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Sharp Leading Edge


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#1 Coralray

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 08:36 AM

I have been shown disdain by accomplished golfers for playing vintage equipment because they say the old clubs don't match the current course conditions, with irrigation there is no longer a need for a sharp leading edge and to play clubs with a sharp leading edge will only get you in trouble. I persist and have come to love the sharp leading edges of my 40's-50's MacGregor collection for their ability to muscle through thick rough grass, sun baked hard pan and glide through lush fairway divots like a hot knife through butter. Reading through the forums here there are a sprinkling of comments regarding sharp leading edges and I thought I'd focus the subject and see what vintage golfers think on the subject. Looking at my last set of irons before I went truly vintage, Spalding Tour Edition 1982, they have a blunted leading edge and a couple degrees of bounce, even on the 2-iron. Now I prefer 1960 Macgregor SS1s with no bounce, 2-9, and a sharp leading edge.


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#2 Jon Robert

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 08:58 AM

I have 1963 Hogan IPT.  They have a very knife like leading edge.
1) Other golfers ooh and aah when I slice off a 12" divot on a lush course. They think I'm a pro.  Digging and stopping dead in the swings tracks is due to a swing fault not the leading edge.
2) On hard pan there is no concern.
3) When the temps are 40's I start to see ball slices from thin hits. The cover gets brittler

#3 is the only thing I don't like about them. But on the other hand it motivates me to become a better ball striker and stoop hitting thin.  I picked up a Whippy TempoMaster and found it to be ideal for “feeling” the swing needed to improve this very issue.

#3 Bella Woods

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:15 AM

Aren't the pros all over the map with regard to bounce or lack of it, and the state of the leading
edge in their irons? Are they also out of sinc with current course conditions?

It seems people like to poo poo things that are out of their norm or that they don't understand.
Last summer I played a round with some guys I didn't know and shot decently for a change (mid 70s)
with my hickories. Their response was just think of what you would have shot with "better equipment".

They kind of miss the point I guess.

#4 astamm8

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:52 PM

I don't think any pros have played with a sharp leading edge for a long time, but I might be mistaken. I rather like the flat sole and blunted leading edge of Nicklaus grinds and the like, but a sharp leading edge is one step too far for me. With good ball first contact, the leading edge really doesn't matter too much, but I don't think it adds anything either.

#5 Bella Woods

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 02:11 PM

astamm is probably right about the length of time since pros in general played irons as sharp as the 1950s & 1960s
blades. Probably at least since the 1970s/1980s. Wasn't Johnny Miller playing 25 year MacGregor old irons in his
mid 1970s heyday? I was referring to the personal/custom grinding of clubs done by some pros, more or less bounce
and rounder or sharper edges - probably more so on wedges than anything.

You won't find any modern club designer say that sharp leading edges are easier to hit in general. But I can see how
somebody that picks the ball with little or no divot might prefer sharp leading edges just because they do.

And obviously since I am a hickory player, I can see people wanting to play "technologically disadvantaged" clubs
just because they want to or enjoy doing so.


#6 Shallowface

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 02:58 PM

View PostBella Woods, on 06 January 2013 - 02:11 PM, said:

astamm is probably right about the length of time since pros in general played irons as sharp as the 1950s & 1960s
blades. Probably at least since the 1970s/1980s. Wasn't Johnny Miller playing 25 year MacGregor old irons in his
mid 1970s heyday? I was referring to the personal/custom grinding of clubs done by some pros, more or less bounce
and rounder or sharper edges - probably more so on wedges than anything.

You won't find any modern club designer say that sharp leading edges are easier to hit in general. But I can see how
somebody that picks the ball with little or no divot might prefer sharp leading edges just because they do.

And obviously since I am a hickory player, I can see people wanting to play "technologically disadvantaged" clubs
just because they want to or enjoy doing so.

I may be one of the guys the OP is referring to who has expressed disdain for sharp edged soles.

