• Super Game Improvement Irons
When you need as much help as you can get to launch the ball higher, further and consistently
MIZUNO JPX900 HOT METAL golf.mizunoeurope.com Availability: 4-LW Stock shaft: Modus Tour 105 (s) Project X LZ (g) 7i loft/length: 31° / 36.75”
TECH: Mizuno have used 4140M Chromoly steel and a 360 Cup Face to bring specific properties to the cast JPX Hot Metal. They reckon it’s allowed them to create their thinnest club face ever for extra pop and ball speed no matter where you hit shots on the face.
WE SAY: There aren’t many iron designs that boast ultimate forgiveness yet manage to marry it to an appealing head shape that masses of golfers want to play with. This is one of the very few that manage to pull off the trick. Its head really doesn’t look like a SGI model behind the ball; its satin finish and generous head size are just what lots of club golfers love. They aren’t all show and no blow, either, as there’s plenty of game improving tech squeezed into that chassis. From a 7-iron loft 2.5° weaker than our longest iron it posted ball speed and carry distances right on our test average across all three players.
VERDICT: A real pleasure to use. We love how just like with every other Mizuno iron you buy them individually and you get a huge selection of shafts.
TITLEIST AP1 www.titleist.com Availability: 3-GW Stock shaft: True Temper XP90 (s), MRC Kurokage (g) 7i loft/length: 31° / 37”
TECH: Titleist’s highest MOI iron has a thin, fast clubface to maximise ball speeds, a 360° undercut cavity to maximise playability and a 42g tungsten toe weight to ramp up the MOI.
WE SAY: Titleist is keen not to pigeonhole their irons into categories; they prefer to fit the iron to the player rather than vice versa. So while we label the AP1S as SGI irons, you’re just as likely to find the long irons at the top end of a better player’s bag. For us, they have one of the nicest looking heads you’ll find in this category. Compared to many the soles are a bit narrower, there’s less offset and they certainly aren’t anywhere near as bulky. The lofts are 2-3° weaker than the longest on test, so it’s unfair to compare them for distance, but across the board they performed very solidly.
VERDICT: A very strong option if how a club looks is important to you. We love how such a game improvement design doesn’t have the usual “junk in the trunk” traits associated with the SGI category.
CALLAWAY BIG BERTHA OS www.callawaygolf.com Availability: 4-PW, AW, SW (stock set 4-PW or 5-SW) Stock shaft: True Temper Speed Step 80 (s), UST Recoil ES 460 (g) 7i loft/length: 30° / 37.25”
TECH: A lightweight, strong Exo-cage frame inside the head eliminates inefficient weight, meaning Callaway’s engineers had more weight to position to influence forgiveness.
WE SAY: The construction method of this latest model is nothing like the very successful originals. The OS’S new cage head has parts welded onto a very lightweight frame to create a seriously forgiving iron, unlike others. Simon was a big fan of the very tidy shape and chunky top edge, and from a loft 1.5° weaker than our longest iron the OS posted a ball speed 3mph faster and carried shots 6.4m further than our test average. Impressive.
VERDICT: If your game needs full-on forgiveness, this is a great option. How all that forgiveness is rolled together into a design that’s much more appealing than the original is very impressive.
COBRA KING OVERSIZE www.cobragolf.com Availability: 4-PW, GW, SW (stock set 4-PW/5-SW) Stock shaft: True Temper XP 85 (s) UST Recoil 460 (g) 7i loft/length: 30° / 37.50”
TECH: 12% bigger than last year’s F6. A Pwrshell face has springiness very close to the driver limit.
WE SAY: Hollow bodies are proven for forgiveness, as they offer new opportunities to preserve ball speed no matter where you impact shots on the face. If we gave out awards for the largest head, this would be our winner; it’s huge. The King felt really good and flighted shots really easily. But because of the head size and the distracting ball-shaped pattern in the grooves (which some golfers will feel gives a good impression of where they should be impacting shots), along with the just above average numbers, it didn’t quite beat the best.
VERDICT: They feel very easy to launch, which is partly down to the excellent True Temper XP shaft (which you’ll also find in Callaway’s Apex CF 16 and Taylormade’s M1). Thanks to the size there’s excellent offcentre forgiveness.
WILSON STAFF D300 www.wilson.com Availability: 4-SW Stock shaft: KBS Tour 80 (s) Matrix Speed Rulz A-type (g) 7i loft/length: 29.5° / 37.5”
TECH: Wilson’s FLX Face tech means just 26% of the face touches the head which Wilson say improves face deflection by 16% over the previous D200 model. More face flex equals more ball speed.
WE SAY: Not many golfers will pick the D300s from a rack and fall for its head shape. But the beauty lies in its performance, not its looks. It’s certainly not a criticism when we say the head’s a typical SGI design, which focuses on forgiveness rather than looks. It turned in a very strong performance for all three testers. With an average ball speed 3mph faster and 5.5m further than the average, the D300’s ability to produce speed (which is enhanced by an excellent lightweight KBS Tour 80 shaft) and distance, as well as preserve ball speed on offcentre hits, speaks for itself.
VERDICT: If you want forgiveness, distance and decent value, these should be on your list. Trust us, get over the big long, shiny heads and the FLX Face tech and tons of toe and heel weighting will come into their own.
