Pros: Long, Workable, Great Feel, Unbeieveable Price
Cons: Wilson Staff are still not "The Cool Ones" to own. --Who Cares!
The History Behind This Choice
As my post cardio meltdown swing speed has been picking back up, my swing coach has been continuously after me to experiment with different clubs in addition to my much beloved Wilson Di9's. "Your 6 Iron Swingspeed is clocking out above 90 MPH now, and we need to cut the umbilical cord. Those Wilsons have been quite good for you these past few seasons, but it's time you went from a Super Game Improvement Iron that borders on playing like a Game Improvement Iron and moved on to a Game Improvement Iron that borders on playing like a Player's Iron." Thus the experiments began this season, and I dare say, several candidates were definitely making a serious bid for a place in my bag. "The Callaway Diablo Forged, and Callaway RAZR Tour Irons " were very serious contenders, but my budget said--"Next Season For Irons at the earliest dude." So I continued experimenting and writing reviews as I did so.
The Cobra S3's were seriously nice, and I really enjoyed their feel and distance. They weren't exactly bargain basement priced either, so on with the show. Speaking of feel and distance--The Mizuno JPX Line was truly fascinating in its own right. With Mizuno--feel is a given, so I found the extra distance intriguing. Speaking of forgiveness, forged feel, distance, and workability, The Adams CB2's were no less than an extra bonus check away from winning the spot. Superior Game Improvement Irons to be sure. But again, price certainly reared its ugly head, so I didn't think my Di9's were in any danger of being replaced before next springtime at the earliest. The TaylorMade Burners and Adams Red Lines were really neat offerings distance wise, but their feel wasn't very inviting. I wanted something that would feel good enough to make me really want to hit it. Otherwise I was happy clinging to the safety of my umbilical cord in the guise of my Wilson Di 9's. After all, they offered up total forgiveness with plenty of distance, and well above average feel.
In a last desperate bid to just go ahead and pick a good utilitarian iron that had a track record and fit the bill, I re-tried The Ping G15's. They were very very nice indeed. Lots of forgiveness, amazing feel for a cast club, and similar to the Adams, very workable for a Game Improvement Club. But that was the problem; The Wilsons had won more than a place in my bag. They had won a place in my heart. Quite literally. These were the clubs that nursed my game back into existence after my heart attack. Parting with them was going to take more than just a club that fit the bill. It was going to take a club with that ever elusive je ne sais quois.
Who'da Thunk It?
I showed up at my favourite trading post-(Edwin Watts) to brag to my swing coach who was giving lessons there, because I had finally cracked the enigma code of a certain Greg Norman designed course. This course is so tough (Slope of 137) that Greg Norman actually came out, played it, lost 4 balls on the front nine, and an equal amount on the back nine, walked into the club house, and wrote out two entire notebook pages full of changes. Back then the slope was 150 something. Either way you cut it, I was extremely proud of my 88 from the tips, and I needed to show him my fairway, GIR, and putting stats. He said-I've got a surprise for you. Step into the simulator.
He then said-"Don't look at the back of the club-just hit it." Amazingly this club felt like butter, and went two full club lengths further than my usual 6 iron. At first I thought he was playing with the simulator, but after checking the set up, I hit another one. Exactly the same distance, but with a nice baby draw. I flared the face ever so slightly open on the next shot, and it began the mid-flight fade I had asked for, and came up only five yards shorter than the draw. This club felt amazing, and did everything I asked it to. He then let me look at it, and sure as you are born it was a Wilson Ci9 with jut a standard SS Stepless steel shaft.
I was intrigued because this played so much better than my first experience with these clubs. Basically, the moral here is stay away from The Original Model Uniflex Steel Shafts. I'm not even sure that those are available anymore, which is great, because Wilson now offers a choice of shafts on this model which is above and beyond what all the other makers are offering.----and in so many different flexes too.
These are the longest of the long as far as any iron I have ever hit goes. I didn't understand it at first, because these are certainly not as strongly lofted as my Di 9's, but they are most definitely longer than them. (as well as any and all of the others I have tried-objectively too I might add--as one way or another one of theses sets was eventually going to land in my bag) My swing coach put it to me this way. "We've worked hard at refining your swing. This club is from the same maker, as your umbilical cord clubs, so they are at least going to feel familiar to you. When I met you, your swing was kind of clunky-like the Di9's. Now that it is more refined, it needs a club that is equally refined. The familiar feel is what is giving you the confidence to give ‘er a good rip."
I went through the whole set, and as sure as death and taxes, the song remained the same-a full two club lengths throughout the set. The stiffer shaft (Steel Stiff vs. Fat Shaft Steel Uniflex) helps drop my launch angle a couple of degrees, and the extra dose of feel lets me rip at it while working he ball left or right. The slightly stiffer shaft also helped cure my tendency to pull my shots left.
Feel-- 4 Stars
These clubs feel terrific. Why 4 stars instead of five? Well, I am trying to keep this review objective. They feel like absolute butter when you hit the sweet spot. No it's not a super buttery forged feel, but it is a tremendously close (Imperial Brand Margerine-not quite butter, but makes you feel like a king type butter) in the same sense that Ping's cast irons feel so nice. Throw in that nice low duromether urethane vibration dampening medallion on the back, and you get a smooth feeling shot every time. They still tell you when you miss hit, but its far from "THE HARSH" feeling I've seen other reviewers mention.
