Let's Talk About Blades Again
It’s been almost two years since I wrote the series of articles on the subject of blades vs. cavity back iron designs, and it’s still getting regular reading and comment. (Here, Here, and Here) The subject has engaged more golfers than any I’ve ever written, so I thought we might revisit that today.
In those series of articles, I opined that “modern” blade designs -- those which have at least a little mass moved around the clubhead to make them more forgiving than the blades of old – afford most golfers all the “game improvement” features they could possibly need. I also took the industry to task for continually pounding into your heads that “you can’t hit the ball on the face so you need this big shovel with as much weight as possible moved to the perimeter.”
Well, guys, I take offense to that industry advertising drivel, and so should you. The only thing perimeter weighting can fix is when you have the clubhead on path and on plane, you square the face through impact, but you miss the “sweet spot”. Well guys, the simple fact of golf is that if you do all those other things right, you probably don’t miss the sweet spot by much, if at all. Your bad shots are not caused by bad “hits”, but by swing errors. Or more likely, errors in your set up [which I’m going to address in another article next week.]
Cavity back irons cannot fix your over-the-top swing error.
Cavity back irons cannot keep you from blading the ball.
Perimeter weighting doesn’t prevent fat shots.
Cavity back designers cannot do anything about your pulls, pushes, hooks, slices, duffs, skulls . . . . well, you get the picture.
In my opinion, the reason the industry likes cavity back designs is that the “palette” allows them to make “revolutionary breakthroughs” in head design almost every year. But realize that many of the club designers are not even golfers, and the feedback they get is from watching results off of an “Iron Byron” golf ball striking machine. Well guys . . . Iron Byron hits everything off a tee and doesn’t have to play the next shot. It’s a different world in the lab than it is on the course.
Please understand that when I say “modern blades”, I’m not talking about some set of vintage Hogans, MacGregors or Palmers your father played that have been in your garage for thirty years. I’m referring to the new generation of blades that have a very gentle perimeter weighting, some mass moved to the toe, a shorter hosel, but still preserve plenty of blade thickness behind the center of the face.
I helped pioneer this kind of design about twelve years ago with the RL Blades by Reid Lockhart (I still play that iron, and have never seen one test better!). But there are some good ones by Mizuno and most of the major brands.
I’ll offer the same challenge to you that I did two years ago. Next time you are out for a round, ask one of your assistant pros or buddies who play blades to loan you their short irons – 8-, 9- and PW – and watch what happens. I’d bet dollars to donuts you see a better trajectory on all your shots; your ball flight will be lower, which is where you want short irons. You’ll see your distance control improve dramatically (but don’t expect to hit them quite as far, as your cavity back irons are probably jacked up at least one club’s loft).
And you will experience feel of a golf shot like you can’t imagine.
So, there’s my challenge for the weekend, readers. Borrow some blade irons and give this a try. And chime in to let us know what you experience, OK? I think you’ll be surprised.
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[ comments ]
Tee it High. says:
I just recently switched from Ping G5's to blades and could not be happier. The feedback is great and the feeling when you pure a blade is second to none. I am a mid handicapper, so not your traditional target market for a blade, but will not be going back to CB's any time soon.
tee it high- wht kind of blades did u get?
I got the Mizuno MP-30 blades about 5 years ago. Really accurate, easy distance control, and workable. No plans on changing anytime soon.
I agree with this article. I used to have Ping G2(Cavity back) irons and they did not do much for me. I now have Callaway x-forged(Muscle back) irons and the feel is much better. Neither clubs helps me to hit the ball more straight(I know this has to do with my swing), but my new clubs have more feel. The club also seems to slide through the ground after the ball is struck easier than my old cavity backed clubs. Thanks for another great article and not advertising about your wedges.
I completely agree with this! I purchased Mizuno MP-60s last year. What a difference! While some will argue that these are not "true blades", there is no denying that these clubs have forced me to concentrate on my swing, with much better results. The immediate feedback is great. I will never use a cavity back iron again!
Tee it High. says:
KOLA - I got the MacGregor V-Foil M675's and love them. I have the Project X 6.0 shafts in them and the control I have compared to the G5's is amazing. The crazy thing is I didn't carry a 3 iron before but I do now and it is easy to hit and goes a mile.
I am in a middle of my experiment with Blade (Mizuno MP-32, be it not "true" blade)and Forged CB (Mizuno MX-20) irons. I have played with MX-20 for about 5 years and switched to MP-32 about 2 years ago. I was having a weak leak to the right problem with MP-32 and deceided to try the MX-20 last week. With the MX-20 (CB) missed hits are going straighter with the expected distance. Where as the MP-32 would have lost "substantial" distance with exagerated side motions. Recently read an article in Golf Digest comparing blade vs CB, distance loss on a toe hits with a blade (7 or 5 can't recall) are significant (7yd) vs hosel hits (3 yd). Unless you hit the "sweet" spots regularly, you will pay.....
