Cast vs Forged - A Revisit
Several years ago I wrote a couple of articles about cast vs. forged and cavity back designs versus blade designs in irons. Those articles are still getting readership and comments to me on a regular basis. These two areas of club design generate more confusion and fairy tales than anything out there.
So, once again, I’d like to dive into this subject and see if I can’t help you cut through the clutter and hype to understand just what all this is about.
Casting and forging are the two primary ways to make an iron or wedge head. Casting allows more precise repeating of the shaping and nuances of the design because it requires less hand work to finish the head. Forging has generally been credited with delivering better feel. But it’s not that simple. Casting itself does not make an iron “hard”. (Every stick of butter ever made was cast!) But when golf club companies started casting iron heads, they used a stainless steel alloy called 17-4, which IS a very hard material. Through the years, softer stainless alloys have been explored and used. And top wedges are made of cast 8620 carbon steel. While not nearly as soft as a true forging, they are darn close. We’ve tried casting irons out of steel alloys that were so soft they wouldn’t hold their lofts and lies through a round of golf.
One of the biggest influences on “feel” is the shaft of the club. Graphite shafts dramatically soften the sensation of impact compared to steel shafts. Some shafts just have a different feel of impact than others. And shaft companies have created a number of inserts for the shafts to mitigate the shock waves of impact. For years, tour players and those in the know have tricked up their irons with wood dowels and corks in the tip of the shaft to soften the feel of impact, and mitigate vibration.
Over the past few years, nearly all cavity back irons use some kind of plastic insert in the back of the face to additionally deaden or soften the shock of impact. That’s because one of the main factors of feel is the amount of metal behind the ball at impact. Blades traditionally are thick there, and whether they are cast or forged, blade designs will deliver a more solid or softer feeling of impact. Thin faced irons, whether they have a plastic insert or not, cannot match that feeling of “solidness”.
And the other attribute of the thicker face is that distance control is more precise. A thin-faced, low CG, perimeter weighted iron at the long end of the set is fine, as any shot 30 feet long or short at 175+ yards is totally OK. But as you get closer to the hole, that becomes less and less acceptable. A gap wedge shot that is 30 feet long or short is horrible, right?
So, there is a short treatise on the subject of feel, forged vs. cast and blades vs. perimeter weighting.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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