2015 Game Improvement Irons Guide

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Golf Discount’s 2015 Game Improvement Irons Guide

author-bob-gomavitz
By Bob Gomavitz

A very good player told me that his game improved even more when he switched from Players Cavity Back irons to Game Improvement irons. Iron play was my weakness, so 3 years ago I made the switch too, and have not looked back since. Since I play Game Improvement irons, I could not wait to test out the latest offerings.

During my research on these heads I noticed a consistent theme going on, and that was the manufacturers boasting these irons have “our thinnest face ever”. The OEM’s are doing a great jobs providing players with the most advanced technology possible to produce more distance and greater forgiveness. This year’s Game Improvement iron class seems to have lost some weight based on what I saw at address. The heads do not appear as big, or chunky as in years past. Also, I was pleasantly surprised at the sound of most of these heads, very quiet. Due to the deep cavity of these irons, many heads in the past produced a pronounced “click” sound at impact.

So, “Who’s it for?” Like all the iron categories I’ve reviewed to date, the “Who’s It For” section will be similar from club to club. I would have said in the past that Game Improvement irons are more for 18+ handicappers. Purists most likely will still walk by this section in the stores, but so be it. Now, pretty much any type of player can play this class of Game Improvement irons without hesitation, and there is one main reason. What held back the better players in previous years from using this class of iron was the hot spots, or jumpers as they’re called, which creates inconsistent distances from the same club number. The OEM’s have done a fabulous job correcting this issue with better technology in head and groove design.

Testing for these and the players clubs was done at the driving range at Newcastle Golf Course. They have a green that is 157 yards out, providing me with great feedback on overall distance. To help you better understand these reviews, I have included the iron number and loft.

Check out the NEW 2016 Game Improvement Irons Guide!



Callaway XR Irons

Callaway XR Irons

  • Cup 360 Face Technology
  • Internal Standing Wave
  • Low CG, High MOI
  • Speedstep 80 Shaft


Read The Review


Cobra Fly-Z Pro Irons

Cobra Fly-Z Irons

  • Speed Channel Sole
  • Deep Undercut Cavity
  • Minimizes Face Thickness
  • FST Steel Shaft


Read The Review


Mizuno JPX-850 Irons

Mizuno JPX-850 Irons

  • Dual Max COR Pocket
  • Thinnest Multi-Thickness Face
  • Power Frame Cavity
  • True Temper XP 105 Shaft


Read The Review




TaylorMade RSi 1 Irons

TaylorMade RSi 1 Irons

  • Face Slot Technology
  • Speed Pocket Technology
  • Inverted Cone Technology
  • Reax 90 Steel Shaft


Read The Review


Wilson Staff C100 Irons

Wilson Staff C100 Irons

  • Optimal Head Shape
  • Exoskeleton Weighting
  • Thinnest-Faced Wilson C Iron
  • True Temper CL100 Steel Shaft


Read The Review

Bridgestone J15 Cast Irons

Club Tested: 7-Iron; Shaft: Nippon 950; Loft: 30°

The Takeaway

The J15 is cast head made from a proprietary chromoly steel. A 360-degree undercut channel gives the face a trampoline type effect. Being the widest, rounded sole from the J15 iron line, the Cast offers maximum forgiveness on off-center strikes.

Final Take – Gom’s Pick

Through prior testing on Bridgestone irons, I have found they provide me with excellent feel, great ball flight, and a classic look. The J15 Cast iron was spot on, just like the forged versions, but with a slightly higher ball flight and increased distance, while still maintaining a classic look. The sound from the cavity was audible, but in this case it provided me with a feeling that the ball was really jumping off the face. Bridgestone also offers up some crazy-cool Yellow Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips that really stand out! But, if yellow isn’t your thing, players can choose from different colored grips and ferrules, if you really want your clubs to stand out. Aside from all that cool cosmetic stuff, the J15 Cast was a very fun club to swing and can be enjoyed by a large range of handicaps.

Shop Bridgestone J15 Cast Irons


Callaway XR Irons

Club Tested: 7-Iron; Shaft: KBS Tour V; Loft: 30°

The Takeaway

The XR is Callaway’s first Cavity Back Iron with 360 Cup Face technology, which increases ball speed across the entire face. They also included an Internal Standing Wave, which offers a lower CG, increased MOI, and gives the face cup freedom to provide better ball speeds along with a 2 piece construction.

