Our article today will take a close look at the newer 2021 version of the P790 irons, but we’ll also highlight how it compares, and where it is similar, to its 2017 and 2019 forerunners. Here’s our TaylorMade P790 review.
It’s difficult to discuss the new 2021 version of the TaylorMade P790 irons without referring to its predecessors, the initial version that was released in 2017, and the follow-up version that was released two years later in 2019. Why? Because it’s clear that the approach that TaylorMade took in designing this latest version was one of evolution and not revolution.
The improvements that were implemented are important and real, and I’ll discuss them below, but this is not a radically different club from the prior one. The new version is an upgraded model to be sure, but you might say that “the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.”
That’s not really too surprising, though. As TaylorMade said, “You don’t mess with what works, you make it better.” Why would TaylorMade want to stray too far from the prescription that rocketed those two earlier models to such popularity?
The original 2017 P790 line was an immediate success. It won almost universal acclaim in its first year, garnering countless “best iron of the year” reviews.
The second-generation P790 in 2019 made incremental improvements over the original and, once again, the golfing public made it one of the most popular releases of that year.
Clearly, TaylorMade had come up with a formula for success with the P790 line: an iron that has the sleeker visual appeal that so many players love, but which also has the added distance and forgiveness that they want and need. It’s no wonder that it’s done so well.
The new 2021 version carries on that tradition by making incremental improvements to the models that preceded it. Bottom line: another standout winner by TaylorMade.
TaylorMade P790 Irons
- Stunning streamlined look
- Good forgiveness
- Impressive distance
- Higher spin profile
The Look of a Blade, the Performance of a Cavity Back
The initial P790 was one of the first clubs on the market to introduce a brand new category of irons: the “Players Distance” category. Ever since the 2017 version was introduced, this Players Distance category has grown significantly, a recognition of the appeal that this sort of iron has — a blended design that has the look of a sleeker “players” iron, but with some added game improvement features that make it longer and more forgiving.
The sheer number of irons that have been brought to market in this Players Distance space, exemplifies why this category is arguably the fastest growing iron segment in the market. Later on, I’ll share some of the other Players Distance irons that the P790 competes with.
Characteristics of a Players Distance Iron
As mentioned above, the original TaylorMade P790 was one of the first irons ever introduced that fit into the then soon-to-be-designated “Players Distance” category. Its follow-on versions, the 2019 and 2021 P790’s, have obviously retained its position in this popular category.
There are a number of characteristics that all Players Distance irons now have in common, and as one of the original irons that actually defined this category in the first place, the P790 irons naturally include those traits:
|Common Features – Players Distance Irons||P790 Feature?|
Typically, the overall profile of these types of irons is a bit smaller than the profile associated with the somewhat larger Game Improvement irons that are targeted at mid-to-high handicappers.
|Players Distance irons usually have a thinner topline, a thinner sole, and reduced offset when compared to Game Improvement models.||✔|
Players Distance irons will often feature a cavity back (albeit a less prominent one than on Game Improvement irons) and peripheral weighting to provide some forgiveness, enhance distance, and improve flight characteristics.
|As an alternative to the more traditional cavity back design, several Players Distance irons utilize a hollow-head design that gives the iron a blade-like appearance. |
In actuality, though, the club still has what amounts to a cavity back, but that cavity is covered up with the rear portion of the 2-piece hollow design.
Hollow designs also offer enhanced forgiveness, distance and optimized trajectories.
One of the ways that Players Distance irons increase distance is to engineer the irons with stronger lofts
|Another common feature of the Players Distance irons is a club face that is significantly thinner, which provides increased ball speeds (and therefore added distance).||✔|
READ MORE: How to Figure Your Golf Handicap
TaylorMade P790 Irons Review
The Keys to the P790 Success Story: Innovative Features
Several innovative features defined the early success of the P790s, and TaylorMade was wise to re-incorporate them into each newer version as well. At the time, those features set these irons apart and differentiated them in the market, and they still function to make the 2021 version an elite performer.
