ClubTest: MAX game-improvement irons

1 of 7 Greg Lord
ClubTest: MAX game-improvement irons Testers swing away with four irons that know forgiveness is divine HOW WE DID IT ClubTesters evaluated the models in four situations on the driving range and the course. They hit shots from the tee, fairway and rough and chips to the green. For a detailed description of the methodology, visit our web site at RATING SYSTEM HOW IT WORKS Testers vote on Look, Feel, Playability, Forgiveness and Distance. The winning model (the one receiving the most points) is awarded Golf Magazine/ClubTest 5-star status.
2 of 7 Greg Lord
Callaway Fusion Wide Sole CLUB SPECS $1,099, steel; $1,299, graphite; WE TESTED 3-PW with Fusion Wide Sole graphite shaft • Go to Equipment Finder profile to tell us what you think and see what other readers said about this club. COMPANY LINE "The oversize titanium body has increased offset for greater forgiveness, plus a larger effective hitting area. Tunite sole weighting dramatically lowers the CG (center of gravity) to help get the ball airborne quickly and easily." OUR TEST PANEL SAYS... • Pushes the ball up quickly and high; highly dampened, soft feel, almost no vibration regardless of impact location; several game-improvement features are smartly hidden with skillful cosmetics; lots of offset improves confidence; delivers the forgiveness you need; sacrifices distance somewhat in pursuit of trajectory; long irons can easily replace hybrids; biggest beef is high price tag. "It masks all my mistakes." — Roger Liau (18)
3 of 7 Greg Lord
Tour Edge Bazooka QL Iron-Wood BEST FOR FEEL BEST FOR FORGIVENESS $599, steel; $679, graphite; WE TESTED 3-PW with Aldila NVS graphite shaft • Go to Equipment Finder profile to tell us what you think and see what other readers said about this club. "Heavy, 120-gram sole contributes to improved forgiveness and higher, longer shots. Forged face improves feel. Ironwoods No. 1 to No. 4 have bulge and roll to bring off-center hits back to target line." • Performance improves with relatively little effort; excels from rough; knocks out consistent yardages under all course conditions; really works if you're looking for maximum control; a funky, bulbous shape; even off tighter lies, the short irons create predictably straight shots; shortest hitter of the group but the most accurate; adequate on chip shots; superb, cushiony feel; short irons produce a fairway-wood sound. "Feels like you pure it on virtually every shot." — Peter Kraus (20)
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Nickent 3DX Hybrid BEST FOR LOOK $749, steel; $749, graphite; WE TESTED 3-PW with UST SpeedRated 2 graphite shaft • Go to Equipment Finder profile to tell us what you think and see what other readers said about this club. "An integrated hybrid iron set that eliminates the large yardage gap between the 4-hybrid and 5-iron. The back of the hollow iron has a 5-gram carbon composite cap. Saved weight (35 grams) is placed in the sole and rear to create high launch." • Pure power; very strong lofted clubs; an attractive blend of hybrids with higherlofted irons; more feedback than others, some harshness lets you know you missed a shot; 3DX Hybrid loses its edge in rough — you need a strong slash to get through to the ball; not a hacker's hybrid — you have to have a bit of skill to take advantage of its design; short irons have some feel but aren't overly responsive; hybrids have heat to them. "Best in class when you're caught in between yardages." — C.J. Bush (17)
5 of 7 Greg Lord
Cleveland HiBore BEST FOR DISTANCE $599, steel; $699, graphite; WE TESTED 3-PW with HiBore Silver graphite shaft • Go to Equipment Finder profile to tell us what you think and see what other readers said about this club. "A true hybrid iron set with hollow construction for 28 percent larger effective hitting area. The CG is six times deeper than typical game-improvement irons. Progressive sole width supports a shallow attack angle in long irons and a steeper one through the wedge." • Look like shrunken fairway woods, with similar feedback; a somewhat muted, dull sensation; lacks touch of traditional short irons; very easy to hit super-high and straight; good for anyone who struggles to get iron shots airborne; much easier to control than the look suggests; broad sole really resists digging; virtually no twisting through impact; results from rough are not as predictable; easy to play long irons into narrow landings. "Man, this is a forgiving set." — Jim Esther (20)
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LAUNCH-MONITOR TESTING Stay under control Four weapons that hit it high and bring it down softly What we did Six testers — handicaps: 15, 17, 17, 18, 18, 20 — hit dozens of balls with the test models. Hooked up to a launch monitor, the testers hit clubs in varying order. Well-struck shots were recorded, and we averaged the testers' totals. Here's how the clubs fared. What we learned • Trajectory: The Cleveland HiBore launches highest, which leads to the highest overall ball flight. The Nickent 3DX Hybrid flies on the lowest trajectory. • Distance: Testers achieve the highest ball speed, and carry the ball the farthest, with the Cleveland HiBore. The difference between the longest and shortest model is seven yards.
7 of 7 Greg Lord
WINNER Tour Edge Bazooka QL Iron-Wood $599, steel; $679, graphite; Each model delivers on its promise of making the game easier — and more enjoyable — for lesser-skilled players. The Tour Edge Bazooka QL Iron-Wood is preferred, in the end, due to superior ease of use. "The clubs are almost idiot-proof." — Kevin DiNapoli (17) "My usual ground attack with long irons turns into an air assault." — Roger Liau (18) "Shots just won't curve." — Don Ytterberg (15) "The heads glide on turf instead of digging too far into it." — C.J. Bush (17)