Argument for using blade irons

Justin emailed me a link to this guys site…some good stuff here

This from Barry O Brien thread…

Forged Blade Irons

This is a letter from a recent convert from cavity backs to forged blades:

"In 1995, I followed the herd and purchased a new set of MacGregor VIP O/S irons. After playing these clubs, I felt that my swing did not improve. In the last six months, I purchased from Barry a set of 1964 MacGregor CF 4000 M2 forged blade irons, had them rechromed and regripped and wow… what a difference! Comparing and contrasting my forged blades to the cast oversized irons is surprisingly easy, considering that I am not an expert on swing mechanics or club design.


Upon setup, the blade is compact and looks like a golf club, not a small shovel. The O/S iron gives a false sense of security because it appears that all you have to do is swing and you will hit the ball solidly because of the huge mass behind the ball. When striking the ball with the forged blade, I feel I can groove my swing because when I strike the ball correctly, I feel the “pinch” between the ball, club and the turf. The ball flight is very consistent, low and boring. On a mishit, the ball is very inconsistent, so as a teaching mechanism, the forged blade is far superior to a cast cavity back O/S iron. Since golf is a game of feel, a blade will, if you are attentive and care to improve, allow you to pinpoint what a better swing feels like. The O/S iron is easier to hit, but that is regarding all swings, bad and good. They feel the same. Bad swings feel ok, but the result is bad. Good swings feel ok. The result is that grooving a precise swing is much more difficult.

For the weekend golfer, of which I am a member, I can improve more quickly playing a forged blade, because I now know how a “good” swing should feel. The pros have already achieved a precise swing, so they can play any club they choose with great results. I have already bettered my average score by 2 strokes. It is a small victory, but I only intend to get better and better. To me, it’s not close, a quality set of forged blades are far superior to cast or forged O/S irons.

Marketing has dictated the clamor for these wannabe irons."

[i]Hi Barry:

I had contacted you last December for some info on a set of '72 Hogan Apex 2-9 iron blades I picked up used for $30 at a local golf store. Just thought you might be interested in how things turned out this spring once I finally got the chance to hit the clubs.[/i]

I used the Hogans only a couple of times in April, but hit them surprisingly well - well enough that my Big Berthas started to feel pretty clunky and I figured I was ready for more of a player’s club. So I traded the Bertha’s in on a set of 2000 Top-Flite Tour Pro Grinds which still have some foregiveness but much less offset and a cleaner set up than the Callaways. These clubs turned out to pretty sweet, so I now have set up two bags, one with my usual woods and wedges and the Top-Flites and the second with the Hogans, a Producer Driver and 3-wood and a Radial 5-wood ($10 bucks each from the same golf store) and an old Ram PW and SW. This gives me an A set for regular play and a vintage set to use when I get bored and to work on grooving my swing.
All was well in the world until this past weekend. I was playing well enough and was still in love with the new Top Flites that I really only used the old Hogan set once in the past three weeks. We have an open penny ante Skins Game at my course starting at 6 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday morning that I show up for now and then even though I’m most often an also ran against the better players at the course. Over the long weekend I played all three days, shooting identical 83’s with one birdie and no skins the first two days - pretty mediocre, even for me. On Monday, just for fun and seeing as how I wasn’t winning anything anyway, I stuck the 2-9 Hogans in my bag instead of my regular 3-PW and then kept my usual woods, gap wedge and sand wedge. Surprisingly, I shot my best round of the year with a 77 and 3 birdies. I hit the irons amazingly well and I don’t think I hit one bad shot with them. Never once felt the famous “Hogan sting”.

Just thought a devoted vintage blade lover like yourself might be interested.


Reid Masson[/i]

This is a collection of posts from the newsgroup. You can also look them up at Dejanews. I have been involved in many heated debates about the merits of forged blades versus cast perimeter weighted clubs. Comments with an = in front were written by someone else. My replies are in italics.

