PLAYERS’ DISTANCE IRONS
SRIXON ZX5 MKII
Stock shafts: KBS Tour Lite (s), UST Recoil Dart (g) 7-iron loft: 31° Forgiveness rating: 2.5/5
VERDICT: We rate Srixon’s three new ZX MKII irons very highly indeed. Like its siblings, the ZX5 is an absolute beauty, oozing classic, understated Japanese gorgeousness. We love the combination of forged head with a thin, fast and springy face for excellent speed and distance, a great marriage for what is a pretty weak loft in this category. There’s no hiding it produced a fraction less spin, shot height, descent angle and carry distance than our test average. So, it’s important to point out our test sample came with a Nippon Modus3 Tour 105, ordinarily the stock shaft for the slightly more lofted ZX7. Consequently, our numbers are a little skewed, but they’d typically be corrected by the stock shaft; the lighter, higher launching and higher spinning KBS Tour Lite.
Stock shafts: True Temper Elevate MPH 95 (s), Aldila Ascent PLK Blue or Project X HZRDUS Silver (g) 7-iron loft: 29° Forgiveness rating: 2.5/5
VERDICT: Thanks to their Apex iron line (launched in 2014), Callaway can legitimately claim to have invented this massively popular iron category. Our data has the Paradym down as our secondlongest players’ distance iron of 2023, just a yard behind Mizuno’s JPX923 Hot Metal Pro. The Paradym produced the third-fastest ball speed, while dropping just six yards between on and off-centre hits. It was also third best for protecting carry distance. With such impressive numbers, it’s great the head shape, size and feel don’t let the side down, and we love how Callaway have chosen the lighter, higher launch and higher spin True Temper Elevate shaft for this model.
Stock shafts: Dynamic Gold 95/105 VSS (s), Mitsubishi Chemical MMT (g) 7-iron loft: 30.5° Forgiveness rating: 2.5/5
VERDICT: Now in its third generation, the P790 changed the landscape of Taylormade’s iron business. The original sold to golfers from +4 to 24 handicaps, and the line is now so widely known it can be dropped into a sentence without needing to mention Taylormade. It has performed brilliantly for us before, so it’s absolutely no surprise it did so again. At 188 yards, the P790 was our third-longest (three yards back from the Mizuno JPX923 Hot Metal Pro) and secondfastest players’ distance iron of 2023. As has been the case since the first P790s in 2017, this is a cracking hollow body, forged face iron. The shaping, profile and attractiveness at address will inspire confidence in reasonable ball strikers, while sat in the bag they’re just plain gorgeous.
MIZUNO JPX923 HOT METAL PRO Stock shafts: Choose from 21 premium options 7-iron loft: 28.5° Forgiveness rating: 3/5
VERDICT: The JPX923 Hot Metal family launched at the back end of 2022, and the intention of the Pro is to cram whatever speed and distance Mizuno can muster into a players’-sized chassis. This cast iron absolutely delivers on that brief, throwing a shadow over Mizuno’s more expensive forged models. Our data has the Pro down as our longest (191 yards) and fastest (128.9mph) players’ distance iron of 2023, which could be argued should be the case as it has the strongest loft (28.5° 7-iron) within the category. But in an arena driven by distance, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t highlight outstanding performers.
PXG 0311 P GEN5 Stock shafts: True Temper Elevate (s), Mitsubishi MMT (g) 7-iron loft: 32° Forgiveness rating: 2.5/5
VERDICT: We’ve seen previous generations of PXG P irons excel for ball speed, carry, accuracy and forgiveness – and the gorgeous GEN5 performed in a very similar way. A 32° 7-iron loft is 3.5° weaker than our longest iron (JPX923 Hot Metal Pro), which means the model gives up six yards of carry to the very longest. But every other metric was significantly better than our test averages. Throw in a second place ranking for protecting ball speed and the ability to hit balls into our second smallest shot area and you have a powerful and forgiving players’ distance iron.