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Charl Schwartzel’s drilled-out Miura irons: A builder’s perspective

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We see plenty of cavity back irons on the PGA Tour. Most of these irons have been strategically designed to position weight and center of gravity to maximize performance. Spotted this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: a nonconventional set of “cavity backs” in the form of Charl Schwartzel’s drilled-out Miura MB-001 blade irons.

As first reported by Golf.com’s Andrew Tursky, Charl, an equipment free-agent, bought the irons online, and after tinkering with them (obviously, Charl is a true gear nut), he felt the irons were just a bit too heavy at D6 swing weight and wanted to bring them down to around D3. These number will seem quite arbitrary to some, so to help explain swing weight, we have a short video below

Now, the question comes down to why would he drill out the irons instead of just having the clubs built to his desired spec?

In the case of Miura irons, a company founded in Japan. The iron head weights are heavier than others on the market because Japan spec irons are generally built to shorter lengths than their North American counterparts. The clubheads are noticeably heavier in the shorter irons and wedges (see chart below), which is why we see more holes in the pitching wedge vs. the longer irons.

Since the MB-001’s are a solid muscle design with no badges or weight ports in the head, there is no other way to remove the mass needed to hit a lighter swing weight for Charl—unless Miura was to produce a set heads at a lighter weights by grinding off mass during the final production steps before final finishing.

Head weight specs 3-PW starting at 245g at the 3-iron.

As a result, when built with heavier tour weight shafts (anything 110g or above) and at a standard North American length (37″ – 7 iron, or longer), the clubs will end up being heavier than what would be considered standard swing weight (usually between D1-D4). Let me please point out that in the golf club manufacturing world there are very few standard practices or measurements beyond the USGA ruler and swing weight scale. Although the phrase “standard clubs” is still common nomenclature, it applies very little to the custom club building world. 

Beyond adding mass to the grip end of the club to counteract the heavier weight of the heads, a practice known as counterbalancing, the only other option is to drill mass out of the clubhead (see full video above for further explanation). Charl reportedly did the drilling himself when fine-tuning the clubs and after a few holes got them right where he likes them.

Based on the thickness of the iron muscle and the amount of mass removed from each head (roughly six grams), these holes have no effect on the performance of the irons (but have probably killed any potential resale value on the open market—bearing in mind that last part is tongue in cheek). If Charl wins another major with these, who knows what they would be worth.

Other examples

This process of drilling out mass has also been referred to as “porting,” and club builders have been doing it for a long time. In the case of wedges, porting not only helps reduce clubhead weight, but can also help (in a very, very small way) remove mass from lower in the head to raise the CG. It’s the exact reason Callaway introduced this design feature in the original PM Grind and continues with the design philosophy today in the JAWS MD5.

With Bryson’s wedges being more than 1″ over standard length, weight had to be removed from the head.

We don’t recommend you start drilling holes in your irons and wedges just yet and suggest seeing a professional club builder to help you sort out your specs and get you dialed in. For more pictures of the clubs Charl Schwartzel is using this week, head to the GolfWRX forum: Charl Schwartzel – WITB 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach

 

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Eldrick

    Feb 20, 2020 at 3:38 am

    Looks like his Gapr low is a glued non adjustable one.

  2. Nack Jicklaus

    Feb 12, 2020 at 1:02 am

    He should have just drilled all the way through the faces like the old “Hammer” driver. Boom!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Ima Fitter

    Feb 10, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    Love it! You don’t need to spend a ton of money on a new set of irons. As long as they are forged and you like the appearance, pre-owned irons can be fit to your swing. Change the loft & lie, change the shaft, change the grips…any qualified club builder can make them work for you.

  4. Benny

    Feb 8, 2020 at 8:02 pm

    Great catch Wrx and article. Charl left PXG a while ago. But truly suprised he couldn’t get a set directly and have them custom grinded. Anyways great details and love the comments fellas.

  5. bob stelben

    Feb 8, 2020 at 3:01 am

    Good video on swing weights. Can you explain tipping of the shaft and the reasons or advantages/disadvantages?

  6. Steve

    Feb 7, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    I thought Schwartzel was a PXG guy? Guess I am mixing up who Parson’s friends are. And I agree….drilling holes in Miura irons is like adding your own touch up paint to the Mona Lisa. To each his own, I guess.

