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Wilson Staff Ci11 Irons Editor Review
Wilson has been an established name in the golf world for decades and in recent years has been gaining popularity with their D and C series of irons. Building off the Ci9 irons, the Ci11 irons are Wilson’s game improvement offering for 2012.
Designed for the mid handicap, or “aspirational golfer”, the Ci11 irons offer a deep cavity back design with a midsize profile, moderate topline, and progressive offset. The more unique features of this design are the exoskeleton which pushed weight further from the face in the heel and toe of the club, a thinner face for higher CT, and a sleek black PVD finish to reduce the visual head size at address.
These irons are on the market now. Stock configuration includes 4-P with 3 iron, gap wedge, and sand wedge available. Stock shaft offerings include Aldila VS Proto II graphite and True Temper TX Flighted steel.
Sleek black PVD design
Great forgiveness and distance
Very easy to launch
Moderate to minimal offset
Decent stock shafts (steel tested)
No chrome/satin offering (black only)
Strong lofts (44* PW, 48*GW)
Grips felt cheaper than other brands
Limited stock shaft offerings
Long stock shafts (stock 36 inch PW and GW)
Durability of the PVD finish
These irons are another solid offering from Wilson in their C series of irons. After 2.5 rounds, and several range sessions, they will be in my bag for time being due to the forgiveness the clubs add to my game. I will, however, be having them fit for length and lie before they have a permanent place in my bag. The black finish is very sleek looking, and its unique appeal will likely get it some attention in stores but it took me a little bit to adjust to the finish on the course. You should also expect to be making changes to your wedges if you are going to bag these with the very strong lofts. Although a 45-50-54-58 set up has become common, the Ci11?s will force you to be creative with 44-48 PW/GW setup. I likely will be going to 52-58 at the end of the bag.
In the bag and on the shelf, the black PVD finish looks outstanding. The finish looks almost like a black chrome, rather than a flatter black that some designs use. Wilson is claiming the black helps to visually reduce the club head size. I think it makes the club head look slightly larger. I have never taken a black iron to the course, so this was a little bit of an adjustment at first, but after about two swings I didn’t even notice anymore. Overall, I would imagine people will either love hate the black.
The top line is a little thicker than what I had been playing, but it is moderate for a GI club, and was not bothersome. When I first set the club down at address I thought the top line was a little thick, but once I was on the range it was not a problem. The clubs are also a slightly more squared design, which is what I prefer. The cavity of the 4 and 5 irons are just barely visible at address, and this maybe when the black actually saves the day because normally seeing the cavity bothers me, but with the finish, I did not notice it.
The best part of the look of the club is the moderate offset. The irons are progressively offset, which was a pleasant surprise. The clubs are easy to align, and set up very nicely behind the ball. Really the only things that prevented this club from being a 5 on looks is the top line which is just a tad larger them I am used to, and the black finish. Those are really subjective and personal items though, and I’m sure several people would put the looks at a 5.
One additional note that I wanted to add was the shaft bands with the serial number. These did not change the visual look of the club in play, but I thought it was very odd, that Wilson chose to place a shaft band with the serial number just below the grip. I have a feeling those may be coming off if the fitter and I decide the shafts need to be cut down.
This is where these irons really shine. They are both forgiving and workable. If you are moving from more of a players club, you might find that these aren’t quite as workable, but I had no problem getting them to move both directions and control the ball flight.
They really do launch the ball on a well struck shot. This was quite nice for me, but I can image that it will not be for everyone. Some players might have issues keeping the ball down, especially with the stock shaft offerings.
The forgiveness of the club was excellent. They can still take a nice healthy divot as the sole is not overly thick, but the perimeter weighting can help when the ball is stuck slightly off the mark. The forgiveness really seemed to standout on the thin shots for me. Although the ball did not launch as high on a thin shot, it was still able to get up and out a good distance. These irons are not the most forgiving club on the market.
Direction: Workable, but straighter then many GI clubs. They will fly straighter then a thinner profile club, especially when stuck poorly. I noticed couple times that the forgiveness saved a few poor shots. The club obviously isn’t going to work any miracles, but a fading ball might end up right side of the green rather off the green to the right. After a few range sessions, it was easy to control the shape of my shots.
Forgiveness: Again, the forgiveness is a pleasant surprise, both in distance forgiveness, and in directional forgiveness. I have hit more forgiving irons, but these offer a good mix of forgiveness and feel. Thin shots and overall ease of launch are where these clubs really shine. I haven’t hit everything that is out there for the 2012 GI lines, but I would think that the Ci11?s fall in the middle of the road for overall forgiveness. They are probably slightly more forgiving than the average GI club.
Ball flight: For me this was another standout category, particularly in the long irons. Some may find the high launch to be an area of concern, but I felt it was excellent. I did not feel that I was over launching the short of middle irons, but I was getting a nice high ball flight. Launching a 4 iron has previously been an issue for me, and I still do not launch these as high as some players, but I can easily say I launch the 4 iron of the Ci11?s higher than my previous clubs, and higher than anything else I have taken on the course. Because of the increased launched and strong lofts, you should expect to gain a half or full club distance as well.
The feel of these clubs is very good for a deep cavity back iron with perimeter weighting. I ranked it at a 4 though because there are better feeling irons out there. I was able to tell where I was hitting the ball on the face, but it was often muted. The sound is great, and a well struck shot comes off like the ball was never there. However, I would prefer a little more feedback. That is the trade off with forgiving clubs though.
The shafts play into feel as well. The stock TX Flighted steel had decent feel, but are also not a category winner in my mind. I personally prefer smoother steel shafts such as KBS or Nippons. The TX Flighted is a nice light weight shaft, but it is not as smooth as others. It is on par with other TT shafts I have hit before, so if you are a TT fan, these will work nicely. The shafts do have a nice kick you can feel through impact, and they are fairly easy to load. In my opinion they do play close to the listed flex, which also can be lacking in many other stock shafts from other companies.
These clubs are solid performers. They get the job done, and should appeal to a wide range of golfers. The main elements that limit them from being a 5 for me are the feel, the shaft offerings, and the black PVD being the only finish option. I was tempted to add the lofts, stock lengths, and cheap feeling grips in as a strike against the clubs, but if you are getting fitted for new clubs when you buy them, these things should all take care of themselves. I have been playing these clubs at the stock specs during my testing, but I think once I have a fitting and some more time to dial these in, I should be pretty happy with these overall.
They are a good offering in the GI category at a great price point. I think if they expanded the shaft offerings, and put a silver version of some kind out there Wilson would have a real winner. As much as it’s easy to fall in love with a black PVD in the store, it will wear down over time. At the end of the day though, performance is what matters and these clubs do great in that category. Even if the full set doesn’t fit your eye, the long irons are really outstanding. With the right shafts, these clubs would be a great fit for a wide range of players.