Neil Tappin provides this head-to-head Utility Test: Ping G400 Crossover v Titleist T-MB v Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi - to help you make the right buying decision.

Head-to-head Utility Test: Ping G400 Crossover v Titleist T-MB v Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi

The utility iron market is one that is gathering pace. Engineers at leading manufacturers clearly feel capable of building more performance into somewhat traditional-looking heads. As such, there are now some genuinely impressive long iron alternatives for those who want the look of an iron but the forgiveness and playability of a hybrid. I tested three of my favourites in this category: the Ping G400 Crossover, the Titleist T-MB and the Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi. By pitting them against each other in a range of different categories we can hopefully offer some guidance on where they perform best and who they are all aimed at.

Aesthetics

The Ping G400 Crossover looks quite different to the other two, more traditional-looking long irons. It has a much thicker top-line and a more generous hitting area (more space between the heel and toe). As such, it is the most inviting at address and for those less confident in their ball-striking will be much more confidence-inspiring. It also has a smart finish with plenty of shelf appeal. For me, however, I prefer the more traditional look and the thinner sole of the Titelsit and Mizuno versions. It’s pretty much impossible to choose between them but at a push I’d go for the slightly cleaner look of the Mizuno.

Performance

The difference in the looks creates a significant difference in performance. Quite simply, the Ping is easier to hit. It launches higher than the other two and spins more. That’s why, even though it is the shortest of the three, it is, in my mind, the best performer. You can make an easy swing with the G400 Crossover and get good results. For the majority of golfers that will make this a winner.

Feel

All three feel good but again, there is a trade off. The design that makes the Ping perform so well also hampers the feel a fraction in comparison to the other two. In particular, the thicker sole means that I didn’t feel it went through the turf quite as well.

Forgiveness

All three of these clubs are more forgiving than traditional long irons. The winner for me in this category was the Titleist – just nine yards difference between my longest and short shot is fantastic when you consider how far the ball was going. The Mizuno came in at 11 yards and the Ping was 19 yards.

Value

The recommended retail prices for the three are as follows: the Mizuno is £150, the Ping is £200 and the Titleist is £230. So there is a significant difference in the prices and certainly, looking at the performance, the Mizuno does offer excellent value for money.

Verdict

Picking a winner between these three top performers was particularly tricky. The Ping was definitely the easiest to hit and I think will suit a lot of golfers. If you test it for yourself you’ll be surprised how high it launches and how easy it is to get up and away. Having said that, I don’t think the Ping G400 Crossover is quite right for my game so I would lean towards one of the more traditional-looking utility irons. Given how good it looks, how solid the performance is and the price, I would probably pick the Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli Hi.