2011 Buyer’s Guide Irons

If you want to score your best, start with the right set of irons
When it comes to playing your best golf, better iron play is the key to making the most out of longer drives and setting yourself up for shorter putts. Those 300-yard tee shots don't matter much if you can't find the green with your approach. And if you really want to start making more putts, you need to start hitting your approach shots closer to the hole. Makes sense, right? Better iron play links good drives and makeable putts together. And the fastest way toward better iron play is choosing the right set for your needs. Whether it be distance, shotmaking control or both, choosing the right iron for your game is essential for shooting lower scores.

Golf Tips Legend

Our picks for new technologies, hot trends and equipment standouts. s = steel g = graphite

Adams Idea Tech V3

Beauty & BrawnKey Feature: It's three sets in one: 4-, 5- and 6-, progressively sized, steel-headed hybrids with tungsten weighting; a 7-mid-hybrid with viscoelastic vibration dampener; and an oversized cavity-back forged 8-iron through gap wedge. What We Like: The nickel chromium plating and PVD black finishes make them look cool. Who It's For: Mid- to high-handicappers who need help getting the ball airborne. Specs: Can be alternatively purchased with all hybrids (4-9) plus PW and GW. Graphite shafts are Mitsubishi Rayon Bassara; steel are True Temper Performance Tech. adamsgolf.com | $899 s/$999 g Callaway RAZR X

Versatile WonderKey Feature: RAZR Technology shifts the CG lower and deeper in the clubhead, offering increased shotmaking and versatility. Wide-sole forgiveness without the wide sole. What We Like: Variable Face Thickness Power System, replete with an undercut cavity, translates to plenty of power and forgiveness. Who It's For: Golfers looking to make the jump from being a high-handicapper to a single-digit. Specs:Offered in both standard head style and more-compact RAZR X Tour for mid- and low-handicappers. Available in 3-LW, with Callaway-branded shafts. callawaygolf.com | $7-899 s/$899 g Callaway RAZR X Forged

Players OnlyKey Feature: Each iron underwent a three-step forging process that yields better feel and enables Tour CC grooves to be precision-forged into each clubface. There are 30% more grooves on the face when compared to that of other irons. What We Like: The classic forged iron look, plus a higher, squared-off toe and a sharper leading edge. Roger Cleveland hit a home run with these. Who It's For: Better players who want a hint of game-improvement to go along with irons designed for advanced-level shotmaking. Specs: Available in 2-AW, with Royal Precision steel shafts. callawaygolf.com | $899 s Cleveland CG16

Editors' PickKey Feature: A lighter overall club weight and slightly longer and lighter shaft help milk more distance–up to 10 yards, says the company. What We Like: The large cavity with undercut moves the CG low and deep, making the launch angle and forgiveness ideal. The thin clubface on each iron increases ball speed, to boot. Who It's For: For all golfers, leaning toward game-improvement side. The companion CG16 Tour set is for better players. Specs: Available in 3-PW, in Satin Chrome or Black Pearl finish. Both feature laser-milled faces and Cleveland Traction 85 shafts. clevelandgolf.com | $699 s/$799 g Cobra S3

Beauty & BrawnKey Feature: E9 Face Technology means that the sweet spot on each iron is exactly where golfers tend to make impact with the ball on that specific iron. This equates to better, longer iron shots with each club. What We Like: The vibration dampening is second to none, and the mid-width sole narrows in the heel and toe, for better turf interaction. Who It's For: Anyone wanting all-around performance from an iron that absorbs a lot of shock and vibration. Specs: Available in 4-GW, with Aldila NV-3 graphite or Nippon N.S. Pro 1030H steel shafts. cobragolf.com | $745 s/$875 g Cobra S3 Max

Forgiveness Supreme Key Feature: The railed sole helps improve turf interaction for more impact consistency and power, even from off the fairway. What We Like: Their low-profile clubheads help get the ball airborne. And the distance gapping is consistent throughout the set. They have some killer aesthetics. Nice price, too. Who It's For: Mid- to high-handicappers who want maximum forgiveness and high launch. Specs: Available in 4-SW, with UST IHS graphite or Cobra S3 steel shafts. Also offered with S3 Max, Baffler-style hybrids integrated into the set for more money. cobragolf.com | $399 s/$499 g Dynacraft Prophet Tour Forged

