By this stage in your game, I’m sure that you understand how poor contact and a bad swing can affect a shot. Golfers who begin to step-up their game are looking to improve their handicap, and one of the first areas they look to improve will be their iron play.
Irons Designed For “Forgiveness”
What Is A “Forgiving” Iron?
While you might have heard about or read the term, you may still wonder what the term forgiveness means when talking about irons. Simply put, the phrase refers to construction elements and design features that club manufacturers put into their irons that lessen the impact of poor ball contact or a bad swing. The greater the number of forgiving traits an iron is designed with, the more forgiving it is.
What A Forgiving Iron Will Not Do
It is important to remember that an iron’s forgiving traits will not improve your golf swing. I’ve watched more than one player become frustrated after they purchased a set of more forgiving irons only to discover that they were not a shortcut to a better swing. At this stage of your advancement, it may be best to revisit your technique and understanding, as discussed in the article, “How To Hit A Golf Ball”.
What Type Of Forgiveness Features Do You Need?
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind with iron forgiveness is – The higher your handicap, the more forgiveness features you should look for. Even if your iron game is above average, you can still benefit from these traits. An iron with a lot of forgiveness may be referred to as a “game improvement iron,” and you can tell the differences compared to a muscle back blade the first time your swing is off.
The first design element that made for a more forgiving iron was introduced in the 1960’s by Ping’s founder, Karsten Solheim. Moving the mass to the edges of the head, instead of evenly distributing it or massing it behind the center, lessens the impact produced by off-center strikes. Distributing the weight along the head’s edges also tends to produce a higher elevation for ball flight. A more detailed look at the impact of this design element and the man behind it can be read in Karsten Solheim changed golf equipment forever.
A cavity-back design removes material from the back of the head and places it along the perimeter. This places even more weight around the edges and will increase the Moment Of Inertia (MOI). An off-center hit will result in a straighter shot than with an off-center hit using a blade iron, and the ball will go farther as well.
Another feature that provides more forgiveness is a larger face on the iron. A larger face allows for better contact with the ball, even when a hit misses the sweet spot. Greater club surface not only helps to propel the ball farther with a poor shot, it also helps with lift. This design element is often combined with cavity-back designs.
The offset iron design is a design element that places the hosel ahead of the face of the iron. An offset will allow for face adjustment during the downswing and will produce greater ball lift as well. The later may prove extremely helpful for golfers who struggle with loft in their iron play. Sports columnist Brent Kelley discusses offset in greater detail in his article.
Other Blade Elements That Provide Forgiveness
A wider sole design will prevent the iron from digging into the turf. That will help to prevent chunking a shot. The wider sole also places more mass along the bottom of the head, which helps to lift a ball more when you hit it.
Don’t overlook cast irons compared to those that are forged. The process of pouring metal into a mold allows manufacturers to create more complex head designs. A greater variety during the casting allows them to incorporate many forgiving features than a forged iron can.
Graphite vs. Steel Shafts
The forgiveness features of an iron aren’t limited to the head design alone. Graphite and steel shafts offer you benefits depending upon what you are looking to improve upon.
Steel shafts are more commonly found in iron sets and produce less flex during the swing. The greatest benefit steel shafts offer is a more consistent shot with each swing.
Graphite shafts are lighter and produce more flex during the swing. This helps to generate greater club-head speed that may produce more distance with every shot.
To provide a better understanding, this video allows you to see some of the most forgiving irons features I have covered.
Reviews Of The Most Forgiving Irons
Cleveland Golf Men’s Launcher HB Iron Set
This set of irons are capable of producing a noticeable increase in the loft when compared with other sets. I would have really benefited from the extra ball height a few years back when I really struggled to generate loft with my old blade irons.
Cleveland Golf provides customers with the ability to select graphite or steel shafts, allowing them to select between
more control or greater potential distance. The ability to select between regular, senior and stiff flexes provides additional customization with this set.
The look of the head may take some getting used to. A black finish helps to keep your eye focused on the leading edge of the iron, a nice touch that compensates for the tapering rear.
Adams Golf Blue Combo Irons
A lower center of gravity is the standout feature for this set of irons. The cavity is deep cut and the mass pushed towards the edges of the head provide that classic forgiveness found in forgiving irons. Weight is also distributed towards the rear of the iron due to the wide sole.
The back half of the sole is curved upwards, a feature that my current set of irons include.
This design helps me glide through tough turfs without the bounce that my older set produced. It should be noted that the wide sole will begin to produce a “clack” sound on impact, starting with the five iron.
There was a noticeable change with the shorter irons’ shape, with a more rounded look than that seen on the mid-range irons.
TaylorMade Aeroburner HL Irons
The Aeroburner HL irons provide players with a large face. A longer face design not only provides more surface, it also allows that surface to flex more on impact. This may allow them to act more like a wood, a design element that some golfers may find beneficial.
These irons have a deep cavity and a
protruding trailing edge. That edge isn’t really noticeable at address until you get to the five iron. The shorter irons begin to look really thick, which may be undesirable for some players. It should be noted that the offset shrinks as a player works down to the shorter irons.
This set comes with steel shafts, which should provide a golfer with consistency on the course. The irons are designed with a SpeedPocket on the soles until the eight iron. This feature may help those who struggle with consistent ball speed.
Mizuno Golf JPX-EZ Club Iron Set
A completely redesigned head has streamlined the shape of these irons, which has pushed more weight towards the toe. This improvement should increase the Moment Of Inertia, which is a plus for those looking for more forgiveness from their irons. A thinner sole on the undercut cavity will
provide more flexibility on the face during impact.
The cavity design also allows the center of gravity to remain consistent along the sole. This design pushes the sweet spot lower, which allows a player to create more loft with their shots.
These irons sport large heads that provide plenty of face surface to hit with. This comes at the price of thickness though. The top line is thick when compared to other irons, but it does not alter their play.
Callaway Golf Men’s Rogue Pro Irons Set
This set of irons offer more control while still offering forgiveness in design elements. A shallow cavity and a smaller offset will provide more feedback for players with low handicaps. The compact design also provides a less distracting visual at address.
A thin top line and sole, offer a player more trajectory control when
compared to irons with thicker profiles. The cavity may be shallow when compared to other irons on this list, but the design still distributes mass along the edges of the iron. This feature still provides a better result when a poor shot is hit, when compared to more traditional blade irons. These irons would be a good choice for low handicappers looking for a bit of forgiveness on poor swings.
So Who Is The Winner?
While each of the iron sets reviewed above provide forgiveness, the Cleveland Golf Men’s Launcher HB Iron Set stands out as the most forgiving irons among those reviewed. These irons produce plenty of lift, even when compared to the Mizuno JPX-EZ irons. The black coating prevents the trailing edge from distracting you, unlike the Aeroburner HL irons.
What really stands out with these irons is the various shaft customizations. Not only can you select left or right handed irons, Cleveland Golf provides graphite or steel shafts as well as three distinct flexes that provide golfers with more customization.