Stay home, but send great golf gifts: Holiday Gift Guide 2020

If ever there was a holiday season for online shopping, it’s 2020. Most of us have been shopping online since March, but now we’ve hit the big time. This is The Show, baby! So step up to the tee and let the big dog eat!

Here’s a list of my favorite golf gifts this year. It’s pretty long, but what the heck else do you have to do?

Arnold Palmer Umbrellas by Weatherman

It’s been one dreary year, and when that hard rain falls – literally or figuratively – it’s nice to have a big ol’ umbrella. The Arnold Palmer Umbrella Collection by Weatherman offers shelter from the rain for everyone, golfers and non-golfers alike. The Arnold Palmer Classic Golf Umbrella ($89) has Arnie’s trademark pattern and measures 68”. That’s big enough to keep a threesome dry, if you like each other well enough and don’t need to socially distance.

ECCO Golf Street Retro shoes, PUMA IGNITE Caged Crafted shoes, & Swiftwick MAXUS Zero Tab socks

The saying goes that you can’t understand another person’s struggles unless you walk a mile in their shoes. Anyone who walks a mile in my new ECCO Golf Street Retro shoes ($150), though, isn’t going to feel very sorry for me. ECCO is the long-running champion in the “Most Comfortable Right Out of the Box” category, and the Street Retros are no exception. I wore mine for the first time a couple weekends ago—2 days in a row, walking 18 holes, and afterwards my feet felt like I’d had them up on the couch all day. Crafted with full-grain leather, waterproof, and with some 800 traction angles, these shoes perform, too. My favorite part is the textile, sort of felt-like collar that adds even more comfort around your ankle.

The PUMA IGNITE Caged Crafted shoes ($170) represent a solid entry into the “crossover” golf shoe category, that look both good on and off the course. They are constructed with a premium full grain leather PWRCAGE Saddle that wraps around the medial and lateral sides of the shoe providing incredible stability throughout the swing along with a 1-year waterproof guarantee, and a cool nuvo-classic look. Bryson DeChambeau and Gary Woodland have been wearing these beauties on Tour for the past year, so you know they perform at the same time they protect and pamper your feet.

Either the ECCO Retro Street or PUMA IGNITE Caged Crafted shoes pair nicely with the most comfortable sock in golf – the Swiftwick MAXUS Zero Tab ($15). These ankle socks come in a rainbow of colors, and they absorb sweat better than any sock I’ve ever worn. But the best feature is an enlarged microtab on the heel to make sure whatever shoes you wear won’t rub.

GolfLogix Greens Books, SkyCaddie LX5 GPS watch, & Bushnell Wingman

These days, it’s all about data: yardages, green books, stats tracking. You name it, you can quantify it. There are more options than ever this holiday season. GolfLogix offers green maps and yardage books of nearly any course you can think of. These books run $40 each, and they make outstanding gifts for golfers on your list—personalized for their home courses! They include hole maps on 50-yard scales and green break maps and heat maps on 5-yard grids. We’re talking serious data here. The hole maps are excellent, but the stars of the show are the exquisite green maps, with break arrows and heat maps for judging both direction AND amount of break.

If you want yardages and more in a sleek wearable unit—like hole maps, yardages to hazards, score-keeping and game stats, step-counter, heartrate monitor and more—you will want to consider the new SkyCaddie LX5 ($330, incl. a $20 holiday discount). The LX5 has a ceramic touch-screen bezel that measures 1.39 inches, with hi-def resolution so even old(er) guys like me can read the numbers on the screen. It comes with a 3-year SkyCaddie Premium membership and is pre-loaded with 35,000 courses around the world. The membership allows you to sync data (scores and stats for every hole that you enter during your round) with a laptop or phone, and then you can access stats from all your rounds on the website. Added benefits are a step-counter, so I can show my wife that my morning rounds include 14,000 steps (6+ miles) and a battery that lasts for two full rounds.

