Some days you don't swing your best on the golf course and our golf clubs really should be helping us, not making it harder. That's where the most forgiving irons can help you stay within reach of a good score with fewer bad misses left and right, and short or long.
Whether you're upgrading from a hand-me-down set from dad or you're buying your first ever new set, it's scary.
You don't want to buy the wrong set and regret it. Do not fear, I'm going to run you through the best irons for high handicappers in the game of golf today.
The most forgiving golf irons are the Srixon ZX4 MKIIs. I'll tell you why below.
Most Forgiving Irons For Golf in 2023
Here are the 8 most forgiving irons for high-handicap golfers:
- Srixon ZX4 MKII irons (best of the best metals and construction)
- Cobra T-Rail irons (most forgiving Cobra iron set)
- Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo irons (most forgiving iron-hybrids ever)
- Callaway Rogue ST Max irons (max GI irons but look sleek)
- XXIO 12 irons (designed purely for slower swings)
- Wilson Launchpad 2 irons (best for slow swing to get the ball higher)
- Cobra Air X irons (best for the technology and distance)
- Titleist T400 irons (most forgiving iron in Titleist history)
Easy to hit for any level of golfer
The ZX4 was Srixon's most forgiving iron ever and they have knocked it out of the park with the new MKII version for 2023. Srixon make some of the best irons on the market currently and that's saying something.
For a high handicapper, the ZX4 MKII is a golf club that delivers exceptional forgiveness and impressive distance in a narrow and stylish design, with a premium feel that's forged to perfection. The club incorporates MainFrame technology, which is a complex pattern of grooves of varying thickness that are intricately milled into the back of the face, to maximize flexibility upon impact. Its hollow head design features an extremely high offset, moderate sole width, and Srixon's longest blade lengths, which push the limits of iron forgiveness. Additionally, the 4i-7i grooves are wide and built for longer shots in any condition, while the 8i-AW features deeper, closer grooves that cut through turf for improved spin on approach shots.
The amazing Tour V.T. Sole remains from the previous model and is built with a unique combination of sole widths, bounce angles, and notches that facilitate a smooth sole movement through any surface, including turf, fairway, rough, and sand, allowing for solid strikes that reduce drag. With its sleek hollow head design and extra-strong lofts, the ZX4 MKII brings a clean and stylish look to your golf bag, while also delivering an excellent performance.
This is a hollow body game improvement iron for people who struggle to launch the ball. The club is cavity back however. Cavity back irons are the easiest irons to hit and the hollow design of the Srixon ZX4 head means they can make the cavity look really shallow for a more sleek look rather than the big spades you normally find in the Super Game Improvement category.
My experience with the ZX4
I went with B-Dog from my YouTube channel to find new irons. He wanted Srixon so we tried the ZX4. They launched high when he hit them and the wide soles helped him to get under the ball. This will help from the deep rough. The heavy perimeter weighting meant BDog could swing it and trust the club to get the ball in the air and going far.
The topline is a bit thick and that's to hide the wide body - from the 7 iron, I noticed the big booty in the back of the club. For BDog, that was the deal breaker. He wanted a more traditional iron so he settled on the ZX5 or ZX7 but they are not as forgiving as the ZX4. The ZX4 also have a large offset like all Game Improvement irons and the club head length is so long that the ball goes where we wanted it. The large face makes the golf ball feel small and unmissable.
One thing to keep in mind is the lofts are very strong and that is why we noticed a distance gain. The way they create these new clubs is mind blowing. Despite the cranked down loft, the ball launches as a 7 iron would anyway but goes as long as your prior 5 or 6 iron. Definitely forgiving and long.
Reasons to buy
Best-looking hybrid style iron in category
There are many offerings like this in the market now, but Cobra have made one of the better looking versions. The big-bottomed Cobra T Rail iron are some of the easiest irons to hit. They rival the Cleveland HB Turbos in ease-of-use.
The rails on the sole of the club have been used for a while in the Cobra hybrids and fairway woods. Turf interaction is actually affected quite a lot by the rails. The club doesn't dig and the two rails help keep the face from twisting, gliding through the turf and grass super easily. It's not a joke when I tell you that the T rails assist in chunked shots to keep the club from digging, instead skidding into the ball for more success.
