Technical Tips

April 2012

2011 Iron Test
By Rankmark.com

It was a tough one - holidays, oppressive heat, golfers not receptive to hitting irons, etc. - but we did it. And learned a lot. We had 91 six irons, that's a lot of cubs to have golfers hit so we could get representative sampling. We found some things you would expect and some you would not.

It took us eight events to gather all this information. We saw different types of golfers hit different types of clubs and this proved to be insightful. So see the results, remember that irons are used much more than any club. Could mean more than few strokes off each round of golf.
This was a tough test. Ambitiously, we decided to test more models, we had 91 different 6 irons and due to weather (seriously hot), holidays, and just plain bad luck, we had to run eight test events. But we did it and here are the results.

We learned a lot from these tests, the first being that most people want to hit drivers, not irons.

A very interesting test. We decided to depart from the past and test more models, 91 six irons to be exact. Six irons being the club of choice to fit irons. We will be doing limited follow up tests on manufacturers who sent a lot of models. The test proved to be a big challenge but yielded interesting insights into the ways golfers go about choosing irons. Remember that the bulk of your shots in a round are made with an iron. Yet we had a much harder time getting people to test irons as compared to drivers, we still had many people ask if we had drivers to test during iron testing. So let's review this test.

Generally, people liked a type of look - traditional, game improvement, hybrids or PINGs (which are a very unique looking club). PING users are PING golfers and it would take an act of congress to get them to switch. But the look was a very important factor to around 60% of the testers. Some could be swayed by a club that worked better for them.

As always, the ad budget and reputation of the manufacturer played a part in what club the testers wanted to try. There were a number of golfers who would only try clubs from one manufacturer. I find this one very hard to reconcile but it was a much smaller percentage as compared to drivers. Additionally, a small number of testers stayed with the clubs they have been using, even though another may have worked better for them.

Based on our observations, I would guess that 65% of the golfers listed a handicap that was lower than reality. The rest, generally very low and very high handicappers, looked correct based on their swing and watching them hit. This led to them picked a model they felt would suit their handicap and it produced mixed results.

This test and it's the factors above produced some surprising results.

  • For a few of golfers, there is a club/model that will dramatically improve their game based on their swing.
  • Golfers often choose clubs for the wrong reasons.
  • Looks, in a lot of cases, make a bigger difference than you would expect.
  • The club style recommended for your handicap - blade, game improvement, etc. - may not be the one that produces the best results for you.
    So try as many clubs as you can, it just may save you more stokes that you think.

For a few golfers, myself included, there was a clubs that worked the best. A 51 year old golfer that stated he had a 15 handicap, which we considered close to his capabilities, came to an event to try game improvement clubs. He felt that it would lower his scores. We watched him go through a number of clubs, all with similar results - a fairly wide spread of shots, both left and right - until he picked up a Titleist CB. He just striped them down the middle, now we're not talking about a few, but all. It was amazing to see the difference. He then tried some more clubs but just not as good. He left and came back an hour or so later and did the same thing again. He would be heading to a golf shop as soon as possible to get a set.

I looked at one of the blade style clubs and immediately fell in love with the looks. I am a fourteen handicap, struggling at the moment because I'm not playing much. I felt I could not effectively hit a blade - wrong. I took the blade out for a couple rounds and it continued to work very well for me. Thinking about this, I liked the club so much that I slowed down my swing, it just felt better. I attribute that to being more comfortable and with the smaller sweet spot, I had less room for error. We know the adage, a well hit ball goes farther than a hard hit ball. All of this contributed to me hitting more consistent. After being fit, I ordered a set.

The last story is a bit off the mark but none the least very interesting. During one of the tests, I watched a woman hit balls a couple stalls down from the test. She was obviously a beginner and was hitting a left-handed, persimmon wood off a tee that was too tall and doing a credible job. I didn't say anything until she switched to a right handed ancient iron and still hit pretty well - an ambidextrous golfer. So I picked up a hybrid club, right-handed, and went over to her. After a brief overview of what we were doing I gave her the club to hit. It was truly amazing to watch - fifty yards longer, straighter and 20 yards higher. We tried a few other clubs but the hybrid was the club for her.


Low Handicap

Avg. Handicap

High Handicap

1 Titleist CB
2 NIKE VR Pro Combo
3 RC Tour VS
3 Titleist AP2
3 RC Forged Blade
3 Callaway Razr X Forged
3 Srixon Z-TX
4 PING G15
4 Cobra S3 PRO
4 Cleveland CG1 Tour
4 TaylorMade Burner 2.0
5 Miznuo MP58
5 Callaway Razr X Tour
5 Miznuo MP53
5 PING S56
6 Cleveland CG16
6 TourEdge JMax Gold
6 Miznuo JPX800 PRO

1 NIKE VR Pro Combo
1 Titleist CB
2 Cleveland CG1 Tour
2 Cobra S3
2 PING Anser
2 Titleist AP1
2 RC Forged Blade
2 TourEdge Exotics XCG 4
3 Cleveland CG16
3 Fourteen TC 710
3 Callaway Razr X Forged
3 Cobra S3 PRO
4 Srixon Z-TX
5 TaylorMade Burner 2.0
5 Miznuo MP58
5 Cleveland HB3
6 Titleist AP2
6 NIKE VR Pro Cavity
6 PING S56
6 PING G15

1 Titleist AP2
2 Cobra S3
2 Titleist CB
2 PING S56
2 Miznuo JPX800 PRO
3 Miznuo JPX800
3 TaylorMade Burner 2.0
3 Srixon Z-TX
3 Miznuo MP58
3 Callaway Razr X
3 PING Anser
3 NIKE VR Pro Cavity
3 Titleist AP1
4 Cleveland CG16
4 TourEdge Exotics XCG 4
4 Cleveland HB3
4 Miznuo MP53
4 PING G15
4 PING K15
4 TourEdge JMax Gold

1 PING G15
1 Miznuo JPX800
1 PING K15
2 Cleveland HB3
2 Cobra S3
2 Cobra S3 MAX
3 Callaway Razr X
3 Ashdon Loft Line
3 TaylorMade Burner 2.0
4 Callaway Diablo Edge
4 Miznuo MP53
4 Titleist AP2
5 NIKE VR Pro Cavity
5 TourEdge Exotics XCG 4
5 Titleist CB
6 TourEdge JMax Gold
7 Cleveland CG16
7 TourEdge Bazooka HT Max
7 Nicklaus Polarity HP


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