The innovation of cavity-backed irons remains one of the greatest innovations in the game for less skilled players, decades after the clubs first hit the market.

The reason is simple. Cavity-backed irons are more forgiving than their blade counterparts. Of course, technology does not stand still. Today’s clubs have gotten more and more forgiving, all the while reducing the downsides.

The main drawback for these clubs has always been a loss of feel. Initially, there was quite the drop off in feel from the more traditional blade designs. That was so true that virtually no professional would play them.

That has begun to change, as engineering innovations have produced clubs that give you a great deal of forgiveness while retaining the ability to work the ball.

That is why these clubs are appealing to players across the spectrum of handicaps.


At A Glance: Our Favorite Forgiving Irons


Still, some irons are more forgiving than others. Here are some of the most forgiving irons on the market today.

OUR TOP PICKS

Callaway Golf 2020 Mavrik Max Iron Set (Right Hand, Graphite, Light, 6 Iron - PW)
  • Fast face
  • Large club head
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Cobra Golf 2019 F9 Speedback Iron Set, Chrome/Black/Red, Right Hand, Stiff, 5-GW
Most Forgiving
  • Tungsten weights for high MOI
  • Large sweet spot
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Mizuno JPX919 Hot Metal Iron Set (Men's, Right Hand, Steel, Regular, 4-GW)
Best for Distance
  • Malleable metal construction
  • Stable launch
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Cleveland Golf 2018 Men's Launcher CBX Iron Set (Set of 7 total clubs: 4-PW, Left Hand, Regular, Graphite)
  • High launch angle
  • Increased accuracy
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Titleist 718 AP3 Irons – (Steel) (Regular Flex-4-AW, Right)
  • Highly engineered
  • Hollow-blade design
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2020 Tour Edge Exotics EXS 220 Iron Set RH 5-PW Steel Stiff
  • Hollow-body construction
  • Large sweet spot
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Wilson Staff D300 Irons - Steel Regular RH
  • Very forgiving
  • Power holes create distance
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TaylorMade Golf M6 Iron Set, 4-PW, Left Hand, Stiff Flex Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Orange
  • Low center of gravity
  • Large sweet spot
See On Amazon →

Top Forgiving Irons


Callaway Mavrik Max

Callaway Golf 2020 Mavrik Max Iron Set (Right Hand, Graphite, Light, 6 Iron - PW)

Callaway released its Mavrik line of clubs in 2020 to great acclaim. There are three models of the Mavrik irons: Standard, Pro, and Max. The Standard is good for most players, the Pro for better players, and the Max for those looking for the greatest forgiveness.

That makes Max our choice among the three for inclusion here. The Max differs from the other two with a larger club head and a deeper center of gravity. Those combine to make it easier to hit and easier to launch into the air.

Of course, it shares some commonalities. Among those are a fast club face designed with the aid of artificial intelligence, perhaps a first in golf club manufacturing.

Tungsten weights help perfect the center of gravity. And urethane microspheres inserted behind the face help reduce unwanted vibration.

Pros

  • Fast face
  • Large club head
  • Low center of gravity

Cons

  • Does not hold greens as well as some
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Cobra F9 Speedback

Cobra Golf 2019 F9 Speedback Iron Set, Chrome/Black/Red, Right Hand, Stiff, 5-GW

You will be hard pressed to find any irons more forgiving than the F9 Speedback from Cobra. It achieves this largely through the addition of tungsten weights in both the heel and toe of the club. That makes it incredibly stable with a high moment of inertia.

The Speedback sole creates a low center of gravity by use of a belt of steel wrapped around the back of the iron. Its precise placement makes this club easy to hit but without a large increase on the sole of the club. It maintains a sleek look, or at least as sleek as you are apt to find in this category.

The face is a mere 1.8 millimeters at its thinnest point, which Cobra says will increase the sweet spot. The thin face also increases the rebound effect upon impact, leading to greater ball speed and distance.

The CNC milled face and grooves gets you as close to a forged iron as possible.

