The Most Forgiving Irons

most forgiving irons

If you’re a highly skilled golfer who consistently finds the sweet spot on almost every shot, this article is not for you.  But if you’re a golfer who doesn’t always make center-face contact, or if you’re a player who needs irons that are easy to hit, and that provide a higher ball flight and increased carry distance, you’ve come to the right place.

The common denominator for these golfers is a desire for golf clubs that will make the game more enjoyable and that won’t punish their mishits quite so severely.  In a word, what they’re looking for are game-improvement irons that are “forgiving.” 

In this article, we’re going to describe the kinds of features that are incorporated into an iron’s design that make them “forgiving” and, for those in the market for new irons, we’re going to offer our top picks for the most forgiving irons you can buy.

Highly Recommended

TaylorMade Sim 2 Max OS irons

TaylorMade Sim 2 Max OS

  • Very forgiving
  • Easy to launch
  • Solid Feel
  • Super Game Improvement Irons

Game Improvement vs. Super Game Improvement

For marketing purposes, the industry has created various iron categories as a way to differentiate the target markets for particular clubs.

For example, irons that are designed specifically for highly skilled, low-handicap players are referred to as “Players” clubs.  At the other end of the spectrum, irons that target higher-handicappers are referred to as either “Game Improvement” clubs or “Super Game Improvement” clubs.  

Both the Game Improvement and the Super Game Improvement models are designed to be much easier to hit by offering a lot of forgiveness and by basically doing a lot of the work for you.  The main difference between the two is simply in the degree to which the design offers help to the golfer, with Super Game Improvement clubs providing the maximum amount of help. 

Since our recommendations are for the most forgiving irons, the picks that we’ve made come primarily from the Super Game Improvement category. 

Our Top Recommendations –  The Most Forgiving Irons

We’ve assessed the market for the best irons in this category, and we’re providing our top picks for you below.  Following these recommendations, we’ve included a section identifying and describing the specific features that club designers engineer into irons to make them “forgiving.”  All of our top picks incorporate those design features.

Quick Answers: Forgiving Irons

1. TaylorMade SIM2 Max OS  

SIM 2 Max OS iron

The prior model to the SIM2 Max OS — last year’s SIM Max OS — was an extremely successful and popular release for TaylorMade.  With this latest version, they’ve taken it to the next level.  The TaylorMade SIM2 Max OS irons have proven to be a noticeable improvement over their predecessor.  

TaylorMade has carried forward all of the most effective features of the original SIM line, but they’ve applied all of their technological expertise to build in new design modifications that further enhance the overall forgiveness, distance, feel and ease of use that high-handicappers are looking for. 

The SIM2 line has two models: the standard Max and the Max OS (which stands for Over Size).  For our higher handicap players, we recommend the slightly larger Max OS version.  The overall profile of the OS is a bit larger, and the lofts are slightly stronger.

Features:

  • One of the keys to the SIM2 Max OS is the multi-material cap design that TaylorMade has implemented on the back of the club head.  For this cap design, they used high-strength stainless steel with ultralight polymers to lower the center-of-gravity, which provides an easier launch and maximizes the distance, forgiveness and feel.

Smartly, they extended this cap to span the entire cavity, which also serves to increase the head’s stability at impact (much less vibration).

  • They still employ the innovative Thru-Slot Speed Pocket on the club head’s sole, a unique feature that they’ve had on prior models, which lets the face flex more, in a trampoline-like effect.  This results in increased ball speeds off the face, and that means greater distance.
  • TaylorMade has also improved their Echo Damping System, which gives the club a softer, yet more solid, feel.
TaylorMade Sim 2 Max OS iron

Bottom line:  The TaylorMade SIM2 Max OS is a very easy-to-hit iron targeted at higher-handicap players.  It’s one of the most forgiving irons on the market, and it’s a high-launching Super Game Improvement iron that will do a lot of the work for you.

