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What Makes Irons Different?


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New golfer here, and I haven't really gotten a straight answer on this question regarding what makes one iron better than another.  Now, after hitting a Strata driver vs. a Mavrik driver, I totally get it.  Wow, what a difference.  But, what about an iron from Strata or Top Flite 9, or even a clone from gigagolf or Integra (or any iron for that matter) vs. a Callaway x18 or x20, or even a newer Mavrik.  The Callaway guy I asked these questions to almost seemed to be offended, and started arguing with me.  But really, all I want is an education as to what makes it different.  Now, keep in mind, we're not talking about Tiger Woods here.  We're talking about a guy who is just starting to break 90 (BTW, the driver was a big reason I got under 90 - Strata driver goes between 175 - 200 when considering poor and well hit balls, and my Razr is 190 - 220, depending upon the hit (even slices go 190 now) - those extra yards certainly helped the 2nd shot).

Here's what I observe: clubs are made up of 5 pieces: grip, shaft, ferule, iron, and some epoxy.  So, let's take it in turn (easy ones first):

grip: the Golf Pride grips aren't much different from what I see on a Top Flite or Strata.  And, if they were, I can always buy a new Golf Pride grip for about $6.  

ferule: obviously, no difference.  In fact, clubs don't even need one.  So again, like the grip, not really an issue.

epoxy: I doubt a clone or beginner set has any difference.  So, now we get to the two biggest issues:

head: is there a difference between the chunk of metal at the end of the shaft?  The Strata has basically the same loft and lie as the Mavrik.  Maybe the Mavrik is 3 degrees different.  But, a loft is a loft.  Need more distance, choose the next club in the bag with a loft that fits your need (i.e. hit the 9 iron of a Strata vs. the PW of the Mavrik).  The Strata also seems to have the same number of grooves, and they seem about as deep.  The offsets on a Strata or Top Flite look about the same as the Mavrik. The Strata has a cavity back just like the Mavrik. I'm sure even the cheapest Chinese foundries can copy a perimeter weighting cast, right?  And, I suppose that clones (who say they use the same foundries as the elite clubs) are almost identical.    So, what is the difference?  Is it the material?  Is it the weighting?  Does it matter for a guy breaking 90?

shaft: My Strata has a steel shaft.  I'm sure it's crap.  It has to be - the entire set cost $150, including the bag!!  But, when I flex it, it doesn't feel a whole lot different than the Callaway shaft.  It doesn't appear to be "whippy".  It gives a little when I flex it between my hands.  So, where is the difference?  I've see analogies like do you want a burger from MacDonalds or Peter Lugars.  I'll take Peter Lugars, thank you.  But, what does that have to do with golf shafts :-)  Fun analogy for sure, but I'd like to know what that actually means when we're talking about shafts?  For the burger analogy, I'll tell you that Peter Lugars is jucier, is fresh and never frozen, is aged and has more marbling, is cut from the tenderloin, etc.  Very tangible answers to the hamburger question.  What does the better shaft actually accomplish?  Will it make me more accurate?

Why am I asking?  First, I'm really enjoying golf, and want to learn all I can about the game, and the equipment.  Second, I'm getting better, and am thinking about upgrading my Stratas.  I have upgraded the driver and woods (actually, I've gotten hybrids).  Those upgrades were worth it.  But, what about the 6-PW?  I can conceptualize the differences in woods, but as I mentioned above, irons look about the same - a hunk of metal with a loft, and general cavity back. 

So, answers I've gotten from salesmen are:

it's going to be more forgiving on mishits.   Ok, why is this?  Why isn't the Strata or Top Flite more forgiving?

it will get the ball up in the air better.  Are those clubs doing something different in the weighting?  If so, why aren't these cheaper game improvement irons just copying the general design?

I suppose it does sound like I'm arguing, but I'm really not.  I play guitar.  I actually know something about harmonics, frets, machines, and strings, and can articulate what makes a Taylor or Martin guitar better than the Keith Urban guitar on the HSN channel.  And, I can tell you that a Taylor will sound better the very first day a beginner plays it - so, it is even better for the beginner (if you want to spend that kind of money).  But, I don't tangibly know what the difference is between a Top Flite and Callway iron.

thanks for any expert insight you can provide.  

