Our best new golf irons 2021/2022 rankings is our first article dedicated to golf iron sets. As we are just a small group of friends and golf enthusiasts we do have some practical limitations on the number of products we have the time to get our hands on and formulate our opinions. We also felt that reviewing and rating golf irons came with some added complexities. In addition, since a top end set of irons is often the most significant investment golfers spend on equipment we chose to get things up and running before opening up this conversation.
With the best new golf irons 2021/2022 we plan to rank all the golf irons that we have the opportunity to review across our categorised rankings. Hence this ranking is not segmented into a specific iron categories such as, “best new game improvement irons“. This is very important to keep in mind since the top ranked irons may not be specifically suitable to where you game is at. In the future we will expand our reviews with more specific lists aimed at matching golfers individual needs. Many quality golf irons available that pre-date 2021 and most in our group are using a set of them. But we need to draw a line in the sand and start from somewhere. Once we get to mid 2022 we most likely reboot and start the next rankings for the subsequent year.
Like many of our recent articles we chose to stick with the “dynamic” article format. So when we have the opportunity to look into a new product we will add it. Then depending on how it compares to the existing products on the list we will slot it in its place. The big difference here is here we will collect all of our entries across the iron rankings and not limited it to the top 3. So the number of products reviews in our best new golf irons 2021/2022 will grow during the next 12 months. Keep an eye out for the new product that make their way onto the list during the next year.
The only iron set in use with two members of our squad is Taylormade’s P790. They kick off our best new golf irons 2021/2022 rankings in top spot as the first product reviewed . Only time will tell if they manage to hold open to the top of the rankings.
TaylorMade 2021 P790 Irons
When TaylorMade announced the launch of the 2021 P790 irons we quickly took note seeing as two of our group is currently playing the previous version. For the last year plus, they have been raving about the clubs every nice iron shot they played. To be fair it is hard to argue against their results since I have watched last season one of their handicaps drop 6 strokes and their iron play greatly improve. With all this history there was no doubt that the first iron review of 2021/2022 had to be the new P790. Not only were we interested as a stand-alone review but also to understand and quantify the differences between the versions.
Reading TaylorMade’s marketing material and club specifications we had taken note of the introduction of new, significantly less dense, SpeedFoam Air. Additional weight savings was realized by reducing the thickness of the upper back portion of the iron resulting in a combined drop of almost 20 grams of weight.
But in the end, this isn’t a weight loss program but rather a weight redistribution initiative. TaylorMade has taken that weight savings and added a tungsten weight to the lower toe of the club face, thus slightly changing the center of gravity. Result, a significantly increased the sweet spot as compared to the earlier model, so says TaylorMade. The effect of the added low toe weighting is also said to increase launch angles giving the ball a higher flight trajectory.
So, with this all in the back of our minds we took our P790’s in hand as well as a couple of the 2021’s off to the range to pass our own judgement.
I guess before we get to the ball striking part, we should also mention that the new P790 has received a freshening up as far as the look. I would not consider it a complete facelift but more of smoothing. Gone are the straight lines on the back of the club face and in come a gentler looking club. To be honest I don’t get to hung up on this kind of aesthetic and place more importance in how it feels at contact. And since they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder I will you decide, but in the end, both are great looking clubs.
I was a little apprehensive about what an increase in ball flight might look like since to be honest I was quite happy with the version I was using. Even with mid to long irons I have had no issues in sticking greens when striking the ball well. But after a good session with a low, middle and high iron over about 100 balls I really did not see a significant increase so I was still sold on the performance of the club and my apprehensions had vanished.
The balls still come of the face of the 2021 P790 like rockets. There was no significantly noticeable difference in the distance realized between the versions during the training session. The result still left me with the opinion the P790’s is still the best in class today. I will not argue that the latest are not more forgiving since there were a couple of balls that stayed quite true despite not being perfectly struck. Now whether it is 60% better I cannot judge but why not take it if it is available.
There is a slightly mellower feel and sound to the 2021’s. I kinda look at it like a great whisky that has matured ever so slightly by leaving it in the cask a couple of extra years. I often get comments/compliments on the sound of my current P790’s when I crank one off the sweet spot so I would love to hear what people would think of these. To sum up the day of trials I really just felt the new version has been ever so slightly refined so if it was a great club before it still is every bit as great of one now. If you already are in possession of the 2019’s as we are then I would have a harder time justifying the jump given the investment required but if you are now in the market for new irons then the P790 really deserves your considerations.
