When you’re finally ready to take your game from mid to low handicap range, you’ll want to upgrade your irons and get something that’ll match your swing. There are a bunch of options to pick from, but we’ll be talking about some of the best for mid handicappers.
Here are the 3 best irons for mid-handicap golfers:
- Cleveland Launcher CBX (best cavity back irons)
- Srixon Z 585 (best forged irons)
- Taylormade M6 (CBX alternative)
If I was in the market for a new iron set these are the three I’d consider. They’re all slightly different and aimed towards different players. Some are also more expensive than others, but the good news is that you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Continue reading and we’ll jump into more details.
What Score Does A Mid Handicapper Shoot?
A mid-handicap golfer is anyone who shoots in the 80s on a par 72 golf course. These golfers are better than average and will normally play better than bogey golf.
If you’re a mid handicapper then your handicap is somewhere between 10 and 19. Anything under 10 would be considered a low handicap and anything above 19 is considered a high handicap.
What you might be surprised by is that mid handicappers are quite a bit better than your average player. I always thought most golfers shot in the 80s, but that was very far from the truth.
I looked around to find the average score for all golfers and USGA said it was somewhere around 91. That’s actually a bit misleading though and isn’t quite true.
Think about all the golfers you know. How many of them record their handicap?
The majority of weekend golfers don’t track their handicap, and if they did, the average score would probably be closer to 100. This takes into account all skill levels and all age groups.
There really isn’t a specific definition of low, mid, and high handicap, but here’s how I look at it:
- If you shoot under 80 = low handicap.
- If you shoot 80-90 = mid handicap.
- If you shoot above 90 = high handicap.
If you still can’t break through 90 consistently then you might want to get a different set of irons. We made a different list that should perform a bit better for you.
When’s The Right Time To Upgrade Irons?
If you’re serious about your game, but you have an iron set from 1982, it might be time for an upgrade. Clubs over the past number of years have made big improvements, but that being said, you don’t need to upgrade every single year.
When Your Irons Are More Than 5 Years Old
Clubs over the past 5 years are way better than clubs from 10 years ago. They hit the ball longer, they’re so much more forgiving, and they launch the ball way higher.
I can almost guarantee that if you have older clubs, switching to something newer will shave a couple of strokes off your game. They won’t fix a slice overnight and they won’t make you a professional golfer, but you’ll notice a big difference.
That being said, I really hope you don’t go out every year and buy something new. Clubs over the past 5 years pretty much go the same distance and they’re just as forgiving. Don’t waste your money.
When You Go From High To Mid Handicap
If you bought a set of irons when you were normally shooting 100, it might be time to upgrade to something more suitable for a mid handicapper. It’s not always the case but you’ll want to look into it.
Don’t get me wrong, you could break 100, break 90, and work your way to the low 80s with game improvement irons. All I’m saying is that you might want something a bit more versatile as you get better.
You’ll still want a good amount of forgiveness as a mid handicapper and you’ll still want long straight shots. What you’ll eventually want is something that has a bit more greenside spin so you can have better control.
When You Go From Mid To Low Handicap
The most important time to upgrade your clubs is when you’re really serious about breaking through 80 and working your way into the low handicap range.
If you want to do this, you’ll need your irons to do certain things. Having outdated or game-improvement irons might make that a lot harder than it needs to be.
Game improvement irons are great because they’re high launching, hit the ball long distances, and are ultra forgiving. These features might not be that great for scratch golfers though.
When you get better, you’ll probably want a set of irons that launch the ball a little lower and be able to shape the ball around. You want to be able to draw or fade the ball as well as control the height. That’s not always easy with gamers.
Iron Features To Look For
As a mid handicapper, you’ll want to look for some specific features in an iron set. As I said before, you could use gamers (game-improvement irons) or you could use players (tour irons), but they might not perform the way you want. Here’s what you should be looking for:
- A mid to high ball flight.
- Forgiving on mishits.
- Lands the ball on the green with a bit of spin.
