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Mark pitted a 2020 Callaway Mavrik super-game-improvement iron against a muscleback/blade from the 1980s. He used a statistician to help, and tested a decent number of shots, though at the beginning he said about 40 with each club, so spread across three types of quality of strike, that's not a "huge" data set.

Anyway, the data…

Dynamic Loft:
Mavrik Max: 24.6° (7-iron)
Top Flight: 24.4° (6-iron)

Clubhead Speed:
Mavrik Max: 87.5 MPH
Top Flight: 88.3 MPH

Here's how Mark defined the three categories of strike:

image.png

I think the results will surprise many.

Carry

image.png

Ball Speed:

image.png

Height:

image.png

The chart for spin (11:32 in) is similar to the above charts.

In Launch Angle (12:22), the Mavrik Max fares a bit better than it has, but still performs no better than the blade.


This reminds me of this article, which I'm fond of citing:

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so what I see is that the “Super game improvement irons” were less consistent without a great deal of distance over the older 1980’s muscle backs...am I interpreting that correctly?

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I have played blades for 15 years now, and I don't see me changing anytime soon. My 4-5 irons are forged "players" cavity back, but they are a lot closer to a blade than a game improvement iron that's for sure. I just love the way they feel, and I know EXACTLY how far I can hit them. 

I love the quote from the article @iacas cited. "I will judge my rounds much more by the quality of my best shots than the acceptability of my worse ones." I have a new motto!

Edited by NM Golf

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

This reminds me of this article, which I'm fond of citing:

I remember that article, so Mark's results don't surprise me in the least bit ;-)

It's why I'm not getting rid of my blades now that I'm playing cavity backs again. One day...

1 hour ago, woodzie264 said:

so what I see is that the “Super game improvement irons” were less consistent without a great deal of distance over the older 1980’s muscle backs...am I interpreting that correctly?

Have to keep in mind though that this is a high skilled player performing this test. His definition of "very poor strike" is a good strike by my standards.

Blades are going to perform better around the sweetspot than cavity backs, because by design, cavity backs have less mass behind the sweetspot than blades do. There is going to be more variation in the result from the collision of the club and ball. Where you're going to see the design advantage of a cavity back is farther away from the sweet spot than 5mm.

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12 hours ago, billchao said:

Have to keep in mind though that this is a high skilled player performing this test. His definition of "very poor strike" is a good strike by my standards.

Blades are going to perform better around the sweetspot than cavity backs, because by design, cavity backs have less mass behind the sweetspot than blades do. There is going to be more variation in the result from the collision of the club and ball. Where you're going to see the design advantage of a cavity back is farther away from the sweet spot than 5mm.

Yeah. Would be interesting to see this test across a range of handicap levels. For good players that consistently hit close to the sweetspot, I have no trouble seeing the advantage of blades, but what's the story for higher handicap players?

Another factor is the effect the clubs can have on practice and development of quality of the strike. Will clubs with smaller sweetspots promote a player to hit closer to it more often since off-center hits are worse or the results suffer more because the quality of strike doesn't improve, but they get worse results from poor strikes? 

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This is great info. Where would something like the AP2, T100, P790, and other non blade players' irons fall in to something like this if you had to guess? I'm curious because I recently switched from my Nike blades to a set of AP2s that I picked up on ebay. So far, I have been having a much better time with the AP2s, which I think is mostly down to the distance being longer. I never really hit the Nikes all that bade, but a 20-25 yard distance difference 7i-7i is enough to keep me using the AP2s for now. I wonder if someone who doesn't have quite as good of strike quality would have similar results with this test (i.e. blades distance more consistent)

One thing that I don't like about this study, is that he struck the blade "good" over twice as many times as he struck the SGI "good". I would like to see 10 of each type of shot with each club, instead of just "here are the shots and here is the data". Maybe this shows that the smaller clubhead makes you focus more, but I think more likely is that Mark is more comfortable with a blade club in his hand than an SGI.

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I've been following and occasionally commenting on this series. I find it fascinating. I think what I've learned by all of this is: Find some irons you like. Get 'em fitted, and learn how to hit 'em. 

I'm going to argue the Indian is more important than the arrow. 

