More and more golfers are gravitating toward irons designed with the latest technologies to help them hit their shots higher, farther and to correct their typical misses. These “Super Game-Improvement Irons” are juiced with hot faces, wide soles, thick top lines, big offset and a low center of gravity, among other engineering feats that are often unique to each company.
For this edition of “GolfWRX Members Choice,” we asked GolfWRX Members to vote for the best Super Game-Improvement Irons based on their testing and knowledge. See the results below, along with in-depth feedback from our Members.
Editor’s Note: Responses have been minimally edited for brevity and grammar. Vote and join the discussion in the Super Game-Improvement voting thread here, which will remain open throughout 2017 as GolfWRX Members test and evaluate new equipment.
Ping G (22.53 percent of votes)
acemandrake: Ping G for me. Ping irons function the same today as they did with my first set in 1974 (Karsten II’s). High and straight ball flight. VERY easy to use. Why complicate things?
Shimanonut: For me the Ping G’s were amazing. I had Ping G20’s in my past and for me they were ho hum for feel and distance. I liked them but never loved them, but swinging the Ping G’s was an eye opener and a club I had on my short list for most of my trial period.
jefftomahwak: Ping “G”s for me. Stupid easy to hit. Distance and really straight flight. Wash them after using; they look as good as new.
AC in TX: I use the S55s when I’m feeling froggy and the G’s when I come crashing back down to earth (usually after a bad round with the S55s).
Radeon962: Not that I consider them SGI (Super Game-Improvement), but nothing I have hit comes close to the Ping G.
DaveMac: The Ping G takes what Ping has done for years and added in increased ball speed, improved feel and much better looks. This is a Ping club that will appeal even to Ping haters.
youraway2: I tried most all of them, and the G’s felt and preformed best for me. I’ve never played Ping irons: always Mizuno and recently since 2008, the TM Tour Burners (GI).
Further Reading: What you need to know about Ping’s G irons
Mizuno JPX-900 Hot Metal (18.95 percent)
Shimanonut: I also really like the Mizuno Hot Metals, but they just kept coming up short on the distance for me. Likely my swing or something, but they did have GREAT feel.
DaveMac: Mizuno JPX-900 HM. IMO this is the perfect Goldilocks combination of super game-improvement attributes with the added benefits of good feel and great looks. Mizuno’s best attempt at a wide-handicap-range iron.
Kragster: I got fitted into Mizuno JPX-900 Hot Metal this year and love them. Can instantly tell if I hit it pure or not. Much more consistent ball flight then I was used to before. They look great, too.
Golfnut801: Distance wise, the [Mizuno JPX-900 Hot Metal] were on average 4-6 yards longer the [Mizuno JPX-850] and 7-10 yards longer compared to my [TaylorMade] RAC iron, but that’s just me. Feel wise, the JPX-900 feels much better than both the JPX-850 and RAC. Almost want to say forged-like feel on center hits. JPX-850 was somewhat clicky for me, and my RAC irons are very clicky to me. Mishits on the JPX-900 not only felt better, but were more forgiving then both the JPX-850 and RAC.
Ripken08: I took side-by-side pics vs. JPX-850, 716 AP1, G, and JPX-900 Forged. Blade length is shorter than the JPX-850, AP1, and G, and there’s less offset than those as well. Topline is a smidge larger, but the head is more compact and less offset. Definitely not bad to look at!
Further Reading: Mizuno JPX-900 Hot Metal and JPX-900 Forged irons
Callaway Steelhead XR (12.42 percent)
olperfesser: When I was fitted for and started playing with my Steelhead set, me and my buddies saw an immediate improvement in my game. I guess that is the definition of game improvement.
Shimanonut: The Steelheads were great, but they felt just like my XR’s for my personal taste and I was ready for a change.
Marks23: Very long distance irons. The sound in the hitting bay was quite loud. Callaway sure is making long-hitting irons.
kenry: I just finished being fitted and was very impressed with them. I like the look and found them very forgiving and about a club longer than my other sets with great numbers and trajectory with KBS Tour 90 at no upcharge.
ttm27: Played first round with these today. Easier to hit than my XR Pro (as mentioned earlier), about half club longer. I hit an 8 iron today with ball below my feet that I was sure was short and going into the bunker and shocked when it hit the green. A bit chunkier than I’m used to, but not too bad to look at. To me they feel pretty good for a distance iron.
nosedive32: Got my set today with Tour-V [shafts] 3-PW. Hit the 7 iron indoors before I ordered. Hit the 3 on the Sim when I picked them up. Haven’t got to go out with them yet. Look and feel really good for what they are. Distance numbers are really strong.
elwhippy: Well, I went for a fitting yesterday. I had no intention of hitting these, but the rep said give them a go. Stunned. Easy to hit, but don’t balloon. Workable and about 20 yards a club longer than my AP2s. Fitted with 5.5 Rifle instead of my XPs, and spin came down an amazing 2500 rpm. 4-PW and gap will be ordered…
Further Reading: Callaway Steelhead XR irons and Hybrids
Titleist 716 AP1 (9.47 percent)
Shimanonut: The AP1’s, I wanted to like, I really did, but they were just more of a “oh, ok, what else do you have.”
