Golf Digest editors picks

HOT LIST 2007: GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS

Game-Improvement irons emphasize forgiveness without stretching the boundaries of decency. They present a clean, comfortable look and plenty of technology.
Gold (Editor's Choice)

CALLAWAY X-20

  • Street Price: $700.
  • Specs: 6-iron: 30 degrees; pitching wedge: 45.
  • Key Technology: This club is like a bride with something old (variable face thickness), something new (a center of gravity 6 percent lower than the X-18), something borrowed (True Temper's Uniflex steel shaft) and something blue (the coloring in the cavity).
  • Panelist Comments: "Almost has a forged feel. . . . These could improve anybody's game. It exudes confidence at address, and the ball takes off so cleanly you barely know you've hit it."
  • Judges' Verdict: This is where Callaway excels. It looks friendly to hit, provides extra pow at impact and is very forgiving. In short, everything a game-improvement iron should be.
  • Hot: Lie angle can be adjusted up to 3 degrees.
  • Not: Size is more in your face than some players might like.
  • Notch weighting creates a high moment of inertia.
Gold

ADAMS IDEA a2

  • Street Price: $500.
  • Specs: 6-iron: 29 degrees; PW: 45.
  • Key Technology: The 3- and 4-hybrids in this set combine with oversize, hollow-back middle irons and cavity-back short irons. The result is a low, deep CG in all irons.
  • Panelist Comments: "The 3-hybrid is so easy to hit it's like you can just drop the club on the ball and it goes. . . . The irons have a firm impact with a traditional look."
  • Judges' Verdict: Few companies the size of Adams can match its technology. Integrating hybrids into the set is pure genius, albeit not for all players.
  • Hot: Cavity-back short irons forgive without looking obnoxious.
  • Not: Steel shaft is a touch weighty at 105 grams.
  • Three kinds of clubs comprise the set.
Gold

CALLAWAY BIG BERTHA FUSION

  • Street Price: $1,000.
  • Specs: 6-iron: 29 degrees; PW: 46.
  • Key Technology: A face insert made of titanium and a tungsten-nickel "cradle" allow 77 percent of the clubhead's weight to be distributed to the perimeter. A thermoplastic-urethane insert in the cavity is designed to promote vibration dampening.
  • Panelist Comments: "Extremely soft feel at impact, even on mis-hits. . . The level of forgiveness in a smaller clubhead is fantastic."
  • Judge's Verdict: A respite from the boxy look. How good are these sticks? It's the third year in a row they've made the Hot List.
  • Hot: Ball just fires off the zippy titanium face.
  • Not: Club with said zippy titanium face will burn a hole in your wallet.
  • Lightweight Nippon steel shaft standard.
Gold

COBRA FP

  • Street Price: $500.
  • Specs: 6-iron: 29 degrees; PW: 45.
  • Key Technology: The urethane insert in the rear sole of the stainless-steel irons is designed to increase the moment of inertia and provide a soft feel. Its medium-width sole helps prevent digging.
  • Panelist Comments: "I put a bunch of different swings on this one, and the ball ended up pretty much in the same place every time. You could bring your B-game and still win the nassau with these irons."
  • Judge's Verdict: Cobra irons have always offered substance, and now they have style to match. These clubs look as good as they play. And boy, do they play.
  • Hot: Snazzy graphics an upgrade from previous models.
  • Not: Feedback not as soft as one might expect.
  • Undercut cavity produces high shots that land softly.
GOLD

PING G5

  • Street Price: $750.
  • Specs: 6-iron: 30.5 degrees; PW: 46.
  • Key Technology: This holdover in the Ping iron line has a deep, parallel-to-the-ground cavity for perimeter weighting. The custom-tuning port helps stabilize the face at impact for better feel. A wide sole moves the CG away from the face to help launch the ball higher.
  • Panelist Comments: "A bit too much offset, even for choppers, but it performs like a champ. . . . Love the tumbled finish of the classic Ping."
  • Judge's Verdict: These might not be the prettiest irons, but the G5 is the John Deere of clubs: a reliable workhorse that does the job.
  • Hot: Flame-shape grip pattern gives a cushy feel.
  • Not: Lack of a hybrid option is curious.
  • Three shaft options in steel is a nice extra.
gold

TAYLORMADE r7

  • Street Price: $700.
  • Specs: 6-iron: 28 degrees; PW: 45.
  • Key Technology: The inverted-cone technology improves ball speed on mis-hits. A dampening web made from soft aluminum and a bonding compound absorbs vibration on off-center shots.
  • Panelist: "It's busy at address, but you can get used to the look when it plays like this. . . . Soft feel with loads of forgiveness. I even hit the 3-iron!"
  • Judge's Verdict: Catering to better players is TaylorMade's strength. The moderate offset will be attractive to those who want a single-digit handicap but are still posting scores in the 80s.
  • Hot: Deep cavity gets these puppies in the air with ease.
  • Not: RE*AX shaft isn't our first choice for graphite-shaft option.
  • Strong lofts in short irons will have you using less club.
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