Showcase: The Anti-Irons

The latest game-improvement offerings

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The Anti-Iron IRONS Irons today are nothing like they were just a few years ago. That's a good thing because iron technology hasn't exactly had such an easy time keeping up with the meteoric rise in driver, wood and putter designs. However, the latest leaps in iron technology have been huge, with numerous models featuring more game improving technology than we've ever seen.

To get started, be aware that blade-style irons are basically on the way out. Even most touring professionals have ditched them. What about cavity-backs? They're still here, although they're so heavily modified that it's hard to call any new cavity-back iron a cavity-back anymore.

How irons are designed to perform also has changed. Shotmaking and ball control have given way to power and forgiveness as a result of the popular "bomb and gouge" style of play, which encourages players to hit the ball as long and straight as possible.

That style of play along with some advances in iron technology have brought us a heaping of new, powerful and just plain mean irons that are designed to hit the ball higher, farther and straighter than ever. Among the pack for 2009 are these four top contenders, each of which will take a meaty bite out of your handicap, provided you find the one that fits your swing.

Cleveland CG7 Built with a 360-degree Gelback insert and sports-car good looks, the CG7 is Cleveland's most attractive, not to mention best iron to date. Not nearly as bulky as many game- improvement irons, the CG7 still has a ton of horsepower under its shiny hood—meaning these sticks are both long and straight. A Tour version, the CG7 Tour, also is available—it's slightly smaller and features less offset. Par-3s, beware. The CG7s are coming.

PING Rapture V2 The Rapture V2 irons have an oversized stainless-steel body, a titanium clubface, tungsten sole weights and a soft elastomer medallion. In plain English, that means these irons are incredibly easy to hit, exceptionally long, promote a higher ballflight and have a soft, vibration-free feel. Bottom line—it might be time to replace your Eye2s.

TaylorMade Burner '09 The new Burner irons have TM's Inverted Cone and SuperFast technologies for consistently better distance and enhanced overall playability. Other cool features include a versatile sole that can cut through a variety of lies and a big multi-material badge for vibration absorption. Just be ready to hit these irons at least a club farther and a lot straighter than your current set, and you'll be ready to go.

Callaway X-22 The perimeter weighting of the X-22s has been maximized to beef up the MOI by more than 10 percent of previous models. That means big-time forgiveness and more straight shots. Other notable features include a modified Tru-Bore design that greatly reduces vibration and a 360-degree Undercut Channel that, you guessed it, makes this iron even more forgiving. With all this technology, one might expect the X-22s to be chunky and too big to handle. Quite the contrary, as these irons are smooth, streamlined and very easy on the eyes.

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