WHAT IT DOES: The C03 is a forged cavity-back made from soft-carbon steel. The 5- through 7-irons use a computer-numerical-controlled (CNC) milling process to create an undercut at the bottom of the back of the face. Doing this removes mass and allows for a lower positioning of the center of gravity. The excess weight that has been shaved from that area is then redistributed to the perimeter to augment forgiveness. To maintain the proper spin rates on the 8-iron through pitching wedge, no undercut is used.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Although not a company with any name recognition, Proto-Concept has some golf chops nonetheless. The enterprise is a collaboration between Golf Partner (believed to be the largest golf retailer in the world) and legendary forging house Endo, which for decades has produced some of the best forgings in the game. In this instance, it has created an elegant club with a satin finish, but don’t let the low-key look fool you. We especially applaud the method of milling away material from the back of the face by focusing on the heel and toe areas and leaving more mass directly behind the hitting area in pursuit of a crisp feel.
* Percentage of total score
“They’re addicting. Crisp feel. The sweet spot is huge. Turf interaction is superior, and the flight is lower with great spin.”
"It's understated elegance. Looks like it has no high tech but that's just a disguise. No pizzazz until you hit it. Good feel. Turf interaction was superior. The distance exceeded other irons."
"Performed at a high level. Really piercing ball flight on long irons, but able to launch short irons high. Don't judge a book by its cover. Feels forgiving, unlike a traditional blade. A really strong player would think it's easy, because mis-hits still feel good."
7-iron: 32 degrees; PW: 45 degrees
Surviving the Hot List Presented by Rapsodo
For the first time in the 19-year history of the Hot List, we invited a documentary-film crew to the 2022 testing summit to document the process, the people and the drama behind the most coveted assignment in golf.