ClubTest 2020: 57 best iron models to take your game to the next level
Update: ClubTest 2021 is now available. Click here to see our picks for the best irons of 2021.
We put more than 100 drivers, woods, hybrids and irons through rigorous robotic and player testing to create GOLF’s biggest—and best—gear review ever. With our help (and a little research on your part), building the perfect bag for your game has never been easier. Edited by Jonathan Wall & Andrew Tursky.
The days of “one iron fits all” are gone. For the first time we’ve arranged new irons in five different player categories (models are listed in alphabetical order). Crossovers notwithstanding, manufacturers have been busy engineering performance to individually suit your needs.
The five categories are Tour irons, Player irons, Player Distance irons, Game Improvement irons and Super Game Improvement irons, and all the iron models are organized and listed in that order below. So what are you waiting for? Your iron match made in heaven awaits.
Our take: Miura’s first new blade iron since 2013 enhances workability and turf interaction via a refined sole that’s slightly thicker. Particular attention was also paid to the musclepad and the transition from hosel to topline. The discerning eye of a better player will certainly appreciate the new look.
ClubTester’s take (2-hdcp.): “Pure feel off the face. I wanted to switch to this after three balls.”
Robot’s take: Unique blend of high spin with one of the lower peak heights in the category.
Miura and GOLF.com are affiliates of 8AM Golf.
Our take: With a wider sole design and intricate cavity shaping compared to a traditional blade, Miura’s MC-501 irons cater to more than just Tour players and low handicappers. Miura says the MC-501 has a longer blade length than any of its previous blade models, providing golfers who need a bit more forgiveness the added room for mishits. Those who typically prefer true blade irons will appreciate the sleek shaping and added forgiveness, but cavity-back users will love the enhanced control and feel compared to other irons in the cavity-back class.
ClubTester’s take (2-hdcp): “I can work it both ways. Moving weight to perimeter helps me execute every shot in the book.”
Robot’s take: Among Tour irons, tested among the best for producing needed spin and height.
Miura and GOLF.com are affiliates of 8AM Golf.
Our take: Inspired by Mizuno’s TN87 from the 1980s, the MP-20 features an underlay of copper beneath the usual nickel-chrome plating for a softer feel. The irons are individually designed throughout the set to accentuate high launch in the long irons and control in the short irons.
ClubTester’s take (1-hdcp): “Tough to make a Mizuno blade any sexier, but they did it.”
Robot’s take: The data rates the MP-20 a leader in ball speed, carry and forgiveness, among other traits.
Our take: Muscleback blades are supposed to be butter-knife thin and lack the forgiveness and distance typically found in a better-player cavity-back. You’re giving up all of the comforts that come with a larger profile for something that works the ball on command and hits a certain yardage with regularity. It’s a club built for a scratch golfer. Which brings us to PING’s Blueprint, a blade that certainly looks the part. Only this isn’t the version your dad grew up with. Forged from 8620 carbon steel, the iron boasts reduced offset and a shorter blade length than PING’s iBlade. A machined tungsten screw in the toe gives the head a slight bump in heel-toe forgiveness over the traditional version. And did we mention the intricate four-step, multistage process? The Blueprint may be a one-piece forging, but more than 50 steps are required during manufacturing, including machining the face and grooves.
The beauty of these irons is how effortlessly they blend the DNA of a muscleback with the power of a better-player iron. Even for a scratch golfer, getting a few more yards is a welcome sight when you’re going toe to toe with players who are using better-player products. The Blueprint is the definition of a modern-day blade.
ClubTester’s take (2-hdcp): “Small profile, but I watched the ball rocket off the face. Don’t usually see those two things together.”
Robot’s take: A ball speed and carry leader in the category, producing higher flight and negating unwanted spin.
Our take: Forged from a single billet of 1020 carbon steel, Z-Forged is a blade for the traditionalist, with a redesigned musclepad that delivers workability and feel. An updated Tour V.T. sole provides consistent turf interaction, regardless of the lie.
