I had the chance to play with Ron Chalmers recently who ran the Precision Golf Shaft Company for decades. They made the Apex shaft for the Hogan company among other shafts. I respect Ron and his expertise in the golf gear industry.
Ron told me that true Forged irons irons are not made anymore. What the companies are doing is using the word forged in a very loose way. Apparently they are able to use the word forged to label a club based upon the characteristics or content of the metal. They don’t actually forge irons anymore as they used to where a raw piece of metal would be pounded by a huge press slamming it into the basic shape under enormous pressure. From there the club would be ground and tooled removing excess material forming into the iron that would eventually be prepped for chroming etc.
Because chroming is banned in many places now for a variety of reasons, the cast industry took over the making of golf clubs.
The new “FORGED” irons are actually cast, but with a metal that “qualifies” as a forged metal under… well, a bending of the truth as it was know to be in the past generation.
So it should be understood that the reason forged was preferred in the past was for the feel of it. It feels different, like persimmon feels different than metal.
I know for a fact that the thousands of older forged irons that I have put in my bending vice are much softer than any modern forged irons that have come into my shop or Mike’s. The softer metals at a minimum offer more options for customizing the heads loft and lie, and of course are much easier to grind and alter the soles, flanges etc particularly with wedges. The classic chromed irons are beautiful to my eye… just as most of the cars were from that era. I like to look down and like what I see. It’s part of why I play golf. The aesthetic beauty of the gear, the course, and the feel of the ball itself.
I’m certainly no expert on the mechanical forging process new or old, but just thought I would share hear what I learned from Ron.
There are some today that do that but there are still clubs that are forged. Mizuno has a video on YouTube of their forging process and there is no casting.
But I know scor golf casts the clubs and then pounds them a few times and calls it a forged club. I have heard of other companies doing similar things. I am also not an expert though so I have no idea how common it has become
Good info from an industry insider and Ron knows his stuff - that is for sure. I love picking his brain about shaft technology. Lag is right that many of the older clubs bend like butter while others seem to resist the process and tend to break or crinkle if you try to get a bit extra. Makes sense to me now so thanks Lag for te update. Still lots of good older stuff out there too.
That seems like a stretch to me. Not sure what he was referencing, but the processes vary company to company.
This is the video that shows some of the Mizuno forging process. No casting here.
Here is video on the Miura process:
I am sure nike forges their clubs well too. I had a set of Nike forged blades and could bend them any way I needed. They were bent 2* upright and then 6* flat and a little weak with absolutely no problems. The old clubs are pretty soft, but there are companies that make forged irons in the traditional sense today as well. With that being said some of the “forged” stuff now is more firm and brittle, but it’s not across the board. I heard Wilson has a crap forging process now that involves some casting, but I searched for info and couldn’t find anything to confirm the rumor.
Having bent several sets of irons I think there is no doubt that older clubs are softer.
Cast clubs are tough as old nails and even my mp59’s were way more difficult to bend than my haig ultras or my old macs ( my favorite).That being said I still managed to get my cast wedges 6 flat it just took a while and a lot of muscle!
Just an observation.
It seems what I perceive about the head by actually hitting balls has a lot more to do with the shaft than the head.
Then again Im not very good yet !
I would love to know more about the forging process used in the old days.
I kind of felt a little disappointed watching those videos. It looks to me that the new forgings are just cast blanks that are hit 3 times in a hammer then that makes them forged? Really?
Maybe thats what they did in the old days too I dunno?
I know its doesn’t feel that way in the vice.
I’m sorry, but Chalmers is not 100% accurate. There is still true forging going on today. Mizuno, Miura, Scratch Golf, Wishon, Titleist, etc. all do true forgings.
What Chalmers is talking about is called ‘form forging’ which is done by companies like Adams, PING, etc. They can still get 8620 carbon steel which is very soft, but it is not forged like a traditional forged club. IIRC, the main reason why PING got into form forging their Anser irons was mostly to appeal to the Japanese golfing market as Japanese golfers simply won’t play anything that is not forged (at least that is what I was told). For other companies using form forging, I’m pretty sure it’s done as a way to have ‘forged’ in the name, while saving money.
