The Most Recommended Golf Clubs for Intermediate/Mid-Handicap Players

Published on 01/18/2024 · 12 min readTake your skill level from intermediate to advanced with the right set of clubs! From drivers to putters, find the right balance of forgiveness and precision.
Nate Cox, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Nate Cox

Photo by Smile Fight

Is it time for a new set of clubs? Have you been improving to the point that you feel like it’s time for something with a little more precision, rather than maximum forgiveness? The middle ground of being a mid-handicap golfer can be a tricky place to be because you probably shouldn’t look at what the pros use—but where should you look? I’m Nate Cox, a Golf Expert with Curated, and in this article, I’m going to break down what I believe are the best clubs for intermediate golfers—from the driver all the way down to the putter.

Are You a Mid-Handicap/Intermediate Golfer?

Photo by BG Stock

The term mid-handicap golfer, or intermediate, can span such a wide variety of handicap indexes. For the sake of this article, I have two specific mid-handicap golfers in mind. First is the golfer that’s seen great improvement from when they first started. They’ve been playing something that’s meant to provide maximum forgiveness and distance—great for a high-handicap or beginner golfer—but they’ve improved to desire something with better feel and precision. The second golfer is one that’s been a mid-handicap player for a while, and now is just the right time to upgrade all or part of their bag.

In this article, I’ll give my top picks for intermediates for each part of the golf bag—driver through putter—along with honorable mentions for each. My hope is that I can provide clarity behind each of my picks, thus helping you make a more informed decision if you’re looking to upgrade any part of your bag for any reason.

Not sure if your golf handicap qualifies you as a beginner or intermediate? Reach out to a Golfing Expert here on Curated and we chat through your skill level and situation to see what kind of clubs would be right for you!

Best Intermediate Drivers

For the mid-handicap golfer, drivers that position the weight low and towards the back of the club head provide a great balance of forgiveness and distance. As the weight is moved lower and further back in the head, it moves the center of gravity (CG) lower. This increases the backspin of the ball coming off the club face, which helps with forgiveness and helps the golfer achieve good distances. There are many other drivers designed to produce low-spin shots that maximize distance by moving the weight in the club head right behind the club face. While this can help you maximize your distance on good strikes, I generally steer mid-handicap golfers away from these types of drivers because they lack forgiveness.

Callaway Paradym Driver

Pretty much every brand says that each new driver they produce has revolutionized the driver and left their old one in the dust. In reality, that’s rarely the case, but Callaway’s Paradym is definitely a marked improvement over its predecessor. This driver boasts an AI-designed face, new jailbreak technology for structural stability, and a first-ever full carbon fiber chassis. This club is truly special, and I think the Paradym line of drivers is potentially the best on the market right now.

The Paradym keeps the CG low and in the back of the head, which makes it really forgiving, while also being long off the tee. It features a sliding weight in the back of the head, which allows you to dial in a draw or fade bias to your choosing. This is a feature rarely found outside of low-spin drivers, making this club all the more desirable.

Honorable mentions: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Driver, Titleist TSR2 Driver, Cobra Aerojet Driver

Best Intermediate Woods

Similar to drivers, the CG is very important to consider when selecting a fairway wood. The lower the CG in a fairway wood, the better (generally). As you improve as a golfer, you eventually reach the point where you go for more par 5’s in two for your chance to make the big bird—the eagle. When trying to reach those par 5’s in two, you may often have a fairway wood in hand, so you need a club that also has good stopping power and is easy to launch when hitting it off the turf. Lowering the CG makes them launch easier and have more stopping power into the green. Now, you aren’t going to be ripping these woods back 15 feet with backspin, but lowering the CG increases the spin on approach shots into the green, helping you hold the green when you hit a good shot going for the green in two.