ClubTester’s take (0-hdcp): “Stunned by how quickly the ball rocketed off the face. Can work it both ways. Hell of a combo.”
Robot’s take: A top-3 iron in the category in consistency, ball speed, carry and forgiveness.
Our take: Designed to the exact specifications of Tiger Woods’ set, the P7TW features TM’s highly detailed Milled Grind sole and tungsten slugs positioned in each head to produce a specific combination of flight, feel and control. Slightly longer blade lengths and traditional lofts make these a bit of a throwback.
ClubTester’s take (1-hdcp): “It’s Tiger’s iron! You’re crazy if you think I’m poking holes in this one.”
Robot’s take: A Tour iron that produces Tiger-like height and stopping power.
Our take: This classy, one-piece forging is highlighted by a compact blade length, minimal offset and brushed chrome finish. The script on the head was kept intentionally simple based on Tour feedback.
ClubTester’s take (5-hdcp): “Feels like what you’d expect from a Titleist blade.”
Robot’s take: One of the best in terms of consistency, forgiveness with ample spin.
Our take: Created with direct feedback from Wilson staffer Brendan Steele, the Staff Model incorporates a redesigned musclepad and bore-through hosel design that repositions discretionary weight while enhancing feel at the same time. A textured milling on the face delivers another level of control for the discerning player.
ClubTester’s take (5-hdcp): “Has to be the best-looking iron Wilson has ever made—and then I watched it cut through crosswinds. I’m in love.”
Robot’s take: Category leader in consistency and producing a Tour-like trajectory.
Our take: With a compact shape, Apex Pro is designed for ball-strikers. The bodies are forged from 1025 carbon steel, but they also have urethane microspheres behind the face for a softer feel. The long irons (3-7) offer tungsten weights to lower center of gravity and 360 face cups for higher ball speeds.
ClubTester’s take (6-hdcp): “I want to buy this club right now. Can’t believe the Pro version does it all for me.”
Robot’s take: Testing confirmed that Apex delivers increased ball speed and one of the highest peak heights in the category.
Our take: The solid construction TR20 V is forged from S20C carbon with a modern cavity back design, minimal offset, compact blade length and thin topline that should appeal to the low single-digit handicapper who puts a premium on workability and feel. The sole design was given enhanced camber to keep the club from unnecessarily digging into the turf at impact. With more golfers embracing blended sets, Honma also paid special attention to the cosmetics and profiles to ensure the T20 V and T20 P could be combined.
Clubtester’s take (5-hdcp): “Working this one both directions was no problem. Buttery feel is what you’d expect from something that looks this good.”
Honma Tr20 V irons unavailable for robot testing.
Our take: Designed to have a blade-like look and feel but with slightly more forgiveness, JPX 919 Tour is Grain-Flow Forged from a single billet of 1025E Pure Select mild carbon steel. Compared to the original JPX 900 Tour irons, the 919 has a slightly thinner topline and wider soles with more camber to enhance playability.
ClubTester’s take (3-hdcp): “If they’re good enough for Brooks Koepka, I’m pretty sure they’re good enough for me.”
Robot’s take: Delivers ball speed and a strong flight.
Our take: The TC-201 combines blade performance with the forgiveness of a cavity-back. Replacing the former CB-1008, the head has progressive weighting to enhance the benefits of each iron. Long irons have a low center of gravity for added height, and short irons have a higher CG to help lower trajectory.
ClubTester’s take (3-hdcp): “Looks like a blade at address, but the forgiveness and ball speed I’m seeing are something else.”
Robot’s take: Struggle to generate spin? The TC-201 is your iron.
Miura and GOLF.com are affiliates of 8AM Golf.
Our take: Miura’s CB-301 is packed with the kind of forgiveness and speed you’d expect to find in a game-improvement iron. But with a Tour-inspired profile (the shape is slightly larger than the MC-501), it’s able to remain firmly entrenched in the player category at the same time. Consider this Miura’s best-of-both-worlds design. The hand forged cavity-back features a variable sole and cavity thickness designed to optimize the center of gravity within each head. That means more distance and speed for better players without sacrificing quality and feel. Speaking of quality, each iron undergoes a 14-step manufacturing process before it goes out the door. It’s the kind of meticulous craftsmanship that continues to keep Miura at the iron summit.
