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60 Hours

Hours Researched

12

Products Considered

2,548

Shots Hit

36.6 Million

Readers

2018 Most Wanted Utility Iron Rankings

TaylorMade GAPR Mid

TaylorMade GAPR Mid

2018 Most Wanted Utility Iron

Distance
226.86 yds
Fairway %
60.41%
Spin
2,835 rpm
Launch
12.40 deg
Ball Speed
133.31 mph
1

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What We Liked

MyGolfSpy’s 2018 Most Wanted Utility Iron produced outstanding results across several of our key metrics.

The GAPR Mid generated among the highest ball speeds, most consistent carry distances, and tightest dispersion. If you’re looking for a utility iron that offers an outstanding blend of distance and consistency, consider the TaylorMade GAPR Mid.

GAPR Mid was also a favorite among our pool of testers for its exceptional feel.

 

Pros

  • Best overall utility iron in 2018
  • Blends distance and forgiveness in a mid-sized iron-wood style head
  • Most consistent carry
  • Among the fastest for ball speed

Cons

  • Fairway percentage was a bit lower than other top finishers
TaylorMade P790 UDI

TaylorMade P790 UDI

Longest Utility Iron 2018

Distance
227.81 yds
Fairway %
62.69%
Spin
2,494 rpm
Launch
11.55 deg
Ball Speed
133.17 mph

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What We Liked

The TaylorMade P790 UDI produced the longest distance across the test group.

The P790 UDI is among the lowest launching and produced the lowest spin of any utility iron in the test.  The comparatively compact head provides a more seamless transition to your standard irons.

Pros

  • Longest overall utility iron
  • Ranks 1st in strokes gained against the field
  • Among the lowest launching
  • Ranks 2nd in fairway percentage
  • Lowest spinning for those seeking to maximize distance

Cons

  • Shot area was among the largest
  • Ranks in the lower third for carry consistency
Ben Hogan Ft. Worth hi

Ben Hogan Ft. Worth hi

Most Accurate Utility 2018

Distance
216.56 yds
Fairway %
61.19%
Spin
3,103 rpm
Launch
13.85 deg
Ball Speed
129.10 mph

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What We Liked

Higher launching and higher spinning, the Ft. Worth hi was notable for its performance under our accuracy metrics and is well suited for tight fairways, long approach shots, and long par 3s.

The Ft. Worth hi produced the tightest shot area and some of the most consistent ball speeds among all models tested. Testers commented that the Ft. Worth hi offers remarkable feel and workability.

Pros

  • Tightest shot area
  • Ranks 2nd in carry consistency
  • Highest launching
  • Among the leaders for fairway percentage

Cons

  • Ranks in the lower third for total yards and strokes gained against the field
  • Not as versatile as some models

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: 2,548
  • DATA POINTS: 155,428
  • TIME: 60 hours
  • TESTERS: 20
  • HANDICAP RANGE: +2 – 15
  • AGE RANGE: 18 – 55
  • DRIVER SWING SPEED RANGE: 85 mph – 120 mph
  • IRONS TESTED: Utility irons with static stamped lofts ranging from 17°-19°

Field Notes

This section details equipment specifications and any outliers that might be present in that data.

  • Models tested included almost exclusively models stamped as 2-irons. In cases where manufacturers don’t offer a true 2-iron equivalent (GAPR Mid, PING G400, Ft.Worth hi, and Cobra KING) we tested the lowest lofted model available and leveraged adjustability where possible.
  • The measured lofts of the utilities tested ranged from 17° to 19.25°; the average measured loft for the models tested is 17.79°
  • The measured lie angles varied from 58.75° to 61°; the average lie for the models tested is 60.1°
  • We observed a near perfect correlation between measured loft and launch angles across the entirety of the utility irons tested
  • The Srixon Z U85 has the highest swing weight at D 4.2. The average across all models was lighter at D 2.29

2018 Most Wanted Utility Iron Data

Why Choose a Utility Iron?

As is often the case on the PGA Tour, a Utility iron may move in and out of your bag depending on course conditions. Windy conditions and firm fairways like those often encountered during the Open Championship are often why professional choose utility clubs. Beyond cheating the wind, other reasons to consider utility clubs include narrow fairways, long par-3s, and other scenarios where precision and workability can supplant the need to maximize distance. When the goal is to simply get the ball in play off the tee, for some, the utility club may the best bet.

In the most general sense, utility irons are built for golfers who require shotmaking versatility from tee to green. Depending on the loft, a utility iron could replace a long iron (or hybrid), a fairway wood, and some rare cases, even the driver. There are a variety of situations and condition which could warrant adding a utility iron to your bag.

