Which TaylorMade irons should I buy? Your guide to each iron in TaylorMade’s 2022 line-up, who they are aimed at, and how they performed when tested by our pro.
Most major golf brands have five, six or even seven sets of irons in their 2022 line-ups. Some are new models, others carried over from previous ranges, but they are all aimed at very specific golfers.
There’s been a huge influx of new forged models over recent years, but choices still range from sublime musclebacks to hollow heads, cavity backs and super forgiving hybrid-style irons. While some are forged from soft carbon steel, others have springy fast faces, just like a driver.
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With so many options out there, it’s easy for golfers to get confused over which will best suit their game. And even those who have a good idea of which iron will suit them often don’t realise what’s put on the line in terms of ball speed, carry distance and forgiveness by choosing a set above their ball striking capability.
With every major 2022 iron model now available in the shops, the time felt right to show how each brand’s iron range compares when they go head to head. If it’s a TaylorMade model that has caught your eye, we’ll walk you through their range and find out how they perform.
Thanks to our consistent test pro and his launch monitor data, we can show how whole families of irons stack up. You can read how we test, here. We’ve also given each model a forgiveness rating and a handicap guide to spell out simply which players should be considering each model, and, more importantly, why. Find out more about the ratings, here.
If you want to see how all of year’s irons performed then check out our full irons test or, if there are other brands on your shopping list, take a look at which, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Srixon and PXG irons are right for you.
RRP: £1,299 | VIEW OFFER
Category: Muscleback Blade | Forgiveness Rating: 1 | Handicap Range: 4 and below | Construction: Forged from a single piece of 1025 Carbon Steel | Availability: 3-PW | Stock shaft: KBS Tour | 7-iron loft: 35°
Today’s Golfer verdict: The best ball strikers and ultimate shot shapers, which is why superstars including Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy had input into the design. A constant blade length means the PW is the same size as a 4-iron (a direct request from DJ), and means the short irons have slightly higher MOI than some blades.
If you find yourself attracted to a set, remember what you’re putting on the line. Our test pro launched the stronger-lofted P770s higher, with similar backspin and a steeper landing angle, while cutting his shot area almost in half.
After two years in the line-up it’s likely the P-Series irons (except the P790) will be updated at some point in 2022.
RRP: £1,299 | VIEW OFFER
Category: Players’ | Forgiveness Rating: 2 | Handicap Range: 4 and below | Construction: Forged from a single piece of 1025 Carbon Steel | Availability: 3-PW | Stock shaft: KBS Tour | 7-iron loft: 34°
Today’s Golfer verdict: Good golfers who hit lots of straight shots, rather than working the ball around the course. With the 7-iron our pro produced similar ball speed, backspin and carry numbers to the P770, but how the ball got to its target was very different.
The P770 launched and flighted shots higher, while descending onto the green at a steeper angle, which is really useful for longer approaches. The choice between the P7MC and P770 for club golfers will likely come down to whether you like the benefits that hollow body irons, with their thinner, faster faces and tungsten weighting, bring to the party over a single-piece forged iron (the MC).
Remember, P Series irons can be bought individually to create your ideal set.
RRP £1,299 | VIEW OFFER
Category Players’ Distance | Forgiveness Rating 2.5 | Handicap Range 8 and below | Construction Hollow body with 8620 carbon steel body and 4140 forged face | Availability 3-PW, AW | Stock shaft KBS Tour | 7-iron loft 33°
Today’s Golfer verdict: Tons of club golfers have hankered after a set of P770s since they launched back in 2020, and while some YouTubers have suggested mid-handicap players can get away with them, TaylorMade say the model was designed for low single-figure players.
The P770s are beauties and they’ll do a brilliant job for consistent ball strikers who love great looking irons with a compact chassis. Just remember that the 7-iron loft is 2.5° weaker than the P790, which is a lot if your game demands keeping an eye on carry distance.
For our test pro the extra loft and smaller head size gave up 10 yards of carry against the brilliant P790, which for most club golfers will be too much of a compromise for a 2mm reduction in blade length.
