I think it's fair to say that TaylorMade know they have a good thing going with the P790 line and so you can't blame them for wanting to make the most of it.
We are now into the third generation of P790 irons and you wonder how they can continue to improve on such a champion in the 'players distance' category.
Back in 2017 when this model was first launched it was aimed at single figures to mid handicappers who aspire to use blades but need a little more extra help. It succeeded all of TaylorMade's expectations and went into the bags of so many golfers, from 25 handicappers to professionals like Meghan MacLaren.
What's It All About?
So what's new for 2021?
First up is the new SpeedFoam Air. SpeedFoam has been in the head of the P790 since the first generation, but is now 69% lighter than the previous generation (hence the name) to save 3.5g of weight which is distributed elsewhere to aid forgiveness.
It also better supports the face at impact, as well as contributing to a more muted sound which is preferred by many better players.
A thin-wall construction sees the 8620 Carbon Steel head made up to 37.5% thinner in certain areas, meaning that the CG can be positioned lower in the head for better launch characteristics. This thin-walled design combines with a 1.5mm forged steel L-Face for plenty of flexibility, fast ball speeds and plenty of distance without sacrificing feel.
The new irons now have up to 31 grams of tungsten positioned towards the toe, which is double the previous model, and TaylorMade says that this creates a 'massive amount of stability and forgiveness'.
A new intelligent sweet spot is as much as 60% bigger than the original 2017 model, and an additional 15-30% over the 2019 second generation. It is now slightly lower on the face too, allowing it to capture more of the traditionally weaker shots and provide better performance in those areas.
The Thru-Slot Speed Pocket remains in the 7 iron upwards and provides extra face flexibility to keep ball speeds and distance up on those low-on-the-face strikes, working in conjunction with the intelligent sweet spot.
I put these irons to the test in the usual way - starting off with some indoor testing on my Trackman simulator at Mercedes Benz Stockport, before heading to Stockport Golf Club to see how they performed on the golf course.
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TaylorMade P790 2021 Irons Review
Looks and Feel
On first inspection, the new P790s look almost identical to the latest P770s and if you saw them together on the rack at your local pro shop, you'd have a hard time telling them apart. This then suggests that the P790 head as a whole has gone a touch sleeker in it's looks as the P770 is geared more towards golfers heading into single figures and lower.
Down at address however, and it's much more like the usual P790 irons but with more of a brushed finish. I had to keep checking if I had the new or the old one in my hands they are that similar from this point of view.
Club combinations are becoming more and more popular these days, and I really can see the P770 and P790 models pairing well together as they are closer in looks, giving golfers that little bit of help that they may need at the top end of the bag along with feel and workability in the shorter irons.
To be honest, I failed to really notice any difference between the 2019 P790 and the 2021 P790 in terms of feel and sound during my testing, although that's not really a bad thing because the previous model felt pretty good in my opinion.
TaylorMade seem to have focused more on forgiveness and easy launch across the face with these new irons rather than making any real bold claims about speed or distance, and so the specs between the new P790 and the previous model are basically unchanged.
They want the clubs to produce a higher flight, thanks to an intelligent sweet spot and low CG characteristics, and this is something that I noticed both inside and out.
The Trackman numbers showed that I was gaining more spin and a few more feet of peak height, all whilst producing pretty much the same carry distance and ball speed. The flight did feel a little less 'hot' but it was consistently easy to launch.
I really did like the 2019 irons but if I had one worry about them, it's that lower bullet shot which went miles further than I expected. This even happened during my indoor testing with a shot that carried 164 yards (6 iron), with a peak height of 74 feet and a spin rate of 4290rpm.
This didn't happen at all with the 2021 version. TaylorMade have clearly listened to the common feedback given to distance irons like these and worked to improve things.
I actually preferred the new, higher flight and the more realistic yardages - call me old fashioned but I don't want my 6 iron to fly like my 5 iron!
Whilst the new P790 were said to provide a little more forgiveness, I found very little difference between the two models when I struck them poorly on the golf course. They both seemed to fly pretty much the same, and finished next to each other.
However I was managing to squeeze a little more yardage out of the 2021 4 iron, as I think the new low CG meant that I gained a touch more carry distance towards the top end of the bag.
Hitting out of the rough I was pleased to see that I lost that real hot flier with the new irons, which was still there in the 2019 model. This was highlighted by the 8 irons I hit from the wet semi-rough into the 17th green at Stockport GC, with the older model carrying 5 yards further towards the back edge of the green.
The real danger shot was in evidence on the approach to the 18th too, when I hit 6 irons from the right hand rough and the 2019 model flew some 12 yards further than the new P790. This kind of unpredictability can cost you shots out on the course even if it does look impressive on the launch monitor.
TaylorMade P790 2021 Irons Verdict
The new P790s seemed to have focused on subtle improvements to the ball flight rather than going all out with a brand new design and technologies - the iron has sold so well over the last few years that they only needed to make a few tweaks rather than an overhaul.
I noticed a difference in flight with the new irons, which I felt was needed. The 2019 was too powerful and if I had them in my bag then I'd spend the rest of the round in fear of that mid iron which flies 10 yards longer than you'd expect it to. This just didn't seem to happen with the new version.
Looks wise, there is a slight improvement and the new model bears more resemblance to a players iron, but they are still a little springy if you want to use the shorter irons around the green for a bump and run.
They're so reliable with full shots however, and they do give you that extra 10 yards compared to the likes of the P770 and P7MC without doing anything different to your swing.
This is the closest that I have seen to a precision players iron with a performance element, and they have certainly improved in all areas from 2017 to 2019 through to 2021.
Who Are They Aimed At?
If you're looking for a little more help with your irons, without the risk of those dreaded low-spin 'knuckleballs', then the new P790 could be ideal as they are so consistent and reliable in their flight.
If you have been using something like the TaylorMade SIM Max or SIM2 Max irons and you're looking to upgrade to something a little sleeker as your play improves, then these are the obvious option.
I'd say that a large majority of golfers could use these irons - the only players who I probably wouldn't recommend them to would be elite golfers with lots of speed, or complete beginners who need something even more forgiving.
Would I Use Them?
Yes I would! They’re very easy to hit and are very reliable, and TaylorMade appear to have ironed out the negatives that I highlighted in my 2019 review.
- Lower CG and intelligent sweet spot produces higher ball flight
- Brushed steel finish looks great
- Will appeal to the vast majority of golfers
- More distance than the sleek looks would suggest
- No difference at address other than finish
- If you already have the 2019 model it may not be worth upgrading, you need to do the testing and find out for yourself...
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