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The mid-handicap zone is filled with a range of golfers, from the long-term casual player to the active beginner on the fast-track to single digit and scratch status. Whatever your reason for being a mid-handicapper, you need the right irons to suit your game. So with that in mind, we have put together this guide on the best irons for mid-handicappers.
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Before we delve deep into each of the sets introduced above, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the advantages of having the correct irons for your handicap, what to look out for when choosing the right irons, and which irons you should avoid.
A mid-handicap player is generally someone with a handicap between 10 and 18 – a golfer with a good level of skill who can consistently break 90 after 18 holes on a familiar course. It means you will be averaging less than a bogey per hole. There is, of course, a bit of a range between a 10 and 18 handicap, so the mid-handicap area is filled with many different types of golfers with varieties of ability and experience.
The most obvious reason would be if there has been a change to your handicap and thus your abilities. If you are making great improvements and are shooting scores in the mid-handicap range, but you are still playing with irons more suited to a beginner, then you are likely to be in the market for an upgrade.
Equally, if your game has gone backwards, perhaps from not playing so regularly, and you are struggling to control the ball with pro-level irons, then a move into mid-handicap irons could be a smart decision.
Another reason would be if your current set of irons are out of date. Now, golf clubs aren’t like smartphones where you need to upgrade every couple of years. But given the amount of technological advances that have been made, if your clubs are more than six or seven years old, you may be at a disadvantage.
Newer irons, for example, are often a degree or two less in loft than older models which provide greater distance, but with modern technology implemented, still generate the same height. The shafts in more modern irons are also lighter so your swing speed will be faster and your control of the club will be greater.
Finally, you may decide to change your irons if you’re not particularly keen on your current set. This perhaps seems like the least important reason, but if you don’t like the clubs you already have and you don’t feel they are helping your game, then it might be time for a change!
The irons used by professionals, scratch players and low-handicappers are different from those a mid-handicapper should be using and could be disadvantageous. As a general rule, any clubs that are “blades” or “muscle backs”, or are called “Pro”, “Tour” or “players irons” should be avoided by mid-handicappers.
Muscle back irons, commonly known as blades, have no cavities and instead have solid metal backs. This significantly reduces the sweet spot on the club, making the ball more difficult hit accurately. For pros and top-level amateurs with near-perfect precision, this reduced sweet spot is an advantage, but for mid-handicappers, it could be a hindrance.
Blades also have higher centres of gravity compared to cavity-back (CB) irons, which result in lower ball launch and more spin, while thinly-hit shots get punished. Oppositely, cavity-back irons, therefore allow you to get more height on your shots and produce less spin, while thinly-hit shots can still get in the air. This is what it means when you hear about club forgiveness.
Also, the hosel on blades is not offset, which allows players of very good abilities to shape their shots. For players not capable of shaping shots, this setup could lead to more hooks and slices.
Now you know what you want to avoid from your irons, let’s look at what you actually need. As we just learned, mid-handicap irons are all cavity-backed, which have been specially created to aid in ball flight, distance, and greater forgiveness (there’s that word again!).
A few various aspects have gone in to the design of these irons to make them appropriate for mid-handicap players, including a thin steel club face, which flexes better and produces faster swing speed, in turn leading to longer distances for your shots.
We mentioned the higher centre of gravity found on blades, so in contrast cavity-backed irons have lower centres of gravity where the club is weighted more toward the club head. This allows you to create more height and less spin.
Then there is the offset on CB irons not found in blades that limits slice and ensures you hit the ball straighter. You may also find on some sets of irons a badge fixed to the back of the club head and have been added to reduce vibration from your shots.
In terms of shafts for your irons, you will want to decide between steel and graphite depending on your swing speed. If your swing speed is a bit slower, then you will want to consider the lighter graphite shafts, which will give you more speed and therefore more distance. If you have a faster swing speed, then go for the heavier steel shafts, which offer a better feel for your shots.
Topping our list of best irons for mid-handicappers is Callaway’s Rogue X set. Lighter, longer, and with greater lofts than the Rogue Standard, the Rogue X’s wider soles ensure a lower centre of gravity for more height and further distances for your shots.
