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Good Player Problems: Blades vs Cavity Back Irons

Blade Irons versus Cavity Back Irons

You don’t want to make the game of golf more difficult than it is already. Switching your irons can make golf more enjoyable and easier.

I see the average golfer using muscle back irons all too often. instead of cavity backs. A muscle back (or blade) has a smaller sweetspot and shallow cavities, if any at all. This makes it much more difficult to consistently hit and, ultimately, much more difficult to score well.

If you’re playing the wrong type of irons or even old blades, your approach shots are going to suffer. Those types of irons offer minimal forgiveness when you hit the ball, they don’t travel as far, and make off-center strikes very challenging.

Cavity backs will not only help you hit the ball higher but they will also help you hit it farther and more straight. Some players may still benefit from muscle back Irons.

Continue reading to find out more about blades vs. cavities back irons and decide which one is best suited for your game. 

Blades vs. Cavity-Back Irons 

Irons make up a majority of your club set and don’t always get the attention of a new driver or putter. However, the wrong irons could make a big difference in your game.

Before getting into the pros and cons of blade and cavity back irons, let’s compare how each type of club is designed.

Blade Irons

Blades are the original golf irons. Also called blades, forged blades or muscle back irons, they are also known as golf club blades. Original blades were introduced by blacksmiths in the middle of the 19th century. Officially known as forged Irons, they were nicknamed blades because the metal slabs resembled a knife’s blade. 

If you hear a friend of yours say something like this, “I could use these clubs as a kitchen knife”You now know the history of these clubs.

Here’s the general rule of thumb; The harder the club is for you to hit, the more difficult it is to make shots

The traditional blade iron is very different from the clubs made today.

There are some similarities between the two, but newer blades offer more forgiveness than a traditional blade. Plus, they’re larger and make off center strikes a little better. But in general, blade irons haven’t changed much and as you’ll learn and are not great for the average golfer.

Tour pros love these clubs because they are easy to forgive and have a positive correlation with playability. However, more forgiving irons are harder to hit and harder to change spin or trajectory. Which is why they’re much more popular with amateur golfers. 

Blade Irons: The Pros

The best thing about playing blades? They can be used to create the most precise shot shapes.

They make it easier to hit high, left, right, and low shots with longer clubs. This is why they are so preferred by elite ball strikers, such as Tiger Woods.

Tiger is one the few pros who has never stopped using his blade irons. He even used them during his various endorsement deals. His original Nike Blade Irons were some the most stylish irons ever created, and they helped him win some of his biggest events. 

Tiger is also undoubtedly the best consistent golfer with irons in the history. Despite being an “okay” driver of the golf ball (accuracy wise), he was able to win by always getting it on or near the green at a higher level than most.

His iron game makes it easy for him to play blades. Amateur golfers, not so much.

Blade irons offer precise feedback after each shot. You’ll quickly learn if you hit it in the sweet spot or, if it was a mishit toward the heel or the toe of the club. This allows elite players to make quick changes to their swing. 

The final benefit that’s worth noting is that blades usually look better. They’re sleek, simple, and are like a bat signal to the golf world that you’re a great ball striker. 

Cons of Blade Irons 

Pure blades are more difficult to hit consistently. These clubs can be difficult to hit if you don’t have a repeatable swing or a fast swing speed. 

Another downside is they don’t go as far as cavity back irons, especially if you miss the sweet spot (which is smaller). Blades are only able to carry the weight of the sweet spot, so if you miss the toe or heel, your distance may be affected. Mishits can even sting in cold winter days.

The final downside is that they’re quite expensive. True blade sets are more expensive than cavity back irons because of the way they’re made. 

The average golfer should avoid blade irons. While they have a sleek and sexy look, they’re very unforgiving and make a hard sport even more difficult. 

Cavity Back Irons

Cavity back irons is the second type.

These are newer to golf and have saved many players a lot of strokes. The biggest difference between a cavity back iron and blades is they’re much easier to hit.

Ping Golf founder Karsten Sölheim is credited with inventing the first set of cavity-back irons. Ironically, the cavity back movement was actually started by a putter (the Ping 1A). 

According to Golf TV in the USA, “Ping found that by moving some of the putter head’s weight from behind the center of the club head to the heel and toe, he decreased putter head twisting and increased consistency and performance on less than perfect contact.

