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  • Writer's pictureGolf on Costa del Sol

Best Golf Irons for 2023

Updated: Feb 19

The lads and I were discussing which were the best golf irons available today. It was a warm evening after a game of golf, we countered the warm air with cold beer and so the discussion gained momentum.


I play blades. I have always played blades, as thin as fish knives as forgiving as a scorned mother in law. Pete, a 24 handicap golfer, has a beautiful set of Taylor made SIM 2 irons with Ventus 60g R flex graphite shafts custom fitted for him 18 months ago. He swears by them. Oddly, just a few hours earlier he had been swearing at them.


best irons golf course

JW, seasoned golfer with a gift for collecting tenners on the 18th green, has a battle scarred set of Callaway Apex Pro with 105g R flex shafts and 7 years experience behind them. JW is adamant that there is no iron that will get him closer to the pins.


Nigel, the most progressive of us, with the newest set of irons, only 12 months old, stated with Churchillian confidence that “there is no such thing as the best golf iron. There is instead the best iron with respect to each individual golfer.” He continued “The latest tech advances and modern fitting will help each of us hit more greens.”


And so with the help of San Miguel we decided to book a fitting session with the experts at Golfriends Marbella to search for the best set of irons for each of us.

This was to be a blind fitting session. Our brief was to be open minded during the fitting process, not to insist on our usual brands but to trust the expert fitters advice, follow the numbers that Trackman reported and arrive at the best set of irons for each of us.


Golfriends have a large and extraordinarily well equipped fitting lab. With shafts and heads from all of the golfing brands that we love, Callaway, Taylormade, Ping, Srixon, Cobra, Honma, PXG, Cleveland, Titleist, Wilson and more. The range of irons from which we would each arrive at our optimum was vast!


The Candidates for the Best Golf Irons for 2023

Taylormade P790  – Widely regarded as being the best blend of distance, forgiveness and playability these irons have enjoyed rave reviews. Take a look at our conclusions at the end of the article to see how it performed for us. You can find the best offers for the Taylormade P790 by clicking here.


best irons golf course

Callaway Rogue –  a top class brand in the bag of millions of golfers globally. The Callaway Rogue irons are aimed at mid to high handicappers and offer well documented game improvement qualities. You can find the best offers for the Callaway Rogue by clicking here.


Callaway Apex 21 – With its trampoline face  and slim top line the Callaway Apex promised more forgiveness and greater distance in a player’s iron. The numbers we achieved showed that their claims are well founded. At around 185 euros  per club they are also great value. You can find the best offers for the Callaway Apex 21 by clicking here.


best irons golf course

Ping 425 – One of Pings finest irons ever! That is a huge statement to make and is backed up by their results. The 425 range has set the benchmark for accuracy and consistency. You can find the best offers for the Ping 425 by clicking here.


Mizuno Pro 233 irons – “Nothing feels like a Mizuno” says their famous tagline. The highest levels of design and manufacture make Mizuno probably the most highly respected manufacturer of high quality golf clubs. You can find the best offers for the Mizuno Pro 233 by clicking here.


Player profile: Nigel Freer age 67, handicap 12. Is working to regain a single figure handicap.

Fabien was our fitter for the afternoon, a man with many years of experience fitting golfers along the Costa del Sol. His first task was to get each of us warned up, get some baseline data with our own clubs and then go to work putting each of us into the perfect fit. After a few minutes of stretching, creaking and groaning Nigel was the first on the launch monitor.


Ten decent shots with his 7 iron, a Callaway Apex fitted with 75g Recoil graphite shafts gave Fabien a base line of data and a good idea of what needed to be done.


best irons golf course

Each suggestion moved Nigel’s results positively forward. An offset head was settled upon to help compensate for the out to in swing path. After 4 shaft options and three different heads, Callaway, Ping and Taylormade, Fabien arrived at an iron configuration that gave Nigel 1.2 mph greater swing speed, an increase of 4.2mph in ball speed which Fabien explained is directly related to the increase in clubhead speed. The increase in speed brought with it a gain of 8m in carry from 111m to 119m  which is hugely important, and an overall distance gain of 6m from 124m to 130m. The backspin rate jumped from 4800rpm to 5100rpm which will make Nigel’s distance control and overall accuracy better!


With this configuration Nigel will hit one less club into the green and hit it with more consistent distance and a much improved lateral dispersion.


New Club Specifications:

  1. Callaway Rogue heads

  2. R flex 65g shaft


Benefits

  1. 10g less overall weight promotes more clubhead speed.

  2. Off set head counters swing path. 

  3. Average of 6m more distance, up to 10m with 8m more carry.


Player profile: Stuart Leary, aged 57, Handicap 3, Objective: to find consistency and ultimately to strive for scratch handicap.

I was summoned to the mat. Having witnessed the roasting my colleagues gave to Nigel it was with some trepidation and a little stage fright that I began hitting balls to get that baseline data.


My Mizuno MP4 irons have been with me since 2013. I was not fitted for them, I supplied the Mizuno factory in Scotland with fitting data that I have used for 30 years. Hence my beautiful blades were equipped with KBS C Taper X flex 130g shafts. Having not played much lately they felt heavy, each imperfect strike rattled through my fingers.


best irons golf course

The 10 hits reflected exactly what happened to me on the golf course. I generally miss to the left, sometimes a lot to the left, and then when I try to compensate it blocks to the right. For a low handicap golfer I am an appalling iron player. I miss a lot of greens with 7 and 8 and 9 iron. I miss all the greens with 4, 5 and 6 iron and only redeem myself with good wedge play.


