About the test
The test was carried out over a single day at Mannings Heath GC by myself, assistant editor Andy Roberts (7-handicap), staff writer Charlie Lemay (14-handicap) and friends of Golfmagic Kelvin Sumner (21-handicap) and Dave Waterhouse (24-handicap) to ensure a fair test was conducted across a range of handicaps.
We selected our ten brands under the £400 category and used a steel-shafted 6-iron to hit ten shots with each out on the range using Srixon Z Star balls. We also used Flightscope data inside the Mannings Heath GC practice studio under the watchful eye of former European Tour pro Carl Watts, who made sure Charlie, Kelvin, Dave and I were compressing shots to our best abilities.
We then marked each out of five for appearance and out of ten for both feel and performance (Andy, Charlie, Kelvin and Dave all scored separately without consultation and the score presented for each iron is an average of the four). This generated an overall score out of 25 and the overall scores and conclusion can be found on the final page of this feature.
With each iron, we have provided details of best price (steel), loft, lie angle (angle between centre of shaft and sole), length, swing weight (measure of how the weight of the club feels when you swing it), shaft and grip. We've also provided our shot data to give you some idea how the clubs perform against each other in terms of carry distance (yards), spin rate (rpm) and launch angle (degree).
The test was carried out in alphabetical order.
What is a game improvement iron?
The game improvement iron, a concept that originated in the mid-1980s, has the sole purpose of combining forgiveness with playability, enabling us to hit the ball further, straighter, higher and more consistently than ever.
Game improvement irons feature a larger head profile than irons designed for better players with the goal of achieving solid contact at impact. The addition of perimeter weighting creates a larger effective hitting area for the golfer, minimising loss of distance and accuracy on those dreaded mis-hits.
All the irons tested in this feature comprise offset (how much the neck or hosel is positioned in front of the face) to reduce pushed and sliced shots. The more offset, the further the head’s centre of gravity is back from the shaft and therefore the lower the centre of gravity, the higher the trajectory off the face.
Secondly, the more offset you have in the clubhead, effectively the greater time you have in the downswing to square the face at impact as the face arrives at the ball a split-second later than a club without offset.