Earlier this Spring (obviously) I went through a wonderful fitting to get new irons. I'll give some background on this in a bit here but I went in with no preconceptions of what I should buy other than some historical preferences and experiences. Ultimately, my fitter and I decided that going for a split/combo set was the best option to put me in a chance to succeed out on the course. I've only played a little bit since my new clubs arrived in the mail (again, obviously) but luckily I live 700 yards from the center of the first green of our local muni so I have had a chance to hit them quite a bit. Ultimately I wanted to share what I've learned with the hope that this may help you - prospective iron set buyer - when you consider replacing your irons, whenever that comes around.
What I Bought
In the end, we ended up building a combo set of P790s (4-7) and P760s (8-PW).
You may be thinking, after looking at my handicap in my profile, "what the hell is this guy doing playing P760s? That's where the fitting came in - I'll touch on that in the next section. Before I get into the fitting and what I learned during hte process, I wanted to share my set build. The chart below walks through the make/model, specs, and yardages for my full set to give you proper context for the rest of the post below.
The Fitting - Finding the Right Model
My old irons were Callaway RAZR X Tours, which at this point are a good 9 years old. I didn't have a specific complaint about my irons other than looking for more distance and more consistency/accuracy (aren't we all?!). I've only ever played Callaway irons (my first set were X-16 Pro Series) but have played everything else in my full set over the years, so I was totally open. Generally I've felt that I hit TaylorMade and Titleist clubs well and really liked the feel of the clubs from those brands (as you can tell by my current set), but I wasn't married to them as the solution here.
I had three preferences going into this fitting:
I prefer a thinner topline and profile. Since I've always played the Pro/Tour version of the Callaway irons I really struggle looking down at a thick topline. Nothing else mattered a ton to me in terms of aethetics.
I wanted long irons that I felt confident in. One major issue I had with my previous set was little/no confidence in my 4-6 irons.
I wanted better feedback from my irons as I'm focused on improving my ballstriking.
After I got warmed up I went through and hit some irons from a variety of manufacturers (Mizuno, Titleist, Callaway, TaylorMade) and models. Ultimately we zeroed in on the Titleist T-200 and TaylorMade P790 as the top contenders (I was hitting 7 irons). We went through the process to fit me for length (+ 0.5" across the set) and lie (no change, slightly upright because of added length) and then we switched to hitting some different clubs. I hit 5 irons and 9 irons from both sets to take a look at my metrics to see how they held up across the set. I ended up having more consistent results across all 3 clubs with the TaylorMades, so we narrowed in on those.
My fitter felt that I had strong consistency in my short irons, to the point where a players' iron might be an option in the shorter clubs. I hit both T-100 and P760 9 irons to compare to the players-distance versions. The P760s maintained the consistency we saw in the longer irons with TaylorMade while also offering some more workability (my natural ballflight is a high cut but hit more draws than I ever have in my life with that 9 iron). At that point we decided to pursue a split/combo set enabling me to take advantage of the workability of the P760 short irons and the forgiveness of the P790 long irons.
The Fitting - Finding the Right Specs (Lofts)
We had already nailed down the length and lie angle part of the equation but the biggest challenge with blending two different iron sets is matching lofts. Our focus was on finding a good blend of yardages (and being a little less focused on lofts necessarily). This isn't quite as easy to figure out in a fitting setting because you'd essentially hundreds of versions of each club in various length/loft/lie combinations to make work. We did our best with imperfect information/tools.
Ultimately we opted to leave the P790s at stock lofts. We found some good/natural aligment between the long irons and my existing hybrid setup that made keeping those stock lofts work. The big challenge came in trying to blend the P760s and the P790s at the split, as well as ensuring there wasn't too large a gap with my existing wedges. We ended up deciding to strengthen the lofts on the P760s to help blend the set more smoothly - resulting in a smaller gap at the transition. We originally intended to add 1.5° of loft to the 8 iron, but the TaylorMade ordering system only allows for loft changes of whole degrees. As a result, we went with a straight 1° strong across the board on those three clubs.
There's still a bit of a gap between the 7 iron and 8 iron, as well as the PW and GW. The latter is easily addressed (I'm leaning to a 50/54/58 wedge setup in the future) if/when I buy new wedges. The former can potentially be addressed by having the 8 iron bent 0.5° strong, but I'm wary of making that change too hastily. For now, a choked down 7 has worked fine as a solution when I'm between those two clubs. For reference, here are some photos of the 7 and 8 next to each other:
Since I've started gaming these irons I've been really impressed. Technology has obviously come a long way in 9 years, but I think the biggest difference for me is the great feedback on both flush and off-center hits. In general I have much more confidence standing over the ball regardless of lie or situation. In fact, I've found myself using my 4 iron off the tee quite a bit - a new experience since I rarely pulled my old 4 iron out of the bag. One other big change was moving to the Golf Pride Align grips (photos below) which I feel have been helpful in allowing me to feel confident in my grip and alignment. My old grips were jumbo +4 wraps (I think I was poorly fit) so moving to a standard grip +2 was a major change.
There are two key differences between the P790 and P760 sets: tungsten weighting and speedfoam technology. Both are present in the P790s but absent in the P760 (worth noting that the P760 set features Speedfoam in the 3-7, but since my set only includes 8-PW it doesn't have Speedfoam). The short irons are, undoubtedly, more fickle than the longer irons - but overall the blended nature of the set will, I believe anyway, enable me to become a better ballstriker while also taking advantage of that ballstriking where it matters most.
I've been very pleased with the overall fitting process as well as the set itself despite the limited time I've had it. I'm still working through some yardage adjustments (I'm hitting these clubs 10-15 yards further than my old set) but overall I feel really good with the investment and setup.
I hope this helps anyone who's considering going with a split set. My fitter had done 3 in three weeks (one each of Titleist, Mizuno, & TaylorMade) so it certainly seems to be becoming a more popular option for all golfers - not just the pros.
Set pics included in the attached images below (for those who are interested).