A new set of irons is the single biggest investment you can make into your set of golf clubs. At GolfWRX, to determine the 2021 best irons and their categories, we have compiled an expert panel of fitters to help you find out which of 2021 irons is best for your game.
In 2021, OEMs have continued to push the engineering envelope of iron design by utilizing new technology and manufacturing methods to create clubs that offer forgiveness, along with faster, more consistent club faces and launch windows. Not only that, but we are also seeing more segmentation of models from equipment manufacturers to help you determine your best set and/or set combination thanks to fitting.
These fitting options are important because irons are the key to better scoring and by building the perfect set, you create a cohesive group of clubs in your bag to help you reduce dispersion and hit it closer to your target.
That being said, ultimately the best way to find your personal iron set is to work with a professional fitter using a launch monitor. The difficult part is a lot of people don’t have easy access to fitters, launch monitors, and club builders—so at GolfWRX, we have done a lot of the work for you.
We are in the era of not just maximizing distance but also minimizing the penalty of common misses for each player—this applies to irons just as much as it does with any other club in the bag. This is why, now more than ever, custom fitting is essential to help you see results on every swing you make.
The methodology is simple: We want to give you the tools and information to go out and find what works best for you by offering recommendations for your individual iron set wants and needs with insight and feedback from the people who work every single day to help golfers get peak performance out of their equipment.
Best irons of 2021: How we did it
Before starting the process of building our best iron 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 clear—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 when 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 a handicap!
Modern iron sets are designed into player categories that overlap the outdated “what’s your handicap?” model, and at GolfWRX we 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.
These are the best iron categories we have developed to help you the reader determine what rankings are most important for your swing and game.
Best irons of 2021: The categories
Best irons of 2021: Meet the fitters
Nick Sherburne: Founder, Club Champion
Clare Cornelius: Fitter, Cool Clubs
Eric Johnson: Fitter, True Spec Golf
Shaun Fagan: Fitter, True Spec Golf
Kirk Oguri: PGA Professional/ Club Specialist, Pete’s Golf
Sue O’Connor: Fitter, Cool Clubs
Scott Felix: Owner, Felix Club Works
Mark Knapp: Club Fitter, Carls Golfland
Ryan Johnson: Club Fitter, Carls Golfland
Eric Hensler: Manager & Fitter, Miles of Golf
Brad Coffield: Fitter Carls Golfland
Nick Waterworth: Fitter, Haggin Oaks Golf Super Shop
Adam White: Co-Founder & Director of Club Fitting, Measured Golf
Scott Anderson: VP of Sales, Fitter, True Spec Golf
Matthew Sim: Director of Operations, Modern Golf
Ian Fraser: CEO & Founder, Tour Experience Golf
Mike Martysiewicz: Director of Club Fitting & Building, Tour Experience Golf
Shawn Zawodni: Fitter, Miles of Golf
Ben Giunta: Owner, The Tour Van
2021 Best irons: Pure enjoyment
It’s no mistake that we are seeing overlap in the way the top irons are defined by fitters in this category. The most playable irons are most likely to be higher launching, and shots that fly higher make the game more enjoyable for everyone. This reiterates the point previously made that your iron selection should not be defined by your handicap but instead what gives you the best opportunity to play your best golf.
2021 Callaway Apex
Their story: The new 2021 Callaway Apex Forged irons were created with one goal in mind: optimization, not only through the set but into each specific iron. For the first time, Callaway used A.I. to design its patented Flash Face Cup, which in previous applications created a face that was not only fast but extremely forgiving.
In this newest iteration of the Apex iron, the focus was on control and “spin robustness,” which is another way to say spin optimization. Callaway was able to not only increase ball speeds and forgiveness across the face but with a new weighting configuration, also able to control and optimize spin. Each iron face is tuned to complement the loft (i.e. long irons = high launch/low spin, mid irons = mid launch/mid spin, short irons = lower launch/higher spin).
From the fitters
- For the 2021 version of the Apex, Callaway really stepped their game up by improving the appearance, feel, and overall performance of this iron. For its shape and size, it’s pretty amazing what they have done with this club, and the results show up in our fittings.
- The Callaway Apex irons have been a staple in fittings since they were originally released, and golfers of all abilities can get a lot out of these irons.
- Not only is the Apex great, but it’s also a great foundation to build a set with other irons in the line including the DCB and the Apex Pros. If you are looking at the Apex, make sure to at least consider building a combo set.