Clubfaces on the irons look like standard irons but the hollow back helps to transform the irons into much easier to hit hybrids. The intimidation of a thin iron is significantly reduced when you look down at the Cobra T rails.
There's consistent shaping in the set of T-Rail irons too so you set looks cohesive, but the clubs sound different as you work through them. The pitching wedge makes more of a metal ping sound, but the 7 and 8 iron sound much more like a fairway wood or hybrid. From 6 iron down it sounds like a fairway wood.
These irons are aimed at beginners, people who struggle to get the golf ball airborne and players who may have lost some swing speed and distance. It can be really frustrating and demoralizing losing distance and height. Cobra promises you the easiest golf of your life.
Reasons to buy
Most forgiving irons set on the list
The HB (Hi Bore) Turbo irons are the new Super Game Improvement clubs from Cleveland designed to help you hit more consistent shots with ease. We're talking straight to the target and way up in the air. They're almost impossible to mishit.
It's not the first time Cleveland have produced these strange looking clubs. The older Cleveland HB Launchers won over a lot of golfers, with their extreme forgiveness and consistent ball flight. This style of progressive hybrid and iron combination set is really easy to hit and the only thing stopping most golfers from switching over to them is ego. A lot of golfers want to look like the pros with standard looking irons in their bag.
But if you're struggling to get the ball to fly decent distances with standard irons, these clubs could revolutionize your entire golf experience.
My experience with the Clevelands
A friend in Bangkok, Tiha, got a set which starts with the 4 iron shaped exactly like a hybrid and as the set progresses toward pitching wedge, the hybrid back of the club gets smaller until you can't see it on the pitching wedge. The thick sole created by the hybrid design of the irons makes them easy to hit out of any lie and I found Tiha could hit her shorter clubs longer than usual.
She is normally GREAT with her long clubs and these hybrids suited her but she always fell short on shorter irons like 9 iron and 8 iron. I think these are the easiest to hit irons on the market. Tiha like thats the hybrid back of the irons is black to calm down the appearance because she is used to normal irons and with the black, it's less distracting.
Do yourself a favor and try these clubs. You might find they're the most forgiving irons you've ever hit.
Reasons to buy
Extreme forgiveness and distance in a very SLEEK package
The Callaway Rogue ST irons look good, like old-school-Ping-iron good. They don't look like Max Game Improvement irons at all but they are. You'll find Callaway to be some of the most forgiving irons around with their deep cavity back and permeter weighting.
If you need some help getting it in the air and keeping it in the air for longer, the Rogue ST Max irons have been designed to solve that problem. They've made the faces thinner around the edges with thicker areas near the sweet spot to maximize center strikes and rectify the off center hits. Like most Callaway game improvement irons, that do feel a bit chunky but you have to swing them at a ball a few times to understand they just plain work.
With stronger lofts on the irons, they need to raise the center of gravity to get that ball flying higher. Be warned that you may see an increase in distance, but it may just be down to stronger lofts, like with most modern irons. Do not fear though, because the ST Max provide a high ball flight with a steeper drop for more stopping power.
My experience with the Rogue ST Max
I measured the 7 iron loft with a fitter and while it is stated at 27.5 degrees which is really low, when I tested it, the loft was actually 27 degrees.
I didn't notice the huge cavity back and extra wide sole in the bag. They looked very slick to me. When I swung the club, I felt the head was heavier directly in the heavy sole, like there was extra weight in the bottom of the club, which feels like it helps launch the ball higher.
Well struck shots sounded pure to my ears and feedback from the club face was sufficient to tell me when I hit it flush and when I mishit it. The best part for most golfers is the mishit isn't going to be 30 yards short of a well struck shot - you might loose 10-15 yards. These clubs are forgiving, and give you maximum distance for your efforts. What I didn't like was that the heads a too big for my liking but for a lot of people, they feel a confidence boost.
Reasons to buy
Best irons for high handicappers designed entirely for slower swingers
XXIO designed the XXIO 12 clubs specifically and entirely for slower swings. They are not a cheap set of irons either, but XXIO are known for being generous in the tech department. They use a fast-flexing titanium face insert and the shafts and construction of the clubs is incredibly lightweight.
All the things needed to hit it longer and higher when the speed just isn't there. And that's okay. You have to swing the swing you bring.
