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OUR JOB IS YOUR GAME
Today, we highlight the results for our 2022 Most Wanted Player’s Distance Irons test!
Player’s distance irons are a blend of craftsmanship and aesthetics combined with subtle, creative waves of technology. All of which melds together to help you game a beautiful and performance-packed iron.
Let’s take a look at the best player’s distance irons of 2022.
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 player’s distance irons, we’ve split our key metrics into three categories: accuracy, forgiveness and distance. Each category is weighted through proprietary methodologies.
Data was collected using Foresight GCQuad Launch monitors. To minimize variables, all testers hit Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. Outliers were removed and data was aggregated before scores were calculated.
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. 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
Without question, distance is always a priority for most consumers. Our distance metrics are simple:
- Carry distance
- Total distance
BEST PLAYER’S DISTANCE IRONS OVERALL
Top of the Board
- Mizuno Pro 225 is consistent across the board for accuracy, forgiveness and distance. As a result, it takes the title of 2022’s Most Wanted Player’s Distance Iron.
- Wilson Staff continues a rewarding trend with their D9 Forged. Its predecessor, D7 Forged, is a previous winner in this category. D9 Forged displays a great blend of admirable attributes to take second place.
- Rounding out the top three is Proto Concept C05. It makes up for its lack of distance with tremendous accuracy and forgiveness.
- Finishing in fourth is Callaway Rogue ST Pro. If distance is your main objective, Rogue ST Pro is for you.
- New Level 902 PD Forged finishes fifth. It is the best for forgiveness.
BEST PLAYER’S DISTANCE IRONS FOR DISTANCE
- In a category where distance might be your top priority, Rogue ST Pro rises to the occasion.
- Titleist T200 excels in distance. It finishes right behind the Rogue ST Pro.
- Mizuno Pro 225 rounds out the top three.
- Titleist T100S places fourth. It’s not quite as long as T200 but holds its own against the rest of the field.
- Wilson Staff D9 Forged finishes fifth. Testers complimented its distance capability.
BEST PLAYER’S DISTANCE IRONS FOR FORGIVENESS
- Tops for forgiveness is New Level 902 PD Forged. It excels in producing consistent numbers.
- Proto Concept C05 continues Proto Concept’s impressive showing in Most Wanted Testing. It places second for forgiveness.
- Wilson Staff D9 Forged finishes not far behind the top two, producing consistent numbers.
- Titleist T100S combines forgiveness and distance to make for an intriguing option.
- Mizuno Pro 225 rounds out the top five for forgiveness, complementing its distance performance.
BEST PLAYER’S DISTANCE IRONS FOR ACCURACY
- Accurate and forgiving, Proto Concept C05 checks both boxes and is the best for accuracy.
- Mizuno Pro 225: Accurate, forgiving and offers the distance you might be looking for.
- COBRA KING Forged Tec breaks into the top three with an exceptional accuracy score.
- Wilson Staff D9 Forged climbs into the top five. Much like Mizuno Pro 225, it performs consistently across all three metrics.
- PING i525 claims fifth place for accuracy.
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.
For player’s distance irons, set make-ups are traditional. You’ll find 4-PW as the standard with 5-PW, GW as an option as well. Yet it all depends on the manufacturer. 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
In the player’s distance category, distance and forgiveness go hand-in-hand. This category offers a great blend of products designed to be aesthetically pleasing while offering a combination of distance and forgiveness. Throughout testing, we see products that excel in all three of our scoring metrics, especially distance and forgiveness. However, there are products that perform better in one metric versus another. Take a look at the results and determine which metric best fits you.
BEST FOR DISTANCE
If distance is your goal, Callaway Rogue ST Pro might be worth the look. Testers acknowledged its distance throughout Most Wanted Testing.
Most iron sets in the player’s distance category hover between $1,300 and $1,500 for a seven-piece set. There are some sets (New Level 902 PD Forged and Tour Edge Exotics C722) that come in under $1,000. Proto Concept C05 and PXG 0311 P Gen5 are $370 per head and $349 per club respectively.
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
- Improving launch conditions while maintaining a player’s iron look is no small feat. A majority of OEMs achieve this in their player’s distance irons through:
- Tungsten weighting
- Hollow-body design
- Face design
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.
- There are plenty of standouts in the player’s distance iron category for feel: Mizuno Pro 225, Proto Concept C05, Wilson Staff D9 Forged, Titleist T100S, PXG 0311 P Gen5, COBRA KING Forged Tec and New Level 902 PD Forged.
- For profile and looks, Titleist T100S, Titleist T200, Proto Concept C05, Mizuno Pro 225 and TaylorMade P790 stand out.
- Some testers say PING’s i525 is the best PING iron they have hit in years.
- From a looks perspective, bright, shiny chrome is not a favorite among our testers. Callaway Rogue ST Pro, Wilson Staff D9 Forged and New Level 902 PD all received negative feedback on that aspect.
2022 MOST WANTED PLAYER’S DISTANCE IRON RESULTS
2022 Most Wanted Player's Distance Scores
|PRODUCT||OVERALL SCORE||DISTANCE SCORE||ACCURACY SCORE||FORGIVENESS SCORE|
|Mizuno Pro 225|
|Wilson Staff D9 Forged|
|Proto Concept C05|
|Callaway Rogue ST Pro|
|New Level 902 PD Forged|
|Cobra KING Forged Tec|
|PXG 0311 P Gen5|
|Tour Edge Exotics C722|
2022 MOST WANTED PLAYER’S DISTANCE IRON DATA
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2022 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 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 are 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 Player’s Distance 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 player’s distance 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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