The first thing you’ll want to look for is an iron that launches the ball fairly high. Anything with a mid to high ball flight should be ideal. This will give you the most distance and will be the most forgiving.
An iron with a lower ball flight takes a lot more speed to pop the ball in the air. This will most likely give you no distance and you’ll get a lot more side-to-side spin.
You also want something that’s pretty forgiving. We mid handicaps don’t always hit the sweet spot and that’s why we need some help. Certain clubs are much better at this than others.
I used to have one of the Nike irons Tiger used to use and it felt absolutely awesome when I hit it pure. That rarely happened though. There was zero forgiveness and mishits went pretty much nowhere.
The final thing is something that’ll land the ball softly on the green with a bit of spin. You won’t spin the ball like Tiger but you want something that doesn’t land and run off the green 20 yards.
Having something that launches high will help with this and so will the design of the club. Most game-improvement irons don’t do this well and it’ll be a big deal as you start getting better.
Essentially, what you don’t want to get is an ultra game-improvement style iron or something that said “tour” or “pro”. Anything else should be perfect for your game.
High vs Mid vs Low Handicap Irons
Now that you know what to look for in an iron, how do you actually tell which is which? A lot of the info can be found on the company website but you can also tell a lot by looking at the iron itself. Here are a few key things to look at:
- The design of the head.
- Where the weight is located.
- The width of the sole.
- How much offset there is.
The first thing you need to do is look at the shape of the clubhead. I’m sure you know that some irons are called “cavity backs”, some are called “blades”, and some are called “muscle backs”.
Cavity back irons are the most forgiving while blades are the least forgiving. For all mid handicappers, you’ll want to make sure you pick a cavity back iron.
Blades and muscle backs are used by scratch players. The benefit of these irons is that they can control the ball better and they feel like absolute butter when (if) you strick them well.
The reason you’d want to use a cavity back is that you’ll get more distance, they’re way more forgiving, they launch the ball higher, and they’re cheaper.
The way you can tell whether or not it’s a cavity back is by looking at where the weight is located, what the sole of the club looks like, and how much offset it has.
The next thing to look at is where most of the weight is. Cavity back irons have most of their weight around the perimeter.
Blades and muscle backs have more weight behind the sweet spot. Having the weight around the perimeter makes the sweet spot a lot bigger and will still hit the ball a decent distance if you hit too much towards the heel or toe.
After that, you’ll want to take a look at the sole of the club (the bottom). Cavity backs normally have a wider sole compared to muscle backs and blades and sometimes have a “v” shape. This is good for two reasons:
- More weight is behind and under the ball (higher ball flight).
- The club won’t dig as far into the ground (less fat/chunky shots).
The final thing is how much offset the club has. A club has an offset if the hosel (shaft) is positioned in front of the clubhead. This helps you square the club at impact and will promote more of a draw (not as easy to hit fades).
High handicaps and beginners want a good amount of offset because most of them struggle with slices. For mid handicappers, you don’t want a huge amount but a slight offset can help you out.
Better players don’t want an offset because they want to be able to shape the ball both ways.
Best Shaft Flex For Mid Handicappers
Once you know what to look for in an iron, the next thing to do is pick the right club (we’ll talk about this next) and shaft for your swing. Both are super important but the shaft flex is normally overlooked by most.
Having the wrong shaft flex will give you a lot of inconsistent shots. I’m sure you already know that we’re inconsistent enough as is.
A shaft that’s too whippy will cause a lot of hooks and a shaft that’s too stiff will cause a lot of low slices. It’s not always the case but more often than not, that’s the case.
The way you tell what shaft is right for you is by figuring out your swing speed. If you want the best shaft for your swing, go ahead and figure out your swing speed. If not, at least know how far you drive the ball.
