The Best of the New 2007 Irons
By: Dr. Barry Lotz
Guess what? There really is no “best” set in irons. Why? Simple – that set that works best for you, after being fit, is going to be your “Best”. Once found, this category of a player’s equipment is the least suspect to be routinely changed.
2007’s irons are technology and material composition marvels and as with all the new drivers and putters, MOI (Moment of Inertia) and COG (Center of Gravity) take front stage.
Depending on each manufacturer’s marketing budget and R &D departments, messages will be disseminated hyping that company’s irons over the next. The fact remains that the majority of manufacturers all produce great product.
What is left for you as the consumer is to see what best suits your eye and pocketbook and find that set that works for you. Don’t be afraid to try last year’s models of the expensive sets. The difference between each year’s models is not that radical for the average golfer to discern except for two models; the Cleveland HiBore and the TaylorMade r7 Draw sets.
Cleveland HiBore Irons
At the time of writing of this article there is not a more popular set of irons available on the market. Retailers are bemoaning the fact that access to additional sets are hard, if not impossible, to come by. Golfers are snapping these clubs up by pre-ordering.
The HiBORE irons are specifically designed for the mid-to-high handicap player.
The set’s “Full Hollow” construction allows for a 28% larger effective hitting area to provide extremely forgiving and easy-to-hit irons. The iron’s progressive sole width promotes proper ball striking by supporting a shallow attack angle in the long irons and a progressively steeper attach angle through the wedge for optimized launch conditions.
To produce an effective visual transition from long to short irons, Cleveland utilized their HiBORE Distance Driven Geometry found in their HiBORE Driver and HiBORE Hybrid. Cleveland’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is that the irons feature an oversized cup-face structure and that the club face and hosel are cast as one piece, thereby expanding the sweet spot.
MSRP: $599.00 – Steel $699.00 – Graphite
TaylorMade r7 Draw Irons
As the most popular golf brand in the world, TaylorMade continues to redefine golf equipment from drivers to putters. They have done a remarkable job again with the r7 Draw irons.
Benefiting the higher handicapper specifically, these irons are the most “buttery” feeling irons on the market. Many of our testing group raved at their ability to hit straight iron shots and appreciated how responsive these irons felt and performed especially as it cut through the rough. Most importantly, there was very little distance sacrificed between solid shots and slight misses; it simply does not slice.
The r7 Draw-weighted technology promotes a straight shot for players prone to slicing. TaylorMade’s fabulously successful ‘Inverted Cone’ technology, set in the face, helps to maximize distance on mis-hits. Inverted Cone Technology changes the way the clubface behaves and increases the size of the COR zone, promoting consistent increased ball speed and distance on mis-hits.
The iron’s wide cambered sole makes it very easy to play from a variety of lies.
The r7 Draw irons are equipped with lightweight shafts (T Step 90-gram steel or RE*AX™ 55 55-gram graphite shafts) to promote higher clubhead speed and a strong release for more distance.
Introduced late in 2006 as Titleist’s flag ship iron, the 755 is a contemporary styled, mid-sized, cavity-backed forging iron offering superb enhanced playability and control, more so than the previous 704 CB. The 755 is perfectly positioned between the current Forged 735.CM and 775.CB blended iron sets offered by Titleist.
The 755 is constructed from a soft, 410 stainless steel, by a precise multi-step patented forging process that allows for a thinner face, higher volume cavity and exact placement of inner cavity weighting. The result is a lower center of gravity (CG) position that provides for easy-up launch with a mid-high ball flight and blade-like control.
Additionally, with the use of a T-6 6061 forged aluminum insert, the thin face is reinforced for strength and durability and significantly reduces vibration for greater shot feedback.
By using dual hosel lengths, weight is relocated lower in the 2 through 7 irons for easier initial launch, while longer hosels in the 8 through PW raise the CG slightly for superior knockdown control.
Overall, these irons are amongst the best irons currently available on the market.
As probably the most sought after brand for the golf cognoscenti, Mizuno has introduced four models that are amongst the most popular.
The MP-67 is a sleek blade-like iron that uses Mizuno’s “Slender” Cut Muscle Design and is aimed primarily for the advanced player who likes forged, muscle-back irons. According to the company, this design “allows the player complete ball control by pin-pointing the COG (center of gravity) inside the muscle back design.”
The cambered sole of the MP-67 allows the player precise shot making capability from all types of lies. The MP-67 long irons achieve a mid-high trajectory, while the scoring irons deliver a mid trajectory.
These irons are the epitome of a player’s set of irons.
For the higher handicappers, Mizuno also has out two new MX (MX means “game improvement” while MP means “game enhancement”) versions, the MX-19 and the MX-25.
The MX-25 is for the low-to-mid handicapper. It has a HEMI pocket cavity that is wide, deeper and longer than ever before in order to move weight further down and away from the face. The MX-25TM iron delivers a massive sweet area along with the new three dimensional “X” Back cavity pad for maximum forgiveness on off-center hits and increased solid feel.
