By Mike Stachura
The Epon AF-706 may be the latest iron to come from a manufacturer known for its expertise in precise forged irons that appeal to the most discerning players, but don’t think that precision in manufacturing doesn’t also work in the game-improvement category, too.
That’s what the new entry in the “7” series does for Epon, which is the house brand for Endo Manufacturing. Endo is well known in industry circles for its innovative forgings used by other major brands. The new AF-706 lives in the company’s game-improvement iron category, and it is the first time the house brand will feature a separate face insert and a hollow construction.
Previous “7” series irons have only featured a pocket cavity design to boost forgiveness, but this hollow body and face insert combination is designed to produce a larger sweet spot, a deeper center of gravity and a thinner face compared to the AF-705 from three years ago. According to Jake Levens, technical director for Epon Golf, the face is 1.9 millimeters at its thinnest, while the CG is 15 percent farther back and the sweet spot is now 30 percent larger.
“If you think about a driver where the weight is farther in the back, you’re going to get higher launch,” Levens said. “It’s kind of the same concept here. You’re also going to see more consistency and more ball speed with off-center hits, as well.”
In addition to the hollow construction and also as a result of it, the AF-706 irons will utilize a different set of specs to make use of the faster face and higher launch. The lofts are strengthened throughout starting with the 22-degree 5-iron, but to maintain proper gaps the set will feature a 45-degree “T” wedge or what Levens calls a “transitional” wedge as a ninth club in the set.
While the AF-705 had five to seven degrees of spacing in its short irons and wedges, because of the extra club, the loft gaps throughout the whole set stay within three to five degrees. That said, they are consistently stronger than the AF-705, a degree stronger in the long and middle irons and two and three degrees stronger in the 9-iron and pitching wedge.
The AF-706 features a uniform sole width but with reduced offset compared to the AF-705.