Blades Versus Cavity Backs: A golf club epiphany

Great article by the wedge guy over at oob golf. Google the subject line and you can read some comments from people who made the switch. Great stuff.

s I’ve spent 50 years playing this crazy game, and 25+ years in the equipment industry, I’ve had a number of eye-opening “epiphanies” (the dictionary defines “epiphany” as “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something.”).

One of those came in the mid-1990’s as I was reviewing some Iron Byron results we were doing at Hogan.

Let me set this up by saying that I’ve always played blades - I like the shot control, trajectory and feel of them, not to mention the clean compact appearance behind the ball.

But for a few years prior to this time, I was playing Hogan Edge cavity back forgings. They felt OK, and my handicap stayed about scratch, but my game seemed different. There certainly was no question that they were forgiving.

Back to the research. I was looking at a chart of shot patterns of different irons we were testing, and was particularly struck by something I saw.

With Iron Byron set to swing a 6-iron with about 165 yards of distance, the cavity back irons we were testing were producing a pattern on dead center hits that was about 8’ wide and about 15-17’ long !

These are duplicate swings, dead center impact, and these shots are coming out 3-4’ right or left of the target line, and as much as 8-9’ short or long !

Not just with one model of iron, but with nearly every cavity back we tested. Now, realize that as we moved the impact further from the center of the face, the forgiveness factor was excellent, but I was puzzled by that “dead center” pattern.

Then I looked at the chart for the new Apex blade we were developing. On heel misses, it was slightly worse than the cavity back models.

On toe misses, the Apex was significantly worse (blades have very little mass out on the toe).

But on dead center hits - our shot pattern was about 1/4 the size of the cavity back pattern ! In other words, the perfect shots were much better !

So that got me thinking. My next round of golf, I dusted off my old set of Joe Powell blades, and I had an eye-opening day.

I was playing very well at the time, but not making that many birdies. That day I hit it within 10’ of the flag a number of times, and while I did experience some misses that were worse than I had been getting with the Edge irons, my best shots were better than they had been in some time.

One of my friends who knows my game well exclaimed, “Where’s that guy been ?”

He went on to explain that he had noticed I had not been “knocking down flags” for some time, which I usually did at least once or twice a round.

So, I made a permanent switch back to blade irons, my reasoning being that I will judge my rounds much more by the quality of my best shots than the acceptability of my worse ones.

I’ve kept that philosophy consistent. It’s a common belief that mid- to high-handicap players need all the help they can get, and maybe that’s true, but I firmly believe that more golfers can play blades than you might think - maybe even you !

There are some very good ones on the market now that have worked on the toe-hit forgiveness, so you might be surprised if you took a set of demos out for a round or two.

Just food for thought and maybe a golf tip that will help you enjoy the game more.

I have always said that cavity backs homogenize the player. Best rounds will be worse, worse rounds will be better. As a tour player, I wanted my best rounds to be the best they could be. When I was off, I didn’t care all that much whether I missed the cut by 2 shots or 12 shots. I would care much more about whether my ball was 6 feet or 10 feet on a nice approach shot. Blades, because of their superior feedback, get you back to playing well quicker than cavity backs if you haven’t been playing well.

The better you get, the more beneficial blades become.