Srixon’s ZX4 irons offer a rare combination of distance, forgiveness and feel, but they don’t come cheap. Are they worth it? Let's find out!
In the eyes of the casual or new golfer, Srixon aren’t necessarily as highly regarded as some of the other more high profile names. Even non-golfers know about TaylorMade, PING, Titleist and Callaway but Srixon don’t have that kind of brand recognition. Other brands may have cornered the market when it comes to the best drivers, but Srixon make damned good golf clubs and their irons stack up well against anything out there.
Srixon are well represented on the PGA Tour with 2021 US Master Champ Hideki Matsuyama in their stable and they recently secured the services of Brooks Koepka too. The impressive thing there is that for some time Koepka was a “free agent” and was able to choose which clubs he played. So whereas contracted golfers have to play the brand that pays them, until recently Koepka had his choice of any irons on the market, but he was playing Srixon. That's quite a big feather in their cap. Now the arrangement is official but for Koepka to have gamed Srixon irons when he wasn’t obligated to tells you a lot about their quality.
As with all of the other leading brands, Srixon have a range of irons to suit golfers of all skill levels. The ZX5 are a very forgiving, game improvement iron aimed at hid-handicappers, the ZX7 (as used by Koepka) are fully forged iron aimed at the better players while the ZX4 is... well, it’s a number of things.
The chunky sole hints at the kind of super game improvement irons aimed at beginners, yet the topline, offset and forged feel are what you’d expect from something aimed at the more skilled player.
As someone who falls firmly into the mid-handicap range but who sees himself as “better than that”- especially after I entered the (virtual) US Open and finished 600th in the world - I opted to put the somewhat unique ZX4 irons through their paces. Are they really as long and as forgiving as advertised? Read on and I’ll tell you.
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Srixon ZX4 irons - They're long, but there's a catch
The first thing you need to know is that although these irons are long, very long in fact, the reason for this isn't because of any super ingenious technology. It's because they are strong lofted, which is something that has become more and more prevalent over recent years, especially when it comes to the ‘game improvement’ market.
A stronger loft increases distance, so where a traditional 7 iron may have 33° of loft, a strong lofted equivalent can be as low as 28°, which is basically your standard 5 iron with a slightly shorter shaft and a number 7 engraved on the bottom.
The idea behind strong lofts is twofold. Primarily it panders to the ego of the shorter hitting golfer who is fed up of having to reach for a 5 iron while their playing partners are hitting 9 iron. Secondly, a strong loft combined with the game improvement ‘chunky’ style head and specialised weighting is designed to not only produce further shots, it will also give you a higher flight.
Strong lofted irons aren’t necessarily popular with the purists but they have proven to be a big hit with mid-high handicap golfers and I converted to a strong lofted set of irons two years ago. Why did I make that change? Look, I’d be lying if I said it was about anything other than distance.
My regular playing partner hits his irons miles further than I do and it’s incredibly frustrating, not least because off the tee I’m usually longer. When it comes to distance with irons though it’s a total mismatch. He’ll be hitting an 8 iron into a par three while I’m debating whether I can get there with a 5 iron or if I need to hit hybrid. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter which club you use to get on the green as long as you get on the green, but there’s this little thing called ego that can often nag away at any golfer. Even more so when macho pride is also involved.
I’m by no means a macho kind of guy but we all have our limits. So I switched to strong lofted irons and now I’m hitting a 7 iron into those par 3s. I’m still shorter than my buddy but I can live with a one or even two club distance. In reality it’s still a three or four club difference because unlike me, he is playing with traditional lofts on his irons, but as long as manufacturers are still numbering their irons rather than listing them by loft, who cares, right?
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While researching the ZX4 irons to see what other golfers thought of them I did come across a fair bit of “loft snobbery”. The strong lofts are not popular with everyone (especially the better players who don’t need the extra distance) and one comment that jumped out at me was that “it’s just to cater to the egos of short hitters”. Guilty as charged. I’m not proud of it but yes, it does matter to me that my 7 iron now carries 150 yards rather than 130. Plenty of other average golfers will feel the same way and so there is a definite market for strong lofted irons such as the ZX4.