Callaway Apex 21 Irons
Callaway’s 2021 Apex irons are the third generation of its flagship line of players distance irons. Overall, the Apex line for 2021 has been expanded to include 5 different models so to cover the full spectrum of player profiles. The Apex 21 is specifically targeted towards the low to mid-handicapper market comparable for example to Taylormade’s P790.
Amongst our group of 8 we have one believer /backer of the Apex 21 and the line in general since he updated his 2017 set to the latest model. This time around A.I. technology has been introduced to design the forged 1025 carbon-steel body. Each iron all the way up to the 9 iron has a slightly unique structure and line. We have often said that looks are a personal preference so it is hard to be too critical as far as how it impacts a review. I personally found prefer the lines on some of the other irons in player distance category. I found for some reason the Apex looked even more chunky that it really is but my colleague says I am talking nonsense. So, if look at address is a key factor for you then I will let you be the judge for yourself.
When we do our trials with new clubs, we always bring a point of comparison. Whether it be a one-on-one product comparison our current club of choice so that we have some comparative club feeling, statistics or even just to mix it up a little. Since several of us are playing player distance irons we each just brough our own clubs to see how we felt about the Apex and if we would consider switching the next time a new set of irons was in the budget.
One unanimous observation and result within the group was that the ball flight and spin rates with the Apex 21 rivalled or exceeded the irons that we currently were playing. What I found very interesting is when comparing with the latest iterations of the other players distance irons for example the 2021 P790 there was much less differential. But then when you consider that both manufacturers have moved towards adding heavier tungsten inclusions it makes sense that there seems to have been a shift towards increasing the flight heights.
The feeling while striking the ball with the Apex 21 was consistently viewed in the group as very comfortable. The feeling in the hands for ever off centered contacts at times was hardly noticeable. In other words, you might be feeling like you hit a million-dollar shot when it was only worth a dollar . Again, here is a personal preference. Many do not like having that kind of dead feeling when hitting one off the toe. Personally, I find it easier to track misdirected shots when I have a better feeling of how well the ball came off the club. Regardless of your position the Apex 21 does feel great when striking.
When we talk distance for a player’s distance club and draw comparisons there really was not much in it. Depending on the model in our group member was comparing it too there were slight deviations. But nothing that hit anywhere close to 10% which is where I would be starting to take notice. And the deviation from those using a current generation of iron there was even less in it. The Apex has no trouble in getting a ball out there. It did perform admirable in getting the ball out of thicker grass then a couple of the other models in hand.
If price is a point of consideration, then you won’t win or lose here either. Maybe the fact that all of the major manufacturers know what the other guy is doing has led to the recommended retail price of all the top contenders being very similar. Take it as a positive, now you will buy the club that is right for you, not right for your wallet.
We had a great day of trials with Callaway’s 2021 Apex irons. Each and every one of us said that we would be ok with being handed the clubs on a golf vacation and playing the rounds with them. We could quickly adapt and strike good shots, the flight and ball path, distances etc. where all consistent. So instead of growing pains these may make your game better relatively quickly if you are coming from a lesser quality iron.
While none of the group said they are dropping what they are currently playing and going out and buying a set tomorrow this is not a surprise. It is a significant investment. But half of the group did say when it was time to re-up for new irons, they would consider the Apex 21’s if the market is the same at that point of time. When you consider we all have chosen our current clubs and are happy with them this is a significant statement.
So if you are looking for a new set of irons in the players distance category the Apex 21 is definitely worth your considerations.
Srixon ZX4 irons
We are lucky that in our group of eight we cover the full handicap spectrum from low to high. Although our high handicapper has made pretty good strides this year so we might need a new recruit sooner or later. Reason being, when we start testing out gear targeted at a specific skill level, it is nice to have the voice of a golfer actually from it. In this case we headed to the range with a set of Srixon ZX4’s and promised we would listen to our game-improvement golfer a little more than usual.