The titanium face-plate used in the irons goes as thin as 2mm. for that flexi power face. An L-shaped groove is carved deep inside iron’s steel body to multiply the flex of the face to increase speed even more. Most people strike the ball low down on the face when they hit it badly, and that's where the effect is most evident.
Your low-face hits will fly further and higher.
My experience with the XXIO 12
Reasons to buy
King of forgiveness back with a sleek beautiful set
The reason I put the hybrid-looking hybrids in the list of most forgiving irons is because they are. But also because I like to see people able to hit 4, 5 and 6 irons without fear.
The Wilson Launchpad 2 irons are exactly that - a Launchpad to create your new confidence to hit longer clubs.
For any golfer, the Launchpads will look BIG. They are big. The sole is very wide and that's to help you get ore weight under the ball with less chance of digging into the ground. In the rough is where these irons shine though as they are able to skid through the grass with their round appearance. Normal irons get tangled by the blades of grass and you miss the ball.
I mentioned the fat soles earlier and the big bodies. This is by design and that design is to prevent the score killers. The fat shots. It's very difficult to really hit it fat because of the way they have weighted the clubs. The extra beef in the sole and size in the sole create a more skidding motion and the weight stops you from getting very steep onto the ball.
If you've been struggling with a hand-me-down set or you're playing low grade clubs from a thrift store, these will change your life. Honestly, you might not like them at first and you may even top one or two when you start because they are so different. But give it time and you'll notice they're easy to hit.
Another big advantage is for slicers. The Launchpad irons are designed to correct slices with offset in the hosel and face of the club.
The ball goes straight and long with minimum effort. Free your mind, and your swing will follow.
Reasons to buy
Simple to hit high handicapper irons
The King of edgy yet forgiving and playable clubs, Cobra continue aiming their offerings at the mid handicappers and higher handicappers. The AIR-X irons are designed to maximize distance for players with moderate swing speeds without the super strong lofts.
In the Air X, you actually get more traditional lofts with a 7 irons that is 31.5 degrees. Most Super game Improvement irons are below 30. You might not see a huge gain in distance over your old set, but make sure you know the lofts of your old set before you compare apples and apples.
If you do see a longer shot with an iron, it will be because of the weight optimization. That's the beauty of these irons. When you see a gain, you are seeing a speed gain not just a loft gain.
To make them longer and easier to hit, Cobra removed 8 grams of weight compared to the prior F-Max Airspeed model (2g from the clubhead and 6g from the grip). Then they put two thin strips of carbon fiber in this slot to keep the top line strong with less weight.
My experience with the Air X
It didn't feel like I had a super-game-improvement iron in my hands. It's quite compact compared to a lot of the bigger offerings.
They're easy to hit to launch a high ball into the air even with the traditional lofts. I prefer traditional lofts because we have more options as we get down into the shorter irons. You won't find huge distance gains but a lot of us golfers do not need the strong lofts. We need the finesse knowing that our shot distance will be the same every time and that I have options into the higher lofted irons. These do that.
I found the Air X rewards smoother tempos like my friend BDog. Before he had lessons and learned to gain more swing speed, he played these light irons. His tempo was very smooth and the ball definitely flies better than with a jerkier tempo.
Reasons to buy
Titleist's most forgiving super distance iron for slower swings
Titleist are not known for forgiving irons but this is their best yet. The T400 Irons are for maximum forgiveness and very high launch. Honestly, my swing is too fast for these irons but in the hands of a slower swinger, the irons will increase distance.
The Titleist T400 irons would be aimed at slow swingers, seniors and even ladies. Actually people who do not enjoy hitting irons would love these. Irons that have a wide body and sole are always best for golfers who struggle to hit their irons off the fairways. The turf interaction is smooth with the T400s from the rough or fairways.
Titleist have made the T400 irons hollow so they can increase the MOI to hit the ball further on mis-hits which plague most amateur golfers. On top of that, Titleist add 100 grams of tungsten weight to the heel and the toe in the longer irons to help you launch the ball high despite the low lofts. The center of gravity stays low for the higher launch.
Cost of the irons is high and you get what you pay for. These irons are loaded with technology and the price is somewhere in the region of the Ping irons and they are near the top-end o the market.
