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Our Job is Your Game
At MyGolfSpy, our job is to provide independent, unbiased and objective testing so you can make more confident purchasing decisions. Our 2021 Most Wanted Super Game Improvement Iron Test is an indispensable guide for the off-the-rack buyer or for anyone looking for insight before their next fitting.
Higher handicappers, pay attention!
The best super game improvement irons won’t blow you away with distance. Instead, they focus on consistency.
Let’s take a closer look.
2021 Best Super Game Improvement Iron: COBRA FMAX Airspeed
Arguably, one of the best and most consistent irons to date. In 2021, the best super game improvement iron is the COBRA FMAX Airspeed.
Here are its rankings in our key metrics:
- 1st in Strokes Gained
- 2nd in Forgiveness
- 9th in Total Distance
Yes, the COBRA FMAX Airspeed is the shortest iron of the bunch but it dominated the Strokes Gained department. It separates itself from the competition by nearly 0.20 in Strokes Gained. That’s a considerable difference between first and second place. If you’re looking for consistency, this may be your golden ticket.
Below is 2021 Most Wanted Super Game Improvement Irons Test broken down by performance grades for each iron length. The percentages displayed for each iron represent the frequency at which each was among the best-performing irons for each tester across the test pool.
Iron Buying Considerations
Performance should be your primary concern when buying new irons but there are additional things you may want to think about before you make your decision.
Much like previous iron installments, it is critical to pay attention to your set make-up. In this year’s test, we see potential gapping issues with certain clubs. Loft can affect the performance from one club to the next throughout the set. Golfers who struggle to launch long irons high should consider replacing them with easy-to-launch hybrids.
The number of shaft options for irons is growing. It can be challenging to navigate the different models, weights and flexes to find the right shaft for you. The answer to the best-performing shaft question stretches well beyond graphite versus steel.
Stock shafts in the game improvement category are typically lighter (often significantly so) than the other categories we test. That can be extremely helpful for creating higher launch (and higher spin). That’s helpful for many who fall within the game-improvement demographic, however, the lighter shafts can create control problems for higher swing speed players looking to maximize forgiveness.
DISTANCE VERSUS CONSISTENCY
Higher handicappers often struggle with distance and consistency. The super game improvement iron category offers golf clubs that can potentially assist with either component. Obviously, distance is marketable. Titleist T400, Honma Beres 2 Star and Srixon ZX4 rule the distance conversation, whereas COBRA FMAX Airspeed and Inesis 500 offer greater consistency. For a solid blend of distance and consistency, look at Honma Beres 2 Star or Callaway Big Bertha B21.
When it comes to cost, the super game-improvement category offers an array of options. Pricing will always play a factor in purchasing decisions. At $220 to $350 per club, Titleist T400, XXIO Prime and Honma Beres 2 Star are in the upper echelon of price point. On the flip side, Inesis 500 is $499 for a six-piece set. There is plenty of value to be found but there is obvious craftsmanship in the best irons for higher handicappers.
During each test, we look for trends that provide insight into where the market as a whole is moving as well as what noteworthy changes manufacturers have made to improve year-to-year performance. Additionally, we solicit feedback from our testers. We want to understand what they liked, what they didn’t like and why. Although we obtain their feedback, their subjective opinions do not influence, dictate or determine our testing rankings.
Trends and Tweaks
Notes From The Testing Pool
The following section details subjective feedback from our pool of 20 testers. Gathering feedback is an important aspect of any test. We use their feedback as a representation of what golfers like and dislike about the product we test. That being said, the feedback is strictly subjective. It does not play a factor in the rankings.
- The COBRA FMAX Airspeed stole the show with the best overall Strokes Gained. Furthermore, it was well-received by the tester pool. Feel and looks were the top two attributes that appealed to testers.
- Titleist T400, despite its finish, was a tester favorite. Even within the game-improvement category, golfers crave distance, and the T400 certainly checks that box. Its looks and feel stood out among the testing pool, though some didn’t love the acoustics.
- For looks and design, Srixon ZX4 reaped a plethora of praise from testers. In a category where looks are hit or miss, the ZX4 is a standout.
- Inesis 500 received mixed comments from the tester pool. Despite its strong performance, testers were not pleased with the design of the club. According to them, the offset was a distracting design concept.
- With a phenomenal design, the testers were exuberant about the Honma Beres 2 Star.
2021 Most Wanted Super Game Improvement Iron Data
To filter and compare by club, use the drop-down list and checkboxes to select the irons you wish to compare.
