What are the best irons in golf for 2019 and possibly 2020?
It’s an interesting question to ask anyone who works in golf equipment since it opens up a Pandora’s box of debate and discussion, which inevitably results in the conclusion that every player has to go out, work with a fitter, and find the best set for him/her. There is no one single best iron for every golfer in 2019, but there is a best iron of 2019 for you—and that’s where we come in to help you find your ideal set.
2019 has been a big year for irons, with OEMs taking bigger steps to push the science of structure, materials, and processing to move mass and further optimize MOI and COG to provide improvements across the board. In certain iron categories, clubheads are generating maximum potential speed over larger areas of the face, just like a driver, while in other parts of the market, some iron models have been shrunk to improve workability for the players looking for shot-shaping control.
So what do you look for? What do you need? With so many great irons released in 2019, the decision-making process can be overwhelming, and that’s why at GolfWRX, we are here to help you go through that process and help you ask the right questions to find the iron set for you.
Best irons of 2019: How we did it
Even before starting the process of building the survey, we reached out to our trusted fitters to discuss how they sort through the endless number of iron options available to golfers. The consensus was simple—the best fitters in the world see all the options available in the marketplace, analyze their performance traits, and pull from that internal database of knowledge and experience like a supercomputer whenever they are working with a golfer.
It’s essentially a huge decision tree derived from experience and boiled down to a starting point of options—and it has nothing to do with handicap.
Since modern iron sets are designed into player categories that overlap the traditional “what’s your handicap” model, we at GolfWRX believe it was important to go beyond handicap and ask specific questions about the most crucial performance elements fitters are looking at to help golfers find the best set of irons for them. From overall performance, to shotmaking, to helping players achieve better trajectories and speed, we strived to ask the right questions.
We have developed separate categories that will help you the reader determine what rankings are most important for your swing and game.
Just like with our Best Drivers of 2019 survey, we consulted leading fitters in the industry and compiled our results anonymously. The methodology is simple: We want to give you the tools to go out and find what works best for you, with recommendations for your individual needs, with feedback from the people that work every single day to help golfers get peak performance out of their equipment.
We at GolfWRX then worked internally to craft a survey that allowed the fitters to be honest…we want the truth just as much as you do, and to prevent anyone from feeling they couldn’t be, we allowed all of the results and quotes to remain anonymous unless otherwise stated. We can’t thank the fitters enough for their time!
Best irons of 2019: Meet the fitters
Ben Giunta: Owner, The Tour Van
Alex Panigas: Fitter, TXG
Chris Kendall: Fitter, TXG
Cam Kennedy: Fitter, TXG
John Sawatsky: Fitter, TXG
Ryan Johnson: Fitter, Carl’s Golfland
Brent Norton: VP Shop Operations, Miles of Golf
Craig Allan: Golf Performance Manager, Sea Island Performance Center
Timothy Briand: SVP Customer Experience, True Spec Golf
Shawn Zawodni: Fitter, Miles of Golf
Nick Sherburne: Founder, Club Champion
Dominic Choma: Fitter, Miles of Golf
Matthew Sim: Fitter/Director of Operations, Modern Golf
Best irons of 2019: Shotmaking
Each one of these irons was designed with a single purpose: to provide the ultimate shotmaking weapon. You don’t have to be a tour player to appreciate the pleasure of hitting a well-struck shot with a club engineered to offer superior feedback. This category is all about control—and that doesn’t mean is “has to be a blade.”
These are the top 5
(Question for fitters: What are your best for irons for shotmaking?)
Srixon Z785: Forged from a single piece of soft carbon steel, the Z785 is the next generation of the legendary Srixon 700 series that took off after the 745 years ago and had a cult following. A further refined V sole, short blade length, and shape from address cement this one at the top.
From the fitters: “Distance, spin control and turf interaction are all very important parts of shot making and the Srixon Z785 produces a nice balance of control and forgiveness in a great looking package”
TaylorMade P7TW: The irons that set the internet on fire earlier this year include a “hidden” tungsten weight to help concentrate mass behind the sweet spot for “a unique blend of feel, flight and control.” Add in a milled sole for consistency from iron to iron, set to set and you have a shotmakers dream.
From the fitters: “What else is there to say except these irons are both stunning to look at and offer all the control any player could want – including Tiger Woods” … “The Tungsten plugs makes an already solid feeling club feel even better, and the mill grind sole design glides through the turf”
Ping Blueprint: The Blueprints were born from the idea of creating a club for the most exacting of golfers. Ping meticulously prototyped and tested with their tour staff on everything from preferred shots and grinds, to blade size and shape. These are 100 percent about total golf ball control and nothing more.
From the fitters: “The Blueprint is definitely not a club designed for a wide audience but for those capable, it is one of the most solid irons we’ve ever tested” … “Tiny precision instrument. You won’t find much forgiveness with the Blueprint but what do you expect for a club designed for the most discerning players”
Mizuno JPX 919 Tour: The JPX iron with the Mizuno MP player in mind offers stability and moderate forgiveness in a club that boasts feel and control. Grain Flow HD Forged of mild select carbon steel, the JPX 919 Tours are an iron built for shotmakers, with just enough help to keep misses closer to the intended target.
