"Workability" vs. "Forgiveness" of golf clubs (long)

"Workability" vs. "Forgiveness" of golf clubs (long)

Post by Brent Hut » Fri, 22 Mar 1996 04:00:00


I subscribe to Peterson's Golfing magazine and occasionally pick up some of
the other golf rags at the news stand. The articles I read first are the
ones about equipment. Yes, I know it's the fiddler and not the fiddle that
makes the music, but equipment fascinates me anyway.

It is an assumption of every golf club evaluation that I've seen that there
is a tradeoff between what is usually called "workability" and what is always
called "forgiveness". Most likely the people using these terms have not
stopped to define them in the way an engineer or a scientist would, so maybe
that's why the conclusions don't always seem to agree with reality as I
perceive it.

It seems to me that "forgiveness" has a couple of dimensions. The one basic
to the design of cavity-back irons and metal woods is the characteristic of
making the ball go straight and high when contact takes place slightly above,
below, toe-ward or heel-ward of the center of percussion ("sweetspot").
However, I guess that there could also be forgiveness in terms of making the
ball go high and straight even when the club face is open or closed to the
direction of travel or regardless of how steep or shallow the path of the
club is at the moment of contact.

Now, when somebody wants to "work" the ball, I assume that they manipulate
the club face open or closed and/or make their swing out-to-in ("cut" shot)
or in-to-out ("turning the ball over"). I further assume that they do not
purposely hit the ball above or below the center of percussion or toward
the toe or heel. So "workability" under these assumptions would mean that
the effect of swing path and face angle at impact is a) noticable and
b) repeatable so that the good player can get the desired effect of his/her
manipulation. There is also the dimension of being able to "knock down"
a shot, which I take to mean that the golfer manipulates effective loft
and/or steepness of club path at the moment of impact to affect the
trajectory of the ball.

If there is any validity to these definitions, then a cavity-back club with
a high moment of intertia about the center of percussion could be "forgiving"
in the sense of hitting a relatively high and straight shot when the ball
makes contact slightly away from the center of percussion without giving up
any of the desired (or undesired for hackers like me) modification of the
ball flight according to path and face angle.

By this analysis, for there to be an actual tradeoff between "forgiveness"
and "workability" (assuming my definitions for both terms) then either a
cavity-back club causes the ball to respond less to swing path and face
angle, or "shotmakers" are also deliberately hitting the ball away from the
center of percussion for some reason (which I would find hard to believe).

Actually, the explanation that satisfies the logical principle of parsimony
is that there is in fact no tradeoff between forgiveness and workability
and such assertions are made simply because people implicitly believe that
"there's no such thing as a free lunch" and think that expecting both a
good outcome when you hit the ball away from the sweetspot and the desired
outcome when you cut the ball or turn it over would be akin to having ones
cake and not paying for it too (to mix metaphors).

So help me out, people. What assumptions am I making (other than my basic one
about human natures) that are misguided? Of course, if the answer is that
club reviews in magazines are just so much b.s., that doesn't mean I won't
keep buying them and reading them. I just don't necessarily trust the
conventional wisdom.
-----------------
Brent Hutto

 
 
 

"Workability" vs. "Forgiveness" of golf clubs (long)

Post by Dave Tutelm » Fri, 22 Mar 1996 04:00:00


Quote:

>It is an assumption of every golf club evaluation that I've seen that there
>is a tradeoff between what is usually called "workability" and what is always
>called "forgiveness"....

>It seems to me that "forgiveness" has a couple of dimensions...

   1. Goes straight and reasonably high when hit off-center.
   2. Goes straight and reasonably high when hit with open/closed clubface
      or out->in or in->out clubhead path.

Quote:
>Now, when somebody wants to "work" the ball, I assume that they manipulate
>the club face open or closed and/or make their swing out-to-in ("cut" shot)
>or in-to-out ("turning the ball over")....
>If there is any validity to these definitions, then a cavity-back club with
>a high moment of intertia about the center of percussion could be "forgiving"
>in the sense of hitting a relatively high and straight shot when the ball
>makes contact slightly away from the center of percussion...

>By this analysis, for there to be an actual tradeoff between "forgiveness"
>and "workability" (assuming my definitions for both terms) then either a
>cavity-back club causes the ball to respond less to swing path and face
>angle, or "shotmakers" are also deliberately hitting the ball away from the
>center of percussion for some reason (which I would find hard to believe).

EXCELLENT POINT, Brent!

I too find it hard to believe you can make a club that will follow your
"intention", rather than the actual face angle and clubhead path with which
you strike the ball.  Like you, I don't have trouble believing that missing
the sweet spot can be "forgiven".  It jibes with my experience.  It jibes
with the laws of physics.

