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Our Readers Test the Latest Irons for 2012
http://www.publinksgolfer.net/articles/996/1/Our-Readers-Test-the-Latest-Irons-for-2012/Page1.html
Tom Landers
 
By Tom Landers
Published on 04/16/2012
 


Our Readers Test the Latest Irons for 2012

Today’s Irons Help Players 'Dial in' Their Shot

You’ve often heard the phrase “dialed in” uttered by professional golfers when they get the distance from the fairway to the flag from their caddies.
  Well, today’s equipment manufacturers are fine-tuning irons to assist players of all abilities, from high handicappers to scratch golfers, to dial in and reach the putting surface in regulation from the fairway or off the tee on par-threes.
  You can talk all you want about the need to move the ball accurately and far off the tee, or chip and putt with skill. But one of the most difficult and vital aspects of the game is hitting the ball off a flat lie from the fairway or rough and sending a shot on the proper trajectory to the intended target.
  Today’s technology and materials allow club makers to create a plethora of iron, with shapes, sizes and design attributes to help players get the ball airborne with greater ease, keep the ball straight during flight, and land soft near the target. Iron distance has also become important in today’s souped up models.
  To the latter, Brian Bazzel, product marketing manager for TaylorMade Golf, says, "Distance drives the majority of the iron market now, and we've benefited from that by taking things we've learned to make our drivers long and using them in our irons. A lot of players say that iron distance isn't important, but when you give it to them they take it. We’ve also thrown out the conventional approach of batch-designing an iron set and instead design each iron individually. That's helped us dial in balanced distance-gaps from iron to iron and also improve accuracy, control and feel."
  "The iron market continues to evolve," adds Jay Hubbard, vice-president of marketing for Tour Edge Golf, "Design features, such as undercut cavities and multi-material construction, have allowed manufacturers to move weight low and away from the face for more forgiving designs. The movement of weight increases the club’s moment of inertia (its ability to resist twisting) to levels not previously seen. These technologies help golfers hit a higher with a more controlled launch. This in turn allows for stronger lofts, so golfers can hit the ball further and with more accuracy, while maintaining the trajectory they are accustomed to."
  As with drivers, putters, wedges and hybrids, today's irons are part of a brave new world, one in which we can improve our games and enhance the enjoyment of playing golf.
Let’s take a look at the best irons on the market.

       

Players Irons

Tester Comments: I have only hit these on the range but awesome looking, feeling, and sounding … Pure shots are effortless feeling while off center hits have minimal vibration … Nice clean look at address.

Adams Idea Pro a12
www.AdamsGolf.com • $799

Unique Features: Adams took the top-line of the CB1 and sole design of the CB2 and combined them in one set. A thin, 1/10th face increases ball speed. While weight pads in the heel and toe help optimize the center of gravity. Progressive heel/toe weighting provides extra stability in the #3 through #6 irons and allows for more workability in the short irons and wedges. Each is forged from 8620 carbon steel and triple milled on the face, grooves, and cavity with a black PVD finish.


Tester Comments: Love at first sight, holding these really makes you respect quality craftsmanship and design … The weighting is great … Like most Players irons the lack of distance is made up in their accuracy.

Bridgestone J40 cavity Back
www.BridgestoneGolf.com • $899

Unique Features: The J40 Forged CB’s traditional design is tailored for better golfers who prefer a classy no-frills look and thin top-line at address. Forged from 1020 Carbon Steel, the muscle back design places greater mass directly behind the hitting area for maximum workability. Relief at trailing edge, leading edge, toe, and heel along with a tapered sole aid in versatility and shot making. The J40’s compact head with a higher face progression provides enhanced control and feel.


Tester Comments: Classic looks, very clean looking … Turf interaction is great with these irons whether hitting from the fairway or in thicker lies in the rough … The performance backed up the looks.

