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I did this experiment because I am currently using blades after using game-improvement irons for a long time. And after a few rounds with the blades, I have found no real drop in performance.

Moment of inertia (MOI), a measure of an iron’s forgiveness, is as a selling tool for new irons, but I am not sure how much real improvement it is offering the golf community. My video goes a long way to show that maybe the way we’re thinking about fitting irons to our game is quite wrong. 

Both the irons I tested in the video had stiff shafts. The Mizuno MP-5 (blades irons) had True Temper’s Dynamic Gold S300, while the JPX-EZ (game-improvement irons) had True Temper’s XP 95 S300 shafts. Both irons were tested with stock lofts and lengths.

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Mark Crossfield has been coaching golf for more than 20 years, and has enjoyed shaping the digital golf world with fresh, original and educated videos. Basically, I am that guy from YouTube. You can connect with Mark on Periscope (4golfonline) and Snapchat (AskGolfGuru), as well through the social media accounts linked below.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. L^E

    Apr 25, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    I’m a 10 handicap and play a set of blades and I often hear comments like “wow blades, why make the game harder?” or “you must be really good if you are playing these clubs” (which i’m not really good, I’m just average). Truth of the matter is, a crappy shot is a crappy shot. A GI club isn’t magically going to turn a chunk into a pure shot pin high. It IS true that your off center shots will most likely fly further with a GI club, but not by a significant amount. And for me, blades offer the “feel” when you hit that pure shot to know you hit it pure. Feedback in a club is an important part of improving your game. I’m not advocating that everyone should play blades, it’s a personal preference. But I think we need to realize that blades are not just for scratch golfers.

  2. Bryon

    Apr 22, 2016 at 8:38 am

    I would like to see a high handicapper do this experiment. Someone in the 20s range go through this with the data so we can see side by side if GI irons are better or not.

    I’m curious to see if GI irons truly benefit a higher handicapper or not.

  3. Hawk

    Apr 21, 2016 at 9:35 am

    As a high handicapper myself I hate GI irons and find them to be a marketing ploy to get more players into golf. One of the biggest reasons people leave the game is because it is so hard to hit the ball. GI irons make it easy, but it doesn’t make you better.

    I maintain this view because I see my game progressively improving year after year, while I see my buddy struggling to get better. We both started playing at the same time. he went the GI route, and can’t chip, pitch, and has no accuracy at all under 100 yards. On the other hand I am very accurate and very good and chipping and pitching when you consider we are both handicapped in the 20s. With every iron I am far more accurate and consistent than my buddy. I play MP-60s.

  4. Eric

    Apr 18, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Very surprised that there is not a larger gap in distance since the JPX 6 iron is 2 degrees stronger than the MP series. To be fair the MP5 does not behave like most blades and is much larger than any other blade offering from Mizuno. I feel that it is way more forgiving than any other MP I have seen outside of the H series. I agree with the earlier comment, I would like to see this test with an MP15 or even a MP4. Those are the last of the compact head, thin top line Mizunos. If not Mizuno test the Titleist MB or Callaway x-forged. It would be fun too for Mark to hit an 11th shot where he tries to “step on it”.

  5. Justin

    Apr 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    This is interesting and I have 2 different views. Being a scratch+ golfer (as I assume Mark is as well) there is no need for me to hit game improvement irons, as I strike the ball in the center of the face more often than most. However, I performed a similar test with taylormade mb irons vs the new PSI forged. I found the PSI’s traveled about 8 yards further on average (after 20+ shots with each) and had just about the same amount of feedback. The spin rates were also very similar, with the main difference being the ball speed and launch angle. Both clubs had X100 Tour Issue shafts and were identical in every way outside of the head obviously. The 8 iron of the blade I believe is 1 or 2 degrees weaker than the PSI, so it doesn’t shock me that it went a little further, but the big surprise was that it actually launched higher on average than the mb. So I think this discussion need to be separated into 2 categories: 1. Players cavity vs blades for low handicappers and 2. GI vs standard/players cavity for higher handicappers. Players cavity irons are the wave of the future as more pros are moving away from blades. The thing that has changed is the feedback we get from the cavity irons is better than ever, and feedback is one of the only reasons I played blades in the past.

