We take a look at the best compact irons you can buy, aimed at the improving mid-handicapper or the better player seeking more forgiveness
Best Compact Mid-Handicap Irons
Buying a new set of irons can be an expensive minefield if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Nowhere is this more true than in the mid handicap sector, where players can potentially use every option in a brand’s range with some degree of success.
If you are a golfer within the 8-to-18 handicap range, getting the best golf irons for you can be difficult but with a little investigation, you will be able to find mid-handicap irons to suit your requirements.
Those who are steadily improving will seek a set that offers plenty of feel and control, while those who are perhaps heading the other way, or playing less often, will be more suited to designs that offer higher levels of forgiveness.
Whichever models make the grade, you are going to enjoy seeing and feeling the benefits of modern technology.
These include the likes of pocket-cavity designs that put forgiveness in smaller head shapes, tungsten weighting that helps reduce twisting on heel and toe mishits, and thinner faces and sole slots that mean you’ll find the power normally associated with larger-profile irons.
One particular avenue that can deliver the best of both worlds somewhat, is the compact mid-handicap iron. They tend to have compact looking heads but still offer forgiveness, feel and control too.
But what are some of the best compact mid-handicap irons currently on the market? Below we have taken a look.
Alterntively if you are looking for more buying advice when it comes to irons take a look at some of our other guides on the best distance irons, best golf blade irons, or the best game improvement irons.
Best Compact Mid-Handicap Irons
Ping i500 Irons
+ Beautiful looking iron
+ Strong ball speeds and distance
– Relatively low ball flight won’t suit all
One of the most innovative and best Ping irons in Golf Monthly’s opinion, the i500 has the look of a muscleback iron from behind but, in fact, it’s hollow.
It may be a compact iron, and the technology is not on display, but it’s built for speed and power.
It has a forged face made from C300 maraging steel which is extremely strong and flexible. As a result, it flexes at impact by two thirds of its own thickness and this helps the iron produce impressive ball speeds and distance.
The look of the i500 is clean and simple and mid handicappers will enjoy the lack of offset through the set. The sizing is generous from heel-to-toe without looking chunky or cumbersome.
With the hollow construction we were originally concerned around the sound at impact as many irons with this construction sound like metal woods. But during testing these were unwarranted as the i500 has a much more iron-like sound, which we were relieved about. That being said it isn’t super soft and muted like an actual blade. It is noticeably explosive from the sweetspot, while being pleasing on the ears, and this doesn’t really tail off when you miss the middle either.
For those seeking a classic looking club with modern performance, this could be the iron for you.
TaylorMade P770 Irons
+ Fast face
+ Long carries
– Thicker topline and offset won’t appeal to some
Sitting at the distance end of the P-Series of irons is the P770, which will appeal to the ball-striking golfer who is after distance and a bit of added forgiveness in a compact head.
From an aesthetic viewpoint, they look great and will look the part in your bag. Compared to the other P-Series irons, the P770 has slightly more offset and a thicker sole and topline, but still looks compact.
With a forged hollow body, Speed Foam injection and up to 46.5g of tungsten weighting through the set, the irons offer high launch and feel lively off the face.
This club launches nice and high too despite the lower spin when compared to the sister P7MB and P7MC irons. With those irons in mind, there is a lot of scope to mix and match with these irons if you are a good ball striker. The more forgiving and stronger P770s would be very useful in the longer irons and then the more bladed P7MBs can be used for control and playability below the 7-iron.
Titleist T100S Irons
+ Classic compact shape
+ Best irons for 15-handicappers
– Stronger lofts won’t suit all
The T100S has been designed to bridge the gap between the Titleist T200 and T100 irons.
It’s a two-degree per club stronger lofted version of the T100 and as such, it features all the same attributes.
The face is thin and responsive, while the use of tungsten weighting in the 3-7 irons boosts off-centre strike forgiveness.
It looks like the old Titileist 718 CB model at address thanks to being a bit more compact on the top rail, but has even more forgiveness on offer to rescue a poor strike. It feels noticeably solid and soft at impact and the extra camber on the sole helps it glide through the turf a little more easily.
The T100S is a good option for mid-handicap golfers seeking a set of mid-handicap irons that will maximise distance but retain a degree of control and feel.
Wilson Staff Model CB Irons
+ Beautifully forged
+ Great feedback and reasonably forgiving
– Have to be a very consistent ball striker to benefit the most
Inspired by the successful V6 irons, the Wilson Staff Model CB irons seek to give Tour-like performance, while also offering a touch more forgiveness.
It is a great looking iron in the bag and at address despite the tungsten weighting in the toe of the club which is there to enhance stability and lower the centre of gravity. It may detract from an aesthetic point of view, but it definitely helps when using the traditionally more difficult longer irons in the bag.
