III. Irons

1. What is an iron?

Irons were originally made using

iron, but are now generally made from steel, titanium or a high tech alloy.

Irons are smaller than woods and are considered finesse clubs, meant to

be used when accuracy is more important than distance.

2. What does the number on the club


For the most part, the number

represents the loft of a club. The lower the number, the longer the shaft

and the lower the loft of the club, relative to the other clubs in the

set. The lower loft and longer length will result in greater distance,

but with a concurrent loss of accuracy. This also equates to lower numbered

clubs being more difficult to hit properly.

3. What makes a set of clubs?

A set of golf clubs is restricted

to no more than 14 clubs, according to the Rules of Golf. What constitutes

this set depends on your preferences. In general, a basic, full set of

clubs might include the following clubs:


3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW, SW


1, 3, 5, 7

and a putter.

This is just a guideline, the clubs you carry

should be determined by the type of course you are playing, the weather

conditions and your own playing ability. Also keep in mind that there is

no minimum requirement. Many players, especially beginners, carry only

7 to 10 clubs.

4. Investment Casting

Investment casting is a highly

accurate and precise method of casting or pouring liquid metal. It is a

significant improvement over older casting methods. A master die, usually

of aluminum, is milled. Wax is then injected into the die and once it has

solidified, the die is removed. The positive wax pattern is then dipped

into a ceramic 'slurry', which hardens around the wax to create a negative

mold. The wax is then melted away and the empty ceramic negative is filled

with molten metal, typically stainless steel or titanium. After the metal

has cooled, the ceramic negative is broken away, exposing the newly cast

clubhead. The new clubhead is finished and polished and then is ready to

be assembled into a golf club. For more information on the investment casting

process, please visit these websites: products/ solidobject/thermojet/TJ_Printer_US_InvCast_4_011.pdf

5. Forged

Forging is a process of pressing

or hammering the metal into the desired shape. Forging is very similar

to what the village blacksmith used to do except today a large machine

called a “press” is used instead of a hammer. Dies are “sunk” or cut, by

milling the desired impression into hardened steel. The die is then installed

into the press and is used to actually squeeze the “blank” into the desired

shape. The manufacturer is then presented with a raw forging, which is

a close approximation of the clubhead desired. The clubhead must then be

finished by milling, grinding and drilling. Forged clubheads are commonly

made from soft carbon steel and may rust if not plated. Some forged wedges

are deliberately not plated so as to encourage rusting. The rust reduces

reflected glare, but does not affect spin.

6. Blade

A blade is an iron head that has

no cavity and typically is forged from soft carbon steel, but there have

been some models investment cast in 304 stainless steel. Blades are the

iron of choice for many pros and top amateurs because they allow better

players to more effectively work the ball. This means that better players

typically report that it is easier to draw, fade or otherwise deliberately

cause direction changing spin when using blade-type irons. The drawback

is that blades have a smaller “sweetspot ” and

so are less forgiving when mis-hit.

7. Cavity Back/Perimeter Weighted

A cavity back iron, also known

as perimeter weighted, has generally been associated with investment casting.

The design of the clubhead distributes the weight around the perimeter

of the head, supposedly producing a large ' sweetspot

'. This makes the off-center shots more forgiving, flying longer and straighter,

than an off-center shot with a blade-type iron. The drawback is that it

is considered more difficult to reliably work the ball with cavity back


8. Notes

When investment cast heads were

first introduced, several companies claimed that the feel of the head was

lost. These same companies also claimed it was more difficult to work the

ball with the cast heads. Keep in mind that most golfers tend to believe

that a blade-type iron (usually forged) produces more feel than the cavity

back models (usually investment cast). They also say that it is easier

to shape the shot using the blades over the perimeter weighted clubs. Before

making a decision, you should try a few blades and cavity back irons and

see for yourself.

Also be aware that in the past few years

“forged cavity back” club heads have hit the market.  The theory is

to provide the feel of a forged club with the forgiveness of cast cavity

backs. These are fairly new, but the reports from golfers who have these

type of clubs have generally been favorable. However, forged cavity back

irons typically cost the same as forged blade irons.

Another recent trend in irons is the use

of exotic and multiple metals. The most common of these metals are tungsten

and copper, for their high density. These materials are typically used

to lower the center of gravity (COG) of the clubhead, promoting a higher

ball flight. This is particularly helpful to higher handicap players who

have trouble getting the ball airborne.

9. Quick Comparison

Investment cast cavity back

  • Peripheral weighting

  • More forgiving

  • Stainless steel

  • Harder to work

Forged blade

  • Central weighting

  • Better feel

  • Carbon steel & chrome

  • Easier to work

This FAQ is Copyright 1999-2002 by Daniel J. Driscoll, all

rights reserved. Product and company names used in this document

may be trademarked or copyrighted by the respective owners. This

document may be replicated in whole or in part, without

alteration. All replications must include this copyright notice.

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