Bridgestone J40 Dual pocket cavity
www.BridgestoneGolf.com • $899

Unique Features:
The Bridgestone J40 Dual Cavity Back Iron Set is constructed of forged 1020 carbon steel and has Dual Pocket cavity benefits, which removes discretionary weight to the perimeter for more forgiveness while providing more mass directly behind the hitting area for better feel. The tapered sole design offers versatility in shot-making for better performance from a variety of lies.


Tester Comments: Playability is very good and you don’t have to be a 5 HDCP to play well with this set. … These are lasers. Simply aim and shoot … The feel is like blades the forgiveness is like cast and the distance is explosive.

Mizuno MP-59
www.MizunoUSA.com • $899

Unique Features:
The Mizuno MP-59 iron the next generation of Mizuno’s Ti Muscle technology. With twelve grams of titanium are forged into the center of the head to enhance feel and allow higher-density steel to be moved to the heel and toe for increased stability, the MP-59 delivers full-cavity forgiveness in a player’s half-cavity design. The lightweight characteristics of the pure Titanium allows for the ideal amount of thickness behind the impact area to deliver consistent solid feel and increased perimeter weighting for enhanced playability.


Tester Comments: If your a good ball striker and like to maneuver the ball then these clubs are for you … more forgiving then any other blades … feel and sound are amazing.

Mizuno MP-69
www.MizunoUSA.com • $899

Unique Features: The Mizuno MP-69 iron is the latest traditional Mizuno muscle-back iron for which this company is famous for. The MP-69 was created by blending Mizuno’s PGA Tour Staff input with the latest state-of-the-art design and simulation tools. The MP-69 irons feature the newly developed 4D muscle design. A strategic weighting strategy from 3-Iron through PW to fine tune ensures ideal center of gravity placement in every iron throughout the set for ball control and a predictable trajectory.


Tester Comments: Feel is unbelievable, great distance control … Long irons are easy to hit. Short irons being blades are perfect for shaping your shots. Great feedback on miss-hits.

Nike VR Pro Combo
www.NikeGolf.com • $899

Unique Features: Using a linear center of gravity mapping process allowed Nike engineers to create irons designed to achieve the same peak height throughout the set, yet with a higher apex than last year’s VR Pro Combo set. The set transitions from pocket cavity to split-cavity and features a new forging process to create blades throughout the set for more precise shot-making. There is also a change to Nike’s new X3X high-frequency grooves for more consistent distance control. .


Tester Comments: Much more forgiving than others I tried and have given me more distance … A lot softer than you would expect from most cast irons on the market … Accurate, forgiving and can work the ball.

Ping i20
www.Ping.com
• $799/$999 Graphite

Unique Features: The Ping i20’s are a multi-metal iron set that optimizes performance through progressive set design. The forgiving, high-launching long irons blend into more-penetrating mid and short irons, offering control for more precise shot making. A dense tungsten toe weight provides forgiveness across the face for accuracy as well as a high-launch, low-spin trajectory. Distance control and a solid feel come from a thicker hitting area and stabilizing bars in the cavity. The set is finished off with a non-glare chrome finish and black-and-silver color


Tester Comments: The added forgiveness in the MC’s is a plus and the scoring irons feel like wedges … I am a mid handicap and these clubs are highly accurate and consistent.

TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC
www.TaylorMadeGolf.com • $899

Unique Features: A five-step process is used to forge these irons from 1025 carbon steel, and a nonadjustable weight port ensures a consistent swingweight throughout the set while at the same time ensuring perfect center of gravity positioning. This Tour-preferred set has a muscle cavity for more forgiveness on off-center hits with less offset designed to help better players make more consistent shots. The MC’s machined milled grooves and a 6 step forging process make these clubs very precise.


Tester Comments: The ball flight is penetrating, and the feel is great … Workability, distance, forgiveness, quality and good looks … Design allows me to hit the ball high when I need to; yet knock it down into the wind, great club.

Titleist AP2 Forged 712
www.Titleist.com • $1099

Unique Features: The AP2 712 is a multi-material, dual cavity iron that provides modern ball flight and forgiveness with the traditional look. The new AP2 model features sleeker contours that result in a better address position, and the iron has been improved with internal weighting that utilizes higher density tungsten in order to distribute mass more efficiently which increases the moment-of-inertia without changing the CG location or the blade length. The higher MOI provides more consistent ball speed across the clubface and better distance control.