Even with Tour-esque shaping, CB-301 is far from your traditional player product. On average, the iron was 1 mph faster and six yards longer than other clubs tested in the category on the robot. Those numbers will make anyone stand up and take notice, especially when it’s paired with forgiveness and a penetrating flight that should speak to those who struggle with too much spin.
ClubTester’s take (5-hdcp): “Feels like this could work for a single-digit or mid-handicapper. Great tweener iron with better-player qualities.”
Robot’s take: Near the top in speed, carry, low spin rate and forgiveness.
Miura and GOLF.com are affiliates of 8AM Golf.
Our take: Will please both Tour-level golfers and those who need a bit more forgiveness. The long irons feature a body forged from 1025 carbon steel with SpeedFoam injected in a cavity behind the face to increase speed. The shorter irons, on the other hand, are a one-piece forging.
ClubTester’s take (5-hdcp): “Player iron look with some forgiveness near the top of the set is ideal.”
Robot’s take: A category leader in no less than six performance areas, including speed.
Our take: Made for low handicappers who demand control, the Z 785 achieves max workability by placing mass behind the sweet spot. Additionally, the blade-like irons have laser-milled grooves and a Tour V.T. dual-bounce sole design for clean hits from all lies.
ClubTester’s take (1-hdcp): “The club just flows through the turf. Poetry in motion.”
Robot’s take: Delivers impressive carry numbers with a more penetrating ballflight.
Our take: The 620 CB irons have a shorter blade length in the short irons and a longer blade length in the long irons, just like the 620 MB irons, if you want to create a blended set. What’s different, however, is that the CB 3- and 4-iron utilize tungsten in their constructions to add forgiveness.
ClubTester’s take (5-hdcp): “There’s a reason why Titleist has kept the same CB profile around. It works.”
Robot’s take: Generates plenty of spin with one of the higher peak heights.
Our take: No one played a bigger role in the development of Titleist’s T100 than Jordan Spieth, which is a good thing if you happen to be persnickety when it comes to how an iron looks and performs. The slimmed-down profile, thinner topline and reduced offset will catch the eye of a better player (or a multi-time major champion). Just don’t think reducing the overall size means a loss of forgiveness or playability—two things that its predecessor, AP2, was known for. A thinned-out face is paired with dual-density tungsten weights in the heel and toe—66 grams on average per head—to enhance ball speed and forgiveness. So you’re essentially getting more of everything good from a more compact head shape.
The beauty of dual-density tungsten is how it makes even small iron profiles uber-forgiving. Mishits off the toe still produced positive results with the robot, which tells you the multimaterial design is doing its job. Not only that, the overall dispersion pattern was one of the tightest captured during testing. It’s fair to say T100 hits the right notes.
ClubTester’s take (5-hdcp): “I’d say AP2 underwent a transformational makeover. Iron has sexy curves with game-improvement forgiveness.”
Robot’s take: Tested as one of the most forgiving and consistent irons in the Player Irons category.
Our take: Released back in 2016, FG Tour V6 still remains in Tour players’ bags today. No surprise—they’re made to satisfy the needs of better players. The long irons have a tungsten weight in the toe and heel section for launch and stability purposes.
ClubTester’s take (13-hdcp): “Sole slides through the dirt, to the point where I no longer worry about hitting a clunker.”
Robot’s take: More spin and height
for the better player.
Our take: These cavity-back irons are designed for forgiveness, but they’re forged rather than having the cast construction you’d typically see in this segment of the market. The heads have a thin face and a “Power Slit Face” design that works to increase distance on low strikes.
ClubTester’s take (12-hdcp): “Consistent with a great feel at impact. Surprised I liked this club as much as I did.”
Robot’s take: Lower spin and a more piercing trajectory throughout the set.
