Club tested: Thomas Golf AT505 Irons
Club specs as tested: Set makeup – 4-iron through Pitching Wedge; Hand – Right; Shafts – Standard-weight Steel, “S” (stiff) flex
Price as tested: $385 (regularly $686); also available at $55 per club (regularly $98 each)
About Thomas Golf products: All equipment made by Thomas Golf features the company’s patented Shot Accuracy Technology, an alignment indicator on the top of the club which helps assure precise aim. The company offers free custom fitting of all clubs on its website and sells its products exclusively online.
Club notes: The AT505 iron is a cavity-back, game-improvement club designed for a wide range of players – including low handicappers. How low? Well, a little birdie from Augusta, Ga., told us that a certain former Masters winner once fired a practice-round 68 on the hallowed grounds playing AT505’s. Needless to say, his handicap is in “plus” territory.
While many game-improvement irons feature a large amount of offset to aid slicers, the AT505 irons do not. Specifically, the 3- and 4-irons are offset by 3 millimeters (hosel to clubface), the 5- and 6-irons by 2mm and the remainder by 1.5mm. Nor are the clubheads as large as those in the “super game-improvement” category.
One additional note: The sweet spot on the AT505 features a diamond-shaped marking with yellow grooves.
At address: We’re big fans of Thomas Golf’s alignment system, and it works like a charm with the AT505. In fact, the guide immediately told our tester he’d been lining up a touch to the right with his regular, non-Thomas irons. The sweet-spot marker augments the alignment indicator for added confidence.
The club’s slightly thick top line may not appeal to golfers accustomed to the sleeker look of traditional forged blades. However, that’s a small subset of players. Cavity-back users will scarcely notice.
Swinging them: The AT505’s smoothly cambered sole made for clean takeaways, even in light Bermuda rough (notorious for snagging). Likewise, the club didn’t dig or hang up in the turf when taking a divot. Balance and feel throughout the swing were solid.
At impact: Our tester, a slightly above-average ballstriker, assured us that on flush contact, AT505 irons deliver a sensation at least as pure as most big-brand clubs. After several shots, in fact, he was surprised to find that he’d missed the sweet spot marker by a quarter-inch or so (based on grass pressed into the grooves). That was actually a big plus, as the club provided visual feedback telling him his “perfect” swings were a hair off.
Ball in flight: The tester tends to hit draws with irons 7 through 9, and fades with irons 4 through 6. While he’s found it difficult to produce a consistent shot pattern when trying clubs with more offset, the AT505’s presented no such issues.
Trajectory was slightly higher than the tester is accustomed to, but with no “ballooning” effect when hitting into the wind. He considered this a plus for the AT505.
Playability & forgiveness: Perimeter-weighted clubs are designed to hit the ball straight by reducing sidespin. That de-emphasizes playability, aka how well the golfer can “work” the ball left or right. The AT505’s strike a happy medium in this department. Hitting sweeping hooks and dramatic fades isn’t impossible, but if that’s your goal then you’re probably in the market for a tiny-headed forged blade anyway.
Long story short: Yes, you can move the ball in either direction with these clubs. However, the AT505 delivers best results when you stick with the basics and play your natural shot shape.
As noted earlier, forgiveness on miss-hits is excellent. Small misses are barely perceptible; you’ll feel bigger ones, but the AT505 squeezes the maximum distance and accuracy from poor swings.
Bottom line: Thomas Golf is quite proud of the AT505, and we say justifiably so. It’s a real crowd-pleaser, suitably forgiving for higher handicappers, but with a look, feel and playability that skilled golfers can appreciate.
A quick thanks to the little birdie for providing some juicy inside info. It confirmed what our tests told us – Thomas Golf’s AT505 irons are major-league.