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Greatest forged combo iron sets of all time

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So, you’re a golfer who loves the idea of small workable irons. But on the other hand, you appreciate the extra forgiveness and green holding-power of something a little easier to hit in the longer clubs. It sounds like you could be the ideal candidate for a combo set.

Combo iron sets have been around for as long as golfers have tried to maximize the performance of their irons by mixing and matching clubs to fit distance and trajectory goals, even with different brands and models.

In the mid-2000s, things changed when OEMs saw an opportunity to engineer their own combo sets from scratch to help golfers build a coherent set from top to bottom and also have them blend seamlessly from club to club. Thanks to improved custom fitting and most golf equipment manufacturers designing series of irons intended to be mixed and matched through the fitting process, “off the rack” combo sets are almost extinct beyond sets offered with easier-to-hit hybrids.

With the top-to-bottom sets now almost extinct, there is no better time than now to look back on some of the greats.

Nike VR (Victory Red) Pro Combo

Nike was one of the very first manufacturers to introduce a mainstream-marketed combo set with the original Nike Pro Combo irons. They were so successful, they eventually launched a second-generation version as well as a larger more forgiving Pro Combo OS (Oversized) set for golfers that wanted a bit more help.

Nike Pro Combo OS

But the title of best Nike combo set has to go to the VR Pro series, which offered a blade, split cavity, and fully undercut forged iron all in one set. Nike even allowed golfers to mix and match throughout the set via custom order. The VR Pro blades are still one of the most loved Nike irons of all time but the Pro Combos gave everyone the opportunity to hit towering mid and long irons into greens, even if you happen to mis-hit one just a little bit.

Bridgestone J33

The entire J33 series from Bridgestone is perennially on my Mount Rushmore of underappreciated irons. The irons were as pure of a blade you will ever find with an old-school long hosel and high muscle. The CB’s were equally appealing with classic lines, but the standout was the Combo set that transitioned perfectly from club to club and offered multi-material technology in the longer irons—with a tungsten insert.

Finding a serviceable set of J33 combos these days is difficult since not many sets made it to North America (heck, even finding pictures was tough), and for those golfers who did have them, they used them until there were no grooves left. But if you do happen to find some, they are well worth the price of admission.

Titleist 735•CM

The Titleist 735•CM irons were Titleist’s very first designated combo set, available to right-handed golfers* (the 731PM irons were introduced 3 years before the 735•CM but were only ever made left-handed). On a secondary note, the 735’s were available in both right and left-handed.

They offered a compact shape that was classic “Titleist,” and what also made them very cool is they were offered in both chrome-plated forged carbon steel and forged stainless steel, to deliver a satin look. These came to be after the introduction of the 690• irons, and Titleist saw a noticeable amount of custom ordered mixed sets of the 690• MB and CB and decided that engineering a combo set from scratch could offer the best of both worlds for golfers.

As far as value goes in used combo sets, these are still very high on the list and can be found at very reasonable prices.

TaylorMade RAC Coin forged

In the early days of the TaylorMade Tour Preferred line, the Coin Forged RAC combo set was one of the most desirable sets of irons on the market. They often get confused with the limited edition forged full CB set released around the same time because the long irons looked remarkably similar but that where the similarities ended. (We talked about those irons here: Greatest TaylorMade Irons of all time)

The Coin Forged combos were a pure split set with 2-6 iron being cavity backs and the 7-9 irons being the same as the original RAC MB’s. The outlier club in the set was the 48-degree RAC pitching wedge that transitioned perfectly to the TaylorMade RAC chrome wedges if you decided to use those through the rest of the set too.

As far as combo sets go, this is probably one of the smallest looking sets from address you will ever find, but if you were looking for workability—this set was for you.

Adams Idea Pro

The original Idea Pro set from Adams revolutionized the entire category of combo sets for the better player when it launched in 2007. The Idea Pro hybrid was already the number one hybrid on the PGA Tour, and this was Adams’ first big step into targeting better players since before this they were still mostly known for being popular clubs on the Champions Tour and with the about 50-plus crowd.