    An interesting side study to this would be if there was a way to test players hitting crucial shots in their club championship or other tourney to see how often they can hit the center of the club face under pressure. That brings me to my final thought: confidence. You should hit an iron you feel looks good and sets up well at address. Never choose an iron based on the so called benefits alone. If a thin top line makes you feel better over the ball, you should probably play the mbs over the PSI forged. The few shots that matter greatly during a round (getting out of trouble, forced carry, green with water/sand) are influenced most by how a player feels in the situation. You’ll hit a good shot if you feel you’ve got the right club in your hand. Beyond that, what’s in between your ears is still more important than what’s in your bag.

    • Matto

      Apr 19, 2016 at 5:53 am

      Last I heard, Mark’s a 9. I could be wrong.

      • ParHunter

        Apr 21, 2016 at 5:09 pm

        You must be joking! Check out his GameGolf profile. That calculates a GG handicap (which tends to be close to your real one) of +0.6. Bis average score is 73.7

  6. Daddy Divots

    Apr 18, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    I switched from a players iron to a GI (Speedblade) after about a year of having kids. I had no time to practice and my ball striking suffered. When i made the switch my 1 round per week became a lot more enjoyable and the scores came down significantly.

    I have been as low as a 5 index (pre-kids) and climbed over 12 once the practice sessions were no longer an option. GI irons helped me quickly get back to a solid single digit.

    You can fawn over the blade, it’s beauty or whatever all you want, but the average person or the 12 handicap is going to see improvement with GI irons.

    God bless technology!

    • Hawk

      Apr 21, 2016 at 9:24 am

      I beg to differ. I play MP-60s and my buddy plays RocketBladez. My shots are far more accurate and far more consistent than he has every been. We both started playing at the same time, and both our handicaps are in the 20s.

      there are shots he can’t make and won’t make because he isn’t comfortable with it, or doesn’t know how to do it. For me, there is nothing I can’t hit or do. Call that confidence vs club, but the theory that GI irons will benefit is a total falicy. It is a gimmick to get people to play the game by offering an easier to hit club. Is it easier to hit? Absolutely, but it doesn’t make you a better player. If you want to get better and be a better player, I maintain, even as a high handicapper, stay away from GI irons.

      • BHS

        Apr 22, 2016 at 2:38 pm

        I have to disagree with you Hawk…I did the same thing as Daddy Divots…combo blade set(McGregor V-foil yr 2002 when they were good) to the X-Hot pros by Callaway. I had the same thing happen to me since I didn’t play as much, from 6-7 times every month to 3-4 times with 2 months off. My handicap was going up to 9-10 range from 4-5. Most of the issues was not hitting enough greens from 170-210 range. Since I made the change…dropped back down again. One of my playing buddies is about the same handicap as you and he plays they same no mater what clubs are in his hands, his clubs.. to mine to a friends extra set of blades.
        I do think that this problem helps someone in the 5-12ish handicap range more then someone in your range.

        Honest Question, if you both you and your friend started at the same time and you can hit shots he can’t… and as you said..”On the other hand I am very accurate and very good and chipping and pitching when you consider we are both handicapped in the 20s”
        Have you considered that if you used GI clubs you would be in the teens?

  7. Lowell

    Apr 18, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Nice video and is pretty spot on. A player does not intentionally aim for the toe no matter how high a handicap. A high handicapper is inconsistent in where they hit the golf ball on the face so even if they had a game improvement iron, it would not improve their outcome.

  8. Tony Wright

    Apr 17, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Mark interesting test thank you. Is there any chance you could duplicate the test by hitting the EZ club with the same shaft you use in your MP5 clubs – Dynamic Gold S300? The XP 95 shaft is about 35 grams lighter than the Dynamic Gold shaft, and the XP 95 shaft flex profile throughout the shaft is a lot softer than the Dynamic Gold shaft flex profile. Would that make a difference, who knows unless you do it with the same shaft. All the best.

  9. Square Grooves

    Apr 17, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    So a scratch golfer finds little difference between a blade and a shovel on Trackman. Shocking. Have a 14 handicapper do the same comparison, and watch the blade numbers go sideways.

    • jcorbran

      Apr 17, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      14? average golfer shoots 100, that’s a 28ish. You didn’t hit anything thin or fat, test those clubs while chunking them all, see what works better.

