Iron Roundup


 


Mixed-metals are finding their way into irons­–literally. The new Rapture irons from PING are some of the few irons today that feature face inserts (made in this case, of titanium). This helps to not only harden the hitting area, but redistribute weight to the perimeter (titanium is lighter than steel). In addition, a Tungsten weight is used for added stability near the toe, helping to prevent twisting on off-center hits. And yes, the center of the cavity also features a polymer material, designed to enhance feel and reduce unwanted vibration.

Because of weight redistribution, the three types of irons—blades, cavity-backs and game-improvement irons—have all advanced at independent rates, say experts. “Blades aren’t much different than they were 10 years ago,” says Bridgestone’s Walker, explaining that’s partly because less than 10 percent of golfers play blades, so manufacturers have less of a business interest in the segment. “Blade players always want feel and feedback. One interesting thing we’ve seen is manufacturers making some blades with game-improvement aspects. Part of the limitations of forgings is we can’t make lines as clean or add as many features as you can with a cast club. There’s not much we can do with a blade’s mass,” because each blade is forged from a block of steel.

And they can’t add other materials, either. While that’s generally prevented weight redistribution, manufacturers can alter the sole width to change the feel, as well as manipulate “features in the back of the products, such as some carve-outs and sculpturing of the back design,” says TaylorMade’s Vincent. “There’s been a significant effort to bring added forgiveness to the players’ clubs, too.”

Better players are also more readily accepting cavity-back products. That is, they’re attracted to cast clubs that look forged and offer some level of forgiveness, better ball speed and consistency throughout the face.

 

Blades are “a double-edge sword,” says John Hoeflich, Nickent Golf’s Senior Vice President. “You can make blade-looking clubs with super-thin faces, but you won’t get the same feel as you would with a true muscleback. And a muscleback design eliminates the advantages of a thin face.”

Titleist, however, is one of several companies remedying that situation—its designers thinned the clubface in the 755 irons through improved forging techniques, relocating the discretionary weight saved from the thin face to the low extremes and perimeter.

“We supported the thin face with a special forged aluminum insert that also acts as a vibration dampener,” says Chris McGinley, Titleist’s Vice President of Marketing, Clubs. “Not only was it our most successful iron in terms of PGA Tour wins in 2006, it’s also an iron that we successfully sold and fit to players from 0-12 handicaps.”

 




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