TaylorMade Stealth HD irons: What you need to know
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Designed with the slower swinger in mind, the Stealth HD irons offer a low-profile clubhead designed to create a lower center of gravity to promote a higher launch with a draw bias. The step-down sole helps mitigate the effect of shots hit a tad heavy.
PRICE/AVAILABILITY: $143 per iron (steel); available at retail Feb. 17, 2023.
3 COOL THINGS
1. Function over form. The low-profile clubhead is, well, a different look, but when players start hitting better shots, any opposition to the shape tends to quickly melt away. Especially when the shape is a main contributor to helping get the ball in the air and promotes a draw bias.
The shallow face height combines with a wide sole to drive the center of gravity low. The shape combines with a multi-material cap-back that is significantly lighter than the steel it is replacing. That not only drives the center of gravity lower as well by removing weight from up high but helps make the club easier to square at impact. Further, because there is no badge bonded to the back of the club, it allows the face to move more freely.
An additional benefit of the CG being low is that low is where the majority of iron impacts occur, and you want the center of gravity as close to where shots are being struck as possible.
2. Understanding the golfer fueled this design. To design a club for less-skilled players, you first need to understand what makes them tick. The challenge with that is in order to understand that player type, you need to test with them first and the less skilled the player, the more unreliable the data can be.
“This group has a very wide array of swings,” said Matt Bovee, TaylorMade’s director of product creation for irons. “We wanted to simplify the process for them.”
Feeling this player valued hitting quality shots more often than targeting a score, TaylorMade boiled its player testing down to this: Did you consider it a successful shot? “We found that high launching and high spinning was good,” said Bovee. Anything with a draw flight also was valued. Importantly, the data showed that between 26 and 31 degrees of loft there was only about a 1.5-yard difference.
“Strong lofts just don’t get the ball in the air,” said Bovee. “We found the optimal launch with a 7-iron was with a 30-degree 7-iron. It made us look at the loft progression throughout the set. We also found that this player really didn’t need an iron lower than the 5-iron so we start the set there and use sole slots in the 5- through 8-irons to create speed and launch in the clubs where these players need the most help.”
3. Sole searching. This player tends to make contact with more turf than they need to, so creating a sole design that helps the club exit the ground easier is almost a necessity. For the Stealth HD (HD stands for “high draw,” by the way), that not only meant a wide sole, but one precisely shaped.
Specifically, the sole features a “step-down” feature in the rear of the sole that helps prevent digging while still being able to maintain a wide sole. But the design doesn’t stop there. There is a noticeable curvature of the sole from heel to toe that not only prevents heel and toe digs in certain lies, but promotes contact slightly higher on the face, which enhances launch and spin.