Discovering the Maltby Playability Factor

Ralph Maltby's MPF is the kind of unbiased, easy to comprehend information that is invaluable in differentiating between  club models.  And no, he's not Roger Maltbie's brother.

And no, he’s not Roger Maltbie’s brother.

At my lesson earlier this week, my pro and I got to talking about my impending (read: wish list) future equipment upgrades.

I trust Mike, so I was genuinely interested in his opinion of my current clubs, in the context of how they fit and work for me, and more importantly, what I should be looking for in my next set of irons and how I should go about selecting them.

It was during this discussion that he turned me on to something curious that I couldn’t believe I’d not stumbled across previously: the Maltby Playability Factor.  I’d never heard of Ralph Maltby or his system of quantitatively evaluating golf clubs and their components.

In 1976, after working for Spalding and Faultless Sports, Maltby founded The GolfWorks and has been manufacturing and distributing golf clubs, machines, gauges, tools and supplies worldwide.

More importantly, for my own selfish purposes, he started developing the Maltby Playability Factor (MPF), which combines the application of the laws of physics and an advanced mathematical formula for evaluating the relative ease or difficulty of each club head.

Using the formula, the MPF is calculated for each club, and Maltby and his team keep and publish charts of their data.

The result is a clubhead rating range that separates all models into five distinct playability levels:

  • Ultra Game Improvement Playability (851+ Playability Factor and above)
  • Super Game Improvement (701+ PF)
  • Game Improvement (551+ PF)
  • Conventional (401+ PF)
  • Classic (251+ PF)
  • Player Classic (250 PF and lower)
I'm not much of a brand loyalist, so having honest, unbiased data on clubs available is truly useful to me.

I’m not much of a brand loyalist, so having honest, unbiased data on clubs available is truly useful to me.

I don’t know if Golf Digest ripped off Mr. Maltby in coming with their Hot List categories, if Maltby borrowed from the golf media, or if the nomenclature was around before both, but I’m much more inclined to trust and pay heed to the MPF rather than just a bunch of marketing glitz and dazzle.

I’m not much of an equipment aficionado or tech-junkie, but I found myself fascinated peering through the MPF Ratings Chart for all the major club manufacturers.

The sheer volume of material is kind of mind-blowing, seeing how some of the more famous brands and models stack up against scientific inspection.

I was a little surprised to learn that my beloved Cleveland TA5 cast irons tested out in the Ultra Game Improvement (MPF 915) category, while my odd-duckling TA3 Form Forged 6-iron garnered a Classic (MPF 383) rating.  No wonder my distance on the 6-iron was so inconsistent compared to the rest of my clubs.

There is information on individual shafts, iron heads, putters, and even wedges.   The chart of ratings is constantly being updated, all though the 2015 models haven’t been tabulated yet,

 If you’re curious how your current clubs rate out on the Maltby scale, or if you’re in the market for new clubs, for sure, I would encourage you to take some time and poke around the GolfWorks  website.  About half-way down the front page, there is a “Maltby Playability” menu in the right-hand sidebar.

I can’t imagine a more valuable resource for researching your next club purchase selection before you test or get fit for new clubs.

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5 thoughts on “Discovering the Maltby Playability Factor

  1. Dave, love the post. I found my equipment under the Classic rating and I’m happy it seems suited to my abilities. I have been a Maltby customer since the mid-1980s when I worked at a golf shop and we built custom equipment. Maltby was our main supplier of tools and components and I continue to order my own grips and supplies from them every year. At PGA Business School in 1986, Ralph Maltby was our instructor on the club repair component of our curriculum. He gave a great talk, if my memory serves me well.

    Thanks for the great resource!

    Brian

    Like

  2. David

    Great info! Was not aware of this, but I’m going to look into it further and utilize it in the future. I completely ignore “hot lists” and what not from Golf Digest, because at that level things can become very political. This seems more legit. Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers
    Josh

    Like

    • You’re welcome, Josh. I agree with your sentiment with respect to golf’s big media outlets’ relationships with the big OEMs, who spend a lot of money advertising, when it comes to who and how new equipment is evaluated. To me, the casual equipment observer, the MPF is a perfect summary.

      Liked by 1 person

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