My experience with the T400
I could tell from the beginning when I first looked at the T400s that these are very forgiving. I hit a few balls with the clubs on a round with my high handicapper friend Gerhard. He needs all the help he can get to hit the ball in the air with anything lower lofted than an 8 iron.
He hits the ball for maximum distance and enjoys the Titleist T400s because they spin a lot less than his previous irons. I noticed when I hit them, I got huge distance gains with my faster swing plus the spin rate was very low as the balls did not stop as quickly on the greens. For Gerhard, that is perfect because most of the time, his golf ball will be running up to the hole.
I would recommend these irons to slower swingers. The biggest problem I see for most people playing these would be the price as they are quite expensive. Be prepared if you are looking for distance boosting game improvement irons - they will spin less and you may have to account for extra roll up and let the ball trickle onto the greens instead of flying the whole distance.
Reasons to buy
Guide to what makes the most forgiving irons
The basic idea is to find the easiest clubs to hit and cavity backs are the right choice.
How forgiving irons can improve your enjoyment
- Mis-hits do not lose as much distance and fly more toward target
- Ball flight is higher with lower lofts
- It's easier to launch the ball from the ground with lower lofted clubs
- The clubs do not dig into the ground because of how they manufacture the sole
- Because of a higher ball flight, you have a steeper angle of descent into greens, so the ball stops quicker
To do this, golf clubs need to:
- Get the ball into the air nice and high with little effort
- Land softly on the greens
- Be very forgiving particularly on mishit shots
Like with drivers and fairway woods, iron sets need to be very forgiving. It’s very common to miss the sweet spot quite often. Forgiving irons are designed with huge sweet spots so even your mishits find the sweet spot. You still end up around the green on a mishit, instead of in the deep stuff or 40 yards short.
Buying a set of irons is a big investment but the improvement in your game with a set of Max or Super Game Improvement irons will be dramatic. While your swing naturally develops, the game improvement irons you use will enhance your results by giving you extreme confidence regardless of how you’re swinging.
Why doesn't everyone play forgiving high handicapper irons?
Golfers all need something different from their set of irons.
Some lower handicappers wants to shape the ball left and right, while others want to hit a straight shot with a forgiving set of irons. Mid handicappers want to have a consistent shape and so they can use either muscle back or cavity back irons. High handicappers need a lot of help to hit the ball in the right direction and have more fun, building confidence.
For high handicappers, it's clear they should be playing forgiving, cavity back, wide sole irons to help them improve quicker and increase their enjoyment out on the golf course.
Why forgiving irons are the easiest irons to hit
Two things: shafts and club head design create the most forgiving irons.
Graphite can help with distance and should be looked at if your swing speed is very low. The reduced weight of the shaft can help you pick up a few more mph in swing speed and with that, more distance.
How to select the correct shaft from your swing speed
It's always best to go and get tested and get advice from a fitter or a local golf professional to truly maximize your purchase to your requirements for shaft flex.
Club Head Design
How cavity back gives extra forgiveness
Cavity back irons usually have perimeter weighting, where the manufacturers hollow out the back of a muscle back iron and put that spare metal around the border of the back of the club.
The cavity back iron with perimeter weighting has a massive sweet spot for forgiveness.
The wider sole lowers the clubs center of gravity which means more weight can get under and behind the golf ball on your shots. This produces an arching high ball flight even on mishits.
The extra beef on the sole will improve shots where you hit the ground before the ball too. That extra weight will “bounce” off the ground instead of digging into the earth like a thin sole would.
Additionally, newer golfers and high handicappers hit more balls in the rough and a wider sole will move through long or thick grass easily, allowing for good contact with the ball. The most forgiving irons out there will get you out of every lie: rough, sand, hard-pan and yes the fairways!
According to club designer Tom Wishon, “Offset is a design in clubheads in which the neck or hosel of the head is positioned in front of the face of the clubhead, so that the clubface appears to be set back a little from the neck of the club.”
“The more offset, the farther the head's center of gravity is back from the shaft. And the farther the CG is back from the shaft, the higher the trajectory will be for any given loft on the face. More offset can help increase the height of the shot for golfers who have a difficult time getting the ball well up in the air.”
