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2018 Most Wanted Super Game Improvement Iron Rankings
Cleveland Launcher HB
Best Super Game Improvement Iron 2018
Strokes Gained vs. Avg. Rank
What We Liked
The Cleveland Launcher HB produced the highest strokes gained value, tightest radial distance, and had the smallest shot area among the short and mid-irons tested.
If you’re looking for a set of irons that achieves maximum forgiveness and accuracy, consider the Launcher HB.
- Best overall Super Game Improvement iron of 2018
- Extremely accurate across the entirety of the test group
- Tightest results for both shot area and radial distance
- Highest Strokes Gained average
- Not among the longest, ranking in the bottom third for total distance
Callaway Rogue X
Best Super Game Improvement Iron for Distance
Strokes Gained vs. Avg. Rank
What We Liked
A favorite among the test group, the Callaway Rogue X iron model produced the longest distances for long, middle, and short irons.
While it struggled in some areas, testers provided extremely positive feedback for the Rogue X for its distance.
If you are looking for pure distance irons, consider the Rogue X
- Ranked 1st in total yards across short, mid and long irons
- Ranked 4th for strokes gained among long irons
- Ranked at the bottom for shot area and radial distance at each test distance.
- Ranked at or near the bottom for carry consistency (a measure of forgiveness)
About This Test
All testing was conducted inside our fully independent test facility located in Yorktown, Virginia. All testers used Bridgestone Tour B-RX golf balls for consistency and to reduce test variables. Ball and head data were collected using Foresight Sports GCQuad launch monitors.
- SHOTS HIT: 5,049
- DATA POINTS: 348,381
- TIME: 120 hours
- TESTERS: 20
- HANDICAP RANGE: 4 – 17
- AGE RANGE: 29 – 83
- DRIVER SWING SPEED RANGE: 70 – 99 mph
- IRONS TESTED: Long, Mid and Short iron from each model
This section details equipment specifications and any outliers that might be present in that data.
- Models tested included a short iron, mid iron, and long iron from each set. All clubs tested were stock off the rack – in some cases, the stock long-iron in the set was a hybrid.
- A tremendous loft discrepancy exists within the Super Game Improvement category. Measured lofts of the long-iron ranged from 21° – 25°; measured lofts of the mid-iron ranged from 26.5° – 31.5°; measured lofts of the short-iron ranged from 41° – 45.25°.
- In all three cases, the Callaway Rogue X was the strongest lofted club measured, which likely explains its distance advantage. There is a strong correlation between loft and distance.
- Measured lengths of the long-iron ranged from 36.75″ – 39.5″; measured lengths of the mid-iron ranged from 36.75″ – 37.25″; measured lengths of the short-iron ranged from 35.25″-36.75″
- While lie angle varies through the set, the Cobra FMAX ONE is identically in length and swingweight throughout the set.
- Four of the models tested contained stock steel shafts; the remaining five contained lightweight graphite.
Most Wanted Super Game Improvement Iron Data
Why you should consider SGI Irons
If you’re in the market for new irons, it’s essential you choose the right type for your game. This game is difficult enough, and most golfers could use all the help we can get. Inherent in the Super Game Improvement designs is improved performance on off-center hits. Bigger heads, wider soles, and larger faces help provide maximum forgiveness while maintaining, and in some cases, increasing distance relative to other design categories (GI, players cavity-back, etc.).
Are Super Game Improvement irons right for you? Among the best-selling in the marketplace, this category should appeal to a wide variety of golfers. Perhaps you’re a seasoned veteran to the game, but over the years you’ve lost the distance you once had. If you struggle to get the ball in the air, SGI irons, with their light shafts and high-launch profiles may be right for you (provided you can manage the stronger lofts).
Distance and forgiveness, however, invariably come at a price. Inevitably, you’ll sacrifice workability and versatility, so it’s important to determine what aspects of performance are most important to you and choose your irons accordingly.
Super Game Improvement irons are a good fit for many golfers. While these aren’t the compact, butter-knife blades most of us wish we could play, the category is packed with technology packed to help golfers seeking extra distance and added forgiveness.
As you’ve likely come to expect, stock lofts for SGI clubs are stronger than what you would find in other iron categories. The Callaway Rogue X is a bit of an outlier at 26.5°, the weakest lofted 7-iron we measured was 31.5°. To put that into perspective, the strongest lofted 7-iron in our Players Irons Test was 32° while the strongest lofted Players Distance 7-iron came in at 30°. Moral of the story, lofts are getting stronger each year, and nowhere are they stronger than in the SGI category. Technology is allowing engineers to build clubs that launch higher and fly farther than ever, and stronger lofts are an essential part of the distance equation.
To mitigate the stronger lofts and promote higher launch, lightweight shafts are becoming increasingly common within the category. Shaft weights in this test ranged from 49-grams for graphite to 80-grams for steel. While lighter weight shafts can help produce higher head speeds, higher launch, and more distance, they can also create control issues for higher swing speed or faster tempo golfers.
Bigger bodies and specifically wider soles are common to most SGI designs, with the Cleveland Launcher HB offering the widest of this group. The wide sole promotes increased dynamic loft and helps prevent digging when you hit the big ball before the little ball. Ultimately, it makes for a more-forgiving clubs, but you’ll lose a bit of the versatility and workability that you would get from a more compact design.