Although it’s true that many other competing irons have since adopted some of these same features, they nonetheless work together to make the P790 one of the longest, most forgiving and best looking Players Distance irons that you can get.
What TaylorMade was able to do was to create a forged iron that delivers noticeably longer distance, as well as enhanced feel, forgiveness and workability.
Some Key Features of the TaylorMade P790:
- Forged Hollow Body Construction
The purpose of the hollow head design in the P790 is to completely remove the weight from the center of the club head and dramatically expand the area of forgiveness through enhanced perimeter weighting, and by increasing the clubhead’s Moment of Inertia (MOI), which increases its resistance to twisting on an off-center hit.
The chassis of the P790 is made of 8620 carbon steel, and then a 4140 forged face is welded on, creating a hollow chamber inside the head.
The P790 was recognized as one of the first irons in the market to feature this “new” hollow body construction. In actuality, though, TaylorMade had invented this unique iron design some 30 years earlier!
Back in 1987, they introduced an iron model called the “Tour Preferred TD,” which used a hollow design in the 1- through 4-irons as a way to improve forgiveness in the longer clubs.
Many people have incorrectly attributed the invention of this hollow head design innovation to PXG (when they came out with their 0311 model in late 2015). But TaylorMade had actually been the real pioneer in this design some three decades prior.
Note: PXG actually sued TaylorMade for patent infringement when the P790 was announced, a lawsuit which PXG ultimately lost.
One of the most effective and unique features of both the 2017 and the 2019 versions was the inclusion of ultralight urethane foam that TaylorMade injected into the hollow head of the P790. That urethane foam was dubbed by TaylorMade as “SpeedFoam.”
SpeedFoam’s purpose was to enhance the speed of the ball off the face, while simultaneously providing a vibration dampening effect to improve both sound and feel.
New and Improved in 2021: The urethane foam is back in the new 2021 version, but this is one of the areas that TaylorMade has focused on for improvement. The new SpeedFoam implementation is now 69% lighter than in the two prior models!
Consequently, it’s been aptly re-named “SpeedFoam Air.” By making the urethane about 3.5 grams lighter, they were able to then re-distribute that weight elsewhere in the clubhead, primarily to places that serve to produce a better trajectory.
- Ultra-Thin Face
The face thickness on the 2017 version of the P790 was a remarkably thin 1.75mm. This feature was credited as one of the main reasons for the club’s impressive distance, by significantly increasing its “Coefficient of Restitution.” COR is a measurement that describes how much energy is transferred from the golf club to the golf ball at impact, which translates into a ball speed calculation.
TaylorMade doubled down on this feature in the 2019 version by reducing the face thickness even more, down to 1.6mm. That created even faster ball speeds.
New and Improved in 2021: This is another area of improvement in the new 2021 version. The face has now been made 37.5% thinner in certain areas, which again has improved ball speeds off the face, but it also allowed them to re-position the center-of-gravity a bit lower in the head to get better launch characteristics.
- Redesigned Low-Profile Tungsten Weight
From its original implementation in 2017, the tungsten weight in the bottom of the 3 thru 7 irons was changed in the 2019 version to being rectangular in shape and 15% larger in mass. Making the weight larger and placing it lower in the club head allowed golfers to get the ball up in the air more quickly and it provided a better overall launch angle in the long and mid-irons.
New and Improved in 2021: In the new P790, there’s been a big improvement in the design and placement of this tungsten weight. It now adds up to 31 grams to the head, which is double the previous model! What does this mean? The extra weight at the bottom of the head creates even more stability and forgiveness.
- Progressive Inverted Cone Technology (ICT)
Off-center performance is boosted by the progressive Inverted Cone Variable Thickness face, which is positioned slightly towards the toe to different degrees in each iron to straighten out mishits.
- Bigger Sweet Spot
One of the key features that has made all three iterations of the P790 so successful is TaylorMade’s inclusion of a significant amount of forgiveness. Key to this is an increase in the size of the sweet spot, so that you get good performance even on mis-hits.