Specs:

Who are TaylorMade SIM2 Max OS irons recommended for?Designed for high handicappers and for those who could benefit from a golf club that does much of the work for you.
Available Irons4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW, GW, SW, LW
Finish OptionsChrome 
Stock ShaftsKBS Max 85 MT SteelFujikura Ventus Blue Graphite
Shaft Flex OptionsSteel:  Reg or Stiff | Graphite:  Senior (A), Regular, or Stiff
Stock GripLamkin Crossline 360
OrientationRight and left hand versions available (RH-only on Lob Wedge)

2. Callaway Big Bertha B21 

Callaway Big Bertha B21 iron

The “Big Bertha” brand has been part of Callaway’s legacy for decades.  It was introduced initially back in 1991 when Ely Callaway chose the name for the new driver they were introducing that year (which was borrowed from the name of a German World War I howitzer), and Callaway subsequently also used the name for several iterations of irons, the first of which was released in 1994.

We can tell you this with certainty:  today’s Callaway Big Bertha B21 iron is not your father’s Big Bertha!  Like the uber-successful Callaway Epic and Mavrik clubs that preceded it, the B21 irons are the first Big Bertha model to be designed using Artificial Intelligence (AI), and they make use of the latest high tech features and space age materials.

Callaway Big Bertha B21 Iron Back

This is a Super Game Improvement iron that Callaway says is “designed for the player who wants fast ball speeds, high launch, straight shots, and a new level of confidence.”

Features:

  • A byproduct of the AI design process, the B21 uses what Callaway calls a “Flash Face Cup” which makes the face much hotter for higher ball speeds (i.e., more distance).
  • Like other Game Improvement irons, Callaway has moved the center-of-gravity (CG) lower in the club head with the addition of extra tungsten weighting.  This deeper CG makes it effortless to launch the ball on a high trajectory.
  • You’ll notice immediately the substantially wider sole of the Big Bertha B21 iron.  Not only does this automatically give you added confidence as you stand over the ball, but the wider sole also results in better turf interaction (translation: fewer fat shots!). 
Callaway Big Bertha B21 Irons

Bottom line:  If you’re a high handicap golfer, or a golfer who may not have the swing speed that you used to have, the Big Bertha could be your answer.  You’ll get a lot more forgiveness and you’ll definitely see a higher ball flight and increased distance.

Specs:

Who are Callaway Big Bertha B21 irons recommended for?Designed for high handicappers and for those who don’t have enough swing speed to generate a high ball flight.
Available Irons4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW, GW, SW, LW
Finish OptionsChrome 
Stock ShaftsKBS Max CT80 SteelCallaway RCH Graphite
Shaft Flex OptionsSteel:  Reg or StiffGraphite:  Light, Regular, or Stiff
Stock GripGolf Pride Tour Velvet 360 Soft
OrientationRight and left hand versions available (RH-only on Lob Wedge)

3. Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo Irons

Cleveland launcher HB Turbo Iron

Do you find that your hybrids are a lot easier to hit than your irons?  If so, you’re not alone.  Many high handicappers have found that their hybrids tend to launch the ball higher and are a lot more forgiving than their irons.   

If you’re one of those golfers, you may be excited to learn about the unique Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo irons.  They are an iron that looks and plays like a hybrid!  In fact, calling them an “iron” is a bit of a stretch.  They’re actually a “hybrid iron” and they are without a doubt one of the easiest to hit and most forgiving clubs on the market.

To prove the point, some researchers conducted launch monitor testing to see just how forgiving these clubs are compared to others.  What the test showed was that, when a mishit occurs, the drop-off in ball speed and carry distance was the smallest with the Launcher HB Turbo clubs.  In other words, their performance on mishits was almost as good as with center-face hits, and was much better than with mishits on any other irons.

That is the very definition of forgiveness.

Features:

  • Hollow head, hybrid-like design offers incredible forgiveness and a turbocharged face for very fast ball speeds. 
  • Even though the hybrid look remains constant throughout the set, they do have a “progressive” shaping from the long irons to the short irons.  As you move to the short irons, the blade lengths become shorter and the toplines narrow.
  • The center of gravity has been pushed deep into the base of the iron.  That’s why it’s so easy to produce high ball flights with these clubs. 