Tester Comments: They have some heft to them and go right through the ball … Great turf interaction, do not dig …  As good as any Player’s iron on the market.

Tour Edge Exotics CB Forged
www.TourEdge.com • $

Unique Features:
Forged from 1025-carbon steel, the face is entirely CNC milled to supply the largest grooves and face-roughness allowed by the USGA. The milled face and head not only deliver unprecedented spin control, they deliver a strikingly superior feel. The blade’s heel and toe perimeter-weighted cavity lowers the center of gravity and a tour-beveled sole that promotes a cleaner ball striking by reducing turf interaction.


Tester Comments: Unbelievable feel on pure shots yet lets you know when you miss hit … Beautiful irons and great performers … Ball explodes through the air. No weak floaters.

Wilson FG tour
www.WilsonStaff.com • $110

Unique Features: The Wilson FG Tour is the latest offering in Wilson’s storied forged iron history. Precision forged from mild carbon steel, they incorporate minimally progressive off-sets, a square toe blade shape and a thin top line. The shallow cavity redistributes weight from the heel into the toe, positioning the center of gravity in the face and increasing the moment of inertia for stability and a more solid feel. The FG Tours feature a CNC-milled face and grooves and a strategically positioned higher center of gravity that delivers a higher spin rate for workability.



Player’s Choice Awards

Best Appearance
  Bridgestone J40 Cavity Back
  Mizuno MP-69
  Ping i20

Best Forgiveness
  Bridgestone J40 Dual Pocket Cavity
  Mizuno MP-59
  Nike VR Pro Combo
  Ping i20
  TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC
  Titleist AP2

Best Feel
  Bridgestone J40 Cavity Back
  Mizuno MP-69
  Titleist AP2

Best Consistency
Mizuno MP-59
TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC
Titleist AP2

Best Distance
  Ping i20

Bridgestone J40 Cavity Back
  Mizuno MP-59
  Mizuno MP-69
  Ping i20
  TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC
Titleist AP2
Wilson FG Tour

 

       

Game Imporvement Irons

                 
Tester Comments: Very forgiving and made forget about the other clubs I tried … Very workable and a great feel, even the miss-hits went a long distance … Innovative, Good Aesthetics

Adams Idea CB3 Black
              www.AdamsGolf.com
         
$799/$999 Graphite
             
             
Unique Features: The Idea Black CB3 Irons are engineered to provide the playability most players need with the look and feel they desire. The irons feature heel/toe perimeter weighting and a lower center of gravity to provide more forgiveness, while being forged from 8620 carbon steel to provide an excellent feel. Progressive sole widths allow for easier to hit long irons and accurate scoring clubs. Scoring clubs have improved bounce and camber to reduce turf interaction for more workability and control.

     

                 
Tester Comments: Love at first sight, holding these really makes you respect quality craftsmanship and design … The weighting is great … Like most Players irons the lack of distance is made up in their accuracy.

Cobra AMP
              www.CobraGolf.com
              $699/$799 Graphite
             
             
Unique Features: The 3- through 7-iron of the set use multiple materials (431 stainless-steel body and a high-strength hyper 17-4 steel face) to increase ball speed. The 431 stainless-steel short irons feature an undercut to concentrate weight in the heel and toe for forgiveness. A new sole design adds bounce to prevent digging. A full cavity TPU layer dampens vibration and provides exceptional feel, while E9 Face Technology creates a progressive face and cavity design to optimize distance, feel and forgiveness.
         


                 
Tester Comments: Amazed with the distance, they play almost a club longer … Straight and super forgiving … Game improvement at its best … Good feedback on miss-hits.

