Titleist DCI 981 Irons Review – Are They Forgiving & Good for High Handicappers?

“The Titleist DCI 981 irons are interesting in that they are designed to look like traditional blades but perform like anything but.”

One needs only to look at the loft profile. The lofts have been jacked up higher than we have seen in recent, modern game improvement irons – the 9-iron is set to a whopping 43°. But despite the relatively compact shape and profile, these are definitely still game improvement irons. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Titleist DCI 981 Irons Overview

“The Titleist DCI 981 are true cavity back irons.”

We emphasize the true because of the fact that the sole bleeds seamlessly into the top line. The top line then is raised quite a bit from the depth of the cavity. What you’re left with is an iron that you can feed water to your cat with.

As you can imagine, this design gives the Titleist DCI 981 a pretty wide top line. Still, the distance from toe to heel isn’t very long. Also, the face profile isn’t very deep. At address, these irons have a compact look; but the pronounced offset reminds you that these are indeed game improvement irons.

“The Titleist DCI 981 irons may be older but they can work for a specific type of high handicapper. They were designed to offer a combination of workability, classic looks and forgiveness to the average golfer.”

Are the Titleist DCI 981 Irons Forgiving? 

“One of the most impressive design elements of the Titleist DCI 981 irons is the progressive CG.”

In the long irons, there is more CG emphasis near the heel. In the short irons, the CG shifts closer to the toe. This progressive CG makes the entire set much more manageable. That’s because the heel-side CG makes it easier to square the face at impact so you get a straighter shot. Also, heel-side mis-hits are among the most common long iron mis-hits. So the extra mass helps stabilize flight (straightens it) on these kinds of mis-hits.

With the CG placed closer to the toe in the short irons, you get better forgiveness on toe-side misses. It also pulls the CG away from your hands so you get better control over flight and spin. The Titleist DCI 981 irons are forgiving because they will help you play above your handicap rating.

Are Titleist DCI 981 Irons Good for Beginners & High Handicappers?

“The Titleist DCI 981 are excellent for beginners and high handicappers because they make each club easier to hit.”

The Titleist DCI 981 have deep undercut cavities and wide soles. This helps increase apex height which in turn, makes it easier to land the ball dead on the green or on a strategic lie. The long irons feel easy to swing. As long as you are moderately accurate, you will stay on the fairway on your full swings.

However, mis-hits can be punished quite severely. We noticed that our toe-side mis-hits in the long irons lost a lot of ball speed and dispersed widely. So while the Titleist DCI 981’s are good for both beginners and high handicappers, we’d say they are actually a bit better for high handicappers.

Should You Buy the Titleist DCI 981’s or the Titleist DCI 962’s? 

“Believe it or not, the Titleist DCI 962 irons have even weaker lofts than the Titleist DCI 981’s.”

The 9-iron of the Titleist DCI 962 set is 44°. However, they bear a very similar design to the Titleist DCI 981’s. The shaping and footprint is similar so they are also pretty compact. Naturally, they launch higher though. So if your main issue seems to be getting the ball airborne, we would recommend the Titleist DCI 962 irons.

Titleist DCI 981 Irons

Category: Game Improvement Irons

Titleist DCI 981 First Impressions

“We gave this section to our better testers since they’re the ones who actually tested the Titleist DCI 981 irons first.”

They told us that the Titleist DCI 981 irons were surprisingly workable. Not only were they able to fade and draw the ball at will, they also said that flight workability was keen. Another thing that shocked them was the low spin rates. They were able to get a low, piercing trajectory from these irons that they said they’ve rarely seen in game improvement irons.

When the rest of us got our hands on the Titleist DCI 981’s, we were a little less thrilled. They aren’t inherently forgiving due to their size. But once you find the sweet spot, it’s easy to hit it consistently thereafter. The thing that impressed us the most about these irons though is the detailed performance improvements. Any iron can play long; but it takes a thoughtfully designed iron to make a high handicap player score like a mid handicapper. And the stopping power and accuracy of these irons does just that.

Titleist DCI 981 Selling Points

  • Progressive CG
  • 431 stainless steel construction
  • Pronounced offset
  • Deep cavity back
  • Smooth turf interaction
  • Low spin


Who Are the Titleist DCI 981 Irons for?


“The Titleist DCI 981’s are good for high handicap players who want the ability to score with fewer irons.”

These aren’t the longest irons out there; but even as a high handicapper, you will be able to hold onto more greens with the long/mid irons in this set. They go a long way towards improving your accuracy. With these irons, you will start to learn how to work flight and spin as well.

The Titleist DCI Family of Irons

If you are looking for what is likely the most forgiving entry into the Titleist DCI family of irons, check out the Titleist DCI Oversize irons. As the name suggests, the Titleist DCI Oversize irons have larger heads than the Titleist DCI 981’s and were made to be easier to hit with. The loft and offset degrees are the same as the Titleist DCI 981’s; but they are overall more forgiving.

Distance: 94/100

Accuracy: 97/100

Forgiveness: 95/100

Feel & Control: 96/100


Overall Score: 95/100

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