MSRP: $749.00 – Steel $849.00 Graphite
The MX-19 is for the mid-to-high handicapper. It features an oversized head, extremely low and deep center of gravity and an extra-wide sole to increase ease of launch and deliver consistent ball striking ability from all types of lies.
U-grooves are employed to produce the ideal spin rate for maximum playability in all conditions.
MSRP: $549.00 – Steel $649.00 Graphite
Lastly, the MP-FLI-HI irons, which are hybrids, are designed to help players hit longer irons better.
The MP FLI-HI irons were created to be a direct replacement for difficult to hit long irons. Each MP FLI-HI can be fitted and included within any and all iron sets.
These MP FLI-HITM irons deliver a high ball launch and trajectory, pin-point distance control, and a soft landing from long distances.
The irons are available only in lofts of 2 (18°), 3 (21°) and 4 (24°).
MSRP: $129.00 – Steel $149.00 – Graphite
Adams Idea A2 OS Irons
Adams is continuing to make a name for themselves with their Idea hybrid irons. Their new Idea A2 OS Irons are selling extremely well.
The set features four progressively shaped hybrids integrated to fit perfectly into a set of irons.
The center of gravity is 11% lower and 2.5 times deeper when compared to conventional irons which allow the CG to flow evenly and consistently through the set delivering high launch, increased distance & precise gapping.
Its 30% higher MOI (vs. conventional irons) provides more forgiveness and its wide sole designs offers a friendly, easy to hit set of irons from all lies and playing conditions.
It will be interesting to see whether Cleveland or Adams proves to be the most popular of this style of hybrid irons.
MSRP: $499.00 – Steel $599.00 – Graphite
Nike Golf’s CCi irons
The new Nike CCi irons – Composite Cavity Insert (CCi) Cast and Forged irons – “combine classic clean lines with cutting edge technology” and are specifically targeted to mid-to-low handicap golfers.
Nike Golf’s CCi irons feature inserts comprised of two key components, a high-density tungsten weight plug and a feel enhancing polymer. The tungsten weight plug creates a lower CG (Center of Gravity) position to increase forgiveness while the polymer dampens vibration for a softer feel.
Both the Cast and Forged CCi’s provide a clean design with a CNC Milled Face for more predictable distances and shot patterns. The CCi Cast irons, which are made from 431 stainless steel which are 25% softer than the commonly used 17-4 stainless steel, feature a thicker topline, more offset and a wider sole than the CCi Forged irons. The CCi Cast irons also incorporate two polymer filled sole ports that further dampen vibration to achieve a softer feel than a conventional cast clubhead. The CCi Forged irons deliver the thin topline, minimal offset, feel (1025 Carbon Steel clubhead) and high level of workability that the accomplished player prefers.
MSRP: $799.00 – Steel $899.00 – Graphite
How does a small golf club company go from being a one-product wonder to having almost their entire line in play on the PGA Tours?
Well, it hasn’t been done for a while, but Nickent Golf is starting to do just that on the Nationwide and PGA tours this year. Nickent has signed a slew of staff players on the PGA and Nationwide Tours and wanted their irons to be the most playable “player’s” iron on the range.
Part of their enormous success and acceptance by Tour players and the general golfing public, lies in innovative design and having master club designer John Hoeflich on their team.
Following their great success with the original 3DX Pro Irons, the 2007 model was modified slightly for a more “player-like” shape and the transition is further differentiated by green paint on the 3DX logo instead of the original red.
What makes these irons so terrific is that it feels like a forged blade iron, but has the forgiveness of a cavity back. It’s what Hoeflich describes as Artificial Intelligence. The 3DX Pro Irons’ technology is driven by a Tungsten-Polymer Insert, which allows players to easily work the ball. Numerous sets of the modified 3DX Pro irons are now in play on tour.
Yonex Cyberstar Nanospeed Irons
Yonex did a great job with their C280 and VX irons series being amongst the best irons available on the market.
Now, with the Nanospeeds, Yonex has moved into the super star domain of iron manufacturers.
The Cyberstar Nanospeed multi-material irons are equipped with elastomer (a fancy word for rubber), sandwiched between two graphite plates behind an ultra thin stainless steel face. The combination of graphite and elastomer increases the repulsion power (“spring like face”) at impact without sacrificing feel and workability. What makes elastomers special is that they can be stretched to many times their original length, and can bounce back into their original shape without permanent deformation.
As with the continuing trend by manufacturers to incorporate a different design feature to maximize performance and playability throughout the set by “grouping” into three, – long, mid, and short irons, the Cyberstar Nanospeed irons have taken a similar tact.
The long irons (#3 – #5) feature a hollow head design to produce a high launch distance iron with ultimate distance and forgiveness on off-center hits and a more consistent trajectory. An elastomer and graphite hollow head construction, behind a thin steel face filter out any undesirable vibrations for optimum feel while maximizing distance.
The mid irons (#6 – #9) feature a cavity back design for superior distance control, shot making precision and forgiveness. Again, the graphite and elastomer head construction dampens any unwanted shock for enhanced feel.