Their story: The Ping G425 iron builds off the success of the G410 by packing more forgiveness into a smaller package designed to add distance and give golfers the ability to reduce dispersions and land the ball softer into greens.
The most important design feature of the G425 irons is the new metal wood style VFT (variable face thickness), used to increase ball speed, consistency, and launch. The new VFT is possible thanks to the Hyper 17-4 stainless steel material, which allows engineers to go thinner while still maintaining structural integrity and feel. This new VFT is not symmetrical and is instead a more sideways egg-shaped oval. This allows the G425 iron to have more face deflection than Ping has ever been able to create with a cast design. When you add in the new face with an improved hinge (notice the small notch on the toe to also increase deflection) you get a diving board-like effect to send the ball higher to stop sooner.
From the fitters
- The G425 is one of the best irons in the game improvement area. Although at first glance it looks large, from address, Ping has really cleaned it up. The topline is sharp and results when we get them into the golfer’s hands are even better.
- Ping G425 keeps being the workhorse iron in their lineup that that works for a wide variety of players. The G425 has to be one of the easiest irons to hit. The offset and the bottom work in tandem to help square the face up and not dig.
- Very forgiving, which is expected from Ping. Launches really high and produces great ball speed
- G425 is such a forgiving clubhead. Easy to launch, long blade length, fast face. Mid-to-high-handicappers who need forgiveness off miss-hits and need help with height, this club is hard to beat
Mizuno JPX921 Hot Metal
Their story: The Mizuno JPX921 Hot Metal irons are faster, more forgiving, and even more consistent than the previous generation thanks to a geometry change through the set engineered to improve performance.
This is achieved by making the heads above the 8-iron larger from heel to toe in the longer irons and shorter in the shorter irons. This longer blade allows for a slightly lower center of gravity to accommodate the one-degree stronger lofts to add distance while maintaining peak height and descent angles.
Another key feature of the JPX 921 Hot metal is the entire head including the seamless face cup weld-free, that’s right, one-piece construction other than the badge. This allows it to have the thinnest fastest face Mizuno has ever produced, and to maintain feel even with the thin face new sound ribs under the top line to make it lighter and stiffer and to enhance acoustics while also saving weight to redistribute around the head and Stability Frame.
From the fitters
- Since its original introduction, The Hot Metal line has been a massive success, and as a fitter, the 921 continues down that path. It has great playability and very dependable performance.
- Not only is the JPX921 Hot Metal one of the longest irons out, but it is also one of the most consistent performers in fittings. Another big plus is even as a more game improvement orientated club its looks really good from address and just sitting in a golf bag.
- Hit it well and you get good results, miss it and you still see pretty good results. You don’t lose that much distance of ball speed around the face.
- The JPX line is just so good. Clean, great feeling, and the technology keeps up.
Their story: The Srixon ZX5 iron uses what the company calls Mainframe face to optimize each club through the set based on tested strike patterns and was refined using machine learning. The face is composed of varying thickness patterns, which are all individually milled into the rear to expand the COR. The irons combine this MainFrame face made of strong and elastic SUP10 steel to the iron’s forged 1020 body to provide feel and elasticity, resulting in ball speed in an iron that appeals to a large group of golfers.
The ZX5 irons offer an extremely clean look from address and the topline profile matches closely to the popular ZX7—square and sharp! Not only that, but the blade lengths and sole widths have all been finely tuned so golfers that do plan to build combo sets will see a smooth transition from one iron to the next and even into the utility.
From the fitters:
- Although it still a mid-profile design—not too big and not too small—the ZX5 is beyond playable for golfer across skill levels. The next step from here in terms of forgiveness would be the ZX4.
- We have been blown away by the ZX5. For the size, it sounds and looks great and has top-end ball speeds. It is our top-fitted forged cavity back iron across the board.
- The ZX5 is very playable and extremely good-looking. The cambered VT sole results in lovely turf interaction no matter the attack angle of the player.
- This iron fits a wide range of handicaps even though it looks a bit more like a players club. This iron is a chameleon because it has the look of a smaller compact club yet offers the forgiveness associated with a larger one.
Their story: The P790 is a hollow-body design built with an 8620 carbon steel body attached to a forged 4140 carbon steel wrapped face.
