Better players know that the secret to scoring well comes from being a better iron player. Better iron shots mean shorter putts, and shorter putts lead to more pars and birdies. What irons you put in your bag are important to your golfing success, and although we say it every year, there’s more to choose from this year than there was last year! Better yet, custom-fitting has proliferated, and we urge everyone to get fitted with the proper specifications before you plop down a few hundred dollars on a new set of sticks. It can make a huge difference in maximizing the performance and technological features of each club.
In this issue, you’ll also see irons becoming more differentiated on both ends of the spectrum. Some are clearly for game improvement, others for better players who want shotmaking control, thus leaving the chasm between game improvement and players’ clubs bigger than ever. It’s also more crowded, with a host of new irons dubbed as “mixed sets,” which feature game-improvement long irons, blade short irons and everything in between.
Understanding Our Charts
Key Features: What distinguishes this iron from the rest.
What We Like: We have our preferences, too. Basically, what impressed us in our review.
Who It’s For: The type of player these irons were made for.
Clubhead: The material used for head construction.
Clubface: Indicates the material used for the strike area.
Design: Indicates the club’s general shape. Generally, irons fall into two shape categories—
blades or cavity-backs.
Custom Options: Whether or not custom options are available.
Clubs: Lists the clubs available in the line.
Shafts: The stock graphite and steel shaft offerings from the manufacturer.
Adams IDEA a30S
Key Feature: The long irons are replaced with Boxer hybrids, the middle with specially designed hybrids and the short irons are traditional cavity-backs.
Bridgestone J36 Cavity Back
Key Feature: The smooth, forged feel of the new J36 CBs is complemented with a
Bridgestone J36 Pocket Cavity
Key Feature: The Pocket Cavity design cuts mass out from behind the clubface for a higher MOI and added forgiveness.
Callaway Big Bertha
Key Features: The hybrid-like long and mid irons have a wide sole and plenty of offset and forgiveness, while the shorter irons are considered to have a more traditional shape.
Key Feature: An upgraded version of the original Fusion Irons, the FT Irons have a shape that better players will like.
Cleveland CG Gold/Red
Key Feature: The Gelback insert is located low and behind the clubface for enhanced feel.
Aside from the use of multiple materials, there really hasn’t been many major technical enhancements to irons in years. Thus, manufacturers have been taking a fresh approach to the lineup you select for your bag, which is why mix-and-match sets are starting to blossom. Many companies are getting rid of the long irons and offering hybrids as adequate iron replacements. Other companies, such as Bridgestone, aren’t abandoning the eight-iron configuration, but are presenting more choices within that arrangement. The company’s new J36 irons are offered in three clubhead types—cavity-back, pocket cavity and blade—that can be mixed in any way you can dream up. The clubs not only all look alike from the address view, but they share common subtleties, as well, such as cosmetics, and progressive top line and sole thickness. “It’s a very smooth transition from one club to the next,” says Danny Le, Bridgestone Golf’s marketing manager. “We designed them to be three sets blended together. The concept here is forgiving long irons, stable mid-irons and controlling short irons. We built the set around that concept. When you transition from the pocket to the cavity to the blade, it’s all the same graphics. So in your bag or at address, the head shapes all look like one another.” Performance and feel also blend seamlessly together—no matter how you divide these types of iron sets. You’ll also find the clubhead size progression to be gentle and
Key Feature: Every club in the HiBORE set features an Inverted Crown Design and Full Hollow Construction, resulting in an iron with a deep and low CG. They’re mega-forgiving.
Key Feature: Multi-material design featuring three-piece polymer topline and urethane sole insert. Optimized weighting provides low CG and high MOI for extreme forgiveness.
F2 F2 Series Plus Irons
Key Feature: The company’s Face-Forward design, which eliminates shanked shots by putting the face in front of the hosel.
Key Feature: This hybrid set uses a two-piece construction (carbon and steel) in the middle irons, a progressive sole design and specially designed shafts from Mitsubishi Rayon.
Key Feature: The 658 has minimal offset that will appeal to better players and a 4-way cambered sole that aids supreme shotmaking versatility.
Key Feature: The new MC-102 is the first Miura iron with a hint of game improvement. The progressive offset and expanded sweet spot lend a feel and playability that’s tough to beat.
While custom-fit shafts are critical to drivers and woods, they’re just as important to irons. But unfortunately, most golfers don’t think in terms of getting their iron shafts reworked. Truth be told, iron shafts require just as much attention as any other shafts in the bag and luckily, 2008 has a few great new options if you’re looking for an upgrade.
Aldila VS Proto
Fujikura Rombax 115
Nippon N.S. Pro 750GH
Royal Precision Project X
True Temper Dynamic Gold High Launch
UST Proforce V2
Macgregor MT Pro C
Key Feature: Its computer numeric controlled (CNC) cavity-back. Not only does it make this blade more forgiving, it makes it handsome too.
Key Feature: The Cortech face has three
Key Feature: Cut Muscle design with a cavity-back shape. (This enhances the club’s sweet spot with optimal perimeter weighting.)
Nickent 4DX CB
Key Feature: A large perimeter weighted clubhead with 20 grams of weight redistributed into one tungsten-polymer fused XW Insert that absorbs vibration at impact.
Nickent 4DX Hybrid
Key Feature: Hollow clubhead with a titanium face, stainless steel body, carbon composite backing and tungsten/polymer inserts. More efficient loft spacing and longer carry distances result in an extremely versatile iron.
Nike SQ SUMO
Key Feature: The PowerBow provides extreme perimeter weighting, lowering the CG and raising the MOI and COR.
Nike Slingshot 4D Irons
Key Feature: The latest Slingshot iteration is the sleekest. This time it’s got a beveled sole, thinner topline and more compact shape.
Key Feature: A Custom Tuning Port adds to the stability of the club on off-center hits. Also, an elastomer CTP insert improves the club’s sound.