Golf club manufacturing has changed considerably in the last few years. All of these changes create quite a few questions about the differences between forged and cast irons.
Forged irons have always been considered players irons. Yet, today there are so many game improvement irons to come to the market made with a forged club head.
We get it – companies are throwing mixed signals, and it’s hard to know which clubs are truly best for your game. Let’s take a look at the differences between forged and cast irons and, most importantly, which one is the best for your game.
What are Forged Irons?
Forged golf irons are made from a single billet of steel. The manufacturing process that forged irons go through is a bit more complicated than that of a cavity back or cast iron. Forged irons are typically a bit more expensive because of the materials used and the process that manufacturers have to take to create the iron.
What are Cast Irons?
Cast irons are created from a cast or mold using a variety of different materials. Many of the cast irons created today are hollow body golf irons. The manufacturing process for cast irons is a bit less involved, and it is certainly shorter and less expensive. Most cast irons are also referred to as cavity back irons.
Main Differences Between Forged and Cast Irons
When deciding which golf irons are best for your game, it’s important to understand the terminology to know what is best for you. There are some significant differences between forged and cast irons, and they will impact the playability.
The manufacturing process of the forged and cast irons is quite different. In fact, all of the differences you see in performance between these two types of irons come down to the way they are manufactured.
Forged golf irons are made from a single piece of metal. The metal is worked with, sometimes by hand, to create a shape that is ideal for golfers. Then the next club is worked on and the clubs are stamped and forged several times to create consistency throughout the metal.
During this process, the metal of the clubhead continues to forge close together, so there is very little room for air pockets or gaps in the metal. This is what creates that buttery forged feel in an iron.
With the cavity back irons, there is a mold that hot melted metal is poured into. The cast iron clubs may go through a few steps of this process depending on the technology that they have built inside them, but the end result is a cast golf iron which will also sometimes be called a cavity back iron. (More on that later)
The feel of the golf iron in your hand is incredibly important. There is no questioning the fact that golfers have made up their minds that the forged golf iron has a better feel than the cavity back iron.
The reason behind this is the fact that the forged process takes care of any inconsistencies in the club head and ensures that players are capable of a bit more workability and feedback from the club itself.
However, it’s worth mentioning here that golf technology has come a long way. The bridge between the forged iron and the cast iron is, without a doubt becoming smaller and players are having a harder time even identifying something forged vs. a cast iron.
With the way that cast iron clubs are made, the sweet spot is traditionally a bit larger and more effective. This leads to more forgiveness.
Many high handicappers play with game-improvement irons that are typically cast golf irons because they enjoy the extra help that these clubs can provide in their game.
Of course, this is not to say that all forged golf irons will be unforgiving. Instead, one of the benefits of the forged iron is that it gives players a tremendous amount of feedback. This feedback increases the ability to hit a draw or fade or to work on swing flaws that may come up.
Availability/Type of Iron
In years past, the only forged iron you could find would be a blade iron that a company offered. This is what started the confusion golfers have with the fact that all blade irons are the only forged golf irons on the market.
This is not true.
There are players’ irons that are forged and are not exactly blades. In addition, some clubs go through a mix of forging and milling that make them kind of a mix between a forged golf iron and a cast golf iron.
I’m sure you have seen some game-improvement irons built for slightly higher handicappers with a forged face. The entire golf club was not forged, but the face was.
Again, just as we saw the fairway wood and the iron merge into a hybrid, we see the cast golf irons and the forged golf irons merge into something entirely unique that better provides for golfers.
The forged irons are almost always considerably more expensive than the cast irons. With the forged iron process being longer and requiring a higher quality soft feel metal, the pricing on these clubs just started to increase.
One option that has helped many golfers save money is to purchase forged irons in the short irons. This is where you can see the most difference in the feel of the golf clubs. With the forged short irons, you get a bit more workability, which plays well with the short irons.
With the longer irons, you can switch to a cast model to try and get some extra forgiveness and even distance. This type of mixed set cuts down on total pricing and makes it easier for players to afford to have a mix of technology in their bag.
Golfers thinking about going through the custom fitting process may also wonder if the decision between forged and cast irons matters. With advances in golf technology, you can purchase both forged and cast golf irons that are custom fit to your needs.
Both forged, and cast irons can have lie angle and loft changes to better suit the needs of your game.
With the pricing of forged golf irons being so high, you will see most players get the clubs custom fit to your needs. However, the ability to have cavity back irons fit into your game is certainly possible.
Pros and Cons of Forged Irons
The forging process that a golf iron goes through certainly makes the club have a premium feel and better workability, but there, of course, are negatives to the forged irons that need to be considered as well.
Pros of the forged irons include things like improved feedback in the golf irons and a great feel. Many professional golfers use forged golf irons as they are looking for only the most premium irons on the market.
The negatives, of course, include the higher pricing found in the forged irons and a lack of forgiveness.
- Great feel
- Better workability
- Cleaner look and thinner top line
- Improved feedback
- It can be helpful in the short irons for improving the feel
- Not typically as forgiving
- More expensive
- Longer manufacturing process
Pros and Cons of Cast Irons
The cast irons are what the majority of golfers play with. Cast irons have great forgiveness, plenty of distance, and a fair price point. The cast irons are rare on the PGA Tour as they don’t give players the feedback they need in the short irons.
Expect lower pricing from cast irons and plenty of availability. The lead times on the cast irons are also considerably faster. You won’t have to wait long to get your new clubs, and they could give you that extra distance and forgiveness right from day one.
As I mentioned, many golfers consider going with the mixed set to enjoy a few forged irons and a few cavity back irons. It tends to be a good combination.
- Large sweet spot
- Fair pricing
- It can be made with a variety of materials
- Not as workable
- Feel is not always as good
Final Verdict: Deciding on Which Irons You Should Be Using
The best golf irons on the market are the ones that are the best fit for your game. It doesn’t matter if those golf clubs are forged or cast; what matters is that you can hit them well.
With forged irons, better players will notice more workability, improved feel, and feedback to help them improve their game.
Cast irons offer a fair initial price point, really great launch and distance characteristics, and plenty of overall forgiveness.
As a golfer, you will need to be aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are and choose the club that most closely matches. Don’t get into the mindset that the most expensive golf clubs are the best; this is not necessarily the case.