The Best Golf Irons of 2023

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TripSavvy's Picks

The Apex Pro 21 irons from Callaway are perfect for low-digit handicappers who want speed and forgiveness in a club. The PXG 0211 DC Irons set is a top-of-the-line iron set at a more affordable cost.

Even for experienced golfers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when looking for a new set of irons. There are simply so many options, both in the overall design and target demographic, as well as in the myriad customizable variables for things like grip, flex, and shaft. But finding the perfect pair of irons can make all the difference. The best ones work with you to level up your game, whether you’re a first-timer or a senior who’s been golfing for decades.

In exploring the best golf irons, overall function, target audience, and price were all taken into account, as well as the variable tech solutions brands use to make the irons more forgiving, deliver faster and higher shots, and provide an intuitive feel. Some, like the Callaway Apex Pro 21—our top pick—excel (and come at a price), while others have managed to trim any excess features to deliver an iron that won’t break the bank.

These are the best golf irons, sold individually and as a set.

Best Overall

Callaway 2021 Apex Pro Iron Set

Callaway 2021 Apex Pro Iron Set

Callaway

What We Like
  • Loads of configurations regarding shaft and grip options

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Recently redesigned from the ground up, the Apex Pro 21 irons from Callaway are perfect for low-digit handicappers who want speed and forgiveness in a club. Built to provide serious speed without sapping the feel and forgiveness essential to iron, the Apex Pro 21 delivers.

An A.I.-designed Flash Face Cup architecture creates a high energy transfer (also called a coefficient of restitution, or COR) that improves ball spin and creates faster hits without sacrificing control. A forged 1025 hollow body and patented urethane microspheres provide the perfect blend of sound and feel at impact.

A massive Tungsten Energy Core (up to 90 grams per iron) reinforces a powerful launch while adding the forgiveness that serious golfers crave.

Price at time of publish: $1,480

Swing Weight: D2-D3 | Shaft Materials: Graphite or steel | Individual Clubs or as a Set: Both

Best Budget

PXG 0211 DC Iron Set

PXG 0211 DC Iron Set

Amazon

What We Like
  • Drastically less expensive than other irons

What We Don't Like
  • Experienced golfers may want more precision

If you think of the 0211 DC irons from PXG as a kind of gateway drug to understanding the technology in all of the brand’s clubs, the remarkably low price point starts to make sense. At a price that’s hard to beat, the 2011 DC irons provide a great way to get a top-of-the-line iron set without feeling like you’ve over-committed.

They boast progressive offset and bounce construction, providing a perfect blend of accuracy and distance. The high-strength maraging steel face is the smallest available in an iron, which helps cut the ounces, but the face is still plenty large to help correct off-center strikes. But the most striking feature remains their Inner Core Technology.

This soft polymer core increases face loading with a solid rebound to deliver energy to the ball, which pairs with the high-strength polymer Outer Core Tech that amps the structural stability.

Swing Weight: D3 | Shaft Materials: Steel or graphite | Individual Clubs or as a Set: Individual

Best Splurge

Callaway Epic MAX Star Hybrid Set

Callaway Epic MAX Star Hybrid Set

Dick's Sporting Goods

What We Like
  •  Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

The Callaway Epic MAX Star Hybrid clubs are designed to be the easy-to-launch replacement for your long irons, with Jailbreak A.I. Velocity Blades engineered to improve vertical stiffness at the club's sole. This provides more speed low on the club face, letting the Face Cup flex on the crown to improve the spin rate and boards that enhance torsional stiffness for more forgiveness. Fairway wood shaping allows for a more extended profile and a deeper center of gravity to make hitting easy and consistent, and the ATTAS Speed Series Shaft cuts down on club weight to improve your swing speed.

Price at time of publish: $350

Swing Weight: D0 | Shaft Materials: ATTAS Speed Series T11000 50 I.R./Hyb Graphite | Individual Clubs or as a Set: Individual

Best Set

Wilson 2022 Launch Pad Graphite Irons

Wilson 2022 Launch Pad Graphite Irons

Amazon

What We Like
  • Very forgiving and light

What We Don't Like
  • More experienced golfers might want a set that provides more precision and control

Built to help improve your game, the Wilson 2022 Launch Pad Graphite Irons set comes with a generative-designed turf interaction sole to help you hit the ball cleanly and get it up and aloft with more consistency, and cut down on chunking into the grass. The weight has been reduced from previous models to encourage faster swing speed, and a lower mass lets you launch the ball higher, so it flies further with less effort.