If the golfer on your list likes to play tunes on the course the Bushnell Wingman ($150) is for you. Essentially the Wingman is a top-notch Bluetooth stereo speaker combined with one of the best GPS systems in golf. Integrated into the speaker is a powerful magnet so you can stick it on your golf cart (or on your pushcart), and there’s a detachable remote control you can keep in your pocket to click for audible yardages to the front, middle, and back of the green. Pair the Wingman with your phone to play music from your own library or streaming service, if the gentle strains of birdsong and the breeze in the leaves are too old-fashioned for you. Then download the Bushnell app onto your smartphone to display detailed maps and yardages of 36,000 courses, keep score, and more all on your phone.

Balls, balls everywhere

Is it just me, or has there been a recent proliferation of golf ball companies and models? Gone are the days when everyone in your group plays the same Titleist or TopFlite. Not only is there variety, there is quality, as engineers have figured out how to combine distance and control qualities in the same ball. Here are five current favs to choose from:

Volvik XT Soft ($37.99/doz)

Volvik is one of the most intriguing and fastest-growing brands of golf balls. They certainly win the “unique line-up” award. Volvik’s balls are widely played on the LPGA Tour, and the company sponsors the Long Drive Tour. The XT Soft model represents an affordable premium entry that received a Gold rating on Golf Digest’s “Best New Golf Balls” Hot List this year in the over $35 premium category.

Titleist Tour Speed ($39.99/doz) has fabulous golf ball testing facilities and methods, and according to their crack staff, there’s a reason the ProV1 has dominated the golf ball market for so long: Titleist has some of, if not the, most stringent quality control in the golf ball world.

Titleist brings that same meticulousness to the production of their new Tour Speed balls.

The Tour Speed has a proprietary thermoplastic urethane cover and a 346 quadrilateral dipyramid dimple design that the company claims make it longer and faster than Callaway Chrome Soft, Bridgestone Tour B RX, TaylorMade Tour Response, Srixon Z-STAR and Srixon Q-STAR TOUR.

Srixon Soft Feel Brite ($21.99/doz)

If your absolute bottom line when it comes to golf balls is finding the best ball possible at the lowest price possible, Srixon Soft Feel has been your go-to for several years now. Are they the longest ball you will play? No. But do they combine competitive distance with excellent responsiveness around the greens? You bet they do. So if you tend to lose a lot of balls, you can stock up on these at basically 2-for-1 the price of “premium” balls.

OnCore ELIXR ($25.99/doz) and Vero X1 Prototype ($39.99/doz)

Buffalo-based OnCore Golf probably makes the best balls you’ve never heard of. The direct-to-consumer manufacturer has three models: Avant, ELIXR, and the brand-spanking new limited-edition prototype Vero X1. The ELIXR is a three-piece, value-priced premium ball that performs as well as or better than balls selling for $10 more per dozen. OnCore’s new premium four-piece, tour-caliber ball is the Vero X1. This ball also has the metal-infused mantle, 85 compression, and a premium cast urethane cover that in combination produce tremendous distance off the tee and spin around the green. I played the Vero X1 over two rounds in a recent tournament and experienced something I rarely, if ever, have before: backing the ball up on the greens. OnCore is having a buy 2 dozen get one free deal

Short Game Gains and Pro Path putting mirrors

Maybe you live in a house with vaulted ceilings so you can take full swings. Maybe you have one of those fancy indoor simulators. For those of us who aren’t in those categories, the best off-season practice we can do indoors is putting. And the best way to maximize putting practice—indoors or outdoors—is with a putting mirror. Here are two excellent options, each with its own unique features.

Pro golfers, social media butterflies, and sweethearts Hannah Gregg and Fredrik Lindblom have developed a line of products based on the tools and tricks of their fellow Symetra and Korn Ferry Tour players and named their company Short Game Gains. All of their training aids are simple and intuitive to use, yet sophisticated in design and high-quality in construction. Their putting mirror ($40) is compact, and the plastic “runway” that you can use with it is particularly helpful for getting the ball started online. Their set of “ghost holes” ($15) is particularly useful for dialing in speed, as they allow you to gauge how far past the hole your ball is running. Their hole reducers ($18) are one of the cleverest putting aids I’ve ever used. The concentric hole inserts reduce the diameter of holes on your local putting green to dial in your aim. Practice a while with these, and when you hit the course, the standard-sized holes feel like buckets. Everything comes in its own cinch-sack for easy transport. You can grab all of these aids along with a few others for $90 – and your short game will emerge from this pandemic tastier than your sourdough loaves.

