Irons Buyer's Guide 2006
If you've been delaying your purchase of new irons, we have but five words: "What are you waiting for?"
We here at Golf Tips like drivers and, of course, spend hours in the office rolling balls down the hall with the industry’s newest putters. But nothing beats the thrill of poring over the latest pool of irons on our annual pilgrimage to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. To us, irons are mind-boggling. They’re easily the most sophisticated items in sport (auto racing aside). Just getting our heads around the technology to hopefully explain what they’re meant to do in the pages of this magazine is sometimes a daunting task. But that’s half the fun. Realizing the extent of a thickness variable in the toe region of the face and its effect on center of gravity and moment of inertia is about as mentally rewarding as solving the New York Times Sunday crossword in a single cup of coffee. In other words, we like it.
The all-hybrid set is making its way into the mainstream and in ’06 represents key launches by several major manufacturers, including those you’d normally associate with forged blades. Also expect a number of traditional irons complete with hybrids at the top of the set.
There’s a method to the design madness, especially when you consider that popular iron technologies have been developed and employed to help you on the course. Here are the top innovations and design schemes you’ll find in the pool of new irons.
Low And Deep CG
An oft-recurring theme in today’s iron design is positioning center of gravity (CG) as close to the sole (low) and as far away from the face (deep) as possible. The advantage of a low and deep CG is that more clubhead mass lies under the equator of the golf ball at impact, thus assisting higher launch angles without the need for high-spinning golf balls. The deep CG placement is a relatively new reversal of a previously strongly held theory that the more mass placed closer to the strike area, the greater the energy transfer at impact. As it turns out, energy transfer increases as the CG moves farther away from the face. You’ll see the same concept in driver design (see our May issue next month).
There are many ways to achieve a low and deep CG. Some are fairly obvious (the addition of heavy weights toward the sole) and some sublime. Undercut channels, for instance, are very effective in moving mass away from the face while also distributing weight from the center of the club to the sole. You’ll find extensive use of undercut cavities (or channels) in the new iron pool.
Game-Improvement Meets Players’ Irons
In years prior, if you needed game-improvement features, you got a large, clunky club with a huge back cavity. If you desired a more traditional club, you got a tiny blade with no offset and a sweet spot the size of a pinhead. But thanks to computer-assisted design, new materials and innovative construction methods, you can have your game improvement and classic aesthetics in the same package.
Long gone are the days when manufacturers casted clubs from a single mold or forged a blade from a single block of steel. Today’s irons feature multiple parts, whether they be plasma-welded faceplates, tungsten inserts, urethane feel cartridges or weight-displacement bars.
In most cases, multiple pieces and multi-piece construction methods are used to precisely pinpoint the CG in each iron to deliver specific launch conditions for every club in the set.