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How do I know when to ditch game-improvement irons for something less forgiving?

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Is this just a matter of getting fitted for irons? Or should I be hitting a certain number of greens in regulation? Any stories of low-handicappers who are still using game-improvement irons?

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There is no definitive answer or reason to switch iron types.  What do you want to accomplish with the lesser forgiving irons that you can't accomplish with your current irons?   As for fitting, any player can be fit into any class of clubs.  You can always ask a fitter to find the best setup for any head.    While I currently play a players iron,  I would willingly to put GI type clubs in my bag.  

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Driver:  :ping-small: G400 Max 9* w/ KBS Tour Driven
Fairway: :titelist-small: TS3 15* set  to 16.5* w/Project X Hzardous Smoke
Hybrids:  :titelist-small: 816H1 19* set at 18* w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype
                :titelist-small: 915H  21*  w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype
               :titelist-small: 915H 24*  w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype
Irons:      :honma:TR20V 6-11 w/Vizard TR20-85 Graphite
Wedge:  :callaway-small: 54-10S   :cleveland-small: 588  58-12
Putter:  :seemore-small: mFGP2

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I went and got fitted for a set of forged irons and the results are so much better I have more workability with this irons then game improvement irons the feel is the same if not better but I hit the ball farther and more constantly with the forged irons compared to the game improvement irons 

My bag currently has titleist ts4 driver titleist ts2 fairway wood a Srixon z h85 hybrid cobra  king forged cb&mb irons 4-pw cobra snakebite 50 degree wedge cobra mim wedges in 52 56 and 60 degrees and a Cleveland hunting beach putter 

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It’s all about what you want. If you want to play a blade you certainly can it may not be as beneficial to a poor ball striker. If you want to have fun play what gives you the best outcomes. I currently play what gives me the opportunity to play well

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:titelist-small: TS3 15.5 3W Fuji Speeder Tour Spec

:titelist-small: 818 H1 19deg Hybrid Fuji Atmos White

:mizuno-small: JPX 921 Hot Metal 4-PW Nippon Modus 120s

:vokey-small: SM8 50,54, and 58deg Dynamic Gold Wedge Flex

:taylormade-small:Spider Tour Putter

Vice Pro Plus White or Titleist ProV1x

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I've only been playing for a year but I made a switch from my M2s to JPX-921 Forged when I realized I had a bit too much distance and not enough workability. I also considered the gap between my clubs in terms of yardage. For me, the longer irons and my woods were too close in terms of distance. 

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  • Driver: Cobra King F9 Driver 10.5
  • 3 Wood: SIM2 MAX HL 16.5 
  • 5 Wood: SIM2 MAX 18
  • 4 Hybrid: Cobra King F9 21
  • Irons: Mizuno JPX-921 5-GW
  • Wedges: Taylormade Milled Grind 54/58
  • Putter: Scotty Cameron Special Select Newport
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Play what you feel comfortable playing, most OEMs offer test irons in 6 or 7 irons…order one in a players iron or a blade and compare it side by side with you current GI irons. Then play what gives you the best results.

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:callaway-small: XR Driver Matrix Ozik 8m3 Black Tie Shaft

:cobra-small: King F7 3W UST Mamiya Chrome Elements 7F4 Shaft

:cobra-small: King F7 5W UST Mamiya Chrome Elements 7F4 Shaft

:cobra-small: King F7 4 Hybrid Graphite Designs Tour AD-HY 95 Shaft

PXG 0211 DC 5-PW Mitsubishi MMT 80 Shafts

:cleveland-small: RTX ZIPCORE 50*,54*,58* UST Mamiya Recoil 95 Shafts

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I’ll 2nd what others have said but especially @TBT did. Play what you are most comfortable with and can still performs best. Do some tests, go get fitted, try one of the OEM demo programs like Sub70. 

I think I echo the thoughts of many people on MGS when I say whatever you do try to get fitted. That way it will allow  you to take performance into consideration with the guidance of a fitter. 

I switched from Game Improvement irons when I started struggling to control greens and during my fit we quickly figured out I wasn’t getting enough launch or spin! 

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Driver:  :titelist-small: TSi3 Tester Check out the Review HERE

3-wood:  :adams-small:  Tight Lies (15*) 

5-Wood:  :Sub70: Pro (18*) 

Irons :  :ping-small: i210 4-PW

Wedges:  :cleveland-small:  RTX-4 50* and 54* RTX-3 *58

Putter::1332069271_TommyArmour: Impact No. 3


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On 7/31/2021 at 10:18 AM, ooojonooo said:

I had a bit too much distance

I am not familiar with this comment 🤣

  • PXG 0811X Proto Driver
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  • Titleist 2021 T200 5-GW
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I'd say its more nuanced than "get fitted" most fitters wont fit you outside where the less forgiving models will either outshine the GIs or show that you need a little help.  Its all about turn interaction and your eye at that point.  the only thing indoor fittings get you when it comes to irons is shaft and dispersion which may get tighter or wider with actual turf under your feet.

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  • :taylormade-small: M5 5W 18*
  • :taylormade-small: 3-PW RBladez Tour , 2*Flat, 2*weak
  • 635785482_Cleveland3.png.bafd9f7d003e9f8afcafc6c28e307467.png  SW: RTX 54*
  • 635785482_Cleveland3.png.bafd9f7d003e9f8afcafc6c28e307467.png  LW: Full Face RTX 58*
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@El Chivo nailed it so I will just be reiterating what he said. You should narrow down your club choices based on a launch monitor off turf but once you have two or three finalists you MUST hit those off actual grass. Golf is not played off a mat and you are missing out on a key aspect of your golf club preference by only testing on a mat. I did an exhaustive journey regarding moving away from my game improvement irons and for me I learned a few things hitting a wide range of clubs:

"Forgiveness" is very relative but ultimately gets down to what you can get away with on poor strike quality. There is a difference in turf forgiveness and face location forgiveness that I think is overlooked. Some people struggle with one more than the other and that is something to consider. If you don't have issues hitting the ball fat you might prefer a thinner sole, etc.

"Feel" is very subjective as well but for me boiled down to "can I feel EXACTLY where I missed the ball?" I tested Sub 70 639CBs which were the first true one piece forged cavity back ("players cavity) I had ever hit and, I mean, I could tell you almost to the millimeter where I missed the ball on a slight to severe mishit. Compare that to my current irons where I can only feel really thin or extreme toe strikes. If you are working on getting better and working with a coach, having more feedback can be helpful. 

"Consistency", for me, meant what does an average to above average strike do? I don't really care what a terrible strike does because that's not something I am planning for and, at least currently, doesn't happen very often. BUT, what I was noticing with my game improvement clubs (Cobra F9 Speedback) is that I was getting more and more "fliers" where I would hit it in the center one time and it would fly the expected yardage. Then on the next swing I would hit it center and it would fly 12 yards farther. This was backed up by trackman testing (trackman picks up both all the numbers AND strike location). 

So where did I land? Basically somewhere in the middle. I hit a number of clubs that were improvements over my current GI irons and ultimately what I wanted was a bit higher spin to keep my distances in check, a tad higher launch for a better descent angle and better feedback on my misses. I found that in what I would call a "tweener" club that is not game improvement but also not a players club either. 

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