ClubTest 2006: Better-Player Irons

Fred Vuich

Bridgestone J33 Forged Cavity Back
$899, steel; $1,099 graphite; bridgestonegolf.com

WE TESTED: 3-PW with True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shaft

THE COMPANY LINE "The progressive muscle thickness enhances feel. The center of gravity makes long irons easier to square and short irons very stable thru impact."

OUR TESTERS SAID
Pros

  • "Simple, no-frills design for guys who are more about playing than displaying."—Barry Fasenmyer (handicap 6)
  • "I didn't arrive at ClubTest thinking, 'Wow, I'm testing Bridgestones,' but I'm thrilled I played them."—Jon Kotraba (10)
  • "Feel, balance and weight is consistent." —Jim Perzan (9)
  • "They feel crisp and firm rather than soft and buttery." —Jim Hurley (9)
  • "I feathered delicate shots and stood on J33s knowing they'd give me what I wanted."—Mike Nastasi (7)
  • "They follow instructions to a tee."—Anthony Spikes (1)
  • "Not overly long, but you can count on them."—Randy Rochefort (2)
  • Cons

  • "Sidespin sensitive so you won't get away with murder." —Chad Johnson (8)
  • Callaway X-Tour
    $1,280, steel; callawaygolf.com

    WE TESTED 3-PW with True Temper Action Lite steel shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "The face is laser welded to the body allowing us to incorporate patented 360-degree undercut channel technology to increase perimeter weighting in the club. The result is a pro-grade forged iron that delivers excellent workability, playability and control."

    OUR TESTERS SAID
    Pros

  • "I expected the cavity to limit my shot shaping. I was wrong: It's a players' cavity." —Randy Rochefort (handicap 2)
  • "In terms of forgiveness, there's very little drop-off from Callaway's game-improvement lines."—Hoai Hoang (8)
  • "They maneuver like Reggie Bush. You can hit draws, fades, knockdowns, high shots—they do it all."—Chad Johnson (8)
  • "Very responsive to a variety of lies."—Lee Neisler (2)
  • "They have a tremendous sweet spot, and better distance control than any Callaway iron I've hit."—Marshall Schattner (9)
  • Cons
  • "A dull, muted feel. Feedback was dampened by the cavity."—Charles Neivert (2)
  • Cleveland CG2
    $1,000, steel, $1,264, graphite; cleveland.com

    WE TESTED 3-PW with True Temper Dynalite Gold steel shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "Made of carbon metal matrix metal, these offer better players the forgiveness of a cavity back with workability of a blade."

    OUR TESTERS SAID
    Pros

  • "It communicates less-than-good shots, but so subtly, without jarring your hands. Even thin shots offered some softness."—Jon Kotraba (handicap 10)
  • "You can expand your bag of tricks with these shot-shaping weapons."—Randy Rochefort (2)
  • "On controlled swings around greens, they exhibit excellent distance and spin control."—Barry Fasenmyer (6)
  • "These are souped up. I'm pretty sure my 7-iron shouldn't go 175 yards."—Marshall Schattner (9)
  • "These clubs needed a warning label: these are long." —Dave Asaki (8)
  • Cons

  • "Whispers in your ear rather than screaming in your face. Not the flush feel of pure forged."—Jim Hurley (9)
  • MacGregor MacTec Forged M685
    $799, steel; $899, graphite; macgregor.com

    WE TESTED 3-PW with Royal Precision Rifle Flighted Lite steel shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "The 3- to 6-irons have a two-piece hollow body. The face and hosel are forged as a single structure; the back is plasma welded to it. You get forgiveness and distance of a hollow body with feel of forged."