The Pro Path putting mirror by Back 2 Basics Golf ($65) is a bit larger than the one by Short Game Gains, with more detailed graphics printed on it. I especially like the stroke-path line, which helps you groove a bit of a closed-open-closed stroke on longer putts. The mirror also comes in its own carrying sack, and it includes four staggered putting gates that you can stick into your local putting green to narrow your aim and ensure you hit hour line every time. Happily, both of these mirrors work just as well on your livingroom carpet as they do on a practice green.

Man Crates and Canteen Vodka & Soda

Pandemic, you say? Lockdown, you say? Well I say it’s a perfect opportunity to indulge your passions or take up a new hobby. Especially a manly one. Man Crates are care packages for the men OR women on your gift list. Crates contain a variety of goodies centered around various themes, from whiskey-lovers to baking to beef jerky to BBQ to knife-making to ales to personalized golf balls ($50-$150). I love to cook, but I’m not much of a baker. So when my Get Baked crate ($60) arrived, I was skeptical. Then I read the instructions and threw together a blueberry crumble that wowed my family and me, and then I started in on the iron skillet desserts. I guess I’m a baker now!

Whether you enjoy libations on the golf course or only after you hit the 19th hole, something light is generally the way to go. Seltzers have become surprisingly popular, even amongst the older golfing set. But if you are looking for something light with more substance and flavor than your typical seltzer, I highly recommend Canteen Vodka and Soda. These canned 5% alcohol drinks—made with real vodka, rather than the beer-like fermented cane sugar found in most seltzers—make those seltzers taste like bad mineral water. The Canteen flavors are perfectly calibrated, with no aftertaste. They were my Official Drink of the November Masters.

Tovolo Golf Ball Ice Molds

Dress up your Canteen drinks or your Man Crate whiskey with large golf ball-shaped ice spheres with the Tovolo ice molds ($15 for set of 3). These latex molds are easy to fill and, with a little practice, you create bubble-free balls that cool immediately and melt very slowly.

If you can’t find something in the list above for the golfers on your gifts lists, I’m not sure what to say. Maybe you’ve contracted the virus, because you’ve obviously lost your taste.

Seriously, may everyone be well, stay hopeful, and be surrounded with love and laughter this holiday season. 2021 has got to be better, right?


GolfLogix delivers Tour-quality data on your home course

When Bryson DeChambeau reaches into his back pocket for a fourth look at his yardage or green book, I want to drive a ProV1 straight through my TV screen. But then again, the guy did just dominate the U.S. Open, so all that information can’t hurt. In fact, it seems to help quite a bit.

But how can you get a taste of that sweet, sweet data for your home course? I mean, maybe you belong to a swanky private or semi-private club that prints up detailed yardage books. If you play at a daily-fee course or muni, though, you’ll need to measure out your own green maps. Ain’t nobody got time for that, except Bryson.

But now GolfLogix offers green maps and yardage books of nearly any course you can think of. These books run $40 each, include hole maps on 50-yard scales and green break maps and heat maps on 5-yard grids. We’re talking serious data here.

I checked out two of the GolfLogix books, one for Lake of the Woods Golf Course in Mahomet, Illinois (my home course) and one for Harrison Hills Golf Club, a superb public course in Attica, Indiana. These are two courses I know very well, so I thought I’d see if the green maps would help out with some of the tricky reads that abound at both of them.

I’ve brought several guests to Lake of the Woods, and nearly every one of them has said that the greens are among the hardest to read they’ve ever played. It’s not that the contours are crazy, or that the greens are wildly tiered or shaped. There are just lots of subtle breaks that often run in multiple directions on any given green. The Sangamon river also runs along the edge of the property, and several holes seem to be affected by the “pull” from the river. I’d always wondered if these quirks were just in my head.

