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OUR JOB IS YOUR GAME
Today, we highlight the results for our 2022 Most Wanted Super Game-Improvement Irons test!
Super game-improvement irons generally target slower-swinging, higher-handicap and/or beginner golfers. With a focus on forgiveness and increased Moment of Inertia (limiting how much the club-head can twist at impact) these irons help produce higher ball flight and straighter shots.
Let’s take a look at the best super game-improvement 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 super game-improvement 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 SUPER GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS OVERALL
Top of the Board
- Callaway Rogue ST Max OS takes the crown of 2022 Most Wanted Super Game-Improvement Iron. Its performance overall is impressive.
- In second place is Cleveland Launcher XL Halo. Although the Rogue ST Max OS ran away from the competition, Launcher XL Halo displays solid consistency.
- Rounding out the top three is Tommy Armour 845 Max. Distance and forgiveness are its strong points.
BEST SUPER GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS FOR DISTANCE
- Let’s just say Callaway Rogue ST Max OS takes distance to the max. It was the best in this year’s test.
- XXIO 12 showcases its distance potential with the second-best performance.
- Cleveland Launcher XL Halo finishes third.
BEST SUPER GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS FOR FORGIVENESS
- Forgiveness in this category is key. Tour Edge Hot Launch E522 is the best for forgiveness.
- Although it lacks distance performance, Sub 70 799 produces the second-best forgiveness score.
- Callaway Rogue ST Max OS continues its impressive performance by placing third.
BEST SUPER GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRONS FOR ACCURACY
- Propelling Callaway Rogue ST Max OS to the top is the fact it thumped the competition for accuracy.
- Finishing second is the XXIO 12.
- Rounding out the top three is Cleveland Launcher XL Halo.
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 super game-improvement irons, set make-up can range from traditional make-ups (4-PW) to 6- or 7-iron through SW. Thus, it provides a wide range of options. It also varies manufacturer to manufacturer. Some only offer 5-PW, GW, which is a solid option given the target market. Be sure to take advantage of set make-up options when you’re debating purchasing a new iron set.
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
Throughout Most Wanted Testing, distance and forgiveness are main talking points. For most, distance is a priority. However, forgiveness can steal the spotlight on occasion. Super game-improvement irons generally drift towards the forgiveness side of the spectrum. With hybrid-like designs, an increase in MOI often takes precedence over other technology features. In this year’s test, there are some quality choices that offer a great blend of both benefits.
In general, the super game-improvement iron category has fair pricing. Most of the iron sets within this test are less than $1,000. Callaway Rogue ST Max OS and XXIO 12 run between $1,000 and $1,600 depending on set make-up. There are some great value deals such as Tommy Armour 845 Max irons.
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 super game-improvement irons, technology isn’t lacking. There are several technical features that go into these types of irons:
- Hollow-body designs
- Counter-balanced components
- Loft-specific grooves
- Lighter weighting for increased speed
- High MOI construction
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.
- Throughout testing, Callaway Rogue ST Max OS, Cobra Air-X, Tommy Armour 845 Max and XXIO 12 were highly touted for their looks and feel. These four received a plethora of positive comments by a majority of our testing pool.
- With the hybrid style designs, our testing pool is 50-50 on looks. Some believe they inspire confidence. Others are turned off by them or find them too distracting. From a performance standpoint, most thought the hybrid design products were easy to hit. Definitely an option for a player who struggles to get ball airborne.
2022 MOST WANTED SUPER GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRON RESULTS
2022 Most Wanted Super Game Improvement Scores
|PRODUCT||OVERALL SCORE||DISTANCE SCORE||ACCURACY SCORE||FORGIVENESS SCORE|
|Callaway Rogue ST Max OS|
|Cleveland Launcher XL Halo|
|Tommy Armour 845 Max|
|Tour Edge Hot Launch E522|
|Sub 70 799|
|Wilson Staff Launch Pad 2|
2022 MOST WANTED SUPER GAME-IMPROVEMENT IRON DATA
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2022 MOST WANTED SUPER 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. For the super game-improvement category, we recommend players consider them if they’re new to the game, do not generate much swing speed or have a higher handicap (upper teens or greater).
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 Super 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 super 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.