Like any sport, the game of golf has always looked for innovation to improve performance. It often leads us to ask questions about the new technology, questions such as ‘what are blades in golf?’.
In the early day’s clubs were carved out of wood and then in the late 1870s steel heads became the game improvement irons of that era. Then followed the development of cast and forged irons, which is where we are today.
Forged and cast irons go through a different manufacturing process but offer similar results. Forged irons have an exceptionally soft feel at contact. Blades acquired the name in that they resembled the blade of a knife, a simple definition would be a forged head with a thin top line and a small sweet spot.
Traditional blades have smaller heads with less weight behind the head and are preferred by the better players.
Blades Versus Cavity Back
Clean traditional design with small heads with a thin top line
Small sweet spot
Lower trajectory with the CG higher on the face
The better player can work the ball more easily to hit a fade or draw
Increased feedback on the strike
Generally have more loft on each iron
Good for fast swing speeds and accomplished players
Blades are less forgiving on mis-hits and distance is lost when the strike is towards the toe or heel
The club will twist and create a dull feeling through the hands-on off-center strikes and there will be more side spin on mis-hits resulting in big hooks and fades.
Many hours of practice required to obtain consistent results and so it’s definitely not for beginners or high handicaps
It must be said that even some of the tour players have moved from the traditional blade to a “muscle-back” iron. However, it is not uncommon to see a combination of blades and cavity backs in the bag.
Old fashioned genuine blades are on the decline and technology cannot be ignored when distance plays a big part in the modern game.
Muscle Back refers to the design of the clubhead with more weight being placed behind the head to give it a solid feel but maintaining the thin top line.
Beginners to the game may wonder why the emphasis on a thin top line is important to the more accomplished golfer. It removes the “chunky look” of the head more associated with Cavity Back or game improvement irons.
Ping was the first manufacturer to introduce the cavity back iron with the Ping Eye irons.
A simple definition of a cavity back iron is that the weight of the head has been distributed between the toe and the heel of the club. Put another way, the cavity back iron has a cavity at the back of the head and is thick and hollow,
This increases the size of the “sweet” spot. Mis-hits still go straight and the loss of distance is vastly reduced.
Manufacturers can move the weight around more easily to accomplish differing outcomes in the cavity back iron.
The CG can be lowered offering easy launch throughout the set.
Cavity back irons should be used by all amateur players and will increase the playability throughout the set of irons. Another reason is that the cavity back irons of today generate more ball speed off the face and this equates to distance.
They launch the ball easily and allow the player to develop confidence on the course.
The downside of cavity back irons is the workability due to the reduced side spin off the face.
The heads have a thick top line and are larger than the traditional blade or muscle back iron.
It goes without saying that the game improvement and super game improvement irons on offer from the manufacturers today should be taken advantage of by beginners, social players, mid and high handicap golfers.
The super game improvement irons have an oversized cavity back heads and the lowest CG in modern irons. This produces easy high launch and better distance even on mis-hits.
Many low handicap golfers have muscle back or cavity back irons in the long and medium irons, but prefer their wedges to be blades.
Blade wedges are more consistent off the face offering the required spin and distance control.
Do Pro Golfers Use Blades?
As stated earlier in this article, the genuine blade is on the decline and is replaced with muscle back technology.
The long irons in pure form are extremely difficult to hit consistently and the muscle back or hybrids are added to the bag.
In windy conditions, the muscle back long iron is a favored club on the tour and the workability is of paramount importance to achieve the required result on the shot.
Watching the pros play, there is no better site than to see a long iron “pured” into a difficult pin position.
Pros carry a variety of wedges and degrees on each wedge depending on turf and playing conditions.
These are the scoring clubs and accuracy and distance control are achieved with blades.
Should Beginner Golfers Use Blades?
The small compact head in the blade set is intimidating to the beginner.
When starting the priority for all beginners is to first make contact with the ball, and secondly to get it airborne.
Accuracy and distance will follow, but confidence in achieving the first two is paramount.
The larger sweet spot and head size make it easier to hit the ball in the air more consistently and will encourage the beginner to persevere.
Golf is a difficult game, and although the ball is stationary, it requires repetitive swing actions to improve the strike.
If tour players and low handicap amateurs have moved away from playing blades, surely it makes sense for the beginner to follow suit!
Do Blade Golf Clubs Go Further?
Manufacturers of cavity back irons have recently moved away from traditional lofts through the set of irons.
Distance is a key factor for prospective buyers of a new set of irons, irrespective of the playing ability.
With the larger sweet spot provided in the cavity backset and the fast face technology employed, it is possible to de-loft the irons to increase the distance without sacrificing playability.
Wider soles make the irons easier to hit from tight lies and the rough.
The CG is lowered creating an easy launch for high ball flight.
Traditionally the blade irons had a slightly higher loft than the cavity back irons and the CG was higher on the face.
The muscle back irons have more weight in the back of the head and provide a solid strike when in the hands of a good amateur or a professional golfer.
All things being equal, there is no doubt that the amateur golfer will not extract more distance with blades.
Distance is important, but to hit the ball far and into the rough or bush will not improve the scorecard.
The latest technology should be embraced by all amateurs and cavity back irons will prove to be the most consistent and provide the length all players seek.
Can High Handicappers Use Blades?
It would be extremely difficult for a high handicapper to play blades with any type of consistency.
The small-headed blade with a small sweet spot requires precision on every strike to achieve distance and accuracy.
Blades require hours on the range and high handicappers will be well advised to move to cavity back irons.
For the record, the term blade is also used in putters.
Most of the top manufacturers have a range of putters to suit all skill levels.
The blade putter is very popular on the tour and has won many major tournaments through the years.
Again, it is a personal choice and the latest technology in putters offers a variety to choose from.
Remembering that close to 50% of all shots played in a round of golf at the top level, are on the putting green.
- The Best Blade Putters For Your Short Game
- Blade vs Mallet Putter; What Is The Difference & Which To Choose?
- How To Aim Properly And Accurately In Golf
Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.