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2014 Gear Trials: Best Game-Improvement Irons

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Let’s start with the assumption that all golf equipment purchases are made by golfers who intend to improve their games. Why then does the golf industry use the label of “game improvement” to almost exclusively describe oversized irons? Isn’t every set of irons, from blades and boxed sets, created for game improvement?

This list, which we are hesitantly calling Best Game-Improvement Irons, includes models that are considerably larger than those on our 2014 Gear Trials: Best Players Irons list. That makes them a better fit for higher-handicap players, as well as golfers who don’t mind a larger-sized iron because of the gains in distance, forgiveness and accuracy they can provide.

How do you know what type of irons you should be playing? This list, combined with our Best Players Irons list, is a great place to start. We’re encouraging our readers to find a reputable fitter who can help them decide whether smaller, more workable players irons or larger, more forgiving game-improvement irons will lead to more pars and birdies.

Before you do that, however, make sure to read through this list and our other Gear Trials: Best Clubs lists to better understand modern golf equipment technology and how it can lead to seriously longer, straighter and more consistent shots when properly fit.

Who votes?

In our past best clubs list, we relied on both the feedback of our equipment editors and an elite panel of custom fitters located across North America. For this year’s list, we decided we needed another component: mass player testing of every major manufacturer’s irons performed by fitters at Miles of Golf in Ypsilanti, Mich. Those fitters spent eight days with 33 different testers of various ability levels evaluating a total of 17 different game-improvement irons. Each of the iron sets had its 6 iron tested with its stock stiff-flex shaft. The data was then normalized by the team at Miles of Golf in order to rank each iron’s launch, spin and smash factor.

After that, we surveyed our five other top custom fitters located across North America: Carl’s GolflandModern GolfMorton Golf and two other custom fitters who chose to remain anonymous on the top performing players irons in each category.

The scoring process

Unlike in years past, this year’s scores were entirely based on the performance of each iron, removing the subjective categories of looks, sound and feel from the equation. What was left was the votes of our custom fitters (60 percent of an iron’s score), the results of our mass player test (30 percent of a iron’s score) and the votes of our staff members (10 percent of a iron’s score).

Now that we’ve added up the scores, we present to you our list of the absolute best game-improvement irons in golf. We consider each of these irons to be a winner, which is why they’re listed in alphabetical order (Note: You can click the images of each iron to enlarge the text).

Distance

DISTANCE Listed in alphabetic order

Golfers tend to equate game-improvement irons with distance, and this year’s crop of game-improvement irons is the longest in the game’s history. Adams’ XTD, Callaway’s X2 Hot, Ping’s Karsten, Nike’s Covert 2.0 and TaylorMade’s SpeedBlade fly unbelievable distances: like a club or two longer than the one-piece forgings that many of our readers swear by.

We know what you’re thinking: “Why should I care how far I hit my irons?” Remember, none of these Distance-First irons are one-trick ponies. They score very highly in forgiveness as well as distance and just happen to be the longest irons we tested as well.

Adams XTD irons distance

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Adams’ XTD irons are a favorite of our panel of custom fitters because of their high launch, which is fueled by these irons’ comparatively weaker lofts (28-degree 6 iron). You’d think that would result in shorter-flying shots, but the opposite is true thanks to the XTD’s extremely thin 450 carpenter stainless steel faces and Cut-Thru slot technology in their soles.

These irons also use what Adams is calling a “Cross Cavity” to move the XTD’s center of gravity deeper in the clubhead. That improves their moment of inertia (MOI), a measure of an iron’s forgiveness, and helps these irons perform more consistently on mishits.

Golfers looking for more height and distance from their long irons can swap the XTD 3 and 4 irons for Adams’ Pro hybrids, which made our 2014 Gear Trials: Best Hybrids list in our Distance-First and Balanced-Performance categories.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/178773/adams-golfs-new-xtd-cross-cavity-irons/”]Read more about the XTD irons irons[/button] [button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J4IC49O/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00J4IC49O&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=UXJXRWTIEDOZFWXG”]Buy the XTD irons[/button][/colored_box]

Callaway X2 Hot Distance

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Callaway’s X2 Hot irons are a lot like the company’s Apex irons that we gushed about in our Best Players Irons list except that they’re a little larger and more forgiving. That makes them a better fit for higher-handicap players, and their cast construction also makes them available for the much more palatable price of $699, which is $400 cheaper than the Apex.

