Game im­prove­ment irons

The per­fect blend of for­give­ness and playa­bil­ity in a nice-look­ing iron de­sign

Today's Golfer (UK) - - Contents -

When you need just a lit­tle bit more help to get the ball on the green.

MIZUNO JPX900 FORGED £120 PER CLUB Golf.mizu­noeu­

Avail­abil­ity: 4-GW Stock shafts: Project X LZ 5.5 (s) Project X LZ (g) 7i loft/length: 31° / 36.75”

TECH: A mid-sized forged iron that is said to end the trade-off be­tween pre­ci­sion and dis­tance. Boron makes the Forged 30% stronger, so it’s pos­si­ble to cre­ate a pocket cav­ity with a multi-thick­ness face to al­low it to per­form like a dis­tance iron, with­out los­ing feel.

WE SAY: It could be ar­gued the Forged would be bet­ter clas­si­fied as a play­ers’ iron, but Mizuno in­sists that be­cause of the ad­di­tion of boron and a pocket cav­ity, it works for a wider au­di­ence. The 900’s slightly longer blade length im­proves MOI, but the top edge is very slen­der for the cat­e­gory. The 1025 steel head feels fan­tas­tic and the ball speed it pro­duced was right on av­er­age across all three testers. Carry dis­tance was a cou­ple of yards short of the av­er­age, which high­lights per­fectly how such a de­sign is more pun­ish­ing on off-cen­tre hits.

VER­DICT: A crack­ing look­ing iron that sits beau­ti­fully be­tween a GI and bet­ter player model. You’ll need to be a more con­sis­tent ball-striker to hit them as well as some of our other favourite game im­prove­ment mod­els.

CO­BRA KING F7 £549 (S) £649 (G)­

Avail­abil­ity: 4-PW, GW, SW (stock 4-PW, 5-SW, 5-GW) Stock shaft: True Tem­per King F7 (s) Fu­jikura Pro 63i (g) 7i loft/length: 30° / 37.25”

TECH: Hol­low body long irons, half-hol­low mid irons, cav­ity back short irons and blade wedges are teamed with two dif­fer­ent steels and groove shapes to im­prove dis­tance, feel and con­trol.

WE SAY: Each iron is de­signed as an in­di­vid­ual, rather than a set like much of the com­pe­ti­tion. As one of the lower-lofted 7-irons on test it’s no sur­prise the F7 turned in a strong per­for­mance. Head shape is al­ways sub­jec­tive, and the F7 is pretty rounded, which some golfers will love but none of our three testers quite ranked among their favourites. Like Co­bra’s F7 driver we felt the irons were easy to gen­er­ate speed with. They give a real sense of be­ing user-friendly, where other mod­els give the im­pres­sion you need to be right on top of your game to get the best out of them.

VER­DICT: There’s lit­tle not to like, es­pe­cially when you con­sider the price. The fact Co­bra has in­vested in CNC milling each groove at this end of the mar­ket demon­strates how se­ri­ously they take every last de­tail.

YONEX EZONE ELITE £399 (S) £559 (G)

Avail­abil­ity: 5-SW Stock shaft: FST 115 (s) Yonex M60 (g) 7i loft/length: 29° / 37.25”

TECH: A dou­ble un­der­cut cav­ity means the sole is ex­tremely thin be­hind the face to max­imise flex at im­pact. Weight is re­moved from high in the blade by Yonex’s Octaforce tech and re­lo­cated to cre­ate a pro­gres­sive weight­ing sys­tem.

WE SAY: The Elite’s 29° 7-iron is stronger than some 6-irons, which goes a long way to ex­plain­ing its joint-long­est av­er­age carry (188 yards) for our pro. There’s no hid­ing from the head size though – it’s pretty large – and be­cause it has less off­set than most, we reckon it might ap­peal to golfers who re­ally don’t en­joy see­ing the lead­ing edge of an iron a long way be­hind the hosel at ad­dress. Thanks to its size the Elite is re­ally for­giv­ing.

VER­DICT: Even if the Elite is a bit plain, it’s well worth a look, par­tic­u­larly if you con­sider the price. There might not be lots of vis­i­ble tech, but across the board it’s solid and will do a good job for a club golfer.

