If you’ve spent time on the golf course then you will have no doubt heard the debate about whether forged or die cast golf clubs offer the best performance on the course and whether either can improve an individual’s game. Both types of golf club heads have their advantages and disadvantages related to performance and costs. Below is an overview of the history and benefits of each type of club head.
Which came first?
The first golf clubs available in metal were forged by blacksmiths in the early 1900s. Although this was a huge leap in golf club manufacturing (previously clubs had been made from wood), forging the metal by hand meant that there were inconsistencies in the shape and detailing in each club and no two club heads were the same.
In the late 1960s, the golf club brand Ping began using die casting methods to manufacture golf club heads and transformed the golfing industry. High pressure die casting, where liquid metal is forced into a mould under high pressure, means the shape of the club head is cast in one go so this includes the head’s grooves, brand name and logo, cavity holes and any other detailing you’d expect to find on a golf club head. The heads are made by injecting metal into a pre-formed die. This produces a non-ferrous metal, which means it doesn’t contain high levels of iron, making it a low weight which is vital for a golf club.
Die cast golf club heads
Die casting follows a similar process to making anything in a mould such as ice or jelly where a liquid is poured into the mould and then once set, the mould is removed to reveal the cast item. Die casting uses very hot, liquid metal (usually stainless steel) but essentially the principles are the same - metal is poured into a mould, hardened, cooled and then the mould is removed, leaving the cast item.
The main advantages of die cast golf club heads is that as the heads are mass produced, they are much quicker to manufacture which is reflected in the lower priced golf clubs this manufacturing technique produces.
Although die cast club heads can be made on a large scale, the process of pouring hot metal into a cast can trap minute air bubbles which remain when the metal sets. If you have ever made a model out of Plaster of Paris you will be familiar with this issue. In terms of performance, these tiny bubbles can make the surface of the club head inconsistent so a player could hit a golf ball at exactly the same point with the club but it could produce two very different shots. F or most amateur golfers this is unlikely to be a problem, especially for golfers who have never used a forged club and can’t compare the differences.
However, for golfers looking to take their game to the next level, it might be worth trying a forged club.
Forged golf club heads
Forged golf club heads were very expensive until relatively recently as the shape of the head is hand crafted and takes much longer to make. Although they are still made in a similar way, advances in the type of metals available for manufacturing golf clubs and advances in finishing technology means that the process is now faster and prices have come down slightly, although they are still much more expensive than cast clubs.
The key advantage of forged club heads is that the ‘sweet spot’ for hitting the ball is much smaller than on die cast heads but it is much more focused due to the fact that the club is made from one piece of metal which doesn’t have any air bubbles in it. This means that to perform well with a forged club, the golfer needs to have a better aim and a steadier swing but will produced more controlled shots, hence forged clubs are generally associated with more advanced players.
If you’re a golfer with a higher handicap or if you are new to golf, die cast golf heads offer higher levels of consistency and greater forgiveness on miss-hits due to less vibration (again, thanks to the tiny air bubbles which absorb much of the vibration). Die cast clubs are also much more affordable and offer a more sensible investment if you’re new to golf or are in the mid handicap range. Forged golf clubs are a better option for more serious golfers with a lower handicap. If you’re not sure where you fall, try out some forged clubs first before investing in a full set to see if they’re right for you.
*Guest post by Sarah Stewart