At first glance looking down over the club at address it really did not strike me as a game improvement design. The thin top line actually looked more like the player-distance clubs the majority of our group is playing. When later looking into the technical specifications I noted that the ZX4 is actually only 1mm wider on the topline than the other higher performing Srixon models.
When examining the club head up close it becomes more apparent that the ZX4 has a slightly longer blade and wider sole. While it was well disguised visually the yielded forgiveness during our trials was quicky apparent. As expected, the low center of gravity and increased offset was able to get the ball well up into the air which really is a must for the high handicapper.
What was not expected was how solid the ZX4 felt during contact. Being a 2-piece hollowed head, it was incredible how stable these irons felt not to mention sounded. You also need to consider that the average swing speeds of the group would typically exceed those golfers who the ZX4 is intended. Srixon have boasted about the achievements of the A.I. in the development of the club and based on the feel we can’t argue. We won’t spend too much time though trying to figure it out since you can find a Srixon tech spec for it that will do a much better job than we can.
If I turn my attention to our high handicappers’ feelings, he did not want to give them back… but…
Here is where my trouble’s lie…. When I told him if he passed me USD 1100-1300 (prices vary depending on shafts and number of clubs in the set) for them, he could keep them he quickly handed them over. So, what we have here is a GREAT set of game improvement clubs that are priced very closely to clubs ready for more advanced golfers. So, the question you need to answer is how long do you expect to be a game-improvement golfer?
If you are a weekend golfer that picks up the clubs occasionally with your friends but still are looking for a quality constructed set of irons, they are perfect. If you are investing more significant time and effort into your game, you may find that you will be ready for the next step in iron design sooner than wanting to invest this kind of money. But before you make up your mind there is one other twist to this point of view.
We so far have not found another iron manufacturer that has a line of irons which such a consistent progression from their game improvement irons to their players distance irons and then the last step to their players irons. In this case from the ZX4 to ZX5 to ZX7. Meaning there are consistent increases and decreases in the physical properties of the clubs such as lie, loft, offset etc between the range. If you are sold on the Srixon brand and sticking with it then this familiarity and consistency could be very helpful to your game.
So, to make it very short and sweet. If you have the money and you are in the market for game improvement irons you would have a hard time finding better.
- MAINFRAME A milled pattern on the backside of ZX4’s face maximizes COR for more ball speed and more distance on every shot.
- HOLLOW DESIGN ZX4’s hollow design gives you enough forgiveness to strike the ball across the face while still enjoying high shots that fly straight and find their targets.
- MULTI-PIECE CONSTRUCTION Tungsten in the base of ZX4’s long and mid irons (4i-7i) lowers its center of gravity for a higher launch. A forged HT1770 Steel face enhances speed and distance while a 431 Steel body absorbs vibrations for softer feel
- TOUR V.T. SOLE V-shaped soles glide smoothly through turf, even if you strike slightly behind the ball. ZX4 Irons also feature the resurgence of our popular sole notches
- PROGRESSIVE GROOVES Grooves in the 8i through PW are sharper, narrower, and deeper for more spin and stopping power on approach shots into the green.
- Sport type: golf
PXG 2021 0211 DC Irons
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The hardest thing to do was to was to understand where the PXG 2021 0211 DC Irons belonged amongst our various ranking list categories. We ultimately settled on game improvement irons but it honestly does not feel like it does justice to how good these clubs are. Many golfers at various levels may find something they like with the club’s performance and all will love the price tag.
It is not long ago that you would never associate PXG with words like affordable, budget, economic…. But the 0211 line has completely turned everything on its head. It may not come with all of the bells and whistles that the premium 0311 line does but the 2nd generation of the 0211 DC Irons have definitely benefited greatly from a trickle-down effect in technology. Most notably inheriting a DualCOR, soft polymer filled, hollow-body designed club head.
Many golfers as of late have gone to mixing sets to give themselves a little more forgiveness in the longer irons. PXG has taken care of this right from the start with the 0211 with its progressive set design. The clubs feature both progressive offset and progressive bounce for an ideal blend of accuracy and distance across the irons set. So, while there may not be as many iterations in the 0211-line PXG has streamlined the offering to make these clubs vary appealing to a larger group of golfers.
