In this roundup review, we highlight all the best player distance irons currently available right now. There are some excellent options from all the best equipment companies.
Best Player Distance Irons
Taylormade P790 2021 Irons
The Taylormade P790’s are arguably the most popular player distance irons ever made. Fortunately for golf fans around the world, an updated model was released in August 2021, allowing Taylormade to make some subtle yet well-received updates.
In addition to a sleek iron profile and powerful loft specs, one of the best features of 2021 P790’s is the new SpeedFoam Air. This form of SpeedFoam is 69% lighter than the previoius version, saving around 3.5 grams of weight in each iron head. This has allowed Taylormade to redistribute that mass in order to enhance launch conditions.
Perhaps more importantly, the SpeedFoam helps prevent the iron from feeling dull and hollow, which is one of the biggest weaknesses of most player distance iron sets. All-in-all, the new P790’s should definitely be on your shortlist if you are looking for the best player distance irons currently available.
Taylormade P790 Iron Specs
Titleist T200 2021 Irons
Off all the irons in this round-up review, the new Titleist T200’s have the sleekest profile and the thinnest topline. Better players often prefer a thinner topline, and if you fall into this category, the T200’s could look very good when you set them down at address.
Despite the sleek design, the T200’s pack a pretty powerful punch from a distance perspective. The improved distribution of tungsten weighting together with powerful loft specs and maximum impact technology should ensure that the T200’s can keep up with even the longest player distance irons.
Titleist has also improved the acoustics of the 2021 T200 irons by introducing a muscle plate that sits at the back of each iron head. The muscle plate helps reduce unwanted vibration, improves the sound at impact and enhances the overall feel of each iron in the set. Titleist fans have every reason to be pleased with what the T200’s have to offer.
Titleist T200 Iron Specs
Callaway Apex 2021 Irons
The 2019 Callaway Apex irons were good, but the 2021 Callaway Apex irons are even better. The biggest upgrade is the introduction of Callaway’s Tungsten Energy Core, which uses 5 times more tungsten than the 2019 versions. The revised weight distribution creates optimal launch conditions, meaning that the ball launches high off the iron face without too much backspin. This is an excellent recipe for length and distance.
Callaway Apex Iron Specs
Ping i500 Player Distance Irons
Of all the irons in this round-up, the Ping i500’s are possibly the best looking, while still packing a powerful punch from a performance perspective.
When you stand over the i500’s, you will be struck by how compact the face is, and you may also notice that they have minimal offset. In fact, the i500’s have less offset than the Ping i210’s, something many people might not expect.
In terms of loft, launch conditions and technology, the i500’s should give you plenty of distance and the ability to shape the ball both ways given the minimal amount of offset. The only complaint with the i500’s is that you can definitely feel that it’s a hollow construction iron, meaning that you shouldn’t expect the buttery feel of a forged steel blade.
Ping i500 Iron Specs
Cobra King Forged Tec Irons
The Cobra Forged Tec irons tick just about every box that you could possibly want with a player distance iron. The design is reasonably compact, with a topline that isn’t too thin or too chunky.
Each iron is designed for optimal launch conditions, meaning that the ball powers off the face without too much backspin. Again, this is the perfect recipe for excellent distance without too much sidespin.
Lastly, Cobra has taken some cues from Taylormade, inserting foam microspheres into the hollow face in order to improve both the sound and the feel of each iron. To cap it all off, the ForgedTec irons are also reasonably affordable. In other words, they are a strong contender for best value player distance iron.
Cobra Forged Tec Iron Specs
Mizuno JPX921 Forged
Mizuno has become famous for producing irons with a buttery soft feel, resulting in a cult-like following from those who convert to the Japanese brand.
With the JPX 921 forged irons, Mizuno have built upon the success of the JPX 919 range. The main improvements are a more compact iron head, better ball speeds, and the introduction of the Chromoloy 412 iron face.
The net result is a very solid offering from Mizuno. The JPX 921 irons look great and they feel amazing.
Mizuno JPX921 Forged Iron Specs
Srixon ZX5 Player Distance Irons
The Srixon ZX5 irons are comparable to the Cobra Forged Tec irons in terms of value for money. Despite the affordable pricing, the ZX5 irons offer very solid performance, and they are likely to be well received by low and mid handicaps across the world.
The Tour V.T Sole is one of the most important design features of the ZX5’s. It ensures that even when you strike slightly behind the ball, you can still bank on solid turf interaction and crisp contact.
In addition, the ZX5 irons are built with a multi-piece construction design, which increases MOI and enhances forgiveness. Lastly, the ZX5’s have a 1020 Carbon Steel body that absorbs vibration, improves acoustics and provides an extremely soft feel.
Srixon ZX5 Iron Specs
Player Distance Irons vs Game Improvement Irons
There are a number of important differences between player disance irons and game improvement irons. To help you understand these differences, we have highlighted the most important ones below.
1. Iron Size & Design
Player distance irons are designed to look fairly similar to blades, but with a less intimidating profile. That means the heads are a bit larger and there are notable performance enhancement features built into the iron heads.
On the other hand, game improvement irons tend to have large heads, a wide sole, and almost all the game improvement technology that an equipment manufacturer can offer. As a result, they tend to be chunkier, and a bit less pleasing to the eye overall.
2. Handicap Range
Generally, player distance irons are intended for golfers within the 3-15 handicap range, and you may even find them in the bag of scratch golfers as well. Because they tend to be long and straight, they actually cater to a super wide range of handicaps.
Conversely, game improvement irons are clearly built for mid and high handicappers that need a bit more assistance with their ball flight. This translates to a handicap range of approximately 10-20. Once you go above 20 handicaps, you actually jump into a different category called super game improvement irons.
The bullet points below should help clarify the difference between player distance irons and game improvement irons in terms of handicap range:
- Player distance irons: 3-15 handicaps
- Game improvement irons: 10-20 handicaps
- Super game improvement irons: 20-36 handicappers
3. Shot Shaping
Even though player distance irons aren’t as workable as blades, they do allow for a reasonable degree of shot shaping ability. In other words, you should be able to work the ball both ways if you need to, and you should find it relatively easy to execute your preferred shot shape consistently.
With game improvement irons, the ball flight tends to be higher, and your ability to impart sidespin tends to be reduced. This means that you should find game improvement irons pretty darn straight, but not very workable. This is great for high handicappers that just need to hit as many greens as possible. It isn’t necessarily the best for low handicappers that want to carve the ball into tight pins.
Player distance irons are pretty forgiving, especially if they have a hollow construction design and tungsten weighting. However, game improvement irons are even more forgiving. This is mainly due to the larger size of the head, the wider sole, and even more tungsten weighting (in most cases). In essence, if forgiveness is super important to you, you might actually be better served by game improvement irons.