Bottom line:  The “hybrid iron” design of these Super Game Improvement clubs may not suit everyone’s taste.  But if you’re a golfer who has much more confidence in your hybrids than in your irons, you may wonder why someone didn’t think of this ingenious design sooner. 

Specs:

Who are Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo irons recommended for?Designed for high handicappers and for those who prefer the look and performance of a hybrid.
Available Irons4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW, D, SW
Finish OptionsChrome 
Stock ShaftsDynamic Gold DST 98 SteelMiyazaki C. Kua 60 Graphite
Shaft Flex OptionsSteel:  RegularGraphite:  Ladies, Senior, or Regular
Stock GripLamkin 360 
OrientationRight and left hand versions available  (SW only avail. in RH)

4. Cobra T-Rail Combo Set 

Cobra T-Rail Irons

For those of you who have been golfers for a long time, you may remember that Cobra was the first company to come out with a “utility wood.”  Today we call them hybrids.  The year was 1975 and that innovative club that Cobra introduced was called the “Baffler.”  They were obviously way ahead of their time.

What made the Baffler so unique and so effective was the inclusion of a pair of “rails” on the bottom of the sole, the purpose of which was to allow the club to slide more smoothly through the turf, from any type of lie.  The Baffler is still regarded as one of the most important and groundbreaking golf club releases ever.

Well, the rails are back.  Cobra has introduced a new line of irons utilizing that original breakthrough rail technology (this time on every club in the set), which they fittingly call their “T-Rail” irons.  The Cobra T-Rail irons are a Super Game Improvement set, designed in the popular hybrid-iron style, that is all about forgiveness and distance.

Features:

  • The mini hybrid-like head is a hollow design that fortifies an extremely fast and springy face.  This creates high ball speeds and impressive distance.
  • With a low-and-deep center of gravity, made possible by the addition of a very wide sole, the T-Rail irons make it very easy to produce high ball flights.
  • As mentioned above, the innovative rails incorporated into the sole ensure that you’ll be able to get out of any lie, and will almost eliminate all fat shots.
  • If there was an award for looks, the T-Rails would definitely be in the running for it.  These are beautiful clubs with a stunning black finish accented by blue markings.  They’ll definitely give you some serious “bag appeal.”

Bottom line:  The Cobra T-Rail hybrid-irons are a gorgeous set of Super Game Improvement clubs that address all of the biggest concerns of high-handicappers:  maximum forgiveness, added distance, high ball flights, and smooth turf interaction.  You should note that the price of the T-Rails is a bit higher than on our other recommended models, but for those who are OK with that, you’ll be rewarded with an A+ set of clubs.  

Specs:

Who are Cobra T-Rail irons recommended for?Designed for high handicappers and for those who need a distance boost or those who are troubled by the occasional fat shot.
Available Irons4-Hybrid, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW
Finish OptionsBlack, with blue accenting  
Stock ShaftsStock shaft:  Cobra Ultralight GraphiteSteel available as a custom order
Shaft Flex OptionsGraphite:  Lite, Regular or StiffSteel:  Regular or Stiff
Stock GripLamkin REL Midsize – Black 
OrientationRight and left hand versions available  

5. Wilson Launch Pad Irons

Wilson Launch Pad Iron

There are some similarities between the Wilson Launch Pad irons and the Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo irons and the Cobra T-Rail irons that we recommended above.  They are all what are called a “hybrid iron,” where the club head shares the traits of both an iron and a hybrid.

But, although similar, there is a key difference between them.  On the Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo, for example, the hybrid head design tends to look just a bit more like a hybrid than a standard iron.  However, the Wilson Launch Pad design makes the club head look slightly more like an iron (a “meaty” one, to be sure) than a hybrid.

What you get with the Launch Pad is what looks like a normal iron face, with a large hybrid-like mass behind it. 

