CALLAWAY X-20 TOUR
STREET PRICE: $800 (set of eight, steel)WEBSITE: callawaygolf.comLOFTS6-iron: 30, PW: 46TECH STORYCallaway used feedback from its tour staff when deciding on the heel design (which helps reduce turf drag in the rough). A longer hosel helps move the center of gravity inward for better trajectory control. This version has a shorter blade-length than the X-20. Its minimal offset, narrow, beveled sole and chamfered top line appeal to better players.PLAYER COMMENTS"This is an operating tool that you can use to surgically tear apart the course. . . . If I had to play in a three-club tournament, this 6-iron would be one of them. . . . A super club for the low-handicapper who doesn't want to spend a lot of time practicing."HOTThis sleeker version of the X-20 offers plenty of forgiveness and three versions of Royal Precision's Project X Flighted shafts (5.5, 6.0 and 6.5) standard. You know when people tell you to trust your swing? It's easier to do so when you're swinging these.NOTIt's a little too bulky to be a true player's iron.
CLEVELAND CG RED
STREET PRICE: $700WEBSITE: clevelandgolf.comLOFTS6-iron: 30.5, PW: 46TECH STORYThe red "gelback" insert is slightly more firm than the gold version to appeal to the accomplished player who wants a soft feel on well-struck shots but requires more feedback on off-center hits. The microcavity technology saves 10 grams of weight, which was moved lower to improve the CG location.PLAYER COMMENTS"The dampened feel is a winner. . . . It's a very workable club. You can keep your shots down when you try to. . . . This is a set that middle- to low-handicappers should love. A little meat down there, but not too much to be offensive."HOTWhen our panelists talk about a dispersion pattern so tight you could drop a napkin over the balls, we tend to take notice. Cleveland has produced a visually appealing player's club that you don't need to be a Ben Hogan wannabe to use. Don't let the price fool you. There is a ton of technology here.NOTWould it kill them to offer a shaft lighter than 127 grams as a standard option?
STREET PRICE: $850WEBSITE: mizunousa.comLOFTS6-iron: 31, PW: 47TECH STORYA full cavity provides a larger sweet spot, and 1025E carbon steel is used for the clubhead to create a soft feel. The rolled leading and trailing edges along with a cambered mid-sole are designed to make the club more playable from different lies. A grain-flow forging process helps consistency throughout the set.PLAYER COMMENTS"These traditional clubs look great and have a syrupy feel. Anyone with an eye for pretty golf clubs will gravitate toward these. . . . They don't have the knife-like top line of other Mizunos, which is a plus. . . . I could definitely put these in my bag. In fact, I might."HOTBravo! The MP-67 was too much of a blade to be helpful, but this club -- Mizuno's deepest full-cavity MP iron -- gets it done while maintaining a player's look. The "cut-muscle" in the cavity is an innovation that we're happy to see continued.NOTProject X 6.0 shaft would be a better choice as a standard option than the 5.5.
TAYLORMADE r7 TP
STREET PRICE: $800WEBSITE: taylormadegolf.comLOFTS6-iron: 31, PW: 47TECH STORYThe minimal offset and a flatter-than-standard lie angle give players the ability to use their hands in working the ball. A tour-inspired sole design has a ground leading edge and a softened trailing edge to prevent digging. The SelectFit system provides several shaft options.PLAYER COMMENTS"This iron is the whole package: long, high and workable in every direction. . . . I hit it a mile in the air, and it came down like it had a parachute attached. But you can hit the frozen ropes if you need to, too. . . . You want to love this because it looks so sweet -- and you will."HOTNo one does a better job of concealing the technology in a club than TaylorMade, and the r7 TP is no exception. From inverted-cone technology to the higher CG provided by the shallow cavity, this club should be on anyone's short list to try.NOTThe RE*AX TP graphite shaft is more than a bit beefy at 115 grams.
