Now that we have recently kicked off our reviews of golf irons with our best new golf irons 2021/2022 article, we wanted to start segmenting the irons into more specific categories. Depending on a golfer’s preferences, skill level, budget not all clubs may be suitable for inclusion in their consideration. Our best new player’s-distance irons 2021/2022 ranking will track the best players-distance irons that have come to market during the last year and into next year. Typically manufacturers do not update each iron line year on year so we thought comparing two year blocks makes more sense. Then we will reboot it all and start again at a certain point down the road.
While our general product article is linked with all the irons we will review during the next year we limit our category specific rankings to the top 3. This is in part because categorized reviews make it easier to rank what is comparable. The 10th best product is also not usually of interest to most golfers.
Our best new player’s-distance irons 2021/2022 list is dynamic and evolving. It is very possible what may be the top top ranked irons today may not be tomorrow. Some list may look very similar in the beginning but as time goes on, they may look very different. It all depends on what products come to market and what opportunity we have to give them a try. So drop in from time to time to see what’s new with our best new player’s-distance irons 2021/2022
The player’s-distance iron category generally encompasses but is not limited too low to mid handicap players. Typically, cavity back irons tradeoff the pure workability of a blade iron for a more forgiving and larger sweet spot. With the advances in technology players no longer need to sacrifice significant distance to gain forgivability like in years past. This is why we see top players playing many types of clubs as compared to in decades past. Players with slower swing speeds may need to give more in-depth considerations if using player’s-distance irons. To maximise the iron’s performance in relation to your capabilities shaft flex for example may need to be tweaked
We hope, if nothing else, you will enjoy the read since we really have a lot of fun talking golf. If we manage to help you find irons that take your game to the next level even better!
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.
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.