Pros

  • Tungsten weights for high MOI
  • Large sweet spot
  • Fast face

Cons

  • Like others here, lacks great feel
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Mizuno JPX900 Hot Metal

Mizuno JPX919 Hot Metal Iron Set (Men's, Right Hand, Steel, Regular, 4-GW)

If you are looking for irons that are both forgiving and long, the JPX900 Hot Metal from Mizuno is a great selection.

Made from a metal alloy Mizuno calls Chromoly, it is highly malleable, which means the hosel can be bent more easily. That makes these clubs perfect for a customized fitting, not something you can always say for game improvement clubs.

The metal appearance has the added benefit of being gorgeous to look at, with a brushed finish that reduces glare.

But this is much more than just a pretty club. The frame is open at the heel, which helps with stability and launch, while maintaining great feel.

Sound ribs within the club face help dampen vibration.

These clubs, while still quite forgiving, are not quite as forgiving as others on this list. It could still be a great combination of forgiveness and distance for many golfers.

Pros

  • Malleable metal construction
  • Stable launch
  • Great distance

Cons

  • Not quite as forgiving as some
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Cleveland Golf Launcher CBX

Cleveland Golf 2018 Men's Launcher CBX Iron Set (Set of 7 total clubs: 4-PW, Left Hand, Regular, Graphite)

As the name suggests, the Launcher CBX irons are designed for a higher launch. They are also manufactured to give great distance and accuracy, all in a forgiving cavity-backed design.

But what really sets these irons apart is the technology Cleveland borrowed from its noted wedges and applied to these irons. The laser milled Tour Zip Grooves will give you greater accuracy due to better stopping power than other iron sets in this category.

The Launcher CBX irons also have a progressively designed sole. That sole is V-shaped and goes from wider on longer clubs to thinner on the shorter ones. The result is a long iron that is easier to hit but a short iron that maintains its feel and control.

Pros

  • High launch angle
  • Increased accuracy
  • Wedge design across entire set

Cons

  • Forgiving but less so than some
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Titleist 718 AP3

Titleist 718 AP3 Irons – (Steel) (Regular Flex-4-AW, Right)

Titleist is well known as a company that has exacting manufacturing requirements for all its products. And while the company may be best known for its line of golf balls, this iron set is a highly engineered thing of beauty.

The 718 AP3 set combines all the great things from previous iterations to provide clubs that are long, accurate, and forgiving.

A hollow-blade design combined with high-speed face tech yields shots that fly far and high and stop quickly.

But we’re here for the forgiveness. That’s achieved with tungsten weights distributed in a way that gives a high MOI for great results on off-center hits.

If you want forgiving irons with the look and feel of a performance club, then this could be the one for you.

Pros

  • Highly engineered
  • Hollow-blade design
  • High ball flight that stops quickly

Cons

  • Not best choice for very high handicappers
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Tour Edge Exotics EXS 220

2020 Tour Edge Exotics EXS 220 Iron Set RH 5-PW Steel Stiff

These irons from Tour Edge have a number of ways to help create a very forgiving club.

The hollow body provides for terrific perimeter weighting along with a face flex. This combines with what Tour Edge calls Spiderweb VFT tech – a web across the face of the club to enlarge the sweet spot in all directions – to give great performance from off-center hits.

The EXS 220 also has a ramped sole that has relief areas at both the toe and heel. This is intended to allow the club to move freely through any turf conditions. This makes the club even easier to hit.

Increased distance comes from a performance gel insert that absorbs shock, giving the club more of a rebound effect.

The offsets and blade lengths are progressive throughout the set, making long irons easier to hit with added performance to short irons.

Pros

  • Hollow-body construction
  • Large sweet spot
  • Ramped sole

Cons

  • Not as long as others here
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Wilson Staff D300

Wilson Staff D300 Irons - Steel Regular RH

While many of the clubs here are intended for mid- to low handicappers, the Wilson Staff D300 gets great marks for the high handicapper.

This set has been around since 2017 and Wilson has since released newer models. Those newer models largely overcame the flaw in the D300, and that is its clunky and oversized appearance.