Our take: It doesn’t get much better than Callaway’s Apex. Since the iron was introduced in 2013, the player distance model has continued to build upon one of the strongest reputations in the industry. The latest version is no different, thanks in large part to a lively 360 cup face and metal-injection-molded tungsten that yields a cornucopia of speed and forgiveness. Speaking of speed, with it being less of a priority in the short irons, designers incorporated a variable thickness design for more spin control and a tighter dispersion. A forged mild carbon steel construction gives the iron a buttery feel, while the addition of a urethane microsphere inside the head—the same used in the company’s other premium irons—absorbs unwanted vibrations without negatively affecting ball speed. It’s darn-near impossible to quibble with Callaway’s version of the kitchen sink.
One of the most popular irons with testers, Apex continues to bring the heat with a combination of ball speed (1 mph faster), consistency and a sky-high launch (2 degrees higher than the average tested). With a shape even a single-digit handicapper can embrace, it remains a total package in the category.
ClubTester’s take (12-hdcp): “This iron almost makes me want to stop testing. Shape, feel, performance is all off the charts. It’s scary-good.”
Robot’s take: A speed and consistency leader in the Players Distance group.
Our take: Designed to suit better players, the Mavrik Pro has a thinner topline, flatter lie angles (to reduce the left miss) and a more compact head. Additionally, Callaway implemented its urethane microsphere to reduce vibrations and increase ball speed.
ClubTester’s take (12-hdcp): “Almost never turn the ball over with my irons. This did it on command. I’m sold!”
Robot’s take: One of the more forgiving irons in the category.
Our take: With nearly every major manufacturer now boasting a hollow-construction product featuring a material of some sort inside the cavity, Cobra became the latest to join the party with King Forged Tec in 2019. Designing the iron on a muscleback platform keeps the attention of better players while allowing mid-handicappers to reap the benefits of a forged PWRShell face and tungsten toe weights that expand the sweet spot and ramp up distance. The hollow cavity of the long and mid irons is infused with foam microspheres to fine-tune sound and soften feel at impact—a combo everyone from Rickie Fowler to your club champion will embrace. In addition to a traditional-length version, Forged Tec also comes in a One Length model, with each iron built at standard 7-iron length (37.5 inches), if you’re feeling adventurous.
Cobra’s latest creation is a certified showstopper. With one of the fastest ball speeds recorded on the robot, King Forged Tec produced a carry that was five yards longer than the average for all clubs tested in the category. For fast swing speeds in search of more distance, this is a legitimate contender.
ClubTester’s take (17-hdcp): “Really strong trajectory. Feel is second to none, which is what impressed me the most.”
Robot’s take: A leader in ball speed retention, low spin and carry distance.
Our take: The TR20 P presents a slightly more forgiving package in the form of a forged S35C steel body, L-cup face and tungsten-weighted pocket cavity. When combined, the lower center of gravity and responsive face design produce a higher launch angle with increased speed and forgiveness. Added distance can also be found in the form of strengthened lofts (31-degree 7-iron) across the board. And with a similar profile to the TR20 V, creating a blended set is no sweat.
Clubtester’s take (8-hdcp): “Couldn’t believe how quickly the ball rocketed off the face. It looks like a better player iron but has game-improvement forgiveness.”
Honma Tr20 V irons unavailable for robot testing.
Our take: The JPX 919 Forged irons are designed to fit a wide variety of players. Heads are Grain-Flow Forged, but they have boron infused into the 1025 steel to make the face thinner and faster. There’s also a micro-slot behind the face to expand the sweet spot.
ClubTester’s take (5-hdcp): “Sets up great and offers the benefits of a player iron with forgiveness. Clean look.”
Robot’s take: Emphasize consistency? If so, this is your iron.
Our take: These beauties are made from Chromoly 4140M and feature cup faces to increase ball speed, but with less offset, thinner toplines and soles. More compact short irons compared to the standard model.
ClubTester’s take (13-hdcp): “Feels and looks forgiving, but not overly large to where it’s clunky.”
Robot’s take: Impressive ball speed.
