ClubTest 2006: Game-Improvement Irons

Fred Vuich

Callaway X-18
$880 steel; $1,120 graphite; callawaygolf.com

WE TESTED: 3-PW with System 75 CW and System 85 CW graphite shaft

THE COMPANY LINE "Our 'Extreme' notch weighting produces amazing stability and solid, crisp feel to maximize playability. A deeper 360-degree undercut channel maximizes perimeter weighting."

OUR TESTERS SAID

Pros

  • "Blue and black details and dramatic cavity make it the most attractive Callaway to date."—Jeff McKinney (handicap 15)
  • "Johnny Mathis-like soft sound at impact."—Kevin DiNapoli (19)
  • "A reliable, if unspectacular performer. It accounts for bad swings and rewards good ones."—Ken Stauffer (14)
  • "Keeps shots in play, even in strong crosswinds and out of tough spots."—Don Ytterberg (15)
  • "These really drive through high grass."—Eric English (12)
  • "With a little adjustment, shots from uphill and downhill lies come out fine."—Victor DeMarco (12)
  • Cons

  • "Would prefer more head feel during the swing."—Jeff Bones (10)
  • Cleveland CG4
    $864, steel; $1,129, graphite; clevelandgolf.com

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

    THE COMPANY LINE "Our first game-improvement iron made from light density CMM metal. The CG4 has our patented V.A.S. dampening technology to further reduce shock."

    OUR TESTERS SAID

    Pros

  • "Crisp in my ears and soft in my hands. What more could I want from sound and feel?"—Doug Lair (handicap 10)
  • "It's a light head that remains stable through impact."—Eric English (12)
  • "Corrects weak shots well."—Michael Jo (14)
  • "Mis-hits with the CG4s hang in there distance-wise." —Kevin DiNapoli (19)
  • "No surprises or jumpers here."—Jeff McKinney (15)
  • "Shots from awkward lies are hardly a challenge."—Stacey Fitts (17)
  • "So what if the results aren't electric. If you crave consistency from shot to shot, club to club, they'll satisfy."—Ken Stauffer (14)
  • Cons

  • "I couldn't turn shots much at all."—Gary Wilson (13)
  • Mizuno MX-900
    $1,264, steel, $1,408, graphite; www.mizunousa.com

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

    THE COMPANY LINE "Our hybrid set includes forged 3-7 irons with 'Hollow Technology' for easy launch and maximum forgiveness, and one-piece forged 8-PW for ultimate feel and control."

    OUR TESTERS SAID

    Pros

  • "Not crazy for the look of hybrid-like long irons but the offset softens through the set and the topline is thinner in short irons."—Lynn Altadonna (handicap 15)
  • "Cottony soft at impact, with no spine-rattling vibrations."—Kevin DiNapoli (19)
  • "Easy launch and plenty of forgiveness. Just about any swing gets the ball airborne with ease."—Stacey Fitts (17)
  • "The MX-900 long irons are the big news. They reduced dispersion by one-third compared to mine."—Gary Wilson (13)
  • "There's a gallon of forgiveness here in a quart-sized head."—Doug Lair (10)
  • Cons

  • "All my shots flew high. These controlled me; I didn't control them." —Roger Liau (17)
  • Nike Slingshot Tour
    $799, steel; nikegolf.com

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

    THE COMPANY LINE "For players who prefer a classic profile packed with modern technology. A shallow design and minimal offset allow for shot-shaping creativity."

    OUR TESTERS SAID

    Pros

  • "The less-beefy, less-offset look is easier to aim than the original Slingshot." —Don Ytterberg (handicap 15)
  • "More forgiving than blades, but they still keep me honest."—Stacey Fitts (17)
  • "Versatile, but not so sensitive that consistency is a problem."—Michael Jo (14)
  • "Nice middle ground between a player's and game-improvement club."—Jeff Bones (10)
  • "They offer workability, finesse-shot capability and bad-lie versatility."—Doug Lair (10)
  • "These hit it higher than most."—Eric English (12)
  • Cons

  • "Mis-hits are sometimes numbing."—Kevin DiNapoli (19)
  • "I expected more feedback, given the 'Tour' name."—Jeff McKinney (15)
  • Ping G5
    $920, steel; $1,160 graphite; pinggolf.com

    WE TESTED 3-PW with CS Lite steel shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "G5 offers extreme perimeter weighting. It has a wide sole for high launch and Custom Tuning Port (CTP) to stabilize the face and dampen vibration for a solid, pleasing feel."