 

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Wow, there's a lot to unpack here.

Firstly, welcome to the forum. You will get lots of great information here. 

Okay, so secondly I don't agree with the salesman. 

it's going to be more forgiving on mishits. This may or may not be true. Unless you get fit for the clubs you will never know. I've been told that "Buying clubs off the rack is a little like buying a lottery ticket". And I can see this point to some extent. You might by chance buy a set of clubs that perfectly fits your swing. You might buy a set of clubs that doesn't at all fit your swing. There are a lot of generalizations, but it is true that some clubs are "more forgiving" than others but the extent to which that's true depends a lot on who's hands the clubs are in. 

  it will get the ball up in the air better. Again, this This may or may not be true. Unless you get fit for the clubs you will never know. When I bought my very first set of clubs they were a boxed set. Probably equivalent (although more than 25 years ago) to your Stratas. When I got fitted for my second set of clubs I actually sought out clubs that had a lower trajectory in my hands. Getting the ball up in the air more is only an advantage IF you struggle getting the ball in the air. I struggle more with high ballooning shots, so a salesman telling me these will help you get the ball in the air is like telling the ocean this will make you wetter. 

I think it is very wise of you to seek out as much information as you can before you purchase anything else. 

I'd also suggest trying as many different clubs as you can. Back before COVID I found almost anyone at the range would let you hit their irons if you just walked up and said "Hey, how do you like your insert brand and model of iron here?" With COVID some folks are less interested in letting you touch their stuff, but there are still lots of ways to try different clubs. Either way, you need to see what you like and what you don't like. 

Similarly, if you are working with a swing coach ask him/her for their thoughts. What should I be looking for? 

Lastly, be budget smart. You will be able to play those Stratas for years, possibly decades and you can improve with them a lot. 

Again, you will get lots of good advice here. 

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In many cases there is not a huge difference between a starter set and a higher end set of a certain age.

The starter set is a simple forgiving design, using less expensive materials and designs. Quality control will be looser than with high end stuff. Graphite shafts will be light and maybe more prone to breaking. Feel/sound will not really come into the equation with the cheaper sets whereas newer sets will have thought about these sorts of details. 

The starter set is basically a club design from 20 years ago with lower to mid grade materials. Still very useable but not packed with technology like newer clubs.

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Wow, there's a lot to unpack here.

yes.  I apologize if I dumped an entire truck on everyone :-)  I hope that wasn't rude of me, not completely sure of the forum etiquette. 

Thank you for your thoughtful response. Also thanks to Adam C.  Great insights.  

My kids bought me a Callaway XR 6 iron with a graphite shaft for Christmas off of ebay.  I don't particularly like the graphite shaft.  It is too light.  It almost feels like its not there.  Someone told me until your swing gets more consistent, it is often hard for a beginner to know where the club is on the downswing.  So, a little heavier steel shaft is better, as you are more aware of the club's trajectory.  That made sense to me.  

As far as a fitting: I'm 5'9" with a 34" wrist-to-floor length.  I'm guessing it will come up as standard lie, regular length.  Also, I feel like my swing will change still (it is definitely getting better, with cleaner hits each month), so I don't want to necessarily get fitted until I have a consistent, and improved swing.  

Thanks again for the great insights.  

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  • iacas changed the title to What Makes Irons Different?
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1 hour ago, ajl said:

epoxy: I doubt a clone or beginner set has any difference.  So, now we get to the two biggest issues:

They do. All around, cheaper clubs tend to use cheaper materials and have looser tolerances. Cheaper club companies don't put as much into R&D (or marketing), so their designs won't have the best grooves, the best sole shapes, the best CG placement, the best amount of offset, or whatever.

