What are the Best Golf Clubs For Mid Handicappers in 2017?
Golf club technology has improved leaps and bounds in recent decades, making the life of beginners and high handicappers easier on the golf course. In the past, when you took up golf, you had to learn the hard way, using the same kind of clubs as everyone else. With the development of technologies like perimeter weighting, manufacturers have created separate categories of clubs aimed at different skill levels. Beginners tend to excel when they use game improvement clubs with high levels of forgiveness and assistance. But as your skill levels improve, extra forgiveness and shot assistance can become a hindrance to your evolution into a better golfer. If you use beginner's clubs and feel that you have hit a plateau regarding handicap improvement after crossing the 20 point mark, the time might be ripe for an upgrade to mid handicapper clubs. Our list of the best golf clubs for mid handicappers includes the following:
What Are The Different Handicap Levels in Golf ClubsThese days, golf clubs are designed keeping in mind the unique requirements of golfers with varying skill levels. But this is not a strict categorization, and there can be varying levels of overlap within categories. No hard and fast rule says that if your handicap is within a particular range, you simply have to choose a specific category of clubs. To each, their own is the name of the game. But still, these categories are helpful as a broad guideline to clubs that might be the best suited to your individual skill level.
Max game improvement clubsMax game improvement clubs are aimed at the more casual golfers and high handicappers, people who just want to have a relaxing day on the golf course to be precise. These clubs have large club heads that make it easy to get good contact with the ball and have larger sweet spots that even off center shots still get good speed and accuracy. But on the downside, they provide lower levels of feedback. If you want to improve your shot accuracy, you need to be able to recognize mishits correctly. With max game improvement clubs, it's harder to read mishits. Max game improvement clubs are usually aimed at golfers with handicaps above 20.
Game improvement clubsGame improvement clubs are the most common category of clubs sold on the market. Their target demographic includes the so-called mid handicappers, who could be anyone with their handicaps within the 10-20 range. Within this range, there can be a fair bit of diversity among clubs regarding their forgiveness levels. Some clubs tend to gravitate towards the better than average players who have their handicaps closer to the single digit mark, while other clubs target those who prefer extra forgiveness to workability and finesse. Feedback and feel tend to be better, though they are still dampened to some degree by the perimeter weighting and cavity back designs that help increase the sweet spot area.
Better player clubsBetter player clubs have significantly lower levels of forgiveness, with smaller club heads, smaller cavity backs, and less of perimeter weighting. Some better player clubs take the muscle back or blade design (in irons and putters especially) and are aimed at single digit handicap players and scratch golfers. They sell in fewer quantities, due to the smaller number of players who have these skill levels. As already mentioned, these are just basic guidelines. Club suitability is based on much more than just your accuracy and swing speeds. Player physique, fitness, stance and swing styles all play a huge part in deciding the ideal club design for the individual golfer. This is why it is so important to get yourself outfitted by a seasoned club fitter to get the best results out of your golf clubs. To learn more about the science behind the handicap system, check out this YouTube video from the USGA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZelYhBaE2M
Game Improvement And Club TypesThere are at least five different categories of golf clubs at present, including drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, and putters. All these club types do not exhibit game improvement design characteristics uniformly. Rookie golfers tend to find the longer clubs to be the hardest to wield effectively, for obvious reasons. Shorter clubs like irons and wedges are relatively easy to control through the swing and get good contact on the ball. With the longer clubs like drivers, woods and long-irons shot accuracy levels can be much harder to maintain. So these are clubs that usually exhibit the maximum levels of forgiveness features.
DriversGame improvement and max game improvement drivers sport club heads that are at the legal limit of 460cc by volume. Some drivers for mid handicappers can also be found with smaller 440cc club heads. Along with the larger heads, the best drivers for mid handicappers also have large cavity backs, perimeter weighting and higher MoI to improve forgiveness. To assist with launch heights, CoG is usually kept down and forward by default. But most game improvement clubs these days come with movable weights feature, which enables users to adjust settings like CoG and MoI according to their desire. The best drivers for mid handicappers tend to have high loft angles.
Fairway WoodsSince drivers are 1-woods, pretty much everything that applies to the best drivers for average golfers are also applicable to the 3,5, and 7-woods in the market these days. Though they are slightly smaller and shorter than drivers, manufacturers have successfully incorporated driver design elements like perimeter weighting and weight positioning on the club head, to the best fairway woods for mid handicappers. These woods prioritize forgiveness, launch speed, and launch height, much like drivers in the same category.
IronsThe best irons for intermediate golfers usually replace long irons with hybrid clubs for ease of use. Hybrids are vastly superior to long irons regarding forgiveness, accuracy, and playability from a variety of lies. Blade irons or muscle-backs are considered pro and better player choices. Mid Handicapper irons these days have a cast cavity back design (aimed at those with higher handicaps), as well as a forged semi-cavity back design pioneered by manufacturers like Mizuno and aimed at lower handicap players who want more workability from their irons. Club head size increase in irons is proportional to the increase in handicap of their target audience.
WedgesThough they don't have the extreme forgiveness enhancing features of the woods and irons, the best wedges for mid handicappers still exhibit features like larger club heads and cavity backs and some level of perimeter weighting. Wedges with these qualities can often be found along with the best irons for intermediate golfers, usually in the form of a Pitching Wedge or Sand Wedge.
