Why is Soft Good?

JB

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For the last decade so many buzz words have been thrown around about irons and wedges such as buttery, super soft, etc. that I got to thinking about impact and what the sensation is and why it is important.

For the last 3 weeks, I have spent hours talking with club designers, metal experts, R&D folks about this very thing and have come to a few conclusions on this topic, but I want to hear from the people here.

Why is feel so important? It is something that happens for a split second at impact and nothing can be determined on whether or not it has any impact in scores. It is not something you feel before a shot and really after a shot (minus miss feedback of course), but something that is discussed over and over as the determining factor in our club buying.

Why is soft feel better than hard feel? Yet in other clubs the hardest metals are the most desirable for distance. How much of a role does marketing play in this as a total package? I know we all hate to hear about that from the consumer stand point, but its out there and it affects all of us.

We have a perceived feeling before we even hit a club on how its going to feel most of the time. Regardless if we as golfers want to acknowledge it, its out there. If the goal is extremely soft, it could be manipulated to be that way with internal and external "ingredients", yet in the end, us consumers still want what we consider "pure".

Is it because as one club maker put it, "we need a reason and validation for making the club purchases we make, and logic is not one of them. Therefore we use the term feel to let everybody (including ourselves) know just how great of a purchase we just made". Or is there really something tangible that says we must have this soft impact in our hands and ears to take us to the next level.

It has been a fascinating few weeks for me discussing this with the true experts in the industry, and I would love to hear from everybody on the topic.
 

CharlieMoy

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I think people say soft is good simply because harsh is bad, and the two are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Im not so sure of "the softer the better", but I dont like harsh feelings when I swing. Just my thoughts on it.


I swung Raptures the other day, and was thinking about the redlines too. But after really sitting and thinking about it(raptures), I wasnt able to really feel the ball come off of the clubface, which made me feel like I was unsure of the distance control I wouldve had with those clubs.
 

Canadan

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I think a lot of the time 'soft' gets attributed to 'pure'... I know when I mishit my MP-63s, it's a pretty dull, harsh feeling, but when I strike the ball pure in the center of the club it's like the club is hitting a little pillow.

For me, soft is pure and pure is golden. It may change from club to club, but there is a feeling of success with shots that feel soft at least in my setup.
 

the_paulo

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It's such a subjective term, and most of it is down to how you expect it to 'feel'. Can't remember an instance where I've picked up a club, say a wedge, expecting it to feel hard and harsh, then walked away surprised at how 'soft' it felt.

On the other side of the coin, I'll hit you on the head a few times with your forged wedge, then tell me how soft it actually feels.
 

TexasHacker34

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I am not really sure. I think maybe soft is better because the opposite, like Thainer said, is harsh. No one likes that stinging feeling of catching the club the wrong way so feeling the "softness" is good. I don't think that it helps lower scores, but I do know if your hitting shots that feel harsh all day then your scores more than likely aren going to be that good.
 

biggsy

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Like Thainer said, softer feels better than harsh. Plain and simple. I hit a harsh club the other week that a friend was raving about and I took one swing, hit it pure and thought my hands were going to explode from the resonance up the shaft. I had him try my irons and he was blown away. I think there is a point where an iron or wedge can be too soft.

Than again, I think if it's too soft, you lose some feel. I experienced that hitting the new Callaway Jaws wedges. Just a little too soft for me and I like my wedges to be a little harder.

It's just a preference from what I am used to feeling.
 

johndeere10

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I know you can feel a shot through your hands and arms but I think softness also depends on what the player hears. There are other factors like the ball they are using but mostly I think its what they hear that plays a big factor what they considera clubs feel/softness. There are certain finishes and metals that make a more clicky sound and some might see that as harder depending on the ball. Some wedges have nickel and chrome finish that should be give a more click sound than a black oxide or oilcan finish. I've found some SS putters that felt softer than carbon ones just based on grade of stainless and finish on the carbon putter. I just think sound and feel go toegether when someone is trying to determine softness of a club.

I had set of shiny chrome Vokey wedges that I hated. They felt and sounded harsh when you would hit a ball. Now I use nickel satin chrome Miuras but they are like night and day in feel. I guess you can go into cast vs forge but also I think it is what they are made from and the process that makes a big difference in feel.
 
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thedue

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I think soft for me means a feeling of control. When I hit the old Nickents right there's really very little feel at all, just "Pure"? If I hit high on the face its sort of hollow, or to low its a sting, but center just feels smooth as it accelerates through. Putters are some what similar to a degree. I feel I have more control with that soft sensation and feel the distance I want to hit it, but in all of this the sounds could be more of the effect than what I'm actually feeling.
 

