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Our Job is Your Game
2021 Most Wanted Testing is in full swing. Today, the results are in from our most comprehensive Game Improvement Iron Test ever.
At MyGolfSpy, our job is to provide independent, unbiased and objective testing so you can make more confident purchasing decisions. Our 2021 Most Wanted Game Improvement Test is an indispensable guide for the off-the-rack buyer or for anyone looking for insight before their next fitting.
Whether you are a mid-to high-handicapper or a low- to mid-handicapper, game improvement irons appeal to the largest portion of golfers. If you’re in the market for a new set of irons, this test is for you.
2021 Most Wanted Game Improvement Iron: Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal
Several clubs in the 2021 Most Wanted Game Improvement Iron Test achieved positive strokes-gained values. However, the Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal came out on top with a stellar Strokes Gained performance. Take a look:
- 1st in Strokes Gained
- 8th in Total Distance
- 9th in Forgiveness
The JPX 921 Hot Metal checks all the boxes. With this club, you can get great performance from long iron t0 short iron. Furthermore, you can get consistent launch conditions that will be beneficial for your game. Check it out.
Below is the 2021 Most Wanted Game Improvement Irons Test broken down by performance grades for each iron length. The percentages displayed for each iron represent the frequency at which each was among the best-performing irons for each tester across the test pool.
Iron Buying Considerations
Performance should be your primary concern when buying new irons but there are some additional things you may want to think about before you make your decision.
It’s essential to pay attention to set make-up. As with most things in the golf equipment industry, there is no universal standard for set composition. That’s not a bad thing as it allows for almost endless combinations and the ability to mix and match between models when appropriate. In the game improvement category, both 4-iron and gap wedge are relevant options. Most set compositions will be 4 through pitching wedge or 5 through gap wedge. Tailor your set makeup to your game.
The number of shaft options for irons is growing. It can be challenging to navigate the different models, weights and flexes to find the right shaft for you. The answer to the best-performing shaft question stretches well beyond graphite versus steel.
Go through a professional fitting. If for some reason you can’t, the Mizuno Shaft Optimizer isn’t a bad place to start. The optimizer utilizes gyroscopes and strain gauges to measure things like club speed, tempo and how much the shaft is flexing at impact. It then recommends a list of shafts for your swing. It even makes a lie-angle recommendation.
DISTANCE VERSUS CONSISTENCY
In 2021, the game-improvement category offers plenty of distance. The likes of Wilson Staff D9, PXG 0311 XP Gen4 and Tour Edge Exotics E721 produce tremendous distance results. Loft jacking is certainly a factor so it’s important to make sure you can offset the lower spin as rates with steeper descent angles. If distance is your primary objective, start with this list.
The Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal, PING G425, Honma T//World GS, Callaway Apex DCB and Srixon ZX5 weren’t quite as long as the distance leaders. However, they do offer consistent results which is high on the list of what game-improvement players should be looking for.
Irons are an investment. Be smart with your investment and make sure it ticks all the boxes on your personal checklist before pulling the trigger. The 2021 Most Wanted Game Improvement Irons Test showcases a plethora of options with various price points. You can go all-in on a set of Titleist CNCPT CP-04 ($500 per club). PXG 0311 XP Gen4 ($2,243 for a seven-piece set) and Scott Golf SG-04 ($1,899 for a seven-piece set) have substantial price points as well. Haywood Golf Signature Iron and PXG 0211 DC both offer value at $650 and $693 respectively for a seven-piece set.
BEST DISTANCE - WILSON STAFF D9
The Wilson Staff D9 is a metaphorical rocket...as one of our testers described it during testing. Throughout testing, it was obvious the D9 had a strong chance to claim the best distance crown. In the Mid Iron Category, it was 5.8 yards further than its nearest competitor. If distance is your goal, keep an eye out for the D9.
During each test, we look for trends that provide us with insight into where the market as a whole is moving as well as what noteworthy changes manufacturers have made to improve year-to-year performance. Additionally, we solicit feedback from our testers. We want to understand what they liked, what they didn’t like and why. Although we obtain their feedback, their subjective opinions do not influence, dictate or determine our testing rankings.
