ClubTest 2020: 5 player-distance irons that excel in the consistency department
The beauty of a player-distance iron is how it can benefit a wide range of handicaps. A more compact shape caters to the better player, while the forgiveness/distance package allows the mid-handicapper to reap the performance benefits — without having to go up in head size. For a large swath of golfers, it’s the total package.
As designers have continued to refine the profile and make tweaks to the technology, the iron has become even more consistent in terms of distance and dispersion. Based on GOLF’s 2020 ClubTest, these five irons stood out, from a consistency standpoint, during robot and player testing.
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.
Cobra King Forged Tec
Cobra King Forged Tec
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.
Mizuno JPX 919 Forged
JPX 919 Forged
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: 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.
Wilson D7 Forged
Wilson D7 Forged
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.
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