Are you confused about the difference between blades and cavity back irons? Luke Henry, a golf professional, is here to help you find the perfect set of irons for your game.
What exactly is the difference between a blade and a cavity back iron? I’ve heard that using blade irons will help me hit the ball further. Is this true? Why are cavity backs so thick and blade irons so thin? Do cavity back irons help me hit the ball farther? What is the ideal iron set for my game?
The short answer is…it depends on your current golf game.
Before we go into why it depends, let’s look at the physical properties of a blade iron vs. a cavity back iron.
What are blades?
Blades are cast from a single chunk of metal, giving a compact head design and an unrivaled composition.
The sweet spot on the blades is just behind the center of the face. Any strikes made with the club’s heel or toe will not be tolerated. As a result, your distance and accuracy are jeopardized.
Although blade irons are less forgiving than cavity back irons, they have less offset, greater turf interaction, and improved workability.
They also require consistency from the best players in their swing, hence why tour pros continue to use them.
Blades have been present since the beginning of golf and are considered a classic golf iron. This was the only style of golf iron available before the advent of cavity backs in the 1980s. This type of blade iron (also known as a muscle-back iron) has small, compact club heads with a small offset at the hose. They feature a clean, conventional shape with a narrower top line and sole and significantly less weight over the head than a cavity back iron.
Advantages of a blade
Blades, on the other hand, retained certain advantages. A well-hit blade shot gave good players more feedback, allowing them to judge how good they were striking the ball.
Blades also let players shape shots more effectively than cavity-back versions, which gained popularity in part because the ball naturally went straighter.
Because the finest players appreciated the increased control and input, blades earned the moniker “player’s clubs.” Furthermore, blades tended to have more graceful lines than the sometimes hefty cavity backs.
However, whether we are talking about conventional blades or more sophisticated ‘muscle back’ irons, blades do offer the following benefits:
- Improved feedback — Blades provide golfers with additional feedback to help them determine how well they are “hitting the ball.”
- Shot shaping — Golfers with high enough clubhead speeds can use blades to generate additional spin off the clubface. More spin also allows you to bend your strokes more readily and stop them faster on the green.
- Lower launch – Hitting a golf ball with blades often results in a lower launch angle. As a result, golfers, particularly those who play in the wind regularly, can benefit from more predictable and precise shots. Some players also prefer to hit the ball lower to the ground.
- More attractive – Call me biased, but it’s a reality. A bag full of extremely shiny chrome-finished blades looks fantastic, especially when illuminated by the sun!
Disadvantages of a blade
- Forgiveness: Or, more accurately, the lack of it. In subzero conditions, a mishit blade might feel like you’re hitting a rock. Early morning dew-sweepers felt this bone-rattling sensation in April.
- Lower trajectory: Because the club’s center of gravity is located higher in the clubhead, blades have a lower trajectory. Blades have a better loft than game enhancement clubs. Hence they are used by better players with faster swing rates. The blade category player has no trouble with distance or ball flight control. The center of gravity in a game enhancement club is substantially lower in the club head, making it simpler to get the ball in the air.
- Playability: Blades can be difficult to hit, especially with longer irons. It’s no surprise that many top professionals still use 3 and 4-iron cavity-backs.
Who should use blades?
While blades have several advantages, their main disadvantage is forgiveness.
Off-center strikes, are not forgiven and result in a loss of distance as well as a hook or a pull. Only professionals and low handicappers should consider using blades.
Golfers with a mid-to-high handicap who have not yet mastered the technique of ball striking should avoid using blades. However, blades have gotten more forgiving in recent years. Clubs such as Taylormade’s P790 are more forgiving but still aims at top players.
What are cavity back irons?
Cavity back irons, as the name implies, are hollowed down behind the clubface.
This allows manufacturers to remove weight from beneath the face and redistribute it around the perimeter of the clubhead.
As a result, the toe and heel of the iron have a higher weighting than normal to improve the club’s MOI and improve its forgiveness on off-center strikes.
These irons have a thicker sole, a higher offset, and a larger clubface. As a result, cavity back irons offer a larger sweet spot and perimeter weighting, allowing you to hit the ball straighter and higher. More distance comes from being higher, having a larger sweet spot, and being easier to hit!