The best part of this club is the 8620 carbon steel face that provides a solid muscleback feel but with the cavity back consistency and feel on all types of shot.
Callaway Apex Irons
+ Will suit wide range of players
+ Good looking iron in the bag
– There are softer feeling models in this list
The Callaway Apex, a model which made our best Callaway irons list, is a great all-rounder that will suit a range of players with varying requirements.
The new design looks great and has a couple of alternations from the previous generation Apex iron. First the new model is the first forged iron with a Flash Face Cup designed with Artificial Intelligence for faster ball speeds.
It also has a new Tungsten Energy Core, which is five times heavier than the weight in the previous Apex. This is designed to promote higher launch and more spin.
Feel is also an important aspect for mid-handicap players and that comes from the forged 1025 steel construction.
In testing, we found the Apex to be soft in feel yet powerful, producing good distance. This is a club that really rewards good ball-striking and it will suit aspiring players looking for a blend of power and feel.
Mizuno JPX921 Forged Irons
+ Thin face and fast ball speeds
+ Low and deep centre of gravity
– Not as easily workable as Tour option
The best Mizuno irons are famed for high-quality performance in every way and this JPX 921 Forged design continues that trend.
The JPX921 Forged iron integrates the power of Chromoly into a full body Forged iron for the very first time. Initially applied in Mizuno’s Hot Metal irons – Chromoly has made the cross over to Mizuno’s forgings with excellent results. Testing shows the fastest ball speeds Mizuno has ever produced from a fully Forged iron.
Grain Flow Forged HD in Mizuno’s legendary facility in Hiroshima Japan, the JPX921 Forged irons offer an identifiable and unsurpassed Mizuno feel. The integration of Chromoly 4120 allows for a clubface up to 0.5mm thinner which delivers the fastest ball speeds Mizuno has ever produced from a full body Forged iron.
Additional perimeter weighting with toe bias creates a Stability Frame to maximise results from off-centre strikes, while a 6.4% wider CNC back milled slot further increases stability.
Despite this, the JPX921 Forged irons offer a sleeker, compact profile – a shorter blade length throughout, a beveled training edge and reduced offset. The feel is that of a traditional forged iron as the JPX921 Forged gets noticeably sleeker through the set.
Titleist T200 Irons
+ Distance in a compact package
+ Good forgiveness
– Won’t suit those looking for max feel and workability
The T200 iron is one of the most versatile in the Titleist range, offering benefits to a broad range of golfers.
In terms of looks, it’s a classic and compact shape – a slimmed-down version of the T300. It also features slightly less offset which better players should enjoy.
Like the T300, it features Max impact technology which allows the face to be thinner, thereby improving launch, speed and feel through the inclusion of a silicone polymer insert.
Tungsten weighting in the longer irons further enhances forgiveness and generates more distance.
We were impressed by the combination of distance and feel offered by these irons. They’ll suit an improving player seeking game-improvement performance in a compact shape. In our opinion, it’s definitely one of the best compact mid-handicap irons on the market just now.
Cobra King Forged Tec Irons
+ Visually appealing
+ Inclusion of Arcoss shot tracking is a bonus
– Slightly flat ball flight
The Cobra King Forged Tec Irons are aimed at golfers who want an iron that looks like a blade but has the firepower and forgiveness of a game improvement iron. Arguably the perfect mid-handicap irons combination.
From a looks standpoint, it boasts a traditional muscleback shape that is very appealing, especially at address. The generous face size and topline makes it look easy to hit, but the minimal offset gives it that players’ iron feel.
The hollow construction of the Forged Tec Irons aims to provide ideal balance of precision and distance by delivering the low CG that helps maximize distance, forgiveness and playability.
Once again with the hollow construction we were concerned about feel but this doesn’t have the harsh, clicky sound of a distance iron of yesteryear, more the powerful thud sound that is loud enough to provide feedback on the strike without overpowering the ears.
These irons are definitely forgiving on off-centre strikes and they come with one-length option and Arccos Connect Smart grips allowing you to track performance should you wish. If there was a definitive set of the best irons for 15-handicappers, this would likely be it.
Callaway Mavrik Pro Irons
+ Good workability
+ Aesthetically appealing
– Not as forgiving as Mavrik and Mavrik Max
One of the best irons for low handicappers, the Callaway Mavrik Pro iron is a thing of beauty with its lighter satin chrome finish and players’ profile behind the ball.
With its compact shape, the Pro is aimed at mid- and low-handicap players looking to have a little more control but still benefit from the impressive technologies featured in the Mavrik range.