The irons were forged and had a compact squared-off shape. What made them so unique is the set had the option of going all the way down into a lob wedge—something you almost never see from a club targeting better players. Although they never sold through very well, the wedges stood well on their own for both performance and look. On the high end of the set, the stock configuration came with 3 and 4-hybrids (5 and 2 hybrids available separately) with the very hot at the time Aldila VS Proto 80g hybrid shaft which also contributed to the appeal.

If it weren’t for Adams and the original Idea Pro set, who knows how much longer it would have taken for combo sets with hybrids to take off with golfers in the single-digit handicap category, but by taking that risk, it changed the game for a lot of golfers.

 

Are there any famed combo sets you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. joro

    Aug 7, 2020 at 10:46 am

    I have a set of Burners in Left Handed hanging out in the Garage. They were the same set described. O/S 3,4,5,6 Std 7,8,9 and forged 48,52,56,60. They are great clubs and used them with Aldilla Gold Stiff shafts. Virtually the same set that Rich Been won the PGA with and hard to find in Leftie. I don’t play anymore so I am going to have get rid of them.

  2. Allen Rawlins

    Jul 24, 2020 at 8:56 pm

    How about the Ram FX Pro Set? Had them for three years!!! Simply awesome!!!

  3. Ben coffman

    Jul 21, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    735CMs! Scored my best rounds ever with those irons. Still use them when hitting into the net at home. Wish my current gamers (APREX 19 Pros) were as durable, 1 season in and they look worse than the 735s after hundreds of rounds.

  4. A.Y.

    Jul 18, 2020 at 11:07 am

    No love for Maxfli A10s?

  5. Matthew Gavin

    Jul 16, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Currently play MP54 MP4 S18 combo.

    Hogan PTX Pro , Icon combo would be next in the radar.

  6. Steve W

    Jul 13, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    you left out the Nike Vapor Pro combo irons. I agree that the VR Pro combo irons were great but in my opinion, the Vapor Pro Combo set is the best set of irons Nike produced. They tick all the boxes and are still one of if not the best crossover sets suited to both mid and low handicappers. The forged feel, along with forgiveness especially in the longer irons are incredible. Combine that with the fact that they are one of the best looking irons available even today and I have to say you dropped the ball leaving the. Off the list.

  7. JP

    Jul 8, 2020 at 9:01 am

    Yes the Wilson Staff Progressives were sweet

  8. chip75

    Jul 6, 2020 at 11:11 am

    The TaylorMade RAC combos technically weren’t a forged set, or rather not completely forged set. The wedge was a bog-standard off the rack RAC. The full blade set had a forged wedge. You sometimes see some clown on eBay listing them (the cast 48°) as rare, when they made tens of thousands of the things.

  9. Jason Geraci

    Jul 6, 2020 at 11:07 am

    Apparently, we need a history lesson. The reason that the Nike VR Pro Combo is on this list IS BECAUSE of the Ben Hogan Apex/Apex Plus/Apex Edge, that came before them. Tom Stites got the idea for the Pro Combo from his short stint at Ben Hogan. He applied for the head of R&D at Ben Hogan, which he didn’t get and then parlayed that into his job at Nike. This isn’t just an oversight, it’s ignoring that Tom Stites’ was just copying Ben Hogan. To be fair to Stites, he copied BH because he didn’t know how to properly design golf clubs, which is what happens when you hire someone to design golf clubs that has an agricultural engineering degree. Plus, the original Nike Pro Combo from the early 2000s (which was
    Stites’ first attempt to copy the Ben Hogan Apex line) feels and performs better than the VR Pro Combo.

    It’s getting more difficult to read articles about “all-time greats” written by someone who wasn’t even born before Ronald Reagan was President.

    • Ryan Barath

      Jul 7, 2020 at 9:46 pm

      Hi Jason,

      Thanks for checking out the list. The Hogan FTX was a great set and were originally on my list, along with a number of clubs mentioned by others here in the comments including the Cobra S3 Combos, Wilson Fi5 ( very similar to the Progressives mentioned by a few ) and MacGregor 1025, but cuts had to be made. Although Stites had his name on them the man behind the masters at Hogan and then Nike was Mike Taylor – hence the similar shaping, especially the pronounced higher heel (crotch transition from the hosel).
      I appreciate the mentioning of my age but it has nothing to do with my knowledge of equipment, and if you were to listen to my Podcast this week – “OnSpec” found on GolfWRX Radio and here on the site I actually went down a pretty fun rabbit hole about the FTX and remembering Carlos Franco won his last PGA Tour event using them.
      Cheers

  10. Imafitter

    Jul 6, 2020 at 10:24 am

    I am so sick of these “Best of” lists! If it works best for you, then it is the best for you.