  10. KC

    Apr 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    I recently demo’d the new Titleist 716 irons and the best performer for me was the CB hands down. AP1 were a little bit longer, as you’d expect with the stronger lofts, but those CB’s were going as far as the AP2 and T-MB irons (despite their lofts being a tad stronger) yet felt way more pure. On mis-hits I noticed exactly the same impact to the shot with all the irons, so it really is a no-brainer for me that the CB was what I’d bag from that line. If you can consistently strike the ball then why not play an attractive club like a CB or MB?

    • golfraven

      Apr 20, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      I agree here with you. The only clubs I would consider now are the CBs, even if the AP2 might be the better fit. Maybe even a combo of MBS and CBs but I guess this is just being funky.

  11. JustTrying2BAwesome

    Apr 17, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    I’m surprised a hot faced iron isn’t flying a lot farther than a solid faced blade. Seems to for me in the long irons, but what do I know. Thanks for the review Mark.

  12. Tom Duckworth

    Apr 17, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Very nice Mark. For a number of years I believed I should leave my old blades in the basement because no one can hit them but the pros. I never went full on GI irons I would buy the cavity back cut slot type of iron that I just didn’t really like the feel of. After breaking out my old Wilson Staff blades and hitting many buckets side by side with the cavity back irons like you I could not find any real meaningful difference.
    I hit my irons well but by no means am I a scratch golfer.
    I have to miss hit pretty baddly to really see a difference and a bad strike with any iron is a bad strike.
    I do feel like if mfgs. can convince us that all these different irons will make a difference they will sell more irons. It just make sense if you have six different irons to sell that a golfer will find something in your line they like or think will help them. I’m sure there are golfers that walk in the store and just look at GI irons because that’s what they think they can hit and never look at anything else they might enjoy more. Just think if Titleist made one kind of iron and said “This is the perfect iron” even if it was they would never sell as many. I’m not saying everyone should play blades I play Wilson FG Tour V2s because I like their feel and I know how far it will go when I hit it well but they are never HOT. Blades are not as hard to hit as some would have us believe. I must say I’m glad to see you playing the MP-5s I was a little bummed when you were playing the GI irons.

  13. George

    Apr 17, 2016 at 3:55 am

    I recently went from MacGregor player cavities to MP-59. I tried more game improving irons like XR, XR Pro, but unfortunately I can’t even look at those large heads with the thick top line. Sorry, but look of the head at address is important for me. The MacGregors just spoiled me in that category.

  14. RG

    Apr 17, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Thank you for being the voice of reason Mark. If you hit it out the middle it doesnt matter what you play and “forgiveness” is mostly a marketing tool. Now Guru tell them all about shaft flex! #the truth is out there

  15. Rich

    Apr 16, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    Mark, love your work. Anyone who gives me the drive to go back to blades is alright with me. Would like to see this test done with a 15 marker or something like that. Would be keen to see if there was a similar lack of difference. Cheers

  16. Other Paul

    Apr 16, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    I switched to titlesit 712 mbs. They are amazing. My game rose up to playing them very quickly. Got over the 4i fear as well. Good video Mark. Welcome to WRX.

  17. :-ppp

    Apr 16, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    What a totally clueless comment from somebody who knows nothing

  18. Eee

    Apr 16, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Crossfield says: “We should all just have one ball, one shaft, one head type. And call it a day. Because it’s the Indian and the arrow. All the time. If you know how to strike the ball, you’ll figure it out. I hate all these shaft choices. “

  19. Jordan Speeth

    Apr 16, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    I’ve experienced the same and, as a result, have gone back to a much more blade-y iron (Srixon Z745). If anything, they make me more aware of the fact that I want to/need to strike the ball with the center of the club face and, as a result, I do. The feel, performance, spin control, etc. though, are much better with the Z745 than the GI club in the range. I do have a Z545 4 iron with a stiff Graphite shaft and I think that club carries the ball significantly further than the steel shafted Z745 that would be part of my normal set. It REALLY takes off like a rocket…the Cavity/slot back Z545, that is. Anyway, I find myself agreeing with Mark and the type of player who would supposedly benefit greatly from a GI club, i.e.. 60+ years old, cancer patient (loss of strength/swing speed), losing eyesight/hand-eye coordination but all those factors considered, I’m still a better player with the blades. I was a Ping guy for two decades too. I sometimes play with a vintage set of Haig Ultra blades too, a REAL blade, and I can say that, though they’re still great, contemporary blades are not your grandfather’s clubs. They ARE easier to hit than 50s thru 70s butterknives.