Great Buy!Key Feature: Last year's Prophet Tour iron was a hit, and this year's version sports an all-forged design. The iron's Stability Slot located behind the face provides an added boost of forgiveness, while retaining feel and control. What We Like: We like that you can build a set to your liking, and we really like the way these irons felt at impact. They have that sweet, buttery feel that better players will gravitate to. Who It's For: Better players who want an affordable forged iron that both looks and feels like a million bucks. Specs: Custom-made to order. hirokogolf.com | $45/each (clubhead) Exotics XCG-4

Beauty & BrawnKey Feature: The thin face, dual tungsten weights and deep undercut cavity create a large sweet spot, while a progressive offset throughout the set enhances forgiveness. What We Like: The irons are deceptively wide-soled: A groove divides each sole into two, creating the visual illusion of being more narrow. This means they're actually a lot easier to hit than they look, especially for steep swingers. Who It's For: Mid- to high-handicappers. Specs: Available in 3-SW, with True Temper Dynalite or KBS Tour steel, or Rifle Project X or Fujikura Motore Exotics graphite shafts. exoticsgolf.com | $599 s/$699 g F2 Golf SE Irons

Players OnlyKey Feature: The F2 SE irons have been developed by F2 Golf to apply the advanced F2 SS wedge technology into a forgiving, easy-to-hit, game-improvement iron. Similar to the new F2 SS wedges, the F2 SE irons have F2's dogleg hosel that's curved away from the leading edge of the face and back to the shaft. This provides a larger sweet spot and less drag from the rough or sand, and practically eliminates the possibility of a shank. What We Like: A shankproof iron? Awesome! Who It's For: Golfers who want better ballstriking. Specs: Available in 4-PW (with an optional 3-iron) in Formosa/Femco steel or graphite shafts. f2golf.com | $499 s/$599 g Fourteen TC-710G

Unsung HeroKey Feature: Midsized forged clubheads have consistent CG positioning plus sizable MOI–for fewer mis-hits. Talk about a smooth, buttery feel. What We Like: They look very clean at address, the way forged-iron players prefer. And in case you haven't heard of Fourteen Golf yet, all you need to know is they make some of the finest forged irons we've ever seen. Period. Now, if only they had simpler names for their golf clubs. Who It's For: Better players who want a pure forged iron that delivers major performance. Specs: Available in 4-PW, with Nippon N.S. Pro 950GH steel shaft. fourteengolf.com | $1,199 s Mizuno MP-53

Versatile Wonder Key Feature: The longer irons' "V" slot CNC-milled pocket cavity redistributes 14 grams of weight around the cavity, for the largest sweet spot ever in an MP iron. What We Like: The Diamond Muscle design on these forged irons translates to the nice feel and ball control you'd expect from a Mizuno iron. Who It's For: Better players. The sister MP-63 irons have a progressive player's cavity and may appeal to golfers who want a tad more forgiveness in the longer irons. Specs: Available in 3-PW, with True Temper Dynamic Gold or Project X 5.5 steel shafts. mizunousa.com | $699 s/$899 g Mizuno MP-JPX 800

Forgiveness SupremeKey Feature: "Explosive" distance is achieved by combining MAX COR Technology, Hot Metal Face construction, and an exotic pocket cavity. What We Like: The triple-cut sole yields versatility and improves ball contact from various lies. A multimaterial cavity badge tunes impact sound and enhances feel. Wow, do these feel great! Who It's For: Serious mid- to high-handicappers. The sister JPX-800 Pro has minimal progressive offset and thinner lines. Specs: Available in 3-PW, with True Temper Dynalite Gold XP steel or Mizuno Exsar IS4 graphite shafts. mizunousa.com | $699 s/$899 g Nike Golf VR Pro Combo