WATCH: TaylorMade P-Series Irons test
RRP £1,299 (s), £1,399 (g) | VIEW OFFER
Category Players’ Distance | Forgiveness Rating 2.5-3 | Handicap Range 14 and below | Construction Hollow cast body with 8620 carbon steel head and 1.5mm 4140 steel forged L-face | Availability 3-PW, AW | Shafts True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 VSS (s), UST Mamiya’s Recoil 760/780 ES SmacWrap (g) | 7-iron loft 30.5º
Today’s Golfer verdict: The original P790 (now in its third generation) sold to golfers from +4 to 24-handicappers, a vast audience who TaylorMade never intended to cater for with a single iron. This model is every bit as good.
While it wasn’t designed intentionally as a mid-handicap iron (it targets the players’ distance arena) it can just about suit some double digit players. We’ve nudged our handicap range up from 12 to 14 this year to reflect the new thinking.
We love how a new, lighter regular flex shaft opens the model up to slightly more modest swing speeds. The vast majority of club golfers should see the P790 as a decent midway step between players’ and mid-handicap irons, with the potential to add 10 yards of 7-iron carry distance over the brand’s players’ irons – as our test pro did.
If distance is your priority, don’t overlook the Stealth; our data has it down as 11 yards longer than this cracking model.
WATCH: Best Players’ Distance Irons Test 2022
RRP £849 (s), £949 (g) | VIEW OFFER
Category Mid-handicap | Forgiveness rating 3.5/5 | Handicap range 10 and above | Construction Cast with 450 stainless steel face | Availability 4-PW, AW, SW, LW | Shafts KBS Max MT (s), Fujikura Ventus Red (g) | 7-iron loft 28º
Today’s Golfer verdict: Rather than saying mid and high-handicappers need different iron models, TaylorMade’s new way of thinking says both players are best served with one design, but getting the correct loft for each individual’s swing speed is crucial.
Stealth is sold with a standard 7-iron loft of 28º, but it can be set up to 1º stronger and 2º weaker, which will maximise carry based on your clubhead speed, which is a seriously clever idea.
Our pro’s data has the Stealth down as our second longest mid-handicap iron of the year, behind only the Cobra King LTDx (which has a 1.5º stronger loft). That means it’s a brilliant mid-handicap iron for plenty of club golfers this year.
WATCH: Best Mid-Handicap Irons Test 2022
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Launch monitor data: How the 2022 TaylorMade Irons compared
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TaylorMade’s 2021 iron models
While the two models below are no longer being marketed by TaylorMade among their current models, they are still widely available and, in both cases, at quite substantially lower prices.
You’ll also find plenty of them on used golf club sites like Golfbidder, so they’re still well worth your consideration in 2022.
RRP £899 (s), £1,049 (g) | VIEW OFFER
Category Mid-Handicap | Forgiveness Rating 3.5 | Handicap Range 10 and above | Construction Cast with 450 stainless steel face | Availability 4-PW, AW, SW, LW | Stock shaft KBS Max MT (s) Fujikura Ventus (g) | 7-iron loft 28.5°
While sleek and sexy players irons might tug at our heart strings, in the real world most of us need all the help we can get. Enter SIM2.
The big draw is how TaylorMade tuned the sound to be more like a forged iron. It means you give nothing up in terms of feedback, but get extra playability and (if you can muster as much speed as our test pro did in 2021) up to 17 yards more carry than a P770.
Incredibly, the SIM2 Max irons (6.5° stronger 7-iron loft than the P7MB) flighted shots higher and brought the ball down onto the green at the same type of angle as the muscleback, which demonstrates brilliantly how far modern weighting techniques have come to make strong-lofted irons so playable.
WATCH: Best Mid-Handicap Irons Test 2021
RRP: £899 (s), £1,049 (g) | VIEW OFFER
Category: High Handicap | Forgiveness Rating: 4 | Handicap Range: 28 and below
Construction: Cast with 450 stainless steel face | Availability: 4-PW, SW, LW
Stock shaft: KBS Max MT (s), Fujikura Ventus Blue (g) | 7-iron loft: 26.5°
With a 7-iron loft of 26.5°, the TaylorMade SIM2 Max OS was the second strongest iron on the market in 2021 (Titleist T400 is 26°), and it was the longest model we hit last year.
