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Cast vs. Forged Irons

By Kevin Brown

Golf Irons

One of my first sets of irons was a set of second-hand Ping Eye2 Irons that I played for years and years. I loved those Irons.

Then after losing my 5 iron, I decided I would treat myself to a new set of clubs.  I settled on a set of Nike Victory Irons. 

They looked great and felt great in my hands, but the real difference was the feeling when I hit the ball. Wow! 

My Ping irons made a definite “click’ when I hit the ball. And I could certainly feel when contact was made.

With these new Irons, the ball felt so soft that I would often not know that I hit the ball, had it not been for the telltale sign of seeing my ball in flight.

In addition to their softer feel, these irons made it easier for me to play a fade or a draw with when I needed. This was a nice bonus. 

I learned during the buying process that my new irons were forged. That meant nothing to me at the time, but this led to a bit of research on my part.

So, if you are like I was, wondering what’s the deal with forged vs. cast irons, read on and I’ll share with you what I’ve learned.

The Difference is In the Making

Forged clubs are shaped using heat and lots of pressure.  Think of a blacksmith in his workshop pounding away on a red-hot iron ingot… and you get the picture. 

The resulting club-shaped block of metal is then milled, finished and polished to produce a single-piece club head.

Cast Irons, on the other hand, are made when molten metal is poured into a cast of the club head. Once the metal cools and solidifies, the surrounding cast can be removed, the clubhead is finished, polished, and made ready for use.

From the description above, you can imagine that the forging process takes longer than the casting process. 

As you would also expect, the additional time and resources used in the forging process mean cast irons are generally cheaper to make than forged irons.  Price is one advantage cast irons have over forged. 

Besides price though, let’s have a look at what else is gained going from forged to cast irons and vice versa.

Innovation & Forgiveness vs. Feel & Workability

The forging process delivers a number of benefits to the material that will impact performance.  During forging, the metal's molecular structure is preserved and compacted to produce a denser, more consistent grain throughout the clubface.

This translates into a higher tensile strength and elasticity in the metal than with cast irons.

This allows the clubface to absorb the ball’s impact more readily and means the ball stays on the clubhead a fraction longer to create the increased feel and workability.

You will know when you’ve hit a bad shot with a forged iron.

Yes, the casting process does produce irons with lower density and less elasticity.  But there are other advantages cast irons have over forged.  For one thing, the casting process gives designers have to build more intricate clubheads.

For example,  with the help of well-designed casts, clubmakers can more easily move weight from where it is not needed to where players need it most. Weight moved from directly behind the ball toward the perimeter of the clubhead to increase the club's sweet spot. 

This innovation has been a huge advantage for beginning golfers who value the added forgiveness. Add to that the ease at which clubmakers can incorporate composite materials into their clubhead designs to increase feel and forgiveness, and you have a virtual dead heat between forged and cast Irons.

What’s Right for you?

The type of club you chose may come down to your personal preference and skill level.

If you are a beginner or social golfer you may be more attracted to the added forgiveness you get from cast irons. 

If you are more advanced, you may like the increased feel you get from forged irons and you are willing to live with the odd poor result from a poorly-struck shot. 

I know many mid-handicappers to choose forged over cast irons because of the added feel and because it gave them more feedback on their poor shots.

Similarly, there are players on the PGA Tour who have only ever played with cast irons.  So, have a go with each type of iron, then decide for yourself if forged irons or cast irons are better for you.


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