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Forged Irons (bending the truth)

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 4:40 pm
by lagpressure
I had the chance to play with Ron Chalmers recently who ran the Precision Golf Shaft Company for decades. They made the Apex shaft for the Hogan company among other shafts. I respect Ron and his expertise in the golf gear industry.

Ron told me that true Forged irons irons are not made anymore. What the companies are doing is using the word forged in a very loose way. Apparently they are able to use the word forged to label a club based upon the characteristics or content of the metal. They don't actually forge irons anymore as they used to where a raw piece of metal would be pounded by a huge press slamming it into the basic shape under enormous pressure. From there the club would be ground and tooled removing excess material forming into the iron that would eventually be prepped for chroming etc.

Because chroming is banned in many places now for a variety of reasons, the cast industry took over the making of golf clubs.
The new "FORGED" irons are actually cast, but with a metal that "qualifies" as a forged metal under... well, a bending of the truth as it was know to be in the past generation.

So it should be understood that the reason forged was preferred in the past was for the feel of it. It feels different, like persimmon feels different than metal.

I know for a fact that the thousands of older forged irons that I have put in my bending vice are much softer than any modern forged irons that have come into my shop or Mike's. The softer metals at a minimum offer more options for customizing the heads loft and lie, and of course are much easier to grind and alter the soles, flanges etc particularly with wedges. The classic chromed irons are beautiful to my eye... just as most of the cars were from that era. I like to look down and like what I see. It's part of why I play golf. The aesthetic beauty of the gear, the course, and the feel of the ball itself.

I'm certainly no expert on the mechanical forging process new or old, but just thought I would share hear what I learned from Ron.

Re: Forged Irons (bending the truth)

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 9:12 pm
by k2baloo
There are some today that do that but there are still clubs that are forged. Mizuno has a video on YouTube of their forging process and there is no casting.
But I know scor golf casts the clubs and then pounds them a few times and calls it a forged club. I have heard of other companies doing similar things. I am also not an expert though so I have no idea how common it has become

Re: Forged Irons (bending the truth)

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 8:44 pm
by mdrretired
Good info from an industry insider and Ron knows his stuff - that is for sure. I love picking his brain about shaft technology. Lag is right that many of the older clubs bend like butter while others seem to resist the process and tend to break or crinkle if you try to get a bit extra. Makes sense to me now so thanks Lag for te update. Still lots of good older stuff out there too.

Re: Forged Irons (bending the truth)

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 4:18 am
by k2baloo
Ron told me that true Forged irons irons are not made anymore

That seems like a stretch to me. Not sure what he was referencing, but the processes vary company to company.

This is the video that shows some of the Mizuno forging process. No casting here.

Here is video on the Miura process:

I am sure nike forges their clubs well too. I had a set of Nike forged blades and could bend them any way I needed. They were bent 2* upright and then 6* flat and a little weak with absolutely no problems. The old clubs are pretty soft, but there are companies that make forged irons in the traditional sense today as well. With that being said some of the "forged" stuff now is more firm and brittle, but it's not across the board. I heard Wilson has a crap forging process now that involves some casting, but I searched for info and couldn't find anything to confirm the rumor.

Re: Forged Irons (bending the truth)

PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2014 1:44 am
by mrlek
This is an interesting test:

Re: Forged Irons (bending the truth)

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 5:40 am
by IanB
Having bent several sets of irons I think there is no doubt that older clubs are softer.
Cast clubs are tough as old nails and even my mp59's were way more difficult to bend than my haig ultras or my old macs ( my favorite).That being said I still managed to get my cast wedges 6 flat it just took a while and a lot of muscle!
Just an observation.

It seems what I perceive about the head by actually hitting balls has a lot more to do with the shaft than the head.
Then again Im not very good yet !

Yet! :)

Re: Forged Irons (bending the truth)

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 5:48 am
by IanB
I would love to know more about the forging process used in the old days.

I kind of felt a little disappointed watching those videos. It looks to me that the new forgings are just cast blanks that are hit 3 times in a hammer then that makes them forged? Really?

Maybe thats what they did in the old days too I dunno?

I know its doesn't feel that way in the vice.

Re: Forged Irons (bending the truth)

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 7:42 am
by Richie3Jack
I'm sorry, but Chalmers is not 100% accurate. There is still true forging going on today. Mizuno, Miura, Scratch Golf, Wishon, Titleist, etc. all do true forgings.

What Chalmers is talking about is called 'form forging' which is done by companies like Adams, PING, etc. They can still get 8620 carbon steel which is very soft, but it is not forged like a traditional forged club. IIRC, the main reason why PING got into form forging their Anser irons was mostly to appeal to the Japanese golfing market as Japanese golfers simply won't play anything that is not forged (at least that is what I was told). For other companies using form forging, I'm pretty sure it's done as a way to have 'forged' in the name, while saving money.

According to Tom Wishon and others, there have been studies done where *as long as the steel is the same*, golfers simply cannot tell the difference between forged or cast. Even Tour players. The difference is the steel where casting cannot get those 1018, 1020, 1025, 1030 and 1035 softer carbon steels. They can cast and use 8620 carbon steel which is quite soft. What I find interesting is the 304 stainless steel is super soft to bend loft and lie angles, but doesn't feel quite as soft when you strike a ball with it.

To me, if you're looking for precise feedback, cast or forged or even the type of carbon steel matters very little. Although I have never hit a GI club with a titanium face. I feel it's much more about the design of the actual club and how the CoG and perimeter weighting is produced. That's where the MOI of the head increases and it becomes harder to depict if you hit one right on the money versus decent contact versus mediocre contact. If you're looking for the importance of forged versus cast, it really comes down to the softness of feel and being able to bend the lie and loft angles.


Re: Forged Irons (bending the truth)

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 7:43 am
by k2baloo
I would be curious too. I searched for old forging methods and didn't find anything. Not sure what they would do differently though.

Re: Forged Irons (bending the truth)

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 8:43 pm
by lagpressure
One thing for certain is that the majority of modern irons marketed as "forged" are much more brittle than the forged irons from the past. Much tougher to bend in the vice, and it feels risky doing so.