Vastly different amounts of hosel offset compared to the SIM2 Max is how TaylorMade made this iron playable, as extra offset pushed the centre of gravity further back to help with launch and forgiveness. Realistically, we reckon golfers will still need at least average levels of swing speed to get the OS to launch at optimal levels of spin, height and descent angle.
But if speed isn’t your demon, you’ll struggle to find a longer iron, yet it still flighted shots higher and got the ball to land at a steeper angle (without being the lowest spinning) than any other in the 2021 TaylorMade line-up.
Launch monitor data: How the 2021 TaylorMade irons compared
– We created an indoor test lab at Keele Golf Centre to ensure a controlled environment
– TaylorMade supplied their 2022 irons in our Test Pro Neil Wain’s spec.
– We rejected major misses but recorded how shots launched, span, peaked and dropped out of the air, before crunching the numbers to come up with our conclusions.
How we analysed our TaylorMade irons data
Before we came to any conclusions, we analysed the data for each club tested; on distance, spin rates, forgiveness. The latter we refer to as drop offs; the differences in ball speed, spin and carry between our test pro’s on- and off-centre hits.
This insight gives a reliable indication of how forgiving each model will be on the course, as we’ve argued for years that dispersion can be very misleading as it’s based on how you swing on a particular day. We analysed all that data before choosing winners.
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Category 5: Hybrid Irons
Hybrid irons have been the much maligned black sheep of irons for years, but they now represent a huge opportunity to keep golfers – who typically lose 0.5 mph of clubhead speed each year once they hit 60 – in the game for longer.
There has been a growing trend in this area in recent years. Not only are brands showing more interest in producing hybrid irons, golfers are more willing to use them. The extra playability that hybrids have brought to the long game have transformed many golfers’ games in the past decade.
If your game or swing speed have gone south, hybrid irons are a brilliant option.
Typical performance traits
In the hands of average club golfers, hybrid irons are more forgiving than any other model. They have big wide soles to launch shots high with increased forgiveness, while designers claim they also help prevent digging into the turf, thereby reducing fat shots.
It’s exactly the type of styling that led golfers to fall in love with long iron replacement hybrids/rescues. The centre of gravity in hybrid irons is far lower and deeper than a typical cavity-back iron.
Who should use hybrid irons?
Golf should be fun and hybrid Irons can turn a frustrating round into an enjoyable one. The extra playability means more shots carry sand and water hazards. Hybrid Irons aren’t just for players with slower swings. They’re for anybody who wants to reduce frustration and have more fun.
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Category 4: Super Game Improver Irons
This category is as forgiving as it gets if you insist that an iron needs to look like an iron and you’re resistant to exploring hybrid iron alternatives.
Historically, golfers have traded looks for forgiveness in this category, but modern models have come a long way in recent years. It’s now possible to get your hands on an iron like the Ping G710, which is not only great looking, but also super forgiving and powerful.
Better yet, it won’t highlight you as a hacker before you’ve even hit a shot!
Typical performance traits
Historically, super game-improver models have big chunky heads, thick toplines and even wider soles. The best of the latest models challenge that thinking, though, thanks to dense tungsten weighting that places critical mass in very specific areas of the head.
Category 4 models have either a deep cavity-back or a hollow head and they’re very often the lightest in a brand’s iron range. Shafts are often lighter with softer tip sections to increase launch and spin, which helps maximise distance at lower speeds.
Some models unashamedly reduce weight to naturally add speed. This is great as long as your swing isn’t too weight sensitive and you lose the ability to ‘time’ shots. It’s worth remembering that the larger the head size, the easier it is to get an iron face to flex and add speed.
Who should use super game improver irons?
Golfers who aren’t afraid to admit that their game needs as much help as they can get their hands on is a reasonable rule of thumb here. Whereas game-improver models often suit 20-handicap golfers and below, super game-improver models fill the gap above this really nicely.
However, make sure that you’re well aware which models are lightweight and/or strong lofted and make a decision on which best suits your game after trialling both. Get that right and the irons within this category can seriously raise your enjoyment of the game.
Forgiveness Category 3.5: Game Improver Irons
This area of the market produces the most sales simply because there’s more mid-high handicappers. Brands invest huge sums developing new technology in this area.