As usual, the majority is caught up in the marketing blitz. Of course the manufacturers want to convince everyone that their cavity backs are more forgiving – it’s a hulluva lot cheaper to manufacture cast heads than forged heads!

Forged blades will make you a better golfer.

= =that’s just your opinion. a majority of golfers are
= =better off without blades.
= =

= That is because a majority of golfers are 12 Hcps and higher!!! =
[i]The majority of golfers are 12 hcps or higher because they play cavity backs!

They want the quick fix. If they played blades and worked on their swing instead of trying to buy one, they would be single-digit! Hogan said that anyone without a physical handicap was capable of shooting in the 70s. (“Of course, if it’s any hotter than that . . .”) That’s easy for Hogan to say, but it’s true! Blades will make you a better golfer.

Cavity backs might (slight chance) make a very slight mishit into a minimally better shot. Blades will make you hit fewer mishits. Would you rather have a club that forgives your mishits or would you rather not even need forgiveness? As I’ve said before, if I was going out to play one last round of golf and had to use a set I’ve never tried before, I would probably pick a popular cavity back (Mizuno Titanium).

If I plan on playing golf the rest of my life with a goal of continuosly improving, I wouldn’t consider anything but blades. At the bare minimum, every golfer should have a blade 5 iron that they take to the range once in awhile for a real learning session. Even better, have a spare set of blades that you break out and actually play with once a month. Best yet, play strictly with blades. This is the secret to becoming a better golfer.

One last thing: some people are gonna say, “That’s Bullsh*t! I had blades and they sucked and I got cavity backs and they were great!” Well, I have to reply, “That’s a pretty exacting scientific experiment you performed there on golf club design performance characteristics!” :>)

The number one priority in finding the set of golf clubs that will work the best for any individual is finding a set that fits their swing. The number one priority in finding the set of golf clubs that will work the best for any individual is finding a set that fits their swing. The number one priority in finding the set of golf clubs that will work the best for any individual is finding a set that fits their swing.
a 30 yr old set of classic forged blades that fit your swing will perform better than any cavity back club that doesn’t fit your swing.

My only controversial contention is that a good forged blade that fits your swing will do better things for your golf game than a cavity back that also fits your swing.[/i]

Another letter from a blade convert:

Subject: Just an FYI… on your ‘blades versus cavity back’ theories…

…and since you probably get a truckload of them I’ll be brief.

I used a set of pings and titleist dci’s (original gold triangle offsets with graphite shafts). One day I nabbed a set of forged Walter Hagens (the new cavity backs) with steels rifle shafts and switched to playing them exclusively.

  1. I learned that if you don’t swing a club consistently, you’ll suck at golf. Doesn’t matter what club type you use.

  2. If you hit a cavity back anywhere on the face, it’ll sound the same. If you hit a forged blade dead center it’s like hitting a ping pong ball with a sledge hammer, you’ll not only feel the difference, everyone within three tee boxes will hear the difference.

  3. Oversize anything in irons is for golfers that want to consistently remain 20 plus handicappers.

  4. You can’t ‘ding’ a good chrome forged blade by hitting a ball out of a sand trap. (ever seen a good set of pings that hasn’t been abused yet looks like it’s been dragged across the pavement?)

  5. Every forged blade made between 1972 and 1988 will ALWAYS be superior to ANY new oversize whatever metal type club ever made.

  6. The only cavity back that was every worth a shit was outlawed by the USGA because they were worth a shit (Ping Eye 2’s with square grooves).

