Late last year, when we were in Japan taping the greater part of Mondays edition of Whats In The Bag?, we stood a safe distance from a giant forging hammer at Mizunos big iron plant near Hiroshima. I was thunderstruck that the technician, even with his obvious training, would willingly grab a red-hot metal bar with tongs, put it under the hammer, and hold it steady while 60 tons of pressure came down on the steel in a single stroke. And I was thunderstruck, literally, by the earth quivering beneath my feet and the enormous clanging sound.
If memory serves, three quick strikes shape the metal at this point in the process: One on the first anvil, two on the one right next to it. The hammer is a 20-foot-high machine that looks like a part of a massive bridge; of course, it has to be big and strong to handle the all-day, self-inflicted earthquake. For some irons, theres also a squeezing process, also technically called forging, which works more of the fine details into the club. At all stages, its a fascinating evolution from raw steel to fine golf art.
But nowadays, even forged iron experts are admitting that good-feeling golf clubs can be either forged or cast. In this irons-and-wedges episode of WITB, we have a look at why people like one or the other, and what the real differences are. And although feel differences may indeed be a non-issue among modern irons, there are plenty of good reasons for preference ' and hey, theyre your clubs. Play what you like.
Here are some things to consider in choosing modern irons:
Look, Ma; a Nice Topline
The look of irons involves more than just cosmetics (although those are important). Experts in instruction and club making agree that much confidence comes (or doesnt) based on how the club appears to the golfer in the address position. For some, that means a traditional, shiny forged-club finish with little or no offset. For others, its completely different. To each his own pre-waggle ritual.
Best of Both Worlds
Its been possible for some time to get forged faces on what are essentially cast bodies ' hybrids, for lack of a better term. These are worth hitting; they may be able to give you the forged benefits you seek in a club with weight distribution that suits your game.
Sweet Spot Lovers, Unite
The important thing to remember about the hybrids, and about forged clubs in general, is that theyre not all for people who always hit the ball in the center of the club face. If that were the case, the companies would make the hundred sets the world would demand, and that would be the end of it. Best to hit the clubs, and get advice, before condemning them as too hard to play. Dont be derailed by the traditional meaning of the forged label.
Material Matters ' a Lot
In wedges, advances for 2004 are coming in materials that make the feel off the clubface even softer. Of course, soft is a relative term when were talking about metal, so it comes down once again to preference, and the ever-present fun of trial and error when choosing wedges. Also, this year we check into bounce again, and find out what your divots say about your game.
Thanks for watching. Youre next on the tee.
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