Choosing a set of irons is one of the most important decisions any golfer can make. While the best drivers and putters may change depending on what the latest fad is, when you find a set of irons you are comfortable with there is no practical reason to change them for many years.
Technology moves far more quickly with drivers, fairway woods and putters and it can be difficult to keep up. With a set of irons, however, once you have the right set you're golden as technological advancements are much slower. In fact, the majority of golfers will not notice much difference between a new set and one that hit the market several years ago.
Need proof? Adam Scott, one of the world's top golfers, has only recently changed to a new set of irons after 10 years of using his old set. See? You don't need to change very often as there isn't much difference between new irons and ones made a decade ago.
That being said, we all like shiny new things don't we? So if you are looking to upgrade your irons the trick is to find the set that suits your needs and your skillset, but given the huge amount of options out there that's easier said than done. Do you need blades or cavity backs? Players irons or game improvement irons? Perhaps you like the look of those strange hybrid things you've seen the old bloke at your local driving range launching into orbit. Then there's the brands; Titleist or TaylorMade? Ping or Srixon? So many choices! Relax, we've got you covered.
Whether you are new to the game, a high level amateur or something in between, there are types of clubs specifically aimed at you. Knowing your own game and being honest about your strengths and weaknesses will help you narrow down the search and ensure you are spending your money wisely. Imagine buying a shiny new set of irons only to get on the course and realise they’re completely unsuitable for your game. What a nightmare.
Choosing the right set of irons
So our first piece of advice would be; try before you buy. Most golf shops will have a facility where you can test out clubs before you take the plunge and generally they’ll have an expert on hand to advise you on the type of club you need to suit your swing and ability level.
While it might be in their interests for you to spend as much as possible, in our experience the pros in the retail outlets are usually honest and helpful and just want to kit you out with the clubs that will best help you to improve your game.
The problem is that there are so many sets to choose from and they vary greatly in price. Be aware that expensive doesn’t always mean better, certainly not for the less accomplished golfer anyway.
If you’re a high handicapper then sure, you could pay a couple of grand for the latest TaylorMade blades (or players irons as they are now commonly referred to), but that’s not going to help your game. In fact it’ll probably harm it as they are designed for professionals and single figure handicappers.
The more accomplished golfer will want to be able to shape shots and will prioritise feel over forgiveness, but even some scratch handicappers will go for a compromise. 'Combo sets' are becoming increasingly common. This is when a golfer will prioritise 'feel' in the shorter irons and 'forgiveness' in the long / mid irons. So essentially you would have two different types of irons in the bag.
Mid-high handicappers should be realistic about their skill level and accept that they need all the assistance they can get. So game improvement irons offer more forgiveness and in many cases extra distance too. Senior golfers with slower swings meanwhile, might want to look at hybrid irons which will help achieve a higher ball flight.
The smartest thing you can do is arrange a fitting, try out several different brands until you find something that suits your game and don’t assume that the more modestly priced clubs are in some way inferior. They might be if you’re Tiger Woods, but for most club golfers or beginners a mid-priced set of irons will perform just as well or even better than the really expensive ones.
And who knows, with plenty of practice perhaps one day you might actually be good enough to use those Taylor Made blades?
One final piece of advice would be to steer clear of buying complete sets and - if your budget allows of course - purchase your driver, fairway woods/hybrids and putter individually, as just because the irons are right for you does not mean everything else will be. They might, but the chances are they won't.
On that note, you should read our buying guides for the best golf drivers and best putters for golf if you want to complete your set and lower your scores.
For newcomers to the game, however, a package set can be a good starting option due to the low price point.
Our pick for the best all around set of irons is the Wilson Staff D7 model, but the below list contains something for golfers of all abilities and budgets.
The best golf iron sets, in order
Wilson have always hung their hat on the quality of their irons. Over the years more ‘majors’ have been won by tour players using Wilson irons than any other brand.
The D7 is Wilson’s best selling iron in years and proved to be one of the most popular irons of 2020. With good reason too, as pound for pound these clubs are as good anything out there currently.
According to Wilson, the D7s have been engineered with progressive ‘power holes’ on the sole of the club. This makes for an unusual look and might not be to everybody’s taste as some may feel the sole of the club looks a little too cluttered, but Wilson say they increase distance.