Mizuno  JPX 800
              www.MizunoUSA.com • $699
             

                Unique Features:
The forged JPX 800 features a milled cavity to create a thin face that Mizuno says delivers the fastest ball speed of any of its one-piece forged models. True Temper’s Dynalite Gold XP is a stock shaft offering. The irons are designed to offer forgiveness and explosive distance. MAX COR technology, hot face construction and exotic pocket cavity increases energy transfer to the ball for more distance and accuracy.
               


                 
Tester Comments: Fantastic distance and forgiveness without sacrificing look and feel … Mid to high ball flight with stock shaft that is low enough to eliminate ballooning and high enough to give you the maximum distance  … Sole and top-line are not too thick and not too thin

Nike VR S Forged
              www.NikeGolf.com • $999
             

      Unique Features:
The X3X groove pattern places more grooves closer together than is conventional to create more spin. Nike’s most technically advanced forged irons combine high-speed performance and meticulous craftsmanship for longer shots and better feel. The clubs feature the highest COR face in any forged iron and a design that moves the weight off the face. This combines to optimize launch for higher, straighter shots and maximum carry.


                 
Tester Comments: I was really taken back by the forgiveness … They have a really nice solid feel and sound, but still give you decent feedback on bad shots … I don’t hit them much further than other clubs, but they are more forgiving and straighter.

Ping G20
              www.Ping.com • $699/$899 Graphite
             
     
Unique Features: Among improvements to Ping’s hallmark iron line are a thin face to increase ball speed and a multi-material cavity badge that features soft elastomer in the heel and toe areas to improve feel and sound. A cavity floating CTP structure stabilizes the face, and an aluminum badge with elastomer heel and toe sections produces a solid feel and sound. The G20 set includes high-launching long irons that maximize the overall range and predictability


                 
Tester Comments: The clubs are very forgiving but give you the distance and accuracy that you need to hit most greens … Miss-hits go relatively straight with very little vibration … The short irons especially were very consistent and gave a nice ball flight that landed soft with a good amount of spin.

Taylormade R11
              www.TaylorMadeGolf.com
             
$799/$999 Graphite
             
             
Unique Features: A weight port is used to achieve precise swing weights and center of gravity locations in each iron in the R11 set, which features compact short irons and long irons with wider soles. Inspired by R11 driver innovation, the new irons have precision center-of-gravity placements, ultra-thin faces, a Tour sole design, and Inverted Cone Technology that makes the set powerful,  playable, and refined. A low and deeper center of gravity makes it easy to launch the ball on a powerful and penetrating flight.
     


                       
Tester Comments: High ball flight and extreme distance … The clubs are super easy to hit, regardless of condition (fairway, rough, tight or fluffy lie) and are very accurate … Even on pushed or pulled shots the ball still kept its line pretty well.

Taylormade RBZ
          www.TaylorMadeGolf.com
         
$699/$899 Graphite
               
         
Unique Features: The 3-, 4- and 5-irons in the RocketBalzz set are made from 455 Carpenter Steel and feature a hollow construction to maximize distance. The large face is very thin (as little as 1.8 millimeters in some spots) to optimize spring-like effect. A two-piece metal wood-inspired construction in the irons created a low center of gravity and a high COR, while the ultra-thin face flexes freely to promote the COR up to the USGA limit for high ball speed.


                 
Tester Comments: These have a great solid sound and a good penetrating flight with long irons and a mid high trajectory with the short irons … Aesthetically they are great improvement over the AP1 710’s … Very forgiving and very workable as well. The long irons are very easy to hit.

Titleist  AP1 712
              www.Titleist.com •   $799/$959 Graphite
             
     
Unique Features: To help prevent the club from twisting at impact and to maximize ball speed on off-center hits, designers took some weight from the topline, center bar and soleplate and moved it low on the toe on the AP1 712. The multi-material, dual cavity iron provides solid ball flight and forgiveness with the traditional look, feel, and sound that serious golfers have come to expect from a Titleist iron.


