Most Forgiving Irons 2023
After testing dozens of popular forgiving and game improvement-style clubs, we found the Taylormade Stealth irons to be the best for forgiveness, higher launch, and maximum ball speed.
This honest and unbiased review evaluates some of the most forgiving irons in the market today. If you feel like your game and scores could benefit from some more forgiving iron options, this is the equipment breakdown for you.
All the irons in this post will increase your carry distances and provide a controllable and reliable ball flight to help you perform your best on the golf course.
OUR TOP PICK
Taylormade Stealth Irons
Cobra AEROJET Irons
Cleveland Launcher XL
8 Most Forgiving Irons 2023
- Taylormade Stealth Irons (Best Overall)
- Cobra AEROJET Irons (Best for Moderate Swing Speeds)
- Cleveland Launcher XL (Best for Low Ball Speed Players)
- Cobra T-Rail Combo Set (Best Hybrid-Style Irons)
- Wilson Launch Pad Irons (Best for High Launch)
- Srixon ZX4 Irons (Best for Trajectory)
- Callaway Rogue ST MAX OS Irons (Best for Ball Speeds)
- Mizuno JPX923 Hot Metal Irons (Best Landing Angles)
1. Taylormade Stealth Irons - Best Overall
The Stealths are perfect golf irons for new golfers or mid to high-handicap players looking to refine their game. While the TaylorMade Stealth driver has garnered the most attention out of the lineup, we firmly believe the Stealth irons are worth your attention as the most forgiving irons of 2023. In our testing, we found the Stealth Irons to be more forgiving, longer, and have a better feel than the preceding generation SIM 2 Max’s.
Features and Benefits
“Cap Back Design”: An all-new “Cap Back Design” with “toe wrap construction” was designed to improve face flexibility and increase ball speeds, eclipsing the performance of previous generations of TaylorMade game-improvement irons.
Echo Damping System: Hidden inside the Cap Back Design is an Echo Dampening System that spans from the heel to the toe to absorb unwanted vibrations and improve the feel and feedback to the user’s hands in the process.
High Launch Design: By removing mass from the toe and placing it lower in the sole, TaylorMade engineers were able to position the Center of Gravity to promote higher launch angles and peak heights for longer carry distances and greater stopping power.
Updated Look: Inspired by the all-new look of the Stealth drivers, the Stealth Irons, with their rounded “toe wrap,” has a wide enough look to inspire confidence in mid to higher handicap players while still providing excellent bag appeal with their carbon fiber accents.
In terms of distance potential and raw ball speed, the TaylorMade Stealth irons are practically unbeatable. We expected the lower lofts than standard would negatively affect the launch, but that was far from the case. The TaylorMade Stealth irons feature a greater stopping power than the Taylormade SIM Max 2 Irons while simultaneously providing greater distance and a higher ball flight.
We found the Stealth’s face to be exceptionally forgiving, more so on the mishit shots. This is primarily due to the lowered Center of Gravity and beefed-up sweet spot from the all new Cap Back Design.
We believe the Taylormade Stealth irons are your best bet to improve your ball speed, playability, and, most importantly, forgiveness on off-center strikes. They enable every player, regardless of skill level, to get the absolute most ball speed and distance with their impressive game improvement design.
2. Cobra AEROJET Irons - Best for Moderate Swing Speeds
According to Cobra, the AEROJET irons are by far the most technologically advanced clubs they’ve ever designed to provide effortless launch and distance. These game improvement irons resemble cavity back irons of older generations with some modern advancements, almost making them look a bit “retro.” They feature a thick topline and a relatively big face that reminds you that hitting good iron shots can be easy.
Features and Benefits
“Floating Weight” PWR-Bridge Weighting: The AEROJET irons feature an innovative “floating weight” suspended in a soft polymer that allows 10% more face flexion for greater distance while simultaneously tuning acoustics and feel.
PWRSHELL Insert: AEROJET irons feature a new PWRSHELL face insert that delivers more flexibility across a larger face area for faster ball speeds and a higher launch for greater carry distances.
A.I. Designed “H.O.T Face”: Artificial intelligence tested thousands of possible face patterns until ultimately deciding on a variable thickness “H.O.T Face” that delivers consistent spin across the club face.
One-Length Shafts Optional: Players that struggle with varying lengths of shafts and would like to eliminate more variables on the golf course can consider what Cobra Golf-sponsored athlete Bryson DeChambeau uses, one-length shafts. While not the only option available, Cobra found so much success offering previous generations of irons with one uniform shaft length that they had to do it with the new AEROJET iron series.