BENROSS HTX COM­PRES­SOR TYPE R £420 (S) £490 (G) www.ben­ross­

Avail­abil­ity: 4-GW Stock shaft: KBS Tour 90 (s) Kuro Kage (g) 7-iron loft and length: 30° / 37”

TECH: A heat-treated cup face pro­vides faster ball speeds from a larger area of the face, to max­imise dis­tance and for­give­ness.

WE SAY: If pick­ing your next set of irons was just about num­bers – ball speed, dis­tance, price – many golfers wouldn’t look past the Type R. Un­for­tu­nately, we buy with our eyes as much as we do on per­for­mance, and that’s where the Type R comes un­der scru­tiny. Its head has an un­usu­ally low heel/high toe de­sign, which gives a very dif­fer­ent ap­pear­ance. None of our testers re­ally felt any love for it. At Si­mon’s slower swing speed the Type R recorded the joint fastest in­di­vid­ual ball speed (109mph), while for our pro it was just be­hind his long­est av­er­age carry.

VER­DICT: The cup face is clearly do­ing a job, though re­mem­ber the loft’s pretty strong, too. KBS shafts and Golf Pride grips are com­po­nents you’ll find in other top brands.

PING G £92 (S) £102 (G) PER CLUB

Avail­abil­ity: 4-LW Stock shaft: Ping AWT 2.0 (s) CFS Graphite (g) plus four steel op­tions at no ex­tra cost 7i loft/length: 30.5° / 37”

TECH: COR-EYE tech be­hind the face en­cour­ages more of the face, top rail and sole to flex at im­pact to in­crease ball speeds. By con­nect­ing a “cus­tom tun­ing port” to the sole rather than the face low­ers and deep­ens the CG, in­creas­ing for­give­ness.

WE SAY: These are just what tons of club golfers need. In our opin­ion the cur­rent Gs, which are now in their sec­ond year, are the best of the GI bunch, and they still stack up with the com­pe­ti­tion. Si­mon recorded his joint high­est in­di­vid­ual ball speed with them, while the other two testers recorded a ball speed 3mph quicker than the test av­er­age and two yards over the bench­mark carry dis­tance. They’re just as good now as when they were launched last year, though given Ping’s launch cy­cle, we could rea­son­ably ex­pect new Gs this sum­mer.

VER­DICT: Still a se­ri­ously good iron. Lots of game im­prove­ment irons talk of com­bin­ing the look of a play­ers’ iron in a game-im­prove­ment chas­sis, but don’t quite get it right. The G pulls it off su­perbly.


CALL­AWAY APEX CF 16 £879 (S) £1,099 (G)­away­

Avail­abil­ity: 3-SW inc AW (stock set 4-PW) Stock shaft: True Tem­per XP 95 (s) UST Mamiya Re­coil (g) 7i loft/length: 31° / 37”

TECH: Call­away has taken the cup face that’s so pop­u­lar in its woods and ap­plied it to a forged iron. Each head is quadru­ple forged from soft 1025 car­bon steel for soft feel.

WE SAY: The Apex is now in its sec­ond year, yet all three testers still loved them. The heads are a bit smaller and sleeker than some of the irons here, but they are just adorable. So adorable, we reckon they’re one of the nicest irons avail­able in this cat­e­gory for years, so if you want a set now is the time to get them, as there’s every chance they’ll dis­ap­pear at the end of 2017. De­spite not hav­ing the strong­est loft the Apex pro­duced the long­est carry (197 yards with a 7-iron) and joint fastest sin­gle ball speed (with the M1) for our test pro, which is im­pres­sive from soft, forged heads.

VER­DICT: If how irons look is im­por­tant to you, but your game de­mands good for­give­ness, you must look at the Apex. They are a beau­ti­ful set and prove GI tech doesn’t have to mean irons look like shov­els.

TAYLORMADE M1 £849 (S) £1,049 (G) www.tay­lor­made­

Avail­abil­ity: 3-PW, AW, SW Stock shaft: True Tem­per XP 95 (s) Mit­subishi Kuro Kage (g) 7i loft/length: 30.5° / 36.75”

TECH: Face Slots and Speed Pock­ets in­crease flex at the perime­ter to im­prove ball speed con­sis­tency and drop-off. Geo­cous­tic engi­neer­ing uses a stiff cav­ity badge to at­tach the face to the body to con­trol un­wanted vi­bra­tions and de­liver great sound and feel.

