Many thanks go out to Jon Claffey who is the Vice President of Marketing for Tour Edge Golf. Without his generosity and willingness to collaborate with me, this review opportunity would not be possible. Jon, thank you!
When it comes to this review, I’m not going to mince any words. Having the opportunity to test and review the Exotics EXS 220/220h irons from Tour Edge Golf was something that I really looked forward to. These irons fared very well at the 2020 PGA Show Demo Day, having won the Silver Teezy Award in the Game-Improvement Iron category. These were irons that showed a ton of promise on the range at Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge back in January.
But, let’s get real for a second. There’s a big difference between testing products on a range where the conditions are pretty sterile versus the real world of being on a golf course. While I do my best to get insights for the sake of my “First Impressions” reviews by picking out targets on the range (to simulate fairways, greens, etc) the reality is that there’s no substitution for the real thing… A golf course. A place where hazards, OB, and greens abound.
So, how do he EXS 220/220h irons perform when it matters most (on the golf course)? Did they live up to their Silver Award standing?
When looking at the Exotics EXS 220/220h irons, the first thing that you need to know is that these two sets of irons are designed to help golfers improve and shoot lower scores.
While both sets feature some similar “tech talking points” there are a couple of differences. Yes, both sets feature hollow-bodied construction but the Exotics 220h is a “Hybrid Iron”. Meaning, the 220h has a slightly larger footprint. There is a wider sole and a little more offset. In a way, think of the Exotics 220h iron as an almost “crossover” golf club, somewhere between a rescue club and an iron.
Another difference between the two iron models is that the EXS 220 irons, employs a 19-gram tungsten weight placed in the toe. This weight “stretches the sweet spot area of the face” which potentially produces more distance. Not to mention, it could contribute in the forgiveness area as well, as it could reduce twisting at impact on toe hits thus creating more MOI.
There’s a ton of technology packed into both sets of these irons, so let’s take a quick look at what makes these irons “tick”.
- Hollow-Bodied Design – Excellent for providing perimeter weighting and face flex leading to potential longer distances.
- Cup Face Design – Typically seen in metal woods. Faster ball speeds via more face flex and forgiveness across the entire face.
- SpiderWeb VFT Tech – Located behind the face. It enhances the sweet spot across the entire face.
- LaunchPad Tech – A TPE polymer that absorbs shock, and provides more “trampoline effect”.
- Ramped Sole – Provides heel and toe relief areas, which creates better turf interaction from all lie conditions.
- SpeedTested Shafts – Through robot testing. Tour Edge R&D determined which golf shaft works best with certain swing speeds. Bear in mind that these are baseline recommendations.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to get these Exotics EXS 220/220h irons onto the golf course. This is the first opportunity that I’ve had to take a Teezy Award winner from the PGA Show and apply it onto the golf course. Unfortunately, testing was delayed with the lockdown that we faced due to the global pandemic. But, patience is a virtue, and eventually, the day would come to put these irons to the test.
For testing purposes, I received a 7-iron from each set. Incidentally, there would be a difference in the irons that I’d test vs the irons that won the Silver Teezy Award. The shafts. In Orlando, I made swings and passed judgment with irons that were graphite-shafted. Those shafts were the KBS TGI Tour Graphite in 80-grams. This time around, I’d be testing irons that were steel-shafted. The shaft for me this time around would be the SPEEDTESTED True Temper Elevate 95 in stiff flex.
Initially, because of the lockdown, golf courses and driving ranges were mandated to remain closed. So, my first swings took place on the “UTNT Practice Centre For Deprived Golfers” located in my backyard which consists of a net. Obviously, hitting into a net isn’t optimal but I was able to make one observation. I didn’t recollect the EXS 220 and especially the 220h feeling so solid. It felt better than I remembered and that was a bit of an eye-opener.
But eventually, golf courses and driving ranges opened and suddenly everything was right in the world. The time had come to pull up my sleeves, put on my hardhat, and get to work.
Early on, I would have a number of sessions on the driving range with the irons because while practicing in isolation I developed some swing issues. So, I had to “iron” them out (pardon the “Dad Joke”) before getting onto a golf course. To that end, let’s talk about the forgiveness of the Exotics EXS 220 and 220h irons.
Forgiveness – The Exotics EXS 220 and 220h irons are forgiving. Time and time again I was able to get results, good results, out of swings that were… “off”. Typically, my striking and direction are very good, however, some wonky things developed in my swing. Even with swings that were an abomination the Exotics EXS 220 and 220h delivered. Strikes stayed online, any strike that was a little off of the toe wasn’t severely punished, and thin shots while seeing an expected drop-off in distance still yielded a playable golf shot. Golf is a game of misses and a good miss is always a nice thing. To this day, I still haven’t hit a fat shot with either iron, and much of that could be the “Ramped Sole” technology which further bolsters the forgiveness characteristics of the Exotics EXS 220 and 220h irons respectively. These irons offer golfers a lot of playability from all lie conditions. From the tee, fairway, rough, and fairway bunkers. These irons are also accurate, but that is also dependent on the person swinging the clubs too.
Believe it or not, with the EXS 220h I felt that I actually got a little bit lazy and borderline complacent with my swing.
I put them into my son’s hands as well. He’s a new golfer. He was able to elevate the golf ball very easily and his strikes were pretty crisp. Especially when he was swinging the EXS 220h.