Chunkylover77

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I've gotta go to work but feel to me is important because it is the moment of impact. Harsh shots tend to not go well. But a nice strike on center club face will almost always feel "soft". The feedback you get from soft shots is that they are exactly what you want from a golf shot.
 

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I agree with what others have said that it is definitely subjective. Personally, I associate soft with smooth (which is a great feeling at impact) as opposed to hard/harsh/vibration. No one wants irons that hurt at impact because the impact is so harsh.
 

JB

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I think people say soft is good simply because harsh is bad, and the two are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Im not so sure of "the softer the better", but I dont like harsh feelings when I swing. Just my thoughts on it.


I swung Raptures the other day, and was thinking about the redlines too. But after really sitting and thinking about it(raptures), I wasnt able to really feel the ball come off of the clubface, which made me feel like I was unsure of the distance control I wouldve had with those clubs.
I am not really sure. I think maybe soft is better because the opposite, like Thainer said, is harsh. No one likes that stinging feeling of catching the club the wrong way so feeling the "softness" is good. I don't think that it helps lower scores, but I do know if your hitting shots that feel harsh all day then your scores more than likely aren going to be that good.
Like Thainer said, softer feels better than harsh. Plain and simple. I hit a harsh club the other week that a friend was raving about and I took one swing, hit it pure and thought my hands were going to explode from the resonance up the shaft. I had him try my irons and he was blown away. I think there is a point where an iron or wedge can be too soft.

Than again, I think if it's too soft, you lose some feel. I experienced that hitting the new Callaway Jaws wedges. Just a little too soft for me and I like my wedges to be a little harder.

It's just a preference from what I am used to feeling.
Question for those that are feeling this way. Most of the clubs that are considered "buttery soft" have horrible harsh feels when mis-hit. Obviously this is attributed to feedback, so how does one determine when it is good to have harsh and bad to have harsh feelings in a club?
 

#Cookie

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Question for those that are feeling this way. Most of the clubs that are considered "buttery soft" have horrible harsh feels when mis-hit. Obviously this is attributed to feedback, so how does one determine when it is good to have harsh and bad to have harsh feelings in a club?
I do not think it is necessarily ever good for it to be harsh but is a result of having a players club and not hitting it on the sweet spot. Only good part about is that it provides feedback to the golfer - essentially a built in training aid with immediate feedback.
 

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I've said it before and I'll repeat my feelings. Feel is overrated when it comes to making club purchases and has more to do with ego and validating our idea of what type of player we are.

That said, I wouldn't want something that hurt my hands. Still, I wouldn't buy a club that performed worse than others just because it 'felt' better (assuming there was no pain involved).
 

CharlieMoy

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Question for those that are feeling this way. Most of the clubs that are considered "buttery soft" have horrible harsh feels when mis-hit. Obviously this is attributed to feedback, so how does one determine when it is good to have harsh and bad to have harsh feelings in a club?
Not so sure I would play a club that I received harsh feedback. I think there are many clubs that offer feedback without it being harsh at all. It all depends on your striking ability, and what you deem a mishit.
 

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The only really take notice of things advertised as 'soft' when it comes to balls.

As has been mentioned, a soft golf club is only soft when its hit out the middle. Not metal on earth is soft on a stone cold knife!

I refer the X versions on most balls ie. harder option. So any ball advertised as 'soft' i avoid really. As a person who looks into golf equipment quite heavily prior to purchase i can see around the obvious advertising, most golfers who see 'soft' on the packaging go buy the product not really knowing if they actually like it or not.
 

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Not about clubs, but I find it interesting when people say how soft their Tour ball feels off the face of the club. The cores are not really soft compared to many other balls. Does a urethane cover somehow translate feel through a pound of metal and a rubber grip? More likely that it's marketing telling people what they feel.
 

Danilo

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I personally think it all has to do with the feedback you get when you hit the club.
When I mention that "butter" feel, I'm taking about a club that feels very nice to hit,(good shots, not misses) smooth etc... It has nothing to do with the hit being soft or not, it just has to do with feel.... On the same hand, I don't like a club that has that smooth feel, and will not give feedback on miss hits. I need the feedback, so that I know when it's on the money, and when it's off.
 

Singlestick

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All the Titleist pro's choose between the Pro V1 (softer) or Pro V 1 x (harder).