  11. Distance Compression Dude

    Jul 5, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    This list is laughable.

    • Bill

      Jul 6, 2020 at 10:27 am

      Seriously. Did you know they didn’t forge irons nor did players play combo sets at all prior to 1995? This list proves it.

  12. Tim Murphy

    Jul 5, 2020 at 10:03 am

    Hogan FTX

    • Gary Penzil

      Jul 6, 2020 at 10:48 am

      FTX, they feel awesome and didn’t get much fanfare. Some of the nicest blades 8-PW ever made.

    • Richard J Johnson

      Jul 7, 2020 at 12:10 pm

      +1. Just picked up a set for $10 on c/l. Apex 4 shafts, pure Hogan feel.

  13. Kevinkeilen

    Jul 5, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Ram FX combo from the 80s or 90s. I’m still playing FX forged blades to this day. Can’t find another set like them.

  14. Delbert

    Jul 5, 2020 at 7:27 am

    First generation Nike VR Pro CBs. Ram Laser FX Forged. Adams CB1 (8420) which has a great gap wedge. Adams was great! Too bad they are not around.

  15. Johan

    Jul 5, 2020 at 5:38 am

    My favorite combo set is Wishon 575mmc. Great blend from cb to mb and I then go to Wishon hm wedges and Wishon DIH 2iron to complete the irons…

  16. K

    Jul 4, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    Picked up a set of the Nike TW Pro blades 3-PW in AMAZING shape for a STEAL from my local Edwan Watts. LOVE those clubs!! And wouldnt you know a few months later they had a lone Nike VR Pro pocket cavity 2 iron that was literally brand new sitting there for $20. All in all a great set 2-PW for less than $300.

  17. John Michael Fawley

    Jul 4, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    Say what you will about Nike clubs, but those Pro Combos were good clubs.

  18. Stephen DelGiudice

    Jul 4, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    Ben Hogan edge set from the 80’s. Best club I ever used.

  19. The Truth

    Jul 4, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    Cleveland 588 CB MB combo.

    • Wayne

      Jul 16, 2020 at 10:47 pm

      You are correct love my 588 combos still playing them!

  20. Tony Rich

    Jul 4, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Titleist ZB Blended Set, forged by Endo. Super soft and players club.
    My buddy got them new back in the day, I knew I was in trouble.

  21. Ron

    Jul 4, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Mizuno Grad MP

  22. V

    Jul 4, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    I really like combination sets as their setups have helped my game. Seems like I get a bit higher flight on the 6 – up, which I can use. I also like the iron profiles. Currently, I have MacGregor MT Pro CMs gunmetals and Titleist 735 CMs.

    Good call on the Wilson Progressives as that was a unique set when it came out. The Ram Fx Pro Set should also make the list. Nice blending through the set. Back then, you could also create a set with the Cleveland 588 series. Never hit the recent Cobra gunmetal set (similar profile to the MacGregors) but thought they would have stuck around longer than they did.

  23. Gregory Turley

    Jul 4, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    Had a set of Nike Pro Combo and liked them a lot. The long iron sadly is becoming a thing of the past

  24. Scott Underhill

    Jul 4, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    Wilson Staff Progressive, circa 1993. 3-7 CB,8-SW MB

    • Brian Marchi

      Jul 4, 2020 at 6:42 pm

      Still have mine. Very workable forged iron and just a beautiful feeling when hit pure.

    • Scott Gress

      Jul 5, 2020 at 4:04 am

      Exactly – Wilson Staff Progressive – loved em and used them for years – ahead of their time – shot my all time low round with those

  25. Kasper Frank

    Jul 4, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    McGregor 1025 CM

    • Osnola Kinnard

      Jul 22, 2020 at 9:27 am

      I cam here to post this. I have a set of them with Rifle 6.0 shafts and they are pure golf nirvana.

