Beryllium copper irons, more specifically the Beryllium Copper Ping Irons, have established an almost mythological reputation in the golf industry.
Beryllium copper is said to be the greatest material ever used for golf irons. The copper supposedly provides an unrivaled feel and performance compared to its counterparts. In this article, we will take a look at beryllium copper irons and uncover the truth behind the myths.
First, What is Beryllium Copper?
Beryllium copper is a copper alloy made of 0.5-3% beryllium. Typically, copper is a relatively soft metal. However, a beryllium-copper alloy can have a similar strength to steel. The material also is exceptionally wear-resistant and can be heat treated for even higher strength.
Compared to typical steel, beryllium copper is heavier. Modern clubs utilize tungsten weights to augment the weight of iron heads, but beryllium copper achieves that weight on its own. Beryllium copper will also create a patina over time or left shiny for an aesthetically pleasing look.
Why did Beryllium Copper Irons Not Take Over the Industry?
A major reason is that beryllium is highly toxic. Inhalation of the material can cause chronic beryllium disease, which can be fatal. A finished golf club does not pose any significant risk as the beryllium does not leech or rub off. However, it can potentially pose a hazard if it was ground or sanded. Since beryllium copper is toxic and also carcinogenic, many regulations have been imposed on its manufacturing. These regulations and the natural cost of copper drove up the price of manufacturing beryllium copper clubs outside the feasible range.
Is Beryllium Copper the Best Material for Golf Irons?
The short answer is probably not. Modern steel alloys are stronger and lighter than beryllium copper, while also having fewer health hazards. A forged steel iron can have an excellent grain structure and a superb feel to it. For players who need additional weighting for forgiveness or higher Moment of Inertia (MOI) tungsten weights can achieve those results. Tungsten is heavier than beryllium copper and strategic placement of these weights can create better designs than a single metal design. Beryllium copper certainly is not a bad material for golf clubs, but its high cost is not justified by any significant advantages over steel.
Today, beryllium copper golf clubs have a large “cult” following. Complete sets sell for big money on the used market. Golfers worldwide continue to praise the material and the characteristics it provides to a golf club. As a piece of golf history or a unique snapshot of golf technology collecting beryllium copper irons can make a lot of sense. If you are looking for the absolute best performance available in a golf iron, new steel golf irons will probably be the best option. However, if you find yourself curious perhaps pick a setup or even just a wedge and give beryllium copper a try for yourself.