    • Funkaholic

      Feb 7, 2020 at 4:55 pm

      I doubt a pro is bagging those Miuras for status, he is going to play the grooves off of those babies, appearance is for weekend hackers.

  7. Donn Rutkoff

    Feb 6, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    Palmer probably drilled out hundreds of clubs. Tinkering was common. To suit your own swing.

  8. Fergie

    Feb 6, 2020 at 12:33 pm

    Drilling Miuras like that is, well, blasphemy. He should just get it over with and get CB’s.

    • Funkaholic

      Feb 7, 2020 at 4:53 pm

      CB’s are not the same idea at all, he is reducing swing weight, a CB redistributes weigh to lower in the head making raising MOI and them easier to launch.

  9. Mike Cleland

    Feb 6, 2020 at 10:32 am

    I grew up playing D5 S/W clubs with standard lengths. Does any manufacturers make heavy headed clubs or do they just shove weight down the shaft & change the center of gravity. All my clubs are covered with lead tape. Any suggestions?
    PS: I really enjoy your blogs

  10. jgpl001

    Feb 6, 2020 at 3:50 am

    Nasty workmanship on a quality blade

    He appears to be missing the drilled effect of hs old pig’s……

  11. Dennis

    Feb 6, 2020 at 1:28 am

    Do all the pros go for swingweight instead of MOI-Matching?

  12. Gurn

    Feb 6, 2020 at 12:19 am

    Those Miuras need that treatment like a hole in the head

  13. bill bourne

    Feb 5, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    Does drilling out the backs affect the overall thickness spec?

    • JP

      Feb 6, 2020 at 8:32 am

      Huh? Overall thickness spec? What is that?

      • Tim Armington

        Feb 7, 2020 at 7:54 am

        You dont know what a thickness spec is??? Wow.

        • Funkaholic

          Feb 7, 2020 at 4:56 pm

          Ha! This guy doesn’t know what thickness spec is!

          • maroon

            Feb 8, 2020 at 4:32 am

            I know but it has nothing to do with golf 😉

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Whats in the Bag

Dustin Johnson WITB 2020

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Driver: TaylorMade SIM (10.5 @ 10 degrees, D4 swing weight)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (tipped 1 inch, 45.75 inches)

Fairway wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila RIP Alpha 90 X

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max Rescue (22 @ 19 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Black 105 X

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), TaylorMade P730 DJ Proto (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (soft stepped)

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (52-09, 60-10 @ 62 degrees)
Shafts: KBS Tour Custom Black 120 S

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Mini
Grip: SuperStroke Traxion Pistol GT 1.0

Ball: TaylorMade TP5

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet 58R (1 wrap 2-way tape + 2 wraps left hand, 3 right hand)

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Top 10 clubs of 2003—inspired by Adam Scott’s Titleist 680 irons

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As has been well documented, Adam Scott recently won the Genesis Invitational with a set of Titleist 680 blade irons, a design that was originally released in 2003. One of the great benefits of being one of the best players in the world is you don’t need to search eBay to find your preferred set of 17-year-old irons. Titleist has been stocking sets for Mr. Scott—even to the point of doing a limited production run in 2018 where they then released 400 sets for sale to the general public.

A lot of time has passed since 2003, and considering the classic nature of Scott’s Titleist 680, I figured now was a good time to look back at some other iconic clubs released around the same time.

Ping G2 driver

This was Ping’s first 460cc driver with a full shift into titanium head design. The previous Si3 models still utilized the TPU adjustable hosel, and this was considered a big step forward for the Phoenix-based OEM. The driver was a big hit both on tour and at retail—as was the rest of the G2 line that included irons.

TaylorMade RAC LT (first gen) irons

The RAC LTs helped position TaylorMade back among the leaders in the better players iron category. The entire RAC (Relative Amplitude Coefficient) line was built around creating great feeling products that also provided the right amount of forgiveness for the target player. It also included an over-sized iron too. The RAC LT went on to have a second-generation version, but the original LTs are worthy of “classic” status.