1 hour ago, ajl said:

head: is there a difference between the chunk of metal at the end of the shaft?  The Strata has basically the same loft and lie as the Mavrik.  Maybe the Mavrik is 3 degrees different.  But, a loft is a loft.  Need more distance, choose the next club in the bag with a loft that fits your need (i.e. hit the 9 iron of a Strata vs. the PW of the Mavrik).  The Strata also seems to have the same number of grooves, and they seem about as deep.  The offsets on a Strata or Top Flite look about the same as the Mavrik. The Strata has a cavity back just like the Mavrik. I'm sure even the cheapest Chinese foundries can copy a perimeter weighting cast, right?  And, I suppose that clones (who say they use the same foundries as the elite clubs) are almost identical.    So, what is the difference?  Is it the material?  Is it the weighting?  Does it matter for a guy breaking 90?

It can matter, yeah.

1 hour ago, ajl said:

shaft: My Strata has a steel shaft.  I'm sure it's crap.  It has to be - the entire set cost $150, including the bag!!  But, when I flex it, it doesn't feel a whole lot different than the Callaway shaft.  It doesn't appear to be "whippy".  It gives a little when I flex it between my hands.  So, where is the difference?  I've see analogies like do you want a burger from MacDonalds or Peter Lugars.  I'll take Peter Lugars, thank you.  But, what does that have to do with golf shafts :-)  Fun analogy for sure, but I'd like to know what that actually means when we're talking about shafts?  For the burger analogy, I'll tell you that Peter Lugars is jucier, is fresh and never frozen, is aged and has more marbling, is cut from the tenderloin, etc.  Very tangible answers to the hamburger question.  What does the better shaft actually accomplish?  Will it make me more accurate?

It's not going to be as consistent, both in weight and flex profile.

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Welcome @ajl  You mentioned that the shafts must be crap because the whole set cost you $150.  That is not necessarily the case.  A set of clubs costs less than buying all the individual components separately...just as buying all the parts to assemble a guitar with can exceed the cost of buying one off the rack.

There are exceptions, of course, but my point is that a set of clubs (or a guitar) cannot be accurately assessed solely on expenditure or resale value.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

If the beginner set is aluminum zinc heads yes, it’s inferior. If they’re stainless steel they’re the same as the more expensive stuff. A 5 iron head will weigh around 255 grams, give or take a couple grams, on any 5 iron, new or old, cheap expensive. Steel shafts tend to also be pretty similar, a cheaper club may have a kind of standard weight( 125 gram) shaft where a higher price might get you a lighter (  100 gram) steel shaft. Your right about loft. Modern manufacturers lower the loft to make it look like their clubs go longer when people hit them on monitors. I don’t buy it. Loft on irons is your friend. If the shot is short, move up a club, that’s why you have 14 clubs in your bag. As you learn to play you will find it’s not so hard to deloft a shot but it’s impossible to add. Modern fittings will have you trying 7 irons, what a joke, I can hit any 7 iron on the planet. Fitting with something like a 5 iron will tell you better how you handle a particular set. 

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On 10/16/2020 at 8:55 AM, ajl said:

New golfer here, and I haven't really gotten a straight answer on this question regarding what makes one iron better than another.  Now, after hitting a Strata driver vs. a Mavrik driver, I totally get it.  Wow, what a difference.  But, what about an iron from Strata or Top Flite 9, or even a clone from gigagolf or Integra (or any iron for that matter) vs. a Callaway x18 or x20, or even a newer Mavrik.  The Callaway guy I asked these questions to almost seemed to be offended, and started arguing with me.  But really, all I want is an education as to what makes it different.  Now, keep in mind, we're not talking about Tiger Woods here.  We're talking about a guy who is just starting to break 90 (BTW, the driver was a big reason I got under 90 - Strata driver goes between 175 - 200 when considering poor and well hit balls, and my Razr is 190 - 220, depending upon the hit (even slices go 190 now) - those extra yards certainly helped the 2nd shot).

