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Golf club brands: Golf 101 – What is an OEM?

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Golf club brands. Most GolfWRXers know the golf equipment companies like the backs of their hands. If you can wax poetic about history of the carbon composite crown across driver manufacturers, this article isn’t for you.

Rather, we think it’s a good time to welcome our newbies to the 101 of the golf club business.

So, welcome! Let’s get to know the major players in the golf club game.

Golf club brands: What is an OEM?

First off, the acronym OEM stands for “original equipment manufacturer.“ Simple enough. Interestingly, Hollywood has a similar setup. There are major studios, mini studios, and independents.

They originate, develop, and distribute their products across the globe to retail, online outlets, etc.

So, you might ask, who are the major OEMs? 

TaylorMade, Callaway, Ping, Titleist, Cleveland/Srixon, Mizuno, Cobra all examples of major OEMs. They would be your Warner Bros., Fox, Sony, Paramount, Disney, Universal, and Netflix.

For this exercise, we will do a brief rundown of each major OEM so if you are new, you will know who is who.

golf club brands callaway mavrik drivers

Callaway: The keyword here is BIG. In company size, scope, and messaging. Founded by Ely Callaway in 1982, the company first hit the mainstream with its introduction of the Big Bertha Driver and Metal Woods. Since the company’s inception, it has added numerous assets to its portfolio with Callaway Golf balls, Odyssey and Toulon Putters, OGIO, the TravisMathew brand, club design legend Roger Cleveland to head up R&D, and a long-term relationship with hall of famer Phil Mickelson. Not to mention countless PGA Tour victories and major championships.

The golf club brand’s current lineup includes Mavrik Metal woods, Odyssey Putters with Triple Track Technolgy, MD5 Jaws wedges, Toulon Milled putters, and Chrome Soft Golf Balls.

golf club brands cobra speedzone xtreme

Cobra: Cobra Golf has been an interesting case study in redefinition. Founded in the early ’70s by Thomas Crow, the company saw its first taste of notoriety with the introduction of Baffler technology, that simple idea of putting rails on the bottom of a fairway wood to cut through the rough is still used on Cobra Golf clubs today. What really put them on the global tour stage was the Greg Norman partnership in the early ’90s that garnered a 1993 British Open with the beloved King Cobra Deep Faced Driver (Also used by Tiger Woods to win the 1996 US AM and the 1997 Masters).

This golf club brand’s, ownership of Cobra Golf has gone through some changes since day one, most notably Acushnet and current owner Puma, which, since 2009, has had Rickie Fowler as the face of the brand.

golf club brands srixon z forged irons

Cleveland/Srixon: Roger Cleveland, Roger Cleveland, Roger Cleveland. The Cleveland brand has him to thank for YEARS of popularity specifically with wedges. His shape, soles, etc are still the foundation of most wedges across the market today. Roger parted ways with Cleveland Golf some years ago to join Callaway, but the brand continued to succeed with notable wins at the Masters (Vijay Singh) PGA Championship (Toms, Micheel, Bradley, Singh), and after aligning itself with Japanese OEM Srixon, a British Open (Shane Lowery).

The Cleveland/Srixon brand as we know it today carries with it not only Cleveland wedges under its umbrella but also the beloved Srixon golf balls and cult classic irons. Staff most notably includes Shane Lowry, Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley, and Hideki Matsuyama.

golf club brands mizuno mp 20

Mizuno: Precision craftsmanship and a history of strong affections in the iron category. No other iron in golf carries with it the loyalty and curiosity of a Mizuno iron, having been the symbol of elite players for the past 30 years. Starting with Nick Faldo’s epic run as World #1 in the early ’90s, running into Tiger Woods winning 3 U.S. Amateurs and a Masters with Mizunos.

The Osaka-based golf club brand has been a worldwide sports equipment OEM for over 100 years with golf being a small portion of the portfolio. Now, having U.S. operations based in Georgia, the company continues to go hard in the iron category but has now added a formidable wedge and metal wood line to its catalog.

