By Shawn Zawodni, Club Fitter
It’s the beginning of a new season and that means new toys! For the past two generations, TaylorMade has offered two different heads available in the SIM lineup: the SIM MAX and the SIM MAX OS. TaylorMade has done away with the SIM moniker for their flagship game improvement iron and has replaced it with Stealth for 2022. TaylorMade has been one of the industry leaders in the game improvement category, going all the way back to the Burner iron. All irons in the game improvement category really focus on two main things: 1) Distance and 2) Forgiveness. Irons in this category need to be easy to hit, and let’s be honest, if they don’t give you the ability to hit it farther than your buddy, or try to hit it the same distance as you did back in the good ‘ol days, then are they even a consideration? Every company is trying to squeeze every yard they can out of their irons, and quite a few of them are willing to give up consistency, as well as a playable trajectory (the ability to land a ball and have it stop on a green) to do it. I wanted to see if the Stealth was just another “distance at any cost” iron, or if it is actually a user friendly, forgiving iron, with playable trajectory.
Let’s start off with the iron specs (Fig. 1):
Figure 1, TaylorMade Stealth iron specs
As we can see, the 7 iron is 28°. This isn’t the strongest or weakest lofted in the game improvement genre of irons. Competitors 7 irons in this genre range in loft from 26° to 30° which puts the stealth right in the middle relative to the rest of the industry (the typical loft on a player’s blade is 34° if that tells you anything about this category). A 63° standard lie angle as well as a 37.25” length is about par for the course (no pun intended…ok, pun intended).
TaylorMade is touting 4 big technologies in their new iron (these definitions were taken straight from TaylorMade’s website)
- “CAP BACK DESIGN WITH TOE WRAP CONSTRUCTION (Fig. 2): Cap Back Design with toe wrap construction is an advanced engineering feat that shifts mass from the extreme high toe of the head and repositions it in the sole to create an extremely low CG. It expands the distance, forgiveness and feel benefits, delivering an iron that is easy to launch with a hot trajectory throughout the set.”
Figure 2, Cap back and toe wrap construction
- “FAST FORGIVING FACE WITH PROGRESSIVE INVERTED CONE TECHNOLOGY:
The 450 stainless steel face has an intelligently positioned sweet spot that spans the most common impact points, delivering explosive ball speeds and consistency in all the right places.”
- “ECHO DAMPING SYSTEM (Fig. 3): Located behind the face, the ECHO Damping System uses a soft polymer blend and multiple contact points across the face to channel away harsh vibrations and create a forged-like feel at impact.”
Figure 3, ECHO Damping system
- “THRU-SLOT SPEED POCKET: Patented TaylorMade technology engineered to maximize face flexibility for increased ball speed and forgiveness for mis-hits low on the face.”
So, what does all of this mean? The Cap Back design with Toe Wrap construction, Inverted Cone, and Thru-Slot speed pocket are all technologies to help improve performance on off center strikes. The ECHO damping system is designed to change the frequency of the impact. A lot of the hollow body game improvement irons sound like banging a metal drum with an aluminum baseball bat. TaylorMade specifically wanted a “forged” like feel (a forged iron is synonymous with a soft, buttery like feel). Feel is obviously subjective and unique to each person. I personally did not get a “forged solid body blade” feel which I would describe as a soft thud. It did feel very similar to the p790 which is a forged club, but also has a hollow body.
Now onto the fun part. How does it work? Of course, I have to make the excuse that it’s early season and I haven’t hit balls in a very long time. But I figured that would be the best time to evaluate a game improvement iron! After warming up, I decided to test the Stealth with the Mitsubishi MMT 125g X flex shaft. Below are the results (Fig. 4 & 5):
Figure 4, TrackMan data for Stealth 7 iron
Figure 5, Dispersion pattern
I can’t believe how easy the iron was to hit. Despite having access to a driving range year-round, I really don’t hit any golf balls or practice (and my scores reflect that). But it was just like riding a bike. I hit a couple very solid shots, but most impressively I hit a couple low and towards the toe and saw almost identical numbers and distances as the solid shots! That really is the point of the modern irons. The fact that I can hit four shots in a row with varying impact locations and the numbers stay the same is extremely impressive. The most important variable of irons is consistency. And I saw extremely consistent results. Oh yeah…and they go really long as well! But none of that matters if it’s not fit properly for you. So, the best thing to do is stop by The Cluboratory at Miles of Golf and get fit!