But to "forgive" an open clubface or an out-to-in swing path?  Give me a
break!

Quote:
>Actually, the explanation that satisfies the logical principle of parsimony
>is that there is in fact no tradeoff between forgiveness and workability
>and such assertions are made simply because people implicitly believe that
>"there's no such thing as a free lunch" and think that expecting both a
>good outcome when you hit the ball away from the sweetspot and the desired
>outcome when you cut the ball or turn it over would be akin to having ones
>cake and not paying for it too (to mix metaphors).

>So help me out, people. What assumptions am I making (other than my basic one
>about human natures) that are misguided?

I think you're dead on.  But what you may be overlooking is that elusive
characteristic "feel".  There's little doubt that a muscleback gives more
tactile feedback than a cavity back, for the same reason that it's less
forgiving of off-center hits.  That is, an off-center hit will penalize the
hands, not just the ball flight.  I don't doubt that this translates into a
lot of "effects" in the minds of golfers with much talent in shotmaking but
little understanding of the laws of physics, such as:
 - A belief that an on-center hit with a muscleback "feels" more solid than
   an on-center hit with a cavity back.  This has never been justified in
   controlled experiments, nor predicted by theory.  Still it's a widespread
   myth, probably because it feels so much better than an off-center hit,
   and the difference isn't nearly as great with a cavity back.
 - A belief that an on-center hit with a muscleback goes further than an
   on-center hit with a cavity back.  Same comments apply.
 - The effects you point out: the belief that, since hitting off-center with
   a cavity back has less effect on the flight, hitting with an open/closed
   clubface or clubhead path will have less effect on the flight.

Quote:
>Of course, if the answer is that
>club reviews in magazines are just so much b.s., that doesn't mean I won't
>keep buying them and reading them. I just don't necessarily trust the
>conventional wisdom.

The magazine's reviews are flawed in at least two ways, either of which is
crucial:
 - They're exactly the opposite of a controlled experiment, in that they're
   not even single-blind much less double-blind.  Every "blind" experiment
   shows wildly different results from typical magazine club reviews.
 - Most magazines (GD definitely, don't know about Petersen's) accept ads
   from club manufacturers.  Historically, publications that include
   editorial copy from advertisers risk inserting bias into the editorial
   copy.  There are books about this, having nothing to do with golf, from
   early in this century.  (Older, too, I'm sure; but I haven't read those.)

Brent, I think you're onto something here.
Dave

 
 
 

"Workability" vs. "Forgiveness" of golf clubs (long)

Post by Terry J. LeBlan » Fri, 22 Mar 1996 04:00:00

Quote:



> >It is an assumption of every golf club evaluation that I've seen that there
> >is a tradeoff between what is usually called "workability" and what is always
> >called "forgiveness"....

> >It seems to me that "forgiveness" has a couple of dimensions...
>    1. Goes straight and reasonably high when hit off-center.
>    2. Goes straight and reasonably high when hit with open/closed clubface
>       or out->in or in->out clubhead path.

> >Now, when somebody wants to "work" the ball, I assume that they manipulate
> >the club face open or closed and/or make their swing out-to-in ("cut" shot)
> >or in-to-out ("turning the ball over")....

> >If there is any validity to these definitions, then a cavity-back club with
> >a high moment of intertia about the center of percussion could be "forgiving"
> >in the sense of hitting a relatively high and straight shot when the ball
> >makes contact slightly away from the center of percussion...

> >By this analysis, for there to be an actual tradeoff between "forgiveness"
> >and "workability" (assuming my definitions for both terms) then either a
> >cavity-back club causes the ball to respond less to swing path and face
> >angle, or "shotmakers" are also deliberately hitting the ball away from the
> >center of percussion for some reason (which I would find hard to believe).

> EXCELLENT POINT, Brent!

> I too find it hard to believe you can make a club that will follow your
> "intention", rather than the actual face angle and clubhead path with which
> you strike the ball.  Like you, I don't have trouble believing that missing
> the sweet spot can be "forgiven".  It jibes with my experience.  It jibes
> with the laws of physics.

> But to "forgive" an open clubface or an out-to-in swing path?  Give me a
> break!

> >Actually, the explanation that satisfies the logical principle of parsimony
> >is that there is in fact no tradeoff between forgiveness and workability
> >and such assertions are made simply because people implicitly believe that
> >"there's no such thing as a free lunch" and think that expecting both a
> >good outcome when you hit the ball away from the sweetspot and the desired
> >outcome when you cut the ball or turn it over would be akin to having ones
> >cake and not paying for it too (to mix metaphors).