The Launch Pad irons are also at the extreme high end of the forgiveness scale, with a large profile that makes hitting shots a lot easier than with more standard irons.  These are a Super Game Improvement club that are designed to make golf more fun.

Features:

  • You can readily see that Wilson has made the sole of the Launch Pad iron extremely wide.  Wide soles like this accomplish a couple things.  First, they move the weight lower down in the head, and that deeper center-of-gravity gets the ball up in the air much more easily.  

But it also helps to prevent the club’s leading edge from digging into the ground, so you’ll find that you’ll have far better ball striking with far fewer fat shots.  In fact, Wilson published research that showed that fat shots are reduced by 73% with the Launch Pad irons!

  • The heads on the Launch Pad irons have a hollow design, which is a feature that increases the speed of the ball off the face, while maintaining a stable and solid feel.
  • As with the Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo hybrid-iron, the Launch Pad features a progressive head shaping where the longer the iron, the wider the sole and the greater the mass behind the face.  

Bottom line:  If you’re a higher handicapper who struggles with getting the high ball flight you’d like due to a lower swing speed, then the Wilson Launch Pad could be the perfect iron for you.  With its unique hybrid-iron design, it’s made for distance and it’s made to be extremely forgiving.  Isn’t that what all high handicappers want?

Specs:

Who are Wilson Launch Pad irons recommended for?Designed for high handicappers and for those who struggle with consistent center-face contact.
Available Irons4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW, GW, SW
Finish OptionsChrome face, with matte-black on the rear  
Stock ShaftsKBS Tour 80 SteelUST Mamiya Recoil 460 Graphite
Shaft Flex OptionsSteel:  Regular or StiffGraphite:  Women’s, Senior or Regular
Stock GripWilson Staff Crossline Black – Mid 
OrientationRight and left hand versions available  

6. Tour Edge Hot Launch E521 Iron-Wood

Tour Edge E521 Iron Wood

Historically, Tour Edge has tended to fly a little under the radar.  They’ve been making very high-quality clubs for many years, with all of the features and performance of the more well-known brands, but they marketed their clubs with an advertising budget that didn’t quite match that of most of their big-name competitors.

But in the past couple of years, due primarily to their growing popularity on the PGA Senior Tour, their recognition has grown significantly and they’re starting to get some of the respect that they deserve.  That respect will grow even more with the release of this new line of Super Game Improvement “iron-woods.”

Tour Edge is directly targeting the high handicap golfer with the HL E521’s, which are an interesting blend of an iron and a wood.  Much like Cleveland Golf and Wilson have done with their “hybrid irons” (which we profiled above), Tour Edge has made a club that looks like a mini-hybrid and is designed to be confidence-inspiring at address with its beefy profile.  It’s also very easy to hit and you’ll be happy with its high ball flight. 

Features:

  • The most defining feature of the Tour Edge HL E521 Iron is its wide, angled sole.  Tour Edge calls this the “Houdini Sole,” and for good reason.  Its unique shape is designed to let golfers escape from all kinds of lies easily.  But its primary goal is to dramatically improve turf interaction.  The sole design allows the head to cut smoothly through the ground without digging in, so that fat shots become a thing of the past.
  • With all of the weight that they’ve moved to the bottom of the club, getting the ball up in the air is a cinch.
  • You’ll notice that there is a fair amount of offset where the hosel meets the club head.  This is a great feature for high handicappers, as it allows them to square the club more easily at impact, which makes slices less likely.
Tour Edge E521 Iron Heel

Bottom line:  Do you struggle with getting a high enough trajectory?  Are you tormented by the dreaded fat shot?  If so, you should give the Hot Launch E521 iron-woods a serious look.  These clubs are extremely easy to hit and will make the game a lot more fun. 

