Best Irons of 2013
The best irons of 2013 article comes out of spending a better parts of two days at a local demo day where I was able to test this year’s offerings. The following article features the results of my research both online and on the range culminating in the list of the best irons on 2013. This article features a mix of player’s irons as well as game improvement sets. Some of these have huge marketing campaigns behind them while others are under the radar. All of these irons on the best irons of 2013 list for a reason and should be on your short list if you are looking into a new iron set.
TaylorMade RocketBladez – The Distance Irons
What really makes the Taylormade RocketBladez irons stand out from among the competition in 2013 is distance. These irons are all about distance, and will easily give an extra 5-10 yards on approach shots. Taylormade has transferred their revolutionary “Speed Pocket” design from their Rocketballz fairway woods into these irons, and the results are both increased and consistent distance. The Rocketbladez irons feature a thin faced design to promote high ball speed, along with more weight placed lower on the sweet spot to give a high launch angle and good spin once the golf ball hits the green. Are the RocketBladez irons cast or forged? Both the standard and tour models of the irons are produced from a ‘one-piece’ cast construction. TaylorMade claims that they have the feel of forged irons, but I still prefer the feel of forgings from Mizuno, Bridgestone, Wilson Tour, etc.
The design of the TaylorMade RocketBladez irons feature a 2mm slot in the sole of the club called the ‘speed pocket’ as mentioned above. TaylorMade claims that the ‘Speed Pocket’ promotes ball speed and higher ball flight. This design is based on the fact that a high number of golfers strike the ball below the middle of the iron face. I am a big advocate of having proper impact position and striking down on the ball. Rather than purchasing the latest ‘hot’ irons I would recommend taking a lesson and investing in the Tour Striker training aid to alleviate your swing from the game improvement fix TaylorMade is trying to address with the RocketBladez irons.
The shaft lengths and lofts are stronger than competitor clubs. This means comparing the RocketBladez 7-iron to the 7-iron you are currently gaming is not an accurate test. A more accurate comparison would be the RocketBladez 7-iron compared to your 6-iron. Getting properly fit to the RocketBladez iron will ensure that there are not any strange distance gaps as a result of stronger lofts and lengths.
An interesting side note is that Wilson Staff launched the Reflex iron ~30 years ago featuring this same ‘pocket’ technology. It will be interesting to see what ‘technology’ from yesteryear is re-hashed and pitched as new next.
Mizuno MP-H4 Irons
Mizuno has really stepped up their game of late when it comes to the MP-H4 irons. The high irons feature a hollow hybrid iron technology, which may sound complicated but in essence makes the high irons incredibly easy to hit. In fact, out of all of the irons mentioned in this article the MP-H4 irons easily have the best high irons on the market today for low handicap golfers. The low irons are no fluke either, as they feature a shallow center of gravity (COG) and a half-cavity design that make it really easy to work the golf ball from left to right or right to left.
The Mizuno MP-H4 irons are grain-flow forged which provides the same soft feel of previous Mizuno irons. If you have not hit a Mizuno iron go to your local golf shop now and test ANY of the MP irons line to see exactly what I am talking about. The thing that makes the MP-H4 irons different than the rest of the MP series is that the longer irons, starting with the 2-iron, feature a hollow hybrid head which gets less and less hollow until you end up with a cavity back pitching wedge. This allows for easy to hit long irons and workable ‘players’ short irons.
The technology in the MP-H4 makes it a great option if you are looking to transition into a set of players irons from your current clubs. Mizuno never lets you down with the look and feel of their irons. The Mizuno MP-H4 irons have a very clean, compact and classic look (even the hybrid irons) and offer the legendary Mizuno feel and sound upon ball-strike. This set of irons offers a bit of forgiveness to the player who knows what they are doing but still needs a bit of help with the longer irons (like me!). If that is you, definitely give these a test run.
Mizuno also has a great ‘Swing DNA’ system that will optimize the shaft based on your swing characteristics. Definitely get your swing DNA checked as it can reveal some interesting insights into your swing.
Ping G25 Irons – Added Forgiveness
The Ping G series has always been known for their forgiveness, but Ping took it up a notch once again with their G25 series, offering incredible forgiveness along with a more sleek design is more appealing to the eye to the eye. The visual difference between the Ping G25 vs Ping G20 irons is huge. The G25 is a much more refined looking, even sexy, iron which gets away from the shovel look of the G20’s. The design is very sleek looking and slightly understated. Visually I prefer the Ping G25 vs TaylorMade RocketBladez graphics (don’t get me started on the rice rocket looks of the latest TaylorMade R1 & RBZ drivers and irons).
One of the main differences in the G25 as opposed to previous models is that the custom tuning port is much lower on the back of the clubface, which helps to generate more ball speed and greater consistency by lowering the center of gravity – which helps most with the launch angle. Wider soles on the long irons which narrow as the irons shorted gives added forgiveness to the player that needs it. The G25 irons can appeal to golfers of any handicap, but should especially appeal toward those who are looking for added forgiveness in their iron game. The Ping G25 irons have the classic ping iron characteristics which have appeal across the board. I personally prefer the Mizuno MP-H4 vs Ping G25 but I would definitely test both sets of irons before making that decision.
Nike VR_S Covert – The Accuracy Irons
The Nike VR_S Covert irons may not be the most aesthetic irons out on the market today (a huge understatement) but if you look past the appearance the Nike VR_S Covert irons can certainly get the job done for mid to high handicap golfers. What makes them unique is that much of the weight has been redistributed mostly to the heel and toe from the previous model, which not only gives added forgiveness but also great accuracy as well. The Cover irons weighting is similar to other game improvement irons. The deep cavity in the VR_S Covert irons allows for huge forgiveness on thin shots (hitting the ball at the bottom of the club). A major advantage of these irons over other game improvement irons is that Nike has squeezed all of the game improvement features into a fairly compact and low offset club head.
