Best Game Improvement Irons

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    SpecsCompare Prices
    Top Pick
    Callaway Mavrik Irons
    Lofts
    7i/27°, PW/41°
    Stock Shafts
    True Temper Elevate 95 (Steel)
    Project X Catalyst 55/65/75 (Graphite)

    Budget Option
    Cleveland Launcher CBX
    Lofts
    7i/30°, PW/44°
    Stock Shafts
    True Temper Dynamic Gold 98 (Steel)
    Miyazaki C Kua (Graphite)

    Best Super Game Improvement
    Wilson Staff D7 Irons
    Lofts
    7i/28°, PW/43°
    Stock Shafts
    KBS 80 (Steel)
    UST RECOIL 460 (Graphite)

    High-End Option
    Mizuno JPX919 Hot Metal Irons
    Lofts
    7i/30°, PW/45°
    Stock Shafts
    Nippon Modus 105 (Steel)

    Runner-Up
    Callaway Rogue X Irons
    Lofts
    7i/27°, PW/41°
    Stock Shafts
    KBS MAX 90 (Steel)

    Runner-Up
    TaylorMade SIM MAX Irons
    Lofts
    7i/28.5°, PW/43.5°
    Stock Shafts
    KBS Max 85 (Steel)
    Fujikra Ventus Blue (Graphite)


    You’ve been playing golf for a little bit now. Your scores have gone down, but are starting to plateau.

    You want to find a way to ensure your scores continue to trend South and have settled on upgrading your irons. Lucky for you, there’s a category of clubs out there called game improvement clubs.

    But not all of them are created equal, here are some of the best game improvement irons you can play.

    Top Pick | Callaway Mavrik Irons

    Callaway, as innovative as ever, designed Mavrik irons with the assistance of AI. Now this isn’t the movies, using AI to help design a golf club has an indisputable positive effect. This sophisticated design has forced us to abandon our idea of “custom” golf clubs, replacing it with what we have here.

    Top Pick

    Callaway Mavrik Irons

    The Mavrik Irons are the latest from Callaway and pack a lot of technology that helps get the ball flying high and far.

    Click below to check availability and compare prices…

    Mavrik irons have different face architecture for each club leading to increased ball speed and spin. Lower budget iron sets are made using a “one-size fits all” mindset, but recent advances in golf club design ensure that we get the most out of every swing. Gaining ball speed and spin without changing your swing allows you to increase control and distance. With other club sets, you have to a choice between the two.

    Pay attention to the lofts when you are buying and comparing irons. Some manufacturers (like Callaway) make their lofts stronger so you think you are hitting them further (when in reality the 6i just has the loft of a 5i). It’s all just a game they play for marketing. There’s no harm though if you make sure you are comparing comparable clubs, that’s why we try to list the lofts of the 7i and PW for every iron set we review.
    – Editor’s Note

    It’s a lot easier to fix ball marks instead of skid marks on the green. Fixing a deeper ball mark usually means that your ball is close by, somewhere on the green. With a skid mark, your ball has usually skipped across the green, leaving an ugly marking behind. Tungsten infused weights are specifically calculated to aid launch and ball flight, as well as the angles at which your shot lands. Having a unique, purposeful head weight for each club is yet another way that Mavrik irons elevate the gameplay of their user through equipment, not swing change.

    One other feature that makes Mavrik irons game improvement clubs are urethane microspheres, added to absorb vibrations from poor contact. Even though you’ll remember that last bad shot, you won’t have to feel it.

    Pros

    Unparalleled infusion of technology
    Elevated COR (easily gain distance)

    Cons

    Varying club weights could lead to “learning curve”

    Budget Option | Cleveland Golf 2018 Launcher CBX

    The Cleveland Launcher CBX irons did not make our list because of their long irons. These irons are on our list because of the wedges. We’re not saying that the long irons are lacking in any way (they’re pretty awesome too), but wedge spin technology on shorter clubs elevate this set a clear level above other game improvement irons.

    Cleveland Launcher CBX Irons

    Giving you tremendous bang for the buck, the Cleveland Launcher CBX Irons offer a lot of help on off-center hits while not breaking the bank. These are a great option for a player that loves to play but isn’t quite ready to invest a ton of money into their gear.

    Click below to check availability and compare prices…

    Cleveland uses progressive shaping to make each club easy to hit. Since you aren’t taking the same swing with every club, it makes sense to vary head shape since you will be attacking from different angles. CBX long irons are thicker on top, but have a lower bottom profile that helps to add distance. CBX short irons are on the compact side. They are shaped in a way that cuts through grass for added control, even on those half shots that cause so many golfers trouble.