Many of our readers don’t equate cast irons with the quality of forged models, but what they might not know is that the casting process offers specific advantages over forgings, particularly with game-improvement irons. These irons have extremely thin faces, which along with their deep undercuts creates more discretionary weight for Callaway engineers to place around the perimeter of the irons to make them more forgiving.

We also love that Callaway decided to include a “stabilizing arch” on the back of the iron faces, which improves sound and maintains more consistent ball speeds on shots hit across the clubface to make your bad shots fly more like your good shots.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/149656/callaway-x2-hot-and-x2-hot-pro-irons/”]Read more about the X2 Hot irons[/button] [button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GASSFO4/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00GASSFO4&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=CKZU4WTXTPYN3EPJ”]Buy the X2 Hot irons[/button][/colored_box]

Nike Covert 2.0 Distance

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Nike takes the typical game-improvement iron formula a step further with its Covert 2.0 irons, which use the company’s ultra-thin NexCor faces to deliver top-notch ball speeds across the face.

The Covert 2.0’s are really large, so they’re not meant for better players — that’s why the company’s Covert Forged and VR Forged Pro Combo irons were made — but like most Nike irons they look fantastic for their size.

We appreciate Nike’s design philosophy of moving the CG of its irons closer to the true center of the clubface, which is easier said than done in iron design. That not only creates a more inviting visual at address, but offers more more consistent ball speeds on shots hit on the toe: a common error of high-handicappers.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HB6Q3SE/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00HB6Q3SE&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=N2QEKOY4CIF5E2KS”]Buy Nike’s Covert 2.0 irons[/button][/colored_box]

Ping Karsten Distance

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Ping’s Karsten irons are the first Ping product to make our distance-first category in 2014 Gear Trials, but you’ll probably notice that in true Ping spirit they also made our Forgiveness-First and Balanced-Performance categories. The Karsten and Nike’s Covert 2.0 are the only game-improvement irons to earn that distinction.

The Karsten irons have the longest heel-to-toe profile of any iron the company has ever produced. That, combined with the Karsten’s extra-wide soles, create an extremely low, deep center of gravity that has helped many golfers hit higher, longer and straighter iron shots than they ever have before.

The irons also have the thinnest iron faces the company has ever produced, but they’re reinforced with Ping’s Custom Tuning Port (CTP) to create more consistency and improve their sound and feel. There is truly no more forgiving iron in golf than the Karsten, which come stock with 3 and 4 hybrids that replace their corresponding irons. Golfers can also choose to replace the set’s 5 iron with a 5 hybrid, which makes the set even more playable for high-handicappers.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/192473/ping-2014-karsten-hybrid-iron-set/”]Read more about the Karsten irons[/button][/colored_box]

TaylorMade SpeedBlade Distance

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: TaylorMade’s SpeedBlade irons are the second-generation of the company’s game-changing RocketBladez irons, which sold like hot cakes because of the unbelievable distances golfers were able to hit them.

The SpeedBlade irons aren’t all-too-different from RocketBladez and we think that’s a good thing. They’re cast from the same 17-4 stainless steel, but have an improved Speed Pocket that works with the irons’ slightly lower CG to help them launch crazy high for their strong lofts (26.5-degree 6 iron).

If you’re in search of one of the best-looking game-improvement irons in golf that just happens to fly as far (if not farther) than just about every other GI iron, SpeedBlade is the ticket.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/143879/taylormade-speedblade-irons-editor-review/”]Read our review of the SpeedBlade irons[/button] [button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00F8G5VYG/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00F8G5VYG&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=D7IAY2DHL3ZZWF3N”]Buy SpeedBlade[/button][/colored_box]

Forgiveness

FORGIVENESS Listed in alphabetic order

When it comes to forgiveness, bigger is almost always better, which is why our list of Forgiveness-First Game-Improvement irons are five of the largest irons on this list. While Mizuno’s JPX-EX, Nike’s Covert 2.0 and Ping’s G25 irons could be played by everyone from high-handicappers to single-digit golfers, Adams’ idea and Ping’s Karsten push the size limits of what accomplished golfers might be willing to put in their bag.