> >So help me out, people. What assumptions am I making (other than my basic one
> >about human natures) that are misguided?

> I think you're dead on.  But what you may be overlooking is that elusive
> characteristic "feel".  There's little doubt that a muscleback gives more
> tactile feedback than a cavity back, for the same reason that it's less
> forgiving of off-center hits.  That is, an off-center hit will penalize the
> hands, not just the ball flight.  I don't doubt that this translates into a
> lot of "effects" in the minds of golfers with much talent in shotmaking but
> little understanding of the laws of physics, such as:
>  - A belief that an on-center hit with a muscleback "feels" more solid than
>    an on-center hit with a cavity back.  This has never been justified in
>    controlled experiments, nor predicted by theory.  Still it's a widespread
>    myth, probably because it feels so much better than an off-center hit,
>    and the difference isn't nearly as great with a cavity back.
>  - A belief that an on-center hit with a muscleback goes further than an
>    on-center hit with a cavity back.  Same comments apply.
>  - The effects you point out: the belief that, since hitting off-center with
>    a cavity back has less effect on the flight, hitting with an open/closed
>    clubface or clubhead path will have less effect on the flight.

> >Of course, if the answer is that
> >club reviews in magazines are just so much b.s., that doesn't mean I won't
> >keep buying them and reading them. I just don't necessarily trust the
> >conventional wisdom.

> The magazine's reviews are flawed in at least two ways, either of which is
> crucial:
>  - They're exactly the opposite of a controlled experiment, in that they're
>    not even single-blind much less double-blind.  Every "blind" experiment
>    shows wildly different results from typical magazine club reviews.
>  - Most magazines (GD definitely, don't know about Petersen's) accept ads
>    from club manufacturers.  Historically, publications that include
>    editorial copy from advertisers risk inserting bias into the editorial
>    copy.  There are books about this, having nothing to do with golf, from
>    early in this century.  (Older, too, I'm sure; but I haven't read those.)

> Brent, I think you're onto something here.
> Dave

I think "forgiveness" means the ability to miss the "sweet spot" by a small margin
and still hitting the ball essentially the same "distance" and "direction" as would
have been accomplished if the "sweet spot" had been centered.  My Wilson Staff
FG-17 clubs will hit the ball much shorter and off-center if the "sweet spot" is
missed by only a small margin.  Missing by that same small margin on most cavity
back perimeter-weighted clubs results in a shot that is much closer to what would
be expected from a "center" hit.  This is what I have found in that past year,
while experimenting with different types of clubs.

I would also think that hitting a golf ball with the face open or closed is going
to impart spin and therefore affect the ball flight, regardless of "type" of club.
 That is "working" the ball from left-to-right or right-to-left, assuming the
flight is intentional.  That is how I attempt to affect the ball flight, by having
the clubface open or closed in relation to the club path.  Some 3-piece balls do
appear to "spin" more than some 2-piece balls, and therefore can be "curved" more
easily.  That can be good or bad, depending on your intentions, etc. <g>

To me, a shot hit with the face of the club not square to the target can't be
"forgiven" by some element in the "design" of the club.  I don't see how that can
be accomplished.  I CAN see how having a larger area in the center of the club that
can effectively transfer the energy of the shot to the ball can improve shot
consistentcy, especially distance.  I tend to agree that most of the "marketing"
used by club manufacturers is mostly "hype" and to be largely discounted.  Doesn't
detract from the enjoyment of the "chase", though. <g>
--
_____________________________________________________________


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"Workability" vs. "Forgiveness" of golf clubs (long)

Post by emty » Sat, 23 Mar 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> Yes, I know it's the fiddler and not the fiddle that
> makes the music, but equipment fascinates me anyway.   This makes you an equipment marketer's dream target =8-)
> It is an assumption of every golf club evaluation that I've seen that there
> is a tradeoff between what is usually called "workability" and what is always
> called "forgiveness".    "Workability" is when you hit into the trees and the carom results in an

open shot to the green.  "Forgiveness" is when the ricochet from the trees
lands in the fairway at the 150 yard marker.

Quote:
> Now, when somebody wants to "work" the ball, I assume that they manipulate
> the club face open or closed and/or make their swing out-to-in ("cut" shot)
> or in-to-out ("turning the ball over").   On days when my driving is erratic I marvel at the contradictory attempts I make

bending (or 'working') my approach shots with irons (Cleveland VAS) designed to
make all my mishits go straight!  (As if the game isn't frustrating enough already!)