  20. Roger Daltry

    Apr 16, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Play VR Pro blades after Titleist 690.mb’s, best golf of my life after many years of “player cavities.” Connection = feedback = improvement = results. It’s a smarter cycle. Few are aware!

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: The softest forged irons you’ve never heard of and the Cobra RadSpeed hybrid!

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Ever heard of New Level Golf? If you are looking for wildly soft players irons, then you should check them out. The PF-1 blades and the PF-2 cavity backs are as soft as anything on the market right now. Great irons for skilled players.

The Cobra RadSpeed hybrid is a solid mid/high launching hybrid with a solid Cobra feel and sound. Pretty neutral-bias ball flight with only a slight draw.

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Opinion & Analysis

The future of club fitting is going virtual

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Thanks to technology, you can buy everything from custom-made suits to orthotics online without ever walking into a store or working in person with an expert.

Now, with the help of video and launch monitors, along with a deeper understanding of dynamics than ever before, club fitting is quickly going virtual too, and it’s helping golfers find better equipment faster!

What really took so long?

The real advancements started in the coaching world around a decade ago. What used to require heavy cameras and tripods now simply requires a phone and you have a high-definition slow-motion video that can be sent around the world in a matter of seconds.

Beyond video, modern launch monitors and their ability to capture data have quickly turned a guessing game of “maybe this will work” into a precision step-by-step process of elimination to optimize. When you combine video and launch monitor elements with an understanding of club fitting principles and basic biomechanics, you have the ability to quickly evaluate a golfer’s equipment and make recommendations to help them play better golf.

The benefits of virtual fitting

  • Any golfer with a phone and access to a launch monitor can get high-level recommendations from a qualified fitter.
  • Time and cost-saving to and from a fitter. (This seems obvious, but one of the reasons I personally receive so many questions about club fitting is because those reaching out don’t have access to fitting facilities within a reasonable drive)
  • It’s an opportunity to get a better understanding our your equipment from an expert.

How virtual fittings really work

The key element of a virtual fitting is the deep understanding of the available products to the consumer. On an OEM level, line segmentation makes this fairly straightforward, but it becomes slightly more difficult for brand-agnostic fitters that have so many brands to work with, but it also shows their depth of knowledge and experience.

It’s from this depth of knowledge and through an interview that a fitter can help analyze strengths and weaknesses in a player’s game and use their current clubs as a starting point for building a new set—then the video and launch monitor data comes in.

But it can quickly go very high level…

One of the fastest emerging advancements in this whole process is personalized round tracking data from companies like Arccos, which gives golfers the ability to look at their data without personal bias. This allows the golfer along with any member of their “team” to get an honest assessment of where improvements can be found. The reason this is so helpful is that golfers of all skill levels often have a difficult time being critical about their own games or don’t even really understand where they are losing shots.

It’s like having a club-fitter or coach follow you around for 10 rounds of golf or more—what was once only something available to the super-elite is now sitting in your pocket. All of this comes together and boom, you have recommendations for your new clubs.

Current limitations

We can’t talk about all the benefits without pointing out some of the potential limitations of virtual club fittings, the biggest being the human element that is almost impossible to replicate by phone or through video chat.

The other key factor is how a player interprets feel, and when speaking with an experienced fitter recently while conducting a “trial fitting” the biggest discussion point was how to communicate with golfers about what they feel in their current clubs. Video and data can help draw some quick conclusions but what a player perceives is still important and this is where the conversation and interview process is vital.

Who is offering virtual club fittings?

There are a lot of companies offering virtual fittings or fitting consultations over the phone. One of the biggest programs is from Ping and their Tele-Fitting process, but other companies like TaylorMade and PXG also have this service available to golfers looking for new equipment.

