If a set of irons is on your mind for the new season here are the ones New England Golf Monthly believes are worth your time to check out. I won’t bring up the need to have a fitting done by a PGA Professional to both evaluate your swing and interpret the launch monitor data. You know that already.
There’s plenty of evidence of the immense difference properly fitted irons will make in your scoring…but then again, you already know that too. New England Golf has selected irons in several categories that are on our short list and here are brief descriptions for our readers.
Air Force One
Air Force One has unveiled its AFX Game Improvement iron set. The new set follows similar modifications to that of the popular AFX Pro Series irons. Thinning the top line and sole give it the forgiveness of its predecessor, with workability that also appeals to better players. The AFX Game Improvement iron set consists of three different clubheads within the set. The two longest clubs, the 3-4 Nitrogen Charged hybrids, feature 17-4 stainless steel heads that are internally pressurized with Nitrogen. The 5-7-irons feature Nitrogen Charged, 431 Stainless Steel clubheads that are hollow inside — delivering more forgiving power and a solid feel. The 8-iron through pitching wedge are cavity-back, 431 Stainless Steel clubheads with a deep undercut cavity that helps ease the ball into the air for consistent distances.
The JGR Hybrid Forged irons have been made to satisfy amateurs wanting forged irons for the feel but who need more forgiveness than what players-category irons typically provide. They have an ultra-thin face (1.5 mm) of high strength alloy to help with more distance in a head with a low and deep center of gravity towards the heel. The sole is relatively wide reducing the amount it will dig in at impact and also helping give the JGRs high launch characteristics. Bridgestone’s patented clubhead insert, a Turbo Rubber Composite, dampens impact vibration and along with the forged components produce a soft feel. The insert saves weight which has been moved to the perimeter to further enhance forgiveness. JGR Hybrid Forged Irons come standard in a set of 6-iron through what Bridgestone calls a PW2 (44 degrees loft while the PW1 is 38 degrees) with the option of steel ($700) or graphite shafts ($750).
Callaway has had a remarkable growth in iron sales the past two years and among their new ones are two very nice lines in the Apex 16 CF and the XR OS. The Apex 16 CFs are Callaway’s first forged player’s iron with a cup face construction, a design they have been using fairway woods and cast iron models for several years with the primary benefit being more consistent ball speed across the entire face. The longer irons have greater offset for added forgiveness and shorter irons have a more compact shape with less offset for better control. The 3- through 7-irons have the cup face and the 8-iron through attack wedge have a newly designed face plate. A set of eight irons with steel shafts is $1,200 and with graphite shafts is $1,300.
The XR OS irons (Over Size–game improvement category) also use the cup face design and Callaway says tested against last year’s comparable model the thinner face gives more ball speed and a lower and further back center of gravity gets the ball up more easily. They are available in 4-iron through sand wedge lofts and easily make up combination sets with the XR OS Hybrids substituting for long irons. Pricing with steel shafts is $800, graphite $900 and combination sets are $900 with steel shafts and $1,000 with graphite.
The King Forged TEC irons from Cobra Golf are meant to be played by lower handicap golfers and the head is forged with a stainless steel face. The back has a Technology Enhanced Cavity with a carbon fiber/urethane badge to absorb vibrations. Selling for $1,100 with steel shafts and $1,200 with graphite the weighting is accomplished with tungsten place in the toe and heel.
The return of KING irons from COBRA offers a combination muscle back and cavity back forged iron set. Tour inspired irons that deliver unprecedented Accuracy & Precision, with Feel & control. Cavity Back design in the mid & long irons provide great forgiveness, and a muscle back design in the short irons enables great precision, workability and accuracy for attacking the pin. Create the right combination for your game with the flow set of KING Pro irons. A key feature of the Pro irons is the strategically placed tungsten inserts in the toe, that helps move the Center of Gravity to the center of the club for great precision and shot making. The KING Forged MC/CB irons offer Tour Proven Performance with the soft feel and precision demanded by our best golfers. $1,099
Cobra King F6 irons ($800 for and eight iron set with steel shafts) uses four construction designs within a set. Long irons (3,4, & 5) are a full-hollow design with a thin face insert while mid-irons (6 & 7) are a thin faced half-hollow construction with a repositioned center of gravity for improved launch and easy-to-hit characteristics. The 8-, 9- and pitching wedge are cavity backs with weighting to enhance spin and trajectory control. The gap and sand wedges have a solid body specialty wedge design. Stock graphite shafts add $100 to the set price.
Mizuno’s latest irons for mid to high handicaps are the boron steel JPZ-EZ Forged with a retail of $1,000–steel shafts and $1,100—graphite, for a set of eight consisting of 4-iron through gap wedge. The cavity on the back has their vibration dampening system, is CNC milled and the sole uses Mizuno Triple Cut design.