TaylorMade R580 XD driver

Honestly, how could we not mention the TaylorMade R580 XD driver? TM took some of the most popular drivers in golf, the R500 series and added extra distance (XD). OK, that might be an oversimplification of what the XD series offered, but with improved shape, increased ball speed outside of the sweet spot, and lower spin, it’s no wonder you can still find these drivers in the bags of golfers at courses and driving ranges everywhere.

Titleist 680MB irons

The great thing about blades is that beyond changing sole designs and shifting the center of gravity, the basic design for a one-piece forged head hasn’t changed that much. For Adam Scott, the 680s are the perfect blend of compact shape, higher CG, and sole profile.

Titleist 983K, E drivers

If you were a “Titleist player,” you had one of these drivers! As one of the last companies to move into the 460cc category, the 983s offered a classic pear shape in a smaller profile. It was so good and so popular, it was considered the benchmark for Titleist drivers for close to the next decade.

Cleveland Launcher 330 driver

It wasn’t that long ago that OEMs were just trying to push driver head size over 300cc, and Cleveland’s first big entry into the category was the Launcher Titanium 330 driver. It didn’t live a long life, but the Launcher 330 was the grandaddy to the Launcher 400, 460, and eventually, the Launcher COMP, which is another club on this list that many golfers will still have fond memories about.

Mizuno MP 33 irons

Although released in the fall of 2002, the Mizuno MP 33 still makes the list because of its staying power. Much like the Titleist 680, this curved muscle blade was a favorite to many tour players, including future world No. 1 Luke Donald. The MP 33 stayed in Mizuno’s lineup for more than four years and was still available for custom orders years after that. Unfortunately, if you are looking for a set now you are going to have to go the used route.

Callaway X-16 irons

The Steelhead X-16 was a big hit at retail for Callaway. It offered greater forgiveness than the previous X-14’s but had a more compact shape with a wider topline to inspire confidence. They featured Callaway’s “Notch” weighting system that moved more mass to the perimeter of the head for higher MOI and improved feel. There was a reduced offset pro series version of the iron, but the X-16 was the one more players gravitated towards. This is another game improvement club for that era that can still be found in a lot of golf bags.

Ben Hogan CFT irons

The Hogan CFTs were at the forefront of multi-material iron technology in 2003. CFT stood for Compression Forged Titanium and allowed engineers to push more mass to the perimeter of the head to boost MOI by using a thin titanium face insert. They had what would be considered stronger lofts at the time sounded really powerful thanks to the thin face insert. If you are looking for a value set of used irons, this is still a great place to start.

King Cobra SZ driver

In 2003, Rickie Fowler was only 15 years old and Cobra was still living under the Acushnet umbrella as Titleist’s game improvement little brother. The Cobra SZ (Sweet Zone, NOT 2020 Speed Zone) was offered in a couple of head sizes to appeal to different players. The thing I will always remember about the original King Cobra SZ is that it came in an offset version to help golfers who generally slice the ball—a design trait that we still see around today.

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Today from the Forums: “The importance of wedge fitting”

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Today from the Forums we delve into a subject dedicated to wedge fitting. Liquid_A_45 wants to know if wedge fitting is as essential for golfers as iron fitting, and our members weigh into the discussion saying why they feel it is just as imperative.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Z1ggy16: “Super important if you’re a serious golfer. Even better if you can get fit outdoors on real grass and even go into a bunker.”
  • ThunderBuzzworth: “The biggest part of wedge fitting is yardage gapping and sole grinds. If you have a grind that doesn’t interact with the turf in your favor, it can be nightmarish around the greens. When hitting them try a variety of short game shots with different face angles etc. with the different grinds to see which one works best for what you need.”
  • Hawkeye77: “Wedge fitting I had was extremely beneficial when I got my SM6s a few years ago. Mostly for working with the different grinds and how they interacted with my swing and on different shots and having an eye on my swing to help with the process and evaluate the results. My ideas of what grinds were right for me based on researching on Titleist, etc. just were not correct in 2/3 of the wedges I ended up with as far as the grinds were concerned. Good to have an experienced fitter available to answer questions, control variables, etc.”
  • cgasucks: “The better you get at this game, the more important wedges are.”

Entire Thread: “The importance of wedge fitting”

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