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Former Masters champ debuts Artisan Golf prototype irons

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Fresh off six missed cuts in six events on the PGA Tour this year, Charl Schwartzel finished T10 at The 2022 Masters. The blast-from-the-past type performance from the 2011 Masters Champ even included a hole-out eagle with an iron from the fairway on the 10th hole in Saturday’s third round.

While Schwartzel’s T10 Masters finish and masterful iron play may seem like it came out of nowhere, a deeper dive into the Artisan prototype blade irons he used provides some clarity.

Let me explain…

Back in 2011, Schwartzel was a Nike staff player who used the company’s Nike VR Pro Blades, which were made by legendary master craftsman Mike Taylor. At the time, Taylor (formerly of the Ben Hogan Equipment Company and Impact Golf Technologies) worked out of Nike’s manufacturing facility, called “The Oven,” in Fort Worth, Texas.

There at The Oven – until Nike Golf shut down its hard goods business in 2016 – Taylor handcrafted irons and wedges for Nike’s top pros, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Anthony Kim, Brooks Koepka, David Duval, and, of course, Schwartzel himself.

After Nike stopped making golf clubs in The Oven in 2016, though, Taylor did not. Instead, alongside John Hatfield, Taylor started a new company called Artisan Golf (watch the video above for more about their start). With a newly nimble crew compared to the Nike days, Artisan began making custom wedges and putters in the same building as The Oven, and using the same machinery.

For Schwartzel, since leaving Nike Golf’s staff in 2016, he’s used clubs made by various manufacturers. He had a stint as a PXG staffer from 2016-2019, and since then he’s been an equipment free agent.

Starting in 2019, and until the 2022 Masters, Schwartzel was using a set of Miura MB-001 blades that he made alterations to himself (pictured above). That’s right, for nearly 3 years, Schwartzel was using a set of irons that he ported himself using a drill press, and he later applied lead tape back onto them himself.

Taylor, obviously, was no longer grinding Schwartzel’s irons and wedges, since he was busy making clubs for Artisan Golf.

Recently, though, Schwartzel ran into some issues with his wedge game and decided to revisit Taylor at Artisan’s Fort Worth manufacturing facility. Schwartzel walked away with two new Artisan Golf wedges (54 and 60 degrees).

“I was struggling with wedges. I went to Mike. He built me a set of wedges, and the wedge problem was solved,” Schwartzel told GolfWRX ahead of the 2022 RBC Heritage.

Taylor and Schwartzel were reunited, but the newfound partnership didn’t end with wedges.

While Schwartzel was at the Artisan Golf facility for his wedge fitting, Taylor showed him a set of blade irons that were (and still are) in the prototype phase. Although Taylor and the Artisan team plan on bringing the blade irons to production in the future, they’ve only been released in the Japan market in limited qualities, but never in America.

Taylor had just gotten in some samples from overseas that he showed to Schwartzel during his wedge fitting.

Schwartzel, who still was using his homemade iron set, took a liking to the Artisan iron prototypes and asked Taylor to send him a set when they were ready. The problem was, Taylor and the Artisan team didn’t have sets readily available.

“When he was here, we had some iron prototypes, and I let him look at them,” Taylor explained on Tuesday. “Several weeks back, he’s like, ‘Hey, did you ever get my irons in?

“I’m like, ‘I have a set of samples here that are all good.

“So, we built those up for him. I don’t think he put any tournament heat on them, but I know he worked with them, practiced with them, and then he goes down there to Augusta and gets a top-10.”

As Schwartzel realized, the new Artisan irons brought back a familiar feel, even though they’re completely new irons.

“Mike built me clubs for 10 years. Probably the 10 best years of my career,” Schwartzel told GolfWRX. “I’ve been on him for awhile to build me irons again. So, he finally did. I think this is the first set that he sent me, just before Augusta. Augusta was my first tournament with them, but they’re very familiar for me. Mike is just so good with the way he weights his clubs. He uses more head weight than anyone else. They’re very familiar for me and I think the results show. I hit the ball really good last week [at The Masters].”

To Schwartzel’s point, Taylor goes against the grain of popular industry philosophies in regards to weight. He prefers to focus on total weight rather than swing weight, and he uses relatively heavy head weights, compared to industry standard, in order to maximize energy in the shaft.

The True Temper Dynamic Gold 120 iron shafts that Schwartzel currently uses.

“I’ve learned a lot in the 11 years since he won the Masters about making golf clubs,” Taylor explained. “Let me just put it to you simply, we need to understand in this business that swing weights are a resultant. Again, swing weights are a result! We have a lot of weight variable in components nowadays, and you win when you make the shaft perform right. What makes the shaft perform right is when the shaft fits, it has to be built properly so it delivers the right amount of energy…it’s all about shaft performance and energy in the shaft. People have gotten way too hung up on swing weight, they don’t even know the total weight of their clubs…use the head weights you believe in to make the shaft work. End of the debate. The total weight when we pick the golf club up is what we feel. It’s all about total weight. A lot of clubs get under built (too light), and the shafts don’t work right.”

As for Schwartzel’s irons themselves, Taylor said he simply made loft and lie adjustments to the production prototypes. They were not actually made for Schwartzel, in particular.

“They’re straight outta the box,” Taylor said. “I didn’t even grind them. They’re a production set of heads set to his loft and lies…those heads are a set of sample heads that I thought looked really good and really consistent. The bottoms are how they’re supposed to be. I didn’t even think about, ‘Hey, here’s an opportunity for him to play these at Augusta.’ Charl wanted a set of irons, the guys a fantastic ball stirker, and has been for a long time. I wanted to put a set of irons in his hands. I wanted feedback.”

