I have never put a Utility iron in my bag, I’ve always been a hybrid / rescue player ever since I got my hands on the legendary PING G10 Hybrid many moons ago. In recent years however, my appetite has grown.
Many manufacturers have put the focus back on utility and driving irons as we have seen the market being filled with them, to offer more elite golfers that extra option at the top end of the bag.
Special mentions have to go out to the TaylorMade UDI 2-iron, the PING G410 Hybrid Crossover and more recently the Titleist U.500 and U.510 which have filled the bags of tour players around the world. Who would have ever thought that Jordan Spieth’s famous shot with the Titleist 718 T-MB 3 iron at Birkdale during the 2017 Open en route to victory would have had such a profound effect?
This time it’s the turn of Wilson Staff to throw their iron into the fire with the Wilson Staff Model Utility iron, as used by none other than 2019 U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland at Pebble Beach on his way to victory.
What’s It All About?
The Staff Model Utility was originally created as a prototype for elite Tour players and therefore had direct input from Wilson staffers including the likes of Brendan Steele, who wanted it to look more like the Wilson Staff Blade Model iron whilst still being high launching.
Surprise surprise, this club is all about delivering distance, reliability and forgiveness. They have tried to achieve this by positioning 7g of weight low in the clubhead to increase launch angles at impact, and get the ball up and away as soon as possible.
As somebody who has never struggled with getting the ball airborne quickly, I was intrigued to see if I would struggle with hit this club too high because of this weight distribution.
The hollow-head features a high-strength maraging steel face that featured in the Wilson Staff C300 irons. The aim again here is to give golfers that little bit of help to still achieve high ball speeds and greater distance on off-centre shots.
It comes available in 3 different lofts - 18, 21, and 24 – basically slotting into your bag as either a 2, 3, or 4 iron.
The Wilson Staff Model Utility iron is available in right-hand only, with a KBS Tour Hybrid stock shaft option and a classic Golf Pride Tour Velvet grip.
Wilson Staff Say...
"We created the Staff Model Utility iron to meet the demand of our Tour Staff and following their positive feedback, it was impossible for us not to put it into our 2020 range. The iron delivers incredible performance and reliability for golfers who want ultimate confidence with their long irons, whilst offering the higher ball flight of a hybrid club,”
Doug Wright, Global Commercial Director of Wilson Golf.
To test a club like this, you have to put it into real life situations and see how it performs where it matters – on the golf course. I headed to a course that I knew had some testing tee shots and was somewhere that you had to think about your game instead of just whacking the big dog out on every tee.
I played 18 holes of golf at the stunning Prestbury Golf Club, in slightly wet, Autumnal conditions. I used it off the tee, from the fairway and out of the rough on a number of different holes.
I then headed to The Range in Manchester to see some exact numbers and really get into how the Wilson Staff Utility Iron performed. If I was to be enticed into putting a utility iron in my bag, could the Staff Model be the one?
Wilson Staff Model Utility Iron Review
I love the look of this club. There is a great balance between meaty, modern, sleek aesthetics and ‘old-school’ classic Wilson looks we’ve come to expect from the brand that’s claimed 62 majors.
Wilson haven’t tried to over-complicate things in the design of this head. The classic chrome finish suited my eye and will have a wide shelf appeal.
I like the fact that Wilson have kept the degree number on the bottom of the club instead of going for the number 2, 3, or 4.
At address, although the size of the face is still fairly small as you’d expect – you’re still filled with the extra confidence of a thick top line and the large muscle back.
This iron will suit the better players, but still give some mid to high handicappers the extra confidence boost they may need when looking down at what is effectively a 3-iron, especially when the ball is teed up. Compared to a modern day hybrid, there’s nothing to be too scared about here.
The Staff Utility felt good too. When caught out of the screws, the maraging steel face gave off an extremely satisfying feel. It felt very hot off the face at impact, and seemed to ‘get out there’ quickly instead of just ballooning into the air. This is something I struggle with in general so to see a nice penetrating ball flight was pleasing.