Here's what I observe: clubs are made up of 5 pieces: grip, shaft, ferule, iron, and some epoxy.  So, let's take it in turn (easy ones first):

grip: the Golf Pride grips aren't much different from what I see on a Top Flite or Strata.  And, if they were, I can always buy a new Golf Pride grip for about $6.  

ferule: obviously, no difference.  In fact, clubs don't even need one.  So again, like the grip, not really an issue.

epoxy: I doubt a clone or beginner set has any difference.  So, now we get to the two biggest issues:

head: is there a difference between the chunk of metal at the end of the shaft?  The Strata has basically the same loft and lie as the Mavrik.  Maybe the Mavrik is 3 degrees different.  But, a loft is a loft.  Need more distance, choose the next club in the bag with a loft that fits your need (i.e. hit the 9 iron of a Strata vs. the PW of the Mavrik).  The Strata also seems to have the same number of grooves, and they seem about as deep.  The offsets on a Strata or Top Flite look about the same as the Mavrik. The Strata has a cavity back just like the Mavrik. I'm sure even the cheapest Chinese foundries can copy a perimeter weighting cast, right?  And, I suppose that clones (who say they use the same foundries as the elite clubs) are almost identical.    So, what is the difference?  Is it the material?  Is it the weighting?  Does it matter for a guy breaking 90?

shaft: My Strata has a steel shaft.  I'm sure it's crap.  It has to be - the entire set cost $150, including the bag!!  But, when I flex it, it doesn't feel a whole lot different than the Callaway shaft.  It doesn't appear to be "whippy".  It gives a little when I flex it between my hands.  So, where is the difference?  I've see analogies like do you want a burger from MacDonalds or Peter Lugars.  I'll take Peter Lugars, thank you.  But, what does that have to do with golf shafts :-)  Fun analogy for sure, but I'd like to know what that actually means when we're talking about shafts?  For the burger analogy, I'll tell you that Peter Lugars is jucier, is fresh and never frozen, is aged and has more marbling, is cut from the tenderloin, etc.  Very tangible answers to the hamburger question.  What does the better shaft actually accomplish?  Will it make me more accurate?

Why am I asking?  First, I'm really enjoying golf, and want to learn all I can about the game, and the equipment.  Second, I'm getting better, and am thinking about upgrading my Stratas.  I have upgraded the driver and woods (actually, I've gotten hybrids).  Those upgrades were worth it.  But, what about the 6-PW?  I can conceptualize the differences in woods, but as I mentioned above, irons look about the same - a hunk of metal with a loft, and general cavity back. 

So, answers I've gotten from salesmen are:

it's going to be more forgiving on mishits.   Ok, why is this?  Why isn't the Strata or Top Flite more forgiving?

it will get the ball up in the air better.  Are those clubs doing something different in the weighting?  If so, why aren't these cheaper game improvement irons just copying the general design?

I suppose it does sound like I'm arguing, but I'm really not.  I play guitar.  I actually know something about harmonics, frets, machines, and strings, and can articulate what makes a Taylor or Martin guitar better than the Keith Urban guitar on the HSN channel.  And, I can tell you that a Taylor will sound better the very first day a beginner plays it - so, it is even better for the beginner (if you want to spend that kind of money).  But, I don't tangibly know what the difference is between a Top Flite and Callway iron.

thanks for any expert insight you can provide.  

 

I love the Maltby Playability Factor. He rates about every iron club known to man and keeps a record. Here us a sample:

image.thumb.png.8841501e26bfa81c13f5d059a5b2adba.png

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Carl3,

that's really cool, and helpful.  Now, I see that the original 1995 Big Bertha has a MPF of 1111, and the 2019 Bertha has a MPF of 924.  I can't believe that a 25 year old club technology would have a better index than a 2 year old club.  Am I reading the chart correctly?

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I have played clones, Ping, Callaway, Cobra, and Cleveland irons. Given my level of play, (I rarely break 90 anymore), they are all the same to me. You're hitting a round ball with a flat metal surface. Having said that, I like hybrids and hit them well. I recently purchased a set of Cleveland Launcher HB which are based on a hybrid design. Now I know these clubs are not for everyone, some hate the look. But for me they have helped my game.

BTW, I play a Taylor 810CE guitar and yes I can tell the difference in guitars more then I can irons.

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@ajl, it seems to me that what you're asking isn't about the performance or design differences between one set of irons from one manufacturer versus another, but simply what the difference between a premium set of golf clubs and a generic or a knockoff set is?

The answer, as in all products in life, comes down to quality. A premium manufacturer cares if their manufacturing process produces X% variation from club to club which can result in differences in performance from set to set. A clone company won't and they know their customers don't, so they don't invest the time or money into having higher manufacturing tolerances.

