Golf Digest editors picks

GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS

Today's irons hit it higher, farther and sweeter. You won't even notice that their rolled-back grooves spin some shots a little less

February 2010
$: BEST VALUE | W: ALSO IN WOMEN'S | CATEGORY LEADER | (H) HIGH-HANDICAPPER | (M) MIDDLE-HANDICAPPER | (L) LOW-HANDICAPPER
CLUBS LISTED IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

ADAMS IDEA A7

STREET PRICE: $500 (set of eight, steel)
WEBSITE: adamsgolf.com
LOFTS: 6-iron: 29 degrees, PW: 45 degrees

TECH TALK: The set starts with a pair of hybrids in the 3- and 4-iron slots, followed by a hollow, flat-faced 5-iron and cavity-back middle and short irons. Designers increased the sole camber on the hybrids from front to back and heel to toe to enhance playability from various lies.

PLAYER COMMENTS:
(L) "A crisp sound. The thin topline makes you feel as if you're looking at a players club."
(M) "I was shocked to see they were game-improvement clubs. Everything is hidden. There aren't any wild angles."

HOT: When it comes to the integrated iron set, few companies do it better than Adams. The sole camber on the hybrids shows that the designers understand hybrids were meant to be easy-to-hit iron replacements. And a movement away from the box shape demonstrates that they "get" what resonates with golfers.
NOT: The company has been around since 1987 yet hasn't implemented a serious fitting program.

CALLAWAY DIABLO FORGED

STREET PRICE: $1,000
WEBSITE: callawaygolf.com
LOFTS: 6-iron: 28, PW: 45

TECH TALK: A center of gravity (CG) that is 40 percent lower and 46 percent deeper than Callaway's X-Forged model produces a penetrating trajectory in the Diablo Forged. A lightweight face allows 23 grams of weight to be moved to the perimeter of the club to help mis-hits.

PLAYER COMMENTS:
(M) "This is like jet fuel in your hands. It stays in the air forever. You're picking up half a club, and it's the easiest 4-iron I've ever hit."
(M) "These clubs definitely have a 'wow factor' about them. Callaway has answered the call of the high-single-digit player."

HOT: Callaway took a gamble with a forged club that features off-set, an undercut cavity and a thin topline. And it worked. The forged clubface provides a cushy feel despite being made from a springy Carpenter 455 steel, and the Nippon NS Pro 1100 steel shaft is a dramatic improvement over Callaway's UniFlex steel shaft. Players who aren't quite "play-ahs" will gravitate to this club.
NOT: An upgrade to the stock graphite-shaft offering is long overdue.

PING G15

STREET PRICE: $700
WEBSITE: ping.com
LOFTS: 6-iron: 29, PW: 45

TECH TALK: A thinner face and a wider sole on the G15 are two noteworthy upgrades from its G10 predecessor. Another one is the reshaped and repositioned custom tuning port that saved seven grams of weight, which designers moved to the perimeter to boost stability.

PLAYER COMMENTS:
(H) "A really easy club to swing. You don't have to force a thing."
(L) "It looks like something you'd find on your workbench, but the hit is impressive. It's the most forgiving thing I've tried."
(M) "It has the high trajectory this type of iron demands. I've hit good shots with other clubs, but with this I'm hitting exceptional shots."

HOT: Having a wider sole than most clubs in this category comes with an autopilot effect that mitigates operator error. The stronger lofts (as much as 2 degrees less than the G10) add distance, but not at the expense of shots that need full flaps to stop on the putting surface.
NOT: The sole width on the long irons might give pause to those who don't want the look of a chopper club anywhere near their bag.
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