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Looking for new golf clubs can be a daunting task, and since irons will likely comprise the majority of clubs in your bag (and therefore your biggest golf club investment), they are the clubs you need to research the most pre-purchase.
There are many questions worth asking regarding buying a new set of irons, but arguably the most important is whether you should buy forged irons, known for offering more playability to skilled players or cast irons, commonly used by higher handicaps for forgiveness. There are a number of factors that go into the decision, and you need to consider all of them before you make a purchase — or you risk dropping hundreds of dollars on clubs that will ultimately underperform, and that you won’t have as much fun hitting.
The most important factor is your own personal preference. If you’ve been playing golf for a long time, you’ve probably got a lot of experience hitting forged irons, as before the 1990s, this was by far the most popular construction type for irons.
Cast irons started to become prevalent with the introduction of lines like the PING Eye2, which featured club head molds and melted iron — and, more than ever before, brought consistent, solid contact to players of higher handicaps. Ever since their introduction, cast clubs have steadily gained popularity, and casting has increasingly become the preferred method of iron manufacturing.
Bottom line: If you struggle to make solid contact with your irons, or if you struggle with nasty hooks or slices, you are almost definitely better off with cast, perimeter-weighted clubs with at least slightly offset clubheads, which can aid in correcting a slice.
But if you’re an accomplished player, or you’re generally an above-average iron player who tends not to worry about quality of contact, or you’re set on lowering your handicap and want your equipment to hold you accountable, forged irons are for you.
Whether you’re looking for the most forgiving, wide-soled game-improvement iron or a throwback-style player’s blade, there is one step that must be a part of the purchasing process for any set of irons: getting fitted. Buying irons — or any golf club, for that matter — without getting fitted is like buying a shirt without looking at the sizing or buying a car sight-unseen.
Golf clubs are customizable in subtle but important ways, and because all golfers’ swings and postures are different, the odds that standard shaft flexes, lofts, club lengths and lie angles are right for you are relatively slim. Taking the time to work with a pro or clubfitter to determine your specifications can help ensure that you get the best possible performance out of your next set of irons, whether forged or cast.
As the need for experienced clubfitters continues to grow, Golf Academy of America is actively working to address that need. A portion of the Golf Academy of America curriculum is dedicated to clubfitting education and exploring recent advances in equipment technology, and students work hand-in-hand with experienced teachers to hone the equipment-related skills they’ll need to become tomorrow’s golf-industry leaders.
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