From the fitters: “Tour proven performance that carries over to a broad spectrum of good players. The irons are forgiving yet easy to control flight. Plus that feel spectacular!” … “Its fun to put a JPX iron into a good players hand and watch their reaction to the control they get with the iron”
Titleist 718 CB: Although recently refined and replaced by the Titleist 620 CB, I believe we can draw the conclusion that what made the 718 so great applies to the new model as well. The long irons feature tungsten inserts to increase MOI while maintaining a player preferred small shape. The sole has a lot of camber front-to-back for great turf interaction over a variety of playing conditions. The 718 CB is everything you expect from a Titleist forged CB iron.
From the fitters: “The CB iron for us is one of the best, classic-looking irons with moderate forgiveness. For a pure small cavity back the design of the 718 allows you to do anything with it.” … “The Titleist CB franchise is always a competitive option in the shotmakers category. The clubs looks good and offer extremely consistent distance and flight control.”
Equipment rewind: A deep dive into the Cleveland HiBore driver legacy
I have always been fascinated by product development, specifically the development of unconventional products. Now in the world of golf clubs, one of the most unconventional designs ever introduced was the Cleveland HiBore driver, which during its lifespan, experienced tremendous success through a number of generations, including the HiBore XL, XLS, and finally, the Monster XLS, which, as you may remember, hid the acronym “MOI” on the sole, alluding to its massive level of forgiveness.
As a golfer, I played the original HiBore, along with the XL Tour for a period of time and was always curious about the story behind the “scooped out crown.” In a search for answers, I reached out to Cleveland-Srixon to get the lowdown on the HiBore and discuss where it sits in the pantheon of drivers.
Ryan Barath: Considering how engineers are continuing to do everything they can to increase MOI and push the center of gravity low and deep in driver heads, it feels like the original HiBore and the subsequent models were well ahead of their time from a design perspective.
It makes logical sense the best way to save weight from the crown is to make the crown “disappear” compared to traditionally shaped drivers, am I correct in assuming that?
Cleveland design team: You nailed it.
At the time of the HiBore, there were really only two solutions to create a low and deep center of gravity:
- Make the crown lighter – by either replacing the crown with a lighter-weight material such as a graphite composite or magnesium or by thinning out the material on the crown. Thinner crowns were possible thanks to advances in casting technology and using etching techniques to remove material.
- Make the driver shallower – this change in geometry created a very forgiving low profile design, but the downside to this was that you ended up with a very small face that looked intimidating compared to the larger-faced drivers on the market.
The HiBore took a new approach and inverted the crown geometry so that all the crown weight was moved lower. By inverting the crown the HiBore design allowed for a very long and flat sole, therefore there was space in the head that was really low and deep to put the weight.
The HiBore was really the first driver to eliminate, or nearly eliminate the tapered skirt. Almost every modern driver in the market is inspired by the HiBore in that respect. It was a two-part solution where we lowered the weight of the crown and simultaneously created a low/deep location to put any extra mass.
The lower and deeper CG of the HiBore improved launch conditions significantly, but also made the driver much more consistent across the entire face. The deep CG increased MOI resulting in tighter dispersion since the sweet spot was in the center of the face. Misses both low and high performed exceptionally as opposed to having a small hot spot high on the face.
RB: In every conversation I have ever had with engineers, there is always this give-and-take mentality from a design perspective to get to the final iteration. Was there anything that was given up or sacrificed for overall performance with this design?
Cleveland design team: The hardest part about the HiBore design was the sound. Prior to the HiBore, internal ribbing in a hollow golf club head was nearly unheard of. To make the HiBore sound acceptable, we had to design a ribbing structure to control the sound and design an entirely new manufacturing process to produce those internal ribs. To this day, most drivers include some form of internal ribbing to control sound or improve ball speed and that ribbing technology can be traced back to the HiBore.
In terms of tradeoffs, the major one was the low spin nature of the driver made it more difficult for low spin players to use. If a golfer is already low spin, this club would be too low and drives would just fall out of the air. Low spin golfers tend to be low spin because they hit the ball high on the face. Since we lowered the sweet spot, a high face impact was further from the sweet spot so ball speed fell as compared to a higher CG driver. Fortunately for us, in that era most golfers were fighting too much spin or way too much spin, this wasn’t a real issue.
RB: Do you have any final words on the HiBore drivers and the legacy they have left behind?
Cleveland design team: We are very proud of the HiBore driver family and the success it had at the time, but we are also proud of its legacy.
In the same way that you can trace nearly every modern band back to the Beatles or Led Zeppelin, you can trace nearly every modern driver back to HiBore either through the internal structure that is prolific across modern drivers, or the long, flat sole that is a must-have in a high-performance driver.
Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (04/03/21): Tiger Woods spec’d irons
At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.
We are a community of like-minded individuals who all experience and express our enjoyment of 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, including equipment or, in this case, a sweet set of irons!
Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for Tiger Woods spec’d TaylorMade P7TW irons, or as they are also known: the GOAT irons.
To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: TaylorMade P7TW **TIGER SPECS* 3-PW
Edel introduces moveable weight Swing Match wedges for 2021
The 2021 Edel Swing Match wedges are taking the concept of custom fit wedges to a level that has never been brought to the short game before, with the goal to use every possible tool to tighten dispersion and consistency to help you shoot lower scores.
The new Edel Swing Match wedges utilize a movable weight system in the flange to fit each club to a golfer’s natural short game swing profile. The research indicates that once properly fit, everything from mechanics to launch conditions shows measurable improvement.
Edel Swing Match wedges: The why
It’s no secret the best way to properly optimize your equipment is through custom fitting. When it comes to wedges, the only factors that have been traditionally accounted for are length, lie, loft, and grind—all of which, beyond grind, are already standard for iron fittings.
With how specialized wedges have to be for performance, is grind really the only thing golfers should be concerned with?
At Edel golf, they set out to answer this question, and they came away with “no,” which lead to the development of the Swing Match system to help every golfer achieve their maximum potential.
The backbone of Swing Match weighting philosophy is that a wedge’s weight location has a dramatic effect on how a golfer creates dynamics leading to impact. It’s no different than how a change in shaft weight of a driver can change impact location and delivery numbers.
The weighting technology allows each golfer to adjust their wedge in order to match their natural swing profile and release motion. Edel breaks these profiles into three major categories which are
- Cover – A steeper approach to impact
- Side On – A neutral approach
- Under – A shallow approach to impact
Once the heaviest weight in the wedge has been moved to the optimal position, it works alongside a player’s swing to optimize short game performance.
Results demonstrated that 80 percent of the golfers who were tested saw their best spin numbers and delivery were created with the weight adjusted somewhere other than the center weight port, and the average increase in backspin was just over 10 percent from the lowest spinning location to the highest location of the weight.
Edel’s research and testing have been analyzed by Mike Duffey, a PhD Biomechanics at Penn State and golf swing Biomechanist who came to the following conclusions:
- There is a substantial improvement in a player’s ability to control the flight of a wedge with weighting that matches – or is correctly fit – to the swing.
- The type of weighting that works best varies for individual golfers. The initial assessment of the data clearly showed that there are no consistent trends across golfers showing that one single weighting always works best for each golfer. In fact, the same weighting may have nearly the opposite effect on ball flight control depending on individual swing characteristics.
It was with this knowledge that the design team at Edel developed the Swing Match weight fitting system and now they are ready to introduce it to golfers.
The Swing Match wedges are forged from soft 1025 carbon steel and have all of the bounce and sole geometries CNC machined to ensure maximum precision wedge to wedge.
Like other Edel wedges of the past, they feature full-face groove coverage as well as a micro-engraved face texture to maximize friction for increased spin.
Another signature design element of the Swing Match wedges is their shorter hosel to precisely locate the center of gravity.
The Swing Match wedges come in four unique grind options with each one designed specifically for a specific player delivery—much like the adjustable weight system.
It’s easy to spot the grind type on the back of each wedge, but there is one thing you won’t find and that is bounce number—here’s why:
“Typical bounce is an arbitrary number called “effective bounce” that really has no standard and is played loosely across the industry. That’s why you won’t see a bounce number on our wedges.” – Edel Golf
- C-Grind: This grind is optimal for golfers with a moderate to shallow angle of attack who take a smaller divot. The extra sole width allows you extreme versatility for bunker play and greenside shots in the higher lofts; while being able to work in all turf conditions in the lower lofts.
- T-Grind: A tri-angle sole grind utilizing an extremely high bounce leading-edge, followed by a crescent-shaped lower bounce surface, and extreme heel relief. These three surfaces allow you to open the face without increasing the effective bounce for better performance on tighter lies.
- V-Grind: Inspired by Edel’s most popular DVR grind, this sole is great for cover golfers with a steeper swing motion. The higher bounce angle closer to the leading edge allows the sole to engage with the turf quickly which results in minimal hesitation through sand or turf.
- D-Grind: This high bounce grind is optimal for on-top golfers with a steep angle of attack who take a larger divot. The channel in the midsole creates two separate bounce surfaces; the high bounce leading edge to cut through the turf at impact without resistance and the extremely high bounce on the second surface to prevent any excessive digging.
Price, specs, and availability
The new Edel Swing Match wedge will be available starting April 2, with the retail price of $199 for a stock wedge with Nippon Modus wedge shaft and Golf Pride grip, while custom wedge will start at $225 with customizable hand-stamping and paint fill.
The wedges will be available in lofts 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, and 60 degrees in all four grind options and come in a cream chrome finish.
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