I spent a delightful couple of hours on Saturday testing clubs at my local golf retailer, Miles of Golf. For the “Test and Fit Party,” representatives and sample wares were available for every major manufacturer: Ben Hogan, Callaway, Cobra, Nike, Ping, Srixon, TaylorMade, Titleist, Tour Edge and Wilson. There was also an unmanned table with a couple of sample Volvik balls. Free barbecue sliders from Red Rock, a local eatery, were available, as was your choice of Budweiser or beer.
My main goal on the day was to test irons. While I could only hit a dozen or so balls for each, here are my initial impressions.
My favorite club from the Test and Fit Party was the Wilson Staff C-200. I hit these irons long and relatively straight, while getting a nice, soft feel. The secret, according to the representative is the FLX Face, which features cut-aways around the face perimeter. This reduces the contact between the face and clubhead. Wilson says that 76% of the topline, toe and sole perimeter are thus freed from contact to the body, allowing the face lots of flex.
The gaps are filled with a urethane, which I am sure has a lot to do with the gentle feel.
Another iron I liked was the Titleist 716 AP1. It took me a bit to find the bottom of the club, but once I did, I was hitting some fine looking shots.
The clubs feature a large undercut, and unsupported face. Tungsten weights on the perimeter are designed to offer forgiveness.
While I was at the Titleist pavilion, I also paused for a ball evaluation. The representative asked me a few questions about preferences: ball flight, distances, game style. Ultimately, the representative suggested either the Velocity or the DT Truesoft.
The Cobra King F6 also was quite long, but also was the only one of the irons I tested that produced a slice. Still, with more extensive testing, that might not end up being the case.
I tested a 7 iron in this set, which is important, because the irons have different constructions. The 6 and 7 irons are “half-hollow” designs. The 3 to 5 irons are a full hollow design, while the 8, 9 and PW are more traditional cavity backs.
I did not hit the Mizuno JPX 850 well at all. They felt awkward and shots were coming off the face low and left. Perhaps I don’t have the game for Mizuno irons.
I most definitely do not have the game for the new Ben Hogan forged irons. While I was making what I thought was solid contact, the end result was less than good. Even in the uncertain environment of a driving range, I could see that I was not going to hit a green with my regular club selection.
Finally, I tested the TaylorMade M2 Irons. I was underwhelmed. For all the buzz about Speed Pockets and 360 undercuts, I thought I should get more out of them than I did. I am still in love with my TaylorMade R7 XD irons ten years after I put them in my bag, but I did not feel as though these provided the same punch. The M2 Irons were not bad, but for some reason I expected more. The brief testing I had wasn’t enough to convince me that I needed to upgrade.
Of course, all of these impressions are based on perhaps a dozen shots on a range, during a very busy demo day. Longer term exploration would be necessary for any real conclusions.