Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)



Hot List

Best Game-Improvement Irons of 2024

The Game-Improvement iron category represents the bulk of the market and for good reason. You’re trying to get better. Whether you’re an 8-handicapper struggling to stay in single-digits or a solid 16 that everyone wants to play with because you’re improving all the time, these clubs are designed for you. Game-Improvement irons often feature multiple materials such as tungsten weights to adjust the center of gravity in a way that fosters forgiveness and helps get the ball to an appropriate flight apex. Because you don’t find the center of the face all the time, polymer fillings or elastomer badges are used to filter away those bad vibrations, producing a feel that says you’re getting better.

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke
$143 per iron | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$143 per iron

The game-improvement category is probably the most expansive of any and requires an iron that works for a variety of swing speeds and swing paths. To achieve this, Callaway leaned into its history of using artificial intelligence to run through thousands of possible designs. The result is a hollow-body iron featuring micro-face deflections (think tiny moguls behind the face ranging from 1.14 millimeters to 3.40 millimeters thick). The purpose is to produce faster ball speeds off the 17-4 stainless-steel cupface.

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Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke HL
$143 per iron | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$143 per iron

The Paradym Ai Smoke is designed for players with faster swings. This model is made for players who swing a little slower and carry their 7-iron less than 130 yards. That player needs help achieving a healthy ball flight. Using real-player data, the company’s supercomputer simulated tens of thousands of impacts to arrive at a design that improves launch and spin and would keep the ball in the air longer—something that can be the difference between fixing a pitch mark on the green or fishing the ball out of the water.

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Cleveland ZipCore XL
$128 per iron | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$128 per iron

On the surface this iron looks standard, but the real improvements are on the inside. The face in the 4- through 7-irons is similar to that of affiliated company Srixon’s irons with channels and cavities on the back of the face to save mass and increase ball speed. This iron goes a step further, borrowing the groundbreaking ZipCore technology from Cleveland’s wedge line in the 8-iron through the wedges. ZipCore takes steel out of the hosel and replaces it with a lighter material, allowing for optimal CG placement and greater forgiveness.

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Cobra Darkspeed
$143 per iron | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$143 per iron

You’ve heard the phrase “pound for pound, the best”? That would apply to Cobra’s R&D team. Although outnumbered and out-budgeted by the biggest companies, Cobra continues to innovate in meaningful ways, and this iron is the latest example. The face of the hollow-body irons, designed with the help of a supercomputer, is 1.5 millimeters at its thinnest, providing explosive ball speed. Inside the cavity is a soft polymer (used in underbody coatings in cars) to dampen vibrations. It’s also available in the One Length shaft option, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of Cobra’s iron sales.

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Mizuno JPX923 Hot Metal
$138 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$138

If you’re a player seeking raw distance, you might be drawn to an iron named Hot Metal. The achievement in this club is that it’s able to bring high ball speeds through metallurgy. Mizuno used Nickel Chromoly 4335—a remarkably strong steel alloy used in military aircraft—to create the thinnest face of any Mizuno iron ever. Of course, a hotter face brings with it a powerful sound. In this case, Mizuno was able to neatly walk the line of producing audio that was pleasing and have others in your foursome take notice.

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Ping G430
$170 per iron | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$170 per iron

When you have success with an iron line, you’re not going to mess with it much. Still, tiny changes here equal big benefits. A proprietary heat-treating process created a super-strong 17-4 stainless steel that allows for more face flexing. This results in the much sought-after combination of increased distance and higher max height. The sole was altered, too. Approximately 1 degree of bounce was added to each iron to promote the kind of clean turf interaction that mitigates the effect of fat shots.

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PXG 0311 XP GEN6
$180 per iron | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$180 per iron

It’s easy to be drawn in by the lighter and more flexible core material or the interior groove around the face that helps the face bend at impact, but more than doubling the amount of tungsten in the heel and toe areas really gets our attention. Although the heft is a nice bonus in a players or players-distance iron, the game-improvement crowd misses the center of the face more than they hit it. This makes the stability/forgiveness boost received from putting extra weight in those areas noteworthy. It also has the benefit of producing a feel as meaty as a bone-in rib-eye cooked over an open flame, and we like those.