It is important to note that while comparing the performance averages of 20 golfers with varying swing speeds and characteristics is interesting and sometimes useful, it doesn’t tell the complete performance story. For this reason, we look at performance on a per-golfer basis. The overall rankings (listed near the top of this story) reflected the rate at which a club finished in the Top Performing Group for each tester.
Use the dropdown below to switch between long, mid and short irons. Mobile users can use their finger to scroll through the chart vertically and horizontally.
Expert Tip – Shaft Weight
Heavier steel shafts tend to produce lower launch angles with less spin. Lighter shafts (steel or graphite) tend to produce mid to high launch with more spin. Finding a shaft that matches your swing will help produce the desired launch conditions, and shot shape. Remember to keep an open mind and pay close attention to the shaft’s influence on performance during your next fitting.
2021 Most Wanted Super Game Improvement Iron Product Specifications
2021 Most Wanted Super Game Improvement Iron – FAQ
BUYING NEW IRONS
Q: How often should I buy new irons?
A: While on rare occasions there are quantifiable year-over-year breakthroughs, typically it takes three to five years for manufacturers to make significant performance gains. With the USGA further tightening restrictions on manufacturers, it’s possible, even likely, that it will take longer still moving forward. Our recommendation is to buy new irons only when they appreciably outperform what is already in your bag. Of course, if you want new irons because you want new irons, that’s fine, too.
Q: How do I determine the right category of irons for me?
A: The four categories of irons we test are player’s (cavity backs), player’s distance, game-improvement and super game-improvement. While there is some overlap between categories, your search should begin with an honest assessment of your skill level (handicap) as well as what you need in your game. While there are always exceptions, if your handicap is above 10 and ball striking is not a legitimate strength, consider game-improvement or super game-improvement. For more skilled players who hit the ball more consistently, a set of player’s or player’s distance irons may benefit your game the most. For those on the bubble, especially for those seeking a few more yards, the player’s distance category could be ideal.
Q: Does the shaft matter?
A: Absolutely. While changes to spin and launch differences are rarely massive, shaft changes frequently lead to improved accuracy, tighter dispersion and greater overall consistency.
Q: What should I look for when testing irons?
A: While golfers have been conditioned to consider distance to the exclusion of nearly everything else, even within the game-improvement category, we recommend looking at the little numbers and looking for small circles. When comparing metrics like distance and ball speed, be sure to look at your standard deviations (the small numbers usually found under the big ones on the launch monitor data screen). Smaller numbers mean better consistency which will usually mean more than an extra yard or two on the golf course. Similarly, look for tighter dispersion ellipses (small circles). We can’t overstate the importance of consistency with irons.
Q: How are the irons in the test fitted to each golfer?
A: We use a fitting process that we call fit from stock. Irons are fitted to each tester using the stock, no up-charge options from each manufacturer. We test one short iron, one mid iron and one long iron from each set. While there are no irons in our testing that feature adjustability, we fit to flex for each tester in the pool. Occasionally, manufacturers will send multiple sets with different stock shafts that we can utilize to improve launch conditions.
Q: How do you determine in which category to test a given set of irons?
A: To ensure we’re testing irons as alike as designers allow for, in addition to the design of the head itself (profile, sole width, etc.), we sort by length and loft. Our goal is to keep differences as minimal as possible within any test cohort. When an iron reasonably fits in more than one category, we defer to the manufacturer’s category choice.
Q: How is the 2021 Most Wanted Super Game-Improvement Iron Determined?
A: To determine our rankings, we collect key performance metrics with Foresight GCQuad Launch Monitors. After eliminating outliers, we use a utilize a proprietary methodology to calculate strokes-gained values for each combination of tester and golf club. The iron that produces the highest strokes-gained values relative to the field average is our Most Wanted.
Q: How is the “longest” iron determined?
A: The process to determine the longest super game-improvement iron is similar to how we arrive at our overall rankings. For distance, our critical metric is Total Yards. We identify the iron that produced the most total yards with the long and middle irons relative to the field average.
Q: How is the “Most Forgiving” iron determined?
A: We’ve taken a practical approach to forgiveness. The club for which strokes-gained values for the best shots are closest to the strokes-gained value for the worst shots (relative to the field average) is the Most Forgiving.
Q: You discuss subjective feedback for things like looks, sound and feel. How much do those ratings factor into your rankings?
A: ZERO. Our rankings are based purely on launch monitor data and quantifiable performance metrics.