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.
The accuracy category plays a vital role in every iron category. Our accuracy score is determined strictly by Strokes Gained.
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
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
- Backed by an impressive accuracy score, TaylorMade Stealth tis our 2022 Most Wanted Game-Improvement Iron.
- Proto Concept’s C07 is runner-up.
- Titleist T300 gains third place with a solid performance across all three metrics.
BEST GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS FOR DISTANCE
- COBRA KING LTDx is the best for distance.
- Coming in second, Callaway Rogue ST Max.
- Finishing third, COBRA KING Forged Tec X stakes its claim.
- TaylorMade Stealth combines its best for accuracy with a fourth-place ranking for distance.
- Titleist T300 rounds out the top five.
BEST GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS FOR FORGIVENESS
- Proto Concept C07 the best for forgiveness.
- In second, Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal, our 2021 Most Wanted Game Improvement Iron.
- Rounding out the top three is Fourteen PC-3.
- XXIO X breaks into the top five with a fourth-place ranking.
- Titleist T300 again completes the top five.
BEST GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS FOR ACCURACY
- TaylorMade Stealth is the clear-cut best for accuracy.
- Proto Concept C07 combines an impressive forgiveness ranking with a great accuracy ranking.
- Fourteen PC-3 also has a great blend of forgiveness and accuracy.
- Tilteist T300 ranks fourth for accuracy.
- XXIO X rounds out the top five and adds to its solid forgiveness ranking.
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.
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.).
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.
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
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.
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
- Tungsten weighting continues to be an intricate technology piece. Titleist T300, Callaway Rogue ST Max, and COBRA KING Forged Tec X all utilize tungsten. Cleveland Launcher XL, COBRA KING LTDx, and Tour Edge Exotics E722 feature weighting as well. These weighting features are there to enhance MOI.
- Distance sells. With ball speed in mind, face technology continues to be an emphasis. Whether it is TaylorMade’s Cap Back Design, COBRA’s PWRSHELL Face or Callaway’s 450 A.I. Flash Face Cup, they have a singular goal in mind: distance.
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.
- As a golfer, you want a club that is attractive at address. Here are the clubs that our testers rate highly for looks: Proto Concept C07, Titleist T300, Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal, COBRA KING Forged Tec X, XXIO X, COBRA KING LTDx, and Fourteen PC-3.
- With game-improvement irons, feel can be hit or miss. Improvements in feel often come by way of different pieces of technology. Weighting, badges and ribbings all impact feel. According to our testers, these irons provide great feel: TaylorMade Stealth, Proto Concept C07, Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal, Tour Edge Exotics E722, Titleist T300, and COBRA KING Forged Tec X.
2022 MOST WANTED GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRON RESULTS
2022 Game Improvement Iron Rankings
|PRODUCT||OVERALL SCORE||DISTANCE RANK||ACCURACY SCORE||FORGIVENESS SCORE|
|Proto Concept C07|
|Cobra KING Forged Tec X|
|Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal|
|Callaway Rogue ST Max|
|Cobra KING LTDx|
|Tour Edge Exotics E722|
|Cleveland Launcher XL|
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.
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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