Our take: Take a peek under the hood of the blade-like profile and you’ll find a hollow-
bodied construction designed for more ball speed. Tungsten weights in the toe and heel areas increase forgiveness and create a lower and deeper CG. A layer of soft copper and nickel under the face provides better feel and feedback.
ClubTester’s take (1-hdc.): “Feels like cheating. It’s basically a slightly bigger MP-20 packed with forgiveness.”
Robot’s take: Muscleback with extra spin for those who need it.
Our take: Aimed at low to mid handicappers who want long-iron performance and short-iron workability, the progressive set makeup has tungsten sole weights in the long irons (4-7) to help increase launch; the shorter irons deliver a higher CG for lower trajectories and more control. Titanium muscle plates and a copper underlay produce a luxurious feel.
ClubTester’s take (0-hdcp): “Sound and feel are superb. Sleek look for something that’s uber-forgiving.”
Robot’s take: Impressive, tight dispersion pattern.
Our take: Designed to satisfy the player who wants feel and control but with the added forgiveness of a cavity-back construction. The faces, grooves and back cavities of the irons are machine-milled for precision, and there’s an elastomer insert that sits behind the face to enhance feel.
ClubTester’s take (10-hdcp): “Impossible to miss your target line with this club. Just point and shoot.”
Robot’s take: High spin, launch and flight for players who need it.
Our take: Tucked inside a sleek blade profile is a hollow-bodied construction comprised of a 17-4 steel body and C300 steel face that provides what PING calls metalwood-like performance. A HydroPearl Chrome 2.0 finish ensures control in wet or dry conditions.
ClubTester’s take (5-hdcp): “Just goes forever. Tough to tell when looking at the profile. Hides the forgiveness well.”
Robot’s take: A high-flying players distance iron compared to the group average.
Our take: With slightly more offset and stronger lofts than Z785, the Z585 is built for length with SUP10 face inserts and a “speed groove” that allows for more face flex at impact.
ClubTester’s take (15-hdcp): “Feel and performance match up. I love everything about this iron.”
Robot’s take: One of the top performers in producing extra carry and deadening spin.
Our take: This iron offers a bevvy of technological innovations. SpeedFoam-injected cavity increases speed and feel, while a tungsten weight, positioned low in the club head behind the face, lowers CG for a towering launch. Responsive face forged from 4140 carbon steel brings the design together.
ClubTester’s take (13-hdcp): “Profile makes it look like I know what I’m doing.”
Robot’s take: A speed, carry and forgiveness winner.
Our take: With a unique polymer core and more tungsten than any other T-series irons—averaging about 90 grams of tungsten in the mid and long irons—T200 aims to blend just enough distance without sacrificing workability. Tungsten weights positioned in the low heel and toe sections of the clubs increase forgiveness
on off-center hits.
ClubTester’s take (10-hdcp): “Love the way the ball comes off the face. Feels like it holds for another second and explodes.”
Robot’s take: Ample spin, peak height for those who struggle to get the ball airborne.
Our take: Minimal offset and a thinner topline get paired up with a forged 8620 carbon steel face and urethane-filled holes in the sole of each iron head. The result is an iron that not only looks but performs like a better-player offering.
ClubTester’s take (8-hdcp): “The best-looking iron I’ve seen from Wilson in some time.”
Robot’s take: Forgiving and consistent, with high spin and lower flight capabilities.
Our take: Placing a premium on soft feel and distance, XXIO Forged is constructed with large, thin faces to boost ball speeds, especially on off-center strikes. A similar V.T. Sole design to what’s found on Srixon’s irons helps enhance turf interaction.
ClubTester’s take (13-hdcp): “For whatever reason, I get throwback vibes when I see the shaping. I dig it.”
XXIO Forged unavailable for robot testing.
Our take: Built for maximum distance and forgiveness (and true value) with a thick, hollow-cavity design and an extremely low CG. A Power Slit Face design raises ball speeds and launch on off-center hits.
ClubTester’s take (16-hdcp): “Back flange is on the wider side and gives me confidence at address.”
Robot’s take: Ranked top 3 in ball speed retention, low spin in the category.
