The muscle back iron construction is a touchy subject for many golfers as we move into an era where ‘forgiveness meets compact profile’ becomes more and more a reality. Rounding the fantastic looking latest release from Srixon Golf is the Z 965 iron. A beautiful update and improvement to the successful Z 945 release, which was packed with as much technology as the profile would allow. Not surprisingly, the sleek Z 965 irons did not disappoint.
What To Expect
Srixon has taken the Z 945 muscle back irons and transformed them beautifully for the 965 release. Similarities are certainly present, but subtle changes surround the head between material, construction, and technology. In hand and on the ball, these irons will be geared towards the most advanced golfer who demands performance in a compact muscle back design. With that in mind, there are elements that will bridge the gap between swing perfection, and minor mishap without disastrous shot results in total.
Club companies seem to be getting more and more competent in finding subtle efficiencies in compact designs, and Srixon is a prime sample with their Z 965 iron design. Slightly longer from heel to toe from a traditional or ‘baby’ blade will allow the golfer the error away from center laterally without getting to the extremes so quickly. What is impressive about this concept, is how compact the iron looks especially after playing the set for an extended period of time. The sharp top line and very limited sole profile satiate the need for compact design while the more subtle elements like heel/toe depth and VT sole are hidden gems.
Srixon has continued to develop and improve on their VT Sole design for the latest iron release. Conceptually, this relates to the elongated “V” shape present on the sole of the irons, which help tremendously with the turf interaction of each swing. Some bladed irons have a leading edge so sharp that driving into the ground even slightly behind the ball can be the difference between getting the ball to the front of the green, or hitting it only as far as the massive divot. In the case of the Srixon 965 irons, despite having an exceptionally narrow sole, the VT Sole makes a massive difference in turf interaction by comparison to other similar profile sole depths.
Speaking specifically about VT Sole, from Srixon: Smoother Turf Performance – The new Tour V.T. Sole has been modified to move even more efficiently through the turf, reducing impact resistance and tightening shot dispersion for maximum consistency and control.
As is clearly stated, this design element has been formulated specifically to reduce the error, maximize the consistency, and improve the overall turf interaction. While it does seem like a loaded concept, it proved constantly during the testing process that the VT Sole would support a greater set of skills than only those capable of hitting the ball at the ideal location every single time.
There are two very important elements that need to be highlighted that heavily reflect the feedback provided by the Srixon Z 965 irons. First, Srixon utilized a special heat treatment with a soft 1020 carbon steel construction to produce this particular head. They have cited this construction as a primary reasoning around gaining the smoothest and most consistent feel.
Secondary to the material used, is the specific location of the material on the face. Where the Z 945 irons boasted a triangular pattern that favored the heel-to-mid section of the face on the back of the head, the Z 965 iron is constructed to have a substantial amount of material on the toe side of center, likely moving the center of gravity more towards the toe (but realistically close to center). While this likely alters the sound for golfers who prefer the central location or slightly toe side of center location, the feedback in the hands is what makes such a massive difference in this release. It is such a more complete connection, even on many strikes that fell on the toe side well away from center.
What seems to be gained by these two elements is an exceptionally flush sound and vibration through the hands on great strikes. The overall construction of the sound does not seem manufactured at all, but rather draws directly from that ‘player requirement’ mentality when hitting a muscle back iron where it is pure ‘soft’ metal at impact. Despite the Z 945 irons offering pleasing feedback, it does seem like Srixon has taken a step forward in quality moving into the Z 965 release.
The dreaded ‘thinned’ shot does introduce an unpleasing and slightly dull sensation to the hands like any typical muscle back profile iron would, however during testing, the single groove or double groove thin shot produced very fair distances overall, with the toe side low shot really exceeding expectations on feedback in the hands and total distance. It is far from not punishing, but the gap is reduced slightly from complete misery to slightly painful.
New for the Z 965 release is a five percent larger groove design compared to the previous generation, along with double laser milling. Srixon believes this will introduce greater spin control. While there was not a massively visual alteration in launch characteristics from release to release, the carryover of a non-manufactured flight remains consistent with the Srixon muscle back offerings. Paired with the Dynamic Gold S300 shafts, golfers will be able to navigate the ball as high or low as they like, and will have a very easy time working the ball left and right depending on what is required.
Golfers who are pursuing a compact muscle back design will have great success with the Srixon Z 965 iron. Between the updated VT Sole (which should be on every iron and wedge), slightly elongated heel to toe profile, and the fantastic placement of material on the back of the face, this iron should withstand the rigors and expectations of highly skilled golfers. For more information on the Srixon Z 965 irons, visit www.Srixon.com.