Buying Golf Clubs: Choosing Irons & Wedges

Buying Golf Clubs: Choosing Irons & Wedges

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The cavity back iron has been around for some 50 years now, but it still carries the stigma of being a “game improvement” club.

Seriously though, doesn’t every golfer hope when he puts new sticks into play that that new set of irons will result in game improvement?

That was certainly true when the era of the cleek, mashie, niblick and jigger ended in the 1930s with the introduction of standardized numbered sets of irons (1-iron through wedge). Those clubs were popularized by Spalding Sporting Goods, and consisted of hand-shaped, chrome-plated carbon steel-forged club heads. By the 1950s, these clubs (and those of other club makers) were machine stamped so that almost all golfers played bladed irons, or blades.

And then came Karsten Ping who is generally credited with the invention of the cavity back iron. Strange thing though, Ping’s first cavity back golf club wasn’t an iron at all. It was the innovative putter design patented as the PING 1-A putter.

Ping found that by moving some of the putter head’s weight from behind the center of the club head to the heel and toe, he decreased putter head twisting and increased consistency and performance on less than perfect contact.

This discovery led Ping to try perimeter weighting on irons and in 1961 he introduced PING 69 Ballnamic forged irons with two cavity slots on the back of the club head. By the end of the decade, the design of the K 1 irons (Karsten 1) included a full cavity back and perimeter weighting, and that led eventually to PING’S color-coded irons, the PING EYE irons and then, suddenly by the mid 1980s, virtually every manufacturers’ new iron sets designed for non-professionals had at least some degree of perimeter weighting.

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