Our take: Head profile fits a wide range of handicaps. With each face getting the AI treatment, launch, spin and performance is tailored for every iron in the lineup. Callaway’s urethane microspheres reduce unwanted vibrations.
ClubTester’s take (16-hdcp): “Damn, this club looks good. The fact that it performs is just a bonus.”
Robot’s take: Fear not the toe or heel hit. This is one of the most forgiving irons in the category.
Our take: Callaway’s Mavrik irons are getting the Artificial Intelligence treatment this time around. With a supercomputer designing the face of all three models in the lineup, every loft now has its own unique trajectory, spin rate and peak height to bring out the best characteristics in each iron. Custom tungsten-infused weights—the location changes based on loft—and a 360 face cup allow for extreme center-of-gravity precision and enhanced ball speeds. The moderately larger profile and deeper center of gravity location ensures maximum mishit protection and an easy launch. To pump up the overall feel at impact, Callaway’s patented urethane microspheres were added just behind the face cup to absorb unwanted vibrations and tune sound. What makes the spheres even more appealing is that they don’t negatively affect speed.
Excelled in accuracy and launch during robot testing—two areas mid to high handicappers struggle with on a regular basis. Important to note Mavrik Max’s lofts were made slightly weaker (compared to the standard version) to ensure the ball gets in the air with relative ease.
ClubTester’s take (15-hdcp): “The topline doesn’t look like a game improvement iron, which I really appreciate. Effortless launch and feel have me strongly contemplating if it’s time for an iron change.”
Robot’s take: At the top in the Game Improvement category in terms of accuracy throughout the set. If you struggle with launch, the Max is there to assist.
Our take: Larger grips, lighter shafts (with an unpainted finish), airy swing weights and a deep undercut cavity design equate to increased clubhead speed and a higher launch—with more distance to boot.
ClubTester’s take (16-hdcp): “Look at address is confidence-inspiring. Felt lighter than I expected.”
Robot’s take: Spin isn’t a problem with F-Max.
Our take: All-new topline made of carbon fiber allows more weight to be positioned low in the head to max out mishit protection. A forged PWRShell insert and undercut design enhance the trampoline effect on the responsive face.
ClubTester’s take (13-hdcp): “Carbon fiber on the crown is a nice touch. Was worried it might be too busy.”
Robot’s take: Strong speed and carry values. Cobra has a winner here.
Our take: Honma’s XP-1 irons are made for game-improvement golfers who want a traditional profile. Made from 17-4+ stainless steel, the long and mid irons have a hollow cavity construction while the shorter irons have a deep cavity design. The 4-7 irons have 300 maraging steel faces and tungsten sole weights to boost launch and ball speed, while the short irons (8 through gap wedge) have deep undercuts, but without the added speed as seen in the long iron designs. Since they’re built for a high launch, the irons come with strong lofts.
ClubTester’s take (13-hdcp): “Launched high and felt extra forgiving when I missed it off the toe. Lean profile for something that’s designed for a mid-handicapper.”
Honma Tr20 V irons unavailable for robot testing.
Our take: Miura’s IC-601 design cranks up the speed and forgiveness with an internal cavity design that allows for a wider sole and thus a lower CG. Also packed inside the head is an 8-gram back weight to improve launch.
ClubTester’s take (15-hdcp): “Looks like a blade, but it’s really a game-improvement iron.”
Robot’s take: Big on speed and launch numbers—this one flies high and goes.
Miura and GOLF.com are affiliates of 8AM Golf.
Our take: To stand out from the pack in the equipment industry, you need a game-changing design, technology or both. Luckily for Mizuno, JPX 919 Hot Metal is a combination of the two. The iron is anchored by a high-strength Chromoly 4140M steel alloy that allowed for a 360-degree undercut, multi-thickness face and re-engineered sound ribs in the topline developed to hit specific vibration patterns for feedback enhancement at impact. With a sweet spot that’s half a millimeter lower in the 4-iron through 9-iron, lofts were strengthened in the 4- through 7-iron to keep launch angle in line with the previous version while increasing distance at the same time. The set also has a steeper transition into more compact scoring irons and wedges, with set-matching wedges made from X30 steel for feel.