Final Take

The XR version is the Game Improvement version, featuring a larger head, more offset, a very thick top line, and a very high toe shape. The polished finish includes two white face grooves to help with alignment. Forgiveness-wise is about the same as the Pro, but you have a larger face area for your mishits. Due to the larger cavity, the slight “click” noise at impact intensifies ever so much compared to the Pro version. The ball flight was very good but had a slightly straight to left tendency for me with the increase of offset. If the Pro version is not producing enough forgiveness, this version would be the choice.

Shop Callaway XR Irons


Cobra Fly-Z Irons

Club Tested: 7-Iron; Shaft: KBS C Taper Lite; Loft: 30.5°

The Takeaway

The Fly Z Speed Channel is an engineered trench running across the sole of the club and around the perimeter of the cavity back. It minimizes face thickness to increase distance and enhance the trampoline effect across the face without loss of feel. The Deep Perimeter Undercut, which is the deepest that Cobra offers, provides extreme distance on center hits, and consistent distance on mishits. To dampen vibrations and ensure greater feel, the large Thermoplastic Urethane insert is positioned right behind the sweet spot.

Final Take

The Fly Z at first glance seems to have a whole lot going on. It looks quite busy to me, as the Thermoplastic Urethane insert can be clearly seen right in the center of the face. I must say though, it works! The club provided excellent feedback to my hands, had no cavity “click” noise at impact whatsoever, and felt solid shot after shot. The head size was smaller than some of the other Game Improvement heads, and offers a white bottom groove for alignment purposes. The ball flight was right on and the distance was average when considering the stronger 30.5° loft.

Shop Cobra Fly-Z Irons


Mizuno JPX-850 Irons

Club Tested: 6-Iron; Shaft: C Taper Lite; Loft: 28°

The Takeaway

The JPX 850 features Mizuno’s Power Frame Technology. To increase forgiveness, the Power Frame Technology distributes the weight to the 4 corners of head. The Dual Max Cor Pocket offers an increased rebound area for max distance. Add in their thinnest-ever, multi-thickness face for higher ball speeds and you have one hot head! The sole offers players a dual relief design for solid ball striking.

Final Take

Looking at the Mizuno JPX iron, I see a gorgeous club head with a clean, simple design that makes sense to me. The head produced consistently solid shots, and without any “clicking” noises that I’ve heard from a friend’s older JPX heads. The sole is on the larger side, but this provides the beef behind the the face to support its thin design. The ball flight was true and tight, not too high, or too low. Cosmetically, the high polished appearance with some satin finish really looks good. Adding in the JPX blue colorway to the damping badge, and you have one great looking and forgiving head.

Shop Mizuno JPX-850 Irons


Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Irons

Club Tested: 6-Iron; Shaft: Nippon 950; Loft: 28°

The Takeaway

The JPX 850 Forged features Mizuno’s Power Frame Technology. To increase forgiveness, the Power Frame Technology distributes the weight to the 4 corners of head. The Dual Max COR Pocket offers an increased rebound area for max distance. Add in their thinnest-ever, multi-thickness face for higher ball speeds and you have one hot head! The sole offers players a dual relief design for solid ball striking. Add in the Grain Flow Forged Boron steel that is 30% stronger than the 1025E steel and you get an even thinner face.

Final Take – Gom’s Pick

One of the best looking Game Improvement irons out there, no doubt. Simple, clean and efficient. If feel comes first and then forgiveness, this is the head that you need to try. The playability was very close to the non-forged version, but with even better feel. The ball flight was maybe a touch lower, but tight. Cosmetically, I prefer this head over the blue backed, non-forged version. Best looking Game Improvement head on the market.

Shop Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Irons


Nike Vapor Speed Irons

Club Tested: 7-Iron; Shaft: Dynamic Gold Pro; Loft: 32°

The Takeaway

The Vapor Speed offers a FlyBeam reinforced hollow cavity design for maximum energy return. This creates greater off-center stability for the 3 thru 7 irons, while the 8 thru PW feature the RZN Cavity for stability, and a refined feedback. The Modern Muscle balances the CG in the center of the face for high ball speeds, stability, and feel. A moderate sole width, and beveled leading edge give players a forgiving turf interaction.

Final Take – Gom’s Pick

The Vapor Speed has a longer head accompanied by a shallower face design. The head also features a similarly rounded toe you see from some of the blade styles, which offered up a very clean look. The hollow head provided a crisp, solid feel that should be liked by the majority of players looking for a great feel from their Game Improvement irons, even on mishits. The ball flight was a tad high, but still very consistent. The Vapor Speed produced excellent distance from the 32 degrees of loft, which is weaker than most Game Improvement 7 irons out there.

