Hot List 2019March 12, 2019

2019 Super Game-Improvement Irons: Turn your mis-hits into acceptable shots

Acknowledging you need help does not make you any less of a golfer. These irons offer the kind of assistance many need

“I define a good person as somebody who is fully conscious of their own limitations.” Those were the words of John Bradshaw, an American educator and author who hosted a number of TV shows on PBS. Bradshaw’s works can be applied to golf, as those who are “conscious of their own limitations” can find help in super game-improvement irons to assist them in becoming “good” golfers.

Acknowledging you need help does not make you any less of a golfer. In fact, you’re probably among the largest segment. For you satisfaction is not so much dictated by the number on the bottom of the scorecard, but in the number of quality shots you hit during the round. Get the ball in the air, make better contact more often and that leads to more fun. Finding ways to score can wait.

Help is on the way. These clubs are designed with all that in mind. Some sets feature hybrids as standard for the long irons while others use wide-soled irons that look more like utility irons. Either way, they make those longer shots from the fairway easier than ever.

In the mid-irons some sets offer conventional super game improvement irons with toplines wide enough to serve a tray of drinks on. Some, however, feature hollow-back irons that are a combination of hybrid and super game-improvement irons. Lighter shafts, whether in steel or graphite, also are found as most players in this category lack the ability to generate significant clubhead speed and the light shafts help produce extra miles per hour in speed which equates to additional yards on the shot.

More yards, higher flight and easier to hit. For those conscious of their limitations, the possibilities are limitless.

Click here to shop the Hot List-winning super game-improvement irons at Golf Galaxy.

Gold-medal winners:

Bridgestone Tour B JGR HF1

Story: Some irons in this category attempt to hide their size or characteristics. There’s no such caginess here. These clubs have longer shafts, strong lofts (the 7-iron is 26 degrees, or about what some 5-irons check in at) and soles wide enough to serve cocktails. The company also makes no apologies for the fact this player likely needs fewer than eight irons: The standard set makeup here is six clubs, including two pitching wedges of 38 and 44 degrees.

Lofts: 7-iron: 26 degrees; PW: 38 degrees

Street Price: $850, set of six


Callaway Big Bertha (2019)

Story: When it comes to assisting golfers, Callaway has always made an effort. This iron features the thinnest cupface in company history to maximize ball speed off the face. One of the neater design elements is a “floating” tungsten weight low in the cavity to lower the center of gravity. The tungsten is wrapped in a thermoplastic-urethane jacket and suspended in urethane, which is infused with air-filled microspheres that enhance the way the face flexes and feels.

Lofts: 7-iron: 30 degrees; PW: 43 degrees

Street Price: $1,200

Click here to shop the Callaway Big Bertha (2019) at Golf Galaxy.


Cleveland Launcher HB

Story: OK, it might not be the easiest club to look at in the address position. Get over it. There are no complaints about the feel of this club or its ability to produce good golf shots. The hollow design incorporates a wide sole; a sloping recessed crown and back; and a high-strength-steel face insert. All that encourages higher flight and faster ball speeds in a full-hybrid set that can make a performance difference for someone needing help getting the ball in the air.

Lofts: 7-iron: 30 degrees; PW: 44 degrees

Street Price: $800

Click here to shop the Cleveland Launcher HB at Golf Galaxy.


Cobra FMax Superlite/One

Story: When designing clubs for those who need help, making them light and easy to hit are key design elements. Both are addressed here. By creating a lighter clubhead, shaft and grip, designers saved 16 grams, which offers slower swingers more clubhead speed. The company also used some of its knowledge gathered from working on its One Length irons, notably that having a more upright lie angle in the longer irons can help players keep those clubs square at impact.

Lofts: 7-iron: 31.5 degrees; PW: 45 degrees

Street Price: $800, set of seven

Click here to shop the Cobra FMax Superlite/One at Golf Galaxy.


PXG 0311 SGI GEN2

Story: There’s no denying the clubheads are borderline behemoth, but that creates the “can’t miss” confidence less-skilled golfers need. A wide sole makes it difficult to dig into the turf, and the low-profile shape and low-back center of gravity help get the ball up quickly. A polymer in the clubhead’s hollow body allows for more flex in a face that’s about the thickness of a dime. This gives distance-challenged golfers the opportunity to strut on occasion.