If you’re struggling to hit your current set of game-improvement irons high enough or consistently, don’t be scared to give these a try. We’ve found that most golfers are more than willing to play a larger iron if it leads to smaller numbers on their scorecard.

Adams Idea Forgiveness

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Adams’ idea hybrid-irons set takes the company’s original Cut-Thru slot technology and puts it on (USGA-legal) steroids. Not only are there slots on the soles of the hybrids and irons, but there are also what Adams calls “wrap-around” slots on the toe of the clubs, which create more ball speed on shots that are struck on that area of the clubface.

The idea’s set makeup includes five hybrids that replace a typical set’s 3-to-7 irons and as many as six more traditional-looking irons and wedges (8-PW, GW, SW LW), making the idea hybrids-irons the best set on this list for golfers who struggle to get their shots airborne.

More accomplished golfers might struggle to make clean contact with the idea’s wide-soled irons and hybrids, but they’re not the target audience here. If you find yourself unintentionally hitting more ground balls than fly balls, then these hybrids and irons could change that.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FRF8EGU/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00FRF8EGU&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=4AHFEMR5A2X3P2BQ”]Buy the idea irons[/button][/colored_box]

Mizuno JPX-EZ Forgiveness

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Mizuno’s JPX-EX irons could be the irons on this list that convince purists to finally make the switch to a set of game-improvement irons.

Mizuno’s name is synonymous with irons that feel terrific, so it’s no surprise that the JPX-EZ irons get top marks for sound and feel. The long and mid irons (4-7) create the fastest ball speeds of any Mizuno irons thanks to their Hot Face design, which uses a multi-thickness face to create more ball speed. The short irons and wedges (8-GW) trade distance for more consistency with faces that will lead to fewer “flyers.”

Mizuno also deserves a pat on the back for offering the JPX-EZ with a true aftermarket shaft, True Temper’s XP 105 in R and S flexes, as well as a high-quality Fujikura Orochi graphite option.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/127802/2014-mizuno-jpx-ez-forged-and-jpx-ez-irons-spotted/”]Read more about the JPX-EZ irons[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EW4B6XA/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00EW4B6XA&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=BODKPAMTAI4OYRYV”]Buy the JPX-EZ[/button][/colored_box]

Nike Covert 2.0 Forgiveness

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Nike takes the typical game-improvement iron formula a step further with its Covert 2.0 irons, which use the company’s ultra-thin NexCor faces to deliver top-notch ball speeds across the face.

The Covert 2.0’s are really large, so they’re not meant for better players — that’s why the company’s Covert Forged and VR Forged Pro Combo irons were made — but like most Nike irons they look fantastic for their size.

We appreciate Nike’s design philosophy of moving the CG of its irons closer to the true center of the clubface, which is easier said than done in iron design. That not only creates a more inviting visual at address, but offers more more consistent ball speeds on shots hit on the toe: a common error of high-handicappers.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HB6Q3SE/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00HB6Q3SE&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=N2QEKOY4CIF5E2KS”]Buy Nike’s Covert 2.0 irons[/button][/colored_box]

Ping Karsten Forgiveness

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Ping’s Karsten irons are the first Ping product to make our distance-first category in 2014 Gear Trials, but you’ll probably notice that in true Ping spirit they also made our Forgiveness-First and Balanced-Performance categories. The Karsten and Nike’s Covert 2.0 are the only game-improvement irons to earn that distinction.

The Karsten irons have the longest heel-to-toe profile of any iron the company has ever produced. That, combined with the Karsten’s extra-wide soles, create an extremely low, deep center of gravity that has helped many golfers hit higher, longer and straighter iron shots than they ever have before.

