GOLF Magazine reviews and tests max game-improvement irons designed for high-handicap golfers.

1 of 10 Schecter Lee
GOLF Magazine Clubtest 2008: Max Game-Improvement Irons GOLF Magazine asked a group of golfers just like you who have a handicap between 15 and 23 to rate and review the newest maximum game-improvement irons. See which they like the best. Adams Idea a3 OS $599, steel; $699, graphite We tested: 3-PW in Grafalloy ProLaunch Platinum graphite shaft. Shaft length/loft (6-iron): 38.25"/28° Company line: Our hybrids (3, 4 and 5) have 'Boxer' technology, which results in high MOI for more forgiveness and a straighter and longer ball flight. Iron-like hybrids (6- to 8-iron) have more weight low and back for high-launching, easy-to-hit approach shots." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: These deliver high, straight shots with great consistency; hybrids are extra-long off the tee; stable and well balanced throughout the swing; shots hold their desired line; no harsh feedback to speak of; meaty clubhead is clearly noticeable throughout the swing; reliable distances from fairway and rough. CONS: Testers find that executing delicate chips with the big clubhead can be a challenge; little feel on chips, impact is heard rather than felt; the different colors and contours can be distracting. "Very good distance forgiveness on toe or heel hits." — Peter Kraus (20) Rate and Review this club
2 of 10 Schecter Lee
Tour Edge GeoMax $399, steel; $449, graphite We tested: 3-PW in GeoMax Precision Microtaper steel shaft. Shaft length/loft (6-iron): 37.75"/29° Company line: "Fifteen-gram tungsten screw weights, in the heel and toe, increase MOI and turn the entire face into one large sweet spot. The deep undercut cavity has a thermal plastic elastomer coating for soft, more responsive feel." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Very forgiving, seems to actively fight to keep shots online; its thick topline, super-wide sole and big offset are comforting to the higher handicapper; easy to find the heavy head during the swing; you'll like these if you like straight; smooth, easy to hit and easy on the hands; delivers a high, easy ball flight; one of the longer clubs in the test; little distance penalty on misses. CONS: Lacks acute feel— don't expect surgical touch around the green; not the prettiest one at the dance; pretty much dictates what it's going to do rather than vice versa. "Its ever-forgiving face and large sole let you get by without going hybrid." — Andy Simon (23)
3 of 10 Schecter Lee
TaylorMade r7 CGB Max $1,099, steel; $1,299, graphite We tested: 4-PW in REAX SuperFast Black Steel 90 steel shaft. Shaft length/loft (6-iron): 37.25"/26° Company line: "The large head employs tungsten weights for greater stability. Our 'inverted cone technology' promotes higher ball velocity on off-center hits for greater distance. Hollow topline contributes to easy launch and towering, distance-enhancing flight." Voted Best for Feel Our Test Panel Says: PROS: A great overall performer; excellent distance from any situation; goes where you want it and forgives all but the worst sins; repeatable high flight; easy escapes from rough; sweet, pured feel on good hits plus enough feedback (but not harsh) on misses; two thumbs up for cosmetics, due to masculine profile, satin topline and shiny finish. CONS: Minor complaints only: hard to stop shots from downhill lies; less draw-bias than many others could be trouble for chronic slicers. "Forgiving and forceful at the same time." — Roger Liau (20) Rate and Review this club
4 of 10 Credit: Schecter Lee
Nike Sasquatch Sumo $699, steel; $899, graphite We tested: 4-9, PW, AW in Speed Step SL steel shaft. Shaft length/loft (6-iron): 37.75"/30° Company line: "Our 'PowerBow' design and ultra-light Cryo Steel face [in 4- to 7-irons] deliver an expanded COR and high moment of inertia. The polyurethane insert [yellow] in the back cavity dampens unwanted impact vibration." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Good directional forgiveness, enough control and accuracy to keep you in play on slight mis-hits; clubface delivers respectable distance on well-struck tee balls; Attack wedge is a useful short game tool; significant upgrade over original Slingshot in terms of look and feel; blows through light rough; plenty of sole weight gets shots airborne easily. CONS: Heel or toe hits cost you distance; feedback to the hands could be more than some people are looking for; sweet spot seems smaller than many others tested; yellow insert in the cavity detracts from the club's overall appearance. "Well-balanced head cuts through light and medium rough." — Jim Esther (20) Rate and Review this club
5 of 10 Schecter Lee
Nicklaus Polarity MTR $449, steel; $549, graphite We tested: 3 (21°) Claw hybrid, 4 (24°) Claw hybrid in Precision Rifle Black graphite shaft and 5-PW in FST Pro Silver Ultra Light steel shaft. Shaft length/loft (6-iron): 37.5"/29° Company line: "This offers maximum twist resistance (MTR) due to extreme polar weight distribution. You'll get tighter shot dispersion due to the highest Moment of Inertia in the industry. The heads include a feel-enhancing urethane insert." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Good contact rewards you with string-straight shots; highest MOI iron in this test covers up toe misses, in terms of distance and direction; hybrids are easy to control, even from rough; more feedback than your average max game-improvement club; repeating high flight. CONS: Mis-hits elicit harsh vibrations; surprisingly, irons seem to twist in the rough; many testers find these play shorter than others; don't love the look. "Straight-hitting clubs, best for those who spray the ball." — Eric Jack (17)
