• Bet­ter Player Irons

Even if your ball-strik­ing isn’t good enough to use them, we can all drool

Golf Asia - - CONTENTS -

MIZUNO JPX900 TOUR golf.mizu­noeu­rope.com Avail­abil­ity: 3-PW Stock shaft: Choose from 16 steel and graphite op­tions 7i loft/length: 34° / 36.75”

TECH: A low toe height, com­pact face and nar­row, ta­pered sole are per­fect for crisp ball-strik­ing and pre­cise shot mak­ing. A Pow­erframe chas­sis re­in­forces the top edge for max­i­mum power trans­fer.

WE SAY: What Mizuno don’t know about cre­at­ing a bril­liant players’ iron isn’t worth know­ing. We love the classy, satin fin­ish of the 900s and felt it bore some real ben­e­fits over tra­di­tional pol­ished blades, as there are no re­flec­tions to dis­tract the eye. Our test pro hit the 900s re­ally well and pro­duced some ex­cel­lent num­bers. A ball speed dropoff of just 1.1mph (be­tween good and av­er­age strikes) was the low­est on test. It trans­lated to just three yards of carry drop-off, which was also the joint low­est on test (with the Ping i200, Call­away Apex Pro and Ping iblade). That tells us the cav­ity back of­fers ex­tra for­give­ness that you won’t find in Mizuno’s MP irons.

VER­DICT: Who wouldn’t want to play a set of th­ese? They look and feel fan­tas­tic, and per­form just as well. Plus, 16 pre­mium shaft op­tions all at no ex­tra cost is a huge fit­ting benefit.

SRIXON Z 765 www.srixon.com Avail­abil­ity: 3-SW (stock set 4-PW) Stock shaft: Nip­pon NS Pro Mo­dus3 Tour 120 (s) 7i loft/length: 32° / 37”

TECH: A mus­cle cav­ity which blends a players’ pro­file with the for­give­ness of a cav­ity back. The 1020 car­bon steel heads are heat­treated to de­liver the smoothest forged feel.

WE SAY: We’ve known for years that Srixon makes great balls, but it’s only over the last few that we’ve gained a real re­spect for their forged irons, too. They’re fan­tas­tic. Our pro said the Z765s were among his favourites and he’d hap­pily slip them in his bag. With a 7-iron 2° stronger (loft) than many on test it’s no sur­prise the 765s car­ried shots to within 3 yards of the long­est on test. Ball speed was over a 1mph faster than our av­er­age, too, and a tiny drop-off of four yards of carry and 251rpm of spin be­tween shots sug­gest a very con­sis­tent across-the­board per­for­mance iron.

VER­DICT: The Ja­panese pour over ev­ery de­tail and it’s this that makes th­ese irons stand out. Laser face milling, a beau­ti­ful satin and pol­ished fin­ish, the sole de­tail­ing, a new heat treat­ment to im­prove feel and grooves that are just a tiny bit big­ger... Bril­liant.

CO­BRA KING FORGED TOUR www.co­bragolf.com Avail­abil­ity: 4-PW (stock set 5-PW / 4-PW) Stock shaft: KBS Tour FLT 7i loft/length: 33° / 37.25”

TECH: Forged five times so the shape is ex­tremely pre­cise and grain struc­ture tight­ened to in­crease feel. Tung­sten weights in the toe and heel low­ers and cen­tres the CG for for­give­ness.

WE SAY: Thanks to their work with guys like Rickie Fowler Co­bra has taken huge steps for­ward with th­ese irons. The whole set is made up of re­ally de­sir­able head shapes with sleek straight top and lead­ing edges which ap­peal to de­cent golfers. It’s no sur­prise that off a strong loft (7-iron) the Tour posted a joint sec­ond long­est carry and a ball speed a good 1.5mph quicker than the av­er­age. Off-cen­tre hit per­for­mance comes from the tung­sten toe and heel weight­ing which aids sta­bil­ity.

VER­DICT: It feels to us like Co­bra has ma­tured a bit over the last cou­ple of years. Some of the crazy colours, de­signs and ideas have been qui­etened down to pro­duce prod­ucts with much more mass-mar­ket ap­peal. For us the Tours are a se­ri­ously good set of irons.

WIL­SON STAFF FG TOUR V6 www.wil­son.com Avail­abil­ity: 3-PW (4-PW) Stock shaft: True Tem­per Dy­namic Gold AMT 7i loft/length: 35° / 37.25”

TECH: 20g of tung­sten weight­ing in the 3-7 iron low­ers the CG and in­creases launch with­out in­creas­ing spin, says Wil­son.