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You know, as a musician I find a lot of similarities between learning a musical instrument and golf. I don’t think I’ve found any two hobbies more similar. 
 

When it comes to equipment, the similarities hold true. A professional guitarist will be able to make a cheap First Act guitar from Walmart sing in the same way a scratch golfer will play scratch golf regardless if he uses his own clubs or yours. The overall result is pretty much the same regardless of the equipment. The skill of the player eclipses it in importance. 
 

I think in both hobbies, cheap equipment has come a long way, to the point where the differences are subtle. In golf I notice more expensive clubs have less cosmetic defects. The material is better, meaning the clubs are less likely to break, and definitely in the case of wedges/irons wear down. But is that to say a cheap club is going to break in a year? Probably not. To be honest, most of it just feel. The strike of an expensive club feels smoother, sounds better, and frankly is a more enjoyable experience in most cases to hit. 

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On 10/29/2020 at 10:27 AM, ajl said:

Carl3,

that's really cool, and helpful.  Now, I see that the original 1995 Big Bertha has a MPF of 1111, and the 2019 Bertha has a MPF of 924.  I can't believe that a 25 year old club technology would have a better index than a 2 year old club.  Am I reading the chart correctly?

Yes and No. The Maltby Playability Factor is based on head design (not technology); If you look at the MPF Charts you will see a variety of physical measurements and calculated measurements which impacts a particular head design's playability according to golf club designer Roger Maltby. Head Weight; "C" Dimension1; Basic VCOG0; Moment of Inertia (MOI); Actual RCOG0; Loft; VCOG Adjustment; Actual VCOG0; VCOG Correction Factor; MOI Correction Factor

The technology used to implement design has changed dramatically over the last 25 years - multi-material technology was not in use 25 years ago. These new technologies alone merit many pages of discussion.

The MPF itself is a controversial topic; thousands of posts have been written discussing its "usabilty" for selecting a golf club for personal use. 

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On 10/16/2020 at 7:55 AM, ajl said:

New golfer here, and I haven't really gotten a straight answer on this question regarding what makes one iron better than another.  Now, after hitting a Strata driver vs. a Mavrik driver, I totally get it.  Wow, what a difference.  But, what about an iron from Strata or Top Flite 9, or even a clone from gigagolf or Integra (or any iron for that matter) vs. a Callaway x18 or x20, or even a newer Mavrik.  The Callaway guy I asked these questions to almost seemed to be offended, and started arguing with me.  But really, all I want is an education as to what makes it different.  Now, keep in mind, we're not talking about Tiger Woods here.  We're talking about a guy who is just starting to break 90 (BTW, the driver was a big reason I got under 90 - Strata driver goes between 175 - 200 when considering poor and well hit balls, and my Razr is 190 - 220, depending upon the hit (even slices go 190 now) - those extra yards certainly helped the 2nd shot).

Here's what I observe: clubs are made up of 5 pieces: grip, shaft, ferule, iron, and some epoxy.  So, let's take it in turn (easy ones first):

grip: the Golf Pride grips aren't much different from what I see on a Top Flite or Strata.  And, if they were, I can always buy a new Golf Pride grip for about $6.  

ferule: obviously, no difference.  In fact, clubs don't even need one.  So again, like the grip, not really an issue.

epoxy: I doubt a clone or beginner set has any difference.  So, now we get to the two biggest issues:

head: is there a difference between the chunk of metal at the end of the shaft?  The Strata has basically the same loft and lie as the Mavrik.  Maybe the Mavrik is 3 degrees different.  But, a loft is a loft.  Need more distance, choose the next club in the bag with a loft that fits your need (i.e. hit the 9 iron of a Strata vs. the PW of the Mavrik).  The Strata also seems to have the same number of grooves, and they seem about as deep.  The offsets on a Strata or Top Flite look about the same as the Mavrik. The Strata has a cavity back just like the Mavrik. I'm sure even the cheapest Chinese foundries can copy a perimeter weighting cast, right?  And, I suppose that clones (who say they use the same foundries as the elite clubs) are almost identical.    So, what is the difference?  Is it the material?  Is it the weighting?  Does it matter for a guy breaking 90?

