This article is from the Golf FAQ, by marcelo@nntpserver.Princeton.EDU (Marcelo A. Gallardo) with numerous contributions by others.
There are basically two types of wood used, persimmon and maple.
o Solid heads are usually persimmon.
o Laminated ("plywood") heads are usually maple.
Persimmon heads are made by using a sophisticated turning machine. The
process is much like making a duplicate key for a lock. The second, and
most commonly used, wood is laminated maple. Generally, 1/16-inch
veneers of maple are laminated together much like a sheet of plywood.
Then the veneers are heated and pressurized, and finally turned like
the persimmon heads. While many golfers indicate that they have a more
solid feel at impact with persimmon heads, studies show no support of
this. Other golfers prefer the laminated maple, reasoning that they
Investment cast metal heads have gained popularity, mainly because of
the added control of peripheral weighting (which was not a true design
goal, but a product of the casting process to achieve proper weight).
The stainless steel heads are cast hollow to restrict excessive weight,
and usually filled with polyurethane to muffle impact noise. Metal
"wood" heads have also been noted as adding distance to center and
The same material that is used for shafts is also used to make graphite
heads. There are two subtle variances in manufacturing techniques. In
one case, the graphite prepreg is mixed with an ABS plastic, and is
injection molded into a head. In the second version the prepreg is
given an epoxy base and the mixture is compression molded. Graphite
heads are manufactured with the same weight as the wood and metal
heads, but are generally much larger than conventional heads. This
increases the size of the "Sweet spot". No tests yet have proven
graphite heads to be more forgiving or longer than other materials.
The general consensus is that "oversized" heads, generally made of
stainless steel or graphite, create a larger "sweet spot". This
produces a longer and straighter flight trajectory on off-center hits.
When using stainless steel, the walls of the head must be made thinner
to keep the overall weight "normal" (191-205 grams for a 1 wood). This
has caused some metal "wood" faces to "crush" or dent. For this reason,
some manufacturers are bringing "Mid-sized" metal woods to market,
which allows the "sweet spot" to stay large, yet keeps the walls of the
head thick to prevent denting.
Metal with Composite Face
In conjunction with "oversized" clubheads, manufacturers are starting
to use "face inserts" (normally plastic, graphite or lightweight
metals). This allows them to produced the larger sized heads without
worrying about the face crushing or denting. This also allows them to
keep the overall weight of the head down. Face inserts, in metal
"woods", is a fairly new design, and tests regarding their playability
and forgiveness have not been published.
Now what you really want to know: The type of "wood" you should use can
only be determined by what "feels right". While metal and graphite
heads can offer forgiveness on off-center shots, some argue that you
lose the feel you receive from true "wood" heads. Like the irons, you
should try several before buying.