  7. If you spend more than 5 bucks a club on a cavity back iron, you’re wasting money. You should be buying 4 dollar golf balls and hitting them into the creek and saving money that way…


And another:

Hi Barry ,This is Mike , looking for the 1966 PC5 9 Iron and E. Thanks for getting back to me it is most appreciated. If you’ve got a 9 great! Since I emailed you last I’ve picked up another set missing a few. If while your rummaging and you happen to see a 1970 ( I think ) 1+ bounce sole E wedge & 3 Iron w/ stiff and also a stiff shaft as my 5 iron shaft is bent . These 1+ bounce soles have slazenger on the bottom. but that would not be as important as the stiff shafts, i.e. these are to be used. These clubs are Great I can’t believe them I have yet to master a round with them, but I leave the range feeling like a god, well how’s just shy of a god . It’s been inspiring that these old clubs that a friend of mine willed to me , that sat in the back room till my son dragged them out , then I found your web site .It’s been an adventure it started out I just want to dump these things and now the corner of my living room has become a shrine to Ben, their are two more victims up here in canada. Thanks mike

And another:

I came upon your website today to discover that your position on forged blade-vs-cast

cavity back irons is EXACTLY what I’ve been telling people (usually as I’m taking $ from them on the 18th green) for years…

A very, very wise man & dear friend of mine once gave me a priceless piece of advice that has served me well for a long time; I was trying to figure out why a certain individual was telling me something I knew in my heart was wrong; and this individual had no reason that I could ascertain for lying to me… and my dear friend & mentor made it clear in one invaluable sentence: “Follow the money.” He was right. Why do you think the Club companies are so eager to sell you the latest & greatest etc.? Why cast over forged? Why matalwoods over persimmon/maple? BECAUSE IT’S COST-EFFECTIVE FOR THEM. It’s got NOTHING to do with you or your scores or how you play. All you are is the sucker keeping the lights on at the club companies by buying the latest get-good-quick bullshit story that some scammer at an ad agency dreamed up. It’s easier & cheaper to cast clubs by the thousands in foundries overseas; it requires so many fewer hand operations, the materials can be purchased in tremendous volumes at cheap prices, and the workers get paid an amount per week that won’t get you a decent lunch in midtown Manhattan. That is the real story. I have a set of 1987 Titleist Tour Model “Box Blade” irons, an Acushnet “Finalist” SW, and a set of Ping “Zing” laminated maple woods. I practice a little, and when I play, I concentrate, think, and try to execute. And that’s where golf really exists. But let’s keep it our little secret…don’t tell all the chumps with the clubs that look like they belong in the bar scene in the film “Star Wars”… Admire all their new stuff on the 1st tee, and take their money on the 18th green. DC

Barry sounds like your kind of guy John!

Anyone would be wise to listen to what Barry is saying, and reading the feedback from his audience confirms.


The USGA and R and A have done a huge disservice to golfers by allowing large heads and space age gear to take over the game. A golfer simply cannot improve their game if they can’t feel an extremely precise sweetspot. Making the game easier makes it less of a game.

If I go bowling and use a bowling ball the size of a beach ball it will not make me a better bowler. I may knock down more pins, but I would not learn to properly shape my shots and everyone else is using the same stuff so there is zero relative gain.
Only the skill level of all suffers.

Modern tour players would get killed if they had to go back and play against the guys from the 70’s and before.

The good players don’t need nor would benefit by the forgiving heads nearly as much as a much poorer striker, so you get a leveling effect. The guys who didn’t strike it as well because of a poorer swing, is now on the green, while the good player is
not benefiting as much because he hits the sweetspot anyway. So it becomes more of a putting contest than a ball striking contest.

I have become a blade believer. Every once in a while I even switch back.

I am not as hard lined about it as Lag obviously is, I do think there is room for improvement in blades. This is personal, but I do enjoy modern lofts, and even just new grooves, and modern bounce.

Aside from that I believe the argument for blades is very strong. I am really a perfect example of that I believe. I really enjoyed this author’s last few articles on the argument for blades overall, as well as modern ones: … Again.html

His comment about over the top, and fat shots is bang on. Feel is paramount. A bandage doesn’t fix a broken leg.

Here is another one i found about the same author recalling working for the Hogan company camparing the dispersion patterns of Hogan cavity backs to blades using the Iron Byron.

