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Playability Progress

To make sense of iron performance, famed golf industry veteran and GolfWorks founder Ralph Maltby has developed the concept of MPF (Maltby Playability Factor), which is a modern method of rating golf club forgiveness. Based on years of experimentation and study, the process for determining MPF for irons is based on specific mass and dimensional qualities of the ironhead itself. The three basic properties are: 1) the basic vertical center of gravity location (how high or low on the face the CG is located); 2) the horizontal center of gravity dimension from the centerline of the hosel, also called the C dimension (how near the toe or heel the CG is located); and 3) the moment of inertia (the degree to which the clubhead is resistant to twisting). The simplest form of MPF is determined by subtracting the vertical CG location from the horizontal CG location. The higher the resultant number, the higher the playability rating of the iron, and the easier the iron should be to hit. To make MPF measurements more accessible and useful, the numbers generated by the MPF method have been translated by Maltby into the following categories: Ultra Game Improvement, Super Game Improvement, Game Improvement, Conventional, Classic, and Player Classic. 

It’s important to note, however, that according to Maltby, there are other factors that influence the playability of an iron, like sole bounce, loft, lie angle, sole width, head weight, offset and face line configuration. Elements like the grip, shaft, swing weight and overall weight also are significant, as is the quality of the club’s fit to the individual golfer. The important thing to understand about MPF is that it’s a method designed to be used in a theoretical way under workshop conditions and is meant to help classify different clubheads into playability categories geared toward the full range of player ability levels. It isn’t meant to be the final word on the playability of a fully assembled iron, but rather a way to measure the playability of a clubhead itself. 
According to the Maltby system, Ultra and Super Game Improvement  irons are the easiest to play and are beneficial for players of all ability levels. For more information on the Maltby Playability Factor and a full list of rated irons, visit

The Top 10
The MPF has been used to categorize hundreds of irons. If you’re prone to missing the sweet spot, the models below—both old and new—lend the most forgiveness.

1.   Callaway Big Bertha (’99—Ultra)
2.   Callaway BB Fusion (’05—Ultra)
3.   Wilson Deep Red II (’04—Ultra)
4.   Cleveland TA5 (’00—Ultra)
5.   Cleveland TA7 (’02—Super)
6.   Ben Hogan BH-5 (’04—Super)
7.   PING G2 HL (’04—Super) 
8.   King Cobra SS-I (’04—Super)
9.   PING Eye2 (’83—Super)
10.  TaylorMade rac HT (’04—Super)


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