REVIEWED: Longest 2018 irons

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Distance might not be everything, certainly not when it comes to irons. But golfers don’t often complain about having too much of it. And if there are any extra yards going spare, most golfers would snatch your hand off to get them.

Today’s latest game improvement irons specifically target distance, which explains why every new 2018 model (aimed at club golfers) comes with the promise of more face flex, faster ball speeds and, of course, extra yards. But which actually deliver?

The question prompted us to find out what are the longest irons available this year, by putting four of the latest launches head to head – Ping’s G700, TaylorMade’s M4, Callaway’s Rogue X and Cobra’s King F8.

How we did it:

Modern, super long-distance irons aren’t really aimed at pros, so we got both TG Equipment Editor Simon Daddow and TG test pro Ben Frost to hit each iron on a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor. To ensure an accurate comparison (thanks to his repeatable swing) we’ve only published Ben’s 7-iron test data, showing how each model performed against its peers.

Ben Frost - Senior Instructor at The Belfry Academy

Ben Frost

Simon Daddow - TG's Equipment Editor is a 10 handicap former equipment designer.

Simon Daddow

Longest 2018 Iron Review: Ping G700

Ping G700 iron

Details:

Price: £149 (s) £159 (g)
Availability: 4-PW, UW, SW
Stock shaft: Choose from 10 premium options
7-iron loft and length: 29.5° / 37”

You need to know:

Ping’s longest, highest-flying iron ever. A new machined C300 steel face generates twice the flex as the usual 431 stainless steel. Low and extreme heel-toe weighting boosts resistance to twisting (forgiveness), protecting ball speed and distance. Sole widths, bounce and offset are all similar to the G400.

We say:

Hollow-body irons were a big story in 2017, but where others used the tech to create designs combining the looks of a better player iron with the playability of a cavity back, Ping have taken a different approach. Their thinking with the G700 is to create the best looking but ultimately forgiving iron they’ve ever produced. The G700 looks the part in the bag (as it doesn’t scream game improvement from the back); it’s probably Ping’s best-looking GI iron ever. At address there’s a familiar long, stretched head and boxy look and at impact the sound is very similar to the G400. Data doesn’t tell the whole story with the G700s for our test pro though. Ben fights to control spin so the G700s built-in trait of launching shots higher with more backspin robbed him of some yards. For Simon, though, it was a different story (see below).

Verdict:

A really well thought out iron from Ping, G700 proves hollow body tech can be used for more than just creating forgiving players’ irons. Remember, G700 costs £39 a club more than the G400, which will mount up if you’re buying a set. Unlike the others on test they can be bought individually, so you only need buy the irons you actually use.

Ping G700 iron data

See our Ping G400 iron review here

Ping G700 iron

In the hands of a 10 handicapper…

One man’s poison is another man’s pleasure. By that we mean the extra launch and spin which robbed our pro of a few yards with the G700 actually helped TG Equipment Ed Simon add 2mph of ball speed and an extra seven yards of carry (with a 7-iron) against the G400. It meant G700 was Simon’s second-longest iron on test. We’ve said it before and will say it again, fitting is absolutely essential to find your perfect set-up, and Ping are leaders in it.

Longest 2018 Iron Review: TaylorMade M4

TaylorMade M4 iron

Details:

Price: £749 (s) £849 (g)
Availability: 4-PW, AW, SW, LW
Stock shaft: KBS MAX 85 (s), Fujikura Atmos Red (g)
7-iron loft and length: 28.5° / 37”

You need to know:

New RIBCOR tech behind the face localises face flexibility which TaylorMade say transfers more energy to the ball, increasing ball speed and distance. A fluted hosel, undercut top edge, speed pocket sole and face slots all help create a very low CG design and highly forgiving iron. A carbon-fibre cavity badge dampens unwanted vibrations, improving sound and feel for this category of iron.

We say:

TaylorMade have taken stick over the years for ramping up iron lofts and using longer shafts, just so they could lay claim to being the longest irons available. For the last two years our tests have thrown up TaylorMade’s M2 as the longest iron we’ve hit. Unfortunately, for 2018 Callaway, have played the strong loft game harder and faster. Distance with irons isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (though when was the last time you had too much?). But the idea of this test is to turn yards into a commodity. So as beautiful and jam-packed full of ball speed improving tech as the M4s are, they aren’t quite the longest iron of 2018.

Verdict:

As good as the M4’s RIBCOR tech is at preserving ball speeds, with a 7-iron loft 1.5° more than the Rogue X it was always going to struggle to match the Callaway pound for pound in terms of carry distance. On a level loft playing field, results might be different. But it isn’t a fair fight, and if our test pro chose the M4s over the Rogue X, he’d give up half-a-club, or six yards, of carry.