Nice find Bagger - I enjoyed that - worth reading the ongoing comments as well which are quite illuminating on golfers experience of the blade/cavity back issue. I remember Lag saying somewhere that at the elite level cavity backs might help you make more cuts but you would win less tournaments. I have literally just unwrapped a set of 1973 Hogan Apex irons with #5 (extra stiff) shafts in (2-PW) which I hope will be a fun addition to my collection. So excited I hit 10 balls into a net with them in the dark outside 20 minutes ago and on that “blind test” I can atest to the powerful feedback both from centre and off centre hits of a true blade lol! :laughing: Its amazing how upright a “normal” set of irons look when you have been playing them 4 flat.



David Graham in his day was a very astute authority on equipment as well as a former US Open Champion.
Hitting all 18 greens the final round at Merion in the 1981 US Open was one of the greatest ball striking rounds the US Open
has ever seen on a Sunday afternoon. I was fortunate enough to get paired with him a few years later at the South Australian Open
along with Bob Shearer.

This morning as I prepared to leave for work, someone knocked on the front door. It was a policeman (not the best way to start your day) and he said “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but someone broke into your car last night”. My car was parked in the garage entrance behind my house in the alley. My golf clubs were in the back of my SUV and my first thought is “crap… what am I going to use this weekend in the city championship??”

So I meet the police in the back and there is the rear window of my 4-runner totally gone along with the rear passenger side window. Glass is everywhere… inside and outside the car. But to my surprise all my clubs (Hogan PC’s, a Hogan Apex persimmon, my gamer 983E driver, etc) are still in the car!! I don’t think I got as upset as I might have been when I saw that none of my clubs were missing.

After I told one of my golfing buddies about the incident, he said, “hell, they probably took one look at the ancient blades and that persimmon driver and said forget it, we can’t use this stuff!!!”, and went on their deviously merry way.

Perhaps another argument for using blade irons. :smiley:


Robbo, sorry to hear about the break in…glad they didn’t know what a good club was and they weren’t taken…even robbers don’t think persimmon and blades are good for them…good karma on that set now… they will do you proud soon enough

Thanks two… I’m a big believer in karma…

Blades vs Cavity Backs, tests from the Hogan Plant in the 1990’s

Wow, that’s a great article Lag.

My personal experience is that when I was a junior golfer I switched off an on between CB and MB. I never had any Ping stuff except for their 1-iron and their putters. But I had some Tommy Armour 845’s for awhile, some Titleist 962’s, etc. On the blades side I had some MacGregor Muirfields, Hogan Apex Redlines, Wilson Staff Goosenecks, Wilson Staff Tour Blades, Founders Club 200 Series, Ram FX Tour Grinds, etc. I’m missing a bunch. I actually didn’t have the money to afford all of those sets, but my friends and I would trade sets with each other quite often.

When I was in college I was playing the Founders Club 200 Series and then the Ram FX Tour Grinds. By my junior year my coach really pushed for me to play some Titleist CB’s. He said that I needed to ‘play for my misses’ and such. I also got ‘fitted’ for them which called for graphite shafts that were +1” over standard and 1* upright (making them effectively +3* upright).

My swing plummeted from there. Fortunately I developed a really great short game. I could flop shots with the best of them. I’m still a really good bunker player. I used to be a borderline great putter (now I’m very average). My guess is that I developed that short game out of necessity and getting a lot of practice due to my decline in ballstriking.

When I started reading your posts about musclebacks and cavity backs back on the iseekgolf forum I started to think back about my junior golf days. I used to keep a golf journal documenting my junior golf days and I had my mom mail it to me and sure enough, pretty much every time I went into a slump I was using CB’s. And my game was always much sharper when I was using MB’s.

Now I use MB’s only. Currently I’ve been playing around with some Titleist 690 MB’s. It’s amazing that after awhile that mis-hitting a shot with these clubs hardly comes to mind. I think that’s a lot of what the CB vs. MB debate is about and I think those who are somewhat serious about improving their golf swing need to use MB’s and stick with them for awhile and that fear of mis-hitting a shot will pretty much vanquish.