Quote:
> Actually, the explanation that satisfies the logical principle of parsimony
> is that there is in fact no tradeoff between forgiveness and workability
> and such assertions are made simply because people implicitly believe that
> "there's no such thing as a free lunch" and think that expecting both a
> good outcome when you hit the ball away from the sweetspot and the desired
> outcome when you cut the ball or turn it over would be akin to having ones
> cake and not paying for it too (to mix metaphors).   Just don't rush your backswing when mixing metaphors because haste makes

the cup runneth over!  Or something like that.

Quote:
> So help me out, people. What assumptions am I making (other than my basic one
> about human natures) that are misguided? Of course, if the answer is that
> club reviews in magazines are just so much b.s., that doesn't mean I won't
> keep buying them and reading them. I just don't necessarily trust the
> conventional wisdom.   Don't trust the conventional wisdom.  There is nothing misguided about your

assumptions.  The club reviews in magazines are _just so much b.s._!  But that
doesn't mean that we will ever stop looking for a better driver, putter, or wedge!
Hit 'em straight, Brent (unless you 'really' need to bend one around that tree trunk!)
                                                                          Paul        

Quote:
> -----------------
> Brent Hutto


--
I need to make a copy of this file.  
Where does the carbon paper go?
 
 
 

"Workability" vs. "Forgiveness" of golf clubs (long)

Post by Howard Koopfersto » Sun, 24 Mar 1996 04:00:00

   At this point in the discussion I would like to mention that Corey
Pavin, who works the ball either way on almost every single shot, is of
course playing Cleveland irons which have possibly the most game
improvement characteristics of any golf clubs in existence.
   For a game which lends itself to analysis and indeed which has been
studied more than any other, the amount of myth and unsubstantiated
evidence which purports to be fact is simply staggering.  

 oboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboy
      Thank God I live in a world where the philosophies of supermodels
                  are given the respect they deserve.
 oboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboy

 
 
 

"Workability" vs. "Forgiveness" of golf clubs (long)

Post by Peter McNe » Sun, 24 Mar 1996 04:00:00

(major snip of lively enthusiastic discussion on 'forgiveness and
workabilty' of clubheads - see previous article)

If I may jump in late with a few pennies worth:

      Blades (muscle-backs) produce less backspin than cavity-backs
because of the weight distribution... Blades: toe to heel.   Cavities:
perimeter.
      When I 'work' the ball with blades, I hit it a slightly glancing
blow with the center of the clubface.  If I used 'cavities' the ball
would not fade or draw as much because the extra backspin would negate
the sidespin;  therefore, I wouldn't be able to 'bend' or 'work' the
ball back to the target as much.  
       If I wanted to play straight shots all the time, I would use
'cavities' -  they would be more 'forgiving' on mishits than blades
because of their extra backspin.  Shorter hitters are better off with
cavity-backs because they don't hit it long enough to need to bend the
ball around things - and keeping the ball out of the long grass saves
their wrists too.  How do I spell 'forgiveness'?  C-a-v-i-t-y-b-a-c-k.
Peter McNeil  (I.P.G.A.)

"I may be wrong for all I know, but I may be right" - Billy Joel

 
 
 

"Workability" vs. "Forgiveness" of golf clubs (long)

Post by Peter McNe » Thu, 11 Apr 1996 04:00:00


Quote:
>> >It is an assumption of every golf club evaluation that I've seen that there
>> >is a tradeoff between what is usually called "workability" and what is always
>> >called "forgiveness"....

>> >It seems to me that "forgiveness" has a couple of dimensions...
>>    1. Goes straight and reasonably high when hit off-center.
>>    2. Goes straight and reasonably high when hit with open/closed clubface
>>       or out->in or in->out clubhead path.

>> >Now, when somebody wants to "work" the ball, I assume that they manipulate
>> >the club face open or closed and/or make their swing out-to-in ("cut" shot)
>> >or in-to-out ("turning the ball over")....

If I may jump in late with a few pennies worth:
        I believe muscle-back or 'blades' have the mass spread out
more 'toe to heel'  than 'top to bottom', and because of this they
produce less backspin than cavity-backed clubs with
'perimeter-weighting'.
        I use the path of my swing to hit a slightly glancing blow
(albeit in the center of my 'square to the target' clubface) to
produce a fade or a draw.  If I tried the same shot with a
cavity-backed club ( having more backspin and less sidespin) the ball
would go straighter (not fade or slice as much) and would, therefore,
not be as 'workable' - it wouldn't come back to the target as much.  
So... 'forgiveness' to me means:  less sidespin, and more backspin.