The 20 Second Intro:
Model: Wilson Staff D300 Irons
Set Makeup: 4 – GW
Stock Shafts: KBS Tour 80, Matrix Speed Rulz A-Type 54
Retail Price: $799.99 in steel, $899.99 in graphite
I sincerely hope the Is Wilson back/Wilson is back storyline is over.
It’s a tired and trite narrative. Anyone still asking that question in 2017 has been sound asleep for at least five years because when it comes to irons, Wilson Staff’s lineup competes with anyone’s.
Wilson’s FG Tour 100’s may very well be the nicest looking blade out there, and the new players’ cavity back – the FG Tour V6 – borders on the remarkable. The Game Improvement FG Tour F5 and C200 offerings are worthy performers and, within their product category, are solid values given their respective price tags.
Market share-wise, Wilson isn’t anywhere close to threatening Callaway, TaylorMade or PING, but efforts such as Driver Vs. Driver (despite the ensuing USGA kerfuffle) suggest a company trying to take the next step up the ladder.
Whether Wilson will be successful largely depends on if there’s any room on that next rung.
With all that as a backdrop, let’s take a gander at Wilson’s newest player in the Super Game Improvement category, the D300.
D For Distance
Before you start crying shovels, remember that a shovel is a tool for a specific purpose. In this case, Super Game Improvement irons are made for specific players with specific needs.
Wilson’s touts its F-C-D (for Feel-Crossover-Distance) classification system as an effective way of matching up players to the right tools. Feel is for better players’ irons, C is Game Improvement, and D is Super Game Improvement.
The D300 is very much a Super Game Improvement iron, aimed at mid- to high-handicappers who need help getting the ball in the air and who struggle with distance. And there are some noticeable, and visible, differences from its 2-year old predecessor, the D200.
“You’re going to see FLX Face™ Technology and Power Holes filled with TEO31 urethane,” says Wilson Global R&D Director Michael Vrksa. “We’re applying our best, most innovative distance technology for the Distance Player.”
Wilson first introduced FLX Face™ Technology last year in its C200 irons. It’s Wilson’s way of creating more flex over a wider area of the clubface, and it’s worth revisiting.
What The FLX?
When OEM’s talk about a hot face, they’re talking about CT or Characteristic Time. Simply stated, CT measures – in microseconds – how much time the ball spends on the clubface at impact. As we all learned a few weeks ago, the USGA limits CT to 239 microseconds, with a max tolerance of 18, for a maximum CT of 257 microseconds.
CT measures – and limits – the springiness of the clubface. OEM’s are forever looking for ways to push to the CT limits because the higher the CT over a larger area of the clubface, the higher the ball speed will be at any swing speed, especially on mishits. And the higher the ball speed, the farther the ball will go.
Wilson’s FLX Face™ Technology, with Power Holes, essentially separates three-quarters of the clubface from the body, which allows the face to flex at impact. Also, FLX Face gives Wilson the ability to redistribute mass on the D300, with very visible weight pods on each end of the sole.
“It’s amazing just how much mass we can move,” says Vrksa. “We’re moving even more mass towards the heel and toe, and low, to make it more forgiving. These are our most forgiving, longest irons ever.”
The Power Holes themselves are filled with TEO31 Urethane, which help create a muted, pleasing sound and a feel that is as close to forged as you can get in an SGI iron without actually being forged.
Specs and Details
For an SGI iron, the lofts on the D300 are not off-the-charts crazy; the 7 iron is 31-degrees (TaylorMade’s M2 7-iron is 28.5 degrees). The stock shaft is the new KBS Tour 80, a lighter weight version of the KBS Tour. It’s a high launch, high spin shaft, designed specifically for the player who needs help getting the ball up in the air for more carry.
While complete testing is in the works, early range sessions show the D300 is very similar to its FLX Faced, Power Holed older brother, the C200. The mid- and short-irons launch very high without ballooning, while the 4-, 5- and 6-irons also launch high, but with enough spin to hold the green. The entire set, from 4-iron through Gap Wedge, are incredibly easy to hit and practically insist on going straight.
These are, of course, Super Game Improvement irons, and they very much look the part. The cavity back is blinged out in red and black, which are Wilson’s SGI colors. The D300 topline and sole are thick, and the Power Holes are clearly visible at address. The look may bother some, but our experience says that after a swing or two they tend to disappear. If you’re a mid- to low-handicapper who loves a thin topline, narrow sole and classic looks, the D300, and pretty much any SGI iron is not intended for you.
However, mid- to high-handicappers who struggle with ball striking and/or distance have plenty of options. Callaway’s Steelheads are clearly the market leader, while M2, PING’s GMax and Cobra’s King OS are all strong contenders. If that’s your market, you’ll want to make sure the Wilson D300 is on your must-demo list for 2017.