The most important thing is that you are aware of this before buying. When I was fitted for my irons it was not explained to me why the Wilson Staff D7s I ended up buying were going 20 yards further than the irons I was using at that time. Fortunately I knew why, but the professional who fitted me did not bring it up, which I assume was deliberate as his sales pitch was “oh I’ve got something that will go 20 yards further than those old clubs you’re using”.
He was right, but this wasn’t a ‘new versus old’ thing, although I’m sure that played a small part. The main reason the ‘new’ 7 iron went miles further than the old one was because there was a 6° difference in loft. In fact, a fairer comparison would have been the new 7 iron against my old 5 iron.
For the record, I have since put my new strong lofted 7 iron up against the old 5 iron and there’s very little in it when it comes to distance, but the newer club is much more forgiving on shots that didn’t come out of the sweet spot and it's easier to hit because the shaft is shorter as, well, it's a 7 iron. That’s the main benefit to newer clubs and specifically the game improvement type irons. The Srixon ZX4 is very much in that category and offers plenty of forgiveness, but I’ll get to how it performed shortly.
Srixon ZX4 irons: price and availability
The ZX4 are widely available at most good golf retailers and will set you back anywhere between £799 and £899 so it's worth shopping around.
In the US you can buy directly from Srixon at a cost of $1049.99 for a six club set. You can also customise your set to include or omit clubs and if you decide at a later date you'd like to add to the set you can buy each club individually at a cost of $174.99.
Srixon ZX4 irons: Looks, Sound & Feel
Visually these are an attractive set of clubs, but then Srixon usually are. The design is fairly simplistic and stylish and Srixon have managed to make a game improvement iron look an awful lot like a player's iron, at least from above anyway. Considering how wide the sole is, you can't see it at address except with the 4 and 5 irons. Maybe the 6 iron too depending on your angle of address.
In my experience hollow irons can often have a loud ‘clicky’ type sound on contact and while there is a slight clickyness about the ZX4, all things considered it is surprisingly pleasing on the ear. Sure, it doesn't sound as 'dead' as a players iron or traditional blade, but it sounds far nicer than many irons aimed at higher handicap golfers, including my old faithful D7s.
The feel is impressive and surprisingly soft, which is no doubt due to the forged face.
Srixon ZX4 irons - The Technology
Srixon hang their hat on the quality of their irons so you won’t be surprised to know the ZX4 is jam packed with tech. In recent years A.I. (artificial intelligence) seems to be taking over when it comes to research and development in the golf world. All of the major brands have embraced it but Srixon’s aim is to combine Artificial Intelligence with Human Intelligence, meaning that their products aren’t just about the numbers. Sound and feel also come into it.
The result of this is Mainframe Technology, which has increased ball speed and distance without sacrificing anything in sound and feel. Mainframe is a variable thickness pattern made up of grooves, channel and cavities on the backside of the club face, which Srixon say maximises club speed irrespective of where you hit it on the face.
Hollow construction helps provide the perfect blend of forgiveness and height so your shots will fly high and straight. This is not necessarily the priority for every golfer as the more skilled players tend to prefer an iron that allows them to shape shots. For the average player though if it flies high and straight then that’s just the ticket.
The ZX4 features a multi-piece construction. You have a forged face made from HT1770 steel which enhances speed and distance, while the 431 stainless steel body absorbs vibrations giving a nice soft feel to your shots. The 4-7 irons are weighted with a tungsten plug in the toe section which lowers the centre of gravity and promotes a higher launch. What this means is that even though your 7 iron has a similar loft to a standard 5 iron, it will still fly like a 7 iron and you won’t lose any height despite the stronger loft. In fact, you'll probably gain some height.
