Advancements in iron technology and design have made it easier than ever to get game-improvement characteristics in a better player package. The latest example is TaylorMade's P-790 model that debuted on TOUR at the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational as a long-iron option for Jason Day and Xander Schauffele.
With a muscleback appearance, the P-790 was designed with the single-digit handicapper in mind. However, a closer look under the hood reveals an iron that's geared for more than just the better player.
"We felt like this iron had to look the whole part of a player iron," said Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade's senior director, iron creation. "What I mean by that is it needed to have that look and feel that you associate with a better player iron. Once we felt like we checked those boxes, we then gave it as much speed, performance and forgiveness as we could.
"That's what I think has been hard for us to do in the past. When we looked at PSi, as nice as that club was, it wasn't as fast as our game improvement clubs from a COR perspective. And it wasn't as elegant looking as something like PSi Tour or RSi TP from a shaping standpoint. It also wasn't forged throughout the full set. It was good but didn't tick all the boxes."
Bystedt believes the forged P-790 ticks every box, and then some. The two-piece iron features an 8620 carbon steel body and a high-strength 4140 carbon steel WrapFace — the WrapFace is welded to the body at 270 degrees to control the geometry of the leading edge — that wraps onto the sole and ends at a cut-thru Speed Pocket.
Adding a Speed Pocket with re-engineered Inverted Cone Technology to the sole increases flexibility in the lower portion of the clubface for improved forgiveness and consistency. Compared to previous ICT versions, the updated design offers a reduction in face thickness around the edges that increases flexibility from heel to toe and low on the clubface for faster ball speeds.
From a Coefficient of Restitution (COR) standpoint, P-790 is the third iron TaylorMade has produced that reaches to the USGA limit. The 3- through 7-iron all feature a 1.75mm that gets progressively thicker as the set transitions into the scoring clubs, starting with the 8-iron.
The irons (3-7) also feature internal metal-injection molded (MIM) tungsten weighting that dials in the center of gravity placement. The 7-iron has roughly 12 grams of tungsten in the toe area — the most in the set — that creates more inertia and counterbalances the weight trapped in the heel.
Instead of filling the hollow cavity of the iron with a material that's been used previously by other equipment manufacturers, Bystedt and his team leaned on TaylorMade's golf ball team for other possible material suggestions.
While researching over a dozen materials, the iron team landed on a particular product called SpeedFoam Technology that fills the entire cavity of the 3- through 7-iron. The low density material is injected into the head, via a weight port in the toe, as a liquid and expands to solid form over a period of 45 minutes.
The material not only provides support to the face but dampening properties that improve sound. Due to its low density, SpeedFoam is also beneficial for center of gravity, as it doesn't add weight to the middle of the head.
"The feedback we received from players who tested P-790 against their UDI's and M2's at Firestone was that it had an incredible sound." Bystedt said. "Not only that, guys like Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Xander Schauffele were seeing an increase of roughly 1.5 mph ball speed, which came out to about 5-6 yards longer than what they had in the bag."
From a ball speed perspective, P-790 is virtually identical to M2, although the irons are 1.5 degrees weaker — more in line with M1 — across the board than the game-improvement set.
The short irons (8-AW) feature solid construction (no SpeedForm or Speed Pocket) and a slightly longer hosel than the long and mid-irons.
TaylorMade's P-790 irons (3-AW) are available September 15 (North America) and September 29 (global) for $1,300 with True Temper's Dynamic Gold 105 shafts or $1,500 with UST Mamiya's Recoil 760/780 ES SmacWrap graphite. Custom shaft offerings are also available.
*All photos credited to Jonathan Wall/PGATOUR.COM*
TaylorMade P-730 muscleback
The traditional muscleback is designed with a specific player in mind: Namely the one who carries a single-digit handicap and doesn't mind sacrificing forgiveness for workability and control.
It shouldn't comes as a surprise that some of TaylorMade's most notable staffers, namely Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose, played a role in the design P-730 — the company's first traditional muscleback iron since Tour Preferred MB was introduced in 2014.
Built around the MB profile, the primary objective with P-730 was to create an iron that retained similar Tour Preferred MB features, especially sole camber, offset flow, sole radius and hosel length.
With feedback from Johnson and Rose, improvements were then made to the shaping and mass properties.
From a shaping standpoint, the overall blade profile is slightly smaller with cleaner and crisper lines, particularly in the 7-8-9 iron transition. The leading edge profile was also adjusted to improve turf interaction throughout the set.
In terms of mass properties, the inertia was raised slightly in the vertical direction (IXX) without increasing it in the horizontal direction (IZZ). This was achieved by reducing the overall blade length and adding a milled channel in the back of the head the moves mass away from the center of the blade.
These incremental adjustments boost forgiveness on shots struck high or low on the face while still retaining the workability and shot shaping that's expected from a muscleback iron.
Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy have already put milled versions of P-730 in play this season; Dustin Johnson received a set at Firestone that he plans to test extensively during the offseason.
TaylorMade P-730 irons (3-PW) retail for $1,400 and will be available November 1.
*All photos credited to Jonathan Wall/PGATOUR.COM*