shaft: My Strata has a steel shaft.  I'm sure it's crap.  It has to be - the entire set cost $150, including the bag!!  But, when I flex it, it doesn't feel a whole lot different than the Callaway shaft.  It doesn't appear to be "whippy".  It gives a little when I flex it between my hands.  So, where is the difference?  I've see analogies like do you want a burger from MacDonalds or Peter Lugars.  I'll take Peter Lugars, thank you.  But, what does that have to do with golf shafts :-)  Fun analogy for sure, but I'd like to know what that actually means when we're talking about shafts?  For the burger analogy, I'll tell you that Peter Lugars is jucier, is fresh and never frozen, is aged and has more marbling, is cut from the tenderloin, etc.  Very tangible answers to the hamburger question.  What does the better shaft actually accomplish?  Will it make me more accurate?

Why am I asking?  First, I'm really enjoying golf, and want to learn all I can about the game, and the equipment.  Second, I'm getting better, and am thinking about upgrading my Stratas.  I have upgraded the driver and woods (actually, I've gotten hybrids).  Those upgrades were worth it.  But, what about the 6-PW?  I can conceptualize the differences in woods, but as I mentioned above, irons look about the same - a hunk of metal with a loft, and general cavity back. 

So, answers I've gotten from salesmen are:

it's going to be more forgiving on mishits.   Ok, why is this?  Why isn't the Strata or Top Flite more forgiving?

it will get the ball up in the air better.  Are those clubs doing something different in the weighting?  If so, why aren't these cheaper game improvement irons just copying the general design?

I suppose it does sound like I'm arguing, but I'm really not.  I play guitar.  I actually know something about harmonics, frets, machines, and strings, and can articulate what makes a Taylor or Martin guitar better than the Keith Urban guitar on the HSN channel.  And, I can tell you that a Taylor will sound better the very first day a beginner plays it - so, it is even better for the beginner (if you want to spend that kind of money).  But, I don't tangibly know what the difference is between a Top Flite and Callway iron.

thanks for any expert insight you can provide.  

 

As other stated, Welcome!

This is my response to your first paragraph. Agree with other responses above. Will respond regarding my experience/views with epoxy/ferrules/golf shaft, etc in another response.

IMO Quality control with possibly a higher quality material makeup is one key discriminator between the cheaper references (in price$/materials) vs the more expensive. Not a guarantee but in most cases/brands there are design qualities combined with superior materials (i.e. low quality zinc material component club head vs a 1025 carbon steel/431 stainless steel/17-4 stainless steel/and many varieties of titanium/carbon fiber golf club head, etc)

.I have purchased OME brands (Ping/Callaway/TM, etc) and when I measured loft/lie they were spot on or off ~1 deg vs a set of Top Flites a friend bought that were order of magnitude off (like 4,5,6 all within 1 deg loft). Component club heads from Maltby/Golf Works and Wishon -- again -- spot on (always) vs knockoff components (to be fair 50/50 in my experience -- little better than boxed sets). I am not against boxed sets as my boys for junior golf started with boxed sets (Callaway and/or PING) and they were near perfect. Its the adult sets that I recommend people proceed with caution.

Another key that affects costs may be the engineering design that drives possibly unique materials to be combined to produce a certain type higher quality club head. Does that guarantee you a better game? -- maybe/maybe not at beginner level -- but many argue about this, I will not here but attempt to share from my experiences from the materials/quality of the clubs. 

Where would I recommend a cheap/or lower cost boxed set? IF you are  high hncp once a month golfer that does not practice --- imo save your money and buy a boxed set of matching clubs--but do your research best you can so you get quality(after all there is a difference in a 6 iron into a green vs a 8 iron -- those clubs need to be different to work as designed (again I will refer to Top Flight boxed set my friend purchased years ago).

My comments above come from someone that has built/repaired and learned to fit (with/without swing monitors/video) for over 35 years. There are plenty of quality used OEM brand equipment and comparable components from Golf Works or Wishon, etc. that are made from quality and/or premium materials with good engineering design qualities that are as affordable as a cheap boxed sets that has most likely been mass produced/put together with less than desirable quality control and consistencies.