Shop Nike Vapor Speed Irons


Ping G30 Irons

Club Tested: 7-Iron; Shaft: CFS Distance; Loft: 30.5°

The Takeaway

The Ping G30 uses progressive lengths for the 4 thru 6 iron which have slightly longer increments than the ½” increments of the 7 thru PW. The progressive lengths produce a higher MOI and a slightly higher ball flight for distance, which is most noticeable on the 4 thru 7 irons. The G30 also incorporates progressive lofts, as well. The Custom Tuning Port (CTP) offers a low-back CG, enhancing the length and loft features, supporting the thin face, and creating faster ball speeds. The wider sole offers leading and trailing edge relief for better turf interaction.

Final Take – Gom’s Pick

The G30 Iron is one of the last heads that does not incorporate a ferrule above the hosel. This will give players the look of old school Ping irons. The G30 head shape is taking on more of the modern head shape, but without the ferrule and a slightly lower profile. The dark finish is also a welcome change from the polished or satin heads I more commonly see today. Like the other two Ping irons that I tested, I find there is something about that Ping feel that stands out to me. Based on the low profile my ball flight was not as high as I would have thought. Distance-wise the G30 was consistently long. The Stock CFS shaft is lighter than some high end offerings, but balances well with this head for a excellent overall feel while swinging this club. Great feel, exceptional forgiveness, and a tight ball flight were the main takeaways from test the G30 irons. What I am finding with these Ping Irons is that you just need to find the model that suits your game the best, and go for it!

Shop Ping G30 Irons


Srixon Z 545 Irons

Club Tested: 6-Iron; Shaft: PX; Loft: 27°

The Takeaway

Like the Z 745, the Z 545 are forged from 1020 Carbon Steel for that special feel. Both incorporate the Tour V.T. Sole which increases the leading edge and decreases the trailing edge, reducing turf resistance and tightening shot dispersion. The Z 545 uses SUP10 Steel Face over the 1020 Carbon Steel bodies to enhance distance, while the Carbon Steel bodies provide that premium smooth feel. The 3-6 Irons feature a tungsten toe weight to optimize the Center of Gravity. Srixon calls the Z 545 a Distance-Oriented head for “All Ability” Players.

Final Take

I found both of the Srixon versions interesting, especially the technology of the V.T. sole. I am more on the non-digging side and would love to see a digger with the Z 545 in their hands. Cavity design interesting base on positioning of the weight. The Z 545 positions more of the weight in the center of the cavity (which is normal) and towards the heel. Typically, the center and the toe area of the cavity are the main focus for weight distribution. In saying this I found the Z 545 to be a great feeling head that is more compact and very clean at address for this “All Ability” head. Balls flight was more on the low side I felt. I also liked the stock grip choice of the Lampkin UTx Red grip.

Shop Srixon Z 545 Irons


TaylorMade RSi 1 Irons

Club Tested: 7-Iron; Shaft: KBS Tour; Loft: 30.5°

The Takeaway

Much like the two other RSi Irons I tested, the RSi 1 incorporates the same Face-Slot Technology, Speed Pocket, and Thru-Slot Technology for improved mishits. An Advanced Face-Design producing a thin face with a deep undercut, combined with the Inverted Cone Technology promotes maximum face speed and consistency. This is the most forgiving version of the 3 different RSi offerings.

Final Take

I’ve owned a set of these since Aug. 2014, played rounds with this set here and there. Looking down at the RSI 1s, I do not see much difference between them and my Burner 2.0 heads, other than the Face-Slots and a high-polished finish. Looks-wise, Taylormade has been very consistent with their Game Improvement irons over the years. However, they are also constantly pushing the limits to increase ball speed, launch angle, distance, and playability, and the RSI 1s are a great example of that. Personally, I liked both the TPs and 2s better than the 1s, even though I am used to the looks of the 1s. I found a much better overall feel from the TPs and 2s with similar results. There is a bit of a “click” to the RSI 1s that I did not experience with the other two. I prefer the softer finish of the other two RSi offerings compared to the high polished look of the RSI 1.

Shop TaylorMade RSi 1 Irons


Titleist 714 AP1 Irons

Club Tested: 6-Iron; Shaft: True Temper XP95; Loft: 29°

The Takeaway

The 714 AP1s are Titleist’s longest and most forgiving irons. They feature a multi-material, dual cavity design, and a progressive game improvement chassis. Advanced CG height progression creates a higher launch in the long irons, and a flatter launch in the short irons. There is also a strategically placed tungsten weight in the long and mid irons that produces a higher MOI for consistent distance without sacrificing workability.