When I opened the GolfLogix green book, though, I soon realized they weren’t. Balls on the 10th hole,for example, always seem to roll faster uphill (toward the river) than downhill. And sure enough, even though the green appears to be canted from back to front, there’s a large flat spot in the middle that does not look flat. So if you’re trying to trickle a putt down from the back of the green toward the front, it hits that flat spot and, well, stops. All those downhill putts that have come up short now make sense!

 Green 10 at Lake of the Woods Golf Course — mysterious flat spots!

At Harrison Hills, the greens are dramatically contoured, and much faster than at “The Lake.” So if you’re above the hole on some of them, you’ll be lucky to roll any putt within 5 feet. The green at the 400-yard 9th is a great example. The GolfLogix heatmap of the green is deep crimson at the front, meaning a massive false front. From the fairway, though, the 40-yard-deep green looks relatively inviting. But if you land on that false front, your ball will not stay on. And any putts longer than 15 feet will require all your skill, even with the green maps, to get close with all the movement here.

 Green 9 at Harrison Hills Golf Course is a wild ride.

GolfLogix Green Maps & Yardage Books: The skinny

It may sound corny, but when I pull one of these detailed folios out of my back pocket, I feel like a “player.” And when I point out that there’s a 3-inch break opposite the direction of every other break on the infamous 7th green of my home course – and then I turn out to be right! – I feel almost as smart as DeChambeau. Almost.

 Hole 12 at Lake of the Woods feels like you’re playing down a corridor.

TPC Deere Run Brings Tour Dreams to Life

TPC stands for “Tournament Players Club.” The TPC network spans North America, and includes some courses in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia. Over half of them are private, many more are exclusive resort courses, and a handful have hosted PGA Tour events.

TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois (just across the river from Bettendorf, IA), is the long-time venue of the John Deere Classic, traditional Tour stop the week before The Open (British). It is unique among the TPC courses not only because it is a regular PGA Tour host that is fully open to the public, but also because it is easily the most affordable of all TPC courses.

And when I say “affordable,” I mean it. Rates at TPC Deere Run top out at $119 – that’s peak time, inclusive of cart and unlimited use of practice facilities. But savvy and flexible players who are non-local residents can find rates as low as $59. Local residents don’t have to pay more than $69—ever—and can play for as little as $49.

Let me repeat that for the readers who just joined us: You can play the self-same course where the pros play every year for less than $60.

The tournament that is today The John Deere Classic was born in 1971 as The Quad Cities Open, at a local private course. The ensuing years as a Tour event were tenuous, to say the least, but after Tiger Woods turned pro and made a splash at the 1996 playing, Illinois native D.A. Weibring negotiated with John Deere and the Tour to design and build a TPC on the banks of the Rock River. When TPC Deere Run opened in 2000, the 7,213-yard par-71 layout was ranked as the 8th Best New Public Golf Course by “Golf Digest.” And it’s been hosting the Tour event ever since.

Playing TPC Deere Run

If you watch the pros on TV, they can make it look like a pushover. Paul Goydos carded a 59 here in 2010—and didn’t win, because several other players went ultra-low, too.

But don’t let the super-humans on Tour fool you: TPC Deere Run is all the course amateur players will ever want. Conditions are impeccable, and the variety of holes is outstanding: Long and short par 3s, 4s, and 5s. Some open fairways, some tight fairways. Over 70 bunkers, and plenty of water. Opportunities for both greatness and disaster.

The variety of holes will allow you to hit – or try to hit – a full array of shots off the tees, though most par 4s on the front set up best for fades. There are seven sets of tees, including two sets of blended tees to allow players of all skill level and all lengths to find a fit for their games, from 5,179 yards up to 7,183 yards. Generous landing areas provide opportunities to approach greens from multiple angles, only a few of which are truly optimal.

The 561-yard 2nd is one of the favorites of anyone whose played here before. From the elevated tees, the vista is expansive. The Rock River flows serenely in the distance beyond the huge fairway, which bends gently to the right on the second shot. The green is protected by a small desert’s worth of sand, and a small barn behind it harks back to the agricultural roots of the area and the sponsor of the tournament played here.Tee shot on the par-5 2nd at TPC Deere Run.

