Many major brands invest a lot of money into research and development, craftsmanship and high-end materials — all to produce top-notch irons. And they build all of that into the price. Some irons cost more than others, and usually with good reason. Try hitting the models we list here, and you’ll understand why: They feel and perform exceptionally well. Plus, they even seem to make your bad shots a little more palatable, invoking forgiveness-oriented features such as multiple materials, thin-and-flexible faces, and perfectly contoured cavities. These three below are categorized as game-improvement irons, yet they look a lot sleeker than many of the others on the market.

Each of Honma’s Be Zeal 535 ($200/iron with graphite shaft, $160/steel) has slits in the sole, toe, heel and top blade that save weight while significantly increasing ball speed across the thin titanium clubface. It has a low-and-deep CG, due to tungsten weights on the heel and toe. Best of all, it feels pure and solid at impact.

PXG’s 0311 XF GEN2 ($500/club in dark finish, $400/chrome) is geared for average golfers seeking extreme forgiveness with good workability. The XF stands for extreme forgiveness with a soft feel. The slightly long blade, more offset, thin top rail and wide sole make hitting shots a breeze. The cavity is injection-molded with new, proprietary COR2’s material that dampens impact vibration.

Titleist’s T-MB ($305/club with graphite shaft, $280/steel) used to be the company’s ultimate utility iron. Now it’s become so popular with Tour pros and amateurs alike that it has blossomed into a full set of uniquely-designed irons that deliver distance and solid feel at every loft. Expect a high launch and noticeably more distance, thanks to a hollow-body, multi-material construction that includes high-density tungsten and a thin unsupported face to create faster ball speed.

By Scott Kramer

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