    Consistency with long irons is one of the most difficult aspects of golf for mid and high handicappers to master. Hitting these clubs off the tee isn’t too bad thanks to near-perfect circumstances, but shots from the rough and fairway are where most struggle. Irons 4-7 use a launcher cup face that flexes at impact, adding ball speed and consequently, distance. Additionally, when the club face flexes, it adds more energy to the ball so even off-center hits travel well.

    Launcher CBX irons feature a microcavity in the hosel that pushes the sweet spot to the true center of the club face. Think about a dart board, the bullseye gets you the most points, but landing a shot in the immediate vicinity is a good miss. The same concept translates to game improvement irons and a centered sweet spot. Since you aren’t going to make square contact each time, having a safety net beyond the immediate center does great things for your confidence.

    Pros

    Uses Dual V Sole grind which have made Cleveland wedges so successful
    Different design for long and short clubs for easy ball flight

    Cons

    “Weaker” lofts could cut down on distance

    Best Super Game Improvement | Wilson Staff D7 Irons

    I’ve been making it a habit to put Wilson clubs in every article I’ve been writing lately. It all started last year when I went to a golf show and wandered over to the club demo area and noticed that the Wilson booth had no line. Rather than wait to hit clubs from the typical top brands, I gave Wilson a shot and could not have been more impressed with their new clubs. Bottom line, Wilson deserves considerably more shine than it gets, especially in the Super Game Improvement category.

    Wilson Staff D7 Irons

    From Wilson, a company that was once a bigger name in golf and probably deserves more attention than they currently are getting, the D7 Irons are close to playing a hybrid on every club but still giving you most of the look and feel of irons. Great option for the player that needs a lot of help with height, distance, and off-center hits.

    Click below to check availability and compare prices…

    When you look at a Wilson D7 iron (or most Wilson’s these days), it’s hard to ignore the power holes spread across the bottom flange. You’ll also notice that short irons have fewer power holes than long irons. Yes—this is on purpose.

    It took a bit of digging, but that rationale behind power hole technology is related to the idea of FLX face technology, now called RE-AKT.  The holes separate the face from the body of the club head allowing it flex at impact. For longer clubs, this means increased distance. For shorter clubs, it helps with weight distribution and feel.

    Among super game improvement clubs, the Wilson D7 irons have some of the thinnest faces around. This provides even more immediate feedback, helping you to determine what went right with your swing (or what needs to change). On the whole, these might be super game improvement clubs, but they provide a level of responsiveness that is hard to find elsewhere.

    Pros

    Similar technology to top Wilson models, but easier to hit
    No more power lines on top line of club head

    Cons

    Power holes could prove to be an aesthetic distraction for some

    High End Option | Mizuno JPX919 Hot Metal Irons

    Golf is a game of confidence. Touch, feel, sound—all these factors go into driving your self-confidence, yet none incorporate any real physical design aspect. Surprising to non-golfers, these are amongst the most important considerations for buying clubs. Mizuno has done their best to incorporate a little bit everything, including aesthetics and sound. Even more impressive, they have made sure overall technology matches the performance golfers are used to.

    Mizuno JPX919 Hot Metal Irons

    The JPX Hot Metal Irons combine the classic design aesthetic and buttery soft feel that Mizuno irons are known for with a lot more game improvement technology than Mizuno usually puts in their irons. These are great for the discerning player that is ready to spend a few extra dollars for a great experience of playing with Mizunos.

    Click below to check availability and compare prices…

    The Mizuno JPX919 irons feature re-engineered sound ribs designed to deliver satisfying vibration patterns. How they pull that off is a major technical accomplishment (and mystery to me), but provides an immeasurable benefit. Look good, feel good, play good—right?

    One issue that plagues those in the market for game improvement irons is having hard time getting through the ball, especially in the rough. Mizuno’s solution to this problem is implementing a beveled trailing edge to reduce turf drag and keep the club square through contact. By decreasing resistance, you’ll also be able to keep club head speed up and better control your shots.

    Most of the JPX919 construction is centered around stability and consistency, as are most game improvement irons. A major contributing factor to achieving this is a one-piece head. This helps to provide direct feedback and increase feel. Another major factor is the stability frame, which is open at the heel. The openness helps launch angle, ultimately improving ball shape and finding a consistent flight. If you know what to expect, you can prepare.

    Pros

    Pearl brush finish prevents glare on sunny days
    Milled grooves on wedges

    Cons

    Steel shaft only
    Steep loft transition as you get lower

    Runner-Up | Callaway Golf 2020 Rogue X Irons

    This might have lost out as the outright winner for best budget option, but I see it more as a 1-b than a runner up. In years past, Callaway has had so much success with the Rogue series that they continue to produce this iron set, despite having intended to replace it with the Mavrik series. As such, the price has never been better for a premium line of golf clubs.

