Self-confessed older golfer LARRY CANNING looks at some of the latest golf improvement irons now available, including Titliest, Ping, TaylorMade and Callaway.
THE OTHER DAY I sat down with myself and asked some very pertinent questions. They were issues I’ve been tossing around for some time now and before I put them off any longer, I figured it was time to just stop… and deal with them –
Do I really have a good head for radio? Now I finally own a car with tow bar, do I need to buy something to tow? And am I kidding myself by still using forged blades?
As you can imagine, there was a fair amount of emotion dealing with the first two issues so myself and I are yet to fully resolve them, but as far as the old forged blades are concerned, it was as obvious as the nose on Jim Furyk’s face. Yes! I am kidding myself.
I’ve always defended my forged blades against attack from those evil, cast, cavity competitors by saying stuff like “I use blades so I can control my trajectory and get feedback”. The truth is, the only feedback I’m receiving is that it’s time to pay up again and my trajectory is a low fade or an even lower draw, which seems to fall out of the air about 5 seconds before anyone else’s.
My waning club-head speed combined with the modern golf ball which spins less when hit with a long iron but screws backwards with a wedge, (just how is that possible again?), has meant I’m bunting a 5 iron short and praying for the right bounce while my lower centre of gravity friends are flying their 6 iron to the centre of the green and landing it like John Daly falling off a bar stool. I reckon I haven’t fixed a pitch mark since 1995.
So began my quest to re-discover my manhood and find the longest set of irons on the market.
I’ve always been a huge fan of correct club fitting and the professionals who know how to decipher the numbers from those hi-tech launch monitors have my utmost respect. But this time, I wanted to have a bit of a fiddle myself. I have to say, it was an experience I won’t forget in a hurry.
My apologises to Srixon, Nike, Mizuno etc, but I’ve chosen to trial the big four on the Australian Market – Titliest, Ping, TaylorMade and Callaway.
I hit from the same teeing ground, with a bag full of exactly the same golf balls and in identical conditions. It took a while to warm up because I’m old but when I was starting to catch them alright, I commenced my exhaustive testing. It was pretty much dead calm with only the slight suggestion of a head breeze and after 10 reasonably hit blade 7 irons and another 10 4 irons I averaged exactly 139 and 168 metres respectively. (I excluded the longest and the shortest and used my rangefinder to measure from the middle of the rest plus the practice range was quite moist so they weren’t moving an inch after landing)
I grabbed the Ping G25 7 iron first. Now I know this whole process was all about how far the clubs fly and not how they look but I have to say, this club looked very sleek. A dark brooding finish exuding refinement and precision. Like most semi-literate blokes who struggle to express themselves, I’m going to use a type of car to epitomise each of these clubs. This G25 reminds me of the new Jaguar XF… in Black.
Behind the ball I noticed a lot of offset which was a little concerning but expected, as all these clubs fit right into the middle of the game improvement sector.
The flight of the 7 iron was definitely higher and appeared to go a bit further but it was the 4 iron that caught me by surprise. It took off like an F 18 from the back of the USS Invincible. Surprise turned to excitement when I drove out to the balls and measured them. 7 iron – 148! 4 iron – 176!
As is the case with all Titleist gear, the AP1 iron was a handsome and classy looking fella which would look great in anyone’s bag. Again the offset in the 7 iron was noticeable but the face did appear to be a little deeper than the Ping G25 which gave me a sense of security. I reckon it reminded me of a silver Bentley Spur V8 …. Classy but powerful. (I know its borderline corny but indulge me a bit).
Titleist & Callaway
Incredibly the Titleist AP!’s measurements were almost identical to the Pings with the 7 iron 147 and 4 iron 176. These stats are a good club longer than my blades and offered a much tighter dispersion between the longest and shortest shot.
Callaway’s X Hot 2 irons were just screaming of distance even before I hit them. Callaway spend a bucket load of cash on Research and Development and always seem to be focused on the average player and how to help him become not so average. If these irons were a car, they would be a red V8 Chevy Camaro.
I could tell straight away, these puppies were travelling some serious distances. They didn’t feel quite as light as the AP1 and G25 irons which might have suited my slow, languid, aging swing but it was clear they were staying in the air longer. Bang – 7 iron 152! 4 iron 180! For those of you who have been on the Earth for at least five decades, that’s 198 bloody yards!
Since they replaced persimmon with steel back in 1980 something, TaylorMade have been at the forefront of innovation. They also make some of the sexiest looking gear on the market including the new Speed Blade Irons. These bad boys are smooth, sleek and erotic. When I picked up the 7 iron, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hit it or ask it out for a date. If these irons were a car, we’re talking Lamborghini. I also noticed the slot in the sole called the “Cut through speed pocket”. Taylor Made claim the speed pocket ads flex to the face creating a rebound effect.
Behind the ball, the 7 iron looked great with nowhere near the offset of its three rivals. I could definitely feel the ball springing off the face with the 7 iron but the 4 iron was an experience in raw power!. The troops in Afghanistan should be issued a set of these when they are deployed. I couldn’t wait to go out and measure these bad boys – 7 iron – 154!! 4 iron 183!…. that’s a club and a half longer than my blades and twice as easy to hit!
Whilst the Ping G25, Titleist AP1 and Callaway X Hot2 irons are all worthy of consideration, it was the Speed Pocket in the TaylorMade Speed Blades which had me in a state of euphoria. It takes some serious technology for me to pick 15 metres on all my irons while still swinging at exactly same speed. After hitting them I wanted to lie on the grass next to them and light up a smoke.
I just hope my old blades don’t take it personally.