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PirateJim

Why "Better Player's" Game Improvement Irons?

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I see regular discussions on the pros and cons of switching to blades. (Too many cons for me!) But I seldom see discussion on the pros and cons of switching from purely game improvement clubs, such as my Ping G20's, to the better players clubs like Ping i20, Titleist AP2, Mizuno JPX-825 Pro, etc. If you use this class of club, at what point in your game progression did you switch? What do they offer that the more GI oriented clubs don't? What, if anything, do you feel like you may have given up or lost with the switch? At what point in game progress, and for what reasons, would you say a person should consider this class of clubs?
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Went from Callaway Fusions (nearly original year's model) to JPX 800 Pros. I wanted more consistent distance and wanted better chance at flighting the ball differently on command. Once in a while the Fusions would launch a good swing 20-30 yards farther than my expectations of a good shot. I'd be posing while the ball flew the green by a mile.

What I got when I switched was more distance control but less normal distance. I did get better ability to flight the ball low or high (hardly anything like "on demand" but that is on me). I also got clubs I felt I could control on short shots around the green. I never knew how guys pitched with their 8-irons until I switch from the Fusions.

The next step was for me to go from JPX 800 Pros to MP-53's. More of the same and even less distance but better control.

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I recently switched from Ping G25 to Ping i20 and did not see much difference. Perhaps a slightly lower ball flight and that's it. (Some people have reported a greater difference in moving from G25 to i20).

This is very subjective, but I'd say as soon as you can hit four decent balls out of five (say, with a mid iron), you're ready for better clubs.

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I went from Miz JPX to AP2 - sort of a stepping stone to blades but will probably stick with these for years.  My issue was a dislike of offset at address where the AP2 is minimal and looks true at address.  I can hit 24 of 25 irons well with the AP2s, about half that with the Mizzy's...

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Originally Posted by PirateJim

What do they offer that the more GI oriented clubs don't?

It's the "cool" factor.  You get to feel like you are better than you really are because you have cooler clubs that only "better players" can supposedly hit well.  .

You are able to work the ball more; right to left, left to right, lower, but for most of us that is really not worth missing out on the bigger sweet spot GI clubs offer.

Other than that, it is mostly aesthetics. Which club do you like the looks of at address?  I read a comment on this site recently regarding what type of club to buy that I though was spot on:  get the club that offers the most game improvement you can stand to look at.  I regret to say, however, that even though I know it to be true, I cannot take this advice myself.  I should be playing more gi clubs than I am. I know it, but I need to feel cool.

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I went the other way. Played blades from age 13 to 30, then forged player's cavity (MP-57) for six years, and now AP2s for the last 18 months or so.
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They look better. That's the only reason for me. MP52s and MP58s.
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I went from Burners to i20's so I guess that qualifies.  I wanted new clubs because I had improved a lot and changed my swing and wasn't confident that my old clubs were properly fit to me.  So moving to the "better player GIs" wasn't the reason for getting new clubs, but I bought them because I was more interested in consistent distances and shapes than help getting the ball up and hitting it far. When I played well with my burners, I felt like I wasn't hitting it as close as i would like.  When I played poorly the ball would still fly but it would go wide left and right.  I thought going short would be less penal, which tends to be the miss with better player clubs.  With my i20's I feel like I know where they are going.

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IMO it's all marketing. I recently made the switch from yesteryears GI irons to what's being billed as today's better players irons and the difference is astounding. My old 845s are as small as today's MB's.

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I wouldn't call 845s GI, even in 1990. Compare 845s to Eye-2, Zing, Yonex, Lynx, etc.
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Originally Posted by k-troop

I wouldn't call 845s GI, even in 1990. Compare 845s to Eye-2, Zing, Yonex, Lynx, etc.

There weren't many CB's back then available in retail stores. Actually wasn't much of anything compared to today. Just sporting goods store junk and expensive clubs that I recall could only be bought at mom and pop boutiques and pro shops. I spent a small fortune to get into my Eye 2's and get out of my old Nicklaus MacGregor's back in '85.

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There weren't many CB's back then available in retail stores. Actually wasn't much of anything compared to today.

Ill agree relative to today but the 845s came out at a time in the late 80s that saw the invention of the player's cavity. Hogan Edge, I think Wilson had a channel-back blade, and then you had cast models like the 845s and TM's Tour Preferred. All were comparable size/shape with forged blades and had minimal offset.

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Originally Posted by k-troop

Ill agree relative to today but the 845s came out at a time in the late 80s that saw the invention of the player's cavity. Hogan Edge, I think Wilson had a channel-back blade, and then you had cast models like the 845s and TM's Tour Preferred. All were comparable size/shape with forged blades and had minimal offset.

