WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: TaylorMade’s fourth-generation P·790 irons continue the trend of bringing high-speed face flexing and a progressive approach to forgiveness across the full set in the guise of compact shaping that better players prefer as much as those aspiring to be better players. Again, the key is a hollow construction, but among the more dramatic improvements is how slugs of tungsten are used differently through the set. The 30 to 40-gram pieces are set horizontally and low on the long irons to provide better launch, while on the middle irons a chunkier piece rests vertically out towards the toe to improve stability on off-centre strikes. There’s no tungsten on the short irons (8-iron through gap wedge) to allow the centre of gravity to progress higher with each higher loft to optimise spin and prevent shots from ballooning.
PRICE: $2,303 for seven irons (steel); $2,513 (graphite). Available at retail from September 2.
3 COOL THINGS
1. Weighting game. This hollow-body set uses heavy tungsten and other weight-saving and weight-shifting techniques to make sure each iron’s centre of gravity is distinctly ideal through the set. That’s why the long irons feature an internal bar of tungsten that’s low within the body and the middle irons use tungsten relatively low but also vertically along the toe side to create a more stable frame. The idea is straightforward: The irons in this set aren’t simply slight variations in a design from say the standard 7-iron construction.
“Everything remains a hollow-body design through the set, but the way the mass is positioned and distributed within the clubhead changes with each one,” said TaylorMade’s Matt Bovee, director of product creation for irons. “Each iron has been individually designed. We want the CG to be the lowest in the long irons, but we’re OK with it creeping up in the shorter irons and the scoring irons because you want to be able to control that flight.”
The way the tungsten weighting varies came through the use of an artificial intelligence platform that dialled in on the ideal location and amount of tungsten for each iron, Bovee said.
“This is a proprietary tool that we’ve created to work within a set of constraints in a box to play with, and then it optimises the mass positioning given those criteria,” he said, noting that the progression of the CG from low in the long irons to gradually rising in the short irons slopes in a more linear fashion than previously. “In the case of the 7-iron, for example, what we’ve said is basically, look, we want to maximise the stability and the forgiveness of this thing, consistency is going to be key. For the long irons, we want to prioritise getting that centre gravity as low as we possibly can to help to launch them in the air, which is another way of making those irons more forgiving.”
Among the keys to getting the weighting right is how the back wall of each iron features variable thickness through alternating thick and thin sections, almost like latticework. It’s a technique the design borrowed from the crowns on some of the company’s past metal woods. There’s also more room to position the tungsten further towards the toe on the long and middle irons because the opening for the face insert is larger.
2. Face value. Made from high strength forged 4140 chromoly steel alloy, that larger face creates a better trampoline. On the short irons (8-iron through gap wedge) the face insert is a traditional shape set within the margins of the face, but on the 3-iron through 7-iron the face wraps around the sole in an L-shape. They also feature a cut-through slot in the sole to get better face flexing particularly low on the face. The use of the light but strong chromoly steel helps to create a larger region of the face that’s most flexible, thanks to its ability to get sections of the face as thin as 1.5 millimetres.
3. The sound of feel. While more forgiveness has been baked into this generation of P790, this iron still is designed to resonate with better players. That’s where all the efforts towards forgiveness, tungsten weighting and a faster face can cause problems when it comes to sound and feel. With more pieces and a different alloy in the face, controlling unwanted vibrations becomes a challenge. TaylorMade’s engineers again inject the heads with a lightweight urethane foam that’s 68 percent less dense than versions used on the first two models (but the same Speedfoam Air as used in the 2021 model). That material allows the thin face to flex while controlling unwanted sound and vibration.
On top of that, the internal structure of each iron is dialled in to support how that face is going to flex differently, given the differing use of tungsten. A small wing or arm stretches from where the tungsten is housed to a back bar to further damp vibration in the head.
“This allows us to control the distance of this unsupported area behind the face,” Bovee said. “During impact when the iron face is flexing, we want to make sure we have the most premium sound possible. Even though it’s designed to perform and have all that ball speed, this finger controls the flexibility and the sound of that unsupported area.”