2014 Buyer's Guide Irons

Be a shotmaker in 2014

Labels: Buyers GuideIrons

Mid/High-Handicappers

Steel or Graphite?
"There are few, if any, tangible performance limitations versus steel in modern graphite shafts," says TaylorMade's Tomo Bystedt, director of product creation for irons, putters and wedges, belying some of the former digs on the material that it lacked feel or stability or launched too high. "Although most top players prefer steel, graphite can offer similar performance characteristics for better players and a wider weight and performance range than steel shafts overall."

Yet steel still has a "healthy [sales] lead" over graphite, with no significant change in recent years, per Bystedt, so why is the product—higher cost considerations aside—still seen largely as the domain of those with compromised joints or slower swings?

Tour usage. What's played on TV on Sunday afternoon still dictates so much consumer behavior.
"If graphite-shaft adoption among better players continues to rise, the perception could change favorably in the future," Bystedt concludes.

In a game where sound is called feel by those who tout the buttery unctuousness of a good forging well struck, we're a tradition-bound lot. Can technology eclipse historic experience, at least in terms of graphite in irons? Maybe....
Adams Golf
XTD
Key Features: A full cut-through-the-clubhead slot maximizes distance and trampoline effect. Then, a strategically placed CG behind the slot helps impart corrective spin for straighter shots.
Wow Factor: On off-center hits, the ball still goes as far as we hoped and with pretty decent accuracy. Long irons have some clout.
Specs: Available in 4-PW or 3-4 Pro Hybrids and 5-PW, with a KBS Tour 90 steel or an Aldila Tour Red graphite shaft.
adamsgolf.com | $799/hybrid-iron combo set, $599/4-PW
Cleveland Golf
588 Altitude
Key Features: The hybrid iron set features full hollow construction for distance and forgiveness. Seamless set transition eases playability. Face Forged Technology enhances ball speed, distance and feel.
Wow Factor: The easiest irons we've tried when it comes to getting the ball airborne. It's almost like cheating. But it's not. They're insanely easy to play with.
Specs: Available in 3-SW for righties, lefties and women, with a Traction 85 steel or an Actionite 55 graphite shaft.
clevelandgolf.com | $799/graphite, $699/steel
Cobra Golf
Baffler XL
Key Features: Wide sole rails ease turf interaction for consistent distance. An oversized face means a large sweet spot for distance and forgiveness across the clubface. And a deep undercut cavity translates to trampoline effect for fast ball speed.
Wow Factor: We're wowed by the distance average Joes can get with these.
Specs: Available in 4-SW, with a True Temper steel or Cobra Baffler graphite shaft.
cobragolf.com | $750/graphite, $625/steel



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