Aesthetics – Make no mistake about it, the EXS 220 and 220h are not your classic blade. The first day that I posted a picture of them on Instagram, I had a person state that they didn’t like the looks of them.
In the golf industry, I’ve seen a lot of ultra-modern, “techie” looking irons. The heads of these irons do not fit that mold. Yes, they are modern but the graphics are sleek. They remind me of a muscle car, like a ’57 Chevy Bel Air with their “chromed out” badging in the cavity. They look fast and sporty. Especially, when it comes to the EXS 220h irons. Personally speaking, I think Tour Edge R&D did themselves very good at going black on the 220h. In a way, it hides the “bulk” of the head.
The EXS 220 has the smaller footprint of the two irons and has a satin chrome finish. The topline is more moderate where the topline is a little “thicker” on the EXS 220h. Also, the EXS 220 features less offset than that of its brethren, the EXS 220h. That said, both irons set-up and frame the golf ball quite well in the address position.
Feel – I touched on this a little earlier when I said that I didn’t remember these irons feeling as solid as they were. These irons feel great. I think if I were to use an adjective, I would say “mean”. These irons, at impact, when it came to sweet spot strikes feel and sound like they’re all business. No, they aren’t buttery like a forging but they are just, quite simply… Mean. I guess the sound equates to a solid “thwack” and the ball jettisons off of the face. Instead of tripping over words, you can hear them for yourself with the videos below. It was a windy day on the range that day, so I apologize.
In a nutshell, I feel like “addictive” would be a good word to use when describing the feel of the Exotics EXS 220 and 220h irons at impact.
Performance – When looking at their performance, I want to look at this in two rays of light.
First, I just wanted to touch on the workability. Can you work these irons? Yes, you can, it’s just that you need to work a little harder to do it. These irons are designed to go long and straight. But, you can hit a fade or a draw. You can also flight the golf ball at will, as you can hit stingers/knockdowns at will with them. So there is a degree of workability with these irons.
The second aspect that I wanted to talk about in this part of the breakdown is the distance. These irons are long!!! If there was any one segment of this testing that I was most curious about, it was the on-course distance and to see if it matched up with my observations in Orlando. They did! A lot has happened to this body over the last several years. I have aged (not gracefully), arthritis is really kicking in during my 48th year (heck, I have gout as I write this), and of course there was my Stroke of 2018. Ponce De León might have discovered the “Fountain of Youth” but when it comes to giving golfers yardage back, I’m convinced that these Exotics EXS 220/220h irons might very well be, the “Fountain of Youth of Golfers”. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the yardages with a 7-iron that I’ve seen with these irons. Time and time again, I’ve seen an average of a consistent 180-185 yards while on the course. Some swings on the course have yielded a bit more than the average. Compared to what’s in my bag at the time of writing, they are 1.5 to 2 clubs longer. We’re talking 165-170 vs 180-185 yards.
The funny thing about where I live is that we see a fair amount of wind here. While it may not be Texas, something can be said of the winds of The Great Lakes. During one of my two rounds at the Chippawa Course at Legends on the Niagara (above), I was playing a Par 3 into the teeth of a three-club wind. The hole measured 148 yards to the centre of the green, but the pin was about 4 paces on from the back of the green. I decided to go with a full EXS 220. No knockdown or stinger like I usually would. My golf ball landed just past pin high, 6 feet away. I’m not certain that my gamer 7-iron would have made it to the middle part of the very deep green. Like I said, these irons are long. While these irons are strong-lofted (the 7-iron is 27.5º) this story is about much more than strong lofts. Much can be said of all of the technology packed into these irons.
I had a couple of quasi “Demo Days” during my sessions. People asked me about the clubs and after sanitizing them and maintaining physical distancing, I let them swing these irons as well. Time and time again golfers on the range were blown away by the performance of the EXS 220/220h irons.
The Exotics EXS 220/220h irons impressed at the PGA Show in 2020. On the course, during extended testing, these irons impressed even more. They definitely lived up to their Silver Medal Teezy Award acclaim.
These are Game-Improvement irons that could easily be lumped into that Super Game-Improvement iron category. Heck, maybe they are. They check all of the boxes as far as forgiveness and straight distance goes like you’d expect when discussing game-improvement irons. There’s a ton of technology packed into these irons and much like the company tagline states “Pound for pound… Nothing comes close”. Folks, they aren’t lying.
Oh, say you got a set and wanted to go with a different shaft or needed the lie angle adjusted. No problem, with the notch on the hosel (Notch Hosel) clubfitters can easily adjust the lie angles for you. It also helps that all Tour Edge Golf clubs come with a Lifetime Warranty.
If I were to have a set of these irons I would do one of two things. Either my set would be comprised solely of the EXS 220. Or, because the lofts match with both sets, I’d go EXS 220h (5,6) and EXS 220 (7-PW) and get the best of both worlds. Also, I’d definitely go with the KBS TGI Tour graphite shafts as well as I prefer them over the steel shafts that I tested.
These irons are worth a look. Especially with a pretty attractive price point. A set of irons 5 thru PW costs $659.94 USD or $779.94 for graphite. All clubs from Tour Edge Golf are hand-assembled in the U.S.A.
Until The Next Tee!!