The AEROJET irons are generously long but truly shine in their forgiveness and distance control/repeatability. Their high launch and forgiveness across the face allow players to maintain confidence they’ll be able to hit their targets accurately and encourages more “pin-seeking” behavior.
You’ll also appreciate the fact that with the purchase of every Cobra club, players are eligible for free Arccos Smart Sensors to equip to their clubs along with a free trial of the award-winning Arccos Caddie app to more accurately gauge swing data and add a way to “gamify” your practice sessions.
Lastly, if you’re a pro with 7-irons, the AEROJET game-improvement irons set is just for you. They’re effortlessly straightforward to hit, so you’ll work consistent shots each time you step on the golf course.
3. Cleveland Launcher XL - BEST FOR LOW BALL SPEED PLAYERS
The new Cleveland Launcher XL irons are a substantial step up from the previous UHX game-improvement clubs. When I demoed the XL progressive irons, I noticed two things right off the bat: they’re the most forgiving traditional-looking irons, and they’re surprisingly soft for non-forged irons. Regarding features and design, the attention to detail is simply fantastic.
Features and Benefits
MainFrame Technology: Cleveland XL golf iron faces are enhanced with MainFrame A.I. to deliver crisp, clean shots with an acceptable level of precision and distance.
Impressively High MOI: The superb forgiveness was visible whenever I struck the heel or the toe, and the club would not twist uncontrollably, resulting in a poor shot. The progressive grooves are broader and flatter in longer irons to decrease the spin.
Soft Feel: I fell in love with the Launcher XL’s smooth and solid forged iron feel. The rigid feel pairs perfectly with its impact sound, which could be described as a ‘clap’ with medium volume.
Variable Face Thickness: This feature helped me keep my ball speed high even when I didn’t hit the center of the face.
We love how the Launcher XL irons fuse optimized distance with optimized playability. Both forgiveness and distance were evident from our first couple of swings.
XL irons offer excellent ball speed that borders on elite levels. Pair the impressive ball speed with the low spin, and you get a more-than-average distance iron option that’s also forgiving.
The forgiveness in this club could be attributed to its advanced MainFrame technology, considerably high MOI, and sizeable club head.
The Cleveland Launcher XL game-improvement iron is perfect for recreational and new players. Mid-handicap golfers may also enjoy the irons’ progressive structure.
4. COBRA T-RAIL COMBO SET - BEST HYBRID-STYLE IRONS
If you’ve been golfing for the longest time, you may recall that Cobra was the first-ever brand to release ‘utility wood’ golf clubs. That was way back in 1975. They were known as Bafflers then, but today they’re known as hybrids. One feature that the Cobra T-Rail hybrids have borrowed from the Baffler is the pair of rails on the lower side of the sole. Keep reading to discover how these unique hybrid irons could turn the tables for your golf game.
Features and Benefits
T-Rail Technology: When I first saw the rails, I couldn’t help but admire how sleek and stylish they looked on the irons. The more I used it, the more I realized that the Baffler Hollow Split rails helped the club to maintain turf interaction. This feature may help handicap golfers to avoid occasional fat shots.
Extremely Wide Sole: The Cobra’s sole width is large and highly forgiving to create a consistent feel and feedback across the set.
Hollow Construction: The strategic hollow design allows for a deep and relatively low center of gravity. This design caters to forgiveness and lets players see more distance on well-struck shots.
Oversized Head: Combined with the hollow design, the deep, large heads enhance spin control and produce high-launching ball flights for better distance.
Cobra makes it relatively easy to achieve consistent strikes with their irons. The hollow construction allows the Cobra T-Rail’s face to flex better upon impact to increase ball speed and distance.
As a fast-swinging player, I loved how the hollow design improved my launch angle and provided extra spin. It also allowed for a low and deep center of gravity.
These Cobra irons aid in forgiveness by ensuring consistent stability and club head speed during interaction with the greens.
All features of the Cobra T-Rail are exactly what beginner players need to maximize their consistency and carry distance.
5. WILSON LAUNCH PAD IRONS - BEST FOR HIGH LAUNCH
The Wilson Launch Pad Irons make it next to impossible to hit a poor shot. When we first took them out for a test run, we couldn’t help but notice how odd-looking they were; they had a black back end with a thick chrome topline. The appearance was a little distracting, but it eventually gave me confidence over each shot after hitting them so well. Here are some of the features that impressed me most about the game-improvement hybrid-iron set:
Features and Benefits
Launch Pad Sole Technology: This is one of the main features of the Wilson Launch Pad. It enables the sets to “float” above and cut through the turf to establish high ball flight. The hollow design with a thin face enhances high ball speed and distance.