And even when I mis-hit a shot, it’s usually not all that bad. The only clubs that I don’t like to mis-hit are my MacGregor Tourney Custom 985’s, which I don’t think were a set that MacGregor was exactly ‘proud of.’ My other following sets of blades are:

1963 Hogan IPT
1967 Hogan PC5
1970 Hogan Bounce Sole 1+
1983 Hogan Apex PC
1983 Powerbilt H&B Grand Slam
2005 Titleist 690 MB

I can honestly say that the mis-hits are hardly a problem with me. I may miss the green with a mis-hit OR I may not. But when I’m hitting them flush, they produce better. And I went something like 72 holes in a row this year without mis-hitting a shot off the sweetspot. I doubt I could’ve done that practicing with shovels, no matter how hard I practiced.

The only thing I’ve been contemplating is getting maybe a CB in a 3 or 4-iron, just because the courses are so long these days at high levels of competition that unless you are super long, you’re going to face some shots with a 3 or 4-iron that you need to parachute in there and get it to bite. Although I may just go with a MB irons and change the shafts in them to a higher launch for the 3 and 4-iron.



It all ties into the move toward longer courses, and there is little doubt that a 10 ounce 46 inch titanium driver will propel the ball farther, and the frying pan head allows the players to swing much harder at it without fear of missing the ball.

Does this make golf more interesting? NO!
Anymore than making a soccer field bigger, a basketball court, or a gridiron. Someone in the 1990’s decided that marketing golf clubs to the masses would be more successful if targeted toward the male ego’s (I can hit it farther than you can) look how awesome I am :laughing:
Throw in the low spinning plastic golf balls and we have a game that is pretty damn boring compared to what it used to be if you have any understanding of how golf used to be played, and all it’s finer articulations.

I simply don’t play those kind of courses… if I was still on tour trying to make a living playing, then that would be a different story, but I still believe that on a proper golf course, that requires the whole palate of shotmaking including pinpoint accurate tee shots, blades and persimmon can still prevail. If I hit every fairway, and a bomb and gouger hits it OB even once, I have the advantage, even playing persimmon.

Bob Charles makes the argument that even the average golfer would benefit from heavier gear, because you will hit the ball straighter, and I would certainly include that right into the driver and fairway woods.

If you’re not on tour, then play the golf courses you enjoy… vote with your dollar, pound or Euro, and don’t get caught into the 7500 yard myth.
It’s not necessarily more fun.

A lot of the top amateur events are like this and perhaps even worse than the Tour. I was told a few years ago they had a US Amateur Qualifier at Orange County National and they played it to 7,600 yards. This year’s final stage of Q-School will be at OCN and it’s being played to 7,400 yards.

I agree with your notion on ‘boring golf.’ The most fun course I’ve played around here is La Cita CC in Titusville, a mere 6,500 yard course designed by Lee Trevino. You can see Trevino’s influence as you it rewards golfers who work the ball (provided they hit it well and work it) and you have to work it both ways.


I think Richie hopes to qualify for the US Am in the next year or 2, so he may be stuck with longer courses…In a slightly related comment, I remember
Geoff Shackelford talking about playing hickory…The main thing I took from that conversation (maybe with Rob Morri?) was how much fun it was to walk relatively short distances and hit the ball again…sounds like fun!!


Quicker rounds, less golf course to maintain, water, fertilizer, smaller staff, all lead toward more affordable greens fees.
Somehow, I think the older courses will survive the test of time, and a lot of these newer courses will close shop.

This is why I have the blades back in the bag…it feels so good when you “git” one. :smiley: Of course it is jarring reminder of how far you are from golf immortality when you don’t! :blush:

No argument here…nice swing Jnr

R3J wrote

I cant wrap around my head around the length affecting the lie angle. Can you please explain a little more.

Macs, where would the toe of your sandwedge sit if your 3i shaft was in it, and where would the toe of your 3i sit if your sandwedge shaft was in it?