TaylorMade M4 iron data

See our TaylorMade M CGB iron review here

TaylorMade M4 iron

In the hands of a 10 handicapper…

Even at Simon’s smooth swing speed the M4 gave up seven yards carry distance on average (with a 7-iron) to the longest iron on test. Considering the loft difference, we shouldn’t really be too surprised. Interestingly, though, TaylorMade’s M CGB performed equally well, launching shots a degree higher, with an extra two yards of peak height and a yard more carry distance (over the M4), all from a fractionally slower ball speed.

Longest 2018 Iron Review: Cobra King F8

Cobra F8 iron

Details:

Price: £649 (s) £749 (g)
Availability: 4-PW, GW, SW, LW
Stock shaft: True Temper XP 90 (s) Aldila Rogue Pro 65 (g)
7-iron loft and length: 29.5° / 37.5”

You need to know:

A progressive set construction (TECFLO) means each iron is engineered as an individual for its particular playing conditions. Hollow-body long irons, half-hollow mid irons, cavity back short irons and blade wedges are teamed with two different steels and groove shapes to improve distance, maximise feel and deliver control. PWRShell faces maximise ball speeds from larger areas of the face.

We say:

The F8s might not be on everyone’s shortlist as a candidate for the title of longest 2018 iron, but our test suggests they deserve more than a second glance if you’re in the market for a set. It’s fair to say neither tester preferred the F8’s rounded head shape over the competition, but that’s completely subjective and doesn’t interfere with how the F8 can put in a serious shift when it comes to raw power and distance. Our test pro reckoned of all the irons here the F8 looked least like a game improvement iron. We’d say it offers discrete game improvement, while others scream it from the rooftops, which should be a consideration if your game doesn’t warrant all-out forgiveness at all costs.

Verdict:

There’s a huge amount of tech squeezed into the F8 head. Different bodies, materials and groove configurations along with forged milled faces and Arccos shot trackers in the grip are brilliant at this price. If it’s distance at all costs you’re after then there’s fractionally better available. But if your game demands a well-rounded powerful set, which will tell you where you’ve hit every shot this year, give these a hit.

Cobra King F8 iron data

See our Cobra King Oversize iron review here 

Cobra F8 iron

In the hands of a 10 handicapper…

Optimising each iron in a set for its intended purpose on the golf course is nothing new, but the F8s take the concept to the extreme. All the tech meant F8 was on average two yards back from Simon’s second longest iron, which is nothing. That spells out how the F8s are well equipped for any down and dirty distance fight no matter how fast or slow a golfer’s swing speed.

Longest Iron of 2018 Review: Callaway Rogue X

Callaway Rogue X iron

Details:

Price: £849 (s) £1049 (g)
Availability: 4-PW, AW, GW, SW
Stock shaft: KBS Max 90 (s) Aldila Synergy 50 (g)
7-iron loft and length: 27° / 37.125”

You need to know:

Rogue X are an all-out assault on distance. The lofts are strong, the shafts are longer and they’re lighter than the standard Rogue. The 7- iron is 27° which is only 0.5° from being a 6 iron in other brands! Callaway says the lighter, stronger, longer trend has spread over from Japan, so Rogue X are specifically designed to perform at average and above swing speeds. 

We say:

An all-out assault on distance? Our data completely supports that claim.  It’s our longest iron of 2018. Plenty will argue our test 7-iron (thanks to a strong loft) was almost a 6-iron, but Callaway didn’t start the “loft-jacking” game and we’re not going to criticise them for joining the party. But there are rules to remember should you buy a set. Firstly, you’ll need to recalibrate your distances. We found you can just move down a club. So if you usually hit a 7-iron from 150 yards, you’ll need 8 in Rogue X. It’s that simple. Also, they won’t suit all golfers; to play Rogue X successfully, you can’t have any issue launching shots high from the turf. If you do struggle, these lower lofts aren’t going to help. Finally, pay attention to how the Rogue X gaps down to your next longest wedge – the 41° PW is close to being a 9-iron.

Verdict:

The head’s big, butch and chunky, and while ball flight was four yards lower than the highest iron, it was exactly the same height as the Cobra F8, suggesting you should hold approaches on a green. Be warned, hit them on a launch monitor against any other iron and they’re difficult to resist when shots sail past your expected carry distances.

Callaway Rogue X iron data

See our Callaway Rogue iron review here

Callaway Rogue X iron

In the hands of a 10 handicapper…

For Simon, Rogue X was nine yards longer than Callaway’s Rogue, seven yards longer than the M4 and five yards up on the G700. That tells us says Rogue X is well equipped to perform at moderate and above swing speeds, as long as you hit irons on a mid to high ball flight. The head shape’s bulky, but without the long-stretched look of a Ping. If you want to go further with your irons in 2018, you won’t find longer.