Golf clubs are manufactured using different methods and when it comes to irons and wedges you will often hear about them either being cast or forged during their manufacturing process.
This has to do with how the metal is treated during the process and has a significant effect on the feel of the club and in many instances the quality too.
Casting and forging are processes used to manufacture many different metal products and not just golf clubs, hence why you get cast iron pots and forged knives.
They are just different ways of creating metal objects.
Cast vs. Forged Golf Clubs
Casting is the process of heating metal into a molten state and pouring it into a mould where it cools and solidifies into a certain shape.
This process is much more cost effective than forging as you can produce mass quantities of an iron or wedge in the case of golf using just one mould.
It also means you can create alloys, which is a mixture of metals that will determine the density, feel and weight of the object you are casting.
Cast irons and wedges are generally harder in feel than a forged club, however, certain brands such as PING have always produced cast irons, with the odd forged club here and there. The company has managed to develop a casting system that produces softer feeling clubs than normal, which is also how the brand managed to produce the first cavity iron in golf in the 1960’s.
It was PING that basically changed the way irons and wedges were produced and even its latest iBlades and i200 irons are cast, yet offer the same smooth feel as a forged iron. Other examples of popular cast irons include TaylorMade M3 and M4, Callaway Epic and Rogue, Cobra F8 and F-Max and Titleist 718 AP1 and AP3.
The forging process sees a solid piece or billet of metal manipulated using thermal and mechanical forces to change the shape of the metal in its solid form.
In the instance of a forged knife or sword, a metal sheet is folded and flattened several times to produce a thin blade that is stronger and can be made sharper. You can see the grains on these blades where the metal was folded.
Forged irons and wedges are also made using moulds, however it is not molten metal poured into them to create the clubhead. Instead a solid billet of metal is compressed in the mould into the shape of the clubhead and is then cleaned up by hand to produce a more premium handcrafted finish.
The metal used for forged clubs is a soft carbon form of metal with the softer and premium metals costing more.
When it comes to which golf club brands produce the best forged irons it is often Mizuno that comes up trumps. Even in a survey conducted with tour professionals where the question of which iron brand they would use if they weren’t sponsored was asked, it was Mizuno that came out tops.
This is largely to do with unique process Mizuno uses to forge its irons. This is known as the Grain Flow Forging process. The current MP-18 range and the JPX-900 Forged and Tour irons are incredibly popular due to their soft feel and premium finish.
In the JPX-900 irons Mizuno has even managed to incorporate other metals into the forging process to strengthen the material and allow for improved designs to make the clubs more forgiving.
Many brands such as Titleist have managed to create multi-material irons that incorporate forged metal into the clubhead. The AP2 irons are a great example of this and are known to be some of the softest feeling irons on the market.
Cobra Golf’s forged irons are also incredibly soft thanks to the type of carbon the brand uses to forge its irons.
Should I Choose Forged or Cast Irons?
With advancements in technology forged irons have become much more popular and easy to produce even in game improvement clubhead designs, but the higher price is often a factor when selecting between cast and forged irons.
Cast irons have also evolved tremendously and produce their own performance characteristics that often give more distance and forgiveness.
This leaves the decision to you as to what you seek more when it comes to performance and feel as to whether you go for forged or cast irons and wedges.