                 
Tester Comments: High ball flight makes for easy, soft landings … They feel great, and I get about 15 extra yards per club than any other iron I have tried … Long irons are as easy to hit as hybrids

Tour Edge Exotics XCG5
              www.TourEdge.com
              $499/$599 Graphite
             
             
Unique Features: To appeal to more players, the XCG-5 features a slightly thinner sole and less offset than the XCG-4. Four tungsten weights in the heel and toe drop the center of gravity and increase stability on off-center strikes. Two additional tungsten sole weights, a deeper undercut cavity and a thinner sole result in more versatility, while maintaining maximum forgiveness. A deeper undercut cavity moves more weight to the rear outer edges of the head for maximum stability.
         


                 

Tour Edge Exotics CU
              www.TourEdge.com • $499
             

      Unique Features:
At the core of the CU iron’s technology is its deep undercut cavity. The undercut moves weight away from the face and into the sole for a higher moment of inertia, a higher launch angle, and enhanced forgiveness. The CU’s cavity features extreme heel and toe weighting which improves accuracy on heel-toe hits while still allowing the player to feel and work each shot. The CU has reduced offset and a tour-beveled sole reducing the sole’s contact with the ground.


                 
Tester Comments: Mid flight, solid feel, off center hits have decent feedback… The look, the feel and the performance is top notch at a great price … As good looking a club as is on the market, relatively thin top line and relatively little offset.

Wilson Ci11
              www.WilsonStaff.com
              $525/$699 Graphite
             
     
Unique Features: Wilson has moved 54 grams of weight away from the center of the clubhead (34 grams to the toe and 20 grams to the heel) to create a thin face and stabilize the head on off-center strikes. A urethane badge behind the impact zone is designed to reduce vibration. There’s less offset in the short irons to improve workability. The sleek, black PVD Ci11 irons deliver maximum playability and the power and forgiveness for those wanting additional technology.



                                     

Player’s Choice Awards

Best Appearance
        Cobra AMP
        NIKE VR S Forged
        TaylorMade R11

         

Best Forgiveness
            Ping G20
            TaylorMade RBZ
            Tour Edge Exotics XGC5
            Best Feel
            Nike VR S Forged

         

Best Consistency
TaylorMade R11
Titleist AP1

     

Best Distance
Ping G20
TaylorMade RBZ
Tour Edge Exotics XGC5

         

Best Overall
          Cobra AMP
          Nike VR S Forged
          Ping G20
          TaylorMade R11
          TaylorMade RBZ
          Titleist AP1
        Tour Edge Exotics XGC

     

 

       

Super Game Imporvement Irons

                 
Tester Comments: This is a great looking set of super game improvement irons/hybrids … If you need long high and straight--these provide it in great amounts--along with massive amounts of forgiveness and world class hybrids.

adams a12 os Hybrid Irons
              www.AdamsGolf.com
             
$599/$699 Graphite
             
     
Unique Features: The idea a12 OS hybrids feature a lower profile than the company’s a7OS line. A revamped back-cavity design reduces more than half of the mass in the back wall, allowing weight to be moved to the perimeter to improve forgiveness. The set comes with three hybrids, two iron-like hybrids and three cavity-back irons. The irons are also built with ultra thin faces, perimeter weighting and low centers of gravity throughout the set.


                 
Tester Comments: Added at least 10 yards to my irons … Feel is a little heavy but ball sure flies off the face …  Very forgiving and easy to hit.

Mizuno JPX -800 HD
              www.MIzunoUSA.com
                $499/$599 Graphite
               
     
Unique Features: This iron set utilizes the distance-generating JPX technologies of Hot Metal and MAX COR. A wide sole featuring Mizuno’s new C-Grind, increased offset and thicker topline combine to create an easy, high ball flight. Following Mizuno’s Balanced Performance concept, the JPX-800 HD tapers down in size from the longer irons - to a workable mid-size pitching wedge.


                 
Tester Comments: Very Long- Very Forgiving, Easy to hit, Makes golf the way it should be fun & enjoyable … Distance can be a little inconsistent however it is worth it … definitely deliver what they promise in the way of high, long shots.