Price at time of publish: $900

Swing Weight: D0-D1 | Shaft Materials: Graphite or steel | Individual Clubs or as a Set: Both

Best for Speed

Ping I525 Irons

Ping I525 Irons

Dick's Sporting Goods

What We Like
  • All clubs treated with hydropearl 2.0 finish that repels water

What We Don't Like
  • Set includes only four irons

Anchored by Ping’s forged, maraging steel face, the I525 irons provide a thinner, more dynamic face structure with a sole internal undercut in the steel body that increases flexing–translation. You’ll launch balls faster and higher and with great consistency. Tungsten weights at the toe and shaft work with a tiered, dynamic face structure to expand the perimeter weighting for solid energy transfer and greater face deflection. Precision-milled groove patterns on the face reduce speed on shorter irons and preserve ball spin on longer clubs, and the modest topline and players-style offset create a clean and compact profile.

Price at time of publish: $1,313 for Regular Flex, Project X IO 5.5 Steel

Swing Weight: D0.5-D0 | Shaft Materials: Steel or graphite | Individual Clubs or as a Set: Set

Best for Feel

Honma 2020 TW757 Vx Iront Set

Honma 2020 TW757 Vx Iront Set

Amazon

What We Like
  •  Mellow, intuitive feel

What We Don't Like
  • Those focused on power and speed may want more heft

If you prize the ability to feel connected to your club—and your shots—the TW757Vx provides the level of control you desire and plenty of forgiveness with off-center contact. Forged from soft S20S carbon steel, the Honma TW757Vx iron maximizes control and feel with a cavity-back design and a 7-gram tungsten toe weight to lengthen the center of gravity in the wide club head. The optimized weight reduces energy loss, especially on off-center hits, generating high, straight, long shots with optimal ball spin. And you can improve the touch even more by selecting the Honma VIZARD shaft, which uses advanced carbon materials for better control and a range of weights from 50 to 100 grams.

Price at time of publish: $800

Swing Weight: D1 | Shaft Materials: Steel or carbon | Individual Clubs or as a Set: Both

Best for Beginners

TaylorMade Golf Stealth Iron Set

TaylorMade Golf Stealth Iron Set

TaylorMade

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Very giving

What We Don't Like
  • A touch pricey for an entry-level iron

Beginner golfers flirt with frustration as they get their bearings on the challenges of the sport, so it’s wise to outfit yourself with an iron like TaylorMade’s Stealth. Built with forgiveness in mind, it comes with a Cap Back Design with toe wrap construction that positions the sweet spot across the most common contact points on the f450 stainless steel ace, improving ball speed and increasing the chances that an off-kilter shot will still launch. The weight has been moved from the toe to the club’s sole, lowering the center of gravity to increase the launch angle and peak height for longer, more assured shots. Inside, a damping system spans the whole face to cut down unwanted vibrations, while Thru-Slot Speed Pocket tech maximizes the face flex to handle low mis-hits.

Price at time of publish: $1,000

Swing Weight: D0-D2 | Shaft Materials: Steel or graphite | Individual Clubs or as a Set: Set

Best for Seniors

Titleist T100II Golf Iron Set

Titleist T100II Golf Iron Set

Amazon

What We Like
  • Thin topline, minimal offset, and compact blade length provide a streamlined look

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Consistently ranked as the number one iron on the PGA Tour, the T100 irons from Titleist are informed by the years of reliable use from the pros—so they’ll accommodate the experienced golfer. A new variable bounce design delivers a fantastic feel, while denser-than-usual D18 tungsten weights and a 2,000-degree F brazing process (typically used in aerospace construction) give the irons a precise center-of-gravity placement. A continuous cradle construction on the face means all contacts with the striking surface will be seamless, and the new design will import slightly more ball spin to improve shot-shaping and stoppage power.