A worthy option for golfers who need hangtime and rpm in their life. Both spin and launch numbers were near the top end during robot trials, and those who tested reported seeing similar characteristics as well.
ClubTester’s take (20-hdcp): “Honestly doesn’t look like a typical game improvement iron to me. Launches high and goes forever, even when I only catch a piece.”
Robot’s take: Expect higher launch and higher spin—and approach shots that stop on a dime.
Our take: Think of G410 as a game improvement iron that’s inspired by a players iron profile. A larger “flexing zone” enhances ball speed and higher heights, while a next-generation COR-Eye helps with off-center strikes. Co-molded aluminum and elastomer badge dampens vibrations.
ClubTester’s take (10-hdcp): “Surprised by how much I like this look. Assumed it’d be too clunky, but it looks clean at address.”
Robot’s take: Top 3 in accuracy in the Game Improvement group.
Our take: Generous tungsten weights positioned in the heel and toe of the 17-4 stainless-
steel body deliver an abundance of forgiveness. Hollow-body design is paired with a maraging steel face to take ball speed to another level.
ClubTester’s take (12-hdcp): “Dark finish masks some of the beef. I could get used to looking down at an iron like this.”
Robot’s take: One of the most forgiving irons in the class.
Our take: The vast majority of high-handicap golfers don’t find the middle of the face with regularity. It’s a fact of life. TaylorMade’s SIM Max is designed to make things a bit easier with a package centered around mitigating mishits. The iron is highlighted by an ultrathin 1.5-millimeter face, along with a 360 undercut in the cavity that delivers ample horsepower. TaylorMade’s Inverted Cone Technology expands the sweet spot, but instead of continuing to place it in the center of the face for every iron, it was purposely placed closer to the toe in the long irons (historical club data contributed to the adjustment) to generate a draw bias. An Echo Dampening System in the lower portion of the cavity pairs with a mass-efficient beam spanning the back bar to remove unwanted vibrations around the perimeter. It also provides the multimaterial iron with the buttery feel of a forged-construction product.
The SIM Max checks all the boxes for a game improvement model. Robot testing revealed an iron that was, on average, three yards longer in the carry department than the competition. Mishits still produced favorable results. Positive feedback during player testing reinforced SIM Max’s spot near the top of the Game Improvement pecking order.
ClubTester’s take (15-hdcp): “Futuristic look with out-of-this-world technology. Feels like I can miss it anywhere and the ball still goes.”
Robot’s take: A top-3 Game Improvement in ball speed retention, carry and overall forgiveness.
Our take: Oversized version includes a larger profile and taller faces. A through-slot in the sole and mass efficient beam across the cavity enhances speed and mitigates unwanted vibrations. A chambered sole geometry drives the CG lower for a towering launch.
ClubTester’s take (10-hdcp): “Aesthetics are a bit loud for my liking, but you can’t nitpick the stellar performance.”
Robot’s take: If you’re looking for a highly accurate game improvement model, start here.
Our take: Hollow titanium head and SpeedFoam-injected cavity construction provides golfers with another level of distance. Up to 117 grams of tungsten is crammed on the back side of each head for a high-launch and low-spin trajectory.
ClubTester’s take (5-hdcp): “Technology more than justifies the big price tag. One of the best I’ve hit in a while.”
Robot’s take: Ranked near the top in pure ball speed.
Our take: Upholds Titleist’s classic look but with a boost in speed. Longer blade lengths and tungsten toe weights take forgiveness and performance to another level. The offset isn’t significant.
ClubTester’s take (5-hdcp): “It’s like AP2 underwent a makeover and lost weight. Iron has curves and forgiveness.”
Robot’s take: Produced a high-peak ballflight.
Our take: Split set features a hollow-body construction in the long irons and a solid construction with a deep undercut in the shorter irons and wedges. Each head also has a 19-gram tungsten weight in the toe to effectively expand the sweet spot.
ClubTester’s take (16-hdcp): “Can feel the power going on inside the head. Strong launch, too.”
