Pros: Excellent Distance, Above Average Feel, Very Well Balanced, Top Notch Components, Reasonably Priced
Cons: Not getting the notoriety they deserve. Who writes these "Hot Lists" anyways?--The advertisers?
Wilson Staff Ci 11 Irons—The Legend Continues
I realize that my reviews on these might have a tendency to sound biased, but that’s only because I have played several sets of Wilson Staff Irons now. I currently bag the Ci 9’s which replaced my old Di 9’s, and I anxiously awaited the introduction of this latest set, as the Di-11’s pretty much blew me away. I’ve been wavering back and forth between Game Improvement and Super Game Improvement Irons ever since the heart attack. My swing coach is pretty sure that my game has turned the corner, and wants me to stick with Game Improvement Irons that play closer to the level of Player’s Irons. The Ci’9’s have really worked their magic on my game, but there were several places that I felt slight improvements could be made, but I was pretty sure that wouldn't happen in this price range. Just as I thought there was no way they could improve on the Di 9’s they came out with the Di 11’s and now the Ci 11’s have magically found the way to make those improvements without jacking up the price. Read on to find out why a certain Golf Magazine’s “A- List” missed the boat when they left these off.
No, despite the usual manufacturer’s claims that this new model is 4-7 yards longer than last years, Wilson Staff has refused to engage in that type of hype. That’s a good thing too, because, the Ci 9’s, which I bag, are just as long as these. But that’s not a knock. Whether it’s me or not, these and the Ci 9’s remain the longest irons I have ever hit. I’ve played with all the latest whizz bang models, but the only irons that ever really gave these a real run for their money in The Game Improvement Category, would be the Cobra S3’s. The Cobras however, sport a thicker top line, a wider sole, and a little more offset. Don’t get me wrong here, I loved the Cobras, and gave them a top notch review, but they are a bit more like the Game Improvement Irons that play a bit like Super Game Improvement Irons. These Wilson’s are much more like Game Improvement Clubs that play like Player’s Cavity Backs. This brings me to one of those categories where this club actually manages to improve upon the CI 9’s.
Feel 4 1/2 Stars
I gave the Ci 9’s a rock solid 4 stars for their performance in the feel department. They are a great feeling cast club. Some reviewers complained that the Ci9’s could feel a touch harsh on a miss hit. The fact of the matter is, that though the Ci9’s told you when you missed, they never really gave my arms or elbows the shock that some of these other folks talked about. Believe me; I know a thing or two about “The Old Hogan Sting”. The Ci 9’s merely let you know when you miss cued and how, but as far as the old “Hogan Sting” goes, I contend that that is merely misrepresentation, or I wouldn’t currently bag them. It would aggravate my arthritis.
These Ci 11’s, however, scream buttery smooth on almost every hit. They forgive all miss hits a bit more than the Ci 9’s, and they feel good doing it too. Because of this, they have earned that extra ½ star over their predecessor. Do they feel buttery forged smooth?—Not quite, after all, they are a cast club. But they are an “I can’t believe it’s not butter” kinda smooth, even though it’s not quite the real thing.
These irons forgive almost to the point of Super Game Improvement Clubs. I lost very little distance on some fairly flawed miscues. There were times when I over swung on the backswing, which forced an over-the top compensation on my downswing, and I would get penalized for roughly ½ a club. That’s pretty astounding. That same move has been known to cost me up to 15-20 yards depending upon how the wind is playing that day. These have an even more buttery feel than my CI 9’s, but they forgive almost as much as my old Di 9’s. It’s really an almost unbeatable combo.
This is an interesting category that I usually don’t cover too often, because it is so subjective. I found the old Ci 9’s to be ruggedly handsome, but a lot of other reviewers were puzzled by their look. Well there is no question amongst almost all the reviewers that these Ci 11’s go above and beyond ruggedly handsome, and fall dead center of the drop dead gorgeous category. Wilson went out of their way to bring back a more nostalgic squared look from the past that really behooves this club’s character. But they didn’t stop there. The Black PVD Finish on these is absolutely “Sportiness” at its best. Other reviewers have gone as far as to call them “Sexy”. I think the thin top line, black finish, and squared off look produces one of the best looking clubs I have seen in some time.