The green on the par-5 2nd is receptive and, well, homey.

At the 454-yard 4th, you realize that you are in for a day of one gorgeous golf hole after another. The sentinel oak in the center of the fairway makes the tee shot thrilling, and form the fairway, it feels like the river lurks just beyond the putting surface.

Choose your approach club wisely at the 4th — the Rock River lurks at the bottom of the hill behind the green.

The 158-yard 16th is one of the prettiest short par 3s in the entire Midwest. The green is cut into the bluff overlooking the river. A rock wall runs in front of the green, and the bluff drops away precipitously to the left, making the entire left side a very penal hazard. When the tournament bleachers are still up behind the green, this is a hole that gives anyone the chance to hit a good shot and feel like a pro.

The 158-yard 16th isn’t a long par 3, but it calls for precision.

The 17th and 18th are two fun closers – the stuff that memories are made of. The 557-yard 17th is a reachable par 5 that plays out of a chute of trees to a wide-open fairway and green complex that allows for run-up fairway woods. The 463-yard 18th has seen its share of drama during the tournament, and amateurs can feel some degree of the same exhilaration by carving in a slight draw to the front of the green and watching their ball trundle back toward the pin. Over-cook it, though, and you’ll find the pond that borders the entire left side of the green; fade it instead, and a tricky pitch or sand save will be required, á la Jordan Spieth’s first PGA win.

The par-5 17th has an open green and makes a good target to try to get home in two.

You can almost hear the cheers from the gallery as you come down the 18th fairway at TPC Deere Run.

The word on TPC Deere Run

The front side of the TPC at Deere Run is tighter than the back, with nearly every hole framed by trees on all sides. The back nine is more open, with some room along the fairways, but there are many more fairway bunkers in play on the back. There is not an awkward tee shot on the entire course; all the trouble is laid out clearly before you on the tees and approaches (with the exception of the approach on No. 4, where little separates the back of the green and the Rock River).

The greens are ideal – receptive but fast – and many are basically pear-shaped, with narrow fronts that make for some devilish pin positions. Despite some tiers and undulations, though, putts within seven feet are generally flat. Most greens are also surrounded by closely shaved run-off areas that will test all the short shots in your bag.

The clubhouse is a grand fieldstone structure, and houses a first-class restaurant and bar, with a lovely shaded patio overlooking the 18th green. The pro shop is consistently rated one of the best in the country, so take some time to browse. The walls are filled with memorabilia from the PGA Tour event that has been played in one form or another in the Quad Cities area since 1971. It is well worth coming early and staying late not only to avail yourself of the luxury of a TPC, but also to bathe in golf history. After all, how often do you get to play where the best in the world play?

The short par-4 14th is as tricky as it is lovely.

Wilson Launch Pad Irons elevate the ball and your game

Golf is a lot harder than it looks on TV. Upon hearing of my affection for the game, a friend of mine told me that he had gone to a driving range just one time. I asked him why only once. He said, “I hit a large bucket of balls. Didn’t get one in the air. It just seemed like way too much work.”

It was several decades ago that this friend of mine had tried his hand at golf. Try as I might, I couldn’t convince him to give it another go, with more modern, more forgiving equipment. It was just too late for him.

But it’s not too late for your buddy, or you, for that matter. There is a whole new generation of golf clubs – often called “super game-improvement” clubs – whose sole purpose is to help high-handicapper recreational golfers enjoy themselves more. To help them get the ball in the air.

This is the sole purpose of the new generation of the Wilson Launch Pad Irons ($700 steel shafts; $800 graphite shafts), and their sole is their purpose. Let me clarify.

