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Ironing out the iron issue


While drivers get most of the spotlight, irons, in my opinion, are the backbone of any golf set. An iron set, when taken proper care of, should last a golfer at least 10 years. But what should one look for when purchasing their first set of irons or when upgrading to nicer sticks? Here are my tips and picks for irons:

Forged v Cast”

There are two main categories when choosing irons. Do you go forged or cast?


As the name suggests, forged irons are usually stamped from a single piece of soft carbon steel. Once the basic shape of the club head is formed, the details are either stamped again or carved out using a number of hand tools and machines. The main advantage of forged clubs is feel and feedback. They will always feel the softest because of the material used. When you hear of buttery strikes, that’s what hitting the sweet spot of forged irons feels like. Aside from feel, forged irons can also be bent to a certain degree. This enables club fitters to adjust lies and lofts to suit any swing. The main drawback when using forged irons is the fact that they’re soft. Clubs banging against each other result in dings and scratches. Hitting small pebbles or stones when striking turf can also result in dents on the sole of the club. Softer club faces also mean there can be a need to sharpen grooves every so often.


Cast clubs, on the other hand, are made using a mix of molten metals poured into a mold. Cast clubs are typically harder and therefore more durable. When it comes to feel, cast clubs can be a little “clicky” as opposed to soft. But due to advances in technology, inserts, weights and dampeners have made cast clubs feel almost as soft as forged clubs do. Cast clubs don’t scratch or dent easily so there’s no need for covers. Cast clubs can look the same after decades of use. Some cast clubs, like some Ping models, can be adjusted for lie and loft, but most cast clubs risky to adjust. So if you’re after durability, cast is definitely the way to go.

Blades v Cavity

Blades are that, irons that look like blades. They have no indentations, no cavities in the back of the clubface. Cavity-back irons have indentations, ridges, spaces and gaps at the back of the clubface, providing space for perimeter weighting, adding inserts, etc. These are all to make the sweet spot larger, make the ball go higher.

This is really a no-brainer in my opinion. While blades look and feel great, they are just too unforgiving. Even top professionals use cavity-back irons, especially in the mid to long irons, so we have no business playing blades. Of course there will be purists who don’t mind the disadvantages in exchange for the few pure strikes they get while playing blades. That’s their choice. In my opinion, cavity-back irons should be in everyone’s bag.

Players Irons v Game-improvement Irons v Super Game-Improvement Irons

This choice should be dictated by skill, but of course, to each his own.

Players Irons

As the name suggests, Players Irons are for better players. These are typically forged irons with some forgiveness but are built more for feel, feedback and workability. These irons can be used to hit high shots, low shots, piercing shots and everything in between. Skill more than tech is needed to make these clubs perform.


This is what I’d suggest to maybe 90 percent of golfers. This is what I would play. My current set is a combo set: forged blade PW and 9 iron, forged players cavity back 8-6 irons, and forged game improvement 5 and 4 irons. When I decide to upgrade, I’d stick with a whole set of forged game-improvement irons and do away with the blades and the player’s cavity irons. Even with a handicap in the single digits, I need all the help I can get. Forged game improvement irons in my opinion have the best combination of forgiveness, feel, feedback and workability.

Super Game-Improvement

These irons are packed with tech. Weights in the right spots, lively club faces, forgiveness built into ridges and cavities and more tech result in clubs that are the easiest to hit, hit the ball furthest and highest. These irons don’t necessarily feel the softest, some even lack any feel and feedback because of so much forgiveness built into them. Why then, wouldn’t these irons fit everyone? Irons are made for approach shots and approach shots demand control rather than distance. These irons have low lofts to make them hit the ball longer, and weights to make the ball fly high. This combination often comes at the cost of low-spinning balls that are a challenge to control. Of course, constant improvements address disadvantages and maybe eventually, super game improvements will be able to do everything. Another factor is the looks. All the tech built into these irons can result in large clunky club heads.

These are just the basics of choosing irons. We’ll dive deeper and even better, test out what’s on offer from top manufacturers soon!

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