I will work my way back to MP-32 but for now I am back to MX-20. Call me chicken.
tee it high- o sweet haha great shafts i have Ping I10s at the moment and am a
-0.1 handicap does anyone think i need blades??????
Blades are better for players who are more worried about consistancy and less worried about hitting their 9 iron 160. I hit my 6 iron 160 with my blades, and 180 with my cavity back irons, sure the 20 yards is nice but usually I can just club up with my blades and have no issue.
Has anyone tried the new Wilson Staff FG59's. I have Cleveland CG1's now but hit the Wilsons at a Demo Day last week. Wow! Wilson is back in the Blade business.
I've played Mizuno MP-30 but recently switched to the MP-29. Absolutely love them and I've gone up one club selection. The argument that blade is for low handicappers makes little sense. If your iron play is dead on but you continually 3-4 putt, does that make you a bad iron player? The muscle back design puts alot of meat behind the ball and feels very solid at impact. The additional weight of my MP-29/sensicore setup also helps me to focus on my tempo. Highly recommend blades.
-m.nugent ya true thanks anyone good blades u think i should try im 15 and am a -0.1 handicap and i kinda want blade
I was told by my pro a few years ago don't even consider blade type irons unless I was a 5 or better.Played DCI's until I was around a 10. I then bought some Ram tour grinds and used the 5 and 7 iron for practice and within 4 months was down to a 4.I KNOW the blades made me get rid of an over the top move along with a couple other swing faults the pro at my club could not seem to help me. They "help me help myself"
i think the only significant difference, which isn't addressed in this article, is off set. with the extra nano-second that you get does in fact help the higher handicapped players. not the perimeter weighting which is believed.
the clubs i have now have a slight off set and i'm hooking the ball. so i believe a forged cavity back iron with very little off set is going to be the best choice for me.
Hackman makes a good point. For years I played Ping Zing (mucho offset). One summer I played more than I ever had before and I started hooking my irons miserably. I switched to Hogan BH-5's (a cavity back with hardly any offset) and they straightened my out instantly. The marketers have lead us all to believe that blades are impossible to hit. I tried some Wilson blades at a demo thinking "I can't hit these." All they did was drop my trajectory and the feel was great!
If I may be so bold: Cavity Backs & Offsets are "True Garbage". I have a lot of clubs that I test and use at different times to prove the point, "That a controlled swing in rhythm" produces the desired results! Tour Blades produce a good player when proper skill is developed through practice! I do that with my Wilson FG-17's,Titleist TB's,and my Stan Thompson Pin Pointer blades.There is nothing wrong with(well maintained)"High End" vintage blades and they have made me a lot of "side money" on the course! Example:150 yd.par3 (30'elevated green), $20 for closest to the pin, used my Pro Pointer #6 with gentle 3/4 swing to 2' from the cup while my playing partner was short & below the green (15 yd.) with a "hard hit cavity back" #7. He thought I was "Stupid" to use the #6, but he paid the price! This other player also was amazed that I carry and use a #1 iron at different times. Also do you know who produced the 1st"lever swing machine" prior to the "so called Iron Byron"? JWHpurist
In addition to the statement above: I have a full playing Set of TA 845S (#1-#9,& 3 wedges) cavity backs that I have tried and found to be lacking in distance, accuracy,&feel. So, "Real Players & Real Men" play "True Tour Blades" in order to achieve the greatest pleasures this game has to offer! JWHpurist
Tim Horan says:
I am having a torrid time with my blades at the moment and getting the "you know you're trouble...you're using blades". My MP33's have recently been refitted changing lofts, lies, grip sizes and swingweights. This has involved some radical swing adjustments from a set up that was clearly due to incorrect equipment. There is no way I am going back to cavity backs. I am sure that when the swing changes take full effect I will be in love again with my blades. I have already started working with a clubfitter on my new set of Tom Wishon 555m's and we are gathering data on the MOI matching using the MP33's as guinea pigs.
If you guys are looking to try a really solid iron, you have to try the...wait for it...it's coming...be patient...the Adams A4's. This is the most solid iron I have hit in my life. Granted I was lucky enough to get a set straight from the Tour Van so they less offset, a tour grind, and tour issued x100 shafts in them. But besides all that, they are the best feeling iron I have ever hit. It's not even fair the kind of upgrades these guys get on tour, they already have the talent and now I have seen first hand the type of equipment they get. I was a little skeptic at first switching to hybrids for my 3&4 iron, but once I hit them with the Tour AD shaft in them, I was sold!!! Adams has come a long way in golf and between these A4's and the new Muscleback irons they have now...watch out Taylor Made, Nike, Titleist, Mizuno, Callaway....
