Am I right to assume that there is a point or range on the mpf scale where working the ball left and right and high and low, i.e., “workability,” can be balanced against playability to maximum advantage?
This subject is so misunderstood. We have to address it in almost every one of our academies because of the false information that is continually put out about design and workability. If we assume that a ball is struck in the center of the face (and the center of gravity is on the horizontal center of the face), the design of the iron has NOTHING to do with how much you can work the ball. The ball flight laws are never changing, immutable laws. Ball flight is controlled by the path the club travels and the face angle at impact (as it relates to the target line). Period. Ralph wrote about 9 ball flight scenarios created by face angle and path decades ago, and those still hold true. Of course there can be more than the 9 he described, but the principle cause and effect stays.
Where the discussion gets skewed is when we include “mishits”. IF you mishit a high playability club, the ball will move less. If you mishit a low playability club, the ball will move more and go a shorter distance. I would also add that some really good players like a certain look and believe that if they do not have that look, they can not move the ball as much. I get it (I’m one of them), but the fact is you can move the ball left and right just as much with a high playability design (like a large cavity back iron) as you can with a lower playability iron (typically a muscle back blade with a short blade length).
With regards to high and low workability, lower cg irons can be a little more difficult to keep down or hit lower than higher cg irons. That being said, it simply may require a little alteration in technique, such as moving the ball a little further back to keep it low with a low cg (high playability) iron.