I won’t try to blow you away with the marketing and technical details since PG can take care of that better than I can. Most notably the features and performance benefits packed into the 2021 0211 DC Irons include:
- Large Active Face Area
- DUALCOR System
- Angled Top Rail
- Worlds Thinnest Face
- Outstanding Feel/Sound
- Incredibly Forgiving
- Progressive Set Design
- Builds Confidence at Address
- Smoking Hot Looks
- Crazy Distance
- Killer Price
I have been playing the P790’s the last few seasons who also are using similar technology in the build of their club heads. I can honestly tell you that I did not lose a step-in distance when I was giving the 0211 a try. The feel and forgiveness were equally impressive and as an overall package it is hard to imagine finding a more interesting price performance ratio out there.
My trials were actually done as part of an PXG fitting. With a milestone birthday approaching, my new irons of choice were being sponsored by family and friends. With others flipping the bill I did ultimately go with the 0311’s but if anything, I was more impressed with the 0211’s in the fact that they exceeded my expectations.
It is not surprising when you take the premium line from a premium golf club manufacturer and get a great set of clubs. But when you can spend exponentially less and still walk away with a top end set of clubs it is really something that is worth giving thought and consideration.
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Cobra King Forged Tec Irons
A few of us had the time and opportunity the other day to go out and give Cobra’s King’s full forged iron lineup a try. It was a really fun was to get a better feeling of the differences between all of the models but here we will be specifically discussing our thoughts KING Forged TEC Copper.
Four of us headed to the range. Amongst the group we had a pretty good mix of golfers. Two of us, I would consider, would be the typical market for this players-distance iron. Both having between 10-11 handicaps. The other two each represented opposing sides of the spectrum, being low and high handicappers respectively.
What we unanimously agreed upon right from the start is these are great looking irons. The bronze finish is nothing less than a wow. Unlike the metallic finished clubs in my opinion the bronze finish also wears extremely well. It is not to say it does not get worn and banged up, it just does it in a gracefully wise way instead of a broken down and worn-out look. My Hi-Toe wedges actually are right up that same alley.
The other thing that was between a unanimous like to a love is the inclusion of the Cobra Connect grip sensors. We all enjoy dissecting and looking at numbers and these sensors provide player analytics via the Arccos round-tracking system.Additional sensors can be bought for wedges for example if desired. There is a approx. USD 99 subscription fee for the use of the shot tracking feature.
Since they are players distance irons let’s get right to the distance performance. They are long, and definitely one of the longer options in this market segment. And the result across the group backed that up. The only thing that I would like to point out is that the Cobra King Forged Tec loft is about a full degree lower loft than most of the other up-to-date models in this category. I am not trying to pass judgement here but if I put the number 4 on a 7 iron then it will be the longest 7 iron you ever hit. So, for those of you that hear hype that it is half to a club longer than the others, well take it with a grain of salt.
Now before you get discouraged…. It is still a great iron!!!
The growing trend in this type of iron is the clubhead’s hollow construction. The Cobra King Forged Tec follows the same path and is foam filled to help provide the proper sound and feel. The L-shape, variable-thickness “Pwrshell” metal face boosts ball speeds while providing a large sweet spot to keep control of those off-center contacts.
The sound, feel and forgiveness where all very favorable but when we started to climb into the higher number’s irons, as to be expected, the spin and height yields were a little lower than some of the other competing irons we have been playing around with. It is not to say they we not acceptable but it is a point of consideration. If you are a player that already has high launch angles then these may be exactly what you are looking for.
After the trial we each were given the task of making a one-off statement about our thoughts. These were what came out.
Great distance and feel but level of forgiveness overshadows potential to shape my games shots.
Did hit a few more mishits than might have with my normal clubs but on the other contacts a very noticeable improvement. Could potentially improve my game giving them a better try.
Mid Handicapper 1
Great look, enjoyed, could use, but would not trade my P790
Mid Handicapper 2
If I was looking for a new set of irons, they would be a definite consideration. I would need to decide on the tradeoff of forgiveness vs workability.
The Cobra King Forged Tec definitely is deserving of the hype and to be considered as one of the top contenders in the players-distance category. If feeling good about the looks of your iron while standing over it there would not even be a discussion.
