especially for higher handicappers, beginners and seniors. They combine the best of irons and the better aspects of fairway woods in a more forgiving package with larger clubheads.
While they are more accessible and forgiving for beginners and high handicappers, more experienced golfers would be hampered by the lack of distance and finesse in hybrids.
Here is a short guide to hybrid In fact, it is not uncommon to find all hybrid sets that can effectively replace your entire normal iron set. Though they are notionally aimed at senior golfer above the age of 65 or 70 looking for a more easier alternative to irons in their advanced age.
A more often seen configuration for the mid to high handicapper these would involve the hybrid as a viable alternative to the clubs in our list as below:
- driver (can be replaced with a #1 iron hybrid)
- fairway woods (commonly replaced with lower lofted hybrid irons #1 to #4)
- iron set (starting at #5 or #6, with hybrids replacing everything below)
- wedges and a putter.
So if you want more forgiveness as a beginner, a hybrid replacement for your woods and long irons is a good idea.
You may even replace your driver with a #1 iron hybrid if you like the results, but it is always advisable to learn how to wield longer clubs like woods and irons at some point to improve your all round game.
Unless you are spectacularly bad at the game (or deteriorating due advancing age and health issues), replacing all your irons with hybrids may not be a great idea.
The fact is, they are too forgiving. They remove the finer aspects of ball control and accuracy from the game, by taking care of those things for you. It is a bit like being on auto pilot.
After a while, you might feel the need to take the controls and learn the stuff yourself. So keep a few steel shafted regular irons (at least from #5 onwards) to continue learning the finer aspects of the game.
Why Cavity Back Irons For Beginners?
Because you are no Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods, that is why. At least, not if you are the average golfer anyway! Muscle backs are for the pros, and golfers with single digit handicaps. If you mishit these irons, the results can range anywhere from hilarious to humiliating.
High handicappers, (which is where most beginners start their golfing saga) are better off with the added forgiveness and accuracy that cavity backs and their related perimeter weighted designs provide.
Once you feel that you have mastered them, you can easily graduate to more demanding blade irons.
Why Always Steel Irons?
Irons are not about generating brute force and maximum distance. They are more about control, feedback and finesse. You need to know how well you are hitting the ball with the center of your clubhead.
Steel is the best material in terms of weight for the smaller clubheads of irons. You don’t really need the lighter and more expensive titanium or composites here.
They are more useful on bigger clubheads like drivers. As for the shafts, nothing beats steel in terms of feedback. Hybrids usually have graphite shafts and composite heads, but we already mentioned about the tradeoffs in terms of feedback.
The Best Iron Sets For Beginners and High Handicappers in 2020
As we already mentioned, it is a smart idea if you are a beginner to add a few hybrids to your irons set. The Blue Golf Combo set from Adams golf is an affordable set for the beginner looking to get an inexpensive and forgiving entry to playing on the fairway.
The regular irons start at #5 and ends at #9 with a Pitching wedge included in the mix. The hybrids are #3 and #4 iron replacements. They are much easier to swing and hit with than a regular #3 or #4 iron.
- Top notch build quality, despite the budget price
- Despite being a beginner set, there is enough performance on offer for mid level players, adding to the overall longevity of the set.
- Wide soles have extra forgiveness, extra flex at the heads improve distance game.
- The competition has more configuration options.
- Not as much premium placed on forgiveness as some other sets, so really high handicappers might want to look elsewhere.
Cobra Golf from Puma rarely disappoints when it comes to looks, design and an overall edgy styling. They seems to have a “things look better in black” kind of philosophy in general when it comes to their clubs. Add a few splashes of bold orange and you get a look that is unmistakeably Cobra Golf.
The F6 is a very popular series of clubs, ranging from drivers to woods, irons and wedges. This irons set has the option between #2-3 and #3-4 hybrid irons. The standard #4-PW or #5-PW is also on offer.
Unlike other common irons sets, you can even order a couple of advanced wedges. like a GW-SW with the F6 set.
- Simply one of the best looking sets, period.
- The dual cavity head design with different groove settings for different irons add to the overall performance while adding enough forgiveness for high handicappers.
- An excellent all rounder irons set, suitable for all handicappers and beginners.
- Not much to complain about, save for the slightly higher pricing.
Callaway are rather well known for creating feature heavy catalog of club sets that tries to cater to every kind of golfer out there, in terms of configuration choices. So you get multiple shaft options and numerous iron and hybrid configurations in the X Hot Iron series.
As a dedicated beginner and high handicapper set, Callaway tries to distinguish themselves from the competition by focusing on the distance game, something which most beginners struggle with. The irons in this set have all been optimized for distance, especially the lower lofted hybrids.
- A great mix of configuration options, in terms of irons, hybrids and wedges.
- Prioritizes the distance game, while keeping accuracy in mind. A tough act, but Callaway seems to have pulled it off with these cavity back irons and hybrids.
- The feedback, especially on the steel shafted regular irons is really crisp and rewarding.
- The extra large cavity design is not the prettiest looking.
- And definitely not the cheapest either.
Mizuno seems to have struck gold with their foray into the high handicapper market with the JPX EZ irons. For a manufacturer better known for the adoration of top pro golfers on the Tour, this might seem a bit of a deviation.
But it is a necessary one, considering the fact that the beginner high-handicapper market accounts for the biggest volume of golf club sales.
The club heads on the EZ series are distinctly un-pro looking, with massive heads that add more forgiveness rather than finesse. Even with only standard steel shafts, and no hybrids, this is still a good set starting at #4 irons, along with a couple of wedges thrown in.
- Irons with good amounts of forgiveness, yet minimal performance trade-offs make this set one of the best irons for high handicappers.
- Quite affordable as well.
- All steel set with excellent feel and feedback.
- No hybrids, but you can easily buy a pair of #2 and #3 iron hybrids and add to this set if you feel the need.
- Very lightweight clubs might throw off the swing of some golfers.
- Minimal configuration options.
The above list contained the best irons according to our previous reviews on forgiving and beginner friendly irons.
In our estimation, these are some of best irons for high handicappers and beginners to consider for the new year.
Better options will surely hit the market in the coming months, but the golf club technology being what it is, these irons should still last you a good couple of years if not more base on their performance potential.