Now, I know you think this is fantastic. The disadvantage of perimeter-weighted cavity back clubs is that weighing the outside of the clubface makes working the golf ball more difficult. That is, you will have a more difficult time executing a fade or a draw-on command. Lower handicappers, in general, will move away from cavity backs and toward a player’s iron, giving them the flexibility to achieve the shot shape they want. However, if you, like me, prefer a straight ball that is high and consistent, these are great irons.
- Pros: Forgiving, easier to hit, longer range, and flies straighter.
- Cons: Not easy to work with, less feedback on mishits, and the feel may be lessened by the perimeter weighting.
Advantages of a cavity-back
Because of the cavity-back build, manufacturers built irons that did not require a flawless hit to achieve a solid shot.
This “forgiveness,” achieved by shifting more weight to the iron head’s periphery, meant that bad shots were no longer as far off as they were with the old blades.
Furthermore, by shifting more weight to the club’s sole, cavity backs made getting the ball off the ground easier.
This meant that a player of ordinary ability might use less loft and so hit the ball farther. For cavity-back designs, the term “game improvement clubs” became the most popular.
Disadvantages of a cavity-back
Precision: They are easier to hit, but their generosity makes dialing in an approach shot more difficult. If every hit feels generally good, you might not be getting the feedback you need to make required modifications and shape shots.
Feel: One of the drawbacks of playing cavity-backs is that they can feel clumsy and cumbersome. Manufacturers are trying to address this issue by providing narrower profiles and thinner muscle-back choices.
Who should use cavity backs?
Cavity back irons are a fantastic choice for mid to high handicappers seeking increased forgiveness, increased ball speed, a forceful launch, and increased distance.
Cavity backs have developed dramatically in recent years, with an increasing number of low handicappers and even professionals opting for their several advantages.
Blades vs. cavity backs – Distance
While pros and lesser handicappers may flush their blades for miles, the ordinary golfer will likely get more distance from cavity backs.
To begin with, the ordinary golfer finds it difficult to consistently strike the ball in the sweet spot and generate enough ball speed for longer carry and overall distance. Any off-center strikes will result in less distance and a hook or slice.
Cavity back irons have a lower CG on the longer irons to help you get the ball in the air more consistently, resulting in more carry and total distance. To top it all off, cavity backs tend to produce a straighter flight, ensuring consistent distance and accuracy even on heel and toe strikes.
Blades vs. cavity backs – Feel and control
Few things in golf are more satisfying than draining a blade out of the sweet spot. Nothing compares to the soft buttery sensation and pleasant feedback. Any off-center blows, on the other hand, will cause a nightmare of undesired vibrations and acoustics.
Cavity back iron manufacturers place a polymer cushion between the face and the cavity to decrease undesired vibrations and give clean sounds even on off-center strikes.
Although blades provide top golfers with additional shot form control, less talented ball strikers in the United States might generate excessive side spin with blades, resulting in a duck-hook or slice.
In terms of feel and control, cavity backs are better suited to the ordinary golfer.
Are cavity backs and game improvement irons the same?
Game improvement irons are a type of hollow back club that became popular in the 1980s. Manufacturers were able to shift weight from behind the clubface to the heel and toe thanks to the design of hollow backs.
This provided more forgiveness and a lower CG for a higher, straighter launch. Apart from players’ irons, the attributes described above place clubs in the broader game improvement category.
A better player or high handicapper – Are blades or cavity backs better for me?
I would recommend cavity back irons if you are new to the game or if you play infrequently and are looking for a golf club that will help in making the game of golf easier. Golf is a challenging game; don’t make it even more difficult by using blades that penalize you for a missed swing. Unless your swing is so precise that you strike the center of the clubface 99 times out of 100, why not take advantage of clubs designed to help you improve as a golfer?
If you are a great ball striker who participates in the sport regularly and competitively, I would recommend going for a blade for your new setup! Assume you are one of those people who believe they consistently impact and hit the center of the plate with the vast majority of their swings. In that case, you’ll benefit from using muscle-back irons, such as improved distance control, workability, and feel.
The most important factor when buying a new set of irons
Aside from looking at the clubhead and whether it is a blade or cavity back, you should get a bespoke fit for your static measurements. Some of the most ignored features of irons are their lie angle, length, and grip size. Addressing these several factors when buying a new pair of irons can significantly impact your golf game.