Inside of the iron is SpeedFoam, a low-density material that plays a critical role in the interplay of the elements inside the head along with the acoustics. Compared to the prior generation the face of the P790 is 7 percent thinner and the iron also contains 15 percent more tungsten which helps lower the CG and boost forgiveness. The final part of the puzzle is the new Progressive Inverted Cone Technology (PICT), which creates more forgiveness and accuracy across the face depending on the iron in the set to further improve control into the shorter clubs.
From the fitters:
- Without a doubt, the P790 is one of the top-selling irons thanks to its ability to be very easy to hit, while also having mass appeal thanks to its great looks. It is easy to launch and has one of the fastest faces to produce ball speed and distance – oh and it feels great too!
- This iron has been a standout since its release and I think think it one of the top irons for golfers across the skill spectrum
- The P790 is neck and neck with the Callaway Apex. It’s hot, forgiving, in a great-looking package that fits many golfers its a fitters dream.
- This iron is great for golfers looking for a very clean look but wanting to pick up a couple of yards.
Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (04/30/21): Black copper Scratch iron heads
At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.
We are a community of like-minded individuals that 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 we all love – buy and selling equipment.
Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for an extremely rare set of Scratch golf AR1 iron heads finished in “black copper”.
To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Scratch AR1 iron heads
Fujikura announces second-generation MC Putter shaft
As the shaft company with one of the hottest driver shaft lines in golf—thanks to the Ventus series—Fujikura knows its way around creating great products designed to enhance feel and performance.
Fuji is now bringing this drive for innovation to the putting green with the introduction of the second generation MC Putter shaft designed to offer increased stability with three different models to fit a golfer’s stroke and feel preference.
A long time coming
To say that putter shafts went a long time without innovation would be an understatement. Beyond some slight tweaks to flex and weight, the traditional steel putter shaft has remained unchanged for well over 100 years. Until recently, most golfers never even considered that a putter shaft could be a source for improvement in feel and consistency yet week after week we see more players at the highest level looking for any advantage on the greens and this is where the MC Putter shaft comes in.
Unlike what is currently available in the market, the MC is a multi-material full-length graphite putter shaft that also features a metal core at the tip (that’s where “MC” comes from) along with a copper wrap towards the butt section to enhance mass properties without sacrificing feel.
The metal core plays a dual role, by adding extra mass towards the tip which saves engineers from needlessly adding extra layers of carbon fiber to adjust the balance point. The reason this is such a key factor in feel is that at a certain point the extra layers and wall thickness actually starts to dilute the level of feedback you are getting from impact. It’s the difference between catching a baseball with a proper glove versus trying to catch it with throw pillows—sure you can do it, but your level of awareness for everything that occurs during impact is completely gone.
This technology combines carbon fiber and rubber for the entire length of the shaft to further reduce unwanted vibration at impact. By dampening the unwanted vibrations, the feel of the shaft is amplified to provide better responsiveness which leads to things like improved distance control.
What about stability?
This is where the conversation gets really interesting because all three models offer extremely low torque while using less graphite in the tip than the all graphite competition. This low torque combined with the enhanced feel properties creates less twisting at impact without the “deadening” feel and helps reduce dispersion off the face.
As an example the X-Firm MC Putter shaft CPM’s at over 600 which although seems like an arbitrary number is over 100 cycles stiffer than the next closest competition, has lower torque, yet still offers all the technology to maintain feel that golfers expect from their putter.
Price, specs, and availability
The all-new Fujikura MC Putter shafts are available now through authorized Fujikura dealers and are priced at $250. They are currently available in .355″ taper which can be tipped a small amount to fit .370″, and only work in plumbers neck or “shaft in” center shafted putters.
- Smooth – The shaft profile creates more feel in the hands
- Firm – Smoother than steel, enhanced feel from rubber composite.
- X-Firm – This ultra-stable shaft offers instant feedback and the firmest feel
Wesley Bryan 2021 WITB (April)
Driver: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond LS (10.5 degrees set to 9.5) (10g weight in front, 6g weight in the back)
Shaft: Aldila Tour Green 75 TX (45 1/8 inches, tipped 1 inch, D4)
3-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (15 degrees @14.7) (10g weight in front, 9g weight in the back)
Shaft: Aldila Synergy Green 75 TX (42 inches, tipped 1 inch, D4)
Hybrid: Callaway Apex (20 degrees @18.9)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 95 X Hybrid
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro 2Dot (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
Wedges: Callaway Jaws MD5 Raw (50-10S, 54-10S @53, 58-08C)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Putter: Odyssey Metal X Milled #2
Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X LS (low spin)
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