Appeared in Fall 2013 LINKS
Golf companies usually don’t introduce products in the fall, but three major manufacturers are offering new irons. Mizuno unveils the JPX-EZ, the first super game-improvement iron from a brand typically known for better players. The SpeedBlade from TaylorMade takes its successful pocket-sole technology to a higher level. And Titleist has overhauled its popular AP1 and AP2 models both technically and cosmetically. Other companies have recently brought out new irons, too.
Why the end-of-year debuts? The off-season is a great time to get used to a new set. But really, for serious golfers, the season never ends.
“It’s the biggest purchase in your bag, so people research them more than any club,” says Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade’s director of product creation for irons and putters. “But I’m not sure golfers realize how big the breakthroughs have been in the last few years. People will be blown away by the SpeedBlade. If you’re playing an iron that’s five years old, it’s not even close. It’s like going from a wood wood to a metal wood.”
If you don’t think iron technology has improved much in the 30 years since the introduction of the Ping Eye2—the first truly high MOI (moment of inertia) iron—think again. “The Eye2 was indeed a giant leap in terms of innovation,” says Marty Jertson, senior design engineer at Ping. “But to give you an idea how much irons have improved, we just launched our S55 iron on tour. This is our blade iron—small heel to toe, very thin sole, thin top rail. It’s no bigger than any muscle-back blade, and the MOI or forgiveness factor—meaning how far the ball will go if you miscue it a little toward the heel or the toe—is higher than the Eye2. That’s a good example of how far we’ve come in iron design.”
Irons have become more specialized, too, designed for specific player types and playing characteristics. “When I started at Callaway, we offered one iron, Big Bertha, and everyone played it, from high-handicap beginners to tour players,” says Luke Williams, Callaway’s senior director for global woods and irons. “If you go on our website now we have five different models in our iron line, all with many more options for shafts and ways to customize and fit them to your game. This means we can make a better iron for the individual golfer, no matter who that golfer is and regardless of their ability.”
With so many options, it’s vital to get professionally fitted. “Finding the proper model is important because there are many choices out there even within a single manufacturer’s lineup,” says Chris McGinley, vice-president of marketing at Titleist golf clubs. “Different models offer different levels of forgiveness, trajectory, and shot control. Finding the best model for the requirements of your game is step one. Dialing in the proper specification is critical to making those irons work their best for the golfer and swing.”
Visit a fitter with an outdoor, grass range because you want to see divot patterns and ball flight. Hitting indoors at a big-box store off an artificial mat into a net turns everyone into a plus-two handicap.
“A well-fit set of irons can make all the difference in your game,” says Chris Voshall, senior golf club engineer at Mizuno. “You’re going to hit them on virtually every hole. You’re going to have shorter putts, you’re going to be more consistent. It’s going to lead to all those things that lead to better scores.”