It may take a little while to get the feel down for these irons, but Nike certainly hit the nail on the head when it comes to the Nike VR_S Covert. Is this the best game improvement iron of 2013? It very well could be.
Mizuno JPX-825 – The Performance Irons
Mizuno is the only golf company to feature two different sets of irons on this year’s list, and for good reason; both sets offer great features that should appeal to a variety of golfers. The Mizuno JPX-825 irons feature a classic style with a forged feel (these are cast steel), but don’t let the appearance fool you; these are great all-around irons that offer a fantastic combination of forgiveness, feel, playability, and accuracy.
Mizuno offers the standard JPX-825 irons as well as a JPX-825 Pro irons. I am a fan of the older JPX-800 irons but prefer the look of the JPX-825 vs JPX-800. The distance may not be as long as other iron sets on the list such as the Rocketbladez irons, but everything else that the JPX-825 irons offer certainly make up for it. The irons feature a MAX COR technology (8 irons through Gap wedge have Mid COR) with a thin face and large sweet area, along with extreme toe and heel weighting and modified U-grooves. For mid handicappers, this is certainly an iron set to check out for improved performance out on the golf course. The JPX-825 irons have a very hot face for added distance. The feel of the JPX-825 vs MP-H4 is harder and harsher, but in return you get a bit more distance and higher launch. Will I be upgrading my set of JPX-800’s to JPX-825’s? Probably not since they have similar characteristics – but if anyone wants to do an even trade let me know!
Cobra AMP Cell – The Feel Irons
With all of the new technology put into irons these days, it can be somewhat difficult finding that perfect match of an iron set that offers great performance along with great feel on every swing. The Cobra AMP Cell irons really seem to fit this category well for mid to high handicap golfers, featuring E9 face technology and a metalwood face-weld construction to provide both forgiveness and accuracy. What really makes the irons stand out from a feel aspect, however, is the AMP CELL vibration dampening system, which tunes vibration to make every shot feel like the best one you have ever hit.
For an iron in the game improvement category the Cobra AMP Cell irons have a very clean and classic looking club head. I am not a fan of the graphic on the back of the club. They are quite trendy and flashing and will definitely look dated in a few years. Cobra golf is definitely pushing technology in this years product line-up. I went back and forth as to include the AMP Cell irons in the ‘Best Irons of 2013’ list, but the blend of looks, technology and performance are the perfect components for the mid-high handicapper looking for a sleek iron set.
Callaway X-Hot – The Game-Improvement Irons
For low to mid handicap golfers looking to shave a few more strokes off their game, the Callaway X-Hot irons are similar to the Rocketbladez irons in that the company has taken the technology from their drivers and put it into their irons. This leads to an iron set that provides great distance, forgiveness, and feel. Callaway offers the X-Hot, X-Hot Pro and X-Forged in this range of irons. The X-Hot irons feature a deep undercut cavity with a lower center of gravity than their previous RAZR X irons. The standard and pro versions feature a cast steel head but maintain a decent feel upon ball strike. This helps to provide a lower sweet spot on the clubface, which leads to greater forgiveness and a higher launch trajectory to help the golf ball spin more on approach shots.
The X-Hot irons are a great set of game improvement irons. I prefer the looks of the standard X-Hot vs Nike VR_S Cover game improvement iron sets. The Callaway X-Hot irons are geared toward the 10+ handicap player where the X-Hot Pro is for scratch to 10 handicap players.
Adams Idea Tech V4 – The Easy-to-Hit Irons
Adams has revolutionized the game of golf with their hybrid models over the past few years, and they continue to refine them to make them even easier to hit. The Adams Idea Tech V4 irons are no exception – the hybrids in this set are amazing. Out of all the irons sets on this list, these are by far the easiest irons to hit and would be really beneficial for mid to high handicap golfers who struggle with inconsistency in their iron games. TaylorMade now owns Adams so be prepared to see Adams getting a much stronger marketing campaign then in years past.
The new velocity slots technology that the clubs feature allow the clubs to feel lighter than most sets out on the market today, while also providing great workability and forgiveness. The basis for the Adams Idea Tech V4 iron set is to mix hybrid and forged clubs to help you reach your maximum potential. The ball just seems to shoot off of the club face every time, and it is difficult not to get good distance even with an off-center ball strike.
The thing that sets this game improvement set (or super-game improvement?) apart from other irons sets in this category is the fact that the shorter irons are forged steel instead of cast. The Idea Tech V4 irons have a great feel to them that is rarely found in this category of irons. The Adams Idea Tech V4 are my favorite set of game improvement irons on the Best Irons of 2013 list. If you are in the market for clubs to help your game or you are new to golf give these a test to see how you like them. The nice black face will wear nicely as you improve and show the battle scars from your consistent practice and ball striking.
As with all of my golf club reviews I highly recommend getting out of your chair and testing these clubs in person. It is amazing how different each club looks, feels and performs. If you are looking for a new set of clubs to make you a better golfer I recommend investing in some lessons. I am working on a ‘must read’ list of golf books so be sure to check back for that soon. Use this list to get your started on your search for new irons. There are many other great iron sets on the market and I know I left many of them out.
Leave me a comment and let me know which you think are the best irons of 2013. Also let me know which you would like an in-depth review of next. If you are in the market for a driver as well be sure to check out the best drivers of 2013 list!