Regarding the Miller irons you mention, I remember reading an article that he wrote about the work he did on those clubs, and doing a lot of rounding of the soles was one of the things he did, along with cutting off the hosels and adding "gobs of lead tape" to make up for it.  

Spalding was famous for their 4 way roll tour grind on the irons their staff players used.  The models offered to the general public were sharp enough to shave with in many cases.

IMO, the reason most stock clubs were made this way is that it was simply less labor intensive to do so. I've been playing for 40 years (public courses), and the sharp edged stuff worked a lot better back then than it does now.  The first courses I played as a kid were burnt to a crisp most of the summer.  Now tee shots back up in the fairways in the middle of August.  I have a lot of lag and a sharp angle of attack.  Some irons tend to get stuck in the ground even when the ball is hit first.  It's hard on the wrists when you're coming in with that kind of speed and everything crashes to a halt.

Obviously, I don't care what anyone plays, and would never criticize a playing partner's choices.  I just think some classics are better than others.  Wilson tended to have wider soles and some bounce.  H&B had a very nice sole grind. Hogan offered some rounded sole irons.  I tend to gravitate toward those, and avoid most of the others.  My "modern" bag has Ping I3s with a ton of bounce.   That's just what works for me.

Edited by Shallowface, 07 January 2013 - 06:43 AM.


#7 RustyBlade

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:19 PM

Funny this comes up, I've just spent  few hours in the workshop with my 50s M77 irons filing a more rounded leading edge on them. For me it's more because I tend to switch irons from modern (M675s,Zblades) to vintage (aforementioned Macs and 67 staffs, 57 Spaldings) which all have a rounded leading edge. As much as taking the tools to the old Macs bothered me I am really going to try to play nothing but irons made before 1970 this season and I wanted as much similarity as possible. I've got lots of sets of irons around and the old Macs were by far the sharpest leading edge of them all.

Edited by RustyBlade, 06 January 2013 - 05:20 PM.


#8 Texsport

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 06:50 PM

If you pick it, the leading edge and bunch are pretty irrelevant.

Texsport

#9 Shallowface

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 08:46 PM

View PostTexsport, on 06 January 2013 - 06:50 PM, said:

If you pick it, the leading edge and bunch are pretty irrelevant.

Texsport

I've tried that, but for me it wasn't the best way to hit consistently solid iron shots.

#10 majic

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 09:01 PM

MacGregor had what they called the "Douglas Sole". I have a set with this.  rounded leading edge and nice radius sole.  popular in Ohio where i grew up.  One picture is a custom 985 and the other is a full custom don by the guy who taught Don White.  Tad

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#11 Coralray

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 07:59 AM

View PostTexsport, on 06 January 2013 - 06:50 PM, said:

If you pick it, the leading edge and bunch are pretty irrelevant.

Texsport

I am more of a picker than a digger. I have over 30 sets of Macgregors from the '43 through '63 and it is interesting to compare 1960 PT1s and SS1s with 1961 MT1s and AT1s:  Both have sharp leading edges and the forging and broaching appear to be about the same, but the 60s have flat soles, and wide soles on the short irons and the 61s have aggressive bounce with thinner soles on the shorter irons. The nine iron may have 10 degrees of bounce. I can't stand the 61's as the bounce rejects any contact with the earth for me and I hit thin shots which would have been slightly fat with the 60's because the club head hits the ground and is kicked up. This departure is interesting to me, did Toney Penna have some sort of epiphany?  In subsequent Tourney's the bounce was softened but was more than you will find on any Macgregor iron from earlier sets. Note it was at this time that Wilson too began putting bounce on their irons and went with a rounded leading, and back edge. Oddly, the sharp rear edge is a bigger problem for me than the leading edge on the 61s as it snags more on take-away and disrupts the flow of the swing.

It would seem a digger would prefer '61 Tourneys while a picker would prefer '60s.