TaylorMade Stealth 2 Fairway Wood

I’m thoroughly impressed with TaylorMade’s Stealth 2 fairway woods, and I think they’re a significant improvement over the original Stealth model. Many of the changes that were made to the design were in service to that all-important lower CG. The Stealth 2 is designed with a carbon crown, with weight taken out of the high toe of the club and moved lower in the club head, ultimately lowering the CG. I also just think this club looks beautiful.

A few other pieces of technology in this wood also help the mid-handicap golfer play better. The Stealth 2 has Twist Face design, designed to negate some of the negative spin that’s created from strikes off the toe or heel. TaylorMade also employs V Sole design, which helps with turf interaction when you’re hitting approach shots out of the fairway or rough. The Thru-Slot Speed Pocket is potentially the most significant feature, in terms of truly increasing forgiveness. This slot increases the flexion right at the bottom of the face, meaning that balls hit low on the face come off the club with much more speed than normal, leading to less distance drop-off.

Honorable mentions: Callaway Paradym Fairway Wood, Titleist TSR2 Fairway Wood

Best Intermediate Hybrids

For intermediate golfers, the benefit of using a hybrid or multiple hybrids is that they’re much easier to hit and achieve a higher launch with than long irons and driving irons—making them a great option to add to your bag if you haven’t already.

Callaway Paradym X Hybrid

The Callaway Paradym X takes the top spot for hybrids. One of the biggest gripes that I and many others have with hybrids is that they can be harder to hit out in thicker rough compared to an iron, because they have a thick sole and just more club to get caught up in the rough. Callaway addressed this problem with the Paradym X by increasing the camber on the leading edge of the club, which helps it cut through and interact with the turf better, especially in thick rough.

Callaway also implemented Batwing technology, alongside Jailbreak technology which has been in their woods and hybrids for years. This stabilizes the perimeter of the club head, which is helpful for two reasons. First, it makes the club head much more stable at impact, leading to more forgiveness across the face. Second, it gives the club head the structural integrity it needs to let the face flex more, leading to faster ball speeds and more distance. AI was used in the design of this club, too.

I chose the Paradym X over the standard Paradym for the mid-handicap golfer because the X has some features that add forgiveness. Both clubs are designed to be fairway-wood-like in shape, but the Paradym X has a larger head with a slightly larger sweet spot, which should help with hitting the ball solidly and inspiring confidence. It also has slightly greater offset, making it easier to square the face at impact. Additionally, the Paradym X has a semi-draw bias, which helps get the face back to square at impact, since there’s less weight in the toe of the club head.

Honorable mentions: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Rescue Hybrid, Srixon ZX MKII Hybrid

Best Intermediate Irons

For mid-handicap golfers, the irons might be the biggest change, especially for someone who’s coming from a game improvement iron set focused on distance and forgiveness, rather than feel and precision. Generally, the biggest—and best—change is the transition into a forged club (or forged components of a club, depending on the set), which is made from a single block of metal, rather than cast from a mold, like most game improvement irons. Because it’s forged from a block, the metal in forged clubs tends to have better structural integrity—down to the level of the atom. This results in a much softer feel off the face of the club.

Also important to consider are player’s distance irons, which offer a good amount of forgiveness, but also the soft feel and some of the workability of a forged player’s irons. Often, these clubs are designed with a forged face for a soft feel, but there’s also hollow club head designs, which move the weight to the perimeter of the club head, increasing stability and forgiveness. This creates a great balance between increasing feel and precision, while not losing out on all the forgiveness of a game improvement iron.

Mizuno Pro 225 Irons

When it comes to player’s distance irons, Mizuno does a fantastic job. Frankly, anything forged from Mizuno provides a feel pretty much unmatched by any other manufacturer, and the Pro 225 is no different. While it’s geared a little more for golfers on the lower end of mid-handicap (10-15 handicap), I absolutely think it’s a great option for a 20 handicap player to improve their game as well.

