In actual fact, there are no hard and fast brackets in golf handicaps to designate a person as a high, low or mid handicapper. The USGA handicap index for instance, only keeps track of player performance down to the individual handicap point.
Still, in general parlance a mid handicapper would be someone whose handicap falls roughly between 10-20.
Once you manage to bring your handicap down to single digits, and start breaking 80 on a consistent basis, you can consider yourself a low handicap player. In this review, we will be looking at the best irons for mid handicappers looking to up their golfing game to the next level.
Our Best Irons For Mid Handicappers
A Guide To Irons for Mid Handicappers
According to USGA stats, the golfers who fall into the mid handicap (10-19) segment account for nearly 44% of the total golfer population. (source) That makes this a significant, if not the most significant demographic for golf equipment manufacturers.
So naturally, there is no dearth in numbers when it comes to game improvement irons for mid handicap golfers in the market today.
Across manufacturers and price points, game improvement irons share certain defining characteristics that make them easy to spot. This guide will try to shed some light what defines a good set of game improvement irons for the average golfer looking to shave some points off his handicap.
What Differentiates Game Improvement Irons from Low Handicap/Player Irons
Irons are the most versatile clubs a golfer has in his/her bag to help them negotiate the numerous challenges that a golf course throws at them between the fairway and the greens.
A decent set of game improvement irons will not only make life easier for mid handicappers on the fairway, but also helps them gradually improve their swing and accuracy. Game improvement irons are characterized by the following features:
Absence of long irons:
Irons 1-4 are generally considered expert level clubs that most novice and mid level players find too hard to handle effectively.
These irons are generally designed for distance and finesse, having long shafts and smaller club heads with lower lofts that result in smaller sweet spots.
Inexperienced golfers find it easier to miss than connect with these clubs. As a result, game improvement iron sets generally do not include irons 1-4.
Not all game improvement iron sets contain hybrid irons and they are not absolutely essential per se for a good round of golf, especially on the shorter holes. But if you do have them in your bag, they offer a nice distance option on the longer par 4 or par 5/6 holes.
These chimaeras of the golf club family borrow the best bits of long irons and mix them with the best bits of drivers and fairway woods, offering decent middle of the road performance and accessibility for mid cap players looking to hone their distance game.
Larger club heads, higher lofts and increased forgiveness
Game improvement irons usually have specially cast heads with design improvements like wider soles, higher loft angles and a larger sweet spot. Most often, these irons employ a cavity back design, which has a hollow at the back of the club head, which transfers weight to the corners of the club head.
If you regularly end up skewing your second or third shots into the rough or sand traps, you really need to take a look at game improvement iron sets.
General Advice for Buying Best Irons for Mid Handicappers
Avoid cheap sets if you can: If you are in the market for one of these iron sets, the chances are high that these are not your first set of golf clubs. You probably know your limits already, having tested the waters with a used set or a cheap beginners set of clubs and are looking for an upgrade.
Beginner golfers are advised to spend their money on things like golf lessons rather than on expensive beginner golf sets.
But game improvement irons can have a long term impact on your overall game, especially if you are a mid cap player. You should be looking at the long term here. This is the set you want to send top dollar on (provided they are within your budget of course).
Thankfully, the market is very well developed and there are decent iron sets available right from, a couple of hundred dollars all the way to well above the 1000 dollar mark.
Avoid muscle back and blade designs
These may prove to be too advanced for the average golfer. Unless you know how to hit the sweet spot of the club onto the ball in every shot, you will not be able to get much joy out of these irons.
So, unless you have a really masochistic streak in you, leave these be until you manage to break into the sub-10 handicap bracket!
Cast heads vs forged
Okay, this is much more of a reminder. Most brands have well thought out and designed iron sets targeted at each consumer bracket. Forged club heads are usually expensive and focused more towards the expert golfer.
Cast heads are mass produced and hence cheaper. They also allow manufacturers to integrate newer design elements that make these clubs more forgiving and accessible to the average golfer.
So most of the game improvement sets that you encounter in shops and online will fall largely into the cast hybrid heads category.
Maintain Shaft Consistency
Unless you have serious issues with your swing speeds, stick to regular flex steel shafts for your irons and wedges. They offer the most stable shot feel and feedback. If you are getting abysmal distance on your shots, maybe a graphite shaft will offer better speed on shots.
If you have different iron sets, make it a point not to mix steel and graphite irons as both shafts have a different impact on your swing action. Pick one kind and stick with it, for the sake of your swing.