Light Shaft: Each club comes with KBS Tour 80 steel shafts, allowing maximum distance, additional spin, and higher trajectory. Wilson Launch Pad shafts are 20% lighter in comparison to standard shafts.
Tall and Wide Clubface: These two features significantly increased my margin of error and allowed my mishits to fly significantly far and straight.
The Wilson Launch Pad irons are among the most forgiving irons you’ll ever encounter as a golfer. Each hit I took with these irons was incredibly high, even on all my mishits.
The large soles make it next to impossible for the club heads to dig deep into the ground. Regardless of how steep my swing was, the soles still managed to bounce off the ground rather than digging into it.
The long irons are a lot bigger than many other options in this category and focus primarily on getting the ball airborne fast and easily. The shorter irons are compact and focus on delivering control.
These irons could be a godsend for seniors and occasional players.
6. SRIXON ZX4 IRONS - BEST FOR TRAJECTORY
If you thought that Srixon clubs were explicitly designed for pro players, you thought wrong. The ZX4 forgiving golf irons provide the average player with an out-and-out distance experience that equates to better trajectory and forgiveness on the golf course. Srixon ZX4 addresses the trajectory issue among players by making necessary adjustments to certain aspects of their clubs. Keep reading to discover which features we like most in these game improvement irons.
Features and Benefits
Wider Grooves: The long and mid irons (up until the 7-irons) feature shallower and broader grooves. This helps produce a controllable and distance-improving lower spin rate. The short iron grooves are deeper and narrower to enforce just the right level of spin for each shot.
Substantial Loft: Despite having reasonably strong lofts compared to standard, the Srixon ZX4 7-irons offer an excellent trajectory. It’s generally user-friendly and bolstered my confidence with every hit. I had no issues getting the ball airborne with this club – even on the thinnest shots.
Long and Wide Sole: This feature generates more forgiveness and evenly distributes the club’s weight to rectify off-center hits and encourage center strikes.
The ZX4 aren’t the most forgiving irons, but they sure don’t disappoint when it comes to offering spectacular trajectories, soft landings, and easy launches.
The longer Srixon ZX4 irons tend to offer more ball flights with more roll-out and less spin.
The more I became attuned to the ZX4 irons, the more forgiveness I observed. This special offering could be attributed to their unique club head design.
Mid to higher-handicap players stand the best chance at getting the best out of these irons than any other player.
7. CALLAWAY ROGUE ST MAX OS IRONS - BEST FOR MORE BALL SPEED
Callaway has produced a modern and unique “face architecture” to increase each iron’s ball speed and spin consistency. The Callaway Rogue ST MAX OS irons provide a game improvement shaping, high launch, wide soles for extra forgiveness, and enhanced offset to square the club face naturally for players struggling with that part of the complicated golf swing. Read on to discover why the Callaway Rogue ST MAX OS irons won the coveted 2022 Golf Digest Hot List gold medal.
Features and Benefits
A.I. Designed Flash Face Cup: This form of artificial intelligence is a slight upgrade from the traditional 360 Face Cup. It’s basically a compounded face architecture that’s aimed at boosting ball speed for added spin consistency.
Urethane Microspheres: This technology is used by Callaway to absorb unwanted vibrations and improve the sound and feel.
Tungsten-Infused Weights: The Rogue ST MAX OS irons feature up to 49 grams of high-density Tungsten per club, a 188% increase over the previous MAVRIK irons. The Tungsten in each iron also offers additional benefits such as top-notch spin rates, trajectories, launch conditions, and land angles.
Enhanced Confidence and Forgiveness from Design: Rogue ST MAX OS irons have wide soles, enhanced offset, and a thicker topline vs. Rogue ST MAX and MAVRIK irons of the past. This provides more confidence, a higher launch, and more forgiveness for mid-to-high handicap players.
We can confidently say the Callaway Rogue ST MAX OS irons are a serious upgrade from the previous MAVRIK line of clubs, and we didn’t really know that was possible.
Regardless of the tuned-down lofts, the Rogue ST MAX OS irons still managed to produce a terrific ball flight through all our testing. We consistently found a stable and predictable launch angle from the long and mid irons, thereby allowing for a little stopping power when needed on those middle to longer approach shots.
These game-improvement irons offer exemplary forgiveness. We found strikes that were hit low, towards the heel, or towards the toe, all found similar, albeit slightly shorter distances, but still fantastic results.
If you’ve never used (or even held) a golf club in your life, the Callaway Rogue ST MAX OS irons could be an excellent starter set. These golf irons offer a good amount of forgiveness that’s sure to appeal to golfers of all spectrums.