    Callaway Rogue X Irons

    Another great option for the budget minded golfer, the Callaway Rogue X Irons are the forgotten little brother to the heavily marketed Mavriks. But they still pack a lot of game improvement punch and are closer to the premium models than you would think.

    Click below to check availability and compare prices…

    Callaway does a fantastic job in positioning the center of gravity in the Rogue clubs. Thanks to the help of tungsten weights, the sweet spot is centered, but placement has been slightly altered for each club. By paying attention to the lofts of each club, you’ll be able to hit higher pitches with wedges and smooth, arching shots with long irons.

    Keeping in theme with each club being specially designed, Rogue irons feature variable face thickness. Even on each iron there is not a blanket-level of thickness. This means that face is more responsive and hits off-center do not sacrifice as much distance as you would expect. While it is not visible, there is a flexible rim that runs around the perimeter. This is the portion of the club face that physically flexes and provides the extra kick down the fairway.

    As a distance-focused club set, you’ll be able to club down, or even take a little off your normal choice in exchange for added accuracy. Maybe this is because they’re game improvement irons, but Callaway seems to expect excessive vibrations with some swings. Maybe they’re trying to tell us something, I don’t know. To combat the issue, they use elastic-urethane microspheres (similar to the coating on golf balls) to reduce vibrations. Even with the added layer of coating, there is no trade off with ball speed.

    Pros

    Large sweet spot, all contact is good contact
    Built for distance

    Cons

    Likely last model in Rogue line
    Low spin control

    Runner-Up | TaylorMade SIM MAX Irons

    Even without branding, TaylorMade SIM MAX irons can easily be identified by two unique markings; a speed pocket on the bottom flange and a speed bridge across the back. Thankfully for all of you, I’ve resisted throwing in a corny need for speed cliché here. To cut to the point, swing speed is naturally elevated with SIM MAX clubs making them textbook game improvement irons.

    TaylorMade SIM MAX Irons

    With a focus on improving swing speed and a somewhat large chunky design, the TaylorMade SIM MAX irons are closer to a super game-improvement iron. But whatever you call them, they deliver on distance and forgiveness.

    Click below to check availability and compare prices…

    The speed pocket on the bottom of the head separates club face from sole, creating a “free-floating” face. This unique design prepares the club to absorb vibrations and bend freely to provide consistent accuracy. Working towards the same objective, the speed bridge ensures stability and increased distance. Put these things together and the idea is you’ll be hitting more greens in regulation, and bringing your score down as collateral damage.

    Apologies to the lefties in the crowd before we start, but just flip this next part around to fit you. TaylorMade has identified missing right as the most common type of errant shot on the links. As a counteractive measure, SIM MAX long irons have been engineered with a draw bias by placing the sweet spot closer to the toe. As you move down the ladder towards short irons, the center of gravity progressively centers itself, giving you added control.

    SIM MAX irons aren’t necessarily boxy, but the sole is pretty wide. This shape has allowed TaylorMade to increase club face surface area, which in turn provides more stability. As big as the flat surface is, it is about equally thin. At 1.5mm thick, the club face is responsive, yet powerful. This combination allows you to add distance with each club while providing feedback through vibrations and sound.

    Pros

    Forged-like feel and low vibrations
    Low center of gravity helps ball flight

    Cons

    Speed bridge and tunnel make it difficult to keep clean

    What Are Game Improvement Irons?

    Game improvement irons are specifically so that when the ball is hit slightly off center, the negative effects are not as severe. Additionally, GI irons make it so that those terrible shots aren’t so terrible.

    To accomplish this, golf club manufacturers have found ways to spread weight evenly across the club face. Essentially proper weight distribution enlarges the sweet spot. The rationale behind this is that golfers using game improvement clubs also need a bit more help finding the center of the club. An increased likelihood of connecting at the sweet spot means straighter and longer shots.

    Expanding a little bit on weight distribution, game improvement irons can often be identified by their “cavity back.” Their weight of their counterpart, blade irons, is concentrated on the center. Because of this they have a small, but powerful sweet spot. For mid and high-handicap golfers, hitting each shot perfectly square is unrealistic and the exact reason why game improvement irons exist. This doubles for shots from the rough.

    Larger flanges and club heads on GI irons provide an opportunity for club designers to add some aesthetic flair. For one, the larger head size inspires confidence. Secondly, doesn’t prefer a good-looking club to something less appealing?

    This image shows all the tech inside the TaylorMade SIM Max irons that help you hit the ball better.

    Who Should Use Game Improvement Irons?