Callaway Apex Pro 21 Irons
Some of us where a little skeptical when we headed to the range to test the Apex Pro 21 irons. For most of us by definition this would not be a club we would give much consideration given its target market. We have two of our 8 with solid single digit handicaps and a couple more who occasionally card rounds in the high 70’s. But off we went, irons in hand, to see what Callaway had in store for us.
The first thing to state, despite the Apex Pro 21 being without a doubt a player’s improvement iron, they are not blades. There is a little blade like look to them. And they do possess the typical blade traits such as a compact head, minimal offset and a narrow sole and topline. It is these characteristics that enable those who possess the skill set to navigate and shape their golf shots with incredible accuracy and consistency.
Then Callaway used A.I to redesign the Apex Pro 21 and for the first time used a Flash Face Cup and hollow bodied construction coupled with urethane microspheres and up to 90 grams of tungsten per iron to boost the forgiveness that you typically are not able to achieve in this category of an iron while retaining the feel that top level golfers demand. To simplify some of the technology that was implemented in the other Apex line offerings has crossed over to the big leagues.
But that is enough about builds and tech. If you want the thorough and detailed analysis then the data sheet from Callaway details it better than we can. We prefer to add some words about our collective impressions of the Apex Pro 21. Our high handicapper did struggle with the club as expected. Despite if being much more forgiving on mishits then what we could have predicted there is still physical club size limitations and setup that is just not meant to be. But there is no surprise or disappointment there.
Our best golfers loved it. Even though this was the first time with the Apex Pro in hand they already were able to achieve desired shot shapes more often than not. The shot dispersion and distances were very tight and consistent. This is the reason we typically opt to sacrifice forgiveness in the player’s performance category so thumbs up here. Even the spin rates and height were very similar to the results achieved when comparing it to the blades currently being played by our best golfer.
So, on the top and low ends of our golfer representation expected results and the club so far living up to its hype.
The biggest surprise we had in the group was that our mid handicappers were able to navigate the Apex Pro 21 much better than expected. We say this with a whole lot of humility since we for sure did not master these clubs and are not ready to make them our go to weapon. The longer irons were especially challenging to keep up the straight and narrow. We also collectively are still not at a point in our game where we are seamlessly draw and fading golf shots. But without doubt we managed to hit better shots than expected, and for sure the added forgiveness here came into play.
What would never have been in consideration before was the idea of tour better mid handicappers in the group moving to split sets of clubs where the Apex Pro 21 became in charge of the shorter irons. This was solely based on the feel and consistency realized during the trials had our golfers feeling it they would be able to attack flags with better results.
It is very difficult to summarize or wrap up our day with the Apex Pro 21. For sure it was only filled with positive surprises. What is has also done is unlock a whole lot of potential and given a lot of golfers who would normally only reach towards a new set of blades something to really think about.
Cleveland Golf Launcher XL Halo Irons
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With winter taking its grip, we have had a little more time to try out some gear as well as catch up with some of reviews we did not get a chance to get on paper. I was just going through my testing notes with Cleveland’sLauncher XL Halo Irons and remembering just how surprised I was.
Generally, I am not the best person in our group to be testing anything along the lines of a hybrid. I for sure have a bias towards a thin topline and back and would be using blades if I was a little more consistent striking the long irons. So even if the Launcher XL Halo may not be strictly defined as hybrids, they for sure are much more so than the irons I am normally playing.
I cleared my head and grabbed a 7-iron (my usual first swing club) and right from the first strike I found myself hitting solid contacts. Watching with surprise ball after ball showed solid distance, launch and dispersion. I actually might have had better results than right off the bat with my clubs since it usually takes me a few swings to get dialed in. When I looked at the impact data it was not that I was hitting pure center contacts, it was just handling my inefficiencies better.
I think this is this is the point/strength of these clubs. They are extremely playable for whoever puts them in their hands. For myself they handled my loosening up with little concentration. For a higher handicap player, they offer maximum forgiveness for a golfer still working on their swing. They also would make a great option for a casual golfer looking for a set of clubs to head to the course with for a fun round with friends.
