Should Your Short Irons Be Cavity Backs ?

48 degree Eidolon Pitching wedgeWe've had "matched" sets of irons promoted to us since golf began, but should they really be "matched" ?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say "NO" and here's why:

When cavity-back, perimeter-weighted irons became popular in the 1970's, manufacturers followed industry tradition and made all the irons look alike - 3 through PW.

The short irons had the same cavity as the long and middle irons. This "madness" has continued until now, though there are some "progressive" sets that have slight differences in weight distribution.

A few (which were not market successes) have paired blade short irons with perimeter weighted middle and long irons, but apparently golfers think all their irons should look alike, so these have not been market hits.

But I know for a fact, when you examine shots on an Iron Byron, that perimeter weighting is much less influential as the loft of an iron increases - in other words, the "forgiveness" of a 9-iron is not affected that much by a cavity in the back of the head.

And while I agree that a low center of gravity and enlarged "sweet spot" is certainly desirable with a middle or long iron in your hands, I see very few golfers that don't have the exact opposite problem with their short irons - they hit them too high !

So, why in the world do you want to aggravate that problem with a low center of mass in your short irons ?

The industry builds what sells easily, not necessarily what works best. That's why the R&D departments produced these progressive or mixed sets, but they were market disappointments.

The research guys knew they worked better, but the marketing guys couldn't sell them. Hmmm. What do you make of that ?

I know for a fact that you'll be surprised by the shotmaking performance of blade short irons, even if you play to a double digit handicap.

Here's what might become an eye-opening experiment. Talk to your clubfitter or pro about trying out a set of blade demos - just the short irons - for a round or two.

Choose some that look decent to you and that have a shaft that is reasonably matched to your current irons.

Hit some shots side-by-side with your short irons and the blade short irons and see if you don't notice a measurable trajectory improvement.

Yes, you'll notice some feel difference when you miss out toward the toe, but you'll find much more consistent distance control and accuracy, I'll bet.

Let me know how your  experiment plays out.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

[ comments ]
new2golf says:
I love my Bridgestone J33 Combos :^)
Tom Galbraith says:
When you talk of short irons is it inclusive of 9 irons or just PW, GW, SW, and LW?
wedgeguy says:
Tom, I consider the "short irons" to be all the "round" clubs -- in other words, the 8 through the wedges. These are the clubs with which most golfers begin to think "scoring", and have an expectation of hitting the shot close to the hole, not just close to the green.
John says:
The more I practice, the more I pay attention to these little details. I practice to get better, but I am also practicing to learn what I can do with my clubs. I noticed that my 45 degree cavity back PW has a very similar trajectory to my 52 degree muscle back gap wedge. Swinging faster makes my short irons go higher, with more spin, but adds little distance. That is annoying when I swing faster to get a little more distance. I also noticed that I subconsciously play my SW back farther in my stance to get more distance and the ball ends up having a similar trajectory to the other 2 clubs. Better performance or "game improvement" comes from knowing your swing and how the clubs will work with your swing. I would do better with muslce back blades because my "swing flaw" is adding a lot of wrist action and loft to the club at impact. If you tend to close the face or supinate your left wrist at impact, then cavity backs may work better. Either way you need to learn what works best for you. I was dissappointed to find out that the local sporting good stores don't even carry muscle backs, or blades. Everything was cavity back and offset. Cavity back is only good for me under 34 degrees loft. My cavity back 7 iron still goes too high and is difficult to shape(to make thing worse it is cast, so I have to swing really fast to shape the ball). Some of the newer cavity backs have a bit more muscle in the middle, some on the toe and heel. I haven't tried them and don't fully understand the differences.
wedgeguy says:
John, you are close to right on. Department stores are going to stock only what the masses are wanting, and what the manufacturers offer them at their price points. Blades and semi-blades are not going to be in that category. I would not worry about all that intricate work with your wrists and hands, but only to make repeating swings. Putting more muscle in the middle of the cavity backs is what the club designers are doing to try to recapture some of the shotmaking accuracy that only blades can give you.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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