As with many of these ‘technological breakthroughs’ it is questionable just how much of a difference - if any - it makes. If these power holes really are that beneficial then surely Wilson (not to mention everybody else) would have them on every set of irons they make?
Nevertheless, the longer irons feature three rows of power holes for greater distance, while the shorter irons have fewer to give you more feel and precision closer to the green.
To give the golfer more power the D7 irons have an ultra-thin face. Wilson actually say this is the thinnest face they have ever created, with the idea being to provide more responsiveness, better feel, and longer golf shots.
Power holes notwithstanding, aesthetically these irons look good, with straight, clean shaping and top line, and the combination of a players style iron with all the benefits of game improvement technology. They look and perform like a high end club but, and this is the real beauty of them, they aren’t priced like it. There is a forged option which does cost a little more, but the basic D7 iron is fantastic value.
I tested the D7 irons along with some of its main competitors, such as the Cobra Speedzone, Callaway Mavrick and Taylor Made SIM Max irons. The D7 came out on top in terms of feel, control and distance. Even shots that didn’t come quite out of the middle went more or less the same distance as those that did. Maybe there is something to be said for those ‘power holes’ after all!
More likely though it’s the stronger lofts that explain the extra distance. A typical traditional 7 iron loft would be 34 degrees, but the D7 is 28 degrees, which in reality makes it more of a 5 iron. These stronger lofts are reflected throughout the entire set, so if you want to increase your iron distance this is probably the club for you.
The D7 has been succeeded by the D9 which was launched in 2021. There is very little difference although the D9 is a degree more stronger lofted on each iron and therefore gives even more distance. Either one of these irons will benefit average skill level golfers but the D7 is now considerably cheaper and you can pick up a full set for a bargain £399.
Taylor Made claim this club provides “surgical like control” and in the hands of a “surgeon” it most definitely does. In the hands of mid-high handicappers, however, it does not.
You need to be a highly skilled golfer to get the best out of these clubs, but if you are an accomplished ball striker then you’ll love these irons as when it comes to feel, this is as good as it gets.
They don't come cheap though and you'll be paying close to a grand for a set of these beauties.
The P7’s are packed with tech, such as Compact Grain Forging, Tour Inspired Shaping, Machined Face and Grooves plus Faceted Muscle Back Geometry.
The main appeal of this club is surely how it looks though. Have you even seen a sexier looking iron than this baby? No, you haven’t. Simply stunning.
If you struggle with your iron play and find it difficult to get the ball in the air then the Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo irons could give your game a real boost. Yes, they’re hybrid irons but don’t let that put you off. Hear me out here.
There is a degree of snobbery among some club golfers when it comes to hybrid irons. Perhaps it’s a macho thing but to some golfers using hybrid irons is akin to putting stabilisers on a Harley Davidson. But if you keep falling off the Harley, maybe you need stabilisers?
Hybrid irons have a reputation as being “old man clubs” and that is true to some extent. They certainly benefit the older swingers who don’t have quite the same zip they used to, but you don’t need to be cashing your pension cheque to switch to hybrids. If they help your game, why wouldn’t you take advantage of that? Your friends might mock to begin with but if your scores come tumbling down then you’ll have the last laugh.
Hybrid irons have been around for several years but one of the reasons they haven’t really taken off is because some struggling golfers would rather endanger the local worm population with a constant stream of duffed shots than give hybrids a chance.
If that’s you, then please, think of the poor worms and test the hybrids out at your local golf store. See what you think, you might be surprised. It costs nothing to book yourself in for a fitting and test them out as there’s no obligation to buy. You have nothing to lose and it might transform your game.
Hybrid irons don’t just benefit those who struggle to get the ball in the air though. If you are prone to hitting it fat, thin or occasionally sideways then hybrids help prevent most of that too. Once you get over the initial shock of how they look when you address the ball, they’re pretty easy to hit.
So what is it that makes this club less punishing of poor strikes and so easy to get the ball airborne?
Brian Shielke, Marketing Director at Srixon Cleveland says: "The Launcher HB Irons are the most forgiving, easiest iron sets to hit in golf, and it starts with the full hollow construction."
