Historically, a good bit of Tour Edge’s success with better players is the result of doing one thing exceptionally well – fairway woods. The question, to a degree, has always been, “Can Tour Edge produce irons and wedges that match the performance of the fairway woods and hybrids?”
Tour Edge believes its EXS Pro line of irons and wedges is the answer.
Last week we introduced you to the Tour Edge Pro driver, fairway wood, and hybrid. Today, we’re on to the irons and wedges. Specifically, this release includes two sets of irons: the Tour Edge EXS Pro Forged and EXS Blade irons and EXS Blade wedges.
As with the metalwoods, the irons and wedges fit Tour Edge’s “straight from the tour van” narrative. The objective with the EXS Pro irons and wedges, says Tour Edge, was to create a more traditional “player” aesthetic “that utilizes only the finest materials and precise CNC milling.”
“As a club designer,” says Tour Edge Owner and Designer, David Glod, “I love player iron designs that are as beautiful as they are playable.”
Again, Tour Edge is billing this release as a limited-edition, small-batch, whatever-you-want-to-call-it offering. With the driver, fairway woods, and hybrids, Tour Edge manufactured 1000 of each, so it’s reasonable to think the quantities for iron sets and wedges might be a bit less.
Tour Edge EXS Pro Blade Iron Specifics
With almost any muscle-back design, there isn’t a lot of room for creativity. Thin toplines, minimal offset, and an overall compact footprint are three integral elements of any authentic blade iron.
You might, however, see designers take some liberty with the shaping and size of the muscle-pad. It’s a simple way to draw some distinction between models. Given the confined parameters of what constitutes a muscle-back iron, it’s one of the few ways to do so.
In general, the point of a muscle-back iron like the EXS Pro blade is to center a significant amount of weight directly in line with the center of gravity. More mass directly behind the intended impact location results in the soft, yet solid feel typical of blade irons.
The Exotics EXS Pro Blade is what Tour Edge terms a “milled forging.” Specifically, it uses S25C (we call it 1025 here in ‘Murica) carbon steel for the body. Then, elements of the cavity, face, and scoring lines are precision milled to maintain tight tolerances and consistent production specs.
Regarding shaping, the EXS Pro Blade features a narrow sole, beveled leading edge and square toe alongside a sufficiently thin top line and shorter heel-toe length. The raw head features a dual-finish with both a traditional high-polished chrome juxtaposed with a duller satin in the cavity and milled areas.
Perhaps the most challenging piece of any muscle-back design is making sure you don’t try to do too much to attract attention. With that, the cavity stamping is a bit busy for me. Not that anyone asked, but I would have stuck with a simple “Exotics” on the muscle-pad and let the design speak for itself.
Tour Edge EXS Pro Forged Iron Specifics
In general, when we’re talking about forged irons and wedges, typical tech stories take a back seat. So, we won’t be detailing the benefits and inner workings hollow-cavities, thin faces, TPE inserts, or urethane microspheres. Mostly.
Like the EXS Pro Blade, the EXS Pro Forged utilizes a high-grade Japanese S25C carbon steel head. From there, the forged face and grooves are CNC milled. To be clear, CNC milling grooves, faces, and other portions of the clubhead is an industry-standard practice that is more precise than forging or casting. It’s also a more time-consuming and expensive process, which is why it tends to be reserved for the pieces of the clubhead where precision is most important.
Compared to the EXS Pro Blade, the Pro Forged has a slightly thicker top line and a bit more offset. Again, terms like compact, thin, and narrow are subjective. Tour Edge utilizes a triple-forging technique that it says provides a thinner center and creates heel & toe weight pads for more forgiveness and more consistent ball speeds.
This process allows Tour Edge to place a 10-gram tungsten toe weight in the 3-6 irons to help pull the CG toward the geometric center of the clubface and increase heel-toe MOI/forgiveness.
The familiar-looking cavity insert combines steel, ABS polymer, and a dampening gel for what Tour Edge describes as “an improved sound and feel.” See, I told you there’d be some goo involved at some point.
Tour Edge EXS Blade Wedge Specifics
As with the EXS Pro irons, the Pro Blade Wedge is forged from high-grade S25C carbon steel. The CNC milled face and grooves push right up against USGA limits while offering maximum spin.
In the cavity, a milled-out parallel section allowed Tour Edge to reposition some weight both high and low on the clubface to enhance “distance control on shots higher and lower on the face.” With that, a flare toe design moves the center of gravity slightly higher for lower launch and more spin. To help achieve this, Tour Edge chamfered the trailing edge of the top line, which allows it to still look a bit thinner at address even though it’s actually thicker.
The EXS Milled Forged wedge feature deeper, narrower grooves in the 50° and 52° models and wider grooves in the 54°-60° options. The sole grind is a one-size-fits-most with some heel and toe relief on what’s otherwise a high-bounce wedge. A single bounce-grind combination is available in even-numbered lofts, 50°-60°.
Context and Everything Else
For the most part, this is a boilerplate, as expected release. All of its EXS Pro line equipment fits a similar target demographic though Tour Edge appears to be comfortable with a pricing structure that’s much closer to the industry standard.
Pandemic pricing notwithstanding, at $150/club, a 4-PW set of irons will run you $1050. As a point of reference, that’s roughly $12.00-$25.00/club less than the Mizuno MP-20 series. Regarding the wedges, one might argue without a more extensive suite of bounce/loft configurations and finishes, there isn’t enough separation from the industry leader, Vokey that’s priced just $10 higher.
The EXS Pro line of irons and wedges is likely a play to the core golfer who already has an affinity for Tour Edge. Based on price alone (we’ll wait to comment on performance until we have the opportunity for some in-hand testing), it seems Tour Edge is working to position the EXS Pro line as a value-priced alternative to the major manufacture’s flagship, tour-focused models. It’s something like working to find the least expensive house in a high-end neighborhood rather than the highest-priced house in a more affordable one.
That brings us to the aesthetics of the EXS Pro Forged irons. On one hand, one might posit that Tour Edge has a developing Callaway fetish. From the Rally wedge to the EXS Pro driver and now with the EXS Pro Forged irons, it’s clear Tour Edge is borrowing heavily from successful Callaway designs. Hey, if you’re going to copy someone’s Algebra homework, make sure it’s the smartest kid in the class, right?
That said, if consumers receive the message as Tour Edge is putting out equipment that performs (and looks) like industry leaders (in this case, it’s a singular leader) at a more attractive price point, that’s a pretty crafty way to establish some implied credibility with the hardcore golfer.
As always, tell us what you think.
Pricing, Availability, and Specs
All the EXS Pro irons and wedges will be available through select Tour Edge fitters and retail locations starting 6/1/2020
EXS Pro Forged Irons and EXS Pro Blade Irons ($150/club)
The stock shafts are the True Temper Elevate Tour VSS Pro (R/S flex) and True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 (R300/S300
EXS Pro Blade Wedge ($150/club)
The stock shaft is the True Temper Dynamic Gold 115 (wedge flex).
For more information visit TourEdge.com.
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