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Phils X-Tour Irons


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Even more are than you think!!!!
Over the weekend I was talking equipment with some acquaintances (un-named for reasons) and we were talking shop about Cally equipment on the course.

To my surprise I was told that Phils X-Tours are not forged, they are MILLED from carbon steel. I believe only a few sets, like 3 or 4 were made and phil has them and one he gave to a good friend of his (????)

I guess each set cost about $8,000 to make.

Some of you in the know might have know this but it was news to me so I just thought i would do my duty and share.
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I saw that mention of $5,000 for Phil's personal set as well. Part of the reason that they had to be manufactured as one-off sets are that Callaway didn't have molds for left handed heads at that time (they're available lefty now).

 

The X-Tour heads are two piece, sort of like the Bertha Fusion. The faces are forged steel, but in the production sets, the body of the head is cast. This is different than a traditional Titleist or Mizuno blade which the entire head is a single steel forging.

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I am pretty sure the the Titliest 731PM are Cast 431 Stainless Steel, which makes me think that maybe he personally likes the feel of these Cast clubs better.

 

Can anyone explain what MOBONIC meant by, "MILLED from Carbon Steel"?

 

Does that mean the irons are milled once they come out of the molds?

 

What are the advantages of manufacturing irons this way?

 

I know I have asked a lot of questions but I just have never heard of this process before.

 

I know you WRX's have all the answers :)

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figure closer to 5,000...Phil said it himself in a golf mag

 

Don't forget that for many months Phil claimed his 731 were forged until Titleist informed him they weren't. I'm not sure Phil always has the straight scoop on his equipment's manufacturing. At one time he also mentioned when he signed with Yonex out of school that he was going to play their cast ADX Tour irons---those were forged. Nobody cared in those days because he was just starting out and so were forums like these in their infancy.

 

Doesn't really matter much if you use cast carbon steel to start and mill it or forge it. If phils are cast first and then milled they are probably 8620 (like clevelands TA-1s, and a multitude of todays wedges) which are then machined and finished/plated. The retail X-Tours are made from 1020 (pretty soft) in two pieces. The hosel and back weight and the face. Both are machined post forging, the face is laser welded to the back weight and hosel and then finished/plated. It is cheaper to cast clubs than to forge them---number of steps (stamping dies vs. mold) involved. Also forging tends to align the grains of steel tighter than casting which can eliminate many in material "voids/flaws". Casting you are kind stuck with flow patterns into the mold. Some areas will be tighter than others just due to the process.

 

I'm not sure that 95% of the golfers could tell the difference between the two (8620 or 1020) if you had an example of each in the same design. Probably could tell the difference if comparing 431 or 355 stainless to a forging however.

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a 100% MILLED carbon steel set will be softer then foged jsut because the carbon steel has not been heated in the forging

 

You obviously have never "poured" metal into a mold. That is how they get the product to mill in the first place. And yes it is heated more than a forging because it must be liquid to flow into the mold so you can then mill it. Cope, Drag, Sprue, Vent just a few terms of having to do with producing this 100% milled product you refer to. And believe me from spending many years in casting plants the metal is heated. (1500 degrees C seems hot to me)

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figure closer to 5,000...Phil said it himself in a golf mag

 

Don't forget that for many months Phil claimed his 731 were forged until Titleist informed him they weren't. I'm not sure Phil always has the straight scoop on his equipment's manufacturing. At one time he also mentioned when he signed with Yonex out of school that he was going to play their cast ADX Tour irons---those were forged. Nobody cared in those days because he was just starting out and so were forums like these in their infancy.

 

Doesn't really matter much if you use cast carbon steel to start and mill it or forge it. If phils are cast first and then milled they are probably 8620 (like clevelands TA-1s, and a multitude of todays wedges) which are then machined and finished/plated. The retail X-Tours are made from 1020 (pretty soft) in two pieces. The hosel and back weight and the face. Both are machined post forging, the face is laser welded to the back weight and hosel and then finished/plated. It is cheaper to cast clubs than to forge them---number of steps (stamping dies vs. mold) involved. Also forging tends to align the grains of steel tighter than casting which can eliminate many in material "voids/flaws". Casting you are kind stuck with flow patterns into the mold. Some areas will be tighter than others just due to the process.

 

I'm not sure that 95% of the golfers could tell the difference between the two (8620 or 1020) if you had an example of each in the same design. Probably could tell the difference if comparing 431 or 355 stainless to a forging however.

 

You da man Sandy - that was exactly the type of answer i was looking for. :)

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but what i was saying is that the milled stuff will be softer then the foged because it dose not yed heated as much.. where do you think the foged stuff come from that has tobe cast too!!!