"Each iron is full hollow with hybrid construction to create a lower, deeper centre of gravity so that it’s easier to hit the ball up in the air and more forgiving for better distance control and better shots in to the green."
Usually this kind of sales spiel is best taken with a small mountain of salt (yes we’re back on ‘power holes’ again!), but it’s hard to disagree with any of that. They are forgiving, they do fly extremely high and because of that high flight it stands to reason that the ball will land softer on the green.
One note of caution. Keeping the ball low with a punch shot is difficult with these clubs as they aren’t designed for that. In fact they are made to do the complete opposite and only the more highly skilled player will be able to shape shots with these clubs.
There is no question that hybrid irons will help a lot of golfers if they can put their preconceived notions and ego to one side but they won’t be to everyone’s taste. You won’t know until you try though.
Other hybrid irons worth checking out are the Wilson Staff Launch Pads and Cobra T-Rails.
The F-Max Superlite is an ideal iron for women golfers with moderate swing speeds. They look stylish and as you’d expect from Cobra, they feel great when you hit a nice shot.
Engineered using lighter clubhead, shaft and grip designs, Cobra claimed on release that these were the lightest, fastest and easiest to hit irons they’d ever made for the female golfer. According to Cobra, the F-Max Superlite are 15 grams lighter than other irons in their range, which doesn’t sound like much but is certainly noticeable when you’re swinging a club.
Progressive hosel lengths position the centre of gravity (CG) lower in the long irons and incrementally higher as you move up the set. To the layperson, this means that the long irons easier to get up in the air. In contrast, the hosel lengths are taller in the short irons and wedges (raising the CG) which promotes a lower, more controlled trajectory.
The F-Max Superlite provides improved feel and stability due to weight distribution from a deeper undercut cavity to both the heel and toe, which helps with forgiveness and accuracy.
The lightweight design is ideal for the swing that relies on tempo and timing rather than brute force and this is a club that most female golfers will find beneficial to their game and it comes at a great price too.
One length irons have been made cool by US Tour sensation Bryson DeChambeau, a man known for bucking conventional golf methods and traditions and starting ones of his own. Bryson is a great thinker and strategist and if he’s using one length irons then there must be something to them.
It’s a simple enough concept. Every club is the same length as a seven iron, with the idea being that you can make the exact same swing with every iron. So in theory, a four iron is as easy to hit as a wedge.
Because of the extra length in the short iron shafts, they will travel further than usual. The trade off is that your long irons won’t go as far as a standard length equivalent, although they will be easier to hit.
In terms of tech, there’s plenty but we’ll keep it to a minimum here. The key things to note is that extreme heel and toe weighting provides more stability on off centre hits, while a carbon fibre top line maximises ball speed.
These won’t be for everyone but the idea behind them certainly makes sense and if you are in the market for new clubs it wouldn’t hurt to give these a look.
One of the most popular iron sets on the market, the T200 is described by Titleist as “player’s distance irons” and they are specifically designed to provide distance without sacrificing anything in looks, feel, trajectory and spin control.
Titleist irons always look great and stand the test of time. There’s just a certain style and aura about the brand and, as you’d expect, all the clubs in the ’T’ series look stunning.
Aimed at high single figure handicappers and above, the T200 features a thin topline, camber on the soles for better turf interaction and 90grams of tungsten in the head to provide a higher launch.
Other models in this range are the T100 (for Tour players and seriously good golfers) and the T300 (built for maximum distance and forgiveness, so typically suitable for mid-high handicappers).
Srixon are probably the most under-rated iron in golf. They produce high quality at a competitive price but for whatever reason they haven’t captured much of a share in the irons market. You won’t see many club golfers using Srixon clubs even though they are every bit as good as the ‘cooler’ brands.
The ZX5 is a player’s distance iron which offers forgiveness in the mid to long irons and control in the shorter irons.
Srixon used Artificial Intelligence to create a new MainFrame design club face that increases ball speed and face spring for extra distance.
Another nice aspect of the ZX5 is the V shaped sole that is designed to glide through turf, even when you strike behind the ball.
One of the most appealing aspects of the ZX5 though is how it sits at address. It looks great and just inspires confidence that you’re going to hit a nice shot.