Trends and Tweaks
- Strong lofts are becoming a constant theme within the game-improvement category. Manufacturers are pushing the limits of “loft jacking” which results in insane distance numbers. Distance sells but consistency should matter to you and stronger lofts have the potential to adversely affect performance. Be cautious.
- Did you ever think 3D Printed Material would be used as a component of a golf club? If you did, you are probably in the minority. COBRA’s innovation produced their 3D Printed Medallion. With the medallion, COBRA is able to save weight and dampen vibration for enhanced feel and feedback.
- Forged designs are becoming more common in game-improvement irons. Srixon, PXG, Callaway and Scott Golf offer forged body game-improvement clubs. While “feel” is largely driven by materials and geometry and not manufacturing processes, more and more manufacturers are incorporating it into their game-improvement stories.
BEST FORGIVENESS - SCOTT GOLF SG-04
Scott Golf SG-04 comes away as the best for forgiveness in the 2021 Most Wanted Game Improvement Iron. Throughout Most Wanted Testing, the SG-04 caught testers by surprise with its performance. It boasted the 2nd best Strokes Gained performance in the Mid Iron Category.
Notes From The Testing Pool
The following section details subjective feedback from our pool of 20 testers. Gathering feedback is an important aspect of any test. We use their feedback as a representation of what golfers like and dislike about the product we test. That being said, the feedback is strictly subjective. It does not play a factor in the rankings.
- Innovation is eye-catching and COBRA’s RADSPEED Irons certainly caught the eyes of testers with their use of 3D-printed material. Testers said the feel was pleasing. Some commented that the top-line alignment feature is distracting.
- TaylorMade’s SIM2 Max Irons received high praise from testers in both the feel and looks departments. A few testers were surprised with how much they liked the irons.
- Wilson Staff’s D9 got a mixed bag of comments. Testers witnessed the performance (particularly the distance gains) but acknowledged its inconsistency. For feel, looks and acoustics, it was a “love it or hate it” situation with the testers.
- For looks and overall design, Titleist CNCPT CP-04 and Srixon ZX5 received immense praise from the testing pool.
- Scott Golf SG-04 gave the testers a good impression in the feel category. A few testers noted that the elongated head shape was distracting and unappealing.
- Haywood Golf’s Signature Irons were a welcome sight to testers. Throughout testing, testers gave them tremendous feedback for their looks.
2021 Most Wanted Game Improvement Irons Data
To filter and compare by club, use the drop-down list and checkboxes to select the irons you wish to compare.
It is important to note that while comparing the performance averages of 20 golfers with varying swing speeds and characteristics is interesting and sometimes useful, it doesn’t tell the complete performance story. For this reason, we look at performance on a per-golfer basis. The overall rankings (listed near the top of this story) reflected the rate at which a club finished in the Top Performing Group for each tester.
Use the dropdown below to switch between long, mid- and short irons. Mobile users can use their finger to scroll through the chart vertically and horizontally.
Expert Tip - Shaft Weight
Heavier steel shafts tend to produce lower launch angles with less spin. Lighter shafts (steel or graphite) tend to produce mid to high launch with more spin. Finding a shaft that matches your swing will help produce the desired launch conditions, and shot shape. Remember to keep an open mind and pay close attention to the shaft's influence on performance during your next fitting.
How We Test
Our mission is to help you find the best game improvement iron for your game.
About our Testers
Our pool of testers consists of 20 golfers with handicaps ranging from plus to the mid-teens. As a group, they span a broad range of swing characteristics (head speed, attack angle, etc.).
Over the course of several sessions, each golfer is required to hit 10 to 12 "good" shots with each club. Club order is randomized on a per-tester basis.
Limiting Variables and Gathering Data Reliably
Crunching the Numbers
Before determining our rankings, we identify and remove outliers using a proprietary detection methodology.
To arrive at our final results, we calculate the averages of key metrics (ball speed, distance, dispersion, etc.), while also considering the standard deviation and the statistical reliability of those values.