Best Mid Handicapper Irons Reviewed
Nike has improved their golf equipment line in recent years and their Vapor LH Speed set is a good indicator to that.
Frankly, these irons would be more oriented towards those golfers whose handicaps are closer to 10 rather than 20.
The set has 8 steel irons, starting with 4,5,6 and 7 irons with hollow cavity heads and the rest (8,9,P,A) having RZN cavity irons.
Their choice of head design firmly places them in the game improvement range, but the inclusion of long irons (especially 4) and longish handles make them more suitable for the more advanced mid handicapper.
- Hollow cavity long irons give excellent distance combined with a forgiving head design
- The heads are forgiving yet not massive, providing the right amount of challenge and accessibility for mid cap golfers
- The inclusion of long irons with longer handles and lower loft are perfect if you are looking for an iron set to improve your long distance game.
- It lack configuration as well as customization options.
- Handles might seem a bit on the longer side for some players
- The long irons and less than massive heads might prove to be more of a challenge if you have your handicaps closer to 20.
Callaway sets usually offer more configuration and customization options than their competition and this XR set is no different.
You can choose from a basic 4-PW to 6-PW and 4-PW,SW/6-PW,SW and even a 3-PW if you want a couple of true blue long irons in your set.
And for those with swing speed issues, there is also the graphite shaft option other than the regular steel ones. The irons can provide some serious distance and speeds with their lightweight steel handles and overall design.
- Callaway has successfully incorporated design parameters from their driver and fairway woods line into their long irons, effectively providing a hybrid performance in traditional long irons
- The head still has a cavity back design, meaning that there is a fair bit of forgiveness on offer for the average golfer. This set is ideal for those with handicaps in the 12-20 range.
- The performance upgrade in terms of distance from these irons might require a little more time than usual to get used to
- And they long, really long and that might cause a problem for some players.
TaylorMade usually figure pretty high in any kind of golf club top 5 lists and here too they have a decent offering for average handicap players with the RSi1 iron set.
The iron choices start from 3 to 9 irons and wedges from PW to AW. And you also get to choose between steel and graphite flex shafts as well as right and left hand orientations.
The long irons up to 7 have a unique face slot technology while the 8 iron and the wedges have the more common cavity back design to improve sweet spot size and increase response on off center hits.
- The newer face slot technology provides an interesting alternative to mid handicappers looking for a capable set of irons
- The irons have decent long distance performance as well as loft.
- They are very light and easy to swing, with excellent grips.
- The club heads on these irons are not the largest among the competition and may put off golfers with higher handicaps.
- The long irons with face slot design give different feedback and feel when compared to the 8 iron and wedges with the traditional cavity back design. This might put off some golfers.
These are some of the most affordable iron sets in the business and they provide dependable performance for the money spent.
You get the option for regular steel or graphite shafts, though there are no configuration options. You get 3 hybrid long irons from 3-5, and then regular 6-PW irons/wedges.
They are easy to use while not promising any vast improvement in distance or flight.
- Excellent budget option that delivers on what they promise
- Accessible and easy to use irons with hybrid long irons to help higher mid handicappers with their distance game.
- They offer little or no improvements on speed or distance, unlike many of the other iron sets in this list.
- The forgiveness level is also nothing too great to write about. But for the budget, they are adequate.
Cobra has taken a slightly different route to optimizing performance and forgiveness on their irons in the King F6 series. Each individual iron in the set has its own distinctive head design and groove construction to optimize speed and improve sweet spot spread.
While the longer3-5 irons all use full hollow cavity back design, the 6-7 irons have half hollow, while the specialized wedges have a traditional muscle back design. The grooves on the head also change from V shaped (in 1-6, giving more power and distance) to U shaped (from 7 upwards, giving more loft).
All this translates into excellent performance and forgiveness that could very well suit all levels of golfers with double digit handicaps.
- Best in class fit and finish with chrome plating
- Excellent all round performance, especially in the wedges
- Ideal for mid level handicap golfers looking for more forgiveness from their irons
- Having different designs for individual irons means that you don’t get a uniform feel through all the clubs, golfers looking to improve their swing consistency may not like this set.
The mid handicappers are a diverse demographic and it is hard to pick a set of irons that might suit everybody.
Keeping in mind all different factors like adequate forgiveness, improved performance especially in the distance game, a wide variety of configuration options and sheer accessibility, the Callaway XR Iron set seems to be the pick of the lot from the sets reviewed here, with TaylorMade Rsi1 finishing a close second.