PuttersThings are not so cut and dried in the world of putters, though beginners do tend to struggle more with blade designs. Mallet style putters do have a bit of a reputation (or stigma) as the favored design for beginners and higher handicappers. These clubs have deep club heads and are balanced in such a way to widen the surface area of the sweet spot on the club face.
The Sub Zero version of the 2017 GBB Epic is aimed mainly at mid-handicappers who don’t need extra assistance to generate high levels of spin on their drives. For those who struggle that aspect of the driver game, the GBB Epic is the ideal choice, being one of the best drivers for average golfers.
Both variants sports Callaway’s pathbreaking “Jailbreak” design, which involves two bars of titanium behind the club face, connecting the crown to the sole. The design improves shot speed across the club face., with improved energy transfer from your swing.
The driver has a broad range of adjustable features, from movable weights at the front and back, to an adjustable hosel with several loft angles to choose from.
What we like
- Probably the best looking driver of 2017 with its sharp black and neon green carbon fiber finish, and round shape.
- Excellent feel on shots, with a substantial impact that is not held back or dampened in any way.
- Generates excellent speed across the club face, one of the best performers in the distance game.
- Generous amounts of forgiveness and accuracy, mishits are few and far between.
- Probably one of the best fairway woods for mid handicappers who like shaping their shots.
What we dislike
- Low spin levels make it unsuitable for players with average swing speeds.
- The multitude of adjustable options can seem overwhelming at first.
Featuring a set of rails at the sole of the club, ostensibly to improve the travel of the club through the turf and long grass, the F7 wood aims to be a real performer on the fairway.
The MyFly hosel makes this effectively several woods in one, with five progressive loft angle setting spaced at three degrees apart.
Add a couple of sole slots for a 30g weight, and you have a wood with a lot of adjustable features.
What we like
- Sharp looks with a glossy black finish accentuated by orange accents.
- Has an active feedback and feel, with an audible crack on impact.
- The weight manipulation offers both high spin and low spin variants.
- The rails provide better contact on shots.
What we dislike
- The rails offer definite performance upgrade only on the higher lofts.
- The adjustable options can take some tweaking to reach the optimal setting.
If you have the cash to spare, a set of forged irons from Mizuno can add the much-needed X-factor to your short game on the fairway.
With a high-quality forged boron steel treatment, the MP-25 is the latest in the series of unique steel irons from Mizuno.
The small cavity back design at the back, combined with a blade-like face firmly establishes its identity as the best game improvement irons for lower handicappers/better players.
To compensate for the cavity back design, you get the thinnest possible face on an iron, thanks to the high-grade boron steel.
What we like
- The blade design with a shiny metal finish is pure class, simply the best golf irons in the looks department.
- Exquisite playability and workability in all kinds of lies, truly one of the best irons for mid handicappers looking for finesse.
- Adequate forgiveness on offer makes it a great iron for mid-handicappers.
- Excellent distance on shots.
- Top class feel and feedback, no other irons come close.
What we dislike
- Not suitable for those looking for the best game improvement irons for forgiveness.
- Not the best irons for mid handicappers with slow swing speeds.
The RTX 3 is the latest from the famous 588 series, one of the best wedges for mid handicappers in the market for decades. The RTX stands for a unique groove feature on the club face, with the same number of lines maintained across the different lofts.
The CoG of these wedges has been moved to a more central position for more consistency on shots.
With sole grinds offering different bounces, these RTX-3 wedges offer a range of options aimed at players of different skill levels.
What we like
- Comes in three different finishes and a variety of designs like blade and cavity back, there is something for everyone here.
- The wedges provide excellent feedback with a satisfying impact sound.
- Three sole grind options are available to suit different turf conditions.
- The Rotex face offers improved spin.
What we dislike
- Forgiveness is on the lower side.
- Might take some extensive practice to get decent shots on a consistent basis.
The latest blade putter from Callaway’s Odyssey marquee has a synthetic face insert that improves overall forgiveness by reducing the level of twisting on mis-hits.
This special insert uses a soft synthetic surface which has tiny micro-hinges of metal embedded across the face.
More Delicate inserts lack the impact sound or feedback of metal faces, and this combination design tries to bring the best of both worlds.
So you essentially get a soft insert putter that performs almost like a steel-faced putter.
What we like
- The micro-hinge face provides excellent roll on impact.
- Uses a high-quality Versa alignment technology for better aim.
- Uses tour proven design for stable and consistent performance.
- Great feel and feedback on impact, with fine Counter Core grips.
What we dislike
- nothing major to report, except that the blade design may not be suitable for higher handicappers.
Our shortlist displays a beautiful mix of performance with adequate levels of forgiveness.
When you reach the mid handicap level, too much forgiveness and assistance can be detrimental to skill progression. These clubs on our list offer best in class performance and reliability but will punish you on atrocious shots.
Clubs like the Mizuno Golf MP 25 irons, our favorite in the list, challenge you to be at your best to eke out top level performance on the course.
The Mizuno irons live up to the reputation of being the best golf irons with great ease and are highly recommended to all mid handicappers looking for some much-needed performance upgrade.