Cast vs Forged Buyers' Guide

Customers sometimes ask us about the difference between forged and cast heads. We hope this brief guide helps you to understand some of the different materials used in iron heads:

The heads of golf clubs are made in one of two processes - casting or forging.

Casting

The vast majority – probably 90% - of golf clubs sold are made by casting – which involves pouring molten metal into a mould to produce a golf club head.

The nature of casting allows manufacturers to be more creative in their – the process particularly lending itself to the creation of cavity back clubs and the ability to push weight to the outside of the head which helps prevent it twisting on off-centre hits.

You will hear manufacturers shouting about their use of cast 17-4 stainless steel. No, we didn’t know what it meant either until we looked it up. It means that 17% of the make-up is chromium – and 4% nickel. And that, apparently, is very good news. 17-4 stainless steel is strong, durable, very hard, and doesn’t corrode easily.

You'll also hear about 431 Stainless steel which is 25% softer than 17-4 – and would claim to give slightly better ‘feel’ . It’s worth noting, however, that the harder the face, the faster the ball comes off it. So everything is a compromise.

Examples of irons with cast heads? Well, where do you start - it’s most clubs that are made.

Ping G10, Callaway X-22 and TaylorMade Burner PLus irons

Equally, cast clubs are made which are aimed at scratch golfers. The Ping S59 irons are used by many of Ping’s Tour Players – including one of Golfbidder’s favourite players, Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Forged

Forging involves taking a piece of soft steel and stamping or beating it into shape. Because the steel used in forging is so much softer (due to the higher carbon content), some players claim that forged clubs offer better ‘feel’.

The process of forging is more labour-intensive which is why they generally cost more.

When players talk about ‘feel’ in irons, they tend to be talking about knowing when a ball has been hit off-centre. Golfers want to hit the ball out of the middle of the clubface to achieve the maximum distance and desired trajectory. But some of the bigger-headed irons are so forgiving that they hit the ball pretty straight even when hit off the toe or the heel. Some better players, however, want to know immediately if they have hit the ball off the toe or the heel in order that they can attempt to make adjustments and not make the same ‘error’ next time.

‘Feel’ , however, is much more likely to be a function of the head design than the material and while 20 years ago, all the top tour players used forged bladed clubs, that is not the case anymore - and many of the world’s best players now use cast clubs.

Because of the history, there has been a tendency to assume that forged clubs are more difficult to hit. If they are, it is probably because of the shape of the head – not because it is cast or forged.

Mizuno MP-33 irons

The past few years has also seen the emergence of forged cavity back clubs which aim to combine the best of both the cast and forged worlds. Here is Titleist’s take on the concept – the 755 Forged Irons.

Titanium

Cast titanium – the same material used on the outside of the Space Shuttle – is sometimes used in golf irons heads. It is as strong as steel – but half the weight. Titanium allows club designers to build larger heads with larger sweetspots – but without the club being too heavy. (Incidentally, this is why virtually all drivers are now made of titanium rather than steel).

By combining ultra lightweight titanium faces with a very heavy metal (typically tungsten) around the outside, designers can produce iron heads which have a greater resistance to twisting on off-centre shots (because the ball is hitting the ‘heavy’ bit of the club on such shots, it doesn’t divert the path of the head as much). But we’re getting into Moment of Inertia (MOI) here – which we’ll leave for another day.

Suffice to say that irons with titanium heads tend to be very light, very easy to hit, very forgiving – and very expensive. They are aimed primarily at higher handicappers with deep pockets.

Examples of irons with titanium heads include Callaway’s Big Bertha Fusion Irons which retail at close to £1,000 a set:

A sereis of Callaway titanium faced irons

We hope this short guide has proved helpful. If you need any further information – or, indeed, if you think we can improve our explanation of loft and lie – feel free to contact one of our PGA Professionals on 0208 401 6901 – or email pros@golfbidder.co.uk

They are here Monday-Friday between 8:30am and 5:30pm to offer advice should you require it.