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|The PowerBilt TPS Wide-Soled irons offer old-fashioned workability with new-fangled technology. (Courtesy PowerBilt)|
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Until very recently, mid-handicap golfers were faced with a sort of Sophie's Choice: Choose irons that allow you to occasionally work the ball, or irons that don't punish your shot (or your hands) on those occasional miss-hits.
There was no middle ground between skillet-shaped, game-improvement irons and butter-knife-like blades.
For high- and low-handicappers alike, the choice of golf clubs is obvious. But for us middle-handicappers — somewhere in the low double-digits — things are not so simple. Some days, we can indeed conjure up draws and fades; others, well, it's all we can do to keep the ball in the fairway.
And for most, it's impractical to haul around two sets of irons in your trunk.
With the introduction earlier this year of the TPS irons, PowerBilt has taken remarkable steps toward designing a set of irons that combines workability and forgiveness.
The PowerBilt TPS Wide-Soled iron set, PW-3i, is a bit of a mélange of several recent trends in irons. First, the weighting scheme is cutting edge, while the topline profile remains relatively conservative (i.e., thin). A small cavity has been milled into the clubhead, and angled back into the extra-wide sole. The cavity is then filled with a vibration-absorbing carbon composite, and then tungsten is injected into the bottom of the clubhead.
The result is a very low center of gravity and high yet penetrating ball-flight.
Second, the 3-iron and 4-iron have been swapped out for hybrid iron-woods. For some players these might be difficult to get used to. From the middle of the fairway, these clubs perform exceptionally well in terms of both distance and control. I hit my old 3- and 4-irons 215 and 200 yards, respectively. The TPS hybrids travel 225-230 and 210-215, respectively (for me).
On the downside, the hybrids get the ball airborne very quickly, and on windy days, this can be a problem. More disturbingly, the hybrids have proved difficult to use as escape clubs when punching out of woods or under tree branches. The golf ball simply rises too quickly, and the longer shafts and larger hybrid clubheads are difficult to de-loft consistently.
Finally, the lofts of the TPS are both traditional and modified, depending on which irons you look at. Whereas the loft of the 9-iron is not far from traditional, at 41-degrees, the loft of the 6-iron is modern, at 29-degrees, compared to the traditional 32-degrees. (The lower loft is commensurate with many other companies' game-improvement irons, though.)
The trend of companies de-lofting their irons to increase distance and look impressive to the uniformed consumer is not good for golf. However, the TPS set offsets the lower lofts of the longer irons with the aforementioned low center of gravity and high ball-flight that does not sacrifice distance.
And distance is always a plus, especially when coupled with control. For the first time playing game-improvement irons, I am able to attempt — and occasionally pull off — the draws, fades, hooks and cuts that all of us middle-handicappers can see in our mind's eye.
PowerBilt TPS irons are a potent combination of modern features, which at the same time offer the workability associated with more traditional irons and the forgiveness of game-improvement clubs.
As usual with PowerBilt, the price is at the lower end of the range, with an MSRP of $499, which represents a considerable value — if they're the right irons for your game.
High-handicappers might find the TPS not quite forgiving enough, and low-handicappers might find them not workable or traditional enough. But mid-handicappers who are looking for a set that incorporates a number of modern design features and do not feel the need to pay extra for a flashier, trendier name-brand, would be well-served to give the TPS a look.
December 20, 2006
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.
Paying $79.17 for a dozen golf balls may sound steep. But, Kiel Christianson writes, "there is absolutely no doubt that Clear Golf Balls occupy the upper echelon of premium golf balls."
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