I play Titleist 690MB blades. I am a 2 handicap and was +3 when I played a lot. That as a background - here are my observations on the topic. I find the only value of the blades is the look(subjective since I am old) and consistency on a well struck shot. I have in the past played Ping eye2's - to this day I believe this may be the best club ever made. I have used the 2-6 of pings and 7-pw of 690mb with success. I don't like the game improvement club from 150-160 in because I don't think they are as consistent in yardage on similarly struck shots. I also think the workability factor of a blade over a game improvement club is way overrated. All that being said - I would not recommend blades to any of my friends unless they were in the single digit handicap.
I have a few sets of clubs and like to experiment a lot. I am a 3 handicap and just brought back the Maxfli Australian Blades and put up the Ping Eye 2. Both clubs are really old, but i love both sets. The blades remind me of the Victory Red blades a little. I must admit i dont hit them as far but they do help me figure out my swing flaws.
Awesome that your picture is of the Nike Victory Red. It is one of the easiest blades to hit.
This is one of those funny discussions. If you have a great natural swing you can hit it well with a banana! I also like to prove this point by hauling out old drivers when I teach golf: wacky old dogs, wooden, cracked, worn leather grips, etc.. You can hit them all well - very well. Many people ask about equipment as if everything is riding on minute differences... well, if you are supestitious, easily hypnotized, or an aesthete then you better get the equipment you love - for whatever reason. I'm like that with balls - I love topflites (hard knocks) and get spooked by Nike. I play various Titleists as well. That's pretty much it. Very spooked by different balls.
Have you ever shanked a club and then avioded it? Believe me it's not the club, or the type of club.
This is golf, very amusing, many magic feathers. I love my MP-60's, but I have to because it's what I have and I'm not going to change that for a while.
After reading this article and the others (again) I thought I would give blades a try and went to one of the "do-over" stores and bought a set of Spalding Professional II 3,5-PW for $30. I'll be changing the grips and begin practicing with them. I'm anxious to see how this experiment goes.
SteveS, be patient and start out using a 7 iron or less.If you don't have immediate success just give yourself some time and balls. Blades, even if you don't game them, are great training devices. The comment's above re: offset need to be heeded. I find it next to impossible to look down at offset clubs.It screams,HOOK! But it seems most "modern" blades today have between 2-4 mm of offset which is about perfect for me. In fact most "players" clubs, cavity or blade don't exceed 4mm.
The statement made by 1$weed,(AKA cheap smoke), is quite accurate. When I took lessons in the 50's, the pro would send me over to a rack of 7 irons, pick 3, swing them all get a feel for each, then hit balls with each. They all worked with minor differences in distance. His point, that was proven, was a player with the proper swing and feel for the club can hit "any club at any time!" Sometime maybe I show $Weed my bunch of Stan Thompson vintage persimmon woods(S flex steel,D2) that work a ball better than todays "Giant Tin Cans" and generate a more pleasureable feel & results. JWHpurist
now... to regrip those old bananas....
If a player cares for his clubs in a proper manner the grips last a long, long time. Individual bag tubes, proper cleaning & conditioning promote long service life! I have some persimmon woods with heavy tour wrap leather grips that are almost like new! How about that? JWHpurist
Here's an interesting counterpoint to using blades: www.golfdigest.com/equipment/blogs/bombgouge/200
Interesting opinion piece, but what I've been talking about are the modern blades that have a slight measure of perimeter weighting but maintain some "meat" behind the impact zone. That preserves the distance consistency only blades can afford you, and gives you better trajectories. Again, all I gotta say is . . . try 'em. You just might be surprised.
Frankie C says:
One of my golf buddies, Ralphie Boy, is 72, plays an old set of Haig blades and crushes his 5 iron 225 every time. Beware of old guys playing old forged blades. Thank God he can't putt....
Hi all, very interesting thread as I have just started playing again this year and purchased a set of Cobra FP irons. Handicap is already down from 24 to 18 but find these clubs very difficult to pitch with. They feel awkward and cumbersome to me. The question I have is do players mix clubs in their bag so have cavity back longer irons and then move to blades for the shorter irons.
I agree with most of the comments, however there is something to be said for the perimeter weighting of the semi-blade irons. Even many top pros do not use "pure" blades. Many are using some cavity back irons, especially in the long irons. I currently play Mizuno MX-23, soon to be replaced with MP-52's. These are the best of both. The huge offset, heavy top line irons are just ugly and don't make up for a bad swing.