Lobber: Overall: 1 round and I love them. The difference is forgiveness and increased distance is a real plus as I get older (59 years in a month). The looks of the 716 AP1 are good enough to allow me to check my ego and “players cavity backs” at the door. I also demoed the AP2 and loved them! I could easily game them, but really had decided that I would go for forgiveness over looks.
gpleonard: I have two rounds in with my 716 AP1’s, and so far I’m very happy: long and straight with very good ball flight and good feel around the green. I could not be happier … I think these are the best looking AP1’s ever.
jjl: Demo’d the 716 AP1 against the TM PSi, both 7 irons and both stock shafts, the AP1 was the better iron for me hands down. Way more consistent contact, better feel (much better than prior AP1’s IMHO), more consistent distances. The PSi felt flimsy in comparison. I will be strongly considering the AP1 as my gamers.
pbr2121: I hit the 7 iron today with the DG AWT and was really impressed. They felt better than the G30s and went farther, too. I’ve always been a slave to Ping, and this is causing brand identity issues. I am wondering if I now have to trade in my Subaru for a BMW.
Reds: OK, so I went and got fitted today. It was between the AP1s and AP2s. I tried all the stock shafts and the winner by far was the AP1s. Everything was better with them. Distance, flight and dispersion.
Further Reading: Our review of the Titleist 716 AP1 irons
Ping G Max (6.95 percent)
DaveMac: The G Max probably is the ultimate SGI iron: huge head, maximum offset, ultra-high launch with high ball speed. If you want maximum help and don’t really care about looks or feel, then this is the club for the job.
dhen9: They’re perfect. I’ve had numerous Ping irons and these are the most forgiving by far. They’ll most likely be in the line of Rapture, K-Series and Karsten, but they are solid for certain. They are distance monsters and fly higher than you may be used to but are well worth it. They reward good swings, and Ping is not exaggerating when they speak of their ball speed and hotness of face, but they also perform better than any Ping I’ve had on mis-hits. The only thing my instructor has mentioned is the high ball flight, but they are easily flighted down. The addition of a ferrule has really helped appearance, and there will be plenty of G fans that say the Max are “shovels,” but I’m typically in the mid 70s and am OK admitting I need all the help I can get and the GMax delivers. Don’t worry about demand, as I assume the new G has stolen some of the GMax thunder, but if you try them you’ll like them. The only issue I can see against the new G is that the GMAX has a good amount of offset and the appearance of a thicker topline than the new G, as the G has a bezeled topline. Solid performance in GMax. Pull the trigger.
dmac4g: I have played Ping irons forever. I would have never, ever thought of playing the GMax iron. Until I had a full-line fitting with Ping, and I told them nothing was off the table. I have played the S59, S58, and S56, and then I switched to the i-series. I had the new i irons, but I just didn’t feel comfortable with them. After the fitting and seeing that the GMax goes straight, I put them into play. I have to admit; they are not a visually appealing club, but they go straight! My greens hit is through the roof over past years. It seems that if I miss a green now, it is due to a misclub. Either short or long. The left and right sides of the greens are not a concern. I really, really enjoy the performance of the irons and it makes the rounds much easier!
scottydog_uk: Got some just a couple of weeks ago after testing a 7 Iron. I was moving from Raptures, which I loved, but the setup was not right. I am finally hitting high shots: they are straighter, the hot zone is huge, and I am gaining 10 yards plus per club, which makes me sound like an advert, but it’s true. I thought the Raptures couldn’t be beaten for my golfing style, until I hit these…
Further Reading: What you need to know about Ping’s G Max irons
TaylorMade M2 2017 (6.74 percent)
Hotdocta: I was surprised how much I like M2. Super, super long iron that felt not bad! They are huge, but not hideous.
Shimanonut: Last one I tried was the M2’s (I think, I know I tried a couple different TaylorMade’s) and they went a long way, but felt like I was hitting the ball with a hammer. Again, with all of the golfers, I might just have a different feel than you do. Not better and not worse, just different.
rockadoo22: Okay, I’ve hit them for 2 weeks now, so I’m confident I can give an accurate review. First, I got them 5-PW with KBS stiff shafts. I am very comfortable with the 8-PW; they go a mile high and at least a club, maybe a club and a half longer than my Pings (G2’s, I know, they have even weaker lofts than today’s standard, not to mention the jacked up M2 lofts). The M2’s go so much higher and farther, especially the short irons, it’s incredible. I am hitting 155-yard 9 irons and 165-yard 8 irons. I love that, even though it took some R&D to dial that in on the course. My problem is the 5-7 irons, the ones with the slot on the sole. They sound a bit clanky, and I can’t seem to actually hit them the same distance gap as the short irons. What I’m trying to say is I hit the 8 and 9 irons almost as far as the 6, believe it or not, with a higher trajectory. That being said, anyone else not crazy about the sound of the slotted M2’s? I am hitting the 5, 6 and 7 irons on the sweet spot, as I can see the ball marks on the club, but it almost feels as though it’s a mishit or the balls are rocks.
03trdblack: The long irons feel/sound very clicky and harsh, especially when hitting range balls or something other than a tour urethane-type golf ball. I personally hate the sound, as it sounds like you mishit the shot even when hit it well. I’ve been playing pretty well with them lately, so I’m not quite ready to give up on them, but it’s definitely a gripe of mine. I wish there was a way to do something about it, but the cavity has so much stuff going on inside of it you really can’t add anything to change the sound.
URStillAway: Yes, the lower irons make a different noise. Same with the SpeedBlades and Rocketblades some of my friends play. Due to the slots. But all of the irons go long and high and straight. I have been switching between the M2s and my AP1s for about 16 rounds so far. The M2s are definitively longer. About 5-7 yards longer per club. I like the feel. Have had some great ball-striking rounds with them, hitting 14 and 15 greens the last two times out.
Further Reading: What you need to know about TaylorMade’s M2 2017 irons
Members Choice 2017