I also wonder if the modern "Game Improvement" iron. Is designed to compensate for way off center hits and therefore over-compensates for mildly off center hits??? 

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Needs bigger sample size. One professional golfer hitting is only useful for showing his personal results, not transferable to everyone. There are so many variables that aren't accounted for. I don't know what clubs he uses normally but I would guess they are closer to the blade in both look and weight. That will make a huge difference in the results.

Show me this test using 4 irons and show me it using a golfer with a sub 100mph driver swing speed and let's see what the difference is then. 

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1 hour ago, Zeph said:

Another factor is the effect the clubs can have on practice and development of quality of the strike. Will clubs with smaller sweetspots promote a player to hit closer to it more often since off-center hits are worse or the results suffer more because the quality of strike doesn't improve, but they get worse results from poor strikes? 

In my experience, no. The clubs provide better feedback on where you hit it on the face, but just having blades alone won’t fix whatever mechanical issue you have that produces the errant strikes.

1 hour ago, Bonvivant said:

I wonder if someone who doesn't have quite as good of strike quality would have similar results with this test (i.e. blades distance more consistent)

Again just IME, but no. You can lose 20 yards just from hitting a blade off the toe. That’s going to make your distance dispersion worse.

1 hour ago, Bonvivant said:

Maybe this shows that the smaller clubhead makes you focus more, but I think more likely is that Mark is more comfortable with a blade club in his hand than an SGI.

Yea, it’s not really much of a test.

45 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

I also wonder if the modern "Game Improvement" iron. Is designed to compensate for way off center hits and therefore over-compensates for mildly off center hits??? 

I don’t know that it’s designed purposely to over-compensate for mildly off center hits, I think it’s just the result of taking more mass from behind the center of the face. The face gets more springy and more vibration is going to result in more variation in the resulting shot. That’s why they have cavity back designs in different tiers aimed at different skill level players, despite what Mark seems to be insinuating here that it’s all marketing. If you don’t significant help in the perimeter there’s no reason to push all that mass away from the center and having more there will make your good shots more consistent.

19 minutes ago, Adam C said:

Needs bigger sample size. One professional golfer hitting is only useful for showing his personal results, not transferable to everyone. There are so many variables that aren't accounted for. I don't know what clubs he uses normally but I would guess they are closer to the blade in both look and weight. That will make a huge difference in the results.

Show me this test using 4 irons and show me it using a golfer with a sub 100mph driver swing speed and let's see what the difference is then. 

His methodology isn’t perfect but I think the principle is valid. Did you see the article @iacas linked in the OP? They found similar results in testing clubs with Iron Byron.

But again, we’re talking about contact very close to the sweet spot here. This isn’t about a 20 who hits his 6i 60 yards high in the air playing blades. I’m sure we’d all agree that player could use more help in the club design aspect.

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2 hours ago, Zeph said:

Will clubs with smaller sweetspots promote a player to hit closer to it more often since off-center hits are worse or the results suffer more because the quality of strike doesn't improve, but they get worse results from poor strikes? 

Well the fact that blades have a reputation of being difficult may answer that. Weekend players certainly haven’t improved their ball striking using blades. Nor did the market saturate with blade irons in the past 15 years. There must be something in the SGI, GI irons or they wouldn’t be being produced all over the place. Yes?

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14 hours ago, billchao said:

I remember that article, so Mark's results don't surprise me in the least bit ;-)

Personally, I really wish people would stop quoting this test.

I remember when this test was done. And it seemed like everyone went around saying "Blades are more accurate." Whether or not that's true has nothing to do with this test. The test this gentleman in the article quote was all about getting the results they wanted. I know he tries to present it as unbiased but the test was done with totally different lofts (a.k.a different swing speeds to produce the 165 that the test required.) It was also done with totally different shafts. (a.k.a. steel shafts in the "players" irons; graphite in the "game improvement" irons.) 

I was in Vegas at the now Taylormade golf center when it first reopened after Taylormade bought it from Callaway. They had an Iron Byron there and the guys from Taylormade were all fired up about this article. They showed us how you could get which ever results you wanted by "repeating" the test from this article. The Taylormade guys demonstrated that if you want this result you do the test this way. Sure enough, the blades were more accurate. If you want the other result you do the test this way. Sure enough now the game improvement irons were more accurate. None of the guys that were giving the demos there had anything nice to say about this article and the way the tests were performed. Yet, it has to be up there as one of the most quoted tests in golf history. I still hear guys at the driving range quote this article or site this test and say "Blades are more accurate." 