The irons’ moniker refers to the Launch Pad sole, featured throughout the set, from 4i to PW (and other wedges, which you can buy separately to match). The sole of the club is wide, wider in longer irons and narrower in shorter irons, which keeps turf interaction to a minimum. The idea is for the sole design to reduce chunked shots, while the hollow composite heads allow for a thinner, “hotter” face and move the center of gravity away from the face, which will get the ball in the air faster and with more “pop.” Along with the wide soles, the bounce angle serves to “float” the leading edge above the turf, which, according to Wilson, reduces chunked shots by 73% among testers.

Playing the Wilson Launch Pad Irons

All of this sounds great in theory, but how do they play?

Two of the more common mishits by occasional or high-handicappers are the chunk and the blade. After several range sessions with the Launch Pad Irons, it is very clear how they protect against the chunk: those wide soles and leading-edge bounce mimic hitting regular clubs off a mat. If you hit a little behind the ball, the club tends to “bounce” up off the turf, especially if the ground is firm. If you’re hitting off carpet-like bent grass, you can still chunk the occasional shot, but you almost have to try to do it.

Conversely, if you tend to blade shots – hitting them so thin that they don’t get into the air – you’ll still need to work on your swing to impart a descending—or at least level—blow with the Launch Pad Irons. However, even a more “sweeping” swing produces much higher, much longer trajectories than standard clubs.

My son, a high school player who hits the ball a mile high with his regular clubs, found the short irons in the Launch Pad set to be TOO helpful: shots just skied into the stratosphere. But once he worked into the 6i-4i range, he admitted his surprise at the consistency of the Launch Pads, in terms of both trajectory and dispersal. This made me think that for a lot of players, a blended set of more traditional shorter irons and Launch Pad mid- to long-irons would be worth considering.

As for me, I noticed an immediate increase in the height of my shots: about 5 feet higher across the set compared to my normal irons. As for distance, the Launch Pads may have increased center-struck shots just a bit, but any gain was negligible. Off-center shots were improved by several yards, though—noticeably longer.

Are the Wilson Launch Pad Irons all rainbows and unicorn farts? Not exactly, but no club is. The extra “pop” you experience in distance comes with a literal “pop” in sound. It’s sort of a hollow pop, which takes a little getting used to. The sound matches the heads in a way, whose somewhat rotund profile also takes a short while to grow accustomed to.

And if you do struggle with bladed shots, they won’t fix that flaw; however, you’ll be able to work on swinging exactly the same with your PW as you do with a fairway wood – a shallow, sweeping swing will still get the ball in the air.

One final note: it is true that “game-improvement” irons tend to decrease lofts so recreational golfers will think they’re getting more distance. The Launch Pad Iron lofts are a touch stronger than “normal,” but only by 3-4 degrees (i.e., a club stronger). So your 4i is 21 degrees, which is a typical 3i loft. That’s less than many competitor sets, and even less than many “regular” iron sets these days.

And a final, FINAL note: The stock steel KBS 80 shafts are excellent. I normally play stiff shafts, but requested to test regular shafts, as they seemed to fit the overall goals and design of the Launch Pad heads better. To be completely honest, I have noticed no adverse effects from the change in stiffness – I don’t hook the KBS shafts (in the Launch Pads or the new D7s, which I’ve also reviewed), or find them hard to control, even on full-bore swings.


Altogether, if you’re looking for irons to help you enjoy the game, and work less on hitting the “perfect” shot, the Wilson Launch Pad Irons are a solid bet. If you are moved to buy a set of Launch Pad Irons, or anything else from Wilson, here’s a treat, just for you!

Discount Code: WilsonGolf15-8

A few rules to mention:

  • The codes give 15% off all full-priced Golf Items, including Custom. However, outlet items are excluded.
  • All codes expire 12/31/20

Wilson D7 Irons set pace in “players distance” category

There are a number of iron categories: “tour,” “player,” “game improvement,” “super game improvement.” Then of course there is the distinction between “forged” and “cast” irons.

Another new category has gained steam and fans over the last few years: the “players distance” iron. The target audience for this category is low double-digit handicappers, and maybe even high single-digit players, who find themselves losing distance either on off-center hits or with – ahem – advancing age.

One of the real class acts in this category is the Wilson D7 Iron. The D7s are packed with technology, including progressive “power holes” and progressively thin, very “hot” faces. Best of all, they maintain a more sleek, traditional profile than many irons that straddle the “game improvement” line.