Typical performance traits
There’s disagreement among brands as to whether this category should be home to their strongest loft irons and there’s a discussion to be had around whether strong loft irons are suited to the highest handicappers with the slowest swings. These players often struggle to launch strong loft irons high enough to optimise carry and backspin.
The extra offset pushes the CG back to aid launch. It’s not uncommon for these irons to be 10mm+ longer with sole widths some 45% wider than a Category 1 blade. Toplines are often twice the width of a blade, too.
Who should use game improver irons?
Fitted with slightly lighter shafts and, sometimes, a lighter swing weight, these irons help maximise swing speed. It’s no secret the engineers target 18–20 handicappers with these clubs.
Forgiveness Category 3: Game Improver Plus
When it comes to matching an iron to your ability, it’s really important not to confuse this category with full out game-improver models. Simply put, they’re not.
As a benchmark, the Ping G iron has always been a stalwart of the traditional game-improver category but the current G410 falls into our Category 3.5. Category 3 models are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Very often, Category 3 and Category 3.5 irons end up in the hands of improving golfers, but they subtly target different players, hence why Callaway make both an Apex 19 (forged and in Category 3) and a Mavrik (cast and in Category 3.5).
Typical performance traits
The fact that five of our eight Category 3 irons are forged tells the story of who they’re aimed at. And just to highlight the point, none of the Category 3.5 models are forged.
Models in this category will have either a decent-sized/depth cavity-back or a hollow head. The cast PXG 0211s are a great example of a set that combines compact, less offset short-irons with larger, more forgiving mid- and long-irons to appeal to golfers seeking both looks and performance within a single set.
Offset will often be a fraction less than with full on game-improver models, while toplines will be a fraction wider than in Player Irons. Lofts will likely be a little stronger than those of a Players Distance iron. On average, our eight Category 3 models had 1.4° less 7-iron loft (30.1°) than Category 2.5 models, which means they can target ball speed and distance.
Who should use game improver plus irons?
If you’re a mid-handicap golfer, you absolutely should look at some of the models within this category. To be the best match, though, it’s highly likely your handicap will be 15 or below – depending on your ball-striking confidence.
Category 3.5 models bring together traits often best-suited to 18-20 handicappers and below. Category 3 models usually offer a decent-looking clubhead, which is often forged, along with added speed and distance for golfers who don’t quite have the ball striking prowess to use one of the two Player Iron categories.
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Forgiveness Category 2.5: Players’ Distance Irons
In 2015, PXG founder Bob Parsons tasked his top engineers with the unenviable challenge of creating an iron that looked like a blade but played like a cavity-back. What they came back with – the original 0311 – changed the iron market.
TaylorMade joined the hollow-body players distance iron market in 2017 with the P790. It became the brand’s biggest-selling forged iron ever. Titleist then launched the popular 718 AP3 and Ping joined the party in 2018 with their i500.
The rapid growth of this category can not only be attributed to aspirational aesthetics, but faster ball speeds and more distance than traditional player’s irons.
Typical performance traits
In many instances, the clubhead size in this category will be a little larger to inspire more confidence at address. And don’t expect too much hosel offset, either. The toplines are reasonably thin and shaft weights tend to be a little lighter than those found in blades.
The face might be forged – as found in the TaylorMade P790, Ping i500 and Cobra King Forged Tec – while several models favour hollow body technology. The average 7-iron loft in this category was 2° stronger than in the Category 1 models, which inevitably means extra ball speed and distance.
You may find some fast-face technology in these clubs, too, while some kind of internal tungsten weighting is also common. This gives the manufacturers’ engineers the ability to manipulate the centre-of-gravity location in the clubhead to help shots launch higher from a stronger loft as well as deliver more forgiveness over Category 1 and Category 2 models. That’s some seriously good food for thought.
Who should use players’ distance irons?
Don’t be fooled by our data into thinking that Players Distance Irons are the wonder drug for all golfers… they’re not. What the data does show, though, is what’s on the line when a golfer chooses either a Category 1 or Category 2 model when, in fact, they should be playing a Category 2.5 iron.
While the typical shaft weight and profile was perfect for our test pro, many mid-handicap and above golfers would benefit from the slightly lighter weight and added consistency of a Category 3, Category 4 or even a Category 5 model. Irons in this category bridge the gap from traditional game-improver to player models brilliantly, which means they usually work best for golfers with handicaps of 12 and below.