#12 Coralray

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 08:02 AM

View PostRustyBlade, on 06 January 2013 - 05:19 PM, said:

Funny this comes up, I've just spent  few hours in the workshop with my 50s M77 irons filing a more rounded leading edge on them. For me it's more because I tend to switch irons from modern (M675s,Zblades) to vintage (aforementioned Macs and 67 staffs, 57 Spaldings) which all have a rounded leading edge. As much as taking the tools to the old Macs bothered me I am really going to try to play nothing but irons made before 1970 this season and I wanted as much similarity as possible. I've got lots of sets of irons around and the old Macs were by far the sharpest leading edge of them all.

I have never heard of M77s, what are they?

#13 RustyBlade

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 04:19 PM

They're a set I picked up last year on our local buy and sell- here's the thread.

http://www.golfwrx.c...gregor-m77-set/

#14 Bella Woods

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 05:54 PM

I never saw the original post - but I agree with Ironmaster Oddities, there is a lot going on with those clubs.

The insert syle is late 1950s on the wood(s) -  Wilson, Spalding and PowerBilt were pretty much all doing that vertical
strip on the fiber insert in the late 1950s - but I don't remember it on a Mac. And the soleplate does look 1960s like Ironmaster
stated. I agree with you too - "what the heck are these". Just when you think you have seen it all.

Maybe they were custom........

#15 Coralray

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 06:01 PM

View PostRustyBlade, on 07 January 2013 - 04:19 PM, said:

They're a set I picked up last year on our local buy and sell- here's the thread.

http://www.golfwrx.c...gregor-m77-set/

Wow, that is an unusual set. Nice deep face on the driver.


#16 RustyBlade

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 06:54 PM

I wasn't sure what to do with them when I first got them, but I have decided to play at least a few rounds with the set as I got them with an M85 SW added. The driver does look like I could play it for sure, have been looking for a playable persimmon for awhile, the only other driver I tried recently was an H+B Citation that I couldn't get in the air but the matching 3 wood has been in and out of my bag for years-I can smoke it off the tee. Oops, sorry about the thread jack :swoon:

#17 astamm8

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 03:29 PM

View Postmajic, on 06 January 2013 - 09:01 PM, said:

MacGregor had what they called the "Douglas Sole". I have a set with this.  rounded leading edge and nice radius sole.  popular in Ohio where i grew up.  One picture is a custom 985 and the other is a full custom don by the guy who taught Don White.  Tad

So those were ground by Art Emerson? I'd love to see them up close and personal. Maybe I'll have to make it down your way.

#18 astamm8

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 03:37 PM

Nicklaus and Norman were two great pickers you played old school irons almost their entire careers. The used nearly the same iron grind (up to the 8 iron where Norman added some rocker and camber).  The flat soles on those clubs are pretty similar to the 50s stuff except for the slightly blunted leading edge.

I agree with everyone on here that if you're a good picker the leading edge doesn't matter much. But I don't think there's any advantage at all to a sharp leading edge. And every now and again you're going to come in fat, where a blunted one will help. So it makes sense to me that no one would play with them any more even if the player prefered the flat sole and straight leading edge.

#19 Bella Woods

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 09:15 PM

View Postastamm8, on 09 January 2013 - 03:29 PM, said:

View Postmajic, on 06 January 2013 - 09:01 PM, said:

MacGregor had what they called the "Douglas Sole". I have a set with this.  rounded leading edge and nice radius sole.  popular in Ohio where i grew up.  One picture is a custom 985 and the other is a full custom don by the guy who taught Don White.  Tad

So those were ground by Art Emerson? I'd love to see them up close and personal. Maybe I'll have to make it down your way.

astamm8;

I saw Tad today at the Dayton Trade Show and he was talking about this.

Yes - it was Art Emerson. He was very impressed the way Emerson hammered, ground and finished very raw iron heads
into basically finished products in a short period of time (while Tad was watching him do it).

