What type of golf irons do you use— cast or forged golf irons? A reader of our golf tips newsletter recently asked this question. He wanted to combine the two types of irons in one set. In this set, his shorter irons would be forged and his mid-irons would be cast. The set, he figured, would boost performance because it let him capitalize on the best features of both types of irons.
Combining the two types of irons in one set will probably do little to boost his performance. In fact, it might even hurt it. How a club is made is of far less importance than how it’s designed. Put simply: If a club’s design fits your needs, the club increases your chances of making solid contact and lowering your golf handicap. If it doesn’t fit your needs, the club decreases your chances of making solid contact and lowering your golf handicap.
Cast versus Forged Golf Irons
Forging refers to a process in which workers stamp a solid piece of metal into the appropriate shape. Mizuno, for example, uses a process called “grain flow forging” to produce many of its iron models. This forging process ensures that the metal flows continuously from the heel of the club to the toe.
Casting refers to a process in which workers pour molten metal into a pre-made mold for the clubs. Ping Golf, for example, uses a process called ‘investment casting” to produce many of its club brands. Casting is more cost-effective than forging, so cast clubs are often less costly than forged irons.
There is little difference in performance between the different types of clubs. But many myths about the difference in performance of the two types of irons have evolved. Many are just that—myths. One myth, for example, says the forged irons provide better “feel.” Research shows, however, that feel comes more from the design of the club than how you make it.
Cast Golf Irons Are More Forgiving
Cast irons, for example, often have more game improvement designs than forged irons. These designs tend to place more weight on the clubface’s perimeter and away from the face, creating a different “feel” when hit. But testing shows that the even best players in the world can’t tell the difference between similarly shaped and designed clubs in forged and casting versions.
In general, cast golf irons are more forgiving than forged irons. That’s because of the many game improvement features built into them. So they tend to work better for players with high golf handicaps. Forged golf irons are less forgiving, so they tend to work better for players with low golf handicaps. But again, the results depend on who is hitting the iron.
Key Design Features in Golf Irons
Given these findings, what design features should a golfer look for when choosing irons? One key design feature to look for is perimeter weighting. Perimeter weighting repositions the metal around the perimeter of the clubface instead of at its center, providing maximum forgiveness in a club. Also, players tend to play better with offset golf irons. They’re easier to square up at impact.
Swing weight is third design feature that impacts player performance. In non-technical terms, swing weight is a measure of how the weight of the club feels when it’s swung. If your clubs do not match in swing weight, they may not feel the same to you during your swing. That slight change in feel could affect performance. That’s why mixing cast and forged clubs in one set may not be a good idea.
Find Golf Irons That Fit Your Needs
Other design features to look for in an iron are moment of inertia (MOI), center of gravity (CG), and shaft lean. Shaft lean is the angle at which the club must be delivered to the ball at impact to create optimal pressure. Keep in mind that a ball compresses when hit, which causes it to spring off the face at maximum velocity, producing maximum distance. A forward-leaning shaft at impact, particularly when hitting the short- and mid-irons, is critical to solid ball striking.
What’s the bottom line here? It’s this: Everyone plays the game a little differently. So we all have different needs when it comes to clubs. The key with irons is not to get caught up in how they’re made. Instead, focus on how they’re designed. Make sure the design fits your needs and skill level. If it does, it can increase your chances of breaking 80 and shrinking your golf handicap.