The irons also have the thinnest iron faces the company has ever produced, but they’re reinforced with Ping’s Custom Tuning Port (CTP) to create more consistency and improve their sound and feel. There is truly no more forgiving iron in golf than the Karsten, which come stock with 3 and 4 hybrids that replace their corresponding irons. Golfers can also choose to replace the set’s 5 iron with a 5 hybrid, which makes the set even more playable for high-handicappers.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/192473/ping-2014-karsten-hybrid-iron-set/”]Read more about the Karsten irons[/button][/colored_box]

Ping G25 Forgiveness

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: The performance of Ping’s G-Series irons is legendary, which is why if you find a GI iron in a tour player’s bag that’s not a Titleist AP1 it’s generally a set of Ping’s G15, G20 or G25 irons.

Think of the G25 as a more compact version of the company’s Karsten irons, with shorter shafts, smaller blade lengths and narrower soles that add versatility to their design. We love their stealthy black finish and for an iron their size they feel very solid thanks to Ping’s thoughtfully engineered Custom Tuning Port and multi-material insert that softens the blow at impact.

Ping also reinforces the cavities of the G25 irons, and while that limits the distance they can fly it also improves their consistency, which means if you want to hit an iron shot 160 yards and it goes 170 yards, it wasn’t the club’s fault.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/112504/ping-g25-irons-editor-review/”]Read our review of the G25 irons[/button][/colored_box]

Balanced Performance

BALANCED Listed in alphabetic order

Everyone of the game-improvement irons on this list offers a balance of distance, forgiveness and accuracy, but these five irons are a little better than the others on this list.

If consistency is what you’re after, make sure to test Ping’s G25 and Karsten irons, as well as Titleist’s AP1, which is also the most compact GI iron on this list. Want a bit more distance? If you need to hit the ball higher, go with TaylorMade’s SpeedBlade, and if you want a more forgiving option try Nike’s Covert 2.0.

Nike Covert 2.0 Balanced

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Nike takes the typical game-improvement iron formula a step further with its Covert 2.0 irons, which use the company’s ultra-thin NexCor faces to deliver top-notch ball speeds across the face.

The Covert 2.0’s are really large, so they’re not meant for better players — that’s why the company’s Covert Forged and VR Forged Pro Combo irons were made — but like most Nike irons they look fantastic for their size.

We appreciate Nike’s design philosophy of moving the CG of its irons closer to the true center of the clubface, which is easier said than done in iron design. That not only creates a more inviting visual at address, but offers more more consistent ball speeds on shots hit on the toe: a common error of high-handicappers.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HB6Q3SE/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00HB6Q3SE&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=N2QEKOY4CIF5E2KS”]Buy Nike’s Covert 2.0 irons[/button][/colored_box]

Ping Karsten Balanced

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Ping’s Karsten irons are the first Ping product to make our distance-first category in 2014 Gear Trials, but you’ll probably notice that in true Ping spirit they also made our Forgiveness-First and Balanced-Performance categories. The Karsten and Nike’s Covert 2.0 are the only game-improvement irons to earn that distinction.

The Karsten irons have the longest heel-to-toe profile of any iron the company has ever produced. That, combined with the Karsten’s extra-wide soles, create an extremely low, deep center of gravity that has helped many golfers hit higher, longer and straighter iron shots than they ever have before.

The irons also have the thinnest iron faces the company has ever produced, but they’re reinforced with Ping’s Custom Tuning Port (CTP) to create more consistency and improve their sound and feel. There is truly no more forgiving iron in golf than the Karsten, which come stock with 3 and 4 hybrids that replace their corresponding irons. Golfers can also choose to replace the set’s 5 iron with a 5 hybrid, which makes the set even more playable for high-handicappers.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/192473/ping-2014-karsten-hybrid-iron-set/”]Read more about the Karsten irons[/button][/colored_box]

Ping G25 Balanced

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: The performance of Ping’s G-Series irons is legendary, which is why if you find a GI iron in a tour player’s bag that’s not a Titleist AP1 it’s generally a set of Ping’s G15, G20 or G25 irons.