Forgiveness Category 2: Players’ Irons
If you need any evidence to support which type of golfer this category is aimed at, you only need to look at tour players like Jordan Spieth, Shane Lowry and Jason Day. All are major champions and currently play irons that fall within this category.
These types of irons are very good options for impressive ball-strikers who don’t necessarily want to compromise on looks, but still want some forgiveness built into what is essentially a blade shape clubhead.
Typical performance traits
Player irons generally are pretty similar to blades for hosel offset, topline thickness and sole width. The majority are forged (with the exception of Ping’s models) as the decent players who use them often believe forging delivers a premium feel/sound. Plus, it’s worth remembering that more than 90% of tour events are won by players using forged models.
For us, a Category 2 model must have some type of cavity-back, either shallow as with the Mizuno JPX919 Tour or deeper as found in the Honma T//World 747 Vx. There absolutely will be no thin fast-face tech (not in the mid- to short-irons anyway), as many purists believe that face flex leads to inconsistencies.
Lofts generally are fairly traditional, since golfers at this level want very consistent gapping and predictable yardages, even on slight mishits.
Who should use players’ irons?
It goes without saying that you need to be a decent ball-striker to get the best out of Player irons. That means you’ll need to be very close to a category one golfer. There’s a very good reason why Players Distance irons (forgiveness Category 2.5) have become so popular over the last few years.
It’s because they bridge the gap that was really difficult to cover when golf didn’t have fast-face tech, strong lofts or hollow body constructions. If you can tolerate some modern tech, you can not only get extra ball speed and distance but more forgiveness, too.
Forgiveness Category 1: Muscleback Irons
Musclebacks, also known as blades, are not only the most traditional irons, they’re also the most unforgiving, hence our forgiveness rating of 1. Any golfer thinking of buying a set of blades should have no real desire to add any extra speed, distance or forgiveness to their game.
In fact, the 10% of tour pros who use blades typically do so because the forgiveness levels are so low. It means they can shape shots at will while barely needing to alter their swing.
Typical performance traits
Blades are typically forged rather than cast. The forging process that stamps the irons into shape under high pressure compresses and aligns the grain of the metal more closely, which is said to improve feel and feedback. Musclebacks also have the least amount of hosel offset, which means the centre of gravity (CG) of the clubhead is further forward.
A forward CG delivers a lower, more penetrating ball flight, even though blades tend to have the highest lofts of any iron category. Head sizes are generally very compact, while soles and top lines are typically very slender, which means they should appeal only to the very best ball-strikers.
Most blades come as standard with heavy 120g+ shafts since the more accomplished golfers who use them typically create more swing speed.
Who should use muscleback irons?
There’s a strong school of thought among some hardcore golfers that blades are the only true way to play the game. Some also swear that blades are the best way to learn the game because you’re severely punished for mishits and therefore have to focus more intently on developing a robust swing technique.
Regardless, to get the best out of Category 1 irons you’ll need a handicap of low single figures or better. It’s our opinion that you shouldn’t really consider using them until you get close to scratch.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Simon Daddow is the Equipment Editor at todaysgolfer.co.uk
Simon has worked in the golf industry for 30 years. Starting out as trainee professional at Downes Crediton GC where he learned the art of golf club making, before going onto work for Clubhaus Plc and Tony Charles Ltd as a golf club maker, and running Product Development at Benross Golf.
Joining EMAP Active (now Bauer Media) in 2006 as Equipment Editor Simon has worked for Today’s Golfer and Golf World magazines and the Today’s Golfer website.
Simon is 46 years old, he’s played golf for 40 years and plays to a handicap of 10. A lack of club speed means he’s short off the tee, but very handy from 125 yards and in.
He uses a Ping G400 SFT driver, PXG 0341 X Gen4 3-Wood, PXG 0341 X Gen4 7-wood, PXG 0317 X Gen2 hybrid, Callaway Rogue X irons (6 – PW), Cleveland CBX2 wedges (52°, 58°), Bettinardi Inovai 6.0 putter and a TaylorMade Tour Response golf ball.
You can contact Simon here.