According to Tom Wishon and others, there have been studies done where as long as the steel is the same, golfers simply cannot tell the difference between forged or cast. Even Tour players. The difference is the steel where casting cannot get those 1018, 1020, 1025, 1030 and 1035 softer carbon steels. They can cast and use 8620 carbon steel which is quite soft. What I find interesting is the 304 stainless steel is super soft to bend loft and lie angles, but doesn’t feel quite as soft when you strike a ball with it.
To me, if you’re looking for precise feedback, cast or forged or even the type of carbon steel matters very little. Although I have never hit a GI club with a titanium face. I feel it’s much more about the design of the actual club and how the CoG and perimeter weighting is produced. That’s where the MOI of the head increases and it becomes harder to depict if you hit one right on the money versus decent contact versus mediocre contact. If you’re looking for the importance of forged versus cast, it really comes down to the softness of feel and being able to bend the lie and loft angles.
I would be curious too. I searched for old forging methods and didn’t find anything. Not sure what they would do differently though.
One thing for certain is that the majority of modern irons marketed as “forged” are much more brittle than the forged irons from the past. Much tougher to bend in the vice, and it feels risky doing so.
It wouldnt surprise me if the basic ‘billet forging’ process described below was used by Macgregor in the 50’s to produce uniform sets in the numbers they did. Its the same approach still used by Miura and Mizuno.
Based on what Lag and others have experienced from bendng different clubs, the properties of the raw steel billets could be a factor. Carbon content and other small elements.
thats a great find very cool
Thanks for the great photos. Wonder how they progressed from club 2 to 3 and the more defined shape? If they reheated & repressed or maybe ground it.
I read somewhere else that some of the modern irons are being reheated / pressed up to six times to achieve their weird and (not so) wonderful designs. Perhaps this also has an effect on the hardness?
It was interesting to see all the hand grinding done in the early stages. We could see the markings from the various grinders.
So much work going into making just one club… and to think how you can find forged blades from this era in thrift shops for 50 cents.
For the good players, hitting a quality forged blade has a special feel to it that most desire. I certainly don’t like the feel of cast clubs, but in the modern age with the hard plastic golf balls, the average golfer couldn’t care less.
This is all about the refinement of quality, be it the swing, gear or the overall experience playing the game.
Forging, if done properly and completely, minimizes/rids the metal of intergranular pore space and realigns the internal fabric of the metal. This is done either by physically pounding the metal to the extent that the pounding physically eliminates all those internal gaps (pore space), and/or any heating as part of the forging creates some partial melting of the metal and then subsequent re-crystallization results in much less/no pore space. [I’m not a metallurgist, but instead a geologist, and metamorphic rocks, which are created by heat and/or pressure have a similar story with respect to porosity and removal of it…]
This is why clubheads that are forged in a way that modifies the internal structure to the point of minimizing/eradicating the internal pore space are much less prone to breaking when in the vice compared with cast heads (or poorly forged heads) which are more brittle.
Newbie here and good to see the older forging processing of the Spaldings. I’ve read a great many of the threads here at ABS, and figured I should join ABS because there is not enough experience with heavy flat clubs on other golf sites. So while I digesting what I was reading in these threads I found a set of M 85. Not quite a complete set and I think they may be reissues because the chrome finish is shinny and there is a PW. There was no 2, 3, or 4 iron but the 5 - PW were there so I figured I’d do the ABS experiment. I’ve played D-6 before so I am familiar with heavy clubs. Some of the irons are about 1/2 inch short (8,7,6,5) and I will bring them up to Lags Lengths fairly soon. These M 85 irons were at C-9 with fairly new Performance Plus 3 Gen Lamkin midsize grips that somebody left by the weigh side. I got a club fitter to bend them about 5 flat; He didn’t want to go any further because he didn’t want to risk snapping any of the hossels. That was fine, as it gave me a starting point. So I went out and hit them twice at C-9 and about 5* flat. What my results told me is I knew I would have add swing weight to get a better result, which to me means more control, because in the past when I played D-6 I felt I was swinging with more control and could make a more deliberate pass on striking the ball, so I’m venturing back where I have been before.