Robot’s take: Proved to control unwanted spin and deliver a more piercing trajectory.
Our take: Wilson’s urethane-filled Power Holes, situated in the sole, exist to increase face deflection and speed. With more holes located in the long irons versus the short, golfers can expect to find extra distance at the top of the set.
ClubTester’s take (17-hdcp): “Has all the traits I want: forgiveness, distance and a reasonably sized profile.”
Robot’s take: A carry distance leader in the Game Improvement class.
Our take: More distance and higher peak heights is the name of the game. The Elevens use what XXIO calls a double undercut cavity to increase face flex at impact and, therefore, increase ball speed.
ClubTester’s take (17-hdcp): “If I wanted to add a 6-iron, this is where I’d go. Launches the ball high and far.”
XXIO Eleven unavailable for robot testing.
SUPER GAME IMPROVEMENT IRONS
Price: $115/iron | BUY NOW
Clubs: 4-PW, DW, SW
Our take: For the golfer who doesn’t mind veering away from traditional irons to max out distance, Cleveland’s Launcher HB Turbo offers a steel face, fully hollow construction, and Hi-Bore crowns to generate metalwood power.
ClubTester’s take (17-hdcp): “Hybrid-like shape makes me feel like I can’t miss, and a larger sole kept the club from digging.”
Robot’s take: Top speed and carry numbers in the SGI class.
Our take: Blending hollow-cavity long irons with cavity-back short irons, Cleveland’s Launcher UHX captures ball speed and accuracy in a package that’ll appeal to mid to high handicappers. Although Launcher UHX is considered a super game improvement during ClubTest, there’s nothing to say it couldn’t fit a weekend golfer who’s a 15-handicap in search of extra forgiveness. The iron is able to straddle two categories due to its playable profile and moderate topline and offset. Hollow long irons featuring a variable steel face insert transitions into short irons that place a premium on accuracy and control. A v-shaped sole keeps the iron from digging into the turf at impact, while Tour Zip grooves offer control and spin normally found in the company’s wedges.
Launcher UHX landed near the top in a number of key categories, including ball speed, carry distance, accuracy and forgiveness. And did we mention it was a popular option during player testing? The iron had one of the strongest across-the-board showings.
ClubTester’s take (18-hdcp): “Responsive off the club face and the ball goes forever. Don’t have to swing hard to get a positive result. Love the blade look.”
Robot’s take: One of the dominant performers in the Super Game Improvement category, with top-3 rankings in no less than five performance categories.
Our take: Cobra’s hollow-body T-Rail takes the distance and forgiveness of a hybrid and puts those design philosophies into a set of irons. The familiar Baffler rail technology helps the clubhead glide better through the turf.
ClubTester’s take (17-hdcp): “Love the rail design. Easiest for me to hit and the ball hops off the face. This is a game changer.”
Robot’s take: Needed spin and height delivered as promised.
Our take: Each of the irons in the set offers a hollow-body construction with a low CG, wide sole, shallow face and perimeter weighting for stability. A cup face design delivers more speed on off-center strikes.
ClubTester’s take (16-hdcp): “The dark finish doesn’t make the head feel so big, even though it’s obviously on the larger side.”
Robot’s take: Impressive carry, forgiveness, accuracy and speed numbers.
Our take: A triple combo set featuring hybrids, hollow-bodied mid-irons and solid-construction short irons to help golfers simplify the buying process and achieve maximum forgiveness and distance.
ClubTester’s take (16-hdcp): “Really like how they combined three different shapes. Rarely see brands release a blended set like this.”
Robot’s take: A forgiving iron that rarely balloons.
Our take: The Launch Pad sole delivers a design that helps golfers launch the ball higher into the air for more carry distance and forgiveness. Each of the irons also has a hollow-bodied construction with a thin face for higher ball speed.
ClubTester’s take (17-hdcp): “Finding out a wide sole can be your friend. Even when I don’t deliver the head perfectly, I’m not getting a clunker.”
Robot’s take: A category leader in accuracy and forgiveness.
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