These irons are designed to look like a blade on the outside, but they’re far from it. A hollow head design allows the weighting of the club to be moved to the perimeter, increasing stability and forgiveness on off-center strikes. The incredible feel of these clubs comes from the Grain Forged face and neck, as well as the micro layer of copper underneath the nickel-chrome face. It doesn’t hurt that the Mizuno Pro 225 irons’ looks are also stunning and confidence-inspiring.

Honorable Mentions: TaylorMade P790 Irons, TaylorMade P770 Irons, Srixon ZX5 Irons

Best Intermediate Wedges

Wedges should be considered scoring clubs, right? Well, yeah, they should, but often the only wedges you hear about are just blades with higher lofts. Even with more loft, blade-style clubs are incredibly punishing on mishits. So, what makes a good wedge option for a mid-handicap golfer? Unsurprisingly, a design that gives the golfer a little more forgiveness than a blade. In this instance, my top pick and honorable mention are nearly tied.

TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3 Wedge

When it comes to forgiveness in wedges, the Hi-Toe 3 from TaylorMade takes the cake for me. With spin being something so desirable from wedges—especially for the mid-handicap golfer, due to its increased control and stopping power around the greens—the full face groove design provides forgiveness for this key aspect of wedge play. There’s also micro ridges between the grooves to increase the ability of the club face to grab the ball and create spin.

In terms of the shape, the high toe design lets golfers open up the club face around the greens and still have confidence that they’ll make good contact. It also means that you use the full face grooves to purposefully hit the ball out of the toe, leading to more of a dead spinner, since hitting the ball off the toe comes off with less speed.

If you like more of a traditional wedge look without full face grooves, consider my honorable mention, the Cleveland CBX Zipcore, a cavity back wedge designed for more forgiveness over workability.

Honorable Mention: Cleveland CBX Zipcore Wedge

Best Intermediate Putters

I almost always recommend a mallet-style putter for a mid-handicap golfer. Golf is a hard game, so why not choose a club design that makes it a little easier? A mallet putter makes things easier due to how its weight is spread out. Since there’s a larger club head, there’s more weight positioned outward and back in the club head. Similar to low-CG in drivers and woods, moving the weight back and out in a putter increases moment of inertia (MOI)—a fancy way to say it makes the putter head more stable throughout the stroke, and that it takes more force/effort to rotate the face to get the putt off-line. Now, you can definitely miss putts with a mallet putter, but increasing the stability of the club head does nothing but good for your short game.

An important piece of information to know when putting is the type of stroke you have. Does your putting stroke arc slightly, or a lot? Is it more of straight-back and straight-through motion? This can determine whether a toe-hang putter or face-balanced putter is better for you. If your stroke arcs, you should consider a toe-hang putter; if you have a straight-back and through-putting stroke, you should go with a face-balanced putter. If you need help assessing the best type of putter for you, feel free to connect with a Curated Golf Expert to lead you in the right direction.

TaylorMade Spider GT Black #3 Putter

Most mallet putters are designed the way they are for a reason—generally, to spread their weight out for more stability. For this reason, as long as you know whether you need a face-balanced or toe-hang putter, you can choose a putter largely based on the feel and club head shape at address you like. If you like a putter that feels soft when you hit it, consider a putter with a face insert, like the TaylorMade Spider GT. The Pure Roll insert in this putter gives it a very soft feel off the face. Additionally, the wingback design provides a beautiful look at address.

If you like a firmer feel off the face, try something milled like the Cleveland HB Soft Milled below. Otherwise, check out my honorable mentions for other great face insert mallet putter options.

Honorable Mentions: Odyssey Ten Putter, TaylorMade Spider X Hydroblast Flow Neck Putter, Cleveland HB Soft Milled #11 Single Bend Putter

Finding the Best Clubs for Your Game

If any of the clubs in this article stuck out to you as potentially worth putting in your bag, or even if you have totally different golf gear questions, you can connect with a Curated Golf Expert like myself, and we can help you find the best clubs specifically for your game and budget.

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

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Custom · Callaway Paradym X Hybrid

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Mizuno Pro 225 Irons
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