The first observations from Fabien were that my shafts were too heavy and too stiff, and that I needed a much bigger sweet spot.


He fitted a KBS S Flex 120g into a Callaway head. The shaft felt better with an immediate increase in clubhead speed but the spin rate and dispersion were worse. After a few revisions the Taylor made P790 head felt wonderful. The ball soft off the clubface, no jarring of the knuckles even on toe hits. Looking down at the club it did not look very different from the blade profile that I like so much.


New Club Specifications:

  1. Taylormade P790 Heads

  2. KBS S flex 120g

  3. 2 degrees upright


Benefits

  1. 4 mph gain in clubhead speed

  2. 9m more carry

  3. 9m extra distance overall

  4. More consistent distance control


Player profile: Pete Jolly, aged 69, Handicap 24. Objective to get to 16 Handicap

Golf is hard. The harder one strives to reduce one’s handicap the more profound the frustration becomes. Pete has all of the elements needed to reduce his handicap far below his mid term target of 16. His Achilles heel is consistency. His good shots are great, his bad shots disastrous. Pete’s objective is to change the status of hit bad shots from “disaster” to “survivable”.


best irons golf course

The numbers displayed by Trackman told Fabien that Pete had been fitted with a shaft too light to produce the optimum ball flight characteristics for the clubhead speed and steep angle of attack that Pete generated. Fabien fitted a KBS Steel R Flex shaft of 85g into a more forgiving Ping 425 head. Immediate improvement was made, however Fabien felt that a larger sweet spot was needed. Swapping the Ping 425 head for a Taylormade P790 the results were exactly what Pete had hoped to achieve.


A slight increase in clubhead speed 1.1mph and 3.5mph in ball speed yielded a dispersion 50% tighter than before with 7m of extra carry!


Again the Taylormade head was key to getting the best results.


New Club Specifications:

  1. Taylormade P790 Heads

  2. KBS Steel 85g R flex shafts


Benefits

  1. 1.1 mph gain in clubhead speed

  2. 3.5mph increase in ball speed

  3. 7m more carry

  4. Dispersion improved by 50%


Player profile: John Walker, aged 61, Handicap 2, Objective: To shoot more rounds under par

John is the epitome of the steady golfer, a procession of fairways found, greens hit and a solid short game has seen his world handicap index fluctuate between +1 and 3 over the last 12 months.


John bought his current set of Callaway Apex Pro “off the shelf” whilst on holiday in the USA seven years ago. Off the shelf his irons were fitted with True Temper XP R flex 105g shafts.


best irons golf course

Like anyone JW can have days where he is just not striking the ball well, the resulting weak flighted iron shots fall short and often to the right. It is these weak shots that prevent John from shooting significantly more rounds under par.

Today on the Trackman was one of those “not swinging well “ days for JW, many of his shots during the initial data collection were weakly hit, low flight, deviating to the right. A few shots came out of the middle of the face to give a data spread reminiscent of a tough day on the golf course.


Fabiens first observation was that the 105g shaft was too heavy for JW based upon his clubhead speed, the first adjustment was to fit the equivalent Callaway head into a True Temper with 95g R Flex shaft.


Even with similar lacklustre ball striking (by Johns standards), the numbers showed a marked improvement. However Fabien felt that JWs stats were still not close to the optimum based upon his metrics.


After two further changes of shafts and two further clubheads Fabien arrived at the perfect package for John. Once again the Taylormade P790 brought optimum performance. For John it meant increased clubhead speed, increased ball speed, reduced spin and an increase of 11m in carry and overall distance.


New Club Specifications:

  1. Taylormade P790 Heads

  2. Dynamic Golf 95g R flex shafts


Benefits

  1. 1.5 mph gain in clubhead speed.

  2. 5mph increase in ball speed.

  3. 10m more carry.

  4. 11m gain in overall distance.

  5. Backspin reduced by 800 rpm.

  6. Dispersion improved by 40%


Summary – Best golf irons in 2023 – Taylormade P790

Nigel was right. When buying new golf irons it is imperative to be fitted in order to arrive at the best golf irons for you. If you are on the Costa del Sol go and find Golfriends in Marbella, ask for Fabien, let him perform his sorcery for you too!


It seems there is a perfect golf iron, a winner in the quest to find the best golf iron for 2023. Based upon our discovery it is the Taylormade P790. Three of us when using this head with a suitable shaft produced our best results. It has game improvement qualities wrapped in a quasi blade chassis. It looks beautiful, it feels smooth through the ball, it is massively forgiving  and gives each of us amazing results. Simply by putting these Taylormade irons in our bag each of us would reach the green with 1 club less and put it closer to the hole. For John and I that might create 4 or 5 extra birdie chances. For Pete it means that he will be close to or on the putting surface more often, more pars, more bogeys and fewer disasters. His handicap will tumble.


The Taylormade P790 seems to be able to do everything for every style of player. I am amazed. I had not expected such a clear result. I had imagined that with relatively new and recently fitted clubs neither Nigel or Pete would see any great difference. Equally, as low handicappers I did not think that John or I would see much difference either. The results are staggering.


Taylormade P790 – Best golf iron of 2023!


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