Understanding the challenges of higher handicap players generally have with longer irons Cleveland have introduced Gliderail in the longer Irons. Increasing the iron numbers gradually transitions to a V-Shaped soles. A 3rd sole type,a 3-Tiered Sole, is used for the Dual and Sand Wedges. Everything about these clubs it geared towards making a easy to use golf club that still performs.
There are some other nice features like the 8-gram weight in the butt end of each grip. This counterbalancing feature will help a golfer achieve a smoother swing and square the club at impact. The low center of gravity also makes these clubs get the ball up in the air quickly which is another typical challenge for the higher handicap players.
In the end I believe the majority of the golfers who would be looking to play Launcher XL Halo Irons are less inclined to worry about the how and why’s of technology and are more interested in enjoying the round of golf. And these clubs will allow you to do exactly that.
The very large club face will add confidence for the aim and swing golfer. They are not for a golfer who is looking to shape shots and navigate ball flight and spin. But as a point-to-point golf club that can still power it down the fairway, the Launcher XL Halo Irons check all the boxes.
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Wilson Staff Model CB Irons
I have been meaning to get our review of the Wilson Staff Model CB down on paper for quite a while. It is very rare that our group is all in the same place at the same time. It actually usually only happens a couple of times a year since a few of us in the last years have made some significant changes of address. So more often than not a few of us splinter off and head off to do some testing then we gather online and hash it out.
In this case three of us took up the task of trying out the Model CB. With our handicaps being 4, 11 and 28 we had a pretty wide representation of golfers giving it a go. None of us have played its predecessors or owned a set of Wilson irons so we really did not have any set of expectations about what came next. So, we grabbed the 4 and 7 irons from both the Model CB and our everyday clubs and off we went.
These are players performance irons and they look the part. Even if cavity backs and not blades the club face is still lean. For our high handicapper it was a little daunting right from the start. It was a little easier visually from our mid handicapper since his everyday players distance irons profile was not so much of a transition.
We started with the 7 iron. Our low handicapper made solid clean contact right from the start. Ball flight and spin seemed to be on the lower side when comparing to his blades.
There has been a lot of talk and marketing about Wilson moving the center of gravity lower and closer to face center and I must say not only the flight height but also the dispersion numbers seemed to support it. In the 3 test rounds there were virtually no balls that were missing left.
What was more surprising was the performance of our mid handicapper. Still hitting lower trajectory shots there was not a significant difference in the number of mishits between his everyday club and the Model CB. For us this is actually the biggest testament to the usability of the club. The shift of the center of gravity with its 20-gram tungsten weighting for sure is a plus here.It is logical making cleaner shots on the smaller area of the club is more challenging than more to the center.
There was a loss on the distance side but this is also not a surprise since there is a little more of a challenge getting the ball up. The plus is for sure the gains in workability when playing draws and fades which was much more of a challenge with the players distance iron.
Our high handicapper… well.. he just did not manage…. There was no consistency in performance and mishits far to frequent. A round on the course would have been disastrous and expensive pending his choice of balls and the presence of hazards anywhere near the greens. We gave him a hug and then grabbed the 4 irons.
Our low handicapper continued where he left off. Good contact, good sound lower flight and respectable distance. With already using a full set of blades there was a slight loss on workability as compared to his everyday clubs. And with no disrespect to the clubs, it most likely is a hard sell to have most golfers who perform well with their blades switch to a cavity back.
For those who struggle on their longer irons there is a great option here to consider a mixed set if sticking with Wilsons irons. There is a great synergy between the blades and the Model CB’s with loft, lie and face. You would gain a little on the forgiveness for those longer shots and not miss a beat when transitioning to the higher irons.
It was our middle handicappers turn to struggle. The percentage between mishits and dispersion significantly went up. He did feel with some additional time on the range he could achieve more respectable results.
And our high handicapper. Let’s just say I would buy shares in the ball manufacturer he would play. And this is no disrespect to the iron at all, it is just a better club than the golfer’s skill set for the time being.
Wilson Staff’s Model CB is a great players performance iron. Who is it for? Ideally good players looking for a little lower ball flight. Those happy to have a little extra forgiveness and correction to keep the ball from the left side of the target AND golfers who want to spend significantly less than many of the other offerings in this market. The Model CB is regularly USD 400+ less than other top players performance irons so it is well worth taking a closer look at and see how it fits with your game.