Product Spotlight – Cobra F MAX ONE
Although not our best overall, the single-length Cobra F MAX ONE was rated just below the Cleveland HB. Aside from total distance, the F MAX ONE ranked either 1st or 2nd in every one of our key metrics (shot area, strokes gained, carry consistency, and radial distance ) for both the long and mid-irons.
Shorter distance with the long irons is to be expected, and could likely be overcome with a ONE Length Hybrid or Utility. The only negative we observed was with the PW, where some testers struggled to control distance with a longer than standard club. Testers told us the felt the club was more difficult to use attempting to hit it to shorter distances, though we believe this could be overcome with practice. Several testers (particularly the highest handicappers) said they preferred the consistent shaft length.
It is interesting to note that the FMAX ONE length is not a strong seller relative to Cobra’s other ONE Length offerings. That seems strange given that ONE Length seems particularly well-suited for the SGI category. Overall, the FMAX ONE was a strong performer and a favorite among testers. If you have any inclinations towards moving to single length irons, the FMAX ONE most certainly warrants consideration.
Feedback from the Most Wanted Test Pool
The Cleveland HB, our 2018 Most Wanted Super Game Improvement Iron Winner, despite its rather remarkable performance among the irons tested, received mixed feedback from the test group. As you may expect, the slower swinging, higher handicap testers preferred this model over most of the irons tested. The extra-wide sole and deep center of gravity help the testers launch the ball high, but the faster swing speed players complained that the club felt too light and whippy. Cleveland went to extra lengths to improve the sound and feel of the club with technology like internal rib construction. There’s some anecdotal evidence that it worked as several testers said they thought it was the best feeling iron in the test.
One of the most favored clubs in the entirety of the test for both feel and address position is the Cobra KING Oversize. The KING OS was rated in the upper echelon by our testers, though performance wasn’t stellar. Some testers enjoyed the oversized head shape, noting the “big face” and score lines that help the golfer line the ball up in the center of the clubface. Many testers submitted positive feedback regarding the overall weight of the club, saying that it felt balanced across each iron they tested.
One of the top performers in the test, the Cobra F MAX ONE was well accepted among the test group. The higher handicap golfers preferred the shorter length long irons, rating the club as one of their favorites. Some testers noted they had no trouble getting the ball in the air despite the long iron being shorter than what they’re used to playing. The Cobra F MAX ONE was also tester favorite in the feel category. Perhaps interesting is the tester’s response to the variable length FMAX. Where the feel was rated highly overall, several testers weren’t fans of the oversized grips, calling them bulky, leading some to feel like they were losing control of the club.
The Callaway Big Bertha Oversize was one of few clubs in the test to receive almost unanimously negative feedback. Many testers complained that the clubs felt somewhat “thin” and lacked a soft, solid feel. The test group disliked the chunky, short blade look of the iron and some complained that they had trouble getting the long iron up in the air. It’s worth mentioning that Callaway has just released a replacement to the Big Bertha OS (2018 Big Bertha). The new model significantly improves feel, while offering the requisite promises for improved performance in other areas as well.
Choosing the right irons ultimately is determined by what you need to improve your game. Are you looking to maximize distance, or increase accuracy? For most, the best iron is the one that offers a combination of distance, accuracy, and forgiveness.
Here are some factors you should consider:
- The Shaft – The age old debate of graphite vs. steel leaves the one of golf’s biggest questions unanswered, when do I switch to graphite? The best answer comes when you work with a competent fitter. No two swings are alike, and that means that not everyone fits into the same box. Depending swing speed, tempo, angle of attack, and other factors, graphite shafts may or may not be the best fit. The clubs we tested have both stock graphite and steel, and the weight of the shaft will ultimately have an affect on your swing speed. Higher swing speed or aggressive golfers shouldn’t dismiss the SGI category entirely. When paired with a shaft better suited to your swing (often stiffer and heavier), SGI irons can deliver tremendous performance, even for those outside the traditional demographic.
- Hybrids or Traditional Heads – While stronger lofts have increased distance, they often make it difficult for golfers, particularly slower swing players, to get their long irons airborne. If you struggle to hit SGI long irons high, consider replacing them with a hybrid. Many of the sets tested either come stock with hybrids or provide a hybrid-iron combo set options. If you’re still struggling with launch into your middle irons, consider lower center-of-gravity, wide sole options like the Cleveland Launcher HB. Finally, keep in mind that there’s no rule against bending an SGI set a degree or two weak if you need help getting the ball in the air. You’ll lose a bit of distance for it, but you’ll land softer into greens and likely have more control overall.
- Set Make-Up – Along similar lines, something we often see at the testing facility is golfers coming in with a bag of clubs put together without any real purpose or intention. We see 3 and 4-irons in the bags of golfers who can’t hit them. Sometimes we find wedges that never get used. When you’re purchasing your next set of clubs, make sure you’re choosing irons that allow you to hit every shot you’ll face on the golf course. If that means pairing long-iron-replacing hybrids with traditional short irons, so be it.