Another innovative feature is the Tour V.T. Sole. This is basically a v-shaped ridge that runs through the sole and helps with turf interaction. This helps greatly when you inadvertently strike a little bit too much behind the ball, so these irons are ideal for golfers who come into the ball a little steep and tend to take large divots. The sole is wide but you don’t see this when standing over the ball as Srixon have done a good job at hiding it and the ZX4 at address does not look like your typical super game improvement iron.
The ZX4 utilises Progression Grooves so in the 8 iron upward the grooves are narrower, sharper and deeper to aid control and spin, whereas in the longer irons the grooves are wider and not as deep.
Srixon ZX4 irons - Performance
As mentioned above, the ZX4 irons are very similar in specification to my own Wilson Staff D7 irons. Both are strong lofted, forgiving irons aimed at mid-handicappers, so it made sense to put them up against each other head to head to see the results. Keep in mind that the D7s are a couple of years old now and have since been replaced by the D9 model (which is actually even stronger by one degree), so that is reflected in the price and you can currently pick up a set of D7s for around half of what you’ll pay for the Srixon ZX4.
I knew that there would not be a huge amount of variation in performance because with irons any new advancements that are made will not make earth shattering differences. In most cases you won’t even notice, as much of the focus is on forgiveness which is difficult to quantify.
Drivers and putters have much more scope for innovative tech but with irons any gains you will get from newer clubs will be marginal at best, which in part accounts for the manufacturers playing around with different lofts.
I began by hitting shots with the Srixon 8 iron and recording the data on my Rapsodo MLM launch monitor, before then repeating it with the 6 iron. My standard yardage with my 8 iron is around 143 yards with a solid strike, whereas when I don’t catch it flush it will usually be around 130 or so.
Both 8 irons have the same strong loft of 33° so it stands to reason the results would be similar and the numbers, as I expected, were more or less the same with the ZX4. If anything, the D7 may be a yard or so longer but it’s a negligible difference, especially as the Rapsodo MLM is very accurate but it is not exact.
Srixon claim the ZX4 is their most forgiving iron to date. Forgiveness is subjective though. A really bad shot is going to be a really bad shot regardless, so forgiveness only really comes into play on strikes that have decent contact but are off centre. Game improvement irons are designed to minimise the damage of off centre strike. You won’t get the same result as a well struck shot but nor should you. The best shots should still be rewarded and if you had the same result from a bad swing as you would from a good one then the game would be fairly pointless wouldn’t it? A bit of damage limitation sure helps though.
In terms of distance and forgiveness, the ZX4 was not noticeably better than my D7s but it was certainly no worse either. In fact, by comparing numbers alone you’d think they were the same club. The difference comes in the feel. A well struck shot with the D7 just feels incredibly powerful. The ball comes off the club face like it’s been fired from a cannon. With the ZX4 it’s powerful but with a softer, more buttery feel. The ball goes the same distance but the feel is completely different. Presumably this difference in feel accounts for the large gap in price.
While most of my testing was done on mats at the range as it wasn’t a great time of year for hitting shots out on the course (too muddy), I did take the ZX4s out for a little spin on a local course to see how they performed 'out in the wild'. There are few things more satisfying in golf than hitting a well struck iron into the middle of the green and I had a lot of fun firing 8 irons into a 140 yard par 3.
While these are low spinning irons compared to most, because you get such a high flight the ball tends to come down softly and there is no issue at all when it comes to stopping the ball on the green.
Srixon ZX4 irons: Verdict
Anyone from a high single figure handicap upwards who is in the market for a new set of irons should certainly consider the Srixon ZX4. They won't be to everybody's taste but unless you try them you aren't going to know.
There are cheaper alternatives out there that will do a similar job, but the ZX4 will appeal to many because it’s a very stylish looking club that also feels nice to hit.
As with any other golf club purchase, you really ought to arrange a fitting and try out as many products as possible, both to check out the performance data as well as just to see what suits your eye. It makes sense to run the rule over as many different options as your retailer will allow, but if you’re looking for more distance, forgiveness and feel in your irons, the Srixon ZX4 might just be the clubs for you.