It’s been just one short year since Greg Hopkins left the comforts of retirement and launched the company that bears his name. At that time, he focused solely on custom wedges with a new and innovative business plan. By assembling, customizing, and shipping from the same place he was able to provide a great deal of value to the end consumer through direct sales. As a sign of continued growth, the company recently released their first set of irons, named DJ21 as a tribute to Mr. Hopkins’ father. The expansion of the brand has been slow by design, and according to Hopkins, this set of irons is the first of many new items to come.
The classic shape and design of the DJ-21 irons is best suited for the experienced player. The soft, heat treated 8620 carbon steel and undercut channel cavity allow for a soft feel and great control.
The thinner topline of the DJ-21 irons appeals more to the eye of a better player. The satin chrome finish reduces glare when at address and allows for ultimate confidence while over the ball.
The face of the DJ-21 irons is equipped with maximum USGA dimension grooves for the greatest spin rate. A milled pattern is also applied to the face to achieve even more spin and ultimate control.
RH only at this time
- Available Shafts are DG S400, DG X100, and KBS Tour S (+$50)
- 3-PW set retails at $599 including shipping
- Custom grips, lengths, lofts, and lies available
Advertised as a better player’s iron, the DJ21 should offer just about everything a discerning eye will desire from a smaller cavity back iron, barring those that are only satisfied by the thinnest profiles. A shorter blade length and thin to medium sole-width will offer good ball strikers plenty of control over turf interaction and ball flight, while the modest offset and thinner topline will be appealing to most at address.
Finished in a brushed satin, the face also features a very fine milling pattern that covers the entire surface area. Though debate remains about this type of surface area’s affect on performance, it is undeniable that it differentiates the DJ21’s from others on the market visually. The irons didn’t produce noticeable glare in the mid-June sun, another benefit of the satin finish.
Cast from 8620 carbon steel, the same material used in the CJ1 wedges (as well as a great number of other high-end irons/wedges), the DJ21’s offer a solid, lower tone at impact that many will equate with ‘softness’. While there are varying levels of this very subjective term, it seems that most will enjoy the feel these irons offer, with a pleasant sensation from center impact and a general lack of harshness off-center.
The DJ21 Irons were tested outdoors exclusively in the stock 3-PW set with S400 shafts.
Distance and Trajectory
As an iron set for the player that may not be concerned so much with distance, the DJ21 irons are lofted and weighted ‘traditionally’ and produce distances in line with other similar irons. Compared to the larger and more forgiving game improvement irons on the market, they were about a club shorter, which was anticipated. Again though, distance isn’t exactly the purpose behind a set like this, and those that gravitate towards a smaller cavity or blade should find themselves right at home.
Trajectory relies very much on the individual, but in general the combination of the irons’ weighting and the rather weighty S400 shaft produced a mid-height and penetrating trajectory. It certainly was possible to alter this both up and down thanks to the smaller blade size and build of the irons, which will be particularly attractive the better player, but as a default those needing assistance for maximum height will likely struggle to find that with the DJ21.
Forgiveness and Playability
The DJ21’s do have a modest cavity built into them, which will give an element of forgiveness for good ball strikers. Much like any smaller cavity back, they are designed to accommodate smaller misses, so it certainly is advisable to look at one’s ball striking abilities before choosing them. Those (like the tester) that miss the center by larger margins or more frequently will notice a rather sizeable difference in off-center performance compared to the larger game improvement irons (as many as 15 yards, depending on the miss), but again – this is expected and certainly acceptable within the class.
Still though, reasonable swings saw good results and the shape and size of the DJ21’s were neither intimidating nor worrisome at address. Those players looking to move into a smaller profile iron may find that the DJ21 gives both the visual appeal along with a hint of forgiveness that may come in handy on off-days.
As noted earlier, trajectory control was easy to accomplish, and while the tester isn’t a regular ‘worker’ of the golf ball, the size and design of the DJ21 suggest that those who are will find no issues in that regard.
At $599 for a 3-PW set of irons, the Hopkins DJ21’s do come in quite lower than others in their class. There are some hurdles that Hopkins will have to deal with though, even with the lower cost. First of all, the lack of an ability to physically demo the irons before buying will be tough for some to overcome, however observations seem to indicate many golfers don’t let this stop them today. In addition, the same 30 Day money back guarantee offered with the CJ1 wedges applies to the irons. The other hurdle is the lack of set configuration options (only 3-PW at this time) and comes mostly from the fact that the release is so new and the company’s size doesn’t allow them the flexibility that a large OEM enjoys. Mr. Hopkins mentioned in a recent interview with THP that his future plans ideally include different configurations, including left hand options.
In all, the DJ21 performs quite admirably in a market dominated by the heavyweights. More information, including ordering instructions, can be found at www.hopkinsgolf.com.