Think of the G25 as a more compact version of the company’s Karsten irons, with shorter shafts, smaller blade lengths and narrower soles that add versatility to their design. We love their stealthy black finish and for an iron their size they feel very solid thanks to Ping’s thoughtfully engineered Custom Tuning Port and multi-material insert that softens the blow at impact.

Ping also reinforces the cavities of the G25 irons, and while that limits the distance they can fly it also improves their consistency, which means if you want to hit an iron shot 160 yards and it goes 170 yards, it wasn’t the club’s fault.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/112504/ping-g25-irons-editor-review/”]Read our review of the G25 irons[/button][/colored_box]

TaylorMade SpeedBlade Balanced

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: TaylorMade’s SpeedBlade irons are the second-generation of the company’s game-changing RocketBladez irons, which sold like hot cakes because of the unbelievable distances golfers were able to hit them.

The SpeedBlade irons aren’t all-too-different from RocketBladez and we think that’s a good thing. They’re cast from the same 17-4 stainless steel, but have an improved Speed Pocket that works with the irons’ slightly lower CG to help them launch crazy high for their strong lofts (26.5-degree 6 iron).

If you’re in search of one of the best-looking game-improvement irons in golf that just happens to fly as far (if not farther) than just about every other GI iron, SpeedBlade is the ticket.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/143879/taylormade-speedblade-irons-editor-review/”]Read our review of the SpeedBlade irons[/button] [button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00F8G5VYG/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00F8G5VYG&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=D7IAY2DHL3ZZWF3N”]Buy SpeedBlade[/button][/colored_box]

Titleist AP1 Balanced

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Titleist’s AP1 irons are the least GI-looking iron on this list, which is why you’ll find plenty of tour players using AP1’s for their long irons. Some players, like Ben Curtis, play a full set of the irons, with adds to their credibility with better players.

The AP1’s have a blend of distance, forgiveness and good looks that’s hard to beat, especially for 5-to-15 handicaps who are looking for more consistency than smaller irons can provide. They come stock with True Temper’s XP 95 shafts, but nearly any shaft a golfer could want is available through Titleist’s custom department.

Titleist touts the AP1 as golf’s most progressive set of iron, and we think that’s a fair claim. The CG’s of the long irons are lower and deeper to help golfers hit those clubs higher and farther, while the short irons have smaller blade lengths and narrower soles that contribute to more workability and trajectory control.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/144023/titleist-714-ap1-and-ap2-irons-editor-review/”]Read our review of the AP1 irons[/button][/colored_box]

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. mike w

    Jan 17, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    I absolutly could not agree more pn the club dofference 30m just because a club maybe ypu hit the ball the rite way that time but 215 with a 6 iron wow i am amazed i mean i have my best game with my irons by far and i still dont hit that far with my 6 iron maybe my 3 or 4 but a 6? Hmm if you hit it that far with a 6 what do you hit off the t with your driver? Please feel free to leave a replay i work at a golf course where several professional’s play and also have a professional golf coach that has been in the pga tour that would be able tp get you involved with such as log as the 6 iron isnt the only club you hit well

  2. Jason P.

    Jul 15, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Say what you want but I’d put my Maltby TE Forged Irons against any of these. Plus I made them with the True Temper X95 Shafts and Golf Pride Grips of my choice 🙂 Best feeling irons I’ve ever owned period and their long enough and also forgiving without looking like a Ping Shovel. I’m not knocking on any of these irons I’m just letting you know there are great irons out there from Golfworks and Hireko !

  3. Nico

    Jul 14, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Mike, perhaps your 6 iron has a 5 degree positive upright lie which effectively makes it a 4 iron.

  4. Pingback: 2014 Gear Trials: Best Game-Improvement Irons | Spacetimeandi.com

  5. Mike

    Jul 12, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Are the scales for each iron absolute or relative to each category? I.e. can we compare the forgiveness/launch/spin to the player’s irons?

