Which are the best mid-handicap golf irons in 2023?
Sometimes known as ‘game-improvement’ irons, the best mid-handicap irons offer golfers plenty of distance and forgiveness, but in a package that still looks and feels good. Typically aimed at handicaps ranging from 10 to the low 20s, mid-handicap irons aren’t as forgiving or distance-boosting as high-handicap irons, but offer more help than blades or players’ irons.
With the average handicap sitting somewhere in the mid-teens, it’s little surprise that mid-handicap irons are incredibly popular. It’s an area most brands have focused on over the last few years, meaning there’s a fantastic range of mid-handicap irons to choose from. But which are the best mid-handicap irons for you?
Plenty of distance and forgiveness, but with a topline that looks anything but chunky.
We love the head’s elegant straight lines, which are similar to the brilliant ZX5/ZX7 MkII. Although the ZX4 MkII heads are a little longer and bigger, there’s still a super attractive look at address, thanks to not being overly offset. Srixon say the topline thickness across the family are closely linked, which actively encourages golfers to create their own personal combo set of two or more models to create the best Srixon irons for their game.
The Srixon ZX4 MKII irons produced some hugely impressive numbers in our 2023 irons test. They were the joint longest mid-handicap iron of the year (197 yards – tied with the Wilson Dynapower), produced the fastest ball speed, and recorded a top-three performance for protecting ball speed and carry distance on mis-hits.
Read our full Srixon ZX4 MkII irons review.
|Stock shafts||KBS Tour Lite (s), Diamana ZX (g)|
|Forgiveness rating||3 - 3.05/5|
A very solid iron that stands out for its loft options.
The TaylorMade Stealth is an attractive-looking and great-sounding iron within the mid-handicap category. Whilst not being our very fastest or longest, it was well above the test average on both counts. If we were spending our own dosh in the mid-handicap iron category in 2023, the TaylorMade Stealth is one of the best TaylorMade irons and would definitely feature on our shortlist.
Read our full TaylorMade Stealth iron review.
|Stock shaft||KBS Max MT (s) Fujikura Ventus Red (g)|
Expect the G430 to be hugely popular as Ping continue to provide great forgiveness while improving looks, sound and feel.
Ping say they’ve switched to 2-year product life cycles, so you can buy the G430 safe in the knowledge that the model won’t be old hat next year. Like lots of Ping product, even though they weren’t quite our very fastest or longest, the G430 won’t age any time soon; these are classic, strong-performance mid-handicap irons that will happily stay in the bag for years to come.
The G430 like their predecessors are a force to be reckoned with, the G marquee has evolved into being an attractive and desirable model (especially in the shorter irons and wedges), yet they remain forgiving, which in anybody’s book makes them a tough package to beat – on a launch monitor or the golf course.
Read our full Ping G430 iron review.
|Stock shafts||Ping AWT (s) Ping Alta Quick and Alta CB Black (g)|
Feels like a super-premium iron, but at a normal price point.
The PXG 0211 XCOR2 irons aren’t forged, and they don’t have the brand’s famous weight technology (so the MOI is typically 10% lower than PXG premium irons), but apart from that you’re buying into PXG’s impressive knowledge for £99 a club when buying five or more. In a year when money for many is tight, you could get your hands on a set of 0211’s for £594 (6 – GW), which is outstanding value for money and warrants a spot among the best PXG irons.
PXG have always made great-looking irons and we reckon many club golfers would struggle to feel a difference between the 0211 XCOR 2 and the brand’s premium forged and fully adjustable models.
The 0211 XCOR 2 are a fantastic choice for mid-handicap golfers in 2023. If your speed is anywhere close to average, make sure you explore the lighter, higher-launching shaft options.
Read our full PXG 0211 XCOR 2 irons review.
|Stock shaft||True Temper Elevate MP and Elevate Tour, Nippon Modus Pro 125, UST Recoil Dart, Project X Cypher, Mitsubishi MMT|
In other words, the Aerojet are impressive and among the best Cobra irons, but won’t be the right fit for everyone.
Read our full Cobra Aerojet iron review.
|Stock shaft||KBS Tour Lite (s), KBS PGI (g)|
But those wanting to maximize scoring potential should look at how the Mizuno JPX923 Hot Metal launched higher, peaked higher, span more and descended onto the green at a steeper angle than our test average. For those looking for the control to hit and hold greens as opposed to just pure power, this is one of the best Mizuno irons and will be one of the best mid-handicap iron options available. It helps that it looks good, too.
Read our full Mizuno JPX923 Hot Metal iron review.
|Stock shaft||50 options at no upcharge|
It was our pro’s third-fastest, third-longest and third-best mid-handicap iron for protecting carry distance.
Read our full PXG 0311 XP GEN5 iron review.
|Stock shaft||True Temper Elevate 95 or Tour (s) / Mitsubishi MMT (g)|
Takomo 101 Irons
It was also very forgiving, losing just 2.6mph and 3 yards on mis-hits compared to pure strikes.
|Stock shaft||KBS Tour / KBS Max|
With a large head and more offset, the Wilson Dynapower will suit mid-handicappers who want reassurance and forgiveness more than something that looks like a players’ iron or blade.
|Stock shaft||KBS Max Ultralite|
In the right hands, it’s a powerful and forgiving hollow body iron, but at slower clubhead speeds it may be hard to flight and stop shots on the green successfully. For the right golfer, the Paradym X will be the best Callaway iron going.
Read our full Callaway Paradym X iron review.
|Stock shaft||True Temper Elevate|
Best Mid-Handicap Golf Irons 2023: Launch Monitor Data
How we tested the best mid-handicap golf irons
We invited major equipment manufacturers to submit their entire ranges for testing. Across seven weeks of testing, we created a controlled environment indoors at Keele Golf Centre and used a premium tour-level golf ball (the Srixon Z-Star). We collected a ton of data from every shot hit, using a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor.
Why did we use a Srixon Z-Star golf ball?
It would be easy to use just one test golf ball brand every year, but that inevitably leads to criticism for being too closely aligned to one manufacturer, especially if that brand’s equipment performs particularly well. To ensure fairness we like to switch manufacturers for the Top Gear test ball each year. For 2023 we’ve used the Srizon Z-Star.
The brand have just revealed their eighth-generation model, and Srixon General Manager Brian Schielke says “finding the right ball for your game is just as important as finding the right irons or driver, it’s the one piece of equipment you use on every single shot”.
Thanks to the previous Z-Star mopping up 31 wins across all tour global tours last year (that’s 15.5% of the wins available) we know the model is trusted by the world’s very best.
Why do we use a pro tester?
Speak to any golf club engineer about product testing and they all talk about needing a repeatable, reliable strike to offer any sort of valuable comparison. So, whilst we accept not all of the equipment included within our tests was designed for our test pro, what our data shows is a great comparison of how clubs in each particular category differ, which is hugely valuable in helping you narrow your choice as a consumer.
We tested 83 different 7-irons, during which our test pro missed a target green at 170 to 200 yards no more than a dozen times. He got a hole-in-one, lipped out, and hit the flag several times, he also loves hitting golf balls all day long. In short, Neil Wain is the perfect club tester due to his consistency in delivering accurate and reliable comparative data.
We would of course always recommend attending a proper fitting session, to ensure any purchase is tailored to your game.
See more about how TG tests golf clubs and other equipment.