BRIDGESTONE J36 CB
STREET PRICE: $800WEBSITE: bridgestonegolf.comLOFTS6-iron: 31, PW: 47TECH STORYBuilt on the idea that more than one-third of all PGA Tour players have mixed sets in their bag, the J36 CB features a progressively tapered sole design with more relief in the trailing edge as you go from long to short irons. Custom-iron options have gone from 5 to 17.PLAYER COMMENTS"What a wonderful iron! It feels like a mid-1970s forging but with a little help. . . . I didn't know Bridgestone made irons. I do now. The ball feels very soft coming off the clubface. . . . This is a player's club that works for you instead of the other way around."HOTBridgestone is one of the top forged irons in Japan, but it's nowhere close in the United States. This stick could change that. The top line is in perfect proportion to the heel and toe length, but what we really like is the flexibility to mix the J36 (blade) and J36 PC (pocket cavity) seamlessly within the set.NOTWe know it's a player's club, but the top line is thinner than a supermodel.
STREET PRICE: $800WEBSITE: callawaygolf.comLOFTS6-iron: 31, PW: 47TECH STORYThe CG is positioned lower in the long irons and moves progressively higher through the set, which is intended to create the appropriate trajectory with each club. A short blade length and minimal offset provide a pleasing look for the traditionalist.PLAYER COMMENTS"This reminds me of the saying about airplanes: If it looks good, it flies good. And this iron looks good. . . . The most solid of all the irons -- and that includes the game-improvement stuff. . . . I can feel the head throughout the swing. That's cool."HOTWhen Callaway ditched the X-Tour and split its player's line into two models, the X-Forged was clearly aimed at the better of the two player groups. If you're in that category, the buttery feel of the carbon-steel clubhead and the thin top line and narrow sole will appeal to the shotmaker in you.NOTRegardless of talent, if you have slow clubhead speed, you won't be able to hit this iron.
COBRA PRO CB
STREET PRICE: $850WEBSITE: cobragolf.comLOFTS6-iron: 30, PW: 46TECH STORYSoft 1020 carbon steel is put through a one-piece forging and nickel-chrome plating process to provide a consistent grain structure. A slightly shorter hosel length than the Pro MB version is designed for those seeking a slightly higher ball flight.PLAYER COMMENTS"This is old school. The looks, the way it plays. That's my style. . . . I can do anything I want with these. The 3-iron drops vertically into the green. You can work 'em and shape 'em any way you can imagine. . . . The long head looks like a shoehorn, but the ball was solid coming off the face."HOTThe look is about as exciting as saltine crackers, but beneath the somewhat bland appearance is a club that invigorates. When you look up "crisp feel" in the dictionary, this club is what you'll see. If you're into the vintage vibe, these are definitely worth considering.NOTIt isn't the techiest-looking iron, so shelf appeal might be limited.
STREET PRICE: $700WEBSITE: pinggolf.comLOFTS6-iron: 30.5, PW: 46TECH STORYIt has a shorter blade length and thinner top line than the G10. Weight has been added to the low toe area to increase the moment of inertia. The sole design has been narrowed and cambered to increase workability.PLAYER COMMENTS"There seems to be something about the medallion in back that gives this a forged feel even though it's not. . . . The bottom white groove really helps you square the face. . . . I tried to hit some misses with it, but I wasn't really successful. . . . It's a true Ping in every sense of the word. That's good, by the way."HOTIt's a love-it-or-loathe-it kind of club, but if you're the type of player who prefers function over form, these could be your bats. With a larger clubhead and cavity and a little thicker top line than most player's irons have, hitting these gives a feeling of comfort matched only by your dog bringing you your slippers.NOTThe feel off the cast clubhead is not quite as smooth as others in the field.
STREET PRICE: $850WEBSITE: pinggolf.comLOFTS6-iron: 30.5, PW: 47TECH STORYHaving a thicker cavity near the toe and a thinner cavity closer to the heel moves the CG away from the hosel and toward the center of the face to produce a solid feel. The tuning pocket is designed to keep the ball down on the short irons and add lift on long irons.PLAYER COMMENTS"A little untraditional at address, but the club works. . . . Confidence, confidence, confidence. When you set it down, it just screams, 'Hit me!' . . . You can feel the mis-hits in the hands more than with the others."HOTPing embraces technology in a way that is equal parts materials and common-sense application. The S58 is a perfect example of that philosophy with its dual-depth cavity and tuning pocket providing real benefits to real golfers. Not convinced? Then ask Lorena Ochoa. She won eight LPGA tournaments last year with these clubs.NOTThe addition of the new I10 iron might have some overlooking this year-old model.