Best Super-Game-Improvement Irons of 2024
For some reason players and even manufacturers are loathe to focus on the Super-Game-Improvement iron category. That’s unfortunate because they can make the game easier. The audience for these clubs is the true middle-to-high-handicapper who is secure enough to check their ego at the first tee in exchange for playing better golf. These irons help the ball get in the air, go far and make the game more fun. Super-Game-Improvement irons typically are sets that feature all-hybrid construction or are iron-like with light shafts, wide soles and zippy faces. That helps make shots almost foolproof to hit and the scorecard look a lot better.
With a name like Big Bertha, you expect features like a wide sole and the kind of offset that is sure to tame a slice. However, it’s the guts of this club that delivers the goods. This iron’s cupface technology in which the face wraps around part of the topline and sole helps improve flex and distance. Tungsten weighting is generously used as well, including 43 grams inside the head to bolster forgiveness on mis-hits. Progressive center-of-gravity locations help with launch in the long irons and control in the short irons.
Cleveland believes helping players achieve more distance, forgiveness and launch starts with the face, specifically making it lighter and more flexible to produce maximum yards. The face here underwent a proprietary face blast and laser-mill-line process to enhance surface roughness to optimize spin. The grooves that stretch all the way across the face are purposeful, too: They increase consistency and reduce the chance of flyers.
The ability to launch the ball is critical for golfers with slower swing speeds. That’s because slow swings don’t produce enough speed to generate significant height. This club seeks to launch higher without adding too much distance-robbing spin. That quest began by using lighter clubheads, shafts and grips, making it easier for golfers to generate more clubhead speed. Generous offset and heel-biased weighting contribute to a higher launch and slice-correction. A revamped variable-thickness face inspired by Cobra’s driver is 15 percent thinner on the 4- through 7-irons to help with distance.
In the chase for ball speed many companies have opted to strengthen lofts—not so here. In fact, Mizuno’s research shows that golfers with average to slow swing speeds have a tough time getting a 5-iron up in the air. Mizuno then focuses on increasing launch by staying true to traditional lofts (some 2 to 3 degrees weaker than many in the category) and using a wider sole, which helps drive the center of gravity down. The face is made from a cast nickel Chromoly steel that produces plenty of punch off the face.
The look is so elegant that you might expect to find this one in the bag of The Golden Bachelor (who does play golf), but substance is plentiful, too. The hard-to-hit long irons have a backbar that lowers the center of gravity and combines with a new slot design to promote higher launch. The short irons, however, have a backbar with extreme heel-toe weighting to boost forgiveness and a different slot to maximize ball speed.
Short of a whiff, few things are more distressing than laying the sod over the ball. How to avoid that? Wilson starts with the sole. A thicker, wider bottom on the all-hybrid-style design features more bounce than its Launch Pad predecessor. This sole allows the club to enter and exit the turf more easily. Slicing also can be an issue for this player type, so the Wilson team added weight to the heel area for a little draw bias.
The XXIO brand continues to gain traction in the United States as a highly viable alternative for the swing-speed challenged. The X iron (the company’s 13th generation) produces gains in swing and ball speed through two sources: a lightweight, high-balance-point graphite shaft and a face made out of titanium. The weight savings from the titanium face allowed the XXIO team to use 31 grams of tungsten (up to the 7-iron) to get mass low and back to help get the ball airborne. Also, because the average hand size in North America is 10 percent larger than in Japan, larger grips are used.
Cobra went outside the typical design box with this all-hybrid-like iron set as an alternative to its Air-X iron offering. A stainless-steel face with 15 variable-thickness zones helps generate more ball speed. Then, to mask as many flaws as possible, rails are used on the sole. This reduces the consequences of fat shots, and the front portion of the rails is hollow, adding flex on the leading edge of the face.
The idea of super-game-improvement-irons started with helping average golfers, but some clubs in this category fail to commit to that goal. Rather than skimping on the help, this iron embraces the concept fully. A revised design led to a wider front-to-back length, a thinner topline and more weight lower inside the hollow clubhead. The offset is aggressive but serves the purpose of scaling back those wicked slices higher-handicappers often battle. The lofts are a little weaker than other Tour Edge irons because this player needs more help getting the ball in the air compared to the extra yards that might come from stronger lofts.
A thin titanium face plate maximizes speed for the most leisurely of swingers. The face and an L-shaped structure within the body create a flexible area in the lower part of the face for extra spring where shots are struck most often. The shaft uses 18 percent resin to lighten the weight to promote a faster swing. A weight in the butt end of the shaft takes advantage of that speed by promoting a better swing path. Yes, these irons are pricier than most in this category, but there’s a lot of good technology here.
Some think super-game-improvement irons are just for players who swing over the top. Some of this thinking can be attributed to the bulky designs. Those who need the help of a SGI iron but still want to look like they have game should give this one a look. The relatively sleek appearance hides the horsepower. Taking weight out of the upper back of the face (where few golfers hit the ball) lowers the center of gravity for better launch. Channels behind the face reduce weight and increase the compression of the ball and ensuing rebound for extra yards.