WE SAY: The V6 throws up a real co­nun­drum, as its head size is one of the small­est on test. It’s nat­u­ral to ex­pect a smaller head to be less for­giv­ing, but with one of the largest and deep­est cav­ity backs in the cat­e­gory, and plenty of tung­sten toe and heel weight­ing to boot, we won­dered if the V6 could make up for its lack of size by turn­ing in a strong per­for­mance. It does, as it cer­tainly didn’t feel un­for­giv­ing, and with our test pro post­ing a ball speed 1.5mph over the av­er­age and car­ry­ing shots with a 7-iron 1.5 yards fur­ther than av­er­age (with a higher loft) it speaks vol­umes about the V6s.

VER­DICT: If you look at the V6s in the cold light of day, they’re a re­ally de­cent set of forged irons, with just enough tech to aid, not pun­ish your en­joy­ment of the game.

PING IBLADE www.ping.com Avail­abil­ity: 3-PW Stock shaft: True Tem­per Dy­namic Gold (plus four pre­mium op­tions) 7i loft/length: 34° / 37”

TECH: Ping’s most for­giv­ing blade-style model to date. A 431 stain­less steel head, with a thin­ner top rail, min­i­mal off­set, straight lead­ing edge and high toe is de­signed to ap­peal to the dis­cern­ing golfer.

WE SAY: Forged heads are the over­whelm­ing choice of tour players when it comes to irons. You might think that puts the cast iblades at a dis­ad­van­tage. But re­mem­ber it’s de­signed for players like Bubba Wat­son, Louis Oosthuizen and Lee West­wood, so it’s no sur­prise it per­formed ad­mirably in our tests. Our data shows how the iblade was right on our pro’s test av­er­age when it came to ball speed and carry, and it recorded a tiny carry drop off of just three yards (joint low­est) be­tween on and of­f­cen­tre hits, which makes for some se­ri­ously ac­cu­rate shot-mak­ing.

VER­DICT: Ping openly ad­mits the iblade will make up a tiny pro­por­tion of its iron sales, but that doesn’t mean the iblade isn’t good. It is. But the ex­tra for­give­ness from the wider-sole, big­ger-cav­ity i200s will be much more sat­is­fy­ing for most of us.

‘THANKS TO WORK WITH GUYS LIKE RICKIE FOWLER, CO­BRA HAS TAKEN A HUGE STEP FOR­WARD’

PING I200 www.ping.com Avail­abil­ity: 3-UW Stock shaft: Choose from seven pre­mium steel and one graphite op­tion 7i loft/length: 33° / 37”

TECH: The i200 re­places the “i” iron, and brings some no­table up­dates to the ta­ble. The face is 30% thin­ner, which means more mass in the toe and heel to nudge MOI 7% higher.

WE SAY: Speak to any de­signer of bet­ter player irons and they’ll tell you how good golfers want for­give­ness, but it can’t come at any cost. So their first pri­or­ity is al­ways to cre­ate a good look­ing head. Then they fo­cus on for­give­ness. That’s where the i200 comes into its own. Yes, some will ac­cuse it of be­ing a bit boxy (like our test pro), but it’s a look Ping have made their own. And the club’s abil­ity to marry good looks with de­cent lev­els of playa­bil­ity makes it an out­stand­ing choice for de­cen­tish club golfers. We loved the sleek hy­dropearl fin­ish, it looks great in the bag. Our 11-hand­i­cap am­a­teur now wants a set to re­place his i’s.

VER­DICT: Our pro’s num­bers were bang on the test av­er­age for ball speed and carry, but a joint low­est carry drop-off (three yards) means it will make for some ac­cu­rate shot mak­ing. A fan­tas­tic all-rounder.

YONEX N1-CB www.yonex.com/sports/golf Avail­abil­ity: 4-PW Stock shaft: Nip­pon 950 (s), Yonex NST310 (g) 7i loft/length: 32° / 36.75”

TECH: A graphite in­sert in the back en­sures the looks of a mus­cle­back, but the playa­bil­ity and for­give­ness of a pocket cav­ity de­sign. A 3d sole helps im­prove strike ef­fi­ciency.

WE SAY: The N1-CB’S put in a se­ri­ous shift dur­ing test­ing. The soles are wider, the toe’s a lit­tle higher and there’s a de­cent cav­ity back and pocket cav­ity to in­crease playa­bil­ity. The big­ger ap­pear­ance fos­tered con­fi­dence where some of the smaller models looked more in­tim­i­dat­ing and zapped it. We tested the CB in last year’s Top Gear and it per­formed re­ally well; this year it recorded a ball speed and carry dis­tance a frac­tion lower than our test av­er­age, which to us says that other brands have upped their game for 2017.