WE SAY: Many golfers will want to know how the new M1s com­pare to the M2s. Well, if you test them on a launch mon­i­tor you’re likely to go M2. Why? They are 2° stronger in loft (half a club dif­fer­ence) which for our test pro equated to 5mph of ball speed and 12 yards of carry. But that ab­so­lutely doesn’t mean the M1 is a slouch. All three testers recorded either their fastest in­di­vid­ual shot or av­er­age ball speed with the M1 (of the GI irons here) and Si­mon car­ried them fur­ther (165 yards) than any other game im­prove­ment iron.

VER­DICT: Iron de­sign­ers will tell you that com­bin­ing good for­give­ness in a more com­pact head is a real chal­lenge. So while the M1 is more com­pact than the M2, it wasn’t quite as long. But it didn’t stop gear ed Si­mon re­ally want­ing a set.

WIL­SON STAFF C200 £525 (S) £609 (G) www.wil­

Avail­abil­ity: 4-PW Stock shaft: KBS Tour 90 (s) Aldila Rogue Pro (g) 7i loft/length: 32° / 37.50”

TECH: De­signed for the “cross­over” player seek­ing a mid­size head shape with mod­er­ate off­set, but those who also want max­i­mum dis­tance and the best feel in its class. Power Holes max­imise face flex and ball speed, yet main­tain ex­cel­lent sound and feel.

WE SAY: Wil­son’s Flx­face tech is cer­tainly clever. We’d love to say it ramped up ball speeds and carry dis­tance, but that wasn’t quite the case. Yes, the C200s are pow­er­ful, but our stats show, par­tic­u­larly at higher swing speeds, the C200 im­part a lot of spin, which means en­ergy is spent go­ing up rather than for­wards, which ul­ti­mately robbed them of dis­tance. The “Power Holes” don’t dis­tract at­ten­tion at ad­dress.

VER­DICT: The C200 did ab­so­lutely fine, with­out be­ing ex­cep­tional. If you’re at­tracted to the tech, have a good look at Wil­son’s D300, too. Their stronger lofts meant a de­cent in­crease in ball speed and carry over the 200s.

SRIXON Z 565 £770

Avail­abil­ity: 4-PW (stock set 4-PW) Stock shaft: Nip­pon NS Pro 980 (s) Miyazaki Kaula 8 (g) 7i loft/length: 31° / 37”

TECH: SUP10 spring steel faces com­bine with soft 1020 car­bon steel bod­ies for a smooth but en­er­getic feel. A Tour VT sole im­proves turf in­ter­ac­tion so less en­ergy is lost at im­pact and dis­per­sion is im­proved.

WE SAY: With a 7-iron loft a cou­ple of de­grees weaker than the strong­est, it’s no sur­prise the 565s strug­gled to keep up in terms of raw power for our am­a­teurs. How­ever, in the hands of our pro it per­formed very well. With more shots hit closer to the cen­tre of the face it posted a right-on­test av­er­age carry and above av­er­age ball speed. A great pack­age of face tech and for­give­ness which should be on your short list if you’re look­ing at forged irons in 2017.

VER­DICT: Srixon makes some very solid forged irons right now, and if your game de­mands the ex­tra feel and con­trol they of­fer, the 565s are one of a hand­ful that le­git­i­mately can be called “for­giv­ing”.


Avail­abil­ity: 4-PW Stock shaft: Pre­ci­sion Ri­fle (s) Mit­subishi Rayn JAVLN (g) 7i loft/length: 30° / 37”

TECH: A wide sole, un­der­cut cav­ity back and thick top edge en­sure max­i­mum playa­bil­ity when shots are hit off-cen­tre.

WE SAY: We’ve got to hand it to MD Golf, the Su­per­strongs have got some se­ri­ous shelf ap­peal. They might not boast any of the springy face or speed pocket tech like some, but they were more than ca­pa­ble of keep­ing up when it came to ball speed and carry. By post­ing a just above-av­er­age ball speed and carry dis­tance across all three testers, and con­sid­er­ing the sub£300 price point, we’d say the STR’S are a de­cent value op­tion. The head has a de­cent sized cav­ity back, a rea­son­ably wide and for­giv­ing sole and yet the top edge doesn’t swell to obese lev­els, either. It all stacks up to a solid iron.

VER­DICT: MD are not as widely avail­able as they once were and they’re not quite as keen to of­fer cus­tom fit­ting on their 2017 line up, either. But that doesn’t take away from the STR be­ing a de­cent propo­si­tion for club golfers, es­pe­cially those shop­ping on a bud­get.



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