The best utility irons are those that strike the right balance between distance, accuracy, and versatility.

Tech Trends

There’s some evidence to suggest that the popularity of utility irons is on the rise. Certainly, the number of options available to the consumer has never been greater, and its worth noting that professionals across all major tours are bagging utility irons when the course conditions call for it. That’s likely a result in the evolution of technology with the utility/driving iron space. The modern utility clubs isn’t the butter knife 1-iron that Jack Nicklaus so famously carried. Today’s utility clubs are easier to hit and, as alternatives to hybrids, better suited to bridge the gap between woods and irons.

While not long ago, the utility space was comprised mostly of single-piece designs, the industry has shifted towards multi-piece, hollow body or filled cavity designs. Filled designs like those used by PXG (not tested) and TaylorMade purportedly allow for thinner faces which produce faster ball speeds. True hollow-body designs borrow heavily from the metal-wood space where the design premise is that nothing should interfere with the face’s ability to flex and rebound.

While not ubiquitous as it is in the driver category, we’ve observed a slight uptick in the number of adjustable options within the utility space. Cobra launched the first adjustable driving iron three years ago. TaylorMade introduced adjustability to its line with the GAPR series, and it’s reasonable to expect that others will follow. As with other clubs, the adjustable hosel gives the golfer the ability to dial-in loft and manipulate trajectory with the simple turn of a wrench. That opens up a wider array of fitting and performance options.

Feedback from the Most Wanted Test Pool

One of the most popular among the testers was the Srixon Z U85 utility. Rated at the top for feel and sound, the ZU85 encompasses what many of our testers felt was a complete utility; combining looks, feel and performance all in one package. More than half of the testers rated this club as one of their favorites. Our 2018 Most Wanted Utility Test, TaylorMade’s GAPR Mid, was also a favorite among the testers. It was rated near the top for looks and feel. Testers also praised its ability to get the ball in the air.

Frequently in a test we see some mixed feedback – half the test group loves one model, while the other half seems to dislike it. The TaylorMade P790 UDI was certainly one of those products. Some testers reported that the P790 UDI pleasantly surprised them with feel and sound; while some said it was clunky. The lower handicap golfers in the test preferred this model as its tight profile resembles that of a long iron they are accustomed to gaming.

The PING G400 Crossover also received mixed feedback. Half of the test rated it highly for feel, many noting that the higher loft made it easier to launch the ball high. This was a particularly common sentiment among our slower swing speed players. A sizeable group of testers felt differently, rating the club near the bottom for sound and feel.

One club that received almost universally negative feedback from the test group was the TaylorMade GAPR Lo. That’s somewhat surprising given the performance of TaylorMade’s other offerings in this test. However, testers reported that the length of the club felt too long (it measures 40 1/8″) and that the lie was too upright. As is sometimes the case, our testers struggled to reconcile the looks and feel with what we’d classify as above average performance.

Buying Advice

Finding the right utility club ultimately depends on how you plan to use it. Is it exclusively for use off-the-tee? Is there a long par-3 you need to reach, or do you plan to use it for a variety of shots from tee to green?

Here are the other factors you should consider:

  • Trajectory – If you’re looking to hit wind-cheating bullets, stick with the low launching clubs (P790 UDI, Exotics CBX, GAPR Lo).  If you’re going to attack greens or need a trusty fairway finder, you may want to lean towards higher spinning options like PING G400 and Ben Hogan Ft. Worth hi. For balanced performance in a variety of situations, we recommend our 2018 Most Wanted Utility, TaylorMade’s GAPR Mid.
  • Length –  As you’d expect, club length is not consistent from one brand to the next. While that’s the sort of thing that’s easily addressed by a qualified fitter, if you plan to go it alone, it’s an important factor to consider. A little extra shaft length might give you more distance, but if it compromises your ability to repeatedly make center contact or significantly diminishes your ability to hit it straight, it may not be worth it.
  • Shaft – As with length, the shaft weights of the utility irons also varied significantly.  While most weigh in at about 80-85 grams, the G400 Utility features a lighter, 70-gram shaft, whereas the TaylorMade P790 UDI and Mizuno FLI-HI are outfitted with 110-gram steel options. The weight of the shaft will likely have performance implications. Also, keep in mind that options at the extreme ends of the weight range will give you less flexibility to move to a significantly heavier or significantly lighter shaft without having to compensate for large swing weight changes.
  • Adjustability – While it’s hard to make a case that adjustability is something you absolutely need in a utility iron, for compulsive tinkerers seeking to adjust their clubs to meet course conditions, adjustable hosel give you the flexibility to tune loft down when fairways are firm and fast, or turn it up to maximize carry when the course is playing a bit softer.