The most forgiving irons on the market are going to have offset hosels. The low handicappers playing blades or muscle backs have such skill to square the club face at impact, they don't need the offset. The offset encourages a draw and reduces workability of the club to hit fades. Highly skilled players want to hit the ball both ways.
Common questions about forgiving high handicapper irons
Are forgiving irons forged or cast?
Mostly you will find the forgiving irons that are sold are cast metal. That means the metal is poured into a mould and set. You cannot bend these clubs multiple times if you want to adjust lie and loft. The feeling is generally firmer but they are made in a way to increase the sweet spot size. You generally do not get stinging hands despite this.
Forged steel is used to create a golf club out of a single piece of steel. This makes the metal softer and more malleable. You can bend the forged irons back and forth multiple times without snapping the head.
Srixon for example, use forged metal in their forgiving irons. You might find a manufacturer like Srixon producing premium metals in their forgiving clubs. The cost of forged clubs is higher than cast irons and that is something to consider. The feeling of hitting a forged club in the sweet spot is unrivalled in golf.
If price point is a concern for you, then a cast iron will be best. If you can afford it, then forged metal is always superior even in forgiving clubs.
What are the most forgiving irons for high handicappers?
Every club in this review is good for high handicappers and mid handicappers. Beginners can even use these clubs because they are so forgiving. The best irons for high handicappers are the Srixon ZX4 irons which are made with some of the best metal compounds in the game. High handicappers will benefit from the improved launch as well as the better turf interaction of the Srixon ZX4 irons.
Most forgiving irons for beginners
If you're a total beginner at golf, you want a set of golf irons that doesn't break the bank but gives maximum performance and enjoyment out on the golf course. If you buy a new set of irons, the most forgiving irons for beginners are the Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo irons. Many new golfers will buy second hand, and I think this is a great way to enter the game. Any super game improvement irons from Ping, Cleveland, TaylorMade and Callaway will be more than suitable for your game and they will last for a long time. Make sure to get a regular shaft and try to pick up a couple of easy to hit hybrids to replace long irons.
Are muscle back blades or cavity back irons more forgiving?
Cavity backs are more forgiving and their sweet spots are very large. In a blade iron, the manufacturer puts all the weight behind the middle of the club face because that is where you must hit the blades to take full advantage of their consistency. If you miss that part of the face, your hands sting and the ball goes nowhere.
Cavity backs have the mass removed from behind the middle of the face and it is distributed around the edges of the club to create a bouncier and thinner face. It creates a trampoline effect and because the weight is on the perimeter of the clubhead, the face is thinner overall. You can hit the ball on almost any part of the face with a cavity back, and still produce a good ball flight. That is very forgiving.
What's the most forgiving golf iron brand?
Srixon, Ping, Callaway, Cleveland and XXIO make some of the most forgiving and high quality irons on the market, while also offering high quality shaft options to pair with the iron. If you invest in a set from any of these brands, you'll be happy for a long time with the forgiveness and results you achieve.
What's the difference between a game improvement iron and a players iron?
You actually have 3 styles of irons nowadays all with differing levels of forgiveness:
- Super Game Improvement irons
- Game Improvement irons
- Players irons
The Super Game Improvement irons might come with a closed back instead of a cavity back. They will have a rear end that protrudes out when you set the club to the ball. Mostly high handicappers and beginners will play the Super Game Improvement irons.
The Game Improvement irons are the best golf clubs for most high handicappers. These irons have cavity backs and sometimes closed backs but without the big protruding rear. These clubs help to get the ball airborne with low center of gravity and MOI. You can play these irons all the way down to single figure golf.
The Players irons are not forgiving. Generally people who play other bat and ball sports, over time will be able to find the centre of the club and can move onto players irons. As a beginner or high handicapper, please avoid these clubs.
What is the most forgiving forged iron?
Srixon makes the best forged irons that are forgiving in the Z585 or ZX4 or ZX5 ranges.
Game improvement irons have increased the accessibility of equipment to every skill level making it easier to play golf than ever. If you prefer a specific brand, check out the most forgiving Titleist irons or if you prefer Mizuno forgiving buttery irons. Ping make some of the most impressive forgiving irons too and you can rarely go wrong. Find the most forgiving set of irons for your game and enjoy your time on the golf course - golf is meant to be fun!