Are you thinking of taking up golf? Perhaps you’re a casual golfer who doesn’t want to spend hundreds of pounds on a set of irons you might only use two or three times a year? Or maybe you’re trying to persuade a friend to take up the sport so you have some company when you go the range. If any of those apply to you, then the Slazenger V300 fits the bill perfectly.
These clubs are unbelievably low priced (as little as £12.99 per iron at Sports Direct) but the expression “you get what you pay for” doesn’t really apply in this instance. The Slazenger V300s are inexpensive but they aren’t ‘cheap’. They certainly don’t feel like a £12.99 club when you hit them and for golfers of limited ability they will perform to a similar standard as irons that cost three or four times the price.
As you’d expect from a club in this price range, the V300 doesn’t come with any of the bells and whistles of the high end brands and there’s not really any tech worth mentioning (no ‘power holes’ here, no sir!) other than that they are cavity backed and therefore more forgiving than a blade.
Slazenger make irons that are basic, affordable, yet surprisingly playable. Of course they won’t fly as far and true as a Taylor Made or a Mizuno that costs ten times as much, but if you are a high handicap golfer or a beginner then - no offence - your score is likely to be the same whether you’re using a cheap set or the latest, top of the range design.
An added benefit of the V300 is that you can buy them individually rather than in a package. That means if you don’t want a 4 iron then don’t buy it. Pick up a hybrid instead (you’ll probably find that easier to hit anyway).
You may decide that you don’t even need a full set, which reduces the initial cost even further. And because they are sold individually you can always then add to your set as your game improves.
The total cost of a full set of irons (4 iron through to SW) is £117, which is so low that you might even be tempted to also pick up some a V300 driver, fairway woods and a putter, which are all similarly low priced.
If you’re just starting out and don’t want to invest heavily on a game you may not stick with or might only play once in a blue moon, the Slazenger V300s fit the bill perfectly.
They aren’t your long term clubs but they’ll get you out there playing and hey, with the money you save you could invest in some golf lessons, which will help your game much more than any fancy new clubs ever could.
There are definite similarities with the Wilson D7 in the explosive feel off the face, the stronger lofts and the increased distances you’ll get as a result of it.
The JPX 921 Hot Metal goes far and is very forgiving with off-centre shots. Heel and toe strikes won’t lose much distance which makes this an ideal club for all but the very upper echelon of golfers.
Extreme perimeter weighting with toe bias helps to reduce sliced shots while the JPX921 has the most complex face geometry to date for additional energy from the clubface.
In addition to the Hot Metal, there are three other sets on the JPX 921 range - Tour, Forged and Hot Metal Pro, which means Mizuno have every level of golfer covered.
The Hot Metal Pro is very similar to the Hot Metal but has a smaller head.
The Tour is for more accomplished ball strikers who value feel and control over distance and forgiveness
The Forged is also for better players but gives a little more distance and forgiveness than the Tour.
Honma make expensive clubs. That’s their niché. It doesn’t mean that they will perform better than the competition but they will be more luxurious and flashy and they'll set more tongues wagging in the clubhouse.
The Beres series is about as high end as it gets, although the price varies depending on the shaft grade chosen. The cheapest is £329 but it can go up to £4,199. That’s PER CLUB, not the full set!
You’re probably thinking that for that price you’d want them to be made of solid gold. Well they are. Kind of. Ok, not quite solid gold but the club heads are embellished with gold and platinum.
The price is determined by a grading system of 2, 3, 4 and 5 stars. The 3 star is the most popular but the difference it will make to your game over the 2 star is probably minimal in comparison to the difference made to your bank balance.
The 5 star is the absolute height of luxury. Each club is manufactured individually in Japan and is gold plated, but for most people the two star will be more than flashy enough to attract admiring glances down at the local course and will ‘only’ set you back around £4,000 for the set.
Honma are experts in producing clubs that really help those who are slow swingers of the golf club and struggle for distance. The clubhead design and lighter shafts of most Honma clubs are proven to increase ball speed.
So if you’re a slow swinger who is in a position to spend a few quid, the Beres might be just what you need to increase your ball speed and gain those valuable extra yards.
And if the Beres is a little too rich for your blood, there are other, cheaper Honma sets available, which usually retail around £1500.