Problem is, Wilson also took away the D300’s greatest strength, that being its terrific forgiveness levels that are perfect for high handicappers. While understandable that Wilson wants to attract a wider audience, there is still a market for the high handicapper.

Fortunately, the D300 is still widely available, great news for the high handicapper who wants a very forgiving club and is less interested in aesthetics.

Pros

  • Very forgiving
  • Power holes create distance
  • High MOI

Cons

  • Clunky appearance
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TaylorMade M6

TaylorMade Golf M6 Iron Set, 4-PW, Left Hand, Stiff Flex Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Orange

Like the offering from Wilson above, the M6 is not the latest offering from TaylorMade. But these irons offer up great forgiveness without sacrificing too much distance and feel. For that, the M6 belongs on this list.

First, the forgiveness aspects. A low center of gravity comes from a fluted hosel and 360 degree undercut. That low center of gravity makes it easier to get the ball airborne. And an off-center Inverted Cone Technology creates a large sweet spot that aids off-center strikes.

Distance is enhanced by what TaylorMade calls a Speed Bridge. That, combined with a very thin face, results is good distance.

Dampeners within the club reduce vibration, yielding greater feel.

This is a fine all-around iron that fits well in the forgiveness category.

Pros

  • Low center of gravity
  • Large sweet spot
  • Good distance

Cons

  • Some users complain about the loud sound at impact
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Irons achieve greater forgiveness by virtue of two related characteristics: a larger sweet spot and a higher moment of inertia. Let’s delve a bit deeper into both to see why.

Sweet Spot

The sweet spot of any golf club is always a round shape surrounding the center of the club. This spot is the precise location on the club face that makes contact with the ball and produces the desired result.

Accomplished golfers are able to find this sweet spot with much greater consistency than mid- and high handicappers. Golfers still sometimes use stickers on the face of the club that leave a mark where the ball meets the club. This is an easy way to determine if you are striking the ball properly.

That is one way to hone in on striking the sweet spot more often. That means more consistent results and lower scores.

That’s not the only way to hit the sweet spot more often. If you increase the size of the sweet spot, you will also produce more consistent results. One way to do that is to increase the size of the club head. Drivers have the largest club heads and the corresponding largest sweet spots.

While manufacturers do make irons with larger club heads, that has diminishing returns. A larger club head becomes unwieldy. Another way, first popularized by Ping founder Karsten Solheim, is to move much of the weight of the club head to the outer edges.

Again, adding too much weight to the club head would be detrimental. But Solheim’s clubs achieved the same thing by removing weight from the back of the club, creating a cavity-backed club.

Manufacturers have been tweaking that formula in the five or so decades since. Today’s cavity-backed clubs rival blades in performance but with a considerable advantage in forgiveness. Little wonder cavity-backed clubs dominate the market.

Moment of Inertia

Moment of inertia, hereafter abbreviated to MOI, is a fancy term that represents the amount of twisting a club has on impact.

MOI is important on every club in your bag. Drivers often have adjustable weights so golfers can dial in the perfect amount of MOI. Higher MOIs have greater forgiveness and less spin. Less spin means less control over the ball flight, which is why many low handicappers and professionals like drivers with lower MOIs.

But with the putter, almost every golfer can benefit from a high MOI.

With irons, especially higher priced sets, you might see a progressive MOI, with higher numbers for the longer clubs that are more difficult to hit.

It should be easy to see why a high MOI, illustrated by less twisting of the club head at impact, is a good thing. The more the club twists, the farther off line the shot will go. This is truer for shots hit on the toe of the club.

Cavity-backed clubs and their perimeter weighting help create a higher MOI. The result is the more forgiving irons that we have shown here.

Three Irons We Like

We could have gone in any number of directions as our choice for best overall among forgiving irons, but the Mavrik Max won out with its high forgiveness and great performance design achieved with artificial intelligence.

Mizuno used an innovative process to create a very long iron without sacrificing forgiveness in its JPX919 Hot Metal clubs, our pick for longest irons in this group.

The very high MOI of the Cobra F9 Speedback irons make them our pick as most