Ping: The godfather of the modern golf club is Ping founder Karsten Solheim. The golf industry has him to thank for a number of still used designs most notably the Ping Eye2 iron and Ping Anser putter. The Phoenix-based golf club company has been actively one of the giants in the industry for 50+ years.

Today, Ping’s thumbprint has evolved a bit with a new young tour staff with names like Finau, Champ, Hovland, Bubba Watson, and LPGA star Brooke Henderson. The current catalog includes the G410 metal woods, forged Blueprint irons, and i210 cavity back irons—all being used in heavy rotation on all major tours.

TaylorMade: If we are comparing golf OEM’s to the movie industry, then TaylorMade Golf is Warner Bros. Big, fast, and always pushing the envelope. The Carlsbad based company was founded in 1979 by Gary Adams, and the company has been at the pinnacle of metal wood technology since its inception. With popular offerings like Burner, Burner Bubble, R series, RocketBallz, M Series, and the current SIM, TaylorMade is typically the first one considered when any golfer is purchasing a new driver.

Currently, the company has the ability to equip the bag top to bottom with products that are top of the class in every category. P790 irons, High Toe wedges, TP series golf balls and the previously mentioned SIM metal woods.

From a global brand perspective, TaylorMade has traditionally been an OEM with a robust tour presence among golf club brands, but has since gone to a more concentrated approach with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, and Jon Rahm being the core of the small staff. TM has also been at the forefront of social media strategy with detailed tour interaction and the now-famous marketing shoots held in the fall.

Titleist/Acushnet: As American as apple pie. The Titleist/Acushnet brand has dominated golf for decades. The company founded in 1932 by MIT grad Phillip E. Young has a stronghold on the golf ball patent game, and with the additions of the Scotty Cameron putter line and Bob Vokey wedges, Titleist has a strong portfolio from top to bottom.

Notable staff members past and present include Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, David Duval, Sergio Garcia, and currently Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

 

 

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

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Best irons 2020: GolfWRX Members Choice (best irons overall)

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What are the best irons overall of 2020?

This category is the perfect place to start if you’re not quite sure what you are looking for. Distance? Check. Forgiveness? Check. Sleek looks? Check. The top five in the “best irons overall” category are perfect for those golfers who appreciate technology and want something that is going to give them shot options.

At GolfWRX, we take great pride in our online community and the cumulative knowledge and experience of our members. Needless to say, that extends to GolfWRXers views on the best irons of 2020, overall category.

Join the discussion in the forums here.

The bedrock of GolfWRX.com is the community of passionate and knowledgable golfers in our forums, and we put endless trust in the opinions of our GolfWRX members—the most knowledgeable community of golfers on the internet. No other group of golfers in the world tests golf clubs as frequently or as extensively, nor is armed with such in-depth information about the latest technology.

best irons 2020 best irons overall

You can see the results for the best irons of 2020 (overall), as well as quotes we pulled from GolfWRX members about the irons from our forum.

Also, be sure to check out all the other GolfWRX Member’s Choice iron categories below.

Best irons of 2020: overall (Top 5)

Join the discussion in the forums here.

1. TaylorMade P790

The P790 has a hollow-body design built with an 8620 carbon steel body and forged 4140 carbon steel wrapped-face construction to move weld lines away from the face.

The sole was tweaked compared to the original to improve turf interaction, and from address, there is a thinner top line and more progressive offset in 3 through 6-irons and a more compact blade length in the 7-PW to appeal to players of all skill levels.

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • “I have the new P790’s and flat out they are the best irons I have owned, long easy to work, and stop well.” – Member English13
  • “I’m a 6. Long hitter and have been using player distance irons for a while…. I switched to 2019 p790s a few months ago and absolutely love em. Yardage gaps are fairly large and the faces are hot so you need to learn to control the distance and trajectory, but with the right shafts it’s been no problem for me.” – Member Jkim27
  • “I have played the p790’s for the past 2 seasons and I have really liked them. In fact, this past season was my best golfing season to date. I had more rounds in the 70’s than ever before and had my first round in the 60’s … I haven’t played a set of irons for 3 seasons in a row, in a very long time, so that means something, at least for me.” – Member Mob
  • “Took these irons out for their second-round today and shot a 75 (+4). Keep falling in love with these things. On a handful of occasions, I put a terrible swing on them and the ball flight distance and spin was just as good as a flushed shot. Even got into some tree trouble and had to hit some punch 6 iron shots and could flight the ball down super low with no issues” – Member agood3putt
  • “Best combination of distance, forgiveness, and ability to shape the flight. Plus the forged feel.” – GolfWRX member survey
  • “Total package” – GolfWRX member survey
  • “Just works for all levels of player” – GolfWRX member survey

For more information on the TaylorMade P790 irons, you can check out our launch piece here.