Smaller direct-to-consumer brands like New level, Sub 70, and Haywood Golf have offered these services since their inception as a way to work with consumers who had limited experience with their products but wanted to opportunity to get the most out of their gear and their growth has proven this model to work.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Why wedge mastery is so elusive

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I have conducted numerous surveys of golfers over my 40-year golf industry career, because I have always believed that if you want to know what people are thinking, you simply have to ask them.

As a gearhead for wedges and a wedge designer over the past 30 years, most of my research and analysis is focused on these short-range scoring clubs and how golfers use them. What this research continually tells me is that most golfers—regardless of handicap–consider the wedges the hardest clubs in the bag to master. That’s because they are. I would even go so far as to say that the difficulty of attaining mastery even extends to the best players in the world.

Watching the Genesis Open this past weekend, for example, it seemed like these guys were hitting wedge approaches on nearly every hole. And while there were certainly many shots that covered the flag—like Max Homa’s approach on 18–there were also a great number that came up woefully short. Not what you would expect when a top-tier tour professional has a sand or gap wedge in their hands.

The simple fact is that wedges are the most difficult clubs in our bags with which to attain consistent shotmaking mastery, and that is because of the sheer design of the clubhead itself. For clarity of this article, I’m talking about those full- or near full-swing wedge shots, not the vast variety of short greenside shots we all face every round. To get mastery of those shots (like the tour pros exhibit every week), you simply have to spend lots of time hitting lots of shots, experimenting and exploring different techniques. There are no shortcuts to a deadly short game.

But today I’m talking about those prime opportunities to score, when you have a full- or near-full swing wedge into a par-five or short par four. We should live for those moments, but all too often we find ourselves disappointed in the outcome.

The good news is that’s not always all your fault.

First of all, you must understand that every wedge shot is, in effect, a glancing blow to the ball because of the loft involved. With 50 to 60 degrees of loft—or even 45 to 48 degrees with a pitching wedge—the loft of the club is such that the ball is given somewhat of a glancing blow. That demands a golf swing with a much higher degree of precision in the strike than say, an 8-iron shot.

I have always believed that most golfers can improve their wedge play by making a slower-paced swing than you might with a longer iron. This allows you to be more precise in making sure that your hands lead the clubhead through impact, which is a must when you have a wedge in your hands. Without getting into too much detail, the heavier, stiffer shaft in most wedges does not allow this club to load and unload in the downswing, so the most common error is for the clubhead to get ahead of the hands before impact, thereby adding loft and aggravating this glancing blow. I hope that makes sense.
The other aspect of wedge design that makes consistent wedge distance so elusive is the distribution of the mass around the clubhead. This illustration of a typical tour design wedge allows me to show you something I have seen time and again in robotic testing of various wedges.

Because all the mass is along the bottom of the clubhead, the ideal impact point is low in the face (A), so that most of the mass is behind the ball. Tour players are good at this, but most recreational golfers whose wedges I’ve examined have a wear pattern at least 2-4 grooves higher on the club than I see on tour players’ wedges.

So, why is this so important?

Understand that every golf club has a single “sweet spot”–that pinpoint place where the smash factor is optimized—where clubhead speed translates to ball speed at the highest efficiency. On almost all wedges, that spot is very low on the clubhead, as indicated by the “A” arrow here, and robotic testing reveals that smash factor to be in the range of 1.16-1.18, meaning the ball speed is 16-18% higher than the clubhead speed.

To put that in perspective, smash factor on drivers can be as high as 1.55 or even a bit more, and it’s barely below that in your modern game improvement 7-iron. The fact is—wedges are just not as efficient in this measure, primarily because of the glancing blow I mentioned earlier.

But–and here’s the kicker–if you move impact up the face of a wedge just half to five-eights of an inch from the typical recreational golfer’s impact point, as indicated by the “B” arrow, smash factor on ‘tour design’ wedges can be reduced to as low as 0.92 to 0.95. That costs you 40 to 60 feet on a 90-yard wedge shot . . . because you missed “perfect” by a half-inch or less!

So, that shot you know all too well—the ball sitting up and caught a bit high in the face—is going fall in the front bunker or worse. That result is not all your fault. The reduced distance is a function of the diminished smash factor of the wedge head itself.

That same half-inch miss with your driver or even your game-improvement 7-iron is hardly noticeable.

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