By the way, I'm not saying they are NOT more accurate. I'm just saying this test was done with the intention of proving a hypothesis and lo and behold it did.

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11 minutes ago, billchao said:

His methodology isn’t perfect but I think the principle is valid. Did you see the article @iacas linked in the OP? They found similar results in testing clubs with Iron Byron.

But again, we’re talking about contact very close to the sweet spot here. This isn’t about a 20 who hits his 6i 60 yards high in the air playing blades. I’m sure we’d all agree that player could use more help in the club design aspect.

Disagree. One golfers statistics only makes the results valid for one golfer. Again, what he is coming from and used to, I believe makes a huge difference in how these results play out. Not to get into my personal issues with club fittings and all their shortcomings but how your body reacts to changes in feel (broad term "feel" meaning weight, balance, flex feel, sound etc.)from what you currently use, plays a major role in the results you see. Have him hit 500 balls with only that one club and then take the measurements, then 500 with the other and repeat.

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14 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Personally, I really wish people would stop quoting this test.

I remember when this test was done. And it seemed like everyone went around saying "Blades are more accurate." Whether or not that's true has nothing to do with this test. The test this gentleman in the article quote was all about getting the results they wanted. I know he tries to present it as unbiased but the test was done with totally different lofts (a.k.a different swing speeds to produce the 165 that the test required.) It was also done with totally different shafts. (a.k.a. steel shafts in the "players" irons; graphite in the "game improvement" irons.) 

I was in Vegas at the now Taylormade golf center when it first reopened after Taylormade bought it from Callaway. They had an Iron Byron there and the guys from Taylormade were all fired up about this article. They showed us how you could get which ever results you wanted by "repeating" the test from this article. The Taylormade guys demonstrated that if you want this result you do the test this way. Sure enough, the blades were more accurate. If you want the other result you do the test this way. Sure enough now the game improvement irons were more accurate. None of the guys that were giving the demos there had anything nice to say about this article and the way the tests were performed. Yet, it has to be up there as one of the most quoted tests in golf history. I still hear guys at the driving range quote this article or site this test and say "Blades are more accurate." 

By the way, I'm not saying they are NOT more accurate. I'm just saying this test was done with the intention of proving a hypothesis and lo and behold it did.

Interesting.

12 minutes ago, Adam C said:

Disagree. One golfers statistics only makes the results valid for one golfer. Again, what he is coming from and used to, I believe makes a huge difference in how these results play out. Not to get into my personal issues with club fittings and all their shortcomings but how your body reacts to changes in feel (broad term "feel" meaning weight, balance, flex feel, sound etc.)from what you currently use, plays a major role in the results you see. Have him hit 500 balls with only that one club and then take the measurements, then 500 with the other and repeat.

No, I mean testing the principle that blades are more consistent around the sweet spot than cavity backs is valid. Using a human being at all to do the testing brings in so many variables that it would just be impossible to determine what variable is responsible for any possible difference in results.

We’re talking about different things it seems.

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26 minutes ago, Adam C said:

Disagree. One golfers statistics only makes the results valid for one golfer. Again, what he is coming from and used to, I believe makes a huge difference in how these results play out. Not to get into my personal issues with club fittings and all their shortcomings but how your body reacts to changes in feel (broad term "feel" meaning weight, balance, flex feel, sound etc.)from what you currently use, plays a major role in the results you see. Have him hit 500 balls with only that one club and then take the measurements, then 500 with the other and repeat.

Hey Adam,

I'm interested in your thoughts on club fitting. 

This probably isn't the thread. But have you laid out your thoughts in another thread? Can you lead me there? Would you like to start a thread laying out your thoughts? I think it might make an interesting discussion. 
 

11 minutes ago, billchao said:

Interesting.

It certainly was

My industry does it all the time. I work in Hydraulics. If you want to show Brand X's hydraulic pump is better than Brand Y's. You run your test at the speed and pressure where you know Brand X has better efficiencies. You avoid the areas where you know Brand Y performs better. 