Here’s a general chart that will tell you what shaft to get based on your swing speed and drive distance:
|Swing Speed||Driver Distance||Shaft Flex|
|Under 80 MPH||Under 200 Yards||Senior/Ladies|
|80-90 MPH||200-240 Yards||Regular|
|90-100 MPH||240-275 Yards||Stiff|
|Over 100 MPH||275+ Yards||Extra Stiff|
Best Irons For Mid Handicappers
There are a bunch of different irons on the market that are pretty solid. What I wanted to do was narrow things down and give you a few really solid models to pick from.
If I was in the market for a new iron set these are the ones I’d consider. They all match the criteria we talked about, and the one you go with will depend on your price tag and what design you like best.
When you’re getting a new iron set, you have two options to pick from. You can either buy individual irons or you can get a full set. You really don’t need a full set to shoot some good scores and it’ll save you some money (every second iron will work). If you want a full set, get a 5-PW, and then use a hybrid instead of 3-4 iron.
Cleveland Launcher CBX (My #1 Pick)
If you’re looking for an iron that hits the ball long and straight, this is my favorite option. These irons are best suited for mid to high handicaps and they’re actually the irons I have in my bag right now.
The first thing you’ll notice is the fairly wide sole that has a “v” shape to it. This will really help glide through grass and sand and will help you not hit as many chunky shots.
They have a reasonable amount of offset and I think it’s the perfect amount of mid handicaps. The longer irons are long and pretty easy to hit and have a mid to high ball flight. Again, what we’re looking for.
Cleveland has always built some of the better wedges on the market and a lot of that tech has gone into their shorter irons. They’re forgiving enough but they also have a pretty good amount of wedge spin to keep the ball from running off the green.
Also, they’re the cheapest irons on this list and that was a big bonus for me. I think they came out in 2017 and that’s why the price has come down. Still, the quality and performance are top-notch.
- Good price tag.
- Long and forgiving.
- I can hit the ball both ways with them.
- They scratch pretty easily.
- They don’t sound and feel as solid as some.
Srixon Z 585 (My #2 Pick)
If you’re looking for a forged iron set or want something you can use as you get better, these will be for you. They’re best suited for mid to low handicaps and are some of the better feeling irons I’ve ever hit.
They aren’t going to be as forgiving or as long as the Cleveland, but they do sound and feel better. They also offer more control over the ball (draw, fade, high, low) and that’s why better players would prefer them.
The design of the 585 is pretty similar to the Cleveland in that there’s a perfect amount of offset for the mid handicapper. It’s more of a cross between a cavity back and muscle back and that’ll give you the benefits of each.
The sole of the club has a “v” shape as well and that’ll help you glide through sand and grass. That, along with the explosive distance and forgiveness makes this one of the ultimate irons for mid handicappers looking to breakthrough 80.
If you want an iron set that feels absolutely stunning when you strike them well, the 585’s will be the one for you. Once I go from mid to low handicap, these are probably the irons I’ll be getting.
- The large sweet spot with low COG makes it super easy to hit.
- One of the more forgiving irons in this class.
- You can shape the ball around.
- Big price tag.
If you want a long and forgiving iron set but want something a little bit more “well known”, these could be perfect for you. They’re designed for mid to high handicaps and are a pretty all-around solid iron.
A lot of people are big fans of Taylormade clubs but that wasn’t always the case for me. I really didn’t like the previous M series clubs but that all changed with the M6.
I wouldn’t say they’re as solid as the CBX but they’re some of the better irons for golfers who just want distance and forgiveness. It’s pretty tough to hit the ball short and low with these (as long as you hit the face).
The reason I like the CBX more is that I find them a bit better for shaping the ball around and the “v” sole glides a bit better through the grass. Other than that, both of them are very similar.
So, if you’re someone who’s like M series clubs in the past, I think you’ll like these even more. If you do decide to go with these I’d recommend you get the 5-PW set. Get a hybrid instead of the longer irons and get a separate wedge set instead of the M6 wedge.
- It has a big forgiving head.
- The sound is better than the CBX.
- Its distance is top-notch.
- Not that great for shaping the ball.
- The wedge isn’t the best, in my opinion.