The irons that Schwartzel played are prototype versions of irons that Artisan Golf plans to sell sometime in the unannounced future. Taylor, who says he’s been working on the irons for about 2 years, isn’t yet committing to a date when they’ll be available; he doesn’t want to rush it, even though the consumer demand is unrelenting.

According to Taylor, the irons are precision forged, then use a four-axis machine process to control weight, dimensions and shapes (such as cavity, sole, grooves, hosel, etc.), and then they are hand polished. Aesthetically, the numbers on the sole are a throwback to his days at the Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company in the 1980’s.

“I like them clean,” Taylor said. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years. Part of it is I want you to look at the numbers on the bottom those golf clubs. Those numbers on the bottom of these models, that’s my tribute to my beginnings at the Ben Hogan company. I wanted an old school, traditional looking number on there that says, ‘That’s Mike Taylor. He started doing this at the Ben Hogan Company in Fort Worth in 1987.’ It’s simple, but it’s good stuff. It’s not any big marketing story. Good grooves, good weights, good progression of shapes, and they deliver energy to the golf ball. You get fit and get the right shaft, you’re going to be good.”

With Ben Hogan-inspired numbers on their sole, and a Texas flag-inspired colorway inside the Artisan Golf logo stamped on their back cavity, Schwartzel’s new Artisan prototype irons helped him get his groove back at the 2022 Masters. It may have been with a new look, but it has that old feel.

For more photos and discussion of Charl Schwartzel’s Artisan irons, click here.

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Golfguy

    Apr 20, 2022 at 6:24 pm

    Love the clean look, the story and would probably love the clubs. As for people complaining about the price…if you can’t afford them don’t buy them, but don’t jump up on your soapbox about them being overpriced. Just because you can’t afford them doesn’t give you the right to disparage them.
    I couldn’t justify spending $1300 on a custom TM Stealth driver so I didn’t buy it, but I also didn’t talk smack about it being overpriced.
    When I look down at my clubs I want to be happy with what I see and completely confident that if I make a good swing I’m going to get the most out of them.
    By the way, money can buy happiness, maybe not ultimate happiness but it can buy happiness in uncertain terms.

  2. Sweet

    Apr 17, 2022 at 11:42 am

    The people on here making comments about Artisan being overpriced have absolutely ZERO clue what they are talking about. I have an Artisan putter.. very expensive… But you don’t get Artisan products without being fit by Mike or John. You pay for the expertise and attention to detail from two of the most talented and respected club makers in the history of the game. I spent 2.5 house 1 on 1 with John going over my putting game… It wasn’t a lesson but it was. He had me try a few small changes to my putting that were incredible and that process informed how he would build my putter. And I am no one special… An 11 handicap. The club he built for me is unbelievable and gives me a level of confidence I didnt know was possible.

    So speak all you want about the price on the clubs, but until you have gone through the process you couldn’t possibly properly assess the value. But hey, good luck at Golf Galaxy…

    • AF

      Apr 18, 2022 at 9:18 pm

      You are right on all accounts Sweet. I actually consider it a great value given all the short game wisdom I learned talking with both John & Mike during a couple visits there.

  3. ericsokp

    Apr 15, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    Beautiful irons (that look really hard to hit!). Can’t wait to see a 16 handicapper at my local muny show up with a set! 🙂

  4. Jason

    Apr 14, 2022 at 8:14 am

    The irons look very nice, but there’s nothing that would separate them from other brands, except for the price. You won’t see average income, scratch golfers playing these. And that’s a shame. Golf has become way too expensive for people to enjoy, and more of an ego trip. $650 for a pair of used Artisan wedges on ebay, no thanks.

  5. Max

    Apr 13, 2022 at 6:44 pm

    Mp-33 much?

    • Davys Doobies

      Apr 13, 2022 at 11:02 pm

      Every other muscleback iron since 1960s much?

  6. HR Fernández

    Apr 13, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    Nice story and nice set.

    Unfortunately,like everything Artisan, probably highly overpriced.

    • HR Fernández

      Apr 13, 2022 at 7:26 pm

      If you can afford a caddy you can afford Artisan irons.

      • RH Hernandez

        Apr 13, 2022 at 7:52 pm

        I can’t afford a caddy.

      • H.R. Fernández

        Apr 14, 2022 at 10:21 am

        Don’t hate because you can’t afford a nice lifestyle coward, lol…

  7. Benny

    Apr 13, 2022 at 11:34 am

    what a story. awesome. Love all of it and gets me fired up.

    I want a set hahahaha!!

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the best older hybrids 

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In our forums, our members have been discussing older hybrids. WRXer ‘akronswitness’ recently played with a Nike Covert hybrid and was blown away with the results, saying:

“Played the other day with a friend’s old, beat up Nike Covert 3H, and I absolutely crushed it. It was my first time really using a hybrid, and I hit a bunch of great straight, easy shots with it. Even planted one about 5-6ft from the pin from 220 out. Something my 4i definitely cannot do.

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And our members have been sharing their top suggestions in our forum.

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.

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Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (8/23/22): Miura MB-001 irons

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At GolfWRX, we are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways.

It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buying and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a set of Miura MB-001 irons.

From the seller (@wholeinone): “Muira MB-001 – $1000 $900. RH. 3-PW. Nippon NS Pro 950gh. Stiff. Iomic Black . 4 iron chip, see picture below.”

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Miura MB-001 irons

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

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Whats in the Bag

Min Woo Lee WITB 2022 (August)

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Driver: Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond S (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Red 7 X

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