What are the best players’ irons? Our test team put 23 models through their paces to find out which 2023 players iron is the best for low-handicap golfers.
Among the best golf irons are players’ irons are typically aimed at low handicappers to elite golfers. Whilst players’ irons aren’t generally quite as small and thin as blades, they’re not far off, but do tend to offer a little more forgiveness. Lots of tour pros opt for irons in the players’ category, appreciating the control and workability on offer. Major winners Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, and Shane Lowry all use players’ irons.
Best Players’ Irons:
If you strike your irons consistently well but want a little more distance, the best players’ distance irons might be a better fit for you. If you sometimes struggle a little with strike, you may prefer some of the best irons for mid handicaps. If you’re not sure what category of iron you should be considering, check out our test of all the best golf irons.
Best Players’ Irons 2023
A fantastic iron that can also be used as part of an excellent combo set.
The five-times forged heads of the Cobra King Tour irons feel super soft. There’s a tiny bit of tech built in, with variable depth milled pockets in the shallow cavity back, which add a fraction more playability on the long irons and increased flight control on the scoring clubs.
Like any good players’ iron, the head shape is really attractive and there are no awkward areas that unduly draw the eye; this is an understated model for decent players who are happy to let their golf do the talking.
Data tends to be less important within this category, as decisions are more often made on subjectives such as looks, sound and feel. That said, the Cobra King Tour iron does itself no harm by producing our joint-fastest ball speed (123.1mph – tied with the Titleist T100 S) and joint 2nd longest carry distance (177 yards – tied with the Titleist T100 S).
Cobra are now proper players in the forged iron market. The Cobra King Tour iron sits alongside the new King MB blade and tour-level CB, plus there’s a hollow body Forged Tec and Forged Tec X, all of which can be mix-and-matched to create your own perfect combo set. If you’re considering forged irons in 2023, make sure you check out Cobra’s cracking line-up.
Read our full Cobra King Tour iron review.
|Stock shaft:||KBS $-Taper|
Stability and distance in a beautiful package will help good golfers score better.
The TaylorMade P770 is tough to categorize, but thanks to its players’ profile (and weak 34° 7-iron loft), which TaylorMade cram with as much ball speed and forgiveness-enhancing tech as they can, we see this as the modern-day players’ iron. And if you’re happy to accept tech within the players’ iron arena, the TaylorMade P770 is just about as good as they come.
For those that question what hollow body constructions and thin fast faces bring to the party, comparing the P770 to TaylorMade’s P7MC gives a great explanation of what tech can do for the category. Thanks to tungsten weighting inside and a hollow body construction, the P770 irons have a slightly higher MOI, which is good for hitting straight shots, but less attractive for golfers who like shaping shots onto the flag.
In our test, the TaylorMade P770 produced a ball speed 0.8 mph faster than the same loft P7MC. Shots launched 0.6° higher, with a fraction less spin (341 RPM), yet peaked out higher (1 yard), and the ball hit the green at a steeper angle (0.4deg), whilst also adding 3 yards of additional carry distance. All seriously impressive stats that will help decent club golfers score a fraction better, more often. Whichever way you look at it, the TaylorMade P770 is a modern beauty and one of the best TaylorMade irons going.
Read our full TaylorMade P770 iron review.
|Stock shaft:||KBS Tour|
The forgiveness you expect from Ping, now in a package that looks and feels like a true 'better player' option.
Our test pro loved the feel and feedback and is happily playing a set in his own bag. Our test data has the model sat bang in and around our test averages on every metric barring shot area, where the i230 registered a dispersion area 33.6% tighter than our test average.
If you’ve been put off Ping irons before by a longer, boxy blade shape now is the time to reconsider. The i230 is a great-looking iron, and thanks to having elastomer supporting the whole back of the face, you can expect a forged-like feel and impact sound. It’s comfortably one of the best Ping irons available.
Make sure you exploit Ping’s brilliant fitting options.
Read our full Ping i230 iron review.
|Stock shaft:||True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 (s), Ping Alta CB Black (g)|
A beautiful iron that may even turn the heads of Mizuno devotees.
Golfers choosing irons within this category should never need to factor distance into their buying decision; if you are, you’re buying irons in the wrong category. That said, with a 32° 7-iron, the Srixon ZX7 is on the stronger side of the category, so the model will give nothing up in terms of speed and distance on the golf course.
We never thought we’d say it but Srixon’s thoroughly modern ZX MK II irons are now more than capable of giving Mizuno’s heritage and reputation-steeped models a serious run for their money on looks, feel and desirability.
At a time when muscle cavity irons are trending up on tour, the ZX7 will be very much at home in the hands of 8 handicappers and below. We love the model’s pure and simple straight-line beauty; there’s nothing here to not like or draw the eye, and the classic non-glare satin finish is just the perfect cherry on top. A gorgeous iron we wish we were good enough to play.
Read our full Srixon ZX7 MKII iron review.
|Stock shaft:||Nippon NS Pro Modus3 Tour|
Lots of clever technology packed into a head that feels about as good as anything out there.
PXG have come a very long way in a short period of time and so long as you don’t have firm beliefs that players’ irons can’t benefit from modern tech, the brand are an absolute must-consideration within the category. The PXG 0311 GEN5 T’s head shape, design and look are phenomenally good. We love how each iron is robotically polished to ensure shape consistency and you won’t hear or feel a better players’ iron on the market.
But for us, like with the other PXG GEN5 irons, the ability to try longer and shorter shafts, lighter and heavier swing weights without changing the center of gravity location is just out of this world good.
Yes, they’re expensive and not everyone will want to buy at this level, but if you’re looking for a great performing players’ iron, that’s utterly tailored to you and your game, the PXG 0311 GEN5 T is one of the best PXG irons and should not be overlooked.
Read our full PXG 0311 T GEN5 review.
|Stock shaft:||True Temper Elevate (s), Mitsubishi MMT (g)|
Very much a tour-level muscle cavity back iron, and compared to the newer and 2° weaker JPX923 Tour, the Mizuno Pro 223 generated 2.5mph more speed and five yards more carry, without giving up significant levels of backspin, shot height or descent angle. That’s why it’s still one of the best Mizuno irons and among our favorite players’ irons this year.
Read our full Mizuno Pro 223 iron review.
|Stock shaft:||Choose from 16 premium options|
|Stock shaft:||Vega Stellify|
Sub 70 659 CB Irons
From its relatively strong 32° 7-iron loft, the 659 was the fourth longest, with launch, spin, shot height and descent angle a fraction lower than our test averages.
Read our full Sub 70 659 CB iron review.
|Stock shaft:||KBS Tour|
Takomo 301 CB Irons
The Takomo 301 CB produced the tightest left-to-right dispersion (10.9 yards) of any players’ iron and the third-tightest shot area (10.9 square yards).
Only available from the brand’s US-based website.
|Stock shaft:||KBS Tour|
MORE Golf MOD/1 Irons
The MORE Golf MOD/1 also produced an average carry distance of 176 yards, just two yards behind the longest players’ iron in the test.
|Stock shaft:||KBS Tour|
Best Players’ Irons: The Test Data
How we tested the best players’ irons
We invited major equipment manufacturers to submit their entire iron 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.
– Which TaylorMade iron is right for me?
– Which Callaway iron is right for me?
– Which Mizuno iron is right for me?
– Which Ping Iron is right for me?
– Which Srixon/Cleveland iron is right for me?
– Which PXG iron is right for me?
BECOME A TODAY’S GOLFER MEMBER: Unlimited access to premium content and exclusive rewards!