Club testing time
By Anthony Barkley
I thought with some new models on the market it was time for some testing. I also wanted to see how new models compared to my own clubs. So I have tried to make this testing as simple as possible and as consistent as possible. Bear in mind we generally see ½ a club more distance through an indoor studio but if you compare to your own clubs you can compare apples to apples.
So the clubs I chose were three Taylormade models, the new AP3 iron from Titleist and two KZG models. Due to limited room on this article I have had to leave out other brands.
Why I chose the 3 Taylormade models was through client testing they have generally been coming out in front in regards to distance and consistency. They are certainly our largest selling club currently without any bias at all as when we fit we keep an open mind.
So what did the data tell me?
Firstly the results of testing my own Mizuno MP25 iron produced an average carry of 142 meters, club head speed averaged 77.8mph and 106.6mph ball speed. Not the best numbers to be honest but I am not a long iron hitter. I love the mizuno irons but have always felt they were not strong of the clubface and my playing days are less now so a little more forgiveness is likely necessary.
With a standard loft of 34 degrees and std S300 stiff shafts it was interesting to see results.
So my favourite iron on the market currently is the P790 from Taylormade. Its classy, clean look invites a better player to hit this model. With the forged head and speedfoam technology I see why PXG tried to sue them as it’s a beast of an iron. With the loft set to a stronger 30.5 degrees you should expect one club longer length automatically. So the average carry was 156m with the best reaching 172m. So it was easily a club and a half longer than my current model but did have more deviation in distance consistency which is likely due to a players model being in the hands of someone that has not played much of late. Club head speed averaged 86.5 and ball speed 112.8mph which were considerable gains. I rate this 9/10 for look, 7/10 for overall performance.
Next was the Taylormade M1 model. This is a chunkier model created for those looking for distance plus consistency. Its not too big which is good. Firstly what was outstanding in this model was the consistency of distance. No flyers but a consistent pattern. This model averaged 156 meters carry with a club head speed of 84.6mph and ball speed of 113.6. Less clubs head speed and more ball speed means the technology in the head was working well. It has the same loft as the P790 iron or 30.5 degrees. I would rate this 8/10 for look and 8/10 for overall performance.
I wanted to put in a game improvement iron. What we normally see with a club such as the MCGB iron from Taylormade is a very high flight but I just didn’t see this with this iron. I remember trying the 4 iron at the fitting day and it was just so easy to hit. So numbers averaged 160m carry, 83.8mph club head speed and an outstanding 115mph ball speed which was great but wasn’t the best believe it or not. This club has been selling so well. Its forgiving, looks nice and its performance against other brands has been impressive. Hard to beat this model so an 8/10 for look (just a bit big for me) and 9/10 for overall performance related to hit ability.
The next club is the AP3 iron from Titleist. They needed a more distance iron to compete with others on the market. The AP3 looks great but how did it perform. The AP3 has 31 degrees loft so not quite as strong as others but 3 degrees stronger than my own 7 iron. It averaged 150m carry with club head speed of 81.7mph. Ball speed was 110.3mph and it was very consistent in the length it produced on each shot. It’s a nice iron to hit. I ranked it 8.5/10 for look and 7/10 for performance only because it didn’t quite reach the performance levels of other models.
I thought this was also a chance to try the NEW distance model from KZG called the LDI. It features a forged face insert that increases ball speeds and has a 30 deg loft or a 27 degree 6 iron used for testing in this instance. Firstly, the ball is hot of the face reaching 167 average carry and ball speed of 118.7mph. It certainly held up well against other long distance irons such as the MCGB. Its look is not fancy but its performance is impressive so I rate this model 7/10 for look but 8.5/10 for overall performance.
To finish off I tried the KZG forged MA-1 model just to see how it ranked. This is a players model with traditional lofts. 158m carry average and 85.2mph average club speed. Ball speed was a solid 113mph. This model did surprise me and the more I try and fit these clubs the more I like them. They are simple but very playable. For looks I rate the MA-1 a 7.5/10 and for performance 8.5/10 for a better players iron.
So from all this data we see the modern iron really improving in its distance and playability. They are stronger lofted but I think we need to move past this as its part of golf now. Do you really need an iron to go so far? That’s the question and is always discussed when fitting someone. My thinking is use the technology available as much as possible. A shorter club with less loft must be easier to hit than a longer club with more loft although this could be debated.
I hope my testing helps anyone looking at irons currently. All testing was done in my studio at Rotorua with the same ball and more information on these clubs and others can be found at www.100percentgolf.com.