In a world where one-year product cycles are the norm, two-year product cycles can seem refreshingly old fashioned. But the new Wilson Staff Model CB irons represent an update to the – wait for it – four-year-old FG Tour V6s.
A four-year product cycle? What in the name of Sam Snead is going on here?
Admittedly, the FG Tour V6 is a pretty solid better player’s iron. It was our Most Wanted Player’s Iron in 2017. It slipped to the middle of the pack in 2018 and finished near the bottom in 2019 and 2020.
With that as a backdrop, has it really taken Wilson four full years to develop something better? Or has it been a matter of other priorities in potentially larger – and more profitable – market segments?
Probably a little of both.
So, is the Wilson Staff Model CB a viable upgrade over the V6? Let’s take a peek.
Wilson Staff Model CB: Small Changes
The original FG Tour cavity-back iron came out in late 2009 and jumpstarted Wilson’s effort to get back on the serious player’s radar. Two years later, the FG Tour V2 came out and earned one of MyGolfSpy’s highest ratings ever. The line followed two-year product cycles right through the V6 launch in January of 2017.
“There were some noticeable changes from the original FG Tour to the V2,” Jon Pergande, Wilson’s Golf Club Innovation Manager, tells MyGolfSpy. “Then, from the V2 to the V4, we changed weighting a little bit and changed some sole stuff.”
Pergande says the jump from V6 to the Wilson Staff Model CB is more about small changes, particularly weighting and feel.
“Our players really liked where the V6 was,” says Pergande. “There were no compelling things to look at from a change standpoint.”
In other words – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
And there’s also the market segment to consider. Both the game-improvement D7 and player’s distance D7 Forged occupy a much larger chunk of the market than do player’s cavity backs. When you’re a relatively small manufacturer, priorities are priorities.
But with Wilson’s move to the Staff Model moniker for its better player equipment, the V6 was obviously next in the upgrade line.
“Once you establish the look at address, how do you get it to maintain its current level of performance?” says Pergande. “And we also took a new tack on how to get feel in there.”
Rightly or wrongly, better players are very much into looks and feel. It could be that better players are by nature technology deniers. It could be that they’ll hit gorgeous baby draws, low stingers or high fades on demand with anything. Or it could be that 2/10ths of a stroke gained is only 2/10ths of a stroke gained.
If any of those is the case, you might as well go for sexy.
And sexy is the hallmark of the Staff Model line. The Staff Model blades may be the current blade gold standard. And Wilson has added Staff Model wedges and utility irons to the mix, all with the same style.
The Wilson Staff Model CB irons certainly do fit the profile. Graphics-wise, they’re clean. But there’s some stuff going on in the cavity that requires some explanation.
Wilson calls it Tri-Brace Technology.
“If we can add some structure to the topline with that bar that runs from the topline to the sole, we can improve sound and feel,” says Pergande. “We started from a pretty good spot with the V6. But we’re able to drop the decibel level and drop the impact sound with the CB. It’s a small but noticeable change.”
Pergande says Wilson Tour Pros and Advisory Staff players had no issues with the V6’s sound and feel but adds that there’s no such thing as too soft.
“In our world, we have a range of sound we try to achieve with our irons,” he says. “In the subset of forged cavity backs, we’re trying to control that sound and keep it as low as possible.”
Living On Tungsten Time
The other major change in the Wilson Staff Model CB compared to the FG Tour V6 is in the amount and location of tungsten. The V6 irons had three different tungsten configurations: split heel and toe in the long irons, center in the mid-irons and no tungsten in the scoring irons. The new CBs are putting 20 grams of tungsten in the toe of the long and mid irons. As with the V6s, there’s no tungsten in the short irons.
“With all our forged cavity backs, we’ve been slightly more heel-biased with the center of gravity,” says Pergande. “But one thing our players universally dislike is the miss to the left – an overdraw, a hook, whatever you want to call it.”