Callaway have again used their 360 Face Cup technology and combined it with Variable Face Thickness (VFT) to ensure faster ball speed. This is achieved by Face Cup’s design that creates a shallow and flexible rim around the perimeter of the face that flexes and releases at the moment of impact. VFT helps the club face flex on off-centre shots, ensuring ball speed and distance even for mis-hit shots.
Also key to the Rogue X is the tungsten weighting, allowing for a low centre of gravity in the long irons which in turn increases control and loft. To combat the potential of vibrations in the thin club face, Callaway have included elastic urethane microspheres to dampen the vibrations and improve sound and feel without compromising on control or ball speed.
The Rogue X set is available in a number of configurations, ranging from 4-iron to sand wedge, while you can choose between steel and graphite shaft options as well as choosing your preferred flex.
If you’re on a bit of a budget, then you might want to consider the Cobra King F6 irons. What is interesting about the F6 irons are the different constructions used throughout the set to optimise control and height of your shots.
The long irons (3,4,5) are built with V-grooves and a full hollow head design, which lowers the centre of gravity and will help get the ball airborne and create longer distance. The mid-irons (6, 7) are made with U-grooves and a half hollow head design for for increased control and forgiveness. Finally the short irons (8, 9, PW) feature a cavity-back design for spin and control.
Each iron is steel-shafted to help you generate spin and launch, while Cobra’s Speed Channel sole and face technology aids in distance by reducing the weight around the club face.
Cobra have also used a deep under cavity in the F6 irons, which helps in increasing forgiveness and straighten out off-centre shots. In addition, CNC milling on the grooves of these irons will help increase spin, allowing you to attack the pins and maintain control of your shots.
Best women mid handicap iron
Our second entry from the Callaway Rogue range, this time a set of irons specially created for female mid-handicappers. Packed with all the technology and designs of the Rogue X irons, including 360 Face Cup, Variable Face Thickness (VFT) and elastic urethane microspheres for control, forgiveness and dampened vibrations.
The big differences are the Women’s Rogue irons are ultra lightweight, boast wider soles, larger cavities and extra low centres of gravity. These have all been included to help female golfers who commonly have slower swing speeds create faster ball speed.
Like the Rogue X, the Rogue Women also boast tungsten weighting in the long irons for better ball flight and control. However, the shaft of these irons are made from graphite, adding to their lightweight feel and causing greater flex on the swing, while they have been made an inch shorter as is standard for female clubs.
TaylorMade released the M4 irons as an upgrade to the M2s and while they certainly look fit for a pro, the M4 range have been designed with the mid-handicapper in mind.
The long irons have been created with a deep-set cavity and a small hollowing behind the club face, intended to offer more distance and forgiveness, while the M4 irons come with a lightweight shaft to aid in swing speed and therefore, also, distance.
The M4 irons also have a technology TaylorMade have called RIBCOR, which localises club face flexibility and transfers more energy to the ball. This allows you to hit shots longer, straighter and higher and ensures mis-hit shots are not unduly punished.
While there are plenty of distance-boosting designs and technologies in the M4 irons, it’s not all about the power. The 360-degree undercut and fluted hosel will improve your launch and ball spin, while the face slots increase flexibility in the heel for greater consistency.
If you are on the lower side of the mid-handicap range and making your way toward low handicap status but want to steer clear of blades, then the Callaway Apex CF16 irons might be a good option.
Callaway have precision engineered the face cup using their Cup 360 technology to offer consistent ball speed throughout the irons. The Apex CF16s also boast progressive offsets based on the iron length, so the longer irons feature more offset for added forgiveness, while the shorter irons have a compact shape to aid in control.
Available in both steel and graphite shafts, the Apex CF16 irons boast a smaller clubhead than many other cavity-backed irons, which reduces the size of the sweet spot – something advanced mid-handicappers with precision shot-making should enjoy.
There are many things to consider when deciding which way to go for your next set of mid-irons. Should you opt for any of the mid-iron sets detailed above then you can’t go wrong, but in our opinion, the Callaway Rogue X hold the edge over the competition. They suit all styles of games and all abilities in the mid-handicap range. There are also many configurations to choose from, ensuring you end up with the clubs and setup you want. Whichever clubs you choose, we hope you see improvements from your iron play!