Last let me say I firmly believe in quality instruction combined with fittings to build a top notch set that meets your needs/capabilities over time vs going out first and buying either economy or high end. Just my opinion. There is a great used golf club market in which there are some great deals but I would want to know what I fit to before investing. There are relationships in place between many instructors/fitters (some do both) and I believe that is an avenue to not only improve your game but invest wisely.  

 

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  • 5 months later...

A quick follow up in case anyone is interested.  Not that I'm an expert or anything, but perhaps this is the perspective of a beginning golfer.  I have gotten some new clubs, and have learned a bit...

Before talking about the irons, I'll mention the woods:

If you remember my original post, I said I was playing Strata clubs.  I have gotten some really sweet deals on ebay for TM Aeroburners (D, 3, 3h, 4h), and even got an original TM Rescue 25 degree (for $6!).  Yes, these make a tremendous difference.  I thought it might have to do with just getting better, but I brought out my original Strata's to test them again, and can confirm that the Aeroburners look, feel, and perform better.  Driver is about 30 yards further, and I was never able to hit the Strata 3 and 5h, but can easily hit the TM clubs.  So, I can confirm that the TMs are much better, and have likely resulted in 5-6 strokes per round (see below for why).  It could very well be the shaft, but the shape of the woods are nicer and I think give me a better chance at getting under the ball on the downswing.  The driver just feels way more solid, which adds to confidence.

The irons

I purchased the Maltby STi2 (8-PW, GW is on backorder) with the FST shaft.  I love these clubs.  Again, look and feel are superior to the Strata.  Performance?  Hard to tell at the moment.  The Strata PW was always my favorite club.  If I was within 80 yards of the green, the PW could usually make the green without difficulty.  The Maltby PW is equally good in performance, but the feel and sound are really a joy to hit.  But, I can't say that the Maltby PW lowers my score over the Strata PW. 

The 8 iron is a fun club, but because I'm usually 130 yards from the green, while I loved hitting it, the Strata usually missed the green (left or right).  I am hitting more greens with the Maltby.  It might be the FST shaft, as the club just feels so nice as I swing through the air - I don't think the head contributes to that, so I'd have to give credit to the shaft.  Again, the look, feel, and sound is so much better.  Perhaps this gains me a stroke, given I am getting the ball up in the air better and hitting more greens with it.

The 9 iron is about the same performance wise.  But again, the Maltby club feels and sounds so much nicer to hit.

So my conclusion is that yes, better woods are much better than starter woods.  And, for irons, the better irons give a much better experience, but don't make such a dramatic improvement in performance (again, part of the reason being if you are 100 yards from the green, you'd likely still hit the green with a shovel).  

With the Maltby's, I don't fat the ball as much as with my Strata.  The club seems to glide better through the turn, and feel better through the air.  But, say I were to get better at golf, I'd say a well struck Strata will perform as well as a well struck Maltby.  However, I believe a well struck Aeroburner D, 3, 4, etc., will perform much better than a well struck Strata.  

My best rounds with the Strata irons have still been as good as the best rounds with the Maltbys (between 39-42 - remember, that's my best, not my typical!).  Although, the Maltby irons typically keep me under 47, where the Strata irons had a number of blow up rounds.  The Strata driver left me too far from the green to even think about making it in 2 strokes.  With the additional 30 yards of the Aeroburner, I have a much better shot at making the green in 2 for any hole that is under 400 yards.

Long and the short is, if I'm striking the ball really well, it doesn't matter if I'm using the Strata or the Maltby irons.  The Strata's go as far and straight as the Maltbys (again, assuming I strike it well).  But, the feel of the Maltby makes a 3 hour round of 9 holes a much more pleasant experience.  

The next frontier is to not have the blow up holes.  I like to tell people that I can par any hole on the course - I just can't do it in the same round!!  Perfect example: I had a terrific drive down the fairway, and then hit the 4h well into the rough, and told my friend "shame on me - there is no reason why that shot should have ever happened".   I need to eliminate those hole busters.

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The clubs of course aren’t going to fix a fundamentally flawed swing.  I can shank any club when I make a swing mistake.  However, some “game improvement” irons can help minimize the effects of a mildly inconsistent swing though.

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