Specs:

Who are Tour Edge HL E521 iron-woods recommended for?Designed for high handicappers and for those who simply want to  have more fun by letting the club do all of the heavy lifting..
Available Irons3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW, AW
Finish OptionsChrome face, with matte-black on the rear  
Stock ShaftsKBS Max 80 SteelMitsubishi Fubuki HD Graphite
Shaft Flex OptionsSteel and Graphite:  Ladies, Senior (A), Regular and Stiff
Stock GripLamkin Z5 
OrientationRight and left hand versions available  

Which Features Should You Look For in Forgiving Irons?  What Makes an Iron “Forgiving?”

By definition, a forgiving iron is one that lessens the negative effects of a shot that isn’t hit precisely on the sweet spot.  

Typically, less skilled or higher handicap golfers are inconsistent in where on the club face they strike the ball, hitting some shots out toward the toe and others in toward the heel.  The result of these kinds of off-center hits?  With a traditional iron that wasn’t designed with forgiveness in mind, the ball will fly a much shorter distance and will often be offline as well.  Many of you have those kinds of irons in your bag today.

But by using an iron that has been made to be forgiving, those same mishits will be penalized far less severely, and you’ll often see results that are almost as good as if you had made solid, center-face contact.  Clearly, these are the kinds of irons that higher handicappers should be using.

Here are the five design features that combine to make an iron forgiving, and are the ones you should be looking for if you fit this profile of golfer:

Cavity back design with perimeter weighting  

In contrast to a blade design (sometimes referred to as “muscleback”), the cavity back iron is distinguished by the way that the rear of the club head is hollowed out, with that excess weight then being redistributed to the outer edges of the club.  The effect of this perimeter weighting is to effectively expand the size of the sweet spot, making the club more forgiving.

In recent years, some club designers have begun altering this cavity-back design by incorporating a “cap” that is placed over the cavity which creates, in effect, a hollow design.  Although these irons still make use of perimeter weighting, these exterior caps camouflage the cavity.  In most cases, these caps are not just aesthetic additions, though.  They also provide a medium to alter the center of gravity and to increase head stability. 

Weight moved lower in the club head and toward the rear 

Whenever the center of gravity is positioned lower and deeper in the head, the result is an iron that gets the ball up in the air more easily.

Thicker topline and wider sole  

Iron heads that have a larger overall profile (more mass) make the club more stable at impact and easier to hit.  They also offer the intangible benefit of giving the high handicapper some additional confidence when they stand over the ball.

Offset  

Offset is a design feature in which the hosel is positioned slightly in front of the face of the clubhead, so that the clubface appears to be set back a little from where the hosel meets the head.  This offset gives golfers a fraction of a second longer to be able to square the face at impact for better contact, and can therefore improve the accuracy of the shot and reduce the amount of sidespin (slices).

High Moment-of-Inertia (MOI)  

MOI describes the amount to which a clubface will resist twisting when the ball is hit somewhere other than on the sweet spot.  The higher the MOI, the more the iron will remain stable through impact even with those mishits. 

To summarize, super game improvement irons, because of the features described above, offer the following benefits to high handicap golfers:  maximum forgiveness, confidence-inspiring aesthetics, higher trajectories and greater distance, exceptional club head stability at impact, and better turf interaction.

All of the models that we selected for you as our top recommendations incorporate these features. 

Golf Irons

Conclusion

Golf is a game that is meant to be fun.  But struggling with mishits, not being able to get the kind of trajectory you’d like, and being disappointed with the carry distance you’re generating, all detract from that objective.

It may be that your current irons are a big part of the problem.  If they don’t offer you the kind of help that you need, you’re going to continue to struggle and have difficulty getting better.  

So if you’re currently carrying a high handicap and want to see a big improvement in your game, then you owe it to yourself to get irons that were specifically designed to make the game easier and more enjoyable for you. The Super Game Improvement irons that we recommended above will do that. They are the most forgiving irons on the market…and they’ll make you a better golfer.


Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Disclaimer: We hope you love the products we recommend. Our recommendations are impartial and based on our own experience. We may collect a small commission from qualifying purchases made through the links on this page. There is no additional cost to you. Thank you for reading Simple Golf Path!