STREET PRICE: $800 (set of eight, steel)WEBSITE: callawaygolf.comLOFTS: 6-iron: 30 degrees, PW: 46 degreesTECH TALK: To get the CG low and toward the center of the face (as opposed to some irons that have the CG high and toward the heel), Callaway thinned out the hosel and topline, lowered the blade height and redistributed weight in the undercut channel.PLAYER COMMENTS: (L) "Not the cleanest topline in the world, but it's a fine club." . . . (L) "This one is for me!". . . (T) "The compact head and lack of offset make this a club that is classic and pure. A nice feel for cast, too."HOT: Although it says X-22 Tour on the badge, this iron is less like its predecessor, the X-20 Tour, and more like the X-Tour, one of our favorites from the 2006 Hot List. It's a change we favor, along with the sole design that features a beveled trailing edge that narrows the sole. The X-20 Tour was a player's club for wannabes. This one is the real deal.NOT: When it comes right down to it, the iron still emphasizes forgiveness over feel.
STREET PRICE: $900WEBSITE: mizunousa.comLOFTS: 6-iron: 31, PW: 47TECH TALK: A pair of deep, crescent-shape pockets are milled into the back cavity, saving 14 grams of weight that has been moved lower. The sole design, with a rolled leading edge, cambered mid-sole and beveled trailing edge, is designed to improve turf interaction in a variety of conditions.PLAYER COMMENTS: (T) "Excellent across the board. Forgiveness in longer irons was exceptional." . . . (L) "I bought the MP-60s but could never adapt to them. These are much better than those.". . . (T) "I like the fact that off-center hits still felt solid."HOT: The sole is a bit beefier than you'd expect in an MP iron, but these are a fine option for the player who wants the sweet, forged feel of a Mizuno iron but doesn't have quite enough game to handle the MP-62.NOT: Unfortunately, you can catch a glimpse of the pocket cavity at address on the 3- and 4-irons.
STREET PRICE: $900WEBSITE: mizunousa.comLOFTS: 6-iron: 31, PW: 47TECH TALK: The dual-muscle design blends two muscle pads -- the outer pad allows Mizuno's engineers to precisely place the CG in each iron, and the inner pad puts mass behind the sweet spot for optimal feel. And, of course, the iron features the company's "grain-flow" forging process.PLAYER COMMENTS: (T) "Surprisingly good workability in the short irons." . . . (L) "The harder you hit these, the softer they feel. That's a pretty neat trick." . . . (T) "Slightly lower trajectory and more responsive than the MP-52."HOT: A Plain Jane that scores well in the talent portion of the competition. The sole glides through the turf, and the minimal offset helps move the ball anywhere you want it to go. If you've got game, you'd be a fool not to look at these.NOT: Stronger players will gravitate to this club, so we'd like to see the stock shafts include the Project X 6.0, not just the 5.5.
TAYLORMADE TOUR PREFERRED
STREET PRICE: $900WEBSITE: tayormadegolf.comLOFTS: 6-iron: 31, PW: 47TECH TALK: The look of the TaylorMade player's iron has been streamlined. It features a thinner topline and incorporates a shorter blade length from heel to toe than the r7 TP. The inverted-cone technology helps to optimize distance on off-center hits, and the undercut cavity moves weight to the heel and toe, increasing MOI.PLAYER COMMENTS: (L) "There seems to be a bit more space out on the toe, but it looks good at address." . . . (T) "Perhaps the most forgiving club in this category." . . . (T) "As much confidence over the ball as I've ever had."HOT: An effective mix of classic look and contemporary technology. The SelectFit fitting system is an idea that makes tremendous sense, especially when trying to sell to players at this level.NOT: The inverted cone is not as large as the cosmetics lead you to believe. At least that's what we saw when we peeled off the badge.
STREET PRICE: $1,000WEBSITE: titleist.comLOFTS: 6-iron: 31, PW: 47TECH TALK: Although it has an elastomer cushion and a dual-cavity design similar to the AP1, there are distinct differences, starting with the club being forged from carbon steel instead of cast from stainless steel. The lofts are 2 degrees weaker than the AP1 in the 6-iron through pitching wedge, and the stock shaft is the Project X.PLAYER COMMENTS: (T) "Workability and feel were there. Even the toe hits held on." . . . (T) "A soft feeling that gives you feedback to help you tune your swing." . . . (L) "This is a clear winner. Hit it the highest and longest of all."HOT: When designing irons for better players, the challenge for engineers is how much game improvement is appropriate. This forged club strikes just the right balance, with more playability and better looks and feel than any of its predecessors.NOT: The topline is a tad thicker than some in this category. So is the price tag.
ADAMS IDEA PRO GOLD
STREET PRICE: $900WEBSITE: adamsgolf.comLOFTS: 6-iron: 30, PW: 46TECH TALK: Two shallow Boxer hybrids complement six carbon-steel, forged cavity-back irons that have grooves with 14 percent more volume than the original Idea Pro. The mirror-chrome plating and the constant offset provide a traditional look.PLAYER COMMENTS: (L) "The finish on these is as pretty as anything I've seen." . . . (L) "I'm not a fan of the hybrids, but I would play these irons any day." . . . (T) "These are the perfect recommendation for a player who likes the look of a player's iron but doesn't have the skill to hit a player's 3- or 4-iron."HOT: The shaft options (Project X for steel and Mitsubishi Javln FX for hybrids) are a nice surprise. This is the only player's iron to make our list that comes with hybrids standard, and the one that replaces the 3-iron is nothing short of cheating.NOT: However, two hybrids in a player's set is one too many.
STREET PRICE: $900WEBSITE: callawaygolf.comLOFTS: 6-iron: 31, PW: 47TECH TALK: The short blade length and minimal offset appeal to the traditionalist, even if they are un-Callaway like. The CG is lower in the long irons and moves progressively -- but subtly -- higher through the set to create the proper ball flight with each club.PLAYER COMMENTS: (L) "Love the old-school look." . . . (T) "You've got to be on your game to use these. A beautiful set, but definitely not for the weekend warrior." . . . (T) "A terrific player's iron for a company long associated with game improvement."HOT: It has the thinnest topline, narrowest sole, least offset and shortest blade length of any Callaway iron. This should appeal to those turned off by the more game-improvement X-22 Tour. Ernie Els and Annika Sorenstam used these irons during wins in 2008.NOT: Ernie and Annika can hit these. But new endorser Justin Timberlake, like most 6-handicappers, would struggle.
STREET PRICE: $900WEBSITE: pinggolf.comLOFTS: 6-iron: 30.5, PW: 47TECH TALK: The dense tungsten toe weight, longer hosel and small cavity are designed to increase MOI for forgiveness. The dual-stabilizing bars in the cavity and urethane insert help improve feel. Ping's Web-Fit system will make sure you're correctly matched to one of the company's 12 color codes.PLAYER COMMENTS: (L) "This club produces shots with a nice, climbing trajectory." . . . (L) "Quite workable. Everything you would want in a player's iron." . . . (T) "Good, sharp feel coming off the head. Not the softest feel, but it's still a nice club."HOT: This is a stellar upgrade from the S58 and S59 offerings, both in technology and appearance. With this clean-looking club and its game-improvement features, Ping continues to add the form to the function it has long been known for.NOT: The cast feel remains noticeable in a mostly forged field.