The merger of Srixon and Cleveland Golf has produced a powerhouse golf equipment company, poised to fill some of the void created when Nike suddenly announced that it was getting out of the business.
Cleveland Golf, which made its name producing some of the PGA Tour's most popular wedges and putters, has turned out some powerful drivers and fine irons.
But now that it is part of Srixon, Cleveland can focus on its short-game roots while the long-time Japanese equipment giant Srixon concentrates on irons, woods, and golf balls.
This clear division of labor has only recently been fully implemented, yet the results are already impressive.
Case in point, the new Z line of irons from Srixon, including the Z 565, Z 765, and Z 965 irons. All three models are forged from a super-soft 1020 stainless steel bolstered with a proprietary hardening process for the face.
The Z 565s' forged cavity-back design is closer to "game improvement" iron (mid-teen+ handicap players), while the Z 765s' muscle-cavity (low double-digit to single-digit handicaps) and the Z 965s' traditional muscle-back (low single-digit handicaps) designs offer better players exquisite feel and precise workability, with a concordant slight decrease in forgiveness.
All three Z models ($1,100 for eight irons) also feature Srixon's new Tour V.T. Sole incorporates a second bounce, i.e., a slightly beveled leading edge, to reduce the tendency to dig into softer turf or ricochet off of harder ground.
Playing the Srixon Z 765 forged irons
As a low double-digit handicapper who likes to (try to) work the ball both directions, I opted for a set (P-5) of Z 765s with Dynamic Gold S300 steel shafts.
After a few swings on the practice range, the difference in feel between center-contact and off-center-contact quickly became apparent. Balls struck on the sweet spot simply disappeared from sight, with almost no perception of having struck the ball -- it was that smooth. Off-center strikes, on the other hand, were easy to diagnose: low, high, toe, heel -- all of these areas produced a subtly yet distinctly different feel.
Once acclimated to the feedback from the Z 765, I found I could hit shots high, low, left, and right in all combinations -- well, on the range, anyway. The course was another story, another sad but familiar story. On the course, distance control was exceptional, though my ill-advised propensity for "working" shots left me a lot of scrambling opportunities.
The greens at my home course had been softened by rain prior to the half-dozen rounds I played with the Z 765s, but even so, the grooves, which are 5 percent wider than previous Srixon irons (produced by Double Laser Milling), created consistent spin -- allowing me to stop every shot, and even spin many of them back. (Not a typical occurrence in my game!)
Srixon Z 765 forged irons: The verdict
If you look up recent worldwide professional tour winners, you might be surprised to find that a sizable proportion of those wins have been by players who play Srixon clubs and/or balls (for example, In Gee Chun, winner of the 2016 Evian Championship, playing the Srixon Z-Star ball).
When I hit shots to my best capabilities with the Z 765s, the ball sailed high and danced on the greens. Mis-hits resulted in expected, but not overly severe, decrements in distance and/or direction.
The feel and workability of the Z 765s are equal to the best equivalent iron sets on the market, and, based on my experience with several of these other sets, even softer.
One minor quibble with the stock grips is that they don't have any markings to help you ensure that the face is square at address. For players like me who struggle with alignment, either a logo or name or even small mark really helps in this regard. I pulled or pushed several shots despite nice swings, and only then realized that the clubface had been shut or open at address. So although the contact with the Z 765 was excellent, the results of these shots were not.
For more information, visit www.srixon.com.