Join the discussion in the forums here.

2. Titleist T100s

Hidden in this small iron is high-density tungsten

The T100s irons feature every bit of technology as the Titleist T100, including a thinner more responsive face, co-forged dual-density tungsten, and subtly tuned shape and sole design, but are re-engineered for lower launch and lower spin performance with the help of stronger lofts.

The popularity and performance of the entire T-Series, led to a spike in combo sets being built along with some needed loft tweaking to dial in ball speed numbers between the three main models (T100, T200, & T300). Rather than increasing loft on the longer irons and producing higher spin, the new T100-S allows the shorter irons to maintain stronger lofts without excess bending, and you get spin control into the longer clubs.

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • “I’ve had the T100s in my bag since last year, Probably 15 rounds or so plus a good bit of time on the practice ground. They replaced a set of 714 AP2s and a set of Titleist 681s. I hit the AP2s a little better, but the 681s hung around because I didn’t like looking at the AP2s. I’m now committed to the T100s. First, they look great. Second, they are very forgiving, particularly on my most common miss, a groove or two thin. Third, I can do anything with them that I could do with either of the other sets, and they are about half a club longer, I highly recommend them.” – Member juststeve
  • “More firm and better/smaller profile compared to 718 AP2. Turf interaction is so good. Came from JPX 919 Tours and 718 AP2s before that and these fit right in the middle of these two sets in terms of forgiveness. Really like the T100s so far and plan to stay in this range until they release a new one in 2 years.” – Member HappyGilmore22
  • “Not much not to like… amazing looks, great feel/sound, very little offset, perfect turf interaction, basically a traditional Titleist CBs with some tech assistance. Moved to these from 714 AP2s… touch longer, about the same forgiveness. Only minor gripe would be high on the face, esp towards the toe, can be fairly dead, but if you’re playing these irons you should own that miss. Epic feedback with these can definitely tell exactly where you’re slight misses are, but you still get a very large % of the performance out of it on a slight miss compared to dead flush. Great MB/CB alternative or to mix in with those.” – Member NateDog07v
  • “Just a great fit for almost any player and good looks to boot.” – GolfWRX member survey
  • “Would rather pick the Titleist T100– without the S, but i am more traditional in lofts, but was next best choice.” – GolfWRX member survey
  • “All the outstanding attributes of the T100 with a little stronger performance.” – GolfWRX member survey

You can read what other golfers are saying about the Titleist T100s iron in the GolfWRX forums: Titleist T100s Iron discussion. and see our launch piece here.

Join the discussion in the forums here.

3. Srixon Z785

The Srixon Z7 series irons have always been about creating the most consistent, best performing forged irons on the market, and the Z785 is a continued improvement in this now-famous series of clubs.

The one-piece forged irons featured a small cavity to offer forgiveness with a thicker muscle pad behind the sweet spot for enhanced feel and laser milled grooves for extra control. The Tour VT sole is a staple with Srixon irons and the has been tweaked to provide the best possible interaction with modern turf conditions. The Z785’s are everything you could want in an all-around performance iron.