What a bunch of Marys. Seriously- have any of these other guys ever hit an old Hogan Apex Iron? Buttery Smooth when you pure it-but miss hit one of those babies, and the sting was legendary. Many of us writers still refer to a "Harsh Feel" as "The Infamous Hogan Sting." I love the way these Ci9's feel, and if you listen, they will tell you whether it's a dead center puring of the shot, a slight miss hit, or a total off the toe screw up, or even a hosel rocket.
These clubs have such a wonderful balance to them. It is that Zen Like awareness I haven't felt in a lot of clubs lately. I seriously knew exactly where that club head was at any given point in my swing. There was no clunkiness. Conversely, there was no feather-like syndrome either. You kow the drill, where you get a slight sense of vagueness at certain points in the swing. These babies are so well balanced it will scare you. It scared me. It scared me so much I had to try and retry clubs throughout the set in order to make sure I wasn't idealizing, and/or rationalizing a need to buy something that I simply had a strong desire to buy. I really loved the feel of these throughout the swing. Full swing, 3/4 swing, punch, chip, it just didn't matter. I ALWAYS KNEW EXACTLY WHERE THE CLUBHEAD WAS.
I would really love to give these the full 5 stars they would probably get from many other reviewers, but there are certain miss hits that this club, like many others in its category, simply does not forgive. Extreme toe hits will lose distance, and hit one too close to the hosel, and look out Jackson. My only other niggle with these is that even the slight miss hits feel pretty darned good. Still as I said, the feel will tell you if you missed the rather large and generous sweet spot. Maybe I'm just spoiled by my Di9's that let me get away with absolute murder on certain shots, such as fat ones, and extreme toe hits. These forgve pretty much everything else.
Specs and Techs- 4 Stars
These clubs do sport somewhat of a strong loft, but no more than those that have been making waves throughout the industry as of late Hell I once owned a set of KZG CHII's that sported these exact same lofts ans that was over seven years ago. Lets just say that 44* Pitching Wedges have pretty much become standard, and that is why so many Game Improvement sets also include a 48* Gap Wedge. Here's the lofts on these:
The Exoskeleton on the back does offer some serious heel toe weighting to stop the club from twisting, and also adds perimeter weighting all the way around. This, and the low durometer one piece medallion aren't exactly new technologies, but the execution of them on these is close to flawless. Nothing really new here, but all good common sense stuff that works as a unit to make these clubs feel good, hit it long, and still allow you to work the ball. Rather than spend an entire paragraph on "Workability" suffice it to say that baby draws, power fades, and all of the basic directional finesse shots are easily executed.
I am so glad that Wilson realized what a good club they could have, and stepped away from offering simply a Uniflex steel or Uniflex Graphite shaft. The options here are far and above the shaft options I've seen from most other makers basic shaft offerings. Read on and be prepared to be more than just pleasantly surprised. I know I was.
The Standard Shaft is a Stepless Steel option that weighs in at 105 Grams, and feels extremely good as compared to a typical Dynamic Gold.
Lite Flex and Regular= 105g w/2.1* of Torque and feature a Mid/High Ball Flight
Stiff and X Stiff also= 105g but Torque is down to 2.0* and they feature Mid Ball-Flight
If you are a Project X kind of player, you can get that too.
Stiff is 115g w/negligible Torque and a Low Ball Flight
Stiff + is 125g /negligible Torque and Low Ball Flight
X Stiff is a whopping 135g, negligible Torque and Low Ball Flight
KBS Tour Fans are also in luck:
Regular is 110g with negligible Torque and Mid Ball Flight
Stiff is 120g with negligible Torque and Mid Ball Flight
X-Stiff is 130g with negligible Torque and Mid Ball Flight
Graphite shaft lovers are also in for a pleasant surprise.
You can get the Aldila VS Proto Shaft in:
Lite at 75g 3.1* of Torque and High Ball Flight
Regular at 75g 3.1* of Torque and Mid Ball Flight
Stiff at 75g 3.o* of Torque and Mid/Low Ball Flight
And last but not least-as the Python Boys Would Say-
"Something Completely Different"
The Wilson /DeMarini Bat Half and Half Shaft
Lite = 70g 2.1* of Torque, and High Ball Flight
Reg= 76g 2.1* of Torque and Med/High Ball Flight
Stiff = 82g 2.1* of Torque and Medium Ball Flight
This may be the most subjective part of the review, but I found these clubs to be handsome in the best way. They sport a thin top line very similar to a Player's club. The exoskeleton on the back fades into the club as do moat cavity backed versions of better player's clubs. The black medallion contrasts nicely with the Red White and Balck Wilson Staff Badge. At address-you'd swear you are hitting a players club. They inspire confidence-at least they did in me.
I realize that there were several 4 star ratings, so 5 stars should seem like a mathematical impossibility. Well the fact of the matter is this---these clubs can be had for $299 dollars. That's right folks-no B.S.-no misprint-no Bait and Switch---I said $299 for a steel shafted set 4-GW. That is an off the charts value. All the other clubs mentioned in this review, ones I was seriously interested in, go for at least $699-999.
If you are on the cusp of going to a Player's iron, or, like me, simply looking for a Game Improvement Iron that is a vast improvement over your current Super Game Improvement set-you absolutely owe it to yourself to try these first. It's a ridiculously good value. A value that is very hard to find in this recession ridden world of golf which we play in. Afterwards I said to my swing coach-"So maybe next year I'll be ready for blades." "Not so fast there Tonto." He quipped. "After all, it took me two years to wean you off of that other set of Wilsons."