Play Better Golf.
Read this before buying new irons.
We now have over 150 new iron additions to Maltby Playability Factor (MPF) since the original book was published in March 2005. The new MPF additions as well as the original MPF irons can be checked out soon at my website ralphmaltby.com. For the first time, the exact same MPF format used in the book (including photos) will be available. Also, every new MPF book that is sold will also include the new MPF irons in the included CD.
As we measure MPF (and a number of other measurements) for each new iron that comes onto the market, it is interesting to compare and evaluate who is doing what and possibly why they are doing it. Also, from measuring, we can easily pick up changes in design philosophy. For example, are they designing more toward improving MPF which utilizes clubhead mass and dimensional properties to improve playability or are they simply designing to the better players market (muscle back type irons) or both? Further, do they simply go along the way they have been going with similar playabilities among all their iron designs or do they come up with “me too” designs for the sake of keeping up with the latest in trends or hot selling ideas from other manufacturers?
During the last two years and particularly the 2006 year, many more irons are being designed into higher MPF categories. This is particularly true of some of the major OEM’s. We all know that Callaway has designed irons mostly in the Ultra Game Improvement category until they introduced the Phil Mickleson X-Tour which is in the much lower Conventional category. Their latest iron introductions are the X-20, X-20 Tour and the X Forged. The X-20 is Callaway all the way with a bore through and very short signature hosel. This iron is well into the Ultra Game Improvement category in points. Both the X-20 Tour and the X Forged have a more conventional hosel length and they are not the signature bore through hosel designs. These irons also have conventional ferrules to blend the hosel more traditionally into the shaft. The X-20 tour is in the Super Game Improvement category and the X Forged is one category down in Game Improvement. For me personally I really like the Fusion Wide Sole irons (Ultra Game Improvement and a whopping 1203 MPF points) introduced last year or so. Also, my next vote is for the new X-20 irons in Ultra Game Improvement and a very high 1051 points. Go out and hit all their new irons and you decide.
What is interesting is the new Ping Rapture which is the highest playability (MPF) ever for Ping iron at 914 points and in the Ultra Game Improvement category. Ping accomplished this high playability design with a good looking blade profile in the playing position. They made the #6 iron loft 30º which means no one will have any trouble getting it airborne and it will feel solid on off-center hits. This would also make an excellent ladies set of irons with the correct shaft. Customers purchasing this set of irons should have very favorable comments about its playability. I think it is the best Ping iron ever.
The new Ping S58 pleasantly surprised me with a 778 point rating landing it in the Super Game improvement category. I say surprised because it looks like a more traditional blade style. The #6 iron only has 28º loft but the .675” actual vertical center of gravity should really help to keep it solid on most hits even for the sweeper style swingers who do not hit down and through the ball.
Cleveland Golf has become another one of my favorites because they also have very solid designs in a broad player range. The new CG4 Tour is a good looking Game Improvement category design for the better player and the Launcher LP is in the Ultra Game Improvement category at 881 points. The Launcher LP will feel solid and be much easier to hit for any player, even if they are only moving up from the Game Improvement category. Cleveland is playing around in the stronger lofts department with the Launcher LP at 29º for the #6 iron while the CG4 remains at the normal 31º.
Unrelated Cleveland Golf side note: If a player only wants to buy a Cleveland sand wedge or only wants a conventional sole designed sand wedge (.750” to .850” sole width), I would strongly recommend the CG11. It’s not softness of feel as the advertising would suggest. It’s all in the sole design. The width of the sole is the same in the heel as it is in the middle of the face. This makes this wedge better from sand and also chipping and pitching (does not affect full shots much). The reason is that the sole will better resist digging in the heel area (chipping, pitching and sand shots) because the leading edge is the same height off the ground as it is in the middle of the sole. Definitely not what a tour player wants, but this wedge will really help the conventional sole width sand wedge player who may occasionally chunk one when chipping or pitching. In other words, for a conventional sole width sand wedge it has some forgiveness and will work with all player abilities. Also, don’t overlook the new 588 RS 60º sand wedge from Cleveland. This one will definitely help any golfer who needs to get out of a bunker easier and who also has a tendency to “chunk” the pitches or chips. The 60º is the only 588RS model available at this time but I am hoping Cleveland will bring out a 56º model 588RS.
Mizuno’s new models are mostly similar to their previous designs; but the new MX-19 (their game improvement series) makes it into the Super Game improvement category and looks good. All you die-hard Mizuno blade players should give this iron a try. It will feel better and more easily get the ball airborne, especially with its 31º normal loft #6 iron. You probably won’t switch to the MX-19 but at least you have something to think about. Tell your friends to make sure they hit this iron before buying. When measuring and evaluating Mizuno irons it becomes readily apparent that this company only demands the absolute highest quality in the manufacture of its irons.
Cobra is doing good things. The new King Cobra S9 is a 933 point iron in the Ultra Game Improvement category. It has a .701” actual vertical center of gravity but a stronger 28º loft on the #6 iron. I feel that .701” can support the stronger loft for most all golfer swing types and I would recommend this iron. The new King Cobra FP is a 641 point head which puts it in the Game Improvement category. The higher (higher than the S9 but still low overall) vertical center of gravity (.795”) hurt its MPF rating but it is still a good design with good playability. I personally like the S9, however.
TaylorMade recently introduced their three latest designs, the R7 TP, the R7 and the R7 Draw. The R7 and R7 TP fall into the game improvement category while the R7 Draw is in the lower Conventional playability category. All three irons have good looking shapes and are of very high quality. The R7 TP is designed for better players and just barely falls into the Game Improvement category with 552 points. It has 31º loft on the #6 iron which is a normal or common modern day loft specification. Good players who hit it consistently near the face center will probably like this iron and it does look very good in the playing position. The R7 is 632 points and also falls into the Game Improvement category. The actual vertical center of gravity is .755”. The R7 draw iron measured out to only 418 points MPF which places it very low in the Conventional playability category and also much lower than most irons designed today. It has a somewhat high actual vertical center of gravity at .812” coupled with a stronger 28º loft on the #6 iron. By intentionally placing as much weight as possible in the heel area, the horizontal center of gravity is dragged far back into the heel area thus shortening the “C” Dimension (distance from the center of gravity to the centerline of the hosel). The center of gravity is also located quite a distance toward the heel from the face center meaning that to obtain solid hits the ball must be struck away from the geometric face center and well into the heel area. This type of design (regardless of the manufacturer) and the draw bias marketing approach need further comments and comparisons to fully understand the implications to golfers who play with this type of iron design.
Click here to get Ralph’s Insider Emails