Lofts: 7-iron: 29 degrees; PW: 43 degrees

Street Price: $3,200


TaylorMade MCGB

Story: TaylorMade believes the golfers who play this iron don’t care about topline thickness or the amount of offset. They want to get the ball in the air, hit less club into greens and have irons that look sweet in the bag. To that end, sole and face slots and a thin face boost ball speed. Lofts that are generous in the long and middle irons and four tungsten weights positioned low and in the rear heel and toe help produce height on shots without adding spin.

Lofts: 7-iron: 29.5 degrees; PW: 43 degrees

Street Price: $1,200

Golf Digest Hot List 2019: Announcing the 129 gold- and silver-medal winning, game-changing clubs worth your time.


Wilson D7

Story: The D7 attempts to move away from the norm by providing help in a sleeker, more visually palatable package. Key to achieving this was a shift in the use of “power holes”—slots filled with polymer to promote face flex. Those were removed from the topline, and a third row added on the sole of the 4- through 7-irons. Two rows are used on the 8- and 9-irons, and one on the pitching wedge. The result is an iron with plenty of distance in a package that’s easy on the eyes.

Lofts: 7-iron: 28 degrees; PW: 43 degrees

Street Price: $700, set of seven


XXIO X

Story: Highly regarded in Japan, this high-end brand is attempting to make inroads in the U.S. market by developing clubs distance-hungry golfers can swing faster more efficiently. It starts with a titanium face insert made from the same alloy as the company’s driver faces. That insert extends closer to the leading edge to provide better rebound on shots hit low on the face, where most iron impacts occur. A lightweight 50-gram graphite shaft brings speed to the swing.

Lofts: 7-iron: 29 degrees; PW: 43 degrees

Street Price: $1,400, set of seven


Silver-medal winning clubs:

Tommy Armour Atomic Max

Story: This iron is big and bulky, but when you have the name Atomic Max, subtlety probably isn’t your goal. The hollow clubhead has a forged titanium L-face that wraps around the sole to produce more pop. There’s also a hefty 60 grams of tungsten positioned low and in the toe to improve forgiveness on off-center hits. The wide selection of shaft upgrades at no charge is a pleasant surprise in an attractively priced set.

Lofts: 7-iron: 28 degrees; PW: 42 degrees

Street Price: $800

Click here to shop the Tommy Armour Atomic Max at Golf Galaxy.


Tour Edge CBX Iron-Wood

Story: When you’ve produced hollow-body clubs for two decades, you learn some things. In Tour Edge’s case, it’s that making these iron- woods solely for long irons wasn’t enough. Having previously produced its CBX Iron-Wood in 2- through 5-irons, the design now extends through the entire set. A thin, L-shape face made from a springy Japanese steel provides power, and a rounded sole and progressive offset offer an easy transition to the middle and short irons.

Lofts: 7-iron: 32 degrees; PW: 44 degrees

Street Price: $1,050 set of seven


Wilson D350

Story: Perhaps the most under-appreciated aspect of club fitting is set makeup. Wilson addressed this by producing a set featuring a mixture of hybrids and irons, and how that mixture is put together is entirely up to you. Sure, you can have all irons if you wish (a seven-piece set is a wallet-friendly $500), but there’s also the option to choose from four hybrid lofts to make an eight-piece combo set for an additional $200.

Lofts: 7-iron: 31 degrees; PW: 43 degrees

Street Price: $500/$700


Yonex EZone CB701

Story: The strong lofts push the boundaries of decency (a 38-degree pitching wedge?), but the CB 701 iron really is geared for the player looking for something more appealing in terms of sound and feel. By filling the cavity with a graphite damping material and adding an 11-gram tungsten weight under it, there’s a reduction in unwanted vibrations. The lower and deeper center of gravity provides good height.

Lofts: 7-iron: 26 degrees; PW: 38 degrees

Street Price: $1,600, set of seven

Click here to shop the Hot List-winning super game-improvement irons at Golf Galaxy.