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Srixon ZX4 Mk II
$171 per iron | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$171 per iron

Arguably the most technologically advanced iron in Srixon’s line, the ZX4 Mk II brings all the power one could want. The cast, multipiece hollow-body iron features a forged high-strength steel face insert that has the ball coming out of the blocks like an Olympic sprinter. That’s not just from the springy metal though. Srixon used a supercomputer to simulate thousands of impacts, and a variable-thickness face pattern was milled into the backside of the face insert to maximize ball speed.The long and middle irons—to the 7-iron—have wider and shallower grooves, and the grooves in the short irons are narrower and deeper to optimize spin.

TaylorMade Qi
$157 per iron | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$157 per iron

TaylorMade’s P-series irons have long overshadowed its game-improvement offerings, but that’s changed over time. The Qi is the latest leap. The iron incorporates a “cap back” that replaces the steel back of the clubhead with a composite badge. The badge provides the necessary reinforcement for the thin, flexing face, along with a pleasant sound and feel. The badge also reduces mass, allowing weight to be moved to dial in the proper center-of-gravity location. To assist sound, a damping system uses a softer polymer blend and multiple contact points across the face to channel away those pesky unwanted vibrations without slowing ball speed. The nickel-chrome plating adds a touch of class, too.

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Titleist T350
$200 per iron | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$200 per iron

A shift away from an undercut-cavity design to a hollow-body platform signals a transformational upgrade from its T300 predecessor. The hollow design houses the polymer-core structure (previously on the back of the iron), moving it closer to the face for better performance and feel. Also different from the T300 are super-dense tungsten weights in the heel and toe. This feature not only triggers more stability but contributes to ball speed and helps maintains feel. The high-strength steel face features that same alloy as the T200 and L-shape that overlaps into the sole for extra rebound at impact.

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Cobra King Forged Tec-X
$171 per iron | Golf Galaxy
4.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Silver
$171 per iron

The speed in these irons comes from an almost utility-iron-like design in the 4- through 7-irons. Those clubs are hollow in construction with a 65-gram slab of tungsten that drives the center of gravity down low to assist launch. The face insert is made from a high-strength stainless steel through a multistep forging and machining process, allowing for a face that gets as thin as 1.6 millimeters in the upper pocket area. All that results in the kind of fire off the face middle-handicappers crave.

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Honma Beres Nx
$350 per iron | Golf Galaxy
4.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Silver
$350 per iron

Sometimes you see something so different and cool that you’re immediately intrigued, like Honma’s new resin bar behind the face of this club that stretches all the way to the toe where it is attached via a toe screw. The bar is 90 percent resin, making it super light so that it saves weight while damping vibration. The L-face (in which a lip goes over part of the sole) produces plenty of ball speed, especially on shots hit low on the face.

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Ping G730
$185 per iron | Golf Galaxy
4.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Silver
$185 per iron

These irons were built for speed. A proprietary heat-treating process makes the variable-thickness 17-4 stainless-steel face super strong, allowing it to be thinned significantly, resulting in more face bend for greater distance and added height. The lofts are quite strong but when combined with a low center of gravity and additional perimeter weighting bring about noticeable ball-speed gains. The 10-piece cavity badge has multiple flex zones that help generate a higher launch with steeper landing angles to hold the green. Call this one the 12-handicappers secret weapon.

Tour Edge Exotics E723
$100 per iron | Golf Galaxy
4.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Silver
$100 per iron

This is a lot of club for the money. At a time when many irons are going for $200 a stick, these are half that. Thermoplastic urethane is inserted behind the lower portion of the face. That saves weight that is used for a toe-weight pocket to assist shots hit out in that area—a place many middle-handicappers routinely find. The variable-thickness face is complex, with more than 100 diamond shapes in three thicknesses. Why the different shapes and thicknesses? Because shots hit on the heel and toe behave differently than center strikes, but you want the result to be as consistent as possible across the entire face.

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Wilson Dynapower
$114 per iron | Golf Galaxy
4.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Silver
$114 per iron

Admitting you have a problem is the first step toward fixing it, and middle-handicappers tend to hit iron shots on the toe of the club 85 percent of the time (according to data from Arccos). Wilson set out to mitigate that issue by changing the way it uses its “power holes” on the sole of the club. The holes are filled with a polymer and are designed to enhance ball speed. The design team decided the largest of the three holes should be moved to the toe area. Problem solved.

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