Therefore, when it comes to feeling off the club face, the ball choice is by far the most important thing when it comes to the feel/how soft it is. Pro V1x's are quite obviously a harder ball and as such feel harder off the club face.

People go on about Muria forgings are 'buttery soft' but if they are using a hard ball then in my mind thats just rubbish. Its metal for gods sake not a lump of Lurpak.
 
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This is not an easy question to use the correct terms for the reply but here we go.

In everything we do in life our senses are used to varying degrees. It is however, VERY rare that one of our senses is used in isolation when doing anything. For example, when we eat, we taste with our mouth, nose and eyes. If you block out any one of those the food will taste differently. Just try eating something with a blinfold on and holding your nose at same time. You will be amazed.

The same is true of golf, and probably most sports. The term soft to me definately equates to feel with irons and putter. However, with the old driver feel is not so much of an issue but with this club sound is an important factor on whether we achieve feel or not. We have all stood next the the guy with one of those square monsters that sounds like a bomb going off. Those to me , as good as they may be, just sound harsh and lack feel. I could not bring myself to use something sounding like that. A certain amount of 'hard feel' is important with the big dog as it makes us think that we can smack it a long way. If it were to feel too soft we would get the feeling that it was dead.

Some of these manufactures are canny people as they will engineer a club to have a certain impact sound that stimulates our brain. Some folks like the bomb sound whereas other hate it but I agree that it does make us think 'bloody hell, that has gone a long way'. It is just a bit harsh for me.

Just remember that these engineers and marketing people can hoodwink us very easily.
 

Mardin

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Question for those that are feeling this way. Most of the clubs that are considered "buttery soft" have horrible harsh feels when mis-hit. Obviously this is attributed to feedback, so how does one determine when it is good to have harsh and bad to have harsh feelings in a club?
I think a harsh feeling on poor shots is good feedback for the golfer. It lets them know they hit a poor shot and need to work on getting that "pure" shot feeling. A club that has a harsh feel on a good shot just doesn't resonate with personal feel or touch. Most of us have an ingrained sense of what feels "good" or "bad" and that is leaving golf completley out of the subject. A soft down pillow feels good and walking on coals feels bad (unless you are some type of masochist.) So our senses determine what feels good and what dosen't.
 

Golf 'N Gator

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Not about clubs, but I find it interesting when people say how soft their Tour ball feels off the face of the club. The cores are not really soft compared to many other balls. Does a urethane cover somehow translate feel through a pound of metal and a rubber grip? More likely that it's marketing telling people what they feel.
I think its marketing. I have played many different balls (and clubs) in 35 years, and just don't "feel" the difference in balls. My Bridgestone B330RX no doubt sounds different than a Top Flight, but it is all sound to me. Maybe the sound makes the B330RX feel soft because of the cover.

Same with irons. I have owned both forged and cast over the years and I just don't "feel" the difference. Again, they may sound a little different at impact, but I don't feel it really.

Always a interesting debate.
 

Ole Gray

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I know in the cold months and we do get to play golf in the South during winter, a harsh feeling club would play havoc on the hands and joints. The less vibration or harsh feel the better. Some older golfers even add graphite shafts to add to the soft or less resistant feel they desire.
 

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My two cents:

I understand the marketing aspect of this discussion. Soft/buttery/smooth are thought to be desirable. What I find desirable is the difference between a pure strike and a miss-hit with irons. If I am able to discern the difference of where I made impact because of the different vibration/sound the club makes when the ball is struck I think that is desirable. My old irons did not offer me that feedback. I have to say that striking with my GI irons felt largely the same all across the face (unless I really hit it or at the extreme end of the toe). With the irons I currently play I am more aware of where the ball met the face. This encourages me to focus much more on solid striking than swinging hard when I play my irons. I placed more of an emphasis on punishing my poor strikes when I purchased my irons to force myself to become a better striker. So far it's worked out.

I will say that the feel(vibration feedback) of my new irons is a lot smoother than my old irons on pure strikes. When I pure my new irons it's almost as if there is no vibration in my hands.
 

the_paulo

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In irons particularly, how much of the 'soft' feel is down to the club head itself, and how much to other factors? Change a shaft and/or ball, and you might get different results.
 

CraftyLefty

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In irons particularly, how much of the 'soft' feel is down to the club head itself, and how much to other factors? Change a shaft and/or ball, and you might get different results.
I was wondering the same thing about the grips. How much do various grips contribute to the feel of the irons?
 

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