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • “They have plenty of spin for me and are one of the best feeling forged irons I’ve hit with Modus 120. I have 5-PW and a 4 U65 that has a modus 105s. A big bonus with z785 is the turf interaction, these just cut right through. Also very easy to hit different shots and work the ball. Looking forward to a really good season this year.” – Member LaymanM
  • “I’ve been in the Srixon irons since the 45 series and they are simply amazing. Transitioned to the 65’s when they launched and just recently went with a blended 785/Z-Forged set. Absolutely LOVE them! I’m actually considering going with their 785 driver and 3 wood now.” – Member Orange Hog
  • “Switched to these from a set of cobra cb/mb and the difference has been astounding. Shot 3 of my lowest rounds including a new all-time low of 75 in my first 5 rounds with them. They offer great forgiveness for their size and go through the turf like butter. I’ve hit 10-12 greens per round since picking them up and the cap is dropping.” – Member Habe
  • “Not only are they great looking, but they don’t have gimmicks or frills all over them. They look simple down next to the ball. I have the Modus 120’s in them and the feel is unreal. This might sound hyperbolic, but these irons offer the most pleasing feel of any iron I have ever hit. Muscle back or Muscle Cavity, these feel as good or better than anything I have ever tried. I would describe their feel as powerful. It is a soft, muted and very pleasing feel.” Member PaztorMike
  • “Simply the best. Paired with the Project X LZ shafts. The best irons I have ever hit!” – GolfWRX member survey
  • “Pure. Look, feel, line, sole. They pure!” – GolfWRX member survey

You can read what other golfers are saying about the Srixon Z785 iron in the GolfWRX forums: Srixon Z785 Iron discussion. and see our launch piece here.

Join the discussion in the forums here.

4. Mizuno JPX 919 Tour

The JPX 919 Tour irons are the successors to the extremely popular 900 Tour irons, and like their MP brothers, they’re Grain-Flow Forged from 1025E Pure Select Mild Carbon Steel for a soft feel.

The irons offer a square compact player-preferred shape but surprising forgiveness thanks to what Mizuno calls its “stability frame” that maximizes weight distribution around the head for off-center hits. This frame also reinforces the top line and toe areas for sound/vibration dampening. The soles are the perfect blend of thick and thin to offer enhanced playability but are more cambered from front to back for varying turf conditions.

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • “Went from Nike VR Pro’s (arguably one of the best blades of all time) to my 919 Tour’s and couldn’t be happier. Slightly larger head, which really helps with confidence in the long irons. Probably the best irons I’ve owned” – Member Bomber_11
  • “Not only are the 919 Tours a superior head but the DG 120 is a flighted shaft. I have 3-P and frankly any iron from 6-P is easy to hit but with the DG 120 I can hit towering 3 irons that I haven’t seen since I was kid in college hitting Hogans back in the 70’s. Forgiveness is one thing but the workability is within 1% of any MB I ever played and I played them ALL.” – Member MacAttack67
  • “The 919 tours are outstanding they are gliding through the turf with no dig or drag. very similar to my old mp-63’s. The sound on strikes is very rewarding and addicting, just can’t stop hitting balls.” – Member Golfinrig24
  • “Best irons on the market hands down” – GolfWRX member survey

You can read what other golfers are saying about the Mizuno JPX919 Tour iron and see our launch piece here

Join the discussion in the forums here.

5. Mizuno MP-20 HMB

The MP-20 HMB’s are built with the same highly flexible Chromoloy material as the 919 Hot Metals except this time forged to create a Mizuno iron like never before. They offer the look and shape of a blade but with the speed and technology of a much more forgiving club. Although it looks like a blade, hidden inside the back of the club is complex geometry for both acoustics and precisely positioning mass.

Like the MP-20 MMC, the HMB is a multi-material design but with the Tungsten split into two 12-gram pieces (four more grams than previous Fli-Hi) and positioned into precisely formed pockets on the heel and toe in the back of the club. This allows the unsupported face to flex and makes the club more workable while still maintaining all the forgiveness you would expect from a hollow-body iron built for speed.