  6. RogerinNZ

    Jul 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I look forward to buying a 5/4 iron from one of these sets when they are “”surplus to requirements”” from the new owner!
    Great to see Ping get in there with the Karsten !
    Tradition is Cyclic, it just keeps re emerging as New again!
    A great way to add new Zing to your bag.
    Great informative test Zak, thanks!

  7. Matt Wiseley

    Jul 12, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Good article Zac. I am an aging business guy that can’t get out and play as often as I would like. Moved away from players irons a year ago and surprisingly love my GI irons.
    I laugh at everyone that says ugly irons. If you hit the ball straight and score better, who really cares. Seems to me the lines have been getting blurred for years anyway from player irons to GI.
    I am a 4 hdcp, swing speed with driver from 110-117, and stripe my Amp Cell irons. (By the way, amp cell much better than bio cell…cobra took a step back this year)

    Thanks for the article.

    • MHendon

      Jul 12, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      I wouldn’t think a 4 hdcp with that much club head speed would be a good fit for a true GI iron unless you are a low ball hitter.

    • Scooter McGavin

      Jul 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      I’m 95 years old, with a +6 hdcp, 128 driver swing speed, and stripe my Miura baby blades…

  8. MHendon

    Jul 12, 2014 at 1:48 am

    Game improvement irons again, when are you going to review players iron? Oh wait you supposedly did already.

  9. Edgar Homonculus

    Jul 11, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Who cares if they are not attractive? If you shoot better scores mission accomplished. Better than having to wait on a group of 20 handicaps playing Miuras from the tips.

  10. Shortgame85

    Jul 11, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    I have hit most of these irons and, I own the Ping G25 irons and hybrids. I am a 13 handicap trending toward a 12. I think this assessment is accurate, cogent and timely. Well done.

  11. Chump

    Jul 11, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    There should’ve been a category for the ugliest iron. There might have been a 17-way tie.

    • Bainz

      Jul 12, 2014 at 6:20 am

      Your name tag sums you up. You keep playing your blades, I want to get as good as I can before i can’t play no more. JPX ez or Ping G25’s for me once prices come down a bit.

      • Bozwell

        Oct 11, 2014 at 9:25 am

        Bainz – Good call. I hit 15-18 different types of irons before deciding on the JPX EZ’s. They had the best feel and flight for me. Placing my order in about 2 weeks.

  12. Phat

    Jul 11, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Wow, what an ugly bunch of irons – the OEMs really need better design teams. Will stick with my Edge CFTs for years at this rate…

    • David W

      Jul 14, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      I’ve stuck with my Edge hybrids for years now, now because the others are ugly, but because they are great clubs that are easy to hit!

  13. Zak Kozuchowski

    Jul 11, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Irons tested:

    Adams Idea 2014
    Callaway X2 Hot
    Cleveland 588 Altitude
    Cleveland 588 MT
    Cobra Bio Cell
    Cobra Baffler XL
    Mizuno JPX-825
    Mizuno JPX-EZ
    Mizuno MP-H4
    Nike Covert 2.0
    Ping G25
    Ping Karsten
    TaylorMade SpeedBlade
    Titleist 714 AP1
    Tour Edge Exotics CU
    Wilson Staff C100
    Wilson Staff D100 ES

    • Patrick

      Jul 12, 2014 at 1:46 am

      As one of the Top 100 Fitters in America, I can say that I am flabbergasted that you put the Covert 2.0 in the Forgiveness First Category instead of the 588 Altitude or the Baffler XL.

      • Zak Kozuchowski

        Jul 13, 2014 at 8:14 pm

        The Baffler XL’s were on the cusp of making it, Patrick, but we didn’t receive any votes for the 588 Altitudes.

        Maybe you’d like to talk about possibly being a part of next year’s custom fitter panel? If so, please email me at zak@golfwrx.com.

    • Pete

      Jul 12, 2014 at 2:56 am

      @Zak, I think that list should be in the initial article, not only the comment in all your gear reviews. Just saying.

      • Zak Kozuchowski

        Jul 13, 2014 at 8:18 pm

        Thanks for the feedback, Pete. You make a good point that we’ll visit before we create next year’s list.

