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Best irons in golf of 2021: Top overall performers

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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.

Join the discussion about best irons 2021 in the forums!

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 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: Overall performance

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.

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 equal high launch/low spin, mid irons equal mid launch/mid spin, short irons equal lower launch/higher spin).

From the fitters

  • In a small way, the very first Callaway Apex created the all-around iron category by combining a great-looking club with distance-creating technology, and the newest Apex continues that tradition. Whether you’re looking for distance or precision, you get both.
  • For the 2021 version of the Apex, Callaway really stepped their game up by improving the appearance, feel, and overall performance. For its shape and size, it’s pretty amazing what they have done with this club, and the results show up in our fittings.
  • 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.

For more photos/info, read our launch piece and check out this forum thread.

Srixon ZX5

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

  • This iron is a chameleon because it has the look of a smaller compact club yet offers the forgiveness associated with a larger one. It can fit a wide range of golfers, regardless of skill, even though it looks more like a club geared toward lower handicap golfers.
  • Although still a mid-profile design—not too big and not too small—the ZX5 is beyond playable for golfers 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.

For more photos/info, read our launch piece and check out this forum thread.

TaylorMade P790

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 seven 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

  • These irons have had almost unprecedented longevity, and I don’t see the train stopping any time soon. They boast tremendous forgiveness in an iron that has the looks of a more traditional club which makes them a fantastic choice.
  • 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—and it feels great too!
  • 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.

For more photos/info, read our launch piece and check out this forum thread.

Ping G425

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

  • 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 mishits and need help with height, this club is hard to beat
  • 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.

For more photos/info, read our launch piece and check out this forum thread.

Srixon ZX4

Their story: The ZX4 irons share the same face technology as the ZX5 and ZX Utility, known as “Mainframe.” This Mainframe face creates a unique thickness optimization for each iron in the set based on tested strike patterns and was refined using machine learning.

The face itself is made from forged HT1770 maraging steel and attached to a 431 steel body for great ball speeds and soft feel. Inside of the 431 stainless steel body of ZX4 mid and long irons is high-density tungsten in the sole to lower the center of gravity, boost forgiveness, and help promote high-launching shots.

From the fitters

  • The ZX4 works well for golfers who need performance and can be very different things to different players depending on the shaft. For less consistent golfers that have speed these irons get the ball up quickly without sacrificing control, and for slower speed players a lightweight option brings them to life even more.
  • The fact that Srixon carried the VT sole into this iron proves how well it works, especially for those who are more on the steeper side or happen to play in softer more lush conditions regularly
  • Even with the hollow design, you get a lot of control in the shorter irons and the sole design helps make them versatile when trying to hit shots.
  • Although it is less likely a golfer would need to do it, you can combo them with ZX5 in the shorter irons to build a really nice set.

For more photos/info, read our launch piece and check out this forum thread.

Join the discussion about best irons 2021 in the forums!

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Equipment

Blade vs cavity back style wedges – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing wedge style preferences. WRXer ‘Jjfcpa’ is curious to see what style is used by the majority of members and why, and WRXers have been sharing their thoughts on both types.

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.

  • cwik: “I play blade wedges personally. I don’t see any benefit from CB style wedges around the green or on partial wedge shots. I guess they could provide some help on full swing mis-hits, but I’ve never seen an improvement in overall scores when playing CB’s throughout the bag. The addition of CB wedges is unlikely to produce any scoring benefits for me over time as well.”
  • aaronpoling: “I played SM7’s, then went to MD 4’s, and have settled on CBX 2’s. I play G25’s so going with a CB wedge made sense to me. Both the SM7’s and MD 4’s were great feeling, but I needed something more forgiving, and while they don’t feel as great as the other, they are good!”
  • cactusgolf: “I can shank, thin, or fat any wedge. I’m just that good. I’ve played both CB wedges (CBX-type) and now my Callaway MD3s since they came out. I really haven’t noticed a noticeable benefit to playing one over the other as long as the bounce is right for the type of course and how I deliver the club to the ball.”
  • texas_tom: “I was just looking into this. I settled on a 50 degree GW CBX2 for pitch shots and bump and run and heavy grass. I have Vokey 54/58 for the “finesse” Lob and high soft shots. Of course, I blade the crap out of most of those, so I use my cbx more and more. I think the CBX has a higher swingweight? It definitely feels like it, I don’t feel as flippy with it.”

Entire Thread: “Blade vs cavity back style wedges”

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Equipment

Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (07/2/21): (Made for Tony Finau) Piretti Handstamped Matera Elite putter

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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 a 1 of 1 (Made for Tony Finau) Piretti Handstamped Matera Elite putter.

 

From the seller: (@Kaexo): “For sale only, no trades. I wanted to like it and use it for awhile but just can’t putt with it. It was originally made for Tony Finau and can be confirmed by Mike the owner of Piretti. Very light wear on the sole but Overall excellent condition. Only weight set is the blank aluminum which makes it 355g. 34″. 355g. 70? Lie. 2.5? loft. Black Piretti standard grip Full disclosure: I am out of town and won’t be able to ship until likely Friday next week but will try to do it sooner. $1200 OBO fedex insured.”

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: 1 of 1 (Made for Tony Finau) Piretti Handstamped Matera Elite putter.

This is the most impressive current listing 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

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Driver Reviews

GolfWRX Spotlight: Tour Edge Exotics C721 driver

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Tour Edge’s Exotics line of high-end golf clubs has been known for excellent fairway wood and hybrid performance over the years. The Chicago-based company has been consistently putting out high-quality products, and golfers are really taking notice. The new line of C721 drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids take yet another big leap forward from last year’s EXS line. 

The new C721 driver takes a lot of technology from the 2020 EXS line and further refines and expands on it. I know it is a little cliche when companies say every model is their best ever, but Tour Edge is 100 percent right this time.

When unboxing the C721 the first thing I noticed was the much-improved looks and shape over the previous Tour Edge drivers. The biggest change to my eye is the added bulge, giving a more rounded and softened topline.

The overall shape of the C721 is slightly stretched from front to back, giving it just a hint of a triangular look. The Ridgeback is a titanium spine flanked by two carbon fiber wings that add stability and forgiveness to the head, but they can also work together and an additional aiming device to ensure you are lined up down the center of the fairway. 

Getting the C721 out on the course is where you really start to appreciate all the technology that went into this driver. Well-struck shots are very long, very boring, and will hang with anything out on the market today. Center contact is rewarded with a long and very low spin shot that is just fun to hit.

The sound and feel are very solid, you can really feel the ball compress on the face as it leaves at high speed. The sound is more of a muted crack and much quieter than I anticipated. If you practice on an enclosed range your ears will thank you for your choice in drivers. Shots hit away from the center of the face retain a lot of ball speed and stay online really well.

My miss is low on the heel and those misses stayed in the air fairly well and went a good ways. Shots hit down on the heel or higher on the toe side still stay online really well due to the Ridgeback spine and rear weight. The C721 is just slightly higher than mid-launch for me, but the low spinning head never allowed my shots to balloon or rise even into the wind. I do wish the face was just a touch deeper as I had to play with my tee height in order to find the optimal setup. The better players will enjoy the neutral weighting and there seems to be very minimal draw built into the driver.

Overall, the Tour Edge Exotics C721 driver is a great club that will probably be overlooked by too many golfers. If you are looking for added distance, a lot of forgiveness and want to keep some money in your pocket, then you should seriously take a look at Tour Edge.

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