Here’s what GolfWRX members are saying

  • “I was really impressed with the HMBs, I’m coming from Srixon 965s and was expecting to go with the MP-20 blades but couldn’t argue with the numbers the HMB gave me. As a low spin and ball flight player the normal cranked lofts of this type of iron doesn’t work for me, but these launched over a degree higher with around 500 rpm more spin than anything else I tried. As noted by some others they feel really good for a hollow body as well, not quite as good as the blades but way better than expected and loads of feedback.” – Member Smileys
  • “Such great soft feel like you expect from Mizuno. Look very good at address. I was on grass and they are very easy to hit and still I hit 2 bad shots one of the toe and one thin and both were only a few yards off. Very easy to work the ball.” – Member Lenny2
  • “The feel of the HMB blew me away! I went 2, 4-pw in HMBs bent weak. I may add some MBs down the road but definitely won’t feel like I’m missing out on that great feel the MP 20 line has.” Member JetMech879
  • “Best iron I have felt in years” – GolfWRX member survey
  • “Couldn’t be matched in my option. Combination of looks and performance” – GolfWRX member survey

You can also read what other golfers are saying about the Mizuno MP-20 HMB irons in the GolfWRX forums: Official Mizuno MP-20 HMB Iron discussion and check out our launch piece here.

Rounding out the top 15 irons overall

  • Mizuno JPX919 Forged
  • Ping i210
  • PXG 0311 P Gen3
  • Callaway Mavrik Pro
  • Mizuno JPX919 HotMetal
  • Titleist T200
  • Ping G410
  • Miura MC-501
  • Ping i500
  • TaylorMade P760

Join the discussion in the forums here.

Ongoing Members Choice Polls: Have your say!

We’re still looking for your feedback on the “best” items in several other categories, so head to the GolfWRX forums to have your say!

Check out the polls in the GolfWRX forums!

Join the discussion in the forums here.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about their highest lofted wedges

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In our forums, our members have been discussing wedges. WRXer ‘jonsnow’ asks members:

“Are there really that many shots you can hit with a 60 that you would struggle to hit with 58? Does 2 degrees make that much of a difference?”

And our members have been having their say on the subject in our forums.

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.

  • Leftlove94: “I go back and forth between 60 and 58. 58 is plenty, but I’m a little better at hitting a little checker with the 60. 58 always jumps just a little more than I’m expecting and I chip it 10 ft by.”
  • lenman73: “I use a 58 and 60 depending on where I’m going. But if I have to pick a favorite it would be the 60. I especially use that at certain course near me because for whatever reasons; elevated greens seem to be the norm. Like one course did it, so they all did. I don’t know if it is a drainage thing or something, but bump, and runs aren’t always possible when you are short-sided, and the green is 5 feet above you.”
  • kmay__: “60* couldn’t imagine not having it in the bag, to be honest, 54 is next, and I use it for any chips I want to run like a putt. Will take full shots with the 60 out to about 75 yards or so. Use it in every greenside bunker, lot of up and downs made possible by this club….. maybe if my approach play were better I wouldn’t be as good with the LW haha.”
  • hsmahon: “I like 58. Can open it up if needed and 60 seems to be too unpredictable for me. Also creates a little tighter gapping between my wedges.”
  • Rdriver: “I have always carried a 60 and used it mainly around the greens. In the last few months, I have been using my 56 with better results. I like landing the ball a little shorter and getting it rolling. Seems to work out better at the course I play the most.”

Entire Thread: “Your highest lofted wedge?”

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What GolfWRXers are saying about spikeless shoes with the best traction

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2020 FootJoy Pro SL

In our forums, our members have been discussing spikeless shoes and weighing up which ones have the greatest traction. WRXer ‘mhbarnes’ is on the hunt for a spikeless shoe that doesn’t sacrifice grip, and our members have been putting forward their best picks in our forums.

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.

  • Markrip: “I bought a pair of Footjoy Flex. They are very comfortable, and I’ve had no problem with slipping. I don’t wear them when it’s really wet so I can’t tell you how they then. I also have a pair of Skechers Fairways that I use mowing the lawn ( my side yard has a lot of slope ) they are also comfortable and grip well.”
  • MattyO1984: “Pro S/L is your winner all day long.”
  • caniac6: “Pro SL. I play early and have been using ECCO shoes with GoreTex, and they have kept my feet dry, but they water-stain badly. Also, my left foot slipped during my downswing a couple of weeks ago, and now I can’t play because of a back injury. I have some Pro SLs, and they will be my go-to shoe going forward.”
  • Z1ggy16: “The Codechaos are pretty good. Only wore them twice but 0 complaints so far.”

Entire Thread: “Spikeless shoes with the best traction?”

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