VER­DICT: Yonex are keen to stress how the N1-CBS are de­signed and made in Ja­pan to very ex­act­ing stan­dards, which if you’re a fan of all things Ja­panese you’ll love. This is a lovely set which mar­ries a de­gree of for­give­ness with a re­ally nice look­ing head, but at nearly US$1543 a set they face some stiff com­pe­ti­tion.

MIZUNO MP-25 golf.mizu­noeu­rope.com Avail­abil­ity: 3-PW Stock shaft: Pick from 16 steel and graphite op­tions 7i loft/length: 34° / 36.75”

TECH: Mizuno’s 1025 boron steel gives the ex­tra strength re­quired to cre­ate mi­cro-slot pocket cav­i­ties in the 3-6 irons, which means in­creased face flex and ball speeds.

WE SAY: The MP-25S have been around for a cou­ple of years now; it was Mizuno’s first boron-in­fused MP bet­ter player iron. Adding boron al­lows engi­neers to play tricks with face thick­ness and pocket cav­i­ties that couldn’t be done with forged irons be­fore. We felt the 25 was a very good look­ing, sta­ble and playable iron that com­bines a de­cent shape with a de­gree of for­give­ness. Its loft is a cou­ple of de­grees weaker than some, so it was al­ways go­ing to need to bust a gut to com­pete in terms of dis­tance. But in terms of ball speed drop-off be­tween cen­tre and off-cen­tre hits, it’s a very solid, well­bal­anced de­sign.

VER­DICT: If you must have the look of a bet­ter player iron, but aren’t the best ball­striker, they could be right up your street.

TAY­LORMADE P770 www.tay­lor­made­golf.com Avail­abil­ity: 3-AW (stock set 4-PW or seven irons) Stock shaft: KBS Tour FLT 7i loft/length: 33° / 36.75”

TECH: The 770 name refers to the 77m blade length and some se­ri­ous re­shap­ing work means the new de­sign has a straighter top line, flat­ter sole ra­dius and medium sole cam­ber.

WE SAY: Brands hate pour­ing their heart and soul into new prod­ucts only for their staffers to stick with an older model. Lots of Tay­lormade pros still played the Tay­lormade forged MB circa 2014 at the end of last sea­son. The P770’s (and their P750 smaller brothers) are out to re­place them and they’ve got a heck of a chance. They’re a su­perbly sim­ple, un­fussy de­sign which are more for­giv­ing than you’d ex­pect. Our two am­a­teurs loved their feel and feed­back and be­ing Tay­lormade it’s no sur­prise their ball speed was 5mph quicker and carry dis­tance 7.3m fur­ther than test av­er­age for a 7-iron.

VER­DICT: Wal­let-bust­ing, but beau­ti­ful. If you’re lucky enough to have both the money and the game for them, we ap­plaud you.

CALL­AWAY APEX PRO 16 www.call­away­golf.com Avail­abil­ity: 3-AW (stock set 3-PW) Stock shaft: Project X (s), UST Mamiya Re­coil (g) 7i loft/length: 34° / 37”

TECH: Call­away’s pre­mium forged iron has a classic look that’s been in­flu­enced by its tour staff. The heads are soft 1025 car­bon steel to max­imise feel, and pro­gres­sive CGS (thanks to tung­sten weight­ing) op­ti­mise playa­bil­ity through the set.

WE SAY: Some­how Call­away has man­aged to roll what looks like a rea­son­ably for­giv­ing cav­ity back de­sign into a head that looks very much like a blade at ad­dress. It’s a cracker, and we ap­plaud them for pulling it off. Chris Ryan re­ally liked the soft-but-solid feel, say­ing it was one of the nicest feel­ing forged clubs he hit. His long­est shots came from both slight toe and heel hits (9mm spread be­tween them) which demon­strates a de­gree of playa­bil­ity that wasn’t present in ev­ery bet­ter player iron we hit.

VER­DICT: A lovely look­ing iron that’s aimed at the very best, but with an ex­tra de­gree of for­give­ness. The sole and lead­ing edge shap­ing is also a lit­tle more friendly than some pre­vi­ous Call­away players’ irons.

‘BORON AL­LOWS ENGI­NEERS TO PLAY TRICKS THAT COULDN’T BE DONE WITH FORGED IRONS BE­FORE’

SRIXON Z 765 CO­BRA KING FORGED TOUR PING IBLADE MIZUNO JPX900 TOUR WIL­SON STAFF FG TOUR V6

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