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Our Job is Your Game

2021 Most Wanted Testing is rocking and rolling. Iron testing is in full swing. Today, the results are in for the most comprehensive Player’s Distance Iron Test.

At MyGolfSpy, our job is to provide independent, unbiased and objective testing so you can make more confident purchasing decisions. Our 2021 Most Wanted Player’s Distance Iron 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 scratch or low- to mid-handicap golfer, player’s distance irons appeal to a plethora of golfers. If you’re in the market for a new set of irons, this test is for you.

2021 Most Wanted Player’s Distance Iron: Mizuno MP20 HMB

The 2021 Most Wanted Player’s Distance Iron, the Mizuno MP20 HMB, is a beauty of a club. Distance may not be its forte compared to other irons in this test. However, it proves to be a symbol of playability and consistency, especially in the most important metric of all: Strokes Gained. Here are its rankings:

  • 1st in Strokes Gained
  • 10th in Total Distance
  • 4th in Forgiveness

Strong performances in the long- and short-iron categories elevated the MP20 HMB to the top of the pedestal.

Performance Grades

Below is the 2021 Most Wanted Player’s Distance Irons 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.

SET MAKE-UP

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 Player’s Distance category, 4-irons are practically ubiquitous but not every set offers a gap wedge. Make sure your iron set can fill every spot in the bag you need it to fill and that you’re not forced to buy more clubs than you want or need.

SHAFT SELECTION

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 FORGIVENESS

Modern iron offerings tend to offer either forgiveness or distance. Iron loft certainly plays a factor as does technology in the head. In 2021, the Most Wanted Player’s Distance Iron pool offers both metrics. For distance, Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal Pro, PXG 0311 P Gen4 and COBRA KING Forged Tec Copper are the top performers. For forgiveness, Callaway Apex 21 and Titleist CNCPT CP-03 are the top competitors.

COST

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 irons showcasing in the 2021 Most Wanted Player’s Distance Iron Test have a wide range of price points. Last year’s winner, the Wilson Staff D7 Forged, is priced at $899.99. On the flip side, Titleist CNCPT CP-03 and PXG 0311 P Gen4 both represent a zenith for iron cost: $4,000 and $2,792 respectively for an eight-piece set. Again, we stress the importance of getting a proper fitting before rushing into such hefty purchases.

BEST TOTAL DISTANCE - MIZUNO JPX 921 HOT METAL PRO

BEST TOTAL DISTANCE - MIZUNO JPX 921 HOT METAL PRO

Distance, it's all we ever crave. Well, you are in luck, Mizuno's JPX 921 Hot Metal Pro is the best for distance in this year's test. 2.28 yards separated it from the closest competitor in the Long Iron Category.

FIELD NOTES

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

  •  With hollow-body designs continuing to trend, tungsten is a key component within the clubhead. Honma TR21X, TaylorMade P770, Titleist CNCPT CP-03 and COBRA KING Forged Tec Copper all feature a hollow-body design with the integration of tungsten. Although not a hollow-body design, the Callaway Apex 21 also exhibits tungsten material via their Tungsten Energy Core.
  • For the first time, Mizuno integrates Chromoly 4120 into a fully forged head with the JPX 921 Forged. This procedure enables a thinner face and, in turn, the potential for more ball speed. Additionally, the JPX 921 Hot Metal Pro features Chromoly 4140 in combination with their CORTECH face to create faster ball speed.
  • Each OEM has their own way of utilizing technology to create more ball speed. Whether it is the examples of Mizuno or PXG’s XCOR Technology, they all have one goal: ball speed.
  • Creating an iron that contains technology but is also aesthetically pleasing is no small task. However, Player’s Distance irons continue to achieve the best of both worlds. TaylorMade P770 and Mizuno MP20 HMB embody aesthetics with hints of technology. The Wilson Staff D7 Forged is pleasing to the eye with noticeable technology.
BEST FORGIVENESS - CALLAWAY APEX 21

BEST FORGIVENESS - CALLAWAY APEX 21

In an iron category where forgiveness might be overlooked, Callaway's Apex 21 is the best iron for forgiveness. The Apex 21 excels in forgiveness where it matters most in the Long and 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. You are a consumer, just like the folks in our Most Wanted Tests. We use their feedback as a representation of what the consumer likes and dislikes in a product. This being said, the feedback is strictly subjective. It does not play a factor in the rankings.

  • First impressions are important. “Feel” and “looks” are the two comments out of most testers’ mouths and PXG’s 0311 P Gen4 gave them precisely that in a positive way. Throughout testing, testers raved about the feel and looks of the irons.
  • Talk about first impressions. COBRA continues their boldness with their KING Forged Tec Copper irons. The copper finish was well received by most of the testing pool. Of course, there were a few naysayers but we all know COBRA loves the flair.
  • Price point aside, testers were thoroughly pleased with Titleist CNCPT CP-03’s feel and design. Testers were enamored with the clubs from the beginning of testing to its finish.
  • Although the Honma TR21X did not blow away testers in the looks department, they received quality feedback for their feel.
  • Despite being dethroned as the winner, the Wilson Staff D7 Forged continued to be a tester favorite for feel and design.

2021 Most Wanted Player’s Distance Iron 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 driver for your game.

We are 100% independent and unbiased, and we always put the #ConsumerFirst.

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

To minimize variables, all testers hit Bridgestone Tour B X Golf balls.

Both club and head data are captured using Foresight GCQuad launch monitors.

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 Player’s Distance Iron Product Specifications

2021 Most Wanted Players Distance Iron Product Specs

 ProductPW LoftPW Length7 Iron Loft7 Iron Length5 Iron Loft5 Iron Length
Callaway Apex 21

Check Price
42.535.375"29.7536.625"21.7537.625"
Cobra KING Forged Tec Copper

Check Price
42.535.75"30.2537.125"22.2538"
Honma TR21 X

Check Price
4235.5"30.2537"22.537.875"
Mizuno JPX 921 Forged

Check Price
43.535.625"30.537"22.538"
Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal Pro

Check Price
4335.5"28.2537"20.538"
Mizuno MP20 HMB

Check Price
4535.5"3137"23.7538"
PXG 0311 P Gen4

Check Price
42.535.5"28.536.75"22.7538"
TaylorMade P770

Check Price
45.2535.5"32.536.75"24.2537.75"
Titleist CNCPT CP-03

Check Price
41.535.5"29.7536.875"24.537.875"
Wilson Staff D7 Forged

Check Price
42.2535.375"29.536.75"24.2537.75"

2021 Most Wanted Player’s Distance 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 Improvement 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.

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SEE MY RESULTS

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 Player’s Distance 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.

MOST WANTED

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 Player’s Distance 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 Player’s Distance 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.