Countdown Of The Top 10 Game Improvement Irons For 2014

With 90% of all golfers in the double digit handicap range, it’s no surprise that the “game improvement” sector is the most fiercely contest...

With 90% of all golfers in the double digit handicap range, it’s no surprise that the “game improvement” sector is the most fiercely contested category amongst golf manufacturers. Thanks to my club testing work with Golfbidder and the fact that I have absolutely no allegiance to any brand or model, I think I’m in a pretty good place to give you an unbiased countdown of what I consider the best game improvement irons of 2014. All views and opinions are my own and I’ve tried to keep the crap to a minimum. So lets count down from ten to one.

10. Adams: Idea Hybrid Iron

Guide Price: £499, €595

adams ideaWhile Adams irons don’t always look the part, they do one thing very well, “forgiveness”. Yes they look chunky and awkward, but for a novice golfer to enjoy the feeling of getting the ball high up in the air and out in the general direction of the target, the Idea Hybrid irons cannot be matched. You can forget about shaping, or punching or turning shots with these clubs however; they’re like cricket bats in that regard. The blurb says the Idea Hybrids have wraparound slots; I say if you wear wraparound shades you won’t be partaking, but for the three times a year social golfer who just wants to go out, have fun and not be frustrated with their game, these are well worth a look.

9. MD Superstrong STR10 Iron

Guide Price: £300, €355

md-golf-superstrong-str10-irons-12584-pMD Golf may not be at the top table with the heavyweights of the golfing world, but in the pound for pound rankings, they really pack a punch. Looks wise the STR10 are amazing, the dark PVD finish and thick lines look strong and imposing and the cavity in these weapons is like the glove box of your car. Of course they will never get the recognition the bigger brands with massive research and marketing budgets have, but I’ll tell you something, for the money, they are top class.

8. Cobra Baffler XL

Guide Price: £400, €477

cobra baffler xlAcross the range I’ve never seen a poor quality Cobra club. I often test Cobra models over five years old and am constantly bowled over with how good they perform. The Baffler XL irons are for me in the same super game improvement mould as the Adams Idea and are ridiculously easy to hit. The faces are big, the bodies are chunky and there are plenty of impressive lines to use the stock “improved turf interaction” cliché with. They also have a draw bias. The key feature of these clubs is the progressive offset in the heads; with the long irons you could have a swing and come back the next day and the clubhead still wouldn’t have reached the ball! They’re also heavy irons, noticeably more so than many of the others. You can do a tad more with the ball with these as opposed to the Adams, and they will appeal to a broader range of players, hence the higher position.

7. Nike VR_S Covert

Guide Price: £380, €455

NIke VR s covertI keep thinking that with the top two players (arguably) in the world on their books, Nike should be doing a hell of a lot more in the line of research and manufacturing than they are. But maybe they do and the name Covert is their way of hiding it. You’re getting into the section of game improvement irons now that are for the little bit more accomplished player, I can easily see 10 and 11 handicappers loving these. There’s that bit of quality in that the long and short irons have different grades of steel, and there’s noticeably more distance on offer from the heavy well engineered heads with their weights on the heel and toe. My only gripe with the VR_S Covert is that you could dig your garden with the cavity in these irons and I’m not a fan of big plastic badges. There’s more plastic in these than in my daughters play set.

6. Wilson D-100

Guide Price: £350, €415

Wilson D100I don’t know how or why the golfing world lost faith in Wilson golf clubs down through the years, but there’s no denying they did. It cannot have anything to do with engineering or quality, they are always impressive in that regard, especially so in the last four years. Maybe it’s the fact that Wilson play it a bit safe when it comes to technology behind the face. The D-100’s are gorgeous to look at, one of the nicest in fact, but have what I consider more a traditional club head shape leaving you wondering if you really are getting the best out of forgiveness advances available in modern clubmaking. They feel so light through the hit, you will get that little extra swing and clubhead speed, making the D100 impressively long on the range. Very safe but very very sound at the price point.

