Stock shaft: KBS Max MT (s), Fujikura Ventus Red (g) 7-iron loft: 28° Forgiveness rating: 3.5/5
VERDICT: The Stealth is entering the second year of its life cycle, but it’s still a big part of the conversation for golfers buying mid-handicap irons in 2023.
Our thinking boils down to the fact it’s adjustable to 2° weaker lofts (they can also go 1° stronger), a set-up that brilliantly suits a lot of average speed club golfers. Thanks to Taylormade’s clever new Selectfit hosel system, you can also now try the set-up before buying. All in, the Stealth is a really attractive-looking and sounding iron option within the mid-handicap category. While it’s not our very fastest or longest, it was well above the test average on both counts. If we were spending our own dosh in the mid-handicap iron category in 2023, the model would definitely feature on our short list.
SRIXON ZX4 MKII
Stock shafts: KBS Tour Lite (s), Diamana ZX (g) 7-iron loft: 28.5° Forgiveness rating: 3-3.5/5
VERDICT: Srixon have made great irons for some time, but 2023 is the year when everything has come together as a convincing and cohesive story. We love the head’s elegant straight lines, which are similar to the brilliant ZX5/ZX7. While they’re a little longer and bigger, there’s a super attractive look at address, as they’re not overly offset. Srixon say the topline thickness across the family are closely linked, which actively encourages golfers to create their own personal combo set of two or more models. Throw in the ZX4 being our joint longest mid-handicap iron of the year (197 yards, tied with the Wilson Dynapower), while producing the fastest ball speed, plus a top-three performance for protecting both ball speed and carry distance, and you have an iron well worthy of a TG Best of
Stock shafts: Ping AWT (s), Ping Alta Quick and Alta CB Black (g) 7-iron loft: 29° Forgiveness rating: 3.5/5
VERDICT: The G430, like their predecessors, are a force to be reckoned with. The G family have evolved into an attractive and desirable model (especially in the shorter irons and wedges), yet they remain ultra forgiving. Ping say they’ve switched to two-year product cycles, so you can buy the G430 safe in the knowledge that it won’t be old hat next year. And even though they weren’t quite the very fastest or longest irons in the category, these are brilliant mid-handicap irons that will happily stay in the bag for years. If you’re not a fan of strong lofts, Ping’s retro lofts are 2° weaker (31° in the G430 7-iron), which will help many flight, land and stop shots correctly. If you really struggle for speed (swinging the driver at less than 85mph), there’s a new, lighter G430 High Launch set-up.
PXG 0211 XCOR2
Stock shafts: True Temper Elevate MP and Elevate Tour, Nippon Modus Pro 125, UST Recoil Dart, Project X Cypher, Mitsubishi MMT 7-iron loft: 28° Forgiveness rating: 3.5/5
VERDICT: The XCOR2 isn’t forged, and doesn’t have PXG’S famous weight technology (so MOI is typically 10% lower than the premium irons), but in a year when money for many is tight, a set of 0211s (6-GW) is outstanding value in anyone’s book. PXG have always made great-looking irons – we’re yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like their shape – and we reckon many club golfers would struggle to feel a difference between this and the premium forged and fully adjustable models. All in, this is a fantastic mid-handicapper choice in 2023, and if your club speed is anywhere close to average, make sure you explore the lighter, higher launching shaft options.