The new MP-5s are classic player’s irons played by many of their Tour staff in a modified muscle back design and rather than a cavity the rear of the head has what Mizuno calls a “channel back flow design.” Forged from high quality steel using their Grain Flow Forging, MP-5 irons have the same tour-preferred sole design and head shape as the older MP-64s for consistent turf interaction and control. The MP-5s strategically places weight toward the toe, for more solid feel even on off-center shots. Prices are $1,000 with steel shafts and $1,100 for graphite.
The new MP-25 irons are forged from a single billet of 1025 boron steel giving them a solid feel because the metal is 30 percent stronger that also gives more distance with a minimum cavity design. What Mizuno calls “Micro Slot Technology” in the 3- through 6-irons creates a small slot that increases the face flex adding more distance and forgiveness. The MP-25s are priced the same as the MP-5s.
Ping has updated the successful G30 irons of 2015 calling the new model simply G. In addition to more a beveled trailing edge they make use of the COR-Eye technology from the GMax irons for more flexing of the sole, face and top rail to give more ball speed. Changes in the heat treating give 40 percent more strength and in conjunction with the COR-Eye results in four times the amount of flexing at impact. Ping says with G irons “a player might be able to club up and hit a 7-iron, for example, instead of a 6-iron.” The construction changes saved weight in the face and this was repositioned to low on the toe and in the perimeter giving more forgiveness. Also of interest is the new Nippon AWT 2.0 steel shafts that come stock and are progressively weighted being heavier in the short irons and lighter in the long irons. Priced at $110 each with the AWT 2.0 shafts, graphite shafts are $15 additional.
Ping also changed to a single letter name for its player’s irons, from i25 to just i, and is using high strength-to-weight ratio 431 stainless steel in the clubhead. Head sizes have been made slightly bigger and at the same time the center of gravity pushed low and back for better workability, trajectory and forgiveness. In the 3- through 7-iron have tungsten toe weights and all lofts have an elastomer CTP weight in the rear tuning port. Particular attention has been paid to the sole’s bounce profile for smoother turf interaction. The Ping i irons are available in 3-iron through utility wedge for $135 each with steel shafts and $150 with graphite shafts.
Tour Edge Golf
Tour Edge is working hard to become known for the irons in addition to the great reputation they already enjoy for their metalwoods and hybrids. New for the new season are the Exotics EXd irons (4-iron through attack wedge $600 in steel, $700 graphite) with a large part of the face unsupported helping to give more ball speed and the cavity is a deep undercut construction to aid preserving distance on off center impacts plus a variable thickness face that flexes for more distance enhancing spring-like effect. The stablemate model is the Exotics EXi with less of a game-improvement head shape but retain the undercut cavity of the EXd. There’s a sole slot to allow more face flexure and the head offset is less. Pricing is the same as the EXd and note, they are substantially less expensive than comparable competitive irons.
At the top of the Exotics line is the CB Pro Tungsten model. The heads are a hollow construction and there is progressive weighting from tungsten placed in the sole making a well-designed package that gives both distance and forgiveness. A set of 3-iron through pitching wedge is $800 with steel shafts and $900 with graphite.
Srixon wants to help all golfers get better, and consistency is key. The Srixon Z 355 Irons are designed with a heavy head and fantastic sole design. Heavier is better, through a heavier head and counter balancing these irons promise for more consistency and greater distance. They have used action mass technology and extensive swing testing results to show that by adding more weight into the club head and raising the balance point of the shaft, golfer’s hit longer more accurate shots with the most consistency. Srixon has engineered a 211 gram head in the driver, this design maximizes stability at impact for greater accuracy while also increasing distance through higher ball speed. Action mass technology as well as the Tour V.T. Soul provides advanced forgiveness and turf interaction. The long and mid irons feature a high strength maraging steel face and the short irons have a softer one-piece construction that optimizes feel through out the set. Premium shafts include the Miyazaki and Nippon. Srixon Z 355 irons are geared for maximum efficiency and control. The consistency you have always been looking for. Prices range from $599.99 – $899.99
One of the hits at the PGA Merchandise Show last January were the new Wilson Staff C200 irons made with a thinner face that only contacts the body of the iron in selected spots around the edge. Wilson has tagged the voids “Power Holes.” Meant for the “crossover player,” defined as the mid to higher handicapper desiring a more playable clubhead than the usual game-improvement irons but who also wants to gain some distance. The looks of the C200s accomplish the first goal of being more like a players iron and the fact 76 percent of the face is not touching the body (so-called FLX Face Technology) even golfers with lower swing speeds see added yards.
Another “crossover” player targeted iron from Wilson Staff is the FG Tour F5, forged for a softer feel with a medium sized topline and minimal offset. Wilson’s Speed Sole Technology is built in creating a thin face-to-sole transition that expands the sweet spot lower in the face for faster ball speeds in the long and mid irons (3- through 7- irons). There’s a 35-gram bar behind the face for support and greater forgiveness and workability. A set of 4-iron through gap wedge sells for $900.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?