Blades are pure and get a bad rap because the major companies are more able to market and change the cosmetic design of the cb's than the mb's. Those of us who play mb's are loyal to them and play them through the chrome changing clubs less often than the year between new models being released of cb's. Blades are classics and are less prone to designed and perceived obsolescence. Check out Taylormade's tp mb irons released in 2006 around the time of the R7 TP and the prior Rac Coin Forged MB. TM have released and pimped out 10+ cb player's irons in the time of these blades. Quote from Azinger, "...you can tell the guys playing well and others by how often they change equipment..." Anyone notice that Sergio went back to the Rac Mb's? I'll take the pepsi challege with my '99 Hogan Apex against any player's cb.
After reading both "Blade vs CB" blogs and all of the posts I switched over to a set of gigagolf m510's for my 6-PW irons (my 3-5 are hybrids). I had been using a very forgiving set of Callaway Steelhead X-16's, so I was a little worried about how hard the new blades were going to be to play. I had a few mis-hits the first day, but most of the shots felt much better than my X-16's. I spent a little time on the range before going out again, and the second day I beat my handicap by 5 strokes. The feel and workability of blades is outstanding! I know without looking if I hit a good or bad shot, and hitting a draw or fade is SO much easier. If you're on the fence about switching to blades or are afraid they're hard to hit, take it from me, THEY'RE NOT! I have an index of 30 and I'm hitting these blades just as good if not better than my cavity backs. I made the switch to blades, I'm happy and will never go back.
rafael villasenor says:
I have the mizuno mp 32 from 8,9,P and mp mt 58,53 degree my other irons are mp 27 I like the choice I made by mixing them like that I believe that the club does not matter if your mechanics are bad there is no club that can help you my pro instructor has true blades and I hit them just the same as my clubs as my swing and skill gets better i notice that with a good swing you can hit cb or mb or blade just as good i recommend lessons with professionals that have video lessons when you see your self you really see your faults your bad shots are the result of bad swings and inconsistency I practice 5 or 6 days a week and I notice how much I need to work on my swing well it helps that I work at a golf course!!
I'm playing with a set of Wilson staff fg-17's that I got off ebay last year. I tried all the newest "players" cavity backs recently at a demo day on my local course. I couldn't see any compelling reason to buy the new clubs. I hit the new Taylormade R9 Tp's, Nike VR's, Nike split cavities, and etc. They felt pretty good, but I hit them just as straight and far as my fg-17's. I have been looking to get some newer clubs, but can't see spending the money for no real performance gains. Once I tried a CB 5 iron that I thought was great because I hit it as far as my fg-17 3 iron, it turned out to have the same loft as my 3 iron. Maybe it's because I started with a mismatched set of blade irons. I guess I'm writing all of this to say that Tom Wishon is right, in that "remarkable golf club technology is used up, with the exception of custom fitted clubs."
Couldn't add all of my post due to character limitation. I also wanted to include the fact that I switched to single axis (right hand in line with my rigth forearm palm grip) in '95 after the article about Moe Norman came out in Golf Digest. I have been pretty much string straight ever since. Since then, club type has been a non issue for me. So, to be fair, if one is using conventional golf, maybe blades are harder to hit, just not for me anymore.
After reading the original article on blades here I made the switch this spring to Mizuno MP32's. A well used set off ebay. I struggled initially going from a 32 handicap up to a 37. 2 weeks ago I played in the club championship and won low net with a 92 and 93 and a 33 handicap. I've been shooting closer to a 22 handicap but the official handicap hadn't caught up. After the last revision I'm offically a 26.7 but still shooting lower than that. I credit the blades with a lot of this improvement. I used the feedback received to change my swing. I've played some CB's since the switch and they feel like blocks of wood to me, can't feel anything even on a "sweetspot" shot. The other improvement has come from spending 80% of my practice on the short game. Chipping, pitch and putt.
found some Tommy Armour PGA Silver Scot 709 at the Salvation Army and purchased them for $22 (4-pw) today. am currently a G2 user and wanted to try blades since reading the blades vs cavity backs article. loved the short irons (8-pw) but somehow the long and mid irons are hard to smack. can't be an overnight sensation so im gonna keep up until i get the hang of them. actually deciding if i use them tomorrow or stay with the G2s... hmmm...
I am relatively new to golf [[3 years]] and still a high handicapper. My irons of choice at the moment are Powerbilt Scotch Blades. I do admit im not a long hitter of the ball anyway but I do hit my 2 iron as far as my 3 wood. My swing has impoved over time and these clubs have helped. I have played the fg17's, fg51's and just sold a set of Titleist Tour Forged. To be frank my distance isnt much different with a cb or my blades. Golf is a hobby for most of us and I like to be different from others. My irons are at times a source of conversation but I have $25.00 in them and am incredibly happy.
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