The 5 most popular iron types, and how to know what’s best for you

2024 golf iron options

With so many iron options on the market today it can be hard to narrow down whats best for you


The world of golf clubs is full of options, and that’s no more apparent than with iron sets. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, the available categories give you a variety of choices to best suit your needs and either find something that makes the game as easy as possible or provides you with a greater shot selection based on your skill set.

Here are the 5 most common iron categories and how they can help your game.

Super game improvement

2024 Cobra Air X
Cobra’s AirX is a super game improvement iron set with hybrids Cobra Golf

Super game-improvement clubs are designed for maximum enjoyment, meaning maximum forgiveness. These irons generally have a wide sole and deep cavity, or even a full hollow body construction to help lower the center of gravity to get the ball up in the air. They are also commonly offered in combo sets that feature hybrids instead of longer irons.

Although added distance is a focus of super game-improvement clubs, they tend to launch higher and spin a bit more than other iron types, which makes them a great choice for moderate-swing speed golfers who are looking to gain height on shots and hold more greens.

Cleveland Halo XL Full-Face Custom Irons

Wanna get better? Go bigger. All-new HALO XL Full-Face Irons give you both. Bigger, hollow heads for more forgiveness. Better spin thanks to HydraZip face blasts. Better turf interaction from three enhanced sole designs. And bigger, full-face grooves—an industry-first for an Iron—for better strike performance across the face. MAINFRAME FACE Using a multi-step AI computing process, we simulated thousands of the most common strikes across the club face, emphasized the impact locations, and evaluated the performance characteristics. FULL-FACE GROOVES For the first time ever in an Iron, HALO XL features full-face grooves, so you can step up, swing, and send it with serious spin on every shot. This hosel-to-toe groove configuration performs no matter where you strike the ball.  ALIGNMENT LINES HALO XL Full-Face features a new, two-groove alignment system for reliable, consistent aim. Two thicker, white grooves on the bottom of the face help you keep the face square at address, centered behind the ball, and in-line with your target.  
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Game improvement

ping g430 irons
Ping G430 irons are a cavity back game-improvement design. Ping Golf

Game-improvement irons are designed to offer added forgiveness and distance for golfers of all abilities, but are engineered to help higher handicap golfers gain accuracy.

Unlike super game-improvement irons, which tend to spin more to help with accuracy, game-improvement irons are most often designed with stronger lofts to help lower spin and add distance while still offering a higher launch.

Mizuno JPX 923 Hot Metal Custom Irons

Combined with Mizuno’s vibration controlling V-Chassis and deep CG design, the JPX923 Hot Metal irons are as enjoyable and controllable as they are long. A full speed, high stability cavity for straight flight and distance.  Introducing Nickel Chromoly A new material with so much additional ball speed, our engineers switched their focus to feel and stopping power. 35% stronger than our original Hot Metal material, 4335 Nickel Chromoly enables a high-energy 8% thinner clubface.
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3. Players distance

Mizuno Pro 245 iron 2024
Mizuno’s 245 iron looks like a blade but is packed with forgiveness enhancing technologies Mizuno Golf

The players’ distance iron category is one of the most popular iron options because of it blends the looks of a muscle back style blade club with the added technology of a game-improvement iron. The result is an iron set that is way more forgiving than it looks.

TaylorMade P790 Custom Irons

An iron is more than metal. It’s the result of countless hours of research, testing and player feedback. From concept to delivery, every step is taken with one goal in mind. Delivering results when you need them the most. The new P•790, where our metal meets your mettle. Experience them yourself and discover the player they’ll push you to become. P790 IRONS SpeedFoam™ Air Provides up to 3.5g of weight savings that has been redistributed to further optimize mass properties for better launch conditions Offers a sweet sound and solid feel while delivering a fast, flexible face 69% lighter than its predecessor Thin-Wall Construction and Forged L-Face 8620 carbon steel construction makes the head thinner by up to 37.5% in strategic locations for a significantly lower CG placement Thin-walled design pairs with a responsive 1.5mm forged 4140 steel L-Face to promote supreme flexibility, fast ball speeds and distance while upholding a premium forged feel Thru-Slot Speed Pocket™ offers increased face flexibility while preserving ball speed and distance on low face strikes Intelligent sweet spot (up to 60% larger than the previous P790) repositioned lower on the face to naturally capture more shots and provide performance where golfers need it most Up to 31g of tungsten placed in the toe for increased stability and forgiveness Launch/Spin: Mid-High/Mid Flight Bias: Neutral    Specifications Club Loft Lie Offset Bounce Length Swing Weight 3i 19° 60.5° 3.5mm 0° 39″ D2 4i 21° 61° 3.4mm 1° 38.5″ D2 5i 23.5° 61.5° 3.1mm 2° 38″ D2 6i 26.5° 62° 2.9mm 3° 37.5″ D2 7i 30.5° 62.5° 2.7mm 4.5° 37″ D2 8i 35° 63° 2.4mm 6.5° 36.5″ D2 9i 40° 63.5° 2.1mm 8.5° 36″ D2 PW 45° 64° 1.8mm 10.5° 35.75″ D3 AW 50° 64° 1.6mm 11.5° 35.5″ D3
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The best part about many irons in the players’ distance category is that their shaping and size make them a great option to create blended/combo sets with smaller player cavity irons so you can add extra forgiveness in the longer irons without having to move into hybrids of something that doesn’t match up looks wise to your mid and shorter irons.