 

 

Sorry you are just plain wrong. Milling has NOTHING to do with how soft something will be or what temperature something is created at. It is only a finishing process.

 

Every process starts with billets of certain metal designations. All of those billets were created by melting and casting. So each starts basically the same.

 

Cast clubs (431, 355, 17-4, 8620) are created by melting the billets (around 2200 deg. F and up---pretty hot) and pouring that metal into an investment cast mold. From there you get your raw unfinished head. That head is then milled and ground to shape. When finished it is finished either by polishing or plating or some other finish. This club has experienced the highest temperature of any of the clubs since it is remelted (from it's original billet form) and poured to create the basic club head. Once again Milling has nothing to do with how soft something is or how hot the head gets.

 

Forging (1020, 1025, 1030, S30-japanese 1030) on the other hand starts with a similar billet of carbon steel which is heated to a formable temperature (certainly not liquid form as a cast is for pouring) and is taken along a series of progressive forming dies that eventually forms the basic club head shape. The softness comes from the basic metal used and the continual heating and pounding of the grain into a tight void/less flawed condition (you get what you get with the cast club after the pouring--some try some further heat treating that can also add to the heat a cast club sees). That head is then ground and sometimes milled grooves to finish it as well. It is then most often chrome finished.

 

Form Forging (Faux Forging to many) is the third method in which a metal (8620) is melted and investment cast to shape following a few poundings with many fewer dies than a true forging to make the cast club a little softer due to grain realignment---but still not as soft as a true forging. It is then ground and milled and finished like the others.

 

The total heating and reheating that a club head sees is much greater on the heat side for a cast club. It sees at least two complete liquid form heatings (raw material and club formation) while a forging will see one complete liquid form heating (raw material). You can talk all you want about heat treating (like ping does with their cast clubs to improve the feel) but the softest is still going to be the true forging.

 

Cast clubs experience more heating than forged clubs and all experience milling of some sort. Believe me the X-Tours can not be machined from a solid block of steel. They must be at least 2 pieces whether forged or cast due to the undercut cavity. Seriously doubt the original contention based on Phil's past and until someone can tell us what the metal used was and the process it was created by it remains urban legend. It could be done but wouldn't produce anything but a very expensive club with no playability upside.

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All steel is molten and poured into a form at some point. The difference is whether that is final pour - into a clubhead mold - or into a block mold. The block mold becomes the parent material to make a clubhead. This block can be easily forged and then the clubhead milled out of the block.

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As i stated in the original post, the irons are not Forged or cast, they are each individually milled from a piece of carbon steel.

 

I'm not sure if 2 pieces were milled then joined like the retail set or if phils clubs are completly milled from one piece.

 

All i know now if that milled clubs are WAY more expensive and labor intensive than just forged.

 

Sufice to say that i'm sure Phils X-tour perform much different than any other sey Callaway has made, not to say better or worse but unique to Phils wants.

 

And I heard from people at Cally that, "What Phil wants, Phil GETS!"

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As i stated in the original post, the irons are not Forged or cast, they are each individually milled from a piece of carbon steel.

 

I'm not sure if 2 pieces were milled then joined like the retail set or if phils clubs are completly milled from one piece.

 

All i know now if that milled clubs are WAY more expensive and labor intensive than just forged.

 

Sufice to say that i'm sure Phils X-tour perform much different than any other sey Callaway has made, not to say better or worse but unique to Phils wants.

 

And I heard from people at Cally that, "What Phil wants, Phil GETS!"

 

You need to supply more data before this has any validity. What is the carbon steel (8620 or 1020). Impossible to mill this iron from a block of steel in 1 piece. At least two pieces are required with this design--no cutter has been invented to cut the configurations present in this iron. Plus any pictures of phil's irons it would be instantly obvious that they are milled by looking at things like the hosel and it's degree of roundness. So far in the pictures I have seen that isn't evident. Plus it makes no sense why he would want a totally milled set since the block of steel they would start with would result in a very harsh feeling iron (no forging or heat treating of a casting). It would be made out of a raw material piece of steel with various voids/flaws etc. that heat treating and forging remove. He could get one iron that was dead feeling and another that was "hot". There is no way he could get anything resembling a soft feeling iron out of a configuration like this. If this were done your guess of $8000 per set is far far off. More like $20,000 per set based on NC programming and cutter costs.

