ClubTest: Long-Iron Replacements

1 of 10 Greg Lord
ClubTest: Long-Iron Replacements Low handicappers test alternatives to those hard-to-hit long irons March 2007 ClubTesters evaluated the four models in four situations. Each tester hit balls out of rough, chipped to a green, hit fairway shots and drove it off a short tee. Clubs were tested on the driving range and on the course in live game action. Testers used clubs with the appropriate flex for their swing speed/ability.
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Test results - How they stacked up Testers voted on their faves using a 100-point scale. Category winners are represented by a red dot. Overall performance grade is determined by weighting equally the 11 categories.
3 of 10 Greg Lord
THE WINNER TITLEIST PT 585.H $175, steel; $208, graphite; "Face condones off-center contact." - Jon Kotraba (handicap 10) "Nice feel of ball compressing at impact. Plenty of workability. Titleist got these right." - Lee Neisler (3) "Balls tend to launch high and land softly." - Steve Sesko (9) "Surprisingly straight on offcenter contact. You don't see slices or hooks." - Randy Rochefort (2)
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What we learned Trajectory: The lowest-lofted club (Cobra 20") launched shots the lowest while the most iron-like (Mizuno 21") had the highest launch angle. All the clubs tested hit it higher, on average, than traditional long irons. Distance: Cobra, the strongest lofted club, carried the ball the farthest. Note the effect of stronger loft and increased shaft length on carry distance. In short: These sticks provide an excellent opportunity to explore proper yardage gapping (10+ yards) between clubs. Understand, too, that different models may have the same loft and shaft length. But it doesn't mean they produce the same output. Hot Stix Golf collected the data using the AccuSport Vector launch monitor. Look for more launch monitor testing in future issues of GOLF Magazine.
5 of 10 Fred Vuich
What we did Seven testers -- handicaps: 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11—hit dozens of balls with the four test models. Clubs had 20 to 22 degrees of loft. Hooked up to a launch monitor, the testers hit clubs in varying order. Only well-struck shots were recorded, and we averaged the testers' totals. Here's how the clubs fared.
6 of 10 Greg Lord
TOUR EDGE EXOTICS CB2 $219, graphite; We Tested 19 degree, 22 degree in Aldila NVS-90 Hybrid graphite shaft The Company Line "CB2 is sleek and powerful. It combines a forged, lightweight beta titanium cupped face that is chemically bonded to a heavier hypersteel body. It also features variable face thickness for maximum rebound." Testers' Comments PROS "Slight misses aren't penalized. The most accurate hybrid I've hit."- Alan Dante (handicap 8) "A nice tool from the rough; a true utility club."- Bob O'Brien (5) "Tops for covering up heel and toe misses."- Randy Rochefort (2) "Ball feels crushed at impact on good shots."- Jeff Bones (10) "This snub-nosed brute cuts through thick stuff with ease."- Tom Jennings (9) "Ball contact with CB2 is explosive."- Marshall Schattner (10) CONS "Good mix of playability and forgiveness. But weakest of bunch for chipping."- Steve Sesko (9)
7 of 10 Greg Lord
March 2007: Long-Iron Replacements Winner: TITLEIST PT 585.H $175, steel; $208, graphite; Equipment Finder Profile WE TESTED: 17°, 19°, 21°, 24° in Titleist 4175 and Aldila NV-85 Hybrid graphite shaft THE COMPANY LINE: "These offer fairway metal — type launch with a flatter ball flight for iron-like control. The 431 stainless steel body provides a sweet, solid feel while the 455 stainless steel face insert maximizes ball speed." TESTERS' COMMENTS: PROS • "A pleasing low-pitched 'click' at impact. Exceptional for par 3s due to consistent distances with lower flight."—Bob O'Brien (handicap 50 • "You can program these to do whatever you want."—Marshall Schattner (10) • "Bores more than it balloons."—Lee Neisler (3) • "Wrestling the ball from rough is hardly a challenge. It jumps off the dense face."—Jon Kotraba (10) • "Consistent, reliable distance."—John Moore (11) • "Best hybrids I've tested in three years."—Tom Jennings (9) CONS • "Would like more help on mis-hits."—Jeff Bones (10)
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MIZUNO MP FLI-HI $155, steel; $180, graphite; We Tested 2 (18 degree), 3 (21 degree), 4 (24 degree) in True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shaft The Company Line "The hollow head construction positions weight away from the forged face and neck. This lowers the center of gravity, for increased forgiveness and easy launch. A wide sole provides consistent ballstriking ability." Testers' Comments PROS "Soft and lush at impact, and obedient to your desired direction."- Jon Kotraba (handicap 10) "Demanding, but rewarding."- Bob O'Brien (5) "Plenty long when you find the sweet spot."- Steve Sesko (9) "Biggest difference from irons to these is distance gains on mis-hits."- Randy Rochefort (2) "Rough? What rough! Rips through like a hot knife through butter."- Jeff Bones (10) "Flies lower than hybrid counterparts."- Marshall Schattner (10) CONS "Looks like MP-60 on steroids. It's more forgiving than long irons but less forgiving than a standard hybrid."- Lee Neisler (3)
9 of 10 Greg Lord
COBRA BAFFLER PRO $220, graphite; We Tested 1/R (16 degree), 2/R (18 degree), 3/R (20 degree), 4/R (23 degree) with Fujikura Speeder graphite shaft The Company Line "The smaller, streamlined head is designed specifically for lower handicappers. A nonoffset design and neutral weighting mean greater workability. Center of gravity location is low and center, for midhigh trajectory." Testers' Comments PROS "Very workable, unlike many hybrids that only want to go straight."- Tom Jennings (handicap 9) "Long, consistent distances due to upscale shaft."- Bob O'Brien (5) "Cuts right through the rough."- Joe Nagel (3) "Misses off the tee are covered up like a CIA plot. Rewarded with good distance, too."- Jeremy Ross (4) "If distance is what you're after, Cobra is still the king of the hot face."- Steve Sesko (9) "Toe and heel misses are gently corrected to target."- John Moore (11) CONS "Not enough feedback—too muted."- Alan Dante (8)
10 of 10 Fred Vuich
The testing panel.