Play Your BestOctober 17, 2019

Inside the next generation of irons

Irons are no longer single pieces of metal. Most combine steel and high-strength alloys with heavy tungsten, shock-absorbing polymers and other elements previously found only in rocket engines and artificial hips.

Instead of compromising the size, shape or feel of an iron by limiting it to one type of metal, companies are combining materials strategically to maximize distance, forgiveness and feel. Heavy materials, for example, lower the center of gravity to help you launch the ball higher—without distorting an iron’s traditional size. This means lofts can be made stronger so that 7-irons fly as hot as 6-irons but still land softly on the green. High-strength steel or even titanium allow designers to make the face extra flexible for more power. Layering in polymers, internally or within a cavity, manages the feel on these super-thin clubfaces without surrendering distance.

“It’s fun for our design team to take the guardrails off and see how far they can go,” Brian Bazzell, TaylorMade’s vice president of product creation, says of the company’s four piece P·790 Ti irons. “It’s about taking the aspirational, the feel and the performance recipe to the extreme.”

Designers aren’t the only ones having fun. Your game should enjoy tangible results because of this complex thinking. Here are eight new irons worth considering.

1. CALLAWAY EPIC FORGED STAR, $325/CLUB

▶ This ultralight club, which includes a shaft less than half the weight of standard steel, features a forged frame supporting a wraparound cupface, with tungsten suspended in urethane to preserve feel and boost the launch angle.

2. TITLEIST T300, $125/CLUB

▶ An average of 52 grams of tungsten fills the heel and toe in the middle and long irons for forgiveness. This weight is hidden in a springy polymer sphere behind the thin face to extend speed across a wider area.

3. CLEVELAND LAUNCHER HB TURBO, $800/SET

▶ These wide-sole, hybrid-like irons are made to minimize fat shots so the club maintains speed into the ball. The sloping crown helps weight stay low for better launch, too. A high-strength steel face adds extra ball speed.

4. HONMA XP-1, $200/CLUB

▶ These classic shapes use two de-signs in the set to provide extra help where it’s needed. The short irons use a deep undercut cavity for forgiveness, and the 4- through 7-iron are hollow with tungsten placed low for high launch.

5. TAYLORMADE P·790 TI, $2,800/SET

▶ Two kinds of titanium save weight in the body and build speed in the face. Pushing the center of gravity extremely low is a heavy tungsten bar that makes up nearly half the iron’s total weight.

6. MIZUNO MP-20 MMC, $175/CLUB

▶ The mix of materials targets feel and forgiveness. Lightweight titanium fills the cavity for a solid feel that keeps the heavier steel to the perimeter. Unseen is an underlayer of copper plating to control sound and feel.

7. COBRA KING FORGED TEC, $1,100/SET

▶ This blade-like look is a hollow design filled with three pieces: The L-shaped, forged steel face is supported by a light-foam insert, and internal tungsten lowers the center of gravity. It also comes in a single-length option.

8. TOUR EDGE HOT LAUNCH 4, $500/SET

▶ The shallow face, deep cavity and wide sole result in a higher launch by redistributing mass low. The soft stainless-steel construction and vibration-damping badge in the cavity maximize feel.

RELATED: Golf equipment truths: How much distance can you expect from new clubs?


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