#20 astamm8

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 07:26 PM

View PostBella Woods, on 11 January 2013 - 09:15 PM, said:

View Postastamm8, on 09 January 2013 - 03:29 PM, said:

View Postmajic, on 06 January 2013 - 09:01 PM, said:

MacGregor had what they called the "Douglas Sole". I have a set with this.  rounded leading edge and nice radius sole.  popular in Ohio where i grew up.  One picture is a custom 985 and the other is a full custom don by the guy who taught Don White.  Tad

So those were ground by Art Emerson? I'd love to see them up close and personal. Maybe I'll have to make it down your way.

astamm8;

I saw Tad today at the Dayton Trade Show and he was talking about this.

Yes - it was Art Emerson. He was very impressed the way Emerson hammered, ground and finished very raw iron heads
into basically finished products in a short period of time (while Tad was watching him do it).

Thanks, Bella.

I've seen Don White do it. It truly is amazing. The hammering in particular is interesting. A lot of people can grind, but I don't know how many out there are doing the hammering part. I'm pretty familiar with Don's work. I'd love to see some of Art's to compare.


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#21 majic

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 10:47 AM

Good morning.  Just returned from Dayton and I did talk with Bella there.  It was truly amazing watching Art make my heads.  I thought i knew a little about making clubs.  Haha.  Wow he was a true genius. I will clean them up and post more pictures.  
I lived not to far from Albany and had friends there so i drove down and had the irons made as well as a few woods.  I do not remember the person that did the woods but he had left MacGregor and gone to Tony Penna and when they wanted to make some more MacGregor high quality woods he came back.  I saw their duplicating wood head turning machine. I had my woods stamped with the same MT stamp.
Tad

#22 astamm8

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 12:56 PM

View Postmajic, on 13 January 2013 - 10:47 AM, said:

Good morning.  Just returned from Dayton and I did talk with Bella there.  It was truly amazing watching Art make my heads.  I thought i knew a little about making clubs.  Haha.  Wow he was a true genius. I will clean them up and post more pictures.  
I lived not to far from Albany and had friends there so i drove down and had the irons made as well as a few woods.  I do not remember the person that did the woods but he had left MacGregor and gone to Tony Penna and when they wanted to make some more MacGregor high quality woods he came back.  I saw their duplicating wood head turning machine. I had my woods stamped with the same MT stamp.
Tad

Thanks, Tad. It's truly amazing to watch those guys work.

It's the hammering that blows my mind. Do you know of other people using that technique? How about starting with flatbacks? Do other people do that? When another company wants to design a new blade (maybe now it's CAD, but way back when), do they start with a flatback and grind a muscle, hammer in (or out) offset,etc. for a prototype the way Don and Art did?

#23 majic

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 01:48 PM

When I designed the TM92 Aussie Blades I took a flat back blank.  I then ground, machined, welded material on and bent it until I had the desired shape.  All heads from 1-PW.  From there the finished heads were tested.  I few sets-about 6 made this way and they were chromed etc. and played with.  From there a tool was made to forge the heads to shape.  One set of tools was made in Japan and another here at Hoffman.  All or almost all Tour Players heads came from Japan.  Some from USA.  Wedges were from both.
I only saw two people here in USA using the lead pad and hammer but in Japan there were many with that ability at Dunlop Maxfli.
I think the shill was really apparent in making wedges. Tad

#24 majic

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 01:49 PM

View Postmajic, on 13 January 2013 - 01:48 PM, said:

When I designed the TM92 Aussie Blades I took a flat back blank.  I then ground, machined, welded material on and bent it until I had the desired shape.  All heads from 1-PW.  From there the finished heads were tested.  I few sets-about 6 made this way and they were chromed etc. and played with.  From there a tool was made to forge the heads to shape.  One set of tools was made in Japan and another here at Hoffman.  All or almost all Tour Players heads came from Japan.  Some from USA.  Wedges were from both.
I only saw two people here in USA using the lead pad and hammer but in Japan there were many with that ability at Dunlop Maxfli.
I think the shill was really apparent in making wedges. Tad
I meant Skill.  You can really get creative doing wedges.

#25 astamm8

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 11:29 PM

Thanks Tad! Great info.





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