    • Mike

      Jul 12, 2014 at 6:54 am

      How did the TEE CU fair? I tested these with my Dad when he was looking at new irons, and trust me he needs game improvement. We found them far more forgiving with a heap better feel than the Callaway, Nike or Taylormade clubs. Surprised me because i had never even consider them – i use Nike or TMAG myself. Super hot faces, I hit the 6 iron 197m on the GC2!! about 30m further than normal.

      • Tim Finchem

        Jul 12, 2014 at 7:15 pm

        197m with a 6 iron! Welcome to the PGA tour Mike.

      • MHendon

        Jul 12, 2014 at 7:47 pm

        197m is like 215yds, welcome to the pga tour… more like welcome to the remax long drive! Might want to check the loft on that 6 iron.

      • Zak Kozuchowski

        Jul 13, 2014 at 8:20 pm

        They’re great irons, but we’ve just seen a little better results from the irons on this list.

        The experience you had is a great example of why getting fit is so important. Everyone is different and different clubs can work differently for different players.

        Note: This response was written under the assumption that your findings were real. There are very few situations wheere a player can gain 30 meters of distance by simply switching one stock club for another.

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Equipment

Top 10 clubs of 2003—inspired by Adam Scott’s Titleist 680 irons

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As has been well documented, Adam Scott recently won the Genesis Invitational with a set of Titleist 680 blade irons, a design that was originally released in 2003. One of the great benefits of being one of the best players in the world is you don’t need to search eBay to find your preferred set of 17-year-old irons. Titleist has been stocking sets for Mr. Scott—even to the point of doing a limited production run in 2018 where they then released 400 sets for sale to the general public.

A lot of time has passed since 2003, and considering the classic nature of Scott’s Titleist 680, I figured now was a good time to look back at some other iconic clubs released around the same time.

Ping G2 driver

This was Ping’s first 460cc driver with a full shift into titanium head design. The previous Si3 models still utilized the TPU adjustable hosel, and this was considered a big step forward for the Phoenix-based OEM. The driver was a big hit both on tour and at retail—as was the rest of the G2 line that included irons.

TaylorMade RAC LT (first gen) irons

The RAC LTs helped position TaylorMade back among the leaders in the better players iron category. The entire RAC (Relative Amplitude Coefficient) line was built around creating great feeling products that also provided the right amount of forgiveness for the target player. It also included an over-sized iron too. The RAC LT went on to have a second-generation version, but the original LTs are worthy of “classic” status.

TaylorMade R580 XD driver

Honestly, how could we not mention the TaylorMade R580 XD driver? TM took some of the most popular drivers in golf, the R500 series and added extra distance (XD). OK, that might be an oversimplification of what the XD series offered, but with improved shape, increased ball speed outside of the sweet spot, and lower spin, it’s no wonder you can still find these drivers in the bags of golfers at courses and driving ranges everywhere.

Titleist 680MB irons

The great thing about blades is that beyond changing sole designs and shifting the center of gravity, the basic design for a one-piece forged head hasn’t changed that much. For Adam Scott, the 680s are the perfect blend of compact shape, higher CG, and sole profile.

Titleist 983K, E drivers

If you were a “Titleist player,” you had one of these drivers! As one of the last companies to move into the 460cc category, the 983s offered a classic pear shape in a smaller profile. It was so good and so popular, it was considered the benchmark for Titleist drivers for close to the next decade.

Cleveland Launcher 330 driver

It wasn’t that long ago that OEMs were just trying to push driver head size over 300cc, and Cleveland’s first big entry into the category was the Launcher Titanium 330 driver. It didn’t live a long life, but the Launcher 330 was the grandaddy to the Launcher 400, 460, and eventually, the Launcher COMP, which is another club on this list that many golfers will still have fond memories about.

Mizuno MP 33 irons

Although released in the fall of 2002, the Mizuno MP 33 still makes the list because of its staying power. Much like the Titleist 680, this curved muscle blade was a favorite to many tour players, including future world No. 1 Luke Donald. The MP 33 stayed in Mizuno’s lineup for more than four years and was still available for custom orders years after that. Unfortunately, if you are looking for a set now you are going to have to go the used route.