PXG 0317 T Custom Irons

Meet the ultimate tour performance players iron. PXG 0317 T Irons are built for highly skilled golfers craving workability with a boost of forgiveness. With a hollow-bodied design and stabilizing S COR™ polymer core, these irons increase spin performance, improve distance control and overall consistency. The compact head shape has a slightly larger profile for enhanced MOI and mishit forgiveness. XTREME SHOT MAKING Small workable club head design increases the player’s control over the clubface. HIGH SPIN PERFORMANCE Proprietary S COR™ material increases stability and limits face movement during impact which produces higher spin rate performance. SUPERIOR DISTANCE CONTROL Thin face hollow bodied construction delivers very consistent distance control for highly skilled players. EXCELLENT SOUND AND FEEL 3X Forged 8620 soft carbon steel
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4. Players’ cavity back

A Titleist T100 iron back bar pictured on a golf course
Titleist T100 Ryan Barath

Players’ cavity back irons offer a smaller profile and thinner soles to blend forgiveness into a smaller package.

In most cases, irons in this category are forged from a single piece of metal but some models blend game-improvement technologies like multi-material construction into a smaller shape to provide extra forgiveness through the set and into the longer irons. These types of irons can also be blended with players distance irons or blades to build combo sets.

Callaway Apex CB Custom Irons

The new Apex CB ’24 Irons are designed for the most discerning tour pros and elite ball-strikers. This tour-cavity back is designed with an all-new forged construction for a pure feel, precise shot-making, and workability. THE ULTIMATE TOUR IRON. The new Apex CB ’24 Irons are designed for the most discerning tour pros and elite ball-strikers. This tour-cavity back is designed with an all-new forged construction for a pure feel, precise shot-making, and workability. PURE FORGED PERFORMANCE The Apex CB Irons are forged in a 5-step process from 1025 carbon steel, creating the buttery-soft feel discerning players crave. The body and face are forged as one-piece while MIM weights placed strategically in the heel and toe create a perfectly balanced design for enhanced workability and control. PROGRESSIVE CG DESIGN FOR ADDED CONTROL A progressive CG throughout the set improves trajectory control. The long irons feature a lower CG that promotes towering shots that land soft into greens while the short irons utilize a higher CG for a lower trajectory to promote more spin for added control. DYNAMIC SOLE DESIGN FOR ENHANCED TURF INTERACTION The new Apex CB Irons feature a Dynamic Sole Design with a pre-worn leading edge to cut through the turf more efficiently and trailing edge relief to ensure a clean exit. The result is an iron sole that maintains speed through the turf and promotes consistent contact on all shots.
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5. Blades (muscle backs)

callaway 2023 apex mb iron
Callaway’s Apex MB Jonathan Wall

Of all the styles of irons on the market today, the humble blade has been around since the dawn of the game and is designed to offer the greatest amount of workability (the ability for a golfer to control and shape a shot), thanks to its smaller size and higher center of gravity.

Blades are generally only recommended for advanced players, but can also be built into a combo set with players’ cavity irons or even players distance irons depending on the wants and needs of the individual golfer.

Miura MC-502 QPQ Custom Irons

The MC-501 was one of our most popular models. Ever! The “modern blade” was popular with so many players because it was easy to hit and delivered a great ball flight. The MC-501 proved that forgiveness was attainable in a blade iron without compromising performance. Subtle design enhancements enabled Shinei Miura and his design team to improve both forgiveness and performance in the MC-502, meeting the discerning needs of all players. Now available in a QPQ finish! New to the MC-502 is an increase in face progression (less offset), which has always been a welcomed look for the better player. Additionally, a softer, more rounded top line and toe profile found their way from the sketch pad to the final product. The result is an iron that is easy to align while delivering an unrivaled level of confidence and playability. There were no compromises when it came to the new design. The sound, feel and performance, which have been hallmarks of Miura irons since 1957, embodied the finished product. MATERIALPremium S20C Soft Carbon Steel FINISHBlack QPQ
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Want to overhaul your bag for 2024? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.

Ryan Barath Editor

Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.