5. Mizuno JPX-EZ

Guide Price: £430, €515

mizuno jpx ezYou know, asking Mizuno to come up with a game improvement iron is asking Lotus to build a campervan. But the kings of blades have done a lot of work to bring their equipment to the wider audience over the past few seasons and these JPX-EZ’s represent another step in that direction. It must break the hearts of the Mizuno designers to build irons with a black finish and huge cavities in the long irons but they willingly oblige on the proviso that the short irons have less clunk and a bit more style. When I hit these irons, I figured they were as easy to launch as the Idea or the Baffler but these JPX-EZ’s are long, precise and that bit classier overall.

4. Ping G25

Guide Price: £535, €640

Ping g25Now you’re into irons with game improvement technologies designed to get the ball up and away, but with that bit better material, less imposing heads and a little more labour in the production process. You see this in the sole that gets thinner as you go from long to short irons, less offset but still enough to help and a thin topline. I’m not a huge Ping fan and yet I still have this club at number four which says a lot. I don’t like the custom tuning port aka plastic badge on their irons and the trademark matte finish got boring years ago for me. But you can see from the back these G25 irons are braced up tightly with bars delivering easy power with oodles of loft. You can play these high for the middle of your stance or crunch down on one from your back foot such is the loft set up in these. And I do like that in a golf club, especially on a windy day.

3. Callaway Apex

Guide Price: £800, €955

callaway apexThese irons would be, could be and arguably should be number one but for a few factors. First is the price; they are expensive because the quality is just so good, but that also means they are outside the price range of many cash strapped players. Second is their dubious inclusion in the “game improvement” category; these sticks could just as easily be classed as better player clubs and might well intimidate a lifetime 15 handicapper who buys a set only to find out a few weeks later that he just can’t hit them. Having said all that if you’re anywhere from a scratch to maybe a 12 handicap and can hit his/her irons, just wait until I tell you about these.

I’m going to cut through all the crap, the (Hogan) Apex name is back like a phoenix from the flames. These irons are like Jessica Ennis, beautiful to look at, but powerful and classy on the course. Of forged construction but containing a thin face insert to produce a far more satisfying hit than I ever got with anything forged. The long irons have weights added to the sole to make them easy to hit, the short irons are spinny and so easy to control. The Apex have what most other irons don’t have in this category and that’s sports car traits; plenty of grunt yet wonderful handling.

2. TaylorMade SpeedBlade

Guide Price: £550, €655

TM SpeedbladeTaylorMade are beginning to take the mickey with the frequency at which they are releasing clubs these days and that’s annoying those who buy new only to see their pristine clubs devalue greatly when replaced by a newer model six months later. Having said that, greater sales mean TaylorMade can keep innovating and pushing the boundaries with their offerings. The SpeedBlade won’t blow your mind with its looks, but the clever engineers have game improvement down to a fine art at this point and subtly tweak each new iteration. The SpeedBlades have a better designed cavity than the others and it works; they react better than any club in this test when not hit on the centre of the face. The SpeedBlade are built to launch it high but as always TM lofts are always altered to make you think you’re bombing your irons. Nowhere near the Apex in the looks department, but the only irons in the test that a scratch to 18 handicap could all use and be equally impressed with. They also beat the Apex on price.

1. Titleist 714 AP1

Guide Price £700, €830

Titleist-714-AP1What you have to admire about Titleist is that they haven’t sold their soul to a business model and stick to the tried and tested formula of a limited number of high quality offerings each season. Having said that Titleist clubs are never cheap, and these are no different coming in as second most expensive on test.

I think TaylorMade with their SpeedBlade have given a nod to Titleist for their AP design, like a boxer who nods to his opponent to signify he just got hit hard. The 714 AP1’s have had a makeover, more cosmetic than the blurb might suggest, but that’s okay because they are just so high quality and technically advanced they don’t need much changing. The lofts have been strengthened a tad this year giving a lower crunching trajectory throughout the set but the long irons are still that bit chunkier and super easy to hit. The AP1’s go a mile, stop quick and if you have it in your swing, you can make the ball do pretty much anything with them. Titleist just ooze build quality and I’m guessing won’t be bothered by the TaylorMade club release model or any of its models for that matter. Beats the Apex for technology and playability over a range of handicaps and the SpeedBlade for build quality though the margins between the three are very fine on the golf course.

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GolfCentralDaily | Golf Parody Fun Gossip Jokes Betting Tips: Countdown Of The Top 10 Game Improvement Irons For 2014
Countdown Of The Top 10 Game Improvement Irons For 2014
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