Callaway X-16 irons

The Steelhead X-16 was a big hit at retail for Callaway. It offered greater forgiveness than the previous X-14’s but had a more compact shape with a wider topline to inspire confidence. They featured Callaway’s “Notch” weighting system that moved more mass to the perimeter of the head for higher MOI and improved feel. There was a reduced offset pro series version of the iron, but the X-16 was the one more players gravitated towards. This is another game improvement club for that era that can still be found in a lot of golf bags.

Ben Hogan CFT irons

The Hogan CFTs were at the forefront of multi-material iron technology in 2003. CFT stood for Compression Forged Titanium and allowed engineers to push more mass to the perimeter of the head to boost MOI by using a thin titanium face insert. They had what would be considered stronger lofts at the time sounded really powerful thanks to the thin face insert. If you are looking for a value set of used irons, this is still a great place to start.

King Cobra SZ driver

In 2003, Rickie Fowler was only 15 years old and Cobra was still living under the Acushnet umbrella as Titleist’s game improvement little brother. The Cobra SZ (Sweet Zone, NOT 2020 Speed Zone) was offered in a couple of head sizes to appeal to different players. The thing I will always remember about the original King Cobra SZ is that it came in an offset version to help golfers who generally slice the ball—a design trait that we still see around today.

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Today from the Forums: “The importance of wedge fitting”

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Today from the Forums we delve into a subject dedicated to wedge fitting. Liquid_A_45 wants to know if wedge fitting is as essential for golfers as iron fitting, and our members weigh into the discussion saying why they feel it is just as imperative.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Z1ggy16: “Super important if you’re a serious golfer. Even better if you can get fit outdoors on real grass and even go into a bunker.”
  • ThunderBuzzworth: “The biggest part of wedge fitting is yardage gapping and sole grinds. If you have a grind that doesn’t interact with the turf in your favor, it can be nightmarish around the greens. When hitting them try a variety of short game shots with different face angles etc. with the different grinds to see which one works best for what you need.”
  • Hawkeye77: “Wedge fitting I had was extremely beneficial when I got my SM6s a few years ago. Mostly for working with the different grinds and how they interacted with my swing and on different shots and having an eye on my swing to help with the process and evaluate the results. My ideas of what grinds were right for me based on researching on Titleist, etc. just were not correct in 2/3 of the wedges I ended up with as far as the grinds were concerned. Good to have an experienced fitter available to answer questions, control variables, etc.”
  • cgasucks: “The better you get at this game, the more important wedges are.”

Entire Thread: “The importance of wedge fitting”

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Today from the Forums: “Pull cart recommendations?”

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Today from the Forums we take a look at pull carts currently on the market. Bogeygolfer55 is looking for a quality pull cart for less than $300, and our members have been giving their recommendations in our forums – with Clicgear proving to be a popular option.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Yuck: “I have had a clicgear 3.5 for nearly four years now. Holding up well with well over 200 rounds on it so far.”
  • Hawkeye77: “I had a Clicgear and liked it a lot, but my daughter “appropriated” it. Came upon an article a year ago about the Blade IP. Ordered one. It folds flat instead of into a cube which I like, and when I take it out it is quicker to get ready to go, and easier to take down. That doesn’t mean the Clicgear was particularly difficult, but it was more involved and 4 pounds heavier – don’t mind pushing a lot less weight.”
  • Celebros: “Another vote for Clicgear. The 4.0 just came out, so you may be able to find some of the 3.5+ models discounted soon.”
  • I_HATE_SNOW: “Sun Mountain user. Tall thin tires roll through the grass the easiest. Ours are old enough that the tires inflated. Once slimed, they stay up all winter. Mesh baskets on the cart are nice for carrying headcovers, water bottles, dog leash, etc.”
  • birddog903: “I’ve had a caddytek lite three-wheel version for a year or so. No complaints and I paid less than $100.”

Entire Thread: “Pull cart recommendations?”

 

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