Price at time of publish: $1,300

Swing Weight: D2 | Shaft Materials: Steel or graphite | Individual Clubs or as a Set: Individual

Best for Kids

U.S. Kids Golf UL57-s DV3 Set

U.S. Kids Golf UL57-s DV3 Set

U.S. Kids Golf

What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Velvet-rubber grips can be replaced

What We Don't Like
  • Optimal height range is 57 to 60 inches

Suitable for beginner and intermediate junior golfers, the U.S. Kids Golf’s UL57-s are ultralight irons built for max forgiveness and ease of playability—the key features in keeping kids interested in the sport. A K-Flex graphite shaft helps slim down the ounces, and the WT-15s models have a club head weight that’s 15 percent lighter than other models. The finished club length is 32.5 inches, and the heads boast a 44-degree loft to launch the balls.

Price at time of publish: $290

Swing Weight: N/A | Shaft Materials: Graphite | Individual Clubs or as a Set: Both

What to Look for in Golf Irons

Skill Level

To accommodate the broad variable skill set of all golfers, irons typically focus on a few general categories. Irons built for improving your game are ideal for beginners and mid-level golfers, who will benefit from a forgiving design, with a longer face length to handle off-kilter hits and a wider sole to help avoid hitting the grass. Player Irons are made for more experienced golfers and can play a wide array of shots. They typically provide a better overall feel, with shorter blade lengths, thinner top lines, and narrower soles—features that improve control but provide less forgiveness with off-center shots. Player Distant Irons add speed, lift, and loft to typical player irons and work well for low- to mid-level handicap golfers.

Shaft

Most irons come with the ability to choose the shaft material. Steel is a standard option and is the heaviest material, so it requires a bit more strength to swing fast and provides more consistent swings. Graphite lightens things considerably to help increase swing speed, but the material dampens the overall feel. And some use a mixture of fabrics (combos of steel and graphite or carbon), which attempt to deliver the advantages of all the materials. Shaft flex can also vary (stiff, extra stiff, regular, senior, and ladies). In general, the faster your swing, the stiffer you want the shaft's flex (or bend) to be so that you maintain control between your swing and contact with the ball.

Price

Prices run the gamut, but it is possible to find lower-cost irons by judiciously researching what you want and then narrowing your options down by which manufacturers provide to fit those needs. Most irons are sold at a set (sometimes just for convenience, others to offer a small discount), and you can also acquire individual clubs. After you’ve become proficient at the game and have established which irons you use most, you can always upgrade a standalone iron.

Fit

The perfect club is only ideal if it caters to your shot and height, which is why most pro golfers recommend that you get professional advice on the optimal sizing of the club length. A properly sized club drastically helps you deliver a more efficient swing.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do irons break out in terms of type?

    Irons typically break out into three groups: long, mid, and short. And, as their names articulate, they’re used to deliver the optimal distance you want, with the long irons (2, 3, and 4) generating a lot of loft and distance, short irons (8 and 9) providing a lot of loft but a shorter distance, and the mids (5, 6, and 7) splitting the difference.

  • What are the most forgiving golf irons?

    Irons that embody the characteristic of forgiveness help you strike confidently even when you hit off-target (or off-center). Look for clubs marketed as game-improving irons, which typically have a wider face surface to expand the sweet spot so that the ball responds even when hitting off-kilter. They also typically construct the club shape to help you avoid biting into the turf and disrupting your swing.

  • How do I care for and clean my golf irons?

    In an ideal world, you should clean your irons after every round to ensure they’re free of dirt and debris that could impact the club’s performance. Just wipe the face and head clean with a damp towel. And if any dirt clings to the grooves of the club face, you can use the tip of a golf tee to wedge the debris loose. For more thorough cleaning, just use water and mild dish soap. Let them soak for 10 minutes, scrub them with a soft-bristle brush like a toothbrush, and be sure to remove any grime or dirt that might be caught in the grooves of the club face. Never leave them in the trunk of your car, especially on hot days, and using club covers helps avoid damage to the clubs when they hit each other.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Borchelt has been rating, reviewing, and testing outdoor and travel products for decades. In making the selections, a wide array of products were considered before narrowing into the final selections, balancing key features (the target demographic, the various technologies and materials, the swing weight, and various shaft materials) against performance and cost. Both professional and confirmed customers were also weighed.

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