The short irons (PW, AW & SW) feature a half-cavity blade-like head for softer landing approach shots with unmatched spin performance, forged iron type balance and feel for “pin-point” accuracy.
Overall, the Nanospeeds perform admirably and their aesthetics are among the best available.
F2 Plus Series
Following their successful introduction of their F2 wedges, Face Forward Technologies have now brought the NEW F2 Plus Series Irons to market.
The F2 Irons are designed with a graduated sole, whereby, the thickness of the sole increases from the 4 iron to the pitching wedges. The weight positioned between the sole and cavity back allows a gap between the club face and rear flange promoting a larger sweet spot and softer feel off the club face.
With the face forward and hosel back, the positioning of your hands is automatically set in the correct face forward position. The F2 irons produce less drag, less shanks, straighter and more consistent shots which are now more the norm than the exception.
The iron set is available in 4-PW with proprietary graphite shafts, regular or stiff flex.
Bob Burns No Bananas Iron Set
Having the same problems with your irons as with your driver? Help is available in the form of the Bob Burns No Bananas Iron set.
No Bananas irons are designed to incorporate moveable weight technology with interchangeable heel and toe weighting by the use of various aluminum, brass, stainless steel or dense tungsten screws in different weights.
Golfers have a choice of tuning the moment of inertia (MOI) or the weight bias of each individual iron in the set. These options allow the golfer to modify both swing weight and variable center of gravity specifications to achieve specific flight patterns.
An offset hosel construction helps square the clubface and promotes ultimate draw bias flight dispersion.
Depending on the golfer’s degree of push, fade or slice, the weight screws can be used either in the toe area or heel area to produce the perfect shot.
The iron’s wide contoured, cambered sole and deep cavity back design further contribute to provide the ultimate sweet spot area for consistent and purer shots.
MSRP: $449.99 – Steel $649.99 – Graphite
Tour Edge Exotics EX-3 Irons
Coming on the heels of their phenomenal Exotics CB 2 Hybrids, Tour Edge has introduced their multi-materials irons. Wow!
By using a patented inner-cup face design, the EX-3 claims to be the only iron to produce a .83 rebound. This dynamic performance is the result of a heady mix of unique features that separate the EX-3 from the crowd.
The EX-3 features a forged titanium cup face encased in a hollow, stainless steel body and complimented with a Thermal Plastic Elastomer (TPE) dampening insert.
The cupped face gives the EX-3 solidity and robustness that allows more weight to be shifted to the iron’s sole, thereby producing both a super-high moment of inertia and a lower center of gravity.
Further enhancing the club’s performance, the cup’s perimeter rim is milled to remove material from the edge of the face, thereby insuring a maximum rebound of .83 COR on every iron and a softer, livelier feel at impact. The steel body magnifies the spring effect by restricting and directing the rebound out and away from the face.
The club’s 304 stainless steel hollow body moves excess weight to the outer edges of the club head. The extra perimeter weighting along with the TPE insert keeps off-center hits online and reduces the vibration associated with miss-hits.
Bottom-line is that the EX-3 delivers the performance, feel and distance that elude many of the other products currently available on the market.
MSRP: $679.00 – Steel $899.00 – Graphite
Callaway X20 Irons
Best known for their ease of use in all categories of equipment, especially the X Series of irons, Callaway’s new X20s are one of their best sets designed. Mid to high handicappers are going to be the most enamored and appreciative of these irons.
The X20 iron has a very traditional Callaway look; the short hosel is an unmistakable aspect of Callaway design. Aside from their great aesthetics, the feel, the distance and pure joy one receives from using these irons, should rank the X20 way up near the top as one of the very best iron sets ever manufactured!
The thicker top line and moderate offset imbues forgiveness into the mind of the player. The slightly thicker sole prevents digging for added forgiveness when you hit slightly behind the ball. This year’s model has had its CG lowered by 6% over the X-18s producing a better feel.
The staple core technologies of the X Series- Extreme Notch Weighting for weight distribution to produce a higher MOI (for greater stability and forgiveness), together with 360° Undercut Channeling (for maximizing perimeter weight and producing a larger sweet spot), Variable Face Thickness and S2H2 are incorporated in the X 20.
The graphics inserted into the back of the club help to dampen vibrations and give the X20 a much softer feel than any previous X series irons. With the focus on making these clubs more forgiving, you can expect to sacrifice some control over trajectory and ball flight. The ball launches higher and will fly straighter which is a very good option for most players.
MSRP: $524.99 – Steel $899.99 – Graphite
The X-20 is also available in a Tour version.
MSRP: $699.99 – Steel $799.99 – Graphite
Sit vis vobiscum – May the Driving Force be with you
Barry Lotz, J.D., Ph.D. is the director of the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, the California Golf Writers Association, and serves both as a Consultant and Mediator to the golf industry. He is also the author of numerous books, including “333 Best Web Sites for Golfers” and his current book, “How to Build Business Relationships Through Golf” is in the Top Ten Golf Business Book’s best seller list.