The truth is the end customer may never be able to discern the difference between Brand X and Brand Y. 

Edited by ChetlovesMer

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1 hour ago, billchao said:

This isn’t about a 20 who hits his 6i 60 yards high in the air playing blades. 

Hateful.

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3 hours ago, Zeph said:

Yeah. Would be interesting to see this test across a range of handicap levels. For good players that consistently hit close to the sweetspot, I have no trouble seeing the advantage of blades, but what's the story for higher handicap players?

He did count the "bad mishits" too. But, yes, something might be different for the bad golfer. Slightly heavy shots with the fatter sole might produce "better" results, for example. Really thin shots might work better, too.

1 hour ago, Adam C said:

Needs bigger sample size.

Sure, no doubt, but that doesn't mean he's not on to something here. It doesn't mean what he's saying is wrong.

1 hour ago, Adam C said:

There are so many variables that aren't accounted for. I don't know what clubs he uses normally but I would guess they are closer to the blade in both look and weight. That will make a huge difference in the results.

I don't agree it would make a "huge" difference.

I also think club fitting is pretty over-rated. Like I have said: I can go shoot 73 with my wife's clubs. I'm less likely to shoot 69, but some of that is even just about comfort. And some of it is about the fit, sure, but there's a reason I can grab any student's club and hit a shot.

1 hour ago, Adam C said:

Show me this test using 4 irons and show me it using a golfer with a sub 100mph driver swing speed and let's see what the difference is then. 

Counter-argument: most of those golfers should be (and are) getting hybrids for that 4I slot in their bags.

34 minutes ago, Adam C said:

Disagree. One golfers statistics only makes the results valid for one golfer.

Meh, that's not really how statistics work, or else we'd never be able to generalize anything. It becomes less relevant as you move away from the type of golfer that he is, but it doesn't make them "valid" only for that one person. Or people who are specifically like that one person.

34 minutes ago, Adam C said:

Again, what he is coming from and used to, I believe makes a huge difference in how these results play out.

I don't, and addressed that above.

Heck, if "what you were coming from" played that big of a role, then nobody would be fit for something much different than what they currently play right now.

34 minutes ago, Adam C said:

Have him hit 500 balls with only that one club and then take the measurements, then 500 with the other and repeat.

Do you honestly think you'd see massively different results?

I don't.

He swung both clubs at about the same speed, delivered about the same dynamic loft, and similar (on average) ball speeds. He wasn't swinging them very differently.

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16 hours ago, billchao said:

His definition of "very poor strike" is a good strike by my standards.

I wish I could consistently strike it as good as Mark's "very poor strike"!

I'd definitely like to see continuation of this data set with players of various abilities and swing speeds.

My player's cavity backs are pretty forgiving off the toe if I keep the strike within the grooves. My noticeable (I can feel it distinctly) toe misses are usually half groove/half no groove, and there's a significant loss from those. I figure a blade with less mass around the perimeter of the club may be worse in that regard. My Mevo should be arriving soon, so now I'm curious to quantify this with strike tape.

At one point I thought I would benefit from GI irons. I tried a few from my friend's set, and also hit a few different models during lessons (Cobra F9, Mizuno Hot Metal), and they just looked too big behind the ball at address, and strangely, this did not give me more confidence. I guess I'm just used to the appearance of the thinner top line, narrower sole, and shorter heel to toe length. I'm the opposite with hybrids and woods though, with those, the bigger the better.

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2 minutes ago, Darkfrog said:

At one point I thought I would benefit from GI irons. I tried a few from my friend's set, and also hit a few different models during lessons (Cobra F9, Mizuno Hot Metal), and they just looked too big behind the ball at address, and strangely, this did not give me more confidence. I guess I'm just used to the appearance of the thinner top line, narrower sole, and shorter heel to toe length. I'm the opposite with hybrids and woods though, with those, the bigger the better.

I have this argument in my head every time I hit a poor shot, but I am the same in that I can't get used to the look of a shovel behind the ball and offset is another thing I would add to the list of those characteristics that are important to how I feel I am going to hit an iron.

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