I did however catch some shots a little out of the toe and also slightly thin and have to say, I certainly wasn’t grimacing in pain after impact (which is impressive considering it was about 4 degrees on the day of testing at Prestbury!).
In one particular instance on the course, I hit my second shot into the par 5 1st hole and considering it was a fairly average strike, the result was impressive. Although I missed the green left, there’s no doubting I was helped by the hollow-head as my ball still finished pin high carrying at least 195 yards – straight away the forgiveness in this head was plain to see.
At The Range I was extremely impressed by the sound of these irons too. Normally, whilst doing indoor testing the sound of irons can seem a little dull, however not in this case – there was no unattractive thuds or tinny, clicky noises to complain about.
In terms of ball flight and control whilst on the golf course, every time I used the Staff Model Utility I was getting a similar ball flight and distance. After the first few holes using the club, I felt comfortable in how it was going to perform. I think the KBS Tour Hybrid stock shaft had a lot to do with this. It felt light but firm offering a ‘best of both worlds’ situation – you could give this iron a rip knowing you had some extra security if you didn’t execute it quite right.
Distance-wise, at The Range, over 10 shots I average 202 yards of carry with a total of 222 yards. Knowing how far I hit the ball, that’s pretty impressive. 222 especially is a good number that you can rely on when you may need that fairway finder on a tight tee shot.
You can see by the data on GC2 and HMT that I did hit a couple of heavier strikes whilst testing. On these occasions my ball speed dropped as low as 121.4 mph, yet I was pleased to see that I was still getting 193 yards of carry and finishing 214 yards I total. Again, very impressive stuff for the weaker, slightly slappy strikes off the deck during the test.
On The Course
Given the size of the hollow-head I did wonder how I would fare when trying to shape shots around the golf course. I did find it hard, and seemed to be tending to miss left, which can be quite damaging on course if you catch that well-struck pull.
I also found hitting into greens and getting enough spin on the ball to stop it quite tough. I played in slightly wet conditions at Prestbury and still struggled with holding the green on a couple of occasions. At The Range I averaged 3332 rpm of spin which doesn’t stand out as bad but to me it did feel a little low. Usually I would expect something more around the 3500 rpm mark bit I'm being pretty picky there...
It did make me wonder how I would fare in dry, summer conditions with this club. Elite players will have no problem – Gary Woodland showed that, however less consistent ball strikers may struggle to get that spin control on the greens for peace of mind.
Wilson Staff Model Utility Iron Verdict
I think this is a great golf club. For my game, I’m still not 100% sold whether I am ‘good enough’ to use a Utility Iron like this and really get the full benefit out of it.
What did surprise me though, was how forgiving this club is. I hit a number of shots on the course that were struck ok, but still produced great results that you’d definitely take if you had a scorecard in your pocket.
The ball felt very hot off the face as expected and this I liked, especially off the tee. The added weight in the club also meant that players who struggle getting the ball airborne with longer irons may not need to worry.
Finally, I also have to take into consideration the price of this club. With an RRP of £169 it’s almost £100 cheaper than similar offerings from other leading manufacturers, but you're still getting premium add-ons like the KBS shaft and Tour Velvet Grip. Wilson have a knack of building quality golf clubs whilst still keeping the price down and I have to applaud that.
Would I Use It?
I would definitely consider this club for my golf bag. I enjoyed playing with it and enjoyed the overall challenge of hitting shots with a small face - there are times you feel like you’re cheating with how much help you get. When you get it right, it makes you feel good.
Looking down on irons and liking them at address is a big thing for me – this thing looks like a fairway finder. There aren’t going to be a huge amount of golfers that choose a club like this over a modern day hybrid club. But if you like the classic looks and prefer the look and feel of a utility iron, then this could be the club for you.
- Looked brilliant at address
- Plenty of forgiveness across the face
- Great stock shaft which is light and gives confidence
- Good distance on off-centre hits
- Fairway-finder off the tee
- Very competitive price
- Relatively low spin
- May fly too high with graphite shaft and extra weight in the back for some golfers who struggle with high launch