Forged vs Cast Irons
Novices and golf beginners question whether a forged or cast iron is better for their game. Even seasoned golfers debate this point, but is it helpful or relevant?
Understanding the difference is essential - to a degree. However, the construction of an individual club matters less than which one suits your personal game best.
Forged irons have a cachet amongst pro players, but the distinctions between forged and cast irons are becoming more blurred. Over half of pro players use a mix.
Let’s explore the myths and look at the reality behind the debate.
How Are Forged Irons Made?
Forged irons are made from one piece of metal and stamped - or forged - into the desired shape.
These clubheads are more malleable during manufacture, allowing for carving and shaping with customization on the loft, bounce, and lie angle.
Benefits of Forged Irons
- Look and Feel – Forged iron clubs have a softer vibrational feel when they strike the ball, allowing players a better response - all down to the smaller clubhead and slimmer profile.
- Control – These clubheads give the ability to work the ball, controlling launch angle and flight.
- Construction Process – Forged irons are nearly uniform in their manufacture, so they have a consistent and predictable feel, allowing the player more control over their shot.
Disadvantages of Forged Irons
- Poor Durability – Due to the construction process, a forged iron is slimmer and softer, so it won’t last as long as the cast alternative. Likewise, wear becomes visible on the clubhead sooner than other options.
- Less Forgiving – The sweet spot is smaller and more defined on a forged iron, so these clubs rely on a degree of skill and accuracy. They are much less tolerant of mis-hits and tend to suit a precise player with a developed game.
- Cost – The process of manufacturing forged irons is more labor-intensive and has several different stages, resulting in a higher-priced finished product when compared to a cast iron.
How Are Cast Irons Made?
Cast irons are made from molten metal poured into a mold. The casting process allows the manufacturer more options to influence and alter the finished product.
They are also called cavity back irons or cavity back designs.
Benefits of Cast Irons
- Enhanced Design – Cast irons offer more options during the manufacturing process with a choice of pre-molded designs with channels, cavities, and perimeter weighting, all intended as game improvers.
- Ease of Use – Cast irons have a lower center of gravity, so it’s easier to hit a good shot and build confidence with game improvement designs that help get the ball up in the air and mitigate the fallout on mis-hits.
- Ball Speed – Cavity back cast irons increase ball speeds.
- Forgiveness – These clubs mitigate mis-hits, as the weight is spread evenly throughout the club head.
- Versatility – Cast irons come in many shapes and designs, fashioned in numerous ways to help performance, including an easier launch from all types of turf.
- Cost – Cavity backs are lower priced than forged clubs because the manufacturing process is cheaper and much quicker.
Disadvantages of Cast Irons
- Feel and Feedback – Cast iron clubs lack the authentic feel of a forged club, so their feel may not be as good on a decent shot. This is because the design is meant to encourage game development and alleviate any fallout from mis-hits.
- Consistency – These clubs vary in terms of their design and construction and offer less consistent performance.
Forged vs Cast Irons: What Do the Pros Use?
Most pro players use forged irons because of their slimmer profile and smaller club head. This means the ball reacts the same way every time the player hits the sweet spot, ensuring control of distance and ball flight consistency.
Pro players are generally more interested in control and ball influence than speed, plus their shots are more reliable with fewer mis-hits.
However, as the old distinctions between forged and cast irons become blurred, many pro players will have a mix of both clubs in their bags. Regardless of labels, it all comes down to the best iron for the shot.
Who Should Use Cast Irons, and Who Should Use Forged Irons?
Cast irons account for around 90% of golf clubs on sale. Because they are closely associated with cavity-back game improvement designs, the label has stuck that these clubs are for learners.
However, it's a common misconception in golf that only lower handicap players use forged irons. Manufacturers produce shapes and designs for all levels of golfers. In fact, more than half of PGA tour players use a mix of both clubs.
Cast irons undoubtedly help high handicappers, mid handicappers who don’t play regularly, beginners, and seniors. They are larger, more forgiving, and mitigate the penalty for a mis-hit.
Cast irons are more playable for a novice golfer, helping to get the ball in the air more easily. If you want to improve your game as a novice, cavity backs will help.
With a more prominent sweet spot and a game improvement design, it’s easier to get a good hit, promoting confidence. Using cast irons will lower a high handicap.
However, there are occasions when a higher or mid-handicapped player chooses a forged iron; this could simply be because they want to improve their technique and rely less on the club for assistance.
A mis-hit with a forged iron may produce an ugly shot, so this can be tough love for improvers!
Budget is relevant; cast iron clubs are more affordable for those new to golf. There’s little point paying a high price for a forged club if it’s inappropriate or unhelpful for your current game.
Ultimately, which type of club is better is down to personal preference. Experiment with both, and you’ll quickly realize which suits you better. Most experienced golfers would advise any newer player to go with their feel.
If the difference between the two on paper leaves you cold, then an online tutorial can help. It’s sometimes easier to explain the pros and cons visually.
Ultimately, the best club for any player is one which suits their game. A good fitter can assist in establishing this. Remember, the rules of golf limit the number of clubs in your golf bag to fourteen, and there are restrictions on changing clubs once play has started.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Forged Better Than Cast Irons?
The answer to this depends entirely on your game and level of skill. Generally, forged irons are better for players with a lower handicap and a more developed game.
Cast irons are much more forgiving of an inconsistent player still developing their game.
Do Forged Irons Go Further Than Cast Irons?
Cast irons generally provide greater ball speeds as they have more loft. Forged irons tend to have a weaker loft. However, this all depends on the individual manufacturer and the exact specification of the club.
Lower-handicap player use forged irons as they’re less interested in distance than control.
You can be sure that the quest to create the perfect club never ends among golf equipment manufacturers. As technology changes and different materials become available, new designs offer even greater analysis and precision.
Even if your clubs are a few years old, you’ll be amazed at the difference in feel and performance in new clubs on the market now. Forged and cast irons are becoming ever more hybrid, with considerable variations in what’s on offer to suit player preference.