With our best new player’s performance irons 2021/2022 article we complete our series of articles breaking down irons based on golfer’s skill levels. Our best new game improvement irons and best new player’s-distance irons complete the series of the 3 most commonly accepted golf iron categories.
Our approach remains consistent. We will track the irons that have come to market during the last year and into next year. Irons tend to have longer life cycles and product line updates usually take longer coming to market. Thus comparing two-year blocks of time, in our opinion, better suited for the sake of market analysis. This way it provides us more opportunity to rank the various irons against each other. Come this time next year we plan to shift forward one year into a 2022/2023 ranking list. In that way we are always comparing the latest gear coming to market.
Also, our approach to limit our category specific rankings to the top 3 is not changing. We continue to update our best new golf irons 2021/2022 article with all of the irons that we have the opportunity to review. Whereas here we will continue with the dynamic and evolving rankings list. So today’s rankings may be very different to how we end up in a year’s time. Our goal is to provide you the latest gear that suits your needs that point in time.
The majority of golfers are definitely not suited for player’s performance irons. We only have one golfer in our group of 8 that is currently playing them with one other now considering the shift. Stereotypically we are looking at golfers with playing handicaps at around 5 and better whose game is consistent enough to manage them. Even so many golfers in this range still consider mixed sets of clubs given the propensity to mishit longer irons off center.
You will find the majority of blade irons falling into this category. With the evolution of golf iron manufacturing other types of irons also find their way here from time to time. What is consistent about the clubs in the player’’s performance iron category is the tradeoff of workability vs. forgiveness. The player’s iron demands better contacts. The reward, consistent distances and flight paths that would not be easily reproduced using more forgiving irons.
Decreases in head dimensions are enabled by demanding the golfer to make consistent face contacts. The result, a much sleeker iron. Not only is this aesthetically for those golfers who do not fear using it but it allows much more workability in shaping the golf ball. Let’s be honest, the high handicapper is not concerned with more shapes that a straight line. As such, there is no benefit in making finding the center of the club face harder.
The other key element in the demands of the better golfer is the responsiveness and feedback of the club. The softer feel of the player’s iron makes the communication between the club and the golfer much more interactive. This allows the players to adapt and respond to inconsistencies in his swing more efficiently. Even if it is not as evident in newer blades iterations, it still holds true that when you don’t hit a blade iron clean you know it. Instead, the other categories of club’s mask both the result and feel of mishits. This may leave a golfer thinking his not so perfect swing is a little better than it actually is.
Even some of the best golfers in the world opt not to play player’s irons. But he reward of being a top golfer is that you can do so. If you do then hopefully our best new player’s performance irons 2021/2022 rankings can help you track the best options out there.
Callaway Apex Pro 21
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.
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.