So C-9 was too light so I started by adding 2 Swing weight points which brought them up to D-1 and went out and hit them again. A tad better control but still not heavy enough to get that deliberate strike that I remember with playing heavier clubs in the past.
They have Stiff Dynamics in them so I’m adding SW gradually because I don’t want to overpower the Stiffs with too much swingweight. So I added another 2 Swing weight points on the back of the face and the pyramid on the back is covered by tape along the bottom edge. The additional Swing weight has mostly been a lead tape job and unless some looks at the irons closely they wouldn’t notice because some of the tape is on the underside of the shaft running down to the hossel. So with lead tape on the underside of the shaft and more lead tape on the back side of the iron head they are now up to D-3. I’ll see how they hit the ball now. But it was just too cold to try them out today at D-3. Depending on how they feel, and what kind of results I get, I will probably add another two or three swingweight points with tungsten powder down the shaft. Hopefully, by putting the tape in different locations and powder down the shaft the distribution will balance out all the additional weight. As mentioned the last place I’ll add Swingweight will be down the shaft with a cork plug to keep the powder down the shaft near the head.
I’m going to add a touch of length on the irons that are a bit short and I’m going to try an experiment with a plastic piping designed for RV trailers; that I found at the hardware store. It’s about three inches long and should hold up under the grip. It appears to be rigid enough, thick enough can be epoxied and will still allow for powder down the shaft before the grips are reinstalled - with minimal weight. I don’t really need to butt weight the irons because of the heavier midsize grips. And I ordered a matching 4 iron to the set and I’ll be glad to get it to match it up to the rest. By the time I get it I’ll know what to do with it when arrives by mail. If the weighting distribution trials work out - I’ll let you’s know.
Just remember ABS-ers: “it’s clobbering time”.
Also remember that when you lengthen the clubs as you said to plan to that that will increase the swingweights a touch as well.
I would lengthen them first before working on the weights… but also, be more concerned with the dead weights than the swingweights… dial those in later if you want… or not.
Although I weighed and measured the tape and tungsten my swing weights did not come out matched up. Oddly I ended up with E1 1/2 on the 5 iron and the 7 was lighter at D5. and Everything else was in between. The PW came out at D-8. I’ve added tape to the heads that were light (7 & 9) so that they are up to D-7. I was hitting them really well before I added the length. Something went AWOL on me during my crude but deliberate build. I have to adjust the lies a bit more and the lofts on some of the irons. There not too far off but I’d like to keep them about 4* apart for loft. Some of the lies require a bit of tweaking too, Just a degree here and there on several of the irons. Unfortunately i have to drive a couple of hours for adjustments and the club fitter accommodates me and is supportive of what I’m attempting to do, but I’d better off with my own swing-weight scale and and a loft and lie machine so I could do the changes when required. I’ll work towards picking those up but it may be a while before I obtain those items.
On another related note these M85 irons that I’ve been monkeying round with are the remakes and have a bit of offset - kind of a trial set. Since then I managed to PU a classic set of M85 with no offset for a decent price. Or at least none that I can see. These iron are the MacGregor Tourney Colokrom irons from 2-9 iron. The labels are Red and Silver and are RIGID flex. They have leather grips and I washed them and let them die for a few days and I’ve just used some leather conditioner on them and more grime came off. They are getting a bit more pliable though and I might go out and hit them today and see how they perform - with no alterations. Oddly enough, after hitting the flat M85 Remake set I’m finding the vintage M85 set up to the eye better but feel too upright - as no alterations have been done one them.
I’ll report later after I hit the Vintage set.