I get it but they definitely were marketed as a forgiving option to what was commonplace and I agree they aren't really a GI club when you look at the design compared to today's GI clubs. That's why I mentioned it. I was playing 845s until 07/13 and now I am playing the 588 TT. Which is marketed as a better players iron but in reality more like an SGI iron compared to the 845s. I am kicking myself for playing the 845s as long as I did. Great clubs but not as forgiving as today's "better players irons", not even close.

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It's the "cool" factor.  You get to feel like you are better than you really are because you have cooler clubs that only "better players" can supposedly hit well.  . You are able to work the ball more; right to left, left to right, lower, but for most of us that is really not worth missing out on the bigger sweet spot GI clubs offer. Other than that, it is mostly aesthetics. Which club do you like the looks of at address?  I read a comment on this site recently regarding what type of club to buy that I though was spot on:  get the club that offers the most game improvement you can stand to look at.  I regret to say, however, that even though I know it to be true, I cannot take this advice myself.  I should be playing more gi clubs than I am. I know it, but I need to feel cool.

I suspect your post is spot on... There are many guys at my club (mostly older guys) that bag those irons that ALL look like hybrids. One of those guys is a 3 handicap and hits the ball a fair distance. I think he hits a stock 4 iron from the 200 yards marker. Not only does he carry the ball 200 yds, but he gets much better height than I do with my 4 iron (which I can only carry 190).

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Let's make sure we separate the two Club Classification systems used in Golfdom: The MPF system, and the Hot List system.

During the early 2000s, club designer Ralph Maltby developed the Maltby Playability Factor. The MPF arises from a six-variable equation, and rates clubheads on their user-friendliness. One variable is Vertical Center of Gravity (VCOG). The lower the VCOG, the higher the launch of the ball. Anyway, Maltby came up with seven categories of clubs, determined by an MFP number ranging from negative (some vintage blade designs) up to greater than 1000 (Big Bertha / G10 range).

Maltby cautions that the MPF rates clubheads only, and that different shafts seriously alter the performance of a given club.

MPF Categories.

  • Ultra game improvement - Easiest of all to play
  • Super game improvement - Extremely easy to play / Some Tour pros use
  • Game improvement - All players benefit; less distance loss on off-center hits / Many Tour pros use
  • Conventional - 0-14 HDCP, top half MPFs easier to play
  • Classic - 0-5 HDCP + Tour pros
  • Player's classic - Not recommended.
  • Minus zone - History buffs only

Next came the Golf Digest Hot List categories: Player's, Game Improvement and Super Game Improvement. These are based on perceived market niche. I have sent e-mails twice to Golf Digest, asking them how their categories compare to the seven MPF categories, but I received no replies.

As for "better player's clubs," I'm not sure they're that much different than some game improvement clubs. Maltby said that iron models within 100 points of each other may not feel or play that different for a given golfer.

And, don't forget about the shaft, that tube between your grip and the clubhead. The right shaft on a player's club may fly better than the wrong shaft on a GI club.

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Thank you all for the feedback. I have, in fact, been thinking my G20s are looking sort of "chunky" but I am also used to the look, and I am much more interested in what other people think of my golf shots than my golf clubs. Most interesting, however, was the suggestion that some of the better player clubs might give more consistant distance control, which can't be bad. More research is in order, but again thank you!
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Originally Posted by PirateJim

Thank you all for the feedback. I have, in fact, been thinking my G20s are looking sort of "chunky" but I am also used to the look, and I am much more interested in what other people think of my golf shots than my golf clubs. Most interesting, however, was the suggestion that some of the better player clubs might give more consistant distance control, which can't be bad. More research is in order, but again thank you!

You want to see some chunky clubs...my Big Bertha Gold irons meet that description. They look like shovels at address. I found a new set of Callaway Legacy forged irons yesterday at one of those "blowout" hotel sales. The clubs were the ones sold in Japan at a price of 144 thousand yen, about 1500 bucks, new. Slight cavity with beautiful graphite R shafts and custom Winn grips with a topline as thin as a slice of packaged cheese. They were selling for 479 for 4-PW. I wanted them really bad but I walked. Later I called Callaway pre-owned and talked to rep about them. He said that with my age, swing speed, skill level and using the clubs I now have, I should move to the Razr HLs which are SGI irons I think. That is just what I did. 7 to PW and a new CC Jaws Slate 54 SW with Fujikara graphite shaft. The BB golds are now on E-bay. Still those Forged Legacy irons were so good looking ......

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The only reason that I am looking at some of the "better player's" irons is because of their soles. In Colorado the turf is generally pretty firm (unless it just rained,), which means that my current Eye 2's have a tendency to bounce off the ground after making contact occasionally. Having demo'd the s56, MP-59, and AP2's I can say that there's a definite difference in how they act when you hit the turf. They will just knife right though it if you're swinging down, rather than skimming on the grass due to a fatter sole. It's a personal preference, but they definitely make me feel more confident when I have a tight lie or a ball buried in the rough.

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