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|The Acer XDS Cabriolet is an excellent game-improvement iron for stronger players with faster swings. (Courtesy of Hireko Golf)|
Bulbous drivers and putters that look like UFOs get a lot of press coverage, but one of the most radical developments in golf equipment over the past decade has been the replacement of long irons with hybrid clubs. The fact that this change is reflected even in the bags of many PGA Tour players suggests that there is indeed a real performance benefit to making the switch.
However, once you've made the decision to transition away from long irons, there is still a major choice point to navigate. Will you simply pull two or more irons out of your current set and substitute them with hybrids? Or will you replace the entire iron set with an integrated set, in which the irons become increasingly more hybrid-like as you progress from short to long?
As with many decisions in golf, this one rests heavily on intangibles like look and feel. Some players enjoy mixing and matching a hodge-podge of sticks. Others want a unified set made by the same company, matched precisely for everything from loft and lie to grip and headcover. This latter option can be pricey, though.
Fortunately for those players looking to improve the playability of all their irons, Hireko Golf has recently introduced the Acer XDS Cabriolet irons. Starting at just $200 for a custom-assembled set, the Acer XDS irons make it possible to affordably revamp your golf bag in one fell swoop.
Hireko Golf's extensive Web site (www.hirekogolf.com) allows customers to order custom-assembled clubs, thanks to pull-down menus with myriad options. The stock Acer XDS Cabriolet set (PW-3) can be procured for right around $200, but the set I tested was upgraded as follows: True Temper Dynamic Gold S330 shafts ($10.10 each) and Golf Pride Tour Wrap grips ($2.03 each). This brought the cost of the set up to just under $300, which is still an excellent deal compared to bigger-name brands.
The Cabriolets (a French word that refers to convertible cars) are so named because of the pronounced cut-outs on the back of the clubheads. Hireko Golf's designers took a look at the wood-like hybrids produced by many other companies and figured that the typically composite crowns of those clubs were all for show. So they removed the crown and moved the weight into a swooping steel sole that projects farther out behind the clubface as the set moves from short to long irons.
The resulting look is somewhat odd at first blush - the Cabriolets are to typical cavity-back irons what the Hollywood Bowl is to a typical bathtub. Nevertheless, once you set up over the ball, the irons look more or less like other progressive hybrid sets, just topless versions.
On the golf course, the Acer XDS Cabriolets performed admirably, doing what it is that game-improvement irons are supposed to do: get the ball into the air. Their most impressive attribute was the negligible loss of distance produced by off-center contact. I tend to strike the ball somewhat toward the toe of the clubface, but doing so with the Cabriolets appeared to have no affect on my distance. The same went for shots hit somewhat thin; they came in low and hot, but they still got to the green.
Personally, I prefer irons with thinner top lines and less offset, but the Cabriolets' thicker line, more pronounced offset and cut-out swoop on the back were surprisingly easy to get used to. That said, I did have to concentrate on not rotating my hands too fast, as doing so in combination with the offset exacerbated my natural hook.
The only knock on the Cabriolets is the somewhat odd noise produced by the 3- and 4-irons. The auditory effect of cutting out such a large hollow behind the clubface is a rather loud pong! that's more melodious than, but not altogether unlike hitting a baseball on the end of an aluminum bat.
For golfers looking to replace their irons with a fully-integrated, progressively more forgiving game-improvement set, the Cabriolets make for a solid choice.
The clubheads are a bit heavier than many irons sets, so they would be ideally suited to stronger golfers with faster swings who tend to hit slices. They are perfect for golfers who make inconsistent contact with the ball, and/or struggle to make contact with a descending blow. Thanks to the hefty, deep soles, the Cabriolets will get the ball into the air and on line even with less-than-perfect contact.
Better still, with Hireko's low prices, you will still have money left over for a toaster-sized driver and an other-worldly putter.
For more information, visit www.hirekogolf.com.
November 22, 2009
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.
Honma has decided to work toward making more of an impact in the U.S. market and hopes American golfers will develop the same appreciation for its golf equipment, including its Tour World TW737 Drivers, as their Asian counterparts. Kiel Christianson reviews two of Honma's drivers.
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