2021 Most Wanted Game Improvement Iron Product Specifications
2021 Most Wanted Game Improvement Iron Product Specs
|Product||PW Loft||PW Length||7 Iron Loft||7 Iron Length||5 Iron Loft||5 Iron Length|
|Callaway Apex DCB|
|Haywood Signature Iron|
|Honma T//World GS|
|Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal|
|PXG 0211 DC|
|PXG 0311 XP Gen4|
|Scott Golf SG-04|
|TaylorMade SIM 2 Max|
|Titleist CNCPT CP-04|
|Tour Edge Exotics E721|
|Wilson Staff D9|
2021 Most Wanted Game Improvement Iron – FAQ
BUYING NEW IRONS
Q: How often should I buy new irons?
A: While on rare occasions there are quantifiable year-over-year breakthroughs, typically it takes three to five years for manufacturers to make significant performance gains. With the USGA further tightening restrictions on manufacturers, it’s possible, even likely, that it will take longer still moving forward. Our recommendation is to buy new irons only when they appreciably outperform what is already in your bag. Of course, if you want new irons because you want new irons, that’s fine, too.
Q: How do I determine the right category of irons for me?
A: The four categories of irons we test are player’s (cavity backs), player’s distance, game-improvement and super game-improvement. While there is some overlap between categories, your search should begin with an honest assessment of your skill level (handicap) as well as what you need in your game. While there are always exceptions, if your handicap is above 10 and ball striking is not a legitimate strength, consider game-mprovement or super game-improvement. For more skilled players who hit the ball more consistently, a set of player’s or player’s distance irons may benefit your game the most. For those on the bubble, especially for those seeking a few more yards, the player’s distance category could be ideal.
Q: Does the shaft matter?
A: Absolutely. While changes to spin and launch differences are rarely massive, shaft changes frequently lead to improved accuracy, tighter dispersion and greater overall consistency.
Q: What should I look for when testing irons?
A: While golfers have been conditioned to consider distance to the exclusion of nearly everything else, even within the game-improvement category, we recommend looking at the little numbers and looking for small circles. When comparing metrics like distance and ball speed, be sure to look at your standard deviations (the small numbers usually found under the big ones on the launch monitor data screen). Smaller numbers mean better consistency which will usually mean more than an extra yard or two on the golf course. Similarly, look for tighter dispersion ellipses (small circles). We can’t overstate the importance of consistency with irons.
Q: How are the irons in the test fitted to each golfer?
A: We use a fitting process that we call fit from stock. Irons are fitted to each tester using the stock, no up-charge options from each manufacturer. We test one short iron, one mid-iron and one long iron from each set. While there are no irons in our testing that feature adjustability, we fit to flex for each tester in the pool. Occasionally, manufacturers will send multiple sets with different stock shafts that we can utilize to improve launch conditions.
Q: How do you determine in which category to test a given set of irons?
A: To ensure that we’re testing irons as alike as designers allow for, in addition to the design of the head itself (profile, sole width, etc.), we sort by length and loft. Our goal is to keep differences as minimal as possible within any test cohort. When an iron reasonably fits in more than one category, we defer to the manufacturer’s category choice.
Q: How is the 2021 Most Wanted Game-Improvement Iron Determined?
A: To determine our rankings, we collect key performance metrics with Foresight GCQuad Launch Monitors. After eliminating outliers, we use a utilize a proprietary methodology to calculate strokes-gained values for each combination of tester and golf club. The iron that produces the highest strokes-gained values relative to the field average is our Most Wanted.
Q: How is the “longest” Iron determined?
A: The process to determine the longest game-improvement iron is similar to how we arrive at our overall rankings. For distance, our critical metric is Total Yards. We identify the iron that produced the most total yards with the long and middle irons relative to the field average.
Q: How is the “Most Forgiving” iron determined?
A: We’ve taken a practical approach to forgiveness. The club for which strokes-gained values for the best shots are closest to the strokes-gained value for the worst shots (relative to the field average) is the Most Forgiving.
Q: You discuss subjective feedback for things like looks, sound and feel. How much do those ratings factor into your rankings?
A: ZERO. Our rankings are based purely on launch monitor data and quantifiable performance metrics.
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