An Overview of Forged Golf Clubs
In earlier years, the main method that was used in making iron golf clubs was the forging of metals.
However, later technologies, particularly those that were introduced in the 1960s, resulted in the adoption of casting—a process which involves pouring molten metal into a mold to produce a golf club head—as a manufacturing method.
This led to faster and less costly production of iron golf clubs and, in turn, more people taking up the sport. About 90% of golf clubs sold in the market nowadays were made by casting.
Although casting became the most commonly used method in making golf irons (a distinction which it holds to this day), forging continued to be used to some extent in manufacture to cater to the preferences of more discerning players.
However, the earlier part of this century saw a noticeable resurgence in the production of forged iron clubs, thanks in no small part to the manufacturing innovations that finally allowed for the creation of forged irons that possessed some of the advantageous features of cast clubs.
As a result, a lot of the high-end iron sets that are available today were made through forging.
It is also interesting to note that a significant number of the forged golf clubs available today are made by Japanese brands like Miura and Mizuno. Many observe that this is due to these manufacturers applying the same dedication and skill used by steelmakers in creating the katanas and other traditional bladed weapons of the samurai centuries before.
Forging Clubs: A Process
To produce the forged club’s head, the cylinder is first heated to a temperature of about 1200°C (about 1575.15°F). This process preserves the iron’s chemical integrity or its resistance to releasing toxins.
The heated iron then receives a strike from a forging hammer—usually weighing around 50 tons—to form the head’s initial rough shape.
After the edges have been trimmed, the rough head is to undergo pounding from the hammer a second time with a precise force which compresses the molecular structure of the head.
To put the head in a refined and unblemished state, further pounding is needed before being perfect for stamping score lines, artwork, and iron numbers.
Compressing the molecular structure has the less obvious benefit of reducing the possibility of small bubbles or voids forming within the metal. To the uninitiated, this may seem of little consequence.
However, the lack of voids means players will get consistently solid shots.
The same cannot be said for a cast club as even tiny voids in the metal can adversely affect the club’s feel in the player’s hand.
You could get away with a mis-hit, but if you’re an avid golfer, you will learn to appreciate the feel (and the sound) of a more solid impact that only a forged club can provide again and again.
After the club’s head has been forged, the hosel now comes into the picture. It is spin-welded to the head in a very precise way to make sure the lofts and lies are of an exact nature.
This creates a basic yet developed head, ready to be passed on to the masters for finishing. To take each head to its specified weight, the forged head needs to be polished and ground to make each iron’s designated heaviness.
A polishing barrel does the final polishing; it is capable of producing any sort of finish required by a variety of techniques.
Plating is then applied by using either Nickel Chrome or W Nickel to meet a satin finish, making the forged golf club a work of art ready for the public’s eyes.
Forged Golf Clubs in a Nutshell
Simply put, the process of making a forged golf club basically involves the molding and beating of a soft piece of steel into place by heat exposure. The high temperature to which the metal is exposed makes the metal easier to handle and a lot more malleable. Golf club forging has been a practice since the beginning of the 20th century. In fact, golf club forging in the early days was even done by manufacturers who sidelined as specialty blacksmiths.
A Forged Club’s “Feel”
Forged golf clubs are often preferred over cast clubs because they provide players a better “feel”— a quality caused by the higher carbon content forged iron or steel has.
Players often refer to the “feel” as the ability to tell when they strike a ball off-center.
Forged golf clubs usually prove appealing to professionals and capable amateurs who value their superior feel and ability to shape shots.
In other words, these more seasoned golfers want to know right away whether they have hit the ball off the toe or the heel so that they would determine what adjustments they should make and thus ensure a more solid impact on their next swing.
In any case, though, the concept of a club's “feel” is often more likely a function of its head design than a result of the material that was used. Thus, those who are new to the sport are advised not to be too concerned about the material when buying their first set of clubs.
The Advantages of Forged Golf Clubs
Forged irons have always been regarded as more advanced clubs due to their less forgiving nature; these clubs have a smaller sweet spot that ultimately requires better aim and a steadier swing.
Although forged clubs may have smaller sweet spots, they are more consistently focused due to the club head being made of only one material.
Moreover, forged clubs normally support more weight in the club head’s center than cast clubs do; as a result, greater accuracy is observed for players who consistently hit the sweet spot with their swings.
A forged club’s head construction is also more even than that of a cast head club, thus making the former more durable, although forged golf clubs generally cost more due to their labor-intensive manufacture.
Interestingly enough, the fact that forged golf clubs in general require better handling (due to their being less forgiving than cast clubs) and are typically more expensive than their cast iron counterparts led to the misconception that forged clubs are only for more seasoned players.
However, this is not necessarily true.
With cavity back cast clubs requiring less in terms of handling, thus allowing many novice players to reach reasonable distances even with mis-hits, some manufacturers like Mizuno, Cobra, and MacGregor decided to incorporate the cavity back design in their forged clubs.
This essentially gave less experienced golfers a compromise between better club control and accuracy/distance.
Although forged cavity back golf clubs are not as forgiving as cast cavity back clubs in general (in addition to being more expensive), they are nonetheless more forgiving for novices than clubs with relatively more solid cast blades.
Right now you might be wondering, “Why would I invest in a more expensive club when I’m not even an expert to begin with?”
It is simply a matter of personal preference. The matter of golf club selection simply rests on the consistency of the player’s swing and the comfort from using the equipment.