The irons feature Flash Faces designed by a super-computer. The result is a sophisticated face architecture for every loft delivering a significant boost in ball speed and optimised spin.
In the long irons, the faces are designed for launch and speed, while in the mid-irons the faces are engineered for a combination of speed and spin consistency. The short irons have a face construction designed to optimise precision for shot-making.
Tungsten weights have been precisely positioned to deliver the best possible launch and trajectory.
But with classic shape and clean lines, the Mavrik Pro is a far more workable iron than the Mavrik or Mavrik Max. With thinner topline and sole for more precise striking, better players will enjoy the feel as well as the performance.
TaylorMade P790 Irons
+ Great distance
+ Exceptional forgiveness in small package
– Slightly unusual sound and feel off the face.
The TaylorMade P790 irons will appeal to a broad range of players. They offer a great blend of distance and forgiveness in a compact clubhead.
The Speed Pocket in the clubhead helps to create greater forgiveness and consistency while the use of SpeedFoam dampens vibration, creating quite an unusual sound and feel at impact.
But the results are impressive with consistently long and straight ball flights. The use of tungsten weighting helps to further assist forgiveness, as does the inverted cone face.
The ball is extremely fast off the face of these irons, like you would expect from a hollow club, and we like the slimline compact package.
It’s definitely one of the best sets of mid-handicap irons on the market due to its all-round performance and will suit most mid-handicap golfers.
Honma TR20 P Irons
+ Good blend of power and workability
+ Classic looks
– Chunky sole
The Honma TR20 P irons are a player’s distance iron with game improvement playability.
They feature a forged S35C steel body with an L-cup face for increased ball speeds and a tungsten weighted pocket cavity to create speed-enhancing forgiveness on off centre strikes.
The irons also feature a low centre of gravity and high MOI to achieve high launch and longer carries.
We found the TR20 P Irons to deliver an impressive blend of distance and workability that should suit the mid-handicap player looking to have a little more control without sacrificing power and forgiveness.
Wilson Staff D7 Forged Irons
+ Good consistent carries
+ Soft and solid feel at impact
– The power holes take away from the aesthetics
Forged from soft 8620 Carbon steel and featuring a new clubhead design, Wilson’s D7 Forged irons have a thinner topline and minimal offset. Additionally, players of different levels may like the mid-sized head and chrome finish.
A Urethane filled Power Chamber inside the head has been introduced alongside the Power Hole Technology which allows the face to flex while reducing vibration for a more solid and consistent feel at impact. As such, these would definitely be among the best irons for 15-handicappers.
With a narrower sole, it flights the ball considerably lower but with more spin – hovering just over the 6,000rpm mark – to keep it airborne and enhance the stopping power as well as control of the flight.
The D7 Forged is well worth considering if you’re seeking mid-handicap irons offering a soft feel in a compact package.
Mizuno MP-20 MMC Irons
+ Playable and good looking model
+ Mixture of forgiveness and feel
– Not as workable as MP-20MB
Billed as an “Elite Players’ Cavity” iron, the MP-20 MMC is the second generation of Mizuno’s multi-material concept.
The MP-20 MMC shares the chassis, set flow and proportions of the MP-20 MB, but it offers enhanced playability courtesy of a titanium muscle pad throughout the set, with a 12g tungsten toe weight from the 4- to 7-irons that adds ease of launch and forgiveness on off-centre hits.
It’s also a little bit larger than the blade in terms of sole width and topline.
A second Ti muscle pad improves set flow by allowing for a narrower sole from 8-iron to pitching wedge and in testing we found the MP-20 MMC produced good distance and consistency.
The ball feels lively off the club face and the MMC offers extra assistance on off-centre hits while still feeling soft, stable and maintaining a decent level of workability.
Srixon ZX5 Irons
+ Good distance and consistency
+ Soft feel and stability
– Wider sole visible on longer irons
As used by Tour stars Shane Lowry, Srixon’s ZX5 mid-handicap irons look like a pure muscle-back and yet still provide forgiveness thanks to the additional mass behind the impact location. Importantly this also helps with shot-shaping ability and versatility.
The ZX5 has a pleasantly thin topline and is slightly offset which inspires confidence at address. The rear of the wider sole is visible at address from 6-iron down, which not everyone will like to see, but it is something to be expected on an iron this forgiving.
This forgiveness comes from the MainFrame technology, a variable thickness pattern made up of grooves, channels, and cavities that increases ball speed on every shot.
As such the ZX5 iron offers up a hot and lively feel along with a loud and more metallic sound at impact. It is consistent with other cavity back irons we have tested and it is a compelling package altogether.
We hope you liked this guide on the best compact mid-handicap irons and found it informative. For more buying advice check out the Golf Monthly website.