Forging vs Casting
The forging process is very intricate and involves taking a piece of soft steel and stamping or beating it into shape. The steel used in forging is so much softer due to the higher carbon content, most players claim that forged clubs offer a better feel and feedback up through the club head, shaft and grip. The process of forging is much more labour-intensive and personalised which is why they generally cost more.
When players compare feel in irons, they usually refer to sweet spot and off-centre hits. Golfers want to hit the ball out of the middle of the clubface to achieve the maximum distance and desired trajectory. Better players 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 for consistency purposes. Typically, a forged golf club, as mentioned above, has a center of gravity closer to the face.
Feel is reflective of both the head design and the material used.Most Tour Players still prefer to use forged irons and this has been their preference for the last 20 years or more. There has been a tendency to assume that forged clubs are more difficult to hit. This is not necessarily the case, however hitting area, sweet spot and head size do tend to be smaller.
The vast majority of golf clubs sold to the general public are made by casting which involves pouring molten metal into a mould to produce a golf club heads on mass scale.
The nature of casting allows manufacturers to be more elaborate in their unique designs. 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. Genrally casting is more of game improvement design option with a lower, deeper center of gravity which can help to get the ball airborne quicker. You will expect to lose some feedback from off center hits with less disparity with regards to feel in different impact points on the club face.
You will hear manufacturers shouting about their use of cast 17-4 stainless steel. 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. In summary, whilst there have been improvements made in the casting process over the years, there is still no substitute for the ultimate in feel – Forged irons.