Pros: Blades that are playable for a willing single-digit. Beautiful shaping and top-quality satin finish.
Cons: They’re pricey, about $1200 for a seven-club set.
Bottom Line: Even professional golfers are moving away from blades toward more forgiving irons. But if you’re a blade loyalist, or want to be, these are a must-try.
Fourteen Golf was established in 1981 as a Japanese club maker that hand-crafted forgings for some of the best players in the world, including the 1987 U.S Open champion Scott Simpson. As word spread about the quality of Fourteen’s clubs, the company introduced its own product under the Fourteen Golf banner. In 2002, Fourteen Golf was thrust into the spotlight when Ernie Els won the Open Championship using a Fourteen utility iron Since that time, the company has continued its growth, and has a tour presence that includes Ryuji Imada, John Mallinger, Chad Collins and Arjun Atwal.
While other OEM’s race to be one step ahead of the competition, Fourteen Golf has built a following based on the simple idea of equipping golfers with the best 14 clubs possible. The FH-1000 irons are representative of this idea to the nth degree. They’re true players iron designed with competitive golfers in mind. The heads are forged from a soft steel material (S25C) and are delivered standard with Dynamic Golf S300 shafts.
Above: The FH-1000 irons have Fourteen’s “reverse muscle back” design, which increases the weight of the upper blade portion of the head to add stability at impact.
The main aspect that makes any club in the Fourteen family stand out from the competition is their attention to center of gravity (CG) lengths. In speaking with Fourteen COO Marcy Kamoda, I learned that the main objective in each club design is the flow of the set from driver through the wedge. In simple terms, the center of gravity lengths should remain at 2 millimeter variances from club to club. What the better golfer would experience in this case is the ability to make a consistent pass at the ball from driver to lob wedge and find the sweet spot of the club. Fourteen is one of the few companies that focuses each club design on this idea.
“We closely matched the CG distance with our tour model driver,” Kamoda said. “We did this so that there is a better transition from a driver to an iron, which allows the golfer to swing at the same tempo and also obtain better shot consistency. These irons were strategically made so that tour pros have a better transition from club to club and that they can consistently manage to perform well under any type of situation.”
Fourteen’s FH-1000 irons are available through golf retailers such as Golfsmith, Fairway Golf and other stores (click here to find a Fourteen retailer in your area).
In player testing, I found that these irons were indeed a bit more forgiving on off-center hits than other blades I’ve hit. The FH-1000’s provide a consistent feel from 3 iron through pitching wedge, which could be attributed to the CG length consistencies. The “reverse muscle back” design, which moves weight to the top of the irons, offers more stability through the hitting area as well as a bit more forgiveness on off-center strikes.
In my experience with forged blades, it’s not so much the shot direction that lacks but the substantial loss of distance on off-center hits. That was not the experience with the FH-1000 irons. I would say that a slight mishit may cost a player a 3-to-5 percent distance loss with the FH-1000 irons, while other blades I’ve hit have cost me as much as a 10 percent distance loss on off-center hits.
Like most blade-style irons, ball flight control was easily achieved. The long irons offered a higher launch thanks to their lower CG, while the higher CG of the short irons allowed me to hit lower, more penetrating shots. Where I was pleasantly surprised was the lack of discrepancy between long iron mishits and short iron mishits. In my experience, there has always been a large gap in the two. Long iron mishits had both direction and distance problems, while short iron misses were much easier to stomach as they only seemed to affect distance. All the irons in the FH-1000 set seemed to suffer only distance losses on off-center hits, which proved to me the value of the company’s design philosophies.
All my testing done on the course/range without the benefit of a launch monitor, so I can’t speak to spin numbers with any degree of accuracy. What I can say was in comparison to the the other blades I’ve used, the FH-1000 longer irons allowed me to get the ball in the air with less effort.
Above: An FH-1000 7 iron at address.
In regards to turf interaction, the FH-1000 irons have a pretty sharp leading edge that can help better players get a cleaner strike at the back of the ball, both from the fairway and the rough. It’s certainly not a sole grind designed for players with overly steep angles of attack, which makes sense for the blade iron audience. The sole, however, is slightly wider than most blades, which was likely a contributing factor to the forgiveness of the irons and my ability to hit the long irons higher.
Another stand out feature of the FH-1000 was the distance control. Like most muscle back irons, the technology lends itself to precision and not increased distance. The standard loft of the clubs are fairly traditional, coming stock with a 21-degree 3 iron and a 47-degree wedge. That setup offered me plenty of shot-stopping power without ballooning problems.
Looks and Feel
This is where Fourteen Golf separates itself from the competition before a shot is ever struck. The FH-1000’s have has serious curb appeal, with thin top lines that flow into medium blade lengths that are reminiscent of Mizuno’s extremely popular MP-64 irons. Like the MP-64’s, the irons aren’t small, but golfers won’t call them large either.
The FH-1000 irons also make a statement in the bag thanks to their stunning brushed satin finish and their unique lines. Serious gearheads know that there are irons with satin finishes, and then there are irons with great satin finishes. The FH-1000’s fall into the latter category, and have understated logos that emphasize the richness of the carefully applied finish. Each iron simply looks and feels like a work of art, and the reverse muscle back finish adds a touch of uniqueness to the irons that few muscle backs have.
In terms of the overall feel, the FH-1000 are extremely soft with a turf interaction that harkens back to popular Japanese forgings from Miura, Mizuno and Maruman. In my study of what better players look for in a club, sound is always an important characteristic. The FH-1000’s are on the softer side, and I experienced a nice thud when I found the middle of the face. Due to the softness of the forgings the clubs will ding up over time, but that’s unavoidable in any soft forging.
In today’s golf equipment market, manufacturers are raising the bar in terms of technology each year. The competition is stiff for Fourteen, but the company has built a following with clubs that appeal to golfers seeking top-notch craftsmanship, as well as a blend of performance, good looks and a pleasing feel. The FH-1000 irons are no exception.