    OUR TESTERS SAID
    Pros

  • "Pure hits are like a good shot of espresso—immediate, with added power." —Dave Asaki (handicap 8)
  • "Acceptable forgiveness. I should've paid more for mis-hits."—Chad Johnson (8)
  • "Long irons are a snap to get up."—Jon Kotraba (10)
  • "Better-than-expected help from a forged design."—Hoai Hoang (8)
  • "They encourage creativity, especially with trajectory."—Randy Rochefort (2)
  • "Long-iron lovers who eschew hybrids should look here."— Kirk Fischer (7)
  • Cons

  • "I prefer fewer graphics."—Mike Nastasi (7)
  • "Mis-hits are too firm. I expect softer feel from a forging."—Anthony Spikes (1)
  • Nickent 3DX Pro
    $749, steel; nickentgolf.com

    WE TESTED 3-PW with Nippon N.S. Pro 1180GH steel shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "The world's most playable player's iron combines the classic good looks of a blade with forgiveness. A new stainless steel alloy provides a soft, responsive feel. The tungsten-polymer insert removes vibration from impact."

    OUR TESTERS SAID
    Pros

  • "Looks like a player's club in a game-improvement body."—Jim Hurley (handicap 9)
  • "It has an almost gameimprovement level of help."—Barry Fasenmyer (6)
  • "A subdued, soft feel."—Chad Johnson (8)
  • "The 3DX Pro is long and so easy to hit straight."—Lee Neisler (2)
  • "The distance loss is minimal on mis-hits."—Hoai Hoang (8)
  • Cons

  • "Good shots are not as rewarding feel-wise as they should be."—Randy Rochefort (2)
  • "Effortless to hit straight shots but working the ball is more difficult than with other irons tested."—Mike Nastasi (7)
  • Ping i5
    $920, steel; $1,160, graphite; pinggolf.com

    WE TESTED 3-PW with CS Lite steel shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "A larger, thinner custom tuning port improves feel. The sole width, reduced offset and cavity size are created for forgiveness and playability."

    OUR TESTERS SAID
    Pros

  • "An uncanny combination of workabaility and forgiveness."—Chad Johnson (handicap 8)
  • "The moderate offset promotes a draw, but I had no problem creating different shots."—Anthony Spikes (1)
  • "The i5 squeezes out distance on mis-hits. Heavy shots carry surprisingly well."—Jon Kotraba (10)
  • "Mis-hits aren't penalized as much as with comparable clubs."—Mike Nastasi (7)
  • "Output on slight misses is largely the same as center hits." —Lee Neisler (2)
  • Cons

  • "It set up a bit more closed than I'm accustomed to."—Hoai Hoang (8)
  • "Impact with the i5 is a little harsh on mis-hits."—Charles Neivert (2)
  • Mizuno MP-60
    $1,200, steel; mizunousa.com

    WE TESTED 3-PW with True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "Grain Flow Forged MP-60 is 4 percent larger and has a 10 percent larger sweet area when compared to the MP-32."

    OUR TESTERS SAID
    Pros

  • "The styling is pristine." —Dave Asaki (handicap 8)
  • "The ball seems to stay on the face for ages."—Jon Tate (4)
  • "The MP-60s enable you to hit shots that are not possible with others."—Jon Kotraba (10)
  • "When your swing is on, you could call your shots. They are money around greens, too." —Marshall Schattner (9)
  • "Not much sidespin correction, but more than I expect from a compact, bladelike design. Plus, the long irons get up quicker and easier than with MP-32s."—Hoai Hoang (8)
  • Cons

  • "Feedback is a touch sweeter in MP-32s."—Barry Fasenmyer (6)
  • "Not quite as forgiving as they look—no more helpful than MP-32s."—Lee Neisler (2)
  • How They Stacked Up
    Club MacGregor
    MacTec Forged M685
    Nickent
    3DX Pro
    Callaway
    X-Tour
    Ping
    i5
    Cleveland
    CG2
    Bridgestone
    J33 Forged Cavity Back
    Mizuno
    MP-60
    Look 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars
    Feel 3 stars 3 stars 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 5 stars 5 stars
    Playability 4 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars 5 stars
    Forgiveness 3 stars 5 stars 4 stars 5 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars
    Distance 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 5 stars 5 stars 4 stars 4 stars
    Total Performance 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4.5 stars 4.5 stars

    More From the Web

    HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
    OUT
    HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
    IN