Final Take – Gom’s Pick

With a simple, clean looking head, the 714 AP1s stayed true to the Titleist mold, but with a slightly larger, thicker head. The AP1s produce an AP2-type of ball flight, with a simple, solid feel that is very forgiving, even with mishits. There is no cavity “clicking” noise here, just a solid thud that we expect from Titleist irons. My ball flight was slightly lower than the other Game Improvement irons I tested, but nothing that concerned me. If you are looking for a clean, simple, classy Game Improvement head with great feel? Look no further.

Shop Titleist 714 AP1 Forged Irons


Wilson Staff C100 Irons

Club Tested: 7-Iron; Shaft: C100 Lightweight Shaft; Loft: 32°

The Takeaway

The Staff C100 is Wilson Staff’s control version of a Game Improvement iron. It features Ecoskeleton Technology that delivers extreme stability on off-center hits. The Ecoskeleton accounts for one-third of the total head mass, maximizing MOI and forgiveness, while still maintaining a mid-sized head. For increased ball speeds and more distance a stronger, stainless steel material allows for the thinnest-faced C-head ever. The sleek black PVD finish, contrasting face, and sole promotes confidence at address.

Final Take

In my hands, the Staff C100 reminds me of my Taylormade Burner 2.0s. Maybe it’s just the rich black finish that makes me feel this way, but upon further investigation I did notice a much more rounded toe area. The head provided a slightly higher ball flight for me, but with a solid feel. Sometimes these lighter weight shafts, like the C100 Lightweight Shaft, will add some extra loft because of their slightly softer tip section. If you like the look of black iron heads, be sure to have a look at the C100 model from Wilson Staff.

Shop Wilson Staff C100 Irons

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Bob Gomavitz

Bob Gomavitz Age: 59 Handicap: 4.6 Introduced to Golf: Age 10 Years Playing: 47 Hole In Ones: 2 Double Eagles: 1 Years in the Golf Industry: 14 Rounds Per Year: Over 100 Favorite PGA Tour Course Played: TPC Sawgrass Favorite Local Course Played: Royal Colwood Victoria, B.C. Most Famous Golfer that I played with: Fred Couples Most Famous Person that I played with: Kenny G (High School Teammate) Current WITB Driver: Taylormade 2016 M2 9.5 45" D-3 Graphite Design Tour Ad 60 Stiff 3 Wood: Taylormade RBZ 13 Degree TS Oban Revenge 7 Stiff 43.25” D-3 Hybrid: Taylormade R1118 Degree Matrix Altus Stiff Hybrid: Taylormade R11 Rescue 21 Degree Matrix Altus Stiff Irons: Taylormade Burner 2.0 4-PW KBS Tour Stiff Std Lie, Lofts and Lengths Wedges: Taylormade Rac Black 54 Degree TT DG Wedge Flex Wedges: Callaway X Tour 58 Degree MD TT DG Wedge Flex Putter: Odyssey Versa 90 degree #7 Super Stroke 3.0 34” Ball: Titleist Pro V1x, Srixon Z Star XV Yellow Trackman Driver Swing Info Club Head Speed: 98-101 Ball Speed: 148-151 Angle of Attack: +1.7 to +2.6 Launch Angle: 12.7 to 14.1 Spin: 2400-2750 Angle of Descent: 39.8 to 37.3 Carry: 234-242 yards Distance: 258-272 yards Path: 0.7 to 2.4

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8 Comments

  1. Great looking cast of new clubs, lots to choose from and some great upgrades. Looking forward to comparing them myself and hopefully making a purchase. Seems that the classic look has returned, but with plenty of new features. Thanks for the reviews!

  2. Garrett Linquist on

    I recently switched from Ping eye2’s to the G25’s and love the improvement, I will say though that the CFS distance shaft that I swung at a fitting was very interesting and I believe would be an asset with the increasing length of the shaft. Great job with all of the reviews, I think that I tried most of the Irons listed on this page and the reviews sum them up nicely.

  3. Carl Carlson on

    Thanks for your evaluations. I think that I’ll hang onto my Taylormade Burners for a couple more years. It has taken me nearly a season to become really comfortable with them.

  4. Chris Hruby on

    Nice reviews, nice to get this info in advance when you have to travel to swing at shops. Now I can narrow choices and take less time when there.

  5. Thanks for your review… Playing Ping Zing2 steel shafts at the moment… I have been advised too play a more forgiving club… I average 100 shots if I play 18 holes… Looking at buying a used set off clubs any suggestions..?

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