Club head awareness is a real winner on these as well. I was able to hit the 7 iron almost as long as my old Di 9 6 iron, just because the club head awareness on these is so good. The good thing about the total lack of vague spots made it easier for me to repeat the swing I am trying to groove. The aforementioned over swung backswings were simply matters of consistency one gets into when trying to “knock one out of the park.” (Some bad habits just die a hard death I guess.) Whenever I stayed within myself, the balance and feel of these clubs really helped me deliver my best performance. This is a club that I truly long to put into my bag. That day will come in another year or two after playing with my Ci 9’s for a couple of seasons, and waiting for the Di13’s to come out so that I can pick these Di 11’s up on the chaep. They all carry my much preferred D2 Swing Weight from 3I-PW.
Specs and Techs—5 Stars
The lofts on these run that now, almost standard, “slightly juiced by 2*", that we’ve come to expect from Game Improvement irons. The fact that the vibration dampening durometer shield on the backs of these makes them hit so smoothly, you’d almost swear you were playing with clubs that sported the old 2* weaker that many of us accepted as the new standard 10 years ago or so. The lofts are as follows:
That’s pretty standard fare for lofts these days, but I’d like to think that at some point, the thought of a 54* Sand Wedge ran through their minds when building these clubs-- at least for consistencies’ sake.-- Still—my Sand and Lob Wedges rarely come in a matched set anymore, and I’ve been bagging, and will probably continue to bag hand-picked forged wedges which I can have bent to my specs. The shafts are kind of a big deal too.
The standard Steel shaft remains a TX Flighted 105 Gram shaft. It weighs the same in both Regular and Stiff. The Regular sports a mid-high ball flight with 2.1* of Torque; the Stiff is a slightly lower ball flight with a slightly more stable 2.0* of torque. It’s a good basic shaft that fits this club head well. The kicker for me, however, is the standard Graphite Shaft.
I am rarely a proponent of Graphite Shafts for irons, but occasionally a good product comes out that is not simply a “low bidder won the OEM Contract” graphite shaft. If you’ve been around the scene long enough, you might remember that KJ Choi used to play graphite shafted irons back when the company went under the name of “MFS Apache”. We now know them as “Matrix Shafts.” The old Orange Crush was a game changing shaft for Choi, until he finally worked his way into steel shafted irons not too many years ago.
Well it’s not a Matrix Shaft on these Wilsons, but it felt like a game changer to me. They are offering the new Aldila VS Proto II as the standard Graphite shaft on this club. It felt incredible to me, as it plays so similar to the Aldila Shafts in my woods. I felt that it was an almost seamless transition when switching between my fairway woods and the irons. That is very rare indeed. The fact that I was able to drop 30 grams in the process also helped me pick up some serious club head speed. These actually did hit a little further than my Ci 9’s, but that’s only because my Ci 9’s sort the metal shaft. I almost did a trade right then and there, but I can’t afford to switch out clubs that haven’’t even seen a full season with me yet. In two years however……
Anyway, the Aldila is a 75 Gram Shaft in all three flexes. In Lite flex the ball flight is high and the torque is 3.1* The Regular has a more Mid-High ball flight with the same torque rating, but a slightly stiffer tip. The Stiff, flies the ball at a true “middle” trajectory. It is only slightly stiffer in the tip, and the torque drops to an ever so slightly more stable 3.0*.
These things are a tremendous value not only because of their performance, look, and feel, but also because they have a street price of $550 in steel and $620 in graphite. Most places are keeping them at $549-619—but they are willing to be fairly liberal on trade ins. I’ve played many of this year’s $750-1000 Game Improvement irons, and I just don’t see how they can justify the price differential. The Wilsons have top notch material, construction, and build quality. You are getting the best there is, without having to over pay for it.
I am pretty sure I know what is going in my bag next season. Wilson Staff Ci 11’s. Why they aren’t getting more notoriety is beyond me. Yes the big brands we have been brain-washed to worship have some good offerings this year. Sadly for them—these best the vast majority of them, and can be had for a lot less. I bet if they advertised in someone’s magazine more often—they’d have received “A Gold Medal.”
I'd like to thank my CL Abraham for getting me the product link that made this review possible.