OUR JOB IS YOUR GAME

Game-improvement irons appeal to a lot of golfers with their blend of distance and forgiveness. Some of you might lean towards the distance side of performance. Others, the forgiveness side.

At MyGolfSpy, our mission is to get the best equipment for you. Here are our recommendations for the 2022 best Game-Improvement Irons.

For our 2022 Game-Improvement Iron test, we’ve focused on models added to the market since our last test. As will become standard practice, we’ve also included the winner of last year’s test.

MOST WANTED SCORING

We have reformulated our 2022 Most Wanted results to a 100-point scoring system. This new system better identifies golf clubs to potentially help you shoot lower scores.

For game-improvement irons, we’ve split our key metrics into three categories: accuracy, forgiveness, and distance. Each category is weighted through proprietary methodologies.

CLICK HERE FOR DATA.

Accuracy

The accuracy category plays a vital role in every iron category. Our accuracy score is determined strictly by Strokes Gained.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a measure of consistency. We believe it holds equal value with distance in the game-improvement iron category. As such, our forgiveness metric seeks to identify the clubs that provide the most consistent result. Note: “Consistent” doesn’t always mean “consistently good.” Our forgiveness metrics include:

  • Ball speed consistency
  • Spin consistency
  • Carry consistency
  • Dispersion area

Distance

In this category, we know distance is a big motivating factor so we’ve increased our emphasis on distance in this category. Our distance metrics are simple:

  • Carry distance
  • Total distance

BEST GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS OVERALL

Top of the Board

BEST GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS FOR DISTANCE

TOP PICKS: COBRA KING LTDX, CALLAWAY ROGUE ST MAX, COBRA KING FORGED TEC X

BEST GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS FOR FORGIVENESS

TOP PICKS: PROTO CONCEPT C07, MIZUNO JPX 921 HOT METAL, FOURTEEN PC-3

BEST GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS FOR ACCURACY

TOP PICKS: TAYLORMADE STEALTH, PROTO CONCEPT C07, FOURTEEN PC-3

BUYING CONSIDERATIONS

Performance should be your primary concern when buying new irons but there are additional things you may want to think about before you make your decision.

SET MAKE-UP

In the game-improvement iron category, there is a much wider set make-up composition. You can see 4-PW or 5-PW, GW, SW. It all depends on the OEM. For most, that’s not a bad place to start but it’s worth mentioning that some golfers will be better served by replacing the 4-iron with a hybrid or high-lofted fairway wood. Likewise, golfers looking for greater versatility around the green should consider passing on the set-matched pitching wedge in favor of a specialty wedge (e.g., Vokey, MG3, PING Glide Forge Pro, etc.).

SHAFT SELECTION

Being properly fitted can greatly increase the likelihood of proper shaft selection. Nowadays, most manufacturers offer a solid shaft selection at no up-charge. Take full advantage of this piece of the puzzle. Some off-the-rack shaft options are great. However, getting dialed in with the proper shaft can enhance launch conditions, consistency and dispersion.

DISTANCE AND FORGIVENESS

No surprise. Distance will most always take precedence over forgiveness. Should it? What if the distance you are gaining isn’t efficient distance? Sure, the distance is there but is the spin sufficient to hold the green? Is the descent angle steep enough? These are questions you need to ask yourself when chasing distance.

Forgiveness and consistency go hand in hand. Here at MyGolfSpy, our job is your game. Finding a game-improvement iron that offers distance isn’t an issue. Finding one that offers consistent, playable distance is the Holy Grail.

2022 BEST DISTANCE

2022 BEST DISTANCE

COBRA KING LTDx's distance is undeniable. It was the longest iron across the board. If distance is your goal, this is worth consideration.

COST

Traditionally, game-improvement iron pricing is more consumer-friendly. But we live in an ever-changing world. The 2022 Most Wanted Winner, TaylorMade Stealth, comes in at $999.99 for a seven-piece set. Our runner-up and best for forgiveness, Proto Concept C07, can run you $320-$370 per head. Yes, per head. Tour Edge Exotics E722 prices out at $100 per club. For the Game Improvement Category, you have a wide range of price points.

2021 MOST WANTED GAME IMPROVEMENT IRON

2021 MOST WANTED GAME IMPROVEMENT IRON

In 2021, Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal captured the title of 2021 Most Wanted Game Improvement Iron. This year, it did not succeed in reclaiming the title. However, it held its own against newcomers. It was 2nd for forgiveness, which helped propel it to 5th place overall in this year's test.

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

2022 BEST ACCURACY

2022 BEST ACCURACY

If accuracy is your main objective, TaylorMade Stealth is worth your consideration. TaylorMade Stealth displayed tremendous accuracy, especially in the 7 and 5 iron categories.

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.

2022 BEST FORGIVENESS

2022 BEST FORGIVENESS

For us, forgiveness is a combination of metrics with dispersion being of utmost importance. Tighter dispersion is the goal and Proto Concept C07 achieves just that.

2022 MOST WANTED GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRON RESULTS

2022 Game Improvement Iron Rankings

 PRODUCTOVERALL SCOREDISTANCE RANKACCURACY SCOREFORGIVENESS SCORE
TaylorMade Stealth

Check Price
97.544th1st7th
Proto Concept C07

Check Price
91.0611th2nd1st
Titleist T300

Check Price
88.565th4th5th
Cobra KING Forged Tec X

Check Price
86.883rd7th9th
Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal

Check Price
86.509th8th2nd
XXIO X

Check Price
84.677th5th4th
Fourteen PC-3

Check Price
84.0410th3rd3rd
Callaway Rogue ST Max

Check Price
83.712nd6th11th
Cobra KING LTDx

Check Price
83.441st10th10th
Tour Edge Exotics E722

Check Price
76.316th9th8th
Cleveland Launcher XL

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72.308th11th6th

2022 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 governing bodies 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, we’d recommend avoiding the player’s iron category. 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 is typically the most versatile.

Q: Does the shaft matter?

A: Absolutely. While changes to spin and launch differences are rarely substantial, shaft changes frequently lead to improved accuracy, tighter dispersion and greater overall consistency. Finding the right shaft and dialing in your lie angles is reason enough to get fitted.

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, 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 2022 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 utilize a proprietary methodology to calculate overall scores for three key metrics: accuracy, forgiveness and distance. The Most Wanted winner is determined by the overall score after weighting these three metrics.

Q: How is the “Best for Distance” 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 metrics are carry and total yards. We identify distance scores for each iron: 5, 7 and PW. From there, an overall score is calculated.

Q: How is the “Best for Forgiveness” iron determined?

A: Forgiveness scores are calculated based on four key metrics: spin delta, speed delta, carry delta and dispersion. A forgiveness score is generated, like distance, for each iron: 5, 7 and PW. From there, an overall score is calculated.

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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