Best Players-Distance Irons of 2024
Players-Distance irons no longer waffle between blade or cavity-back. They are so much more than that. Innovative thinking and smart design have led to shapes that say better player—narrow sole and thin-ish toplines with a look that flows. The technological goal, however, is to help better players retain or extend their yardages. The Players-Distance irons on this year’s Hot List have innovations such as cupfaces in which the face wraps around the topline and sole, boosting ball speed by providing more face flex. Other companies thin the face to create a more effective trampoline to make up for lost yards.
Sometimes multiple materials are used to mask deficiencies in one area, but not so here. By mixing materials, Cobra brings the kind of raw power irons in this category need. The neat trick, however, is doing so in a pleasing shape that doesn’t scrimp on feel thanks to a light, soft foam inside the 1025 carbon-steel clubhead. The muscle-back shape belies the hollow construction and the thin face delivers significant ball speed with a higher launch. A 20-gram tungsten toe weight is positioned so that the center of gravity is more in line with the center of the face to deliver a sweet feel on center strikes.
If these irons took human form, they might just give Patrick Dempsey a run for “Sexiest Man Alive.” Just like with the actor, there’s more here than good looks. The speed on this iron comes from the thinnest face on a forged iron in the company’s history—just 2.2 millimeters thick. The distance chase doesn’t stop there. Micro-slots in the sole cavity (wider in the 4- through 6-irons and slightly narrower in the 7-iron to smooth the transition to the scoring clubs) provide plenty of heat.
Advancements in golf clubs aren’t always solely driven by design. You need to be able to manufacture them as well. For this iron that meant finding a different steel—Nickel Chromoly 4335—that could be cast to an ultra-thin 1.75 millimeters and still withstand impact with the ball and ground at high speeds. This led to the ability to create a single-piece design that behaves like an iron that has a spring-like face insert. The elimination of weld joints eradicates hot spots on the face.
The traditional blade appearance of the Mizuno Pro 245 says, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” The performance, however, says otherwise. This hollow-body iron is grain-flow forged from 4135 Chromoly steel for the face and neck all the way to the 8-iron. Internal tungsten weighting in the irons up to the 7-iron is 46.4 grams as opposed to 30 grams in its predecessor. A new method of laser welding suspends the tungsten in the head so that it doesn’t touch the sole, allowing the face to flex better and boost ball speed.
Ping realizes off-center hits are part of the game, even for single-digit players. This iron doesn’t ignore that unpleasant reality but places more of an emphasis on a clean aesthetic and more pop than a ball coming off Aaron Judge’s bat. The construction is almost metal-wood-like with a hollow-body design using C300 maraging steel for the face—the same type of metal used in landing gear for aircraft. The sole has an “arcing cascade” that aids in the flexing of the face and combines with strong lofts to ensure the desire for distance is satisfied.
Increasing launch and decreasing spin is a recipe for distance in irons as well as metal woods. The internal groove built into the back surface of the high-strength HT1770 steel face insert helps in that regard. The groove, about ten-thousandths of an inch deep, runs up both sides and across the top of the perimeter to create more give in the face. It also helps promote a gear effect to increase launch and decrease spin. A large weight in the back is more than ornamentation: It allows fitters to dial in the desired swingweight.
Some irons in this category go heavy on the distance and light on the players. This one is the right combination of both. A slim hosel provides a pleasing visual at address, and the offset produces a natural flow through the set—both small enhancements better players will appreciate. The face has plenty of sizzle thanks to the use of a forged SUP10 steel plate featuring a variable-thickness pattern of grooves, channels and cavities milled into the back of the iron face to maximize rebound at impact.
The third generation of TaylorMade’s flagship iron has a thin face that hits harder than T.J. Watt sacking a quarterback. TaylorMade engineers used artificial intelligence to run through some 600 iterations of its clubhead design, leading to the use of different internal weighting: low in the 4- and 5-irons to help increase launch, toward the perimeter to foster forgiveness on the 6- and 7-irons and no internal weighting for the 8-iron and higher. These design gymnastics are not just for performance gains but for improving sound and feel, too.
The T100 is the most-played iron on the PGA Tour, so it’s easy to see how some might view the T200 in a lesser light. Nothing could be more wrong. This club has undergone a substantial overhaul. A ball speed boost comes from a face that wraps around the sole for extra flex at impact. A more stable frame, dense tungsten weights and a revamped polymer core and support-bar structure behind the face improve ball-speed consistency on mis-hits, too. It’s no wonder some PGA Tour pros use these for their long irons.
Everyday golfers can probably learn more about what type of clubs to play by looking at what LPGA Tour players are using instead of PGA Tour stars, which is why this iron might be worth considering. Proto-Concept designed these irons for Lydia Ko, using her input as its roadmap. The result is a sleeker shape with more mass behind the impact zone compared to previous Proto-Concept irons for a more satisfying look and feel. The use of a Chromoly steel face insert—with variable thicknesses in the impact area—helps produces the ideal trajectory.
It's fitting that Sub 70’s main headquarters outside Chicago features a full-service bar because the feel of these irons is like a happy hour waiting to happen. Thin-face irons can feel harsh, but thanks to a thermoplastic urethane inside the head, the thin (just 1.7 millimeters) 455 Carpenter-steel clubface feels syrupy at impact without any unwanted noise. The thin topline, reduced offset and sole design combine to offer the kind of workability sure to bring out the inner shotmaker in you—provided you don’t over-indulge at the bar first.
To get the full picture here you need to turn the club over to see the “powerholes.” You’ve seen these from Wilson before but now these flexible sections appear only on the 4- through 6-irons—or the clubs where most players are looking for a little extra punch. Still, an iron designed for distance isn’t much good if you’re yelling “Full flaps!” when it hits the green. To address that, Wilson lowered the CG to increase the launch angle and foster stopping power. Finally, the soft, forged carbon steel delivers the kind of responsive feel worthy of the Dynapower name.