Nike VR-s
              www.NikeGolf.com
              $599/$699 Graphite
             

                Unique Features:
NIKE’s new NexCOR Face Technology brings driver face technology to the company’s irons for the first time and maximizes distance for the widest range of players through a new speed-expanding multi face thickness. The NexCOR Infinity design creates a bridge for ultra-thin, ultra-hot faces and “unmatched” ball speed from every club in the bag. A VR_S clubface delivers more distance by expanding the maximum COR zone from the low-center to the high-toe, where the majority of iron shots are struck.
     


                 
Tester Comments: These require no effort to hit the ball, so I get straighter shots and still get great distance … I have never hit the ball so high and far … Quality clubs that are easy to hit.

Ping K15
              www.Ping.com •  $999/$1099 Graphite
             

      Unique Features:
The wide sole on the K15 irons pushes the center of gravity low and back to help launch the ball high, and a titanium face saves 27 grams, which are redistributed to the perimeter to improve forgiveness. The standard set comes with one hybrid, and an option for two, three or four at no extra cost. A titanium face and steel body creates a higher moment of inertia for greater accuracy and consistent distance results across the club face, and a wide sole has a low and deep center of gravity to promote higher trajectories.


                 
Tester Comments: Hit both RBZ and RBZ Max, the RBZ Max are even longer than the RBZ’s … The ball literally rockets off the face with a nice high flight and a nice draw flight … Not the best looking but looks don’t matter when you are hitting the ball long and straight consistently.

Taylormade Rbz Max
              www.taylormadeGolf.com
              $1299/$1399 Graphite
             
     
Unique Features: The designers placed tungsten weights inside the hollow areas of the sole (mostly heel and toe) on the RocketBallz Max irons to improve forgiveness, and stiffened the clubface in the toe area to promote a draw. A tungsten sole-weight lowers and center of gravity to promote maximum energy transfer off turf, while the draw-biased head structure promotes distance-enhancing right-to-left flight. A new vibration and sound control system promotes satisfying feel and sound


                 
Tester Comments: Very forgiving and you don’t feel the hit even if off center … Lots of quality for the budget conscious golfer … Great feel, great distance and just the right amount of forgiveness for my game.

Tour edge HT Max D
              www.Touredge.com  • $450
             
             
Unique Features: The set’s progressive design can be seen in each iron’s different blade length, face height, top line, offset, bounce and MOI. The long irons (3-5) feature a wider, hybrid-like blade length, thicker sole, and progressive undercut cavity. The mid irons (6-7) feature a shorter blade length, less offset, more bounce and a smaller top line and sole for greater workability and shot making. The scoring irons (8-PW) feature a smaller undercut cavity, the least offset, the most bounce and a slightly larger sole than the mid irons.
     


                 
Tester Comments: These are extremely accurate and forgiving … My iron play was never better and I gained 10 yards per club … The feel and look is excellent, and it is a really easy club to swing.

Wilson Di11
              www.WilsonStaff.com
             
  $499/$599 Graphite
             
         
Unique Features: The Di11 features a low center of gravity, an ultra-wide sole, a largest sweet spot, and greater stability. The wide sole and low center of gravity pulls weight low to promote a higher ball flight, greater head stability and straighter ball flight, while Wide-Tip technology prevents twisting on off-center hits to produce straighter, longer ball flight. A coating of lightweight elastomer reduces vibration on off-center hits.



                                     

Player’s Choice Awards

Best Forgiveness
        Mizuno JPX-800 HD
        TaylorMade RBZ MAX

         

Best Feel
            Mizuno JPX-800 HD
            Wilson Di111
         

         

Best Consistency
            Adams idea a12 OS
            Mizuno JPX-800 HD
            Ping K15
            TaylorMade RBZ MAX
        Wilson Di11

     

Best Distance
Adams idea a12 OS
Nike VR S
TaylorMade RBZ MAX
Wilson Di11

         

Best Overall
            Adams idea a12 OS
            Mizuno JPX-800 HD
            TaylorMade RBZ MAX
      Wilson Di11