 

Nice however that his "friend" that he gave the other set to is (must be) left handed :)

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Probably not 2 piece and definitely dont have the bore thru hosel. Well at least one set doesnt have bore thru. And you can mill anything out of whatever type of metal you want with the equipment and tech guys callyway has. I would think that they were heated at some point tho like was stated earlier.

 

Having seen the production models made in person there is no way these aren't multiple pieces, even chemical or laser machining (none of which is employed at callaway---been there seen that as well--have you?) can not accomplish the cavity cuts that are present. Every time I've looked in Phil's bag (most recently in N.O.) his irons are still bore-throughs that have forged on the hosel (not milled). If it is a totally different design that is more traditional it is certainly possible to machine it out of any material if they want. But the way phil is playing it would seem counterproductive to get him into a new design.

 

Pictures would help immensely---like the Cobra muscle back irons (which weren't in existence until pictures were posted). Anyone with a machining/metalurgical background can tell if the product is cast, forged, or machined. Keep in mind every iron produced today has some milling as part of the finishing process---usually the face and sometimes to add "decoration" to the cavity, but none are totally milled as it makes no sense cost wise but more importantly zero sense function wise. Maybe a set will turn up at our favorite home shopping network site. He should be able to get $50,000 for them---and I suppose someone will bite.

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Pop goes the weasel. I attended a Seminar given by Callaway and Annika today at a off course range in Mich. That was very interesting but I sat beside the tour club reps. for a couple of the pro tours. I laughingly asked about Phil's 100% milled set of X-Tours. They both got a good belly laugh out of it. Thought it indeed would be a magnificent feat of machining but 1. Saw no reason for it feel or performance wise, 2. Had never heard anything about it, 3. Neither had seen anything like that in Phil's bag as recently as New Orleans (which is the same thing I saw), 4. If such a thing were indeed being considered nothing has been mentioned to them or the other tour reps. (I would guess they might hear/see first), 5. Even if they were in development no one would know about them except the designers/developers since they are a publically traded company and can't afford information about undeveloped product to leak out.

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Without having the X-tours in hand I can't speak for the machinabibly, but when there is a will there is a way.

 

And they COULD make a forged iron that was also milled. Simply start off with a forged billet and then mill it down. The machining will not affect the grain structure achieved by forging.

 

Also don't level out the new kid on the block Cryogenics... only new by steel industry standards.

 

 

 

Now getting onto the feel question...

 

After being hammered over the head with the concept, by the likes of scotty cameron, I've come to believe that the most important ingrediant in "feel" is the sound at impact. Vibration is produce at the impact of club and ball. The vibrations will travel faster through air than up through the shaft, the air vibrations are sound. So you've probably already passed judgement on the "feel" based on sound before the vibrations reach your hand. To further this claim, I have read these message boards for a long time and never have I read wear someone claimed a grip changed the "feel" of a clubhead. So using that as our first assumption...

 

If we think about a bell and what could affect its sound we'll quickly draw upon material, size, shape, thickness, ect.

 

So in golf club land we can see there are many things that affect the "feel" of a club, not just the material.

 

It seems to be my impression that "soft feel" is equated to a deadened sound at impact. If this is true than than forging would give you a very harsh feel. As has been stated before forging alligns the little crystals in the steel. In the industrial world this gives you a material that will be maluable, in other words it will be able to bend without breaking... or further yet a "soft" material. But the same characteristics that give you the maluable material also give you a material that will resonate. Since all the crystals are nice and packed together, they will all vibrate together. This is why cymbals and gongs are forged. This science is all well and good but it contradicts what we all know from our experience. I myself have play a set of forged irons that feel nice and soft.

 

Well I think it has a lot to do with the finish. I think the chrome plating that is most common in forged products is what gives us the soft feel. The forging process did a fantastic job of getting all those steel crystals together, but then the plater comes along and throws on a copper precoat to give the chrome something to stick to and them finally dips them in the liquid chrome. I think that the plating does a lot to dulll the resonance.

 

I know also Joe K. likes to talk about wood dowls in the hosel and there magic effect on iron. Yet another method of muting the sound.

 

I could be all wet here... its just my theory.... but if any of this is true than we'd probably benifit from playing plated cast irons, since they won't wear as hard.

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Without having the X-tours in hand I can't speak for the machinabibly, but when there is a will there is a way.

 

And they COULD make a forged iron that was also milled. Simply start off with a forged billet and then mill it down. The machining will not affect the grain structure achieved by forging.

 

Also don't level out the new kid on the block Cryogenics... only new by steel industry standards.

 

 

 

Now getting onto the feel question...