Versatile WonderKey Feature: A forged Tour-level, three-head-styles-in-one set with a pocket cavity in the long irons, split cavity in the mid-irons, and blade-style short irons. What We Like: The CG moves gradually and consistently higher through the set, optimizing launch and distance control. Who It's For: Better players wanting more forgiveness and distance than with a blade, but still with that soft, forged feel. Specs: Available in 2-PW, with True Temper Dynamic Gold steel or Nike Project X graphite shafts. nikegolf.com | $1,079 s

style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 25px;" Nike Golf VR Pro Cavity

Editors' PickKey Feature: Opti-Mass weighting system targets a progressive and linear CG position via high-density tungsten-resin insert. What We Like: Ballflight is lively; launch angle is nice and high. And distance control is happily predictable. We also like iron innovation, and using three-, two- and single-piece clubheads in one set is a great idea to max out performance. Who It's For: Golfers wanting enhanced distance and forgiveness, and increased feel. Specs: Available in 3-LW, with the True Temper Dynalite 110 steel or Nike Project X graphite shafts. nikegolf.com | $839 s/959 g Nike Golf VR Pro Blade

Players OnlyKey Feature: They undergo a precise forging process to help shotshaping performance. Each face features two more grooves, resulting in cleaner, more consistent ballstriking and more spin off the face. What We Like: Simply put, they're gorgeous. And the feel is absolutely pure. As for shotmaking, these are straightforward blades, meaning there isn't a shot you can't hit with them. Who It's For: Better players who aren't afraid to still wield a sharp set of blades. Specs: Available in 2-PW, with True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shafts. nikegolf.com | $1,079 s Ping S56

Editors' PickKey Feature: Narrow stabilizing bars in the long iron cavities help generate distance. The bars get wider through the short irons for lower, more-controlled trajectories. What We Like: The variable tungsten toe weighting positions the CG for higher-launching long irons and lower-trajectory short irons. We also contend that these are the best-feeling, nonforged irons from PING. Ever. Who It's For: Players who put a premium on shot control. Specs: Available in 2-PW, with Dynamic Gold and KBS Tour shafts. ping.com | $1,020 s Ping Anser

Beauty & BrawnKey Feature: The company's first forged iron in 40+ years, with performance benefits not previously associated with forged irons. What We Like: Even though they're forged, they combine a steel body with a tungsten sole and machined grooves for a great, soft feel. And by the way, they pack plenty of distance, too. Who It's For: Moderate to better players who want the standard of quality expected from PING, albeit this time in a beautiful, forged iron design. Specs: Available in 3-PW, with steel True Temper Project X shafts. ping.com | $1,520 s Ping K15

Distance DrivenKey Feature: A blended set of multimetal irons and higher-launching hybrids. What We Like: The irons are oversized, have a titanium face and wide sole–all great game-improvement features. The hybrids also are exceptionally easy to use, launching the ball higher and farther than long irons do. Who It's For: Golfers who benefit from a maximum-forgiveness design, and those with slower swing speeds who want more distance. Specs: Irons available in 5-LW, hybrids in 3H-6H, with PING AWT steel or PING TFC 149i/149h graphite shafts. ping.com | $1,092 s/$1,240 g Powerbilt Air Force One N7

Distance DrivenKey Feature: Nitrogen-pressurized clubheads aim to enlarge the sweet spot, make spin rates consistent, and yield more distance.. What We Like: The two-piece hollow-core construction enhances the feel. PowerBilt is back, and we love what we see. Who It's For: These are billed as super game-improvement clubs, so they will appeal to high-handicappers who want some help getting the ball airborne and with some pop. Specs: Available in 4-GW. A standard game-improvement version also is offered for a lower price. powerbilt.com | $599 s/$799 g Srixon Z-TX

Unsung HeroKey Feature: The forged head with tungsten weights in the 3- through 6-iron produce a soft feel and loads of workability. What We Like: The variable-face design expands the sweet spot by 20% for distance and forgiveness. Really? A forged iron with loads of distance and forgiveness? Srixon proves you really can have the best of both worlds. Grea

One thought on “2011 Buyer’s Guide Irons

  1. I just purchased the Ping S56 and am waiting for their arrival. After several testing sessions with many different irons on the market these for me came out on top.

    They look and feel like a blade (currently use) but have more forgiveness and even give you that added bit of distance.

    Look forward to using them out on the golf course.

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