‘THE OS POSTED A BALL SPEED 3MPH FASTER AND CARRIED SHOTS 6.4M FURTHER THAN AVERAGE’
YONEX EZONE XPG www.yonex.com Availability: 5-SW Stock shaft: KBS C-taper 90+ (s) Yonex EX310 (g) 7i loft/length: 29.5° / 37”
TECH: The XPG features a double undercut cavity behind an ultra-thin chromoly spring steel clubface to maximise ball speeds even on mishits. A “Dual Tungsten Power” system adds 4g to the headweight, meaning you swing at the same speed but the head travels quicker.
WE SAY: The head’s quite large from toe to heel, there’s not much offset and a slimmed down top-edge gives a sleek look. For us it’s much more a club for those after a good looking but forgiving iron, instead of golfers wanting out and out distance and forgiveness. Loft-wise the XPGS are pretty strong so it’s natural they gave us powerful carry numbers. Interestingly Chris Ryan’s two longest shots came from toe (10mm) and heel (9mm) strikes, suggesting Yonex’s “chromoly” steel faces are doing exactly what they should and maximising face flex.
VERDICT: A really solid iron. We particularly like how the lightweight KBS C-taper 90 comes as the standard steel shaft, which thanks to its lower weight has the ability to improve club speed.
BENROSS HTX COMPRESSOR www.benrossgolf.com Availability: 4-SW Stock shaft: KBS Tour 90 (s) Kuro Kage Black (g) 7i loft/length: 30.5° / 37”
TECH: A heat-treated face is teamed with a compression cavity in the sole to minimise ball speed drop-off on off-centre hits.
WE SAY: You only get what you pay for? Rubbish. For us, a lower price doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality, but it does mean you often get less tech. Compare the HTX to the Benross Type R and there’s no face cup or compression channel in the sole, which accounts for some of the US$90 price difference (on a steel shafted set at RRP). The HTX has a similar lowheel, high-toe appearance to the Type R, which wasn’t a massive hit with any of our testers. But to be fair it posted a ball speed 2mph quicker and carried shots 3.6m further than our average.
VERDICT: There’s not huge amounts of obvious tech like some of the more expensive models, but the HTX can hold its own. We couldn’t all quite agree we loved the head shape, but that’s personal. We did however like the solid performance and obvious cost saving.
PING GMAX www.ping.com Availability: 4-SW Stock shaft: CFS Distance (s) CFS Graphite (g) plus 4 s options at no extra cost 7i loft/length: 30.5° / 37”
TECH: COR-EYE technology allows the clubface to be thinner, which increases flex and Ping say allows the face to behave like a diving board to increase ball speeds.
WE SAY: The GMAX is designed for ultimate forgiveness. Understand that and you’ll realise straight away why the head is so big. When we say big, we actually mean stretched longer from toe to heel to improve offcentre hit performance. Looks aside the GMAX performed really well, producing some of the highest-flighted shots within the category. Yes, the heattreated faces sound a bit “tinky” at impact, which some purists won’t like, but let’s remember this iron’s not aimed at them.
VERDICT: Ball speed drop-off between centre and off-centre hits is slightly lower than Ping’s G, meaning the head is more efficient. If your game demands ultimate forgiveness, this offers it.
TAYLORMADE M2 www.taylormadegolf.com Availability: 4-PW, AW, SW, LW Stock shaft: TM REAX HL 88 (s) TM REAX (g) 7i loft/length: 28.5° / 37”
TECH: Face Slots and a thinner Speed Pocket combine to increase face flex irrespective of where shots hit the face. Geocoustic engineering improves the sound and feel.
WE SAY: The new M2 is as sleek as an SGI iron can be. Its head is nowhere near as large as lots of the competition and some very clever bevelling across the top edge means it looks really appealing behind the ball, almost like a GI iron. As you’d expect from the strongest loft (7-iron) it posted the longest single and average carry, along with the quickest single and average ball speeds. By all accounts it’s a hands-down victory in this category.
VERDICT: A stronger loft (even if it’s only 1°) means they are absolute rockets. But – and this is crucial – they went the same height (if not higher) than the test average. That means you’re getting extra carry, but great stopping power; the ultimate SGI combo.
WILSON STAFF D250 www.wilson.com Availability: 4-SW Stock shaft: Wilson Staff D250 by FST (s) UST Proforce (g) 7i loft/length: 31° / 37.5”
TECH: Right Light Technology removes every last gram of mass from the golf club’s head, shaft and grip to allow players to swing faster with the same amount of effort. A new Speed Sole expands the sweetspot lower in the face where amateurs typically impact shots.
WE SAY: With the new D300’s price going up (because of the latest FLX Face tech) Wilson realised they needed to cover off a slightly lower price point with the D250s. We’re always asked about how much difference tech really makes, and the D250s offer the perfect chance for comparison. A 4mph slower ball speed and 6.4m less carry distance compared to the D300 isn’t ideal. But compared to the test average the D250 was 0.9m shorter and 1mph slower in terms of ball speed, which isn’t bad at all considering the cost.
VERDICT: It couldn’t quite keep up with its more expensive brother, but then it was never designed to. For those wanting a decent set of forgiving irons on a budget in 2017 the D250’s certainly stack up.
‘YOU’RE GETTING EXTRA CARRY, BUT GREAT STOPPING POWER; THE ULTIMATE SGI COMBO’