 

After being hammered over the head with the concept, by the likes of scotty cameron, I've come to believe that the most important ingrediant in "feel" is the sound at impact. Vibration is produce at the impact of club and ball. The vibrations will travel faster through air than up through the shaft, the air vibrations are sound. So you've probably already passed judgement on the "feel" based on sound before the vibrations reach your hand. To further this claim, I have read these message boards for a long time and never have I read wear someone claimed a grip changed the "feel" of a clubhead. So using that as our first assumption...

 

If we think about a bell and what could affect its sound we'll quickly draw upon material, size, shape, thickness, ect.

 

So in golf club land we can see there are many things that affect the "feel" of a club, not just the material.

 

It seems to be my impression that "soft feel" is equated to a deadened sound at impact. If this is true than than forging would give you a very harsh feel. As has been stated before forging alligns the little crystals in the steel. In the industrial world this gives you a material that will be maluable, in other words it will be able to bend without breaking... or further yet a "soft" material. But the same characteristics that give you the maluable material also give you a material that will resonate. Since all the crystals are nice and packed together, they will all vibrate together. This is why cymbals and gongs are forged. This science is all well and good but it contradicts what we all know from our experience. I myself have play a set of forged irons that feel nice and soft.

 

Well I think it has a lot to do with the finish. I think the chrome plating that is most common in forged products is what gives us the soft feel. The forging process did a fantastic job of getting all those steel crystals together, but then the plater comes along and throws on a copper precoat to give the chrome something to stick to and them finally dips them in the liquid chrome. I think that the plating does a lot to dulll the resonance.

 

I know also Joe K. likes to talk about wood dowls in the hosel and there magic effect on iron. Yet another method of muting the sound.

 

I could be all wet here... its just my theory.... but if any of this is true than we'd probably benifit from playing plated cast irons, since they won't wear as hard.

 

Plated cast irons have been around for quite a while. Reid Lockhart, Adams A2 Tours are just a couple that come to mind. The Reids feel pretty good while the Adams are nothing to jump and shout about (unless you are trying to sell some :) )

 

The forging, heating, heat treating and all that goes into the making of a soft feeling iron aren't just material related (you could get into a year's long discussion on metal properties and how much realignment is necessary to impact feel and sound--but it wouldn't mean too much if you didn't have metalurgical degree) they can be impacted by the design as well. The Cobra forged CBs are an example. Anyone that owned the original forged SSs can not believe what a backward step the CBs are. They are the exact same material (S30 japanese equivalent of 1030) but very slight design changes have virtually made them two totally different irons. A very subtle weight change in the cavities is the main culprit---can not tell it unless you have them both side by side. The others aren't as important as the cavity change. (sole grind--traditional but suprisingly not as forgiving as the skid sole design and the increased offset---whether real or visual impacts the look at address). The first dead giveaway that something was askew was when I saw dynamic gold sensicore shafts in the heads. The originals were soft as butter with 1/4 inch short dynamic golds. Anytime you see a forging with a sensicore shaft in it you need to seriously demo it because it ain't there to save your wrists and elbows from vibration its there because even the manufacturer has determined the clubs don't feel very forged like. Tiny Tiny changes totally wrecked a cult classic. If you never owned a set of the SSs you would probably think the CBs feel as good as any forging out today (exception maybe Mizuno MP-32s).

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Now getting onto the feel question...

 

After being hammered over the head with the concept, by the likes of scotty cameron, I've come to believe that the most important ingrediant in "feel" is the sound at impact. Vibration is produce at the impact of club and ball. The vibrations will travel faster through air than up through the shaft, the air vibrations are sound. So you've probably already passed judgement on the "feel" based on sound before the vibrations reach your hand.

 

I agree that feel in golf comes mainly from sound, but I must dispute your claim that sound comes before actual feel for the clubhead through vibration. In physics, one learns that waves travel fastest in solids, slower in liquids, and slowest in gases because atoms are much, much closer together in solids and liquids than in gases. Therefore, if one assumes that longitudinal (compression) waves in the form of vibration in the clubhead and sound in the air are created at the same time (which they are), then we know that the vibrations reach your hands before the sound reaches your ears.

 

Sorry for the confusion I shouldn't have said faster... I tried to over simplify things...

 

Yes you are right in most cases sound travels faster through a solid than a gas due to the molecular density. This same molecular density also works against the sound wave by means of attenuation, or the opposite of amplification. So although the sound waves from impact are hitting your hand before the sound hits your ear, they are so muffled that they can't be noticed... unless you really skull one on a cold day! Most of the vibration we feel is the shaft oscillation after impact, which you feel after you hear the impact.

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