8. MIZUNO JPX923 HOT METAL IRONS - "HIGHEST FLYING & FASTEST STOPPING" MIZUNO IRONS
The “923 Hot Metals” are the latest irons in the Mizuno JPX range. The JPX923s are highly regarded as Mizuno’s ‘most forgiving irons.’ After the resounding success of the Mizuno JPX921 forged irons that the COVID-19 pandemic delayed, Mizuno club engineers went back to the lab to find a way to improve their ball speeds across the face, improve stopping power to help players hold more greens, and updated the look to an all-new white-satin brush finish to reduce bright light glare.
Features and Benefits
Forged in NEW Nickel Chromoly: The JPX923 Hot Metal irons are crafted from a new 4335 Nickel Chromoly material that’s 35% stronger than the original Hot Metal Mizuno irons for improved durability and resistance to bending and twisting through impact.
Extremely Thin Face: The 4335 Nickel Chromoly made it possible to craft a very thin face (8% thinner than previous designs) to allow for a naturally faster ball speed for players.
“Cup Face Construction”: By adding more mass to the perimeter of the Hot Metal irons, Mizuno is able to deliver users a deeper center of gravity that produces a high launch and controllable landing angles.
Vibration Control: Mizuno golf clubs have been renowned worldwide for their superb feel for the last 100 years, and they continue finding ways to improve it. Through a vibration-controlling “V-Chassis” inside the new JPX923 Hot Metals, players receive less negative feedback from poor strikes and better feeling responses from center strikes.
After extensive testing, we can say that the updated JPX923 Hot Metal irons from Mizuno are much more forgiving than some of their previous “game improvement style” clubs. The landing angles are also a lot more predictable strike after strike, and the ball feels like it launches so fast off the new Nickel Chromoly face.
The thinner face and improved vibration control combine to provide an iron that doesn’t really feel like a clunky cavity back but more of a “players style cavity back.” The long irons do progressively get a bit thinner, like most standard sets. Still, players should know they have greater perimeter weighting that improves forgiveness on every iron in the set for a bit of increased confidence.
The thinnest part of the sole was extended 18% wider than previous “forgiving Mizuno irons” to create a greater “high-energy” hitting area and more stability at setup and strike for players. The clean, non-reflective White-Satin brush Chrome plating finish helps to reduce the glare for limited distractions and better concentration over the ball.
I’d recommend the Mizuno JPX923 Hot Metal irons for players seeking an upgrade from older cavity backs to a new, upgraded Mizuno feel.
What to Look for When Buying Forgiving Irons
By definition, a forgiving iron limits the negative impacts of a strike that doesn’t hit the sweet spot precisely. The following are some features to consider when buying your preferred set of forgiving or “game improvement style” irons:
As you likely noticed from most of the selections on this list, the majority of the irons feature some type of enhanced perimeter or rear weighting system. Depending on which selection you choose, it’s essential you understand what these types of “strategic weights” can do for your game. Enhanced overall perimeter weighting allows off-center strikes to have results closer to what a center strike would be. If you’re a player that struggles with finding the sweet spot consistently, this is a feature you’ll most certainly want to be looking for. Strict rear weighting (often Tungsten) enhances distance and ball speed but usually plays less of a factor in overall forgiveness.
Wider Sole and Thicker Topline
Iron heads with more mass tend to increase the club’s stability and generally make them easier to hit. Clubs with these two features also instill confidence among high handicappers whenever they stand over the golf ball.
Cavity-back irons are recognized for having a hollowed-out area behind the club face. This feature ensures the excess weight is evenly redistributed to the club’s outer edges.
The significance of this strategic perimeter weighting is to expand the sweet spot’s size, thereby increasing the club’s forgiveness.
The cavity-back design has undergone numerous changes in the past, with the most recent one being the addition of the ‘cap.’ The cap is often positioned over the cavity (usually biased towards the toe side) to further increase forgiveness over the original old-school cavity back.
These features all combine to provide easier-to-hit game improvement style irons for mid to higher-handicap players.
Offset is a feature where the hosel is placed at the front of the clubhead’s face. This subtle but powerful feature enables players to square the clubface more often naturally at impact.
Clubs with offset help reduce the miss that 95% of golfers face, a slice. By positioning the clubface further behind the hosel, offset clubs produce a slight draw bias that improves distance and predictability of ball flight patterns for players.
Golf is meant to be a fun game. If you’re not enjoying the game as much as you should, I strongly recommend you consider putting the TaylorMade Stealth irons in your bag in 2023.
Based on rigorous testing and extensive research, there’s no doubt that the Stealth irons are the best combination of distance, forgiveness, and looks on this list.
While you’re here, check out our equipment breakdowns for the Best Wedges for High Handicappers and the Most Forgiving Drivers of 2023.
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