    OUR TESTERS SAID

    Pros

  • "I want these in my bag in pressure situations. All over the face, the distance and direction is reliable and consistent."—Doug Lair (handicap 10)
  • "They take sidespin down to nil."—Gary Wilson (13)
  • "They don't let the ball go offline; I believe these could fix a flat."—Don Ytterberg (15)
  • "High and straight was the recipe for the day."—Kevin DiNapoli (19)
  • "Soft and cuddly. No harm came to my hands."—Roger Liau (17)
  • Cons

  • "At times, the offset causes more left than I wanted."—Stacey Fitts (17)
  • "Chipping from tight lies takes some getting used to."—Victor DeMarco (12)
  • TaylorMade r7 XD
    $1,032, steel; $1,200, graphite; taylormadegolf.com

    WE TESTED 3 (15°), 5 (19°) and 7 (21°) with Fujikura graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "Inverted Cone technology in the rear of the face increases the COR zone to deliver higher initial ball speed and longer, higher shots at a consistent distance."

    OUR TESTERS SAID

    Pros

  • "These distance demons are consistently one club longer than my irons."—Jeff McKinney (handicap 15)
  • "They cover up just about everything on mis-hits."—Stacey Fitts (17)
  • "A great club for masking your swing errors."—Gary Wilson (13)
  • "Been a long time since I hit a 3-iron as well as this one."—Roger Liau (17)
  • "Hit it on the sweet spot—nothing. But hit it anywhere else and your hands know the location of impact." —Tom Jennings (12)
  • "They're just plain fun to hit."<—strong>Lynn Altadonna (15)
  • Cons

  • "The long blade has trouble getting through the rough."—Jeff Bones (10)
  • "I struggled with the big head to handle all types of on-course situations."—Michael Jo (14)

    Wilson Ci6
    $899, steel; $999, graphite; wilsongolf.com

    WE TESTED 3-PW with Nanotech by UST graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "For players seeking maximum control in a more traditional look. An elastomeric damping layer in the cavity reduces the head's resonant frequency."

    OUR TESTERS SAID

    Pros

  • "A player's club look, but game-improvement performance." —Stacey Fitts (handicap 17)
  • "Reminiscent of classic Wilson Staffs—with a fatter top line."—Tom Jennings (12)
  • "Communicates with me from takeaway through contact." —Gary Wilson (13)
  • "The biggest surprise of the week. It's the nimblest of the bunch, the ball flies one club longer and misses get a second chance."—Roger Liau (17)
  • "I was shocked by the consistently long length of the short irons."—Eric English (12)
  • "No problem in wet, heavy rough. The heads cut right through it."—Jeff Bones (10)
  • "Three words come to mind: performance, reliability and consistency."—Ken Stauffer (14)
  • "Nicely weighted head and graphite shaft provide a cushioned sensation for constructive feedback."—Michael Jo (14)
  • "Feels as though the face gripped the ball." —Victor DeMarco (12)
  • Cons

  • "The graphite shaft is too light for me. Would like to whack 'em in steel."—Doug Lair (10)
  • How They Stacked Up
    Club Nike
    Slingshot Tour
    Callaway
    X-18
    Ping
    G5
    Cleveland
    CG4
    Mizuno
    MX-900
    TaylorMade
    r7 XD
    Wilson
    Ci6
    Look 3 stars 4 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars
    Feel 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars 4 stars 4 stars
    Playability 3 stars 3 stars 5 stars 5 stars 4 stars 5 stars 4 stars
    Forgiveness 3 stars 3 stars 5 stars 5 stars 4 stars 5 stars 5 stars
    Distance 3 stars 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars 5 stars
    Total Performance 3 stars 3 stars 3.5 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4.5 stars

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