The D7s come in both forged and cast versions. The former, new for 2020, list for $1000 (GW-5), and the latter for a very reasonable $600). It has been many seasons since I switched to forged irons, so I thought I’d take the “working man” version out for a test to see what all the engineering and materials advances over the past decade or so have done to improve feel and performance of more budget-friendly clubs.

Playing the Wilson D7 Irons

I played a set of the Wilson D7s with stock KBS regular flex shafts. I was concerned about that shaft choice, as I normally play stiff shafts. But I have noticed no increase in tendency to hook (which I do at times) or slice (which I almost never do with my irons). The tips of these KBS seem somewhat stiff, so perhaps that’s the reason. To be honest, though, sometimes I wonder whether the differences in stiffness in steel iron shafts is even a thing.

So how did they perform? Let’s cut straight to the chase: I put them in my bag for what I thought would be one test round. Seven rounds later—including a semi-final win in my course’s Match-Play Tournament and my low round of the year just yesterday (75)—they’re still in the bag.

Compared to my usual forged irons (by a major and universally respected iron maker), the Wilson D7s bring several benefits. Tops among these, is their incredible forgiveness. I have mishit a dozen or more shots – fat, thin, toe, high on the face – and on well over half of those misbegotten swings, the ball has ended up on the green (or near it, anyway).

Along with forgiveness, these irons are long. This is expected, given that the lofts are jacked up, averaging 1.5-clubs stronger than “traditional.” In fact, the lofts are even stronger in the D7s than those in the Wilson Launch Pad Irons, which are in the super game-improvement category. This ratcheting up of lofts doesn’t make it harder to get the ball in the air, though, as the center of gravity is as low and as far back as can be managed without sacrificing a somewhat more “players iron” look.

Length isn’t always a plus, though. I was pretty dialed in on my yardages with my old irons. Well, to be honest I was last year. This year, I was feeling like I needed to step on some swings to get them to their “normal” yardages. I blamed lack of practice. I blamed swing changes. I blamed COVID-19. But frankly, it’s probably because (a) I’m getting old, and (b) I wasn’t striking the ball very consistently. The D7s allow me to pull my “usual” club for the “typical” yardage. If I really stripe a shot, it may go long, but aside from on greens that are very hard, this isn’t usually much of a penalty.

The only drawback to the D7 design, as far as I can tell, is their rounded sole (where you’ll find the progressive power holes, configured specifically for each iron). The leading edge of the face is protected from digging in by this sole, which adds a small bit of extra bounce angle to the clubs. Like the Launch Pads, I’m sure the D7s incorporate this design in order to help players avoid fat shots. And, when the turf is soft, it is a useful feature, indeed. But when the turf is baked out, and your swing is a little too shallow, the club tends to deflect off the ground and up into the ball, resulting in thin shots. In dry conditions, you really need to focus on descending into the ball; however, doing so will deloft the face even more and likely add yards. The rounded soles also require some practice with punch shots—a typical strength of mine, thanks to lots of practice—which don’t come out quite as clean as with irons whose leading edges are sharper.

Long story short: “players distance” irons might require some adjustment because they do, in fact, give you extra distance.

Finally, let’s talk about feel. I can’t compare the standard D7s to the Forged D7s, as I haven’t tested the latter. But to be honest, the standard D7s feel plenty soft to me. I can draw and fade them well enough, and I can feel quite clearly when I pure a shot, compared to off-center strikes.


The Wilson D7 Irons are ideal for players who are seeking to maintain distance without sacrificing feel or looks. They’re stable and powerful – so much so that you may find your best shots going a little too far until you recalibrate. Golfers who play well-manicured, softer courses will find the sole design particularly forgiving.

If you want to buy the D7s — or any new Wilson equipment, here’s a treat for you:

Discount Code: WilsonGolf15-8

A few rules to mention:

  • The codes give 15% off all full-priced Golf Items, including Custom. However, outlet items are excluded.
  • All codes expire 12/31/20