    If you’re a scratch golfer (or even a single digit handicap), chances are that your ball striking is so accurate and consistent you do not need the extra assistance provided by game improvement irons. For everyone else, you’re going to want to go ahead and take any help you can get. To narrow things down, GI irons are best suited for players with handicaps from 12-25, but that range is certainly fluid.

    When you’re at the point in your golf career where you regularly make solid, but not perfect contact on every swing, game improvement irons are something you should be interested in. GI irons are designed to promote consistency in terms of accuracy and distance. If you’ve ever been out playing with your buddies and gotten the “you really got ahold of that one” compliment, you probably want to be able to make that type of contact with each swing. Game improvement irons are not a final solution, but help quite a bit.

    Game improvement irons are also a logical next step from golfers who have graduated from beginner box sets and want to invest in equipment to continue improving. With the right irons, it could be enough to get from 100 to 90, or 90 to 80.

    What to Look for When Choosing Game Improvement Irons

    Forgiveness

    Game improvement implies that there are aspects of your game you acknowledge need to be improved. It also means you make plenty of mistakes on the course. To help yourself out, you’re going to want to find a set of clubs as forgiving as possible.

    At this point in your golf “career” solid contact is not as big of an obstacle as it once was, but accuracy is more challenging. With a forgiving set of clubs, smaller mistakes are neutralized and bad swings won’t lead to catastrophic results.

    Progression of Help

    If you started playing with a box set, or use an older set of clubs, you are not taking advantage of the technical advances of recent years. Don’t get me wrong, in order to get the best set of clubs for your game you will have to spend some money. Game improvement irons are far from the most expensive clubs on the market, but compared to the lowest budget clubs can be costly.

    When you spend a little extra money, you are essentially getting custom clubs designed for a player of your caliber and in need of a boost. The right game improvement clubs will have varying designs for long and short irons. Having clubs that are not all made from the same mold means that each iron has been specifically designed for the type of shot you typically hit with it. This also doubles as the design being focused to eliminate general obstacles such as getting long irons off the ground or a lack of control with short irons.

    Added Distance and Control

    The best game improvement irons will help you add distance AND control. Being able to gain one without the other is nice, but often times improving one of these comes at the expense of the other. If you can add both of them together, your scores get lower—case closed.

    When you’re able to add even just a little bit of distance and control, it has a snowball effect on your game. Instead of hitting a 7 iron, you can hit an 8. Rather than having to lay up, because of distance or a tight landing area, you can take a controlled risk that lets you pull out your putter instead a wedge. This is usually accomplished with a flexible club face and an even weight distribution that leads to an expanded sweet spot range.

    Common Questions

    Should I get steel or graphite shafts on my game improvement irons?

    Unpopular answer, but shaft choice boils down to personal preference. In general, steel shafts are associated with more skilled players, and graphite is seen as more for beginners.

    Graphite shafts are more expensive, and lighter than steel shafts. With the lighter weight, your swing speed is faster, and in turn, distance is increased. Steel shafts are more responsive and provide better feedback on the contact you’ve made.

    In terms of durability, steel shafts are less likely to break than graphite shafts. Most players with faster swing speeds prefer steel shafts because they are better suited to support their up-tempo game.

    Should I get game improvement or super game improvement irons?

    The question above can also be phrased, “Do I need some help?” or “Do I need a lot of help?” After some self-reflection, you should be able to determine if you can get by with game improvement irons, or if you need super game improvement irons.

    Game improvement irons have smaller cavities than super game improvement irons. The slimmer club face makes it easier to cut through the air and increase swing speed. Super game improvement irons have larger club faces and are designed to further reduce the negative effects of poor contact and low swing speed.

     Why don’t pros use game improvement irons?

    Professional golfers prefer to not use game improvement irons because it is more difficult to shape shots and alter ball flight than with blades. While it is not impossible to draw, cut and fade GI irons, club design makes it harder to do so as dramatically.

    Since pros don’t usually hit straight shots, they prefer having the capacity to bend shots as they please. Most of their decision to not hit a shot straight is based on placement for the next shot.

    A growing trend, however, is for pros to use a split set. For their long irons, they use game improvement clubs, but blades for the rest.

    Can pros use game improvement irons?

    Long story short, yes. While they probably aren’t playing the exact same clubs as you (shafts are important), pro golfers often fill their bags with a variety of clubs, some of which fall under the game improvement category.

    When he’s not winning Blake of the Year, Brooks Koepka is busy winning golf tournaments. Brooks plays Mizuno JPX 919 Tour irons, a variation of the very same JPX 919’s you’re seeing in our guide today.

    Until mid-2019, Jordan Spieth always carried Titleist AP2 irons. Last year he made the switch to Titleist T100’s. Although his replacements are not blades, the AP2’s fit more comfortably in the game improvement category.

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