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Equipment

ProjectX launches HZRDUS Smoke RDX shafts

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Last week, at the WGC-FedEx Memphis St. Jude invitational, we got a sneak peek at the newest HZRDUS shaft from Project X, and now we have all the details on the new Smoke RDX.

To produce this shaft, Project X has teamed up with Hexcel, a global leader in composites technology for aerospace and military operations based in Stamford, Connecticut, for the purpose of utilizing their HexTow® carbon fibers to add more stability to the already extremely stable line of HZRDUS Smoke shafts.

Hexcel’s HexTow® carbon fibers represent the highest quality aerospace-grade carbon fiber and are used in the construction of some of the world’s most advanced aircraft including the Airbus A350 XWB, F18 E/F, A380, and more. I realize that sounds a bit generic, but when you consider some of the other applications for their materials and the fact Hexcel topped over 3.25 Billion dollars in sales last year – they mean serious business.

Photo by S. Ramadier – Airbus

The Project X HZRDUS line of shafts has established itself as a shaft built for golfers with aggressive swing tempos, and that continues with the new HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX. It’s the first golf shaft to utilize Hexcel’s new HexTow® HM54 high modulus carbon fiber and combines it with high tensile strength HexTow® IM2C carbon fiber to provide the ideal blend of stiffness and stability desired by engineers to build into the HZRDUS shafts.

Smoke Black RDX profile features an ultra-stiff midsection along with a stiff tip to provide low launch and low spin performance designed to keep up with aggressive swings.  Although unconfirmed we can make the possible assumption that since this shaft has been branded the “Black” RDX there may be other profiles released that utilize the same Hexcel composites.

Specs & Pricing

Right now we are waiting on confirmation on pricing but specs, and available flexes of the new Smoke Black RDX are available below.

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Whats in the Bag

WITB GolfWRX Members Edition: Brickhouze

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Recently we put out the call for our members to submit their WITBs in our forum to be featured on the GolfWRX front page. Since then, our members have been responding in numbers!

Now it’s time to take a look at the bag of WRX member: ‘Brickhouze’

*Full details on the submission process can be found here, and you can submit your WITB in this forum thread.*

Member: Brickhouze

Handicap (per profile): 4

Brickhouze WITB

Driver: Titleist TS3 (8.5-degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Pro 76 Tour Spec X

3-wood: PXG Gen2
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 869 Evolution 8.0 S

Driving iron: Srixon U65
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei White 90HY TX

Irons: Miura TC 201 4-PW
Shafts: Royal P Rifle Parallel Tip 6.0 (hard step 2x)

Wedges: Vokey SM7 50.08F, 54.10S, 58.08M (stripped the black finish with vinegar)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Directed Force Reno 1

Putter Grip: Press OG

Grips: Pure Pro Midsize

Golf Ball: Bridgestone TourB XS

Get submitting your WITB in our forum as we’ll be publishing more and more of them on our front page over the coming days and weeks.

Feel free to make it your own too by including some thoughts on your setup, your age, handicap, etc. Anything you feel is relevant!

Share your WITBs here.

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Equipment

GolfWRX Classifieds (08/07/20): Ping G410+, Tour Issue SIM, Ping G410 LST fairway wood

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member bleuachdu – Ping G410+ driver head

This driver head might have been photographed in the rough but with the forgiveness of the Ping G410+ you’re not likely to find yourself in it too often.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Ping 410+ driver.

Member KC4441 – Tour Issue TaylorMade Sim Driver

At GolfWRX we thrive on Tour Issue gear and this is a prime example of what we love—a tour issue driver still in the plastic. This is a BYOS (bring your own shaft) kinda build, but one that I think might be worth it.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Sim Driver Head

Member jblough99 – Ping G410 LST fairway head

Ping drivers and fairway woods are all over the used market for the same reason Toyotas are—quality, reliability, and just the fact that they sell so darn many of them. This G410 LST is in almost new shape and a bargain.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Ping LST Fairway

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds

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