So by moving the tungsten to the toe, Wilson is giving a slight nudge to moment of inertia by making the head more stable while driving the center of gravity closer to the center of the face.
“When a Tour player or a better player hits a 7-iron, those are long clubs,” says Pergande. “I don’t care who you are – when you hit a 190- to 200-yard shot, that’s a long shot, even if it’s with a 7-iron. You do what you can to minimize dispersion and improve your accuracy from that range.”
For mere mortals, a little extra never hurts – even if it is in a player’s cavity back.
The Staff Model Model
“When we talk Staff Model, it’s a fairly simple, clean design motif,” says Pergande. “We don’t want to do anything extra just for image or appearance. We’re trying to make it very utilitarian and very clean and simple.”
Wilson certainly scored at least a 9 out of 10 on those efforts with both the Staff Model blades and wedges. The utility irons, depending on your point of view, maybe more of a 7 out of 10.
Where do the Wilson Staff Model CB irons fall?
We’ve only seen pictures shared by Wilson but clubs almost always look better in person than in pictures. That stated, the Staff Model CB’s are definitely “utilitarian” but “clean” is a matter of perspective. There are parts of the cavity that are polished and others that are rough (Pergande says the cavity design makes it difficult to polish certain areas). Compared to other irons in the category – I’m looking at you, Callaway X-Forged CB – it’s definitely clean-ish. If you look at the other irons in the 2020 Player’s Iron Most Wanted listings, the Staff Model does seem to fit right in terms of clean/busy. If you want totally clean, you better practice and try blades.
Wilson Staff Model CB – Built to be Progressive
If you love the looks of Wilson’s Staff Model blades but you also know your limitations, you may commence rejoicing. The new Staff Model CB’s are made with you – and with progressive sets – in mind.
“The CB irons are truly meant to be a companion product to the Staff Model blade,” says Pergande. “There’s a bit of a difference in aspect ratio (heel-toe length versus ground-topline length) between our blade and the CB but they do integrate very nicely.”
Spec-wise, the loft progression between both is consistent. That means you won’t have to adjust lofts to keep the gapping consistent. You’ll see a touch more offset with the Staff Model CB’s compared to the blades but, hey, it’s a cavity back. And no matter what, wherever you make the transition from CB to blade – be it from 7-iron to 8-iron or 6-iron to 7-iron – it’s going to look a wee bit hinky.
“The cavity back gives you more height in the club than it does heel-to-toe length,” says Pergande. “The blade is going to be lower. It’s not as tall.”
Like other Wilson forgings, the Wilson Staff Model CB is a single-piece forging made from 8620 carbon steel. In fact, Wilson rough casts the actual head and then pounds the head into its finished size through a forging process.
No, it’s not the same as direct forging from a single billet of 1025 carbon steel but can you really tell the difference?
“It’s the hardness of the metal more than anything,” says Pergande. “There are some different processes that may produce different results but I know there are very few people who can make those distinctions. No one’s ever asked for anything softer from us.”
In addition, Pergande says the cast/forging process gives Wilson more control over consistency and it creates less waste.
“In the old world of forging, you’re knocking off 25 to 30 grams of material during hand finishing and you’re at the mercy of the guy doing the finishing. Now we’re very consistent club to club and set to set.”
Specs, Price and Availability
Loft-wise, the new Wilson Staff Model CB irons fall right in line with the Staff Model blades. They’re what the Loft Police might consider “traditional” (of course, it’s all relative). As mentioned, there’s a skosh more offset but that’s to be expected.
The True Temper Dynamic Gold is the stock shaft and the Golf Pride Tour Velvet is the stock grip – same as the Staff Model blades. A wide array of shaft and grip options is available through Wilson’s custom department.
The stock set is 4-iron through pitching wedge with optional 2- and 3-irons for either the daring or the delusional. There’s also an optional 50-degree gap wedge.
The Wilson Staff Model CB irons will retail for a very Wilson-like $999.99 in steel. They’ll be available on Wilson.com and at retail stores beginning Jan. 15, 2021.