6 of 10 Schecter Lee
Mizuno MX-950 $899, steel; $999, graphite We tested: 3-PW in Exsar IS2 graphite shaft. Shaft length/loft (6-iron): 37.25"/30° Company line: "This hybrid iron set delivers ease of launch, unparalleled forgiveness and maximum game-improvement playability. The 3- and 4-hybrids have internal tungsten weights for massive MOI, and deliver high, straight, ultra-forgiving shots." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: A top-shelf, all-around performer; forged short irons provide discernible feedback around the green; among the best for forgiveness, there seems to be no situation it can't handle; you'll know where you hit these on the face; workability can be a real feature for those looking for it; the top hybrid transition set tested; a precise instrument when chipping. CONS: Enhanced feel works both ways, this set can sting on a bad shot; a few testers are left wanting more from hybrids out of rough. "A combo set that provides a good option from every lie." — Kevin DiNapoli (19) Rate and Review this club
7 of 10 Schecter Lee
Cobra UFi $899, steel; $999, graphite We tested: 4-GW in Graphite Design YS-60 graphite shaft. Shaft length/loft (6-iron): 37.5"/28° Company line: "The metal-matrix face— 65 percent lighter than steel and 35 percent lighter than titanium— allows more mass to be moved to the club's perimeter, for ultimate forgiveness, along with ultra-soft feel." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: In the top two at negotiating uneven lies; good sticks from fairway or rough; for whatever reason, the UFi truly shines off a short tee; predictably high ball flight; pleasing head shape; smooth impact feel, never harsh, regardless of how you strike it; so easy to set up to; rips through thick grass; enough versatility to let someone play different shots from fairway or tee. CONS: Critics find that center and off-center contact feels rather similar; chips could use more 'check' so they won't roll out longer than expected. "These cover up misses. Better still, they're just easy to hit." — Brian Robbins (17)
8 of 10 Schecter Lee
Cobra S9 $699, steel; $799, graphite We tested: 4-GW in Graphite Design YS graphite shaft. Shaft length/loft (6-iron): 37.5"/28.5° Company line: "A three-piece polymer topline allows 13 grams to be redistributed lower in the heel and toe, for a lower CG, higher MOI, higher launch and more accuracy. The wide sole has a chamfer relief in the center section to limit turf contact." Voted Best for Accuracy Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Tops for accuracy in the test; wonderful balance of help on mis-hits while still hitting it where you want it, not where it's programmed; feel is a strong suit, impact is pure, crisp and smooth; offset head is not so obtrusive; nice, balanced feel on chips; S9 has a very clean look for a max game-improvement club; consistent, repeatable distances on solid strikes; oval aid on the face helps to line up. CONS: Generous, but not as forgiving as some pre-programmed competitors; mis-hits are less kind to distance than direction. "Perfect clubs for high handicappers." — Bud Adler
9 of 10 Schecter Lee
Callaway Big Bertha $599, steel; $799, graphite We tested: 3-PW in Callaway Golf Big Bertha graphite shaft. Shaft length/loft (6-iron): 37.5"/29° Company line: "Big Bertha takes forgiveness to new heights by integrating i-brids — clubs to replace hard-to-hit long irons — with more traditionally-shaped mid- and short irons. The i-brids blend the control and accuracy of irons with the forgiveness, distance and versatility of hybrids." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Good for those who struggle getting the ball in the air; as always, Bertha does a very respectable job covering up directional misses; stability through rough compares well to other hybrid-like irons; pre-set to hit it high and straight; big, broad sole inspires confidence on long approaches; long-iron i-Brids are strong and accurate from the tee. CONS: A limitation is that previous Berthas have been so good in their own right; impact feel is too dull; can be clumsy to chip with. "Very simply, these correct directional imperfections." — Victor DeMarco (15) Rate and Review this club
10 of 10 Schecter Lee
Winner: Irons — Max Game-Improvement Cobra S9 $ 699, steel $ 799, graphite cobragolf.com These handsome, high-tech dudes won't let poor swings kill you. There's a good deal of forgiveness here. The three-piece polymer topline saves 14-grams, to beef up the heel and toe areas of the sole for added perimeter weighting. Testers find the sole weighting helps you stay with the shot on downhill lies. Its overall feel also contributes to successful chipping. The long irons are so easy to smack off a tee, comparable to a hybrid. "I even feel in control when hitting shots out of rough." — Peter Kraus (20) • ClubTest Home Page • ClubTest Index Page • Fairway Woods • Hybrids • Irons: Game-Improvement • Irons: Better-Player