This is, in fact, one of the primary reasons for this model’s great success. Irons that look like this – sleek and more blade-like – aren’t usually very forgiving, which limits their appeal to low handicappers. But TaylorMade broke the mold with the P790 and created a unique design that features both great looks and forgiveness.
New and Improved in 2021: In the new 2021 version, TaylorMade has increased the size of the sweet spot yet again. It’s now 60% larger than it was on the 2017 model, and 15-30% larger than on the 2019 version! It’s also been moved slightly lower on the club face, which further improves forgiveness by capturing more of the traditionally weaker shots.
Introducing the P790 Ultimate Driving Iron (UDI)
For those golfers who are comfortable enough, and skilled enough, to use a driving iron, TaylorMade has released the P790 UDI. Essentially, the UDI is a 17° 2-iron that can be used either as an extension to the low end of the P790 set or as a standalone utility iron that can be used in any set of clubs.
The P790 UDI is a beautiful club, but golfers should be aware that it has a profile that will definitely favor those with a lower handicap and a higher skill set. The offset is minimal and the topline is on the thin side, both of which are features that tend to work against those who struggle to generate speed in their swing and who frequently miss the sweet spot.
But for stronger players the P790 UDI, with its forged hollow body filled with SpeedFoam and its lower center of gravity, will generate a nice high ball flight and a fair amount of forgiveness for their occasional mis-hits. TaylorMade says that the UDI is designed to promote a lower spin rate and a more penetrating trajectory.
But if you aren’t a golfer who fits that kind of player profile, you would be better advised to use a hybrid in place of this long-iron replacement. You will find that a hybrid will launch the ball higher, and will be more forgiving when you don’t find the center of the club face.
TaylorMade P790 Competitors: Other Players Distance Irons
It’s easy to see why the Players Distance category is gaining so much popularity. Low handicap players like the look, feel, and workability, and mid-handicappers like the look, the added distance, and the forgiveness. That covers an awfully wide range of golfers.
The P790 is a leader in this category. In fact, they are a pioneer. But there are several other irons on the market now that are making this a crowded space. Here are some of the more notable models that compete with the P790:
- Callaway Apex Pro 21
- Callaway Mavrik Pro
- Cobra King Forged Tec
- Mizuno JPX 921 Forged
- Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal Pro
- Mizuno MP-20 HMB
- Mizuno MP-20 MMC
- Ping i210
- Ping i500
- Srixon ZX5
- Titleist T200
- Wilson D7 Forged
That’s some pretty stiff competition. But it’s a testament to the capabilities of the P790 irons that they still do so well in the market, despite facing so many other strong challengers.
TaylorMade P790 Specifications
|Stock Grip||Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 (Grey/Black)|
Note: The P790 UDI comes with 17° of loft and a stock Project X HAZRDUS Black Smoke shaft.
|Stock Steel Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 VSS|
|Stock Graphite Shaft: UST Recoil 760 (with SMACWRAP)|
|Stock Graphite Shaft: UST Recoil 780 (with SMACWRAP)|
Are the Taylormade P790 Irons right for me?
In this latest 2019 version TaylorMade has made subtle, but important, improvements over the previous P790 versions. Rather than making wholesale changes to the design and focusing only on further increases in distance, they’ve opted instead to focus more on improving forgiveness and on producing a better ball flight with a slightly higher spin profile and a slightly higher trajectory.
So to answer the question, “Are these irons right for me?” the answer is probably yes for a large swath of handicaps. Unless you’re a high handicapper, who would probably get more benefit from a model in the Game Improvement or Super Game Improvement categories, many in the 0-15 handicap range will love the streamlined look, the ample forgiveness, and the noticeable distance gain of the TaylorMade P790 irons.
Conclusion – TaylorMade P790 Review
The TaylorMade P790’s have seen a lot of success in the market. They straddle the fence beautifully between Players irons, which are designed with the look and features that highly skilled golfers prefer, and Game Improvement irons, which offer features that enhance playability and forgiveness for mid-handicappers.
TaylorMade P790 Irons
- Stunning streamlined look
- Good forgiveness
- Impressive distance
- Higher spin profile