Ping was inspired by this discovery to experiment with perimeter weighting irons. In 1961, he introduced PING 69 Ballnamic forged Irons with two cavities slots on the back. By the end of the decade, the design of the K 1 irons (Karsten 1) included a full cavity back and perimeter weighting, and that led eventually to PING’S color-coded irons.”

Although Ping Golf was the leader in this area, nearly all golf club manufacturers were designing these types of forgiving clubs by the mid-1980s. They knew that cavity backs would help average golfers hit the ball straight, even if they were expensive. Without a perfect golf swing.

These irons have a generous cavity that allows for off-center hits and are considered to be game improvement clubs.

Pros of Cavity Back Irons

The best thing about cavity back irons is their ability to hit consistently. Plus, the mishits are much better so even if you hit it off the toe or heel, it will be a “better miss” than with blades. This allows for more distance with every iron you have in the bag. 

One reason that cavity back irons go longer isn’t just the weighting and forgiveness that’s added, but the lofts too. For example, let’s compare a muscle back/blade iron iron with a cavity back set from Callaway.

Callaway Apex MB irons were designed for the best players, who need maximum feedback and flexibility. A 4 iron’s loft is 23 degrees, while a 7 iron’s is 33 degrees and a Callaway Apex MB irons is 45 degrees. 

The Callaway Apex DCB irons, on the other hand, are more flexible and feature a deep cavity back. The lofts are very different. The 4 iron is 20 degrees, the 7 iron is 30 and the PW is 43. Less loft means more distance!

Distance aside, the second reason most golfers can benefit from cavity irons is that they’re easier to hit straight. That’s right, not only are they easier to hit, go longer, but they’re also more accurate too. 

They should also give players more confidence with the golf ball.  

Cons of Cavity back Irons 

While there are downsides to cavity backs, they’re not nearly as many, especially for the everyday golfer. These clubs have the biggest disadvantage of being difficult to shape and work the golf balls. If you’re someone who loves to hit draws, cuts, and change trajectories, it’s harder to do with larger, oversized irons. 

For these types of irons, the rule of thumb is that the larger the club, the more difficult it is to shape shots. 

The other downside with these irons is that it’s harder to get feedback from each shot. Since mishits are rewarded so much more than blades, it’s not always easy to tell what’s going wrong in your swing. But for the everyday player who has a job and not an endless practice time, it’s a no-brainer decision. 

Blades vs Cavity Backs

Super Game Improvement Irons 

Aside from normal cavity back irons, there is now a subset of these clubs known as “super game improvement irons.” These are the most forgiving irons available as they emphasize distance and forgiveness above all else. 

These are perfect for beginners, senior, and casual golfers. They are very forgiving and have a hybrid-like appearance.

Combo Set Irons

There are two types of irons. However, there are many club manufacturers that make combo sets of irons. These unique sets offer the best of both the worlds, combining the forgiveness of cavity back in long irons with blade precision and short irons/wedges.

You can also find combo sets with cavity back irons or hybrids. These sets usually replace the 4 iron with an hybrid. A hybrid can be used to replace a 7 iron. These are great for higher handicap players and want extra forgiveness in the longer clubs.

FAQs about Iron Sets

Do you have any questions about choosing the right set for your game? We have the answers you need in the FAQ section. 

Are blades better that cavity back irons?

It all depends on the player. Blades may be more suitable for professional players and amateur golfers who have good swings. Blades are not the best choice for mid-handicappers, however. 

Cavity back irons are the best choice for casual golfers. They’re more forgiving, easier to hit, go longer, and are more accurate too. 

The use of super game improvement irons is also beneficial for beginners and seniors. Just remember, play the clubs that are right for your game and don’t try to play clubs that are too difficult to hit consistently. 

Are pro golfers using blades or cavity backs

Professional golfers now use cavity backs and blades in their iron sets.

The traditional blade iron was the only choice for professional shot shaping. However, times have changed. Manufacturers are finding new ways to make both types of irons.

Professional golfers can now play blades, but they may have technology that makes them feel like they have a cavity back while still maintaining their appearance. Tour pros know that more forgiveness can make a big impact on your ability to shoot lower scores.

Are blades more difficult to hit than cavity back Irons?

Yes, blades are harder to hit than cavity-back irons.

Their mass is behind the sweet spot, so if you miss it, your shot may suffer. If you’re the type of player who hits some off the toe, others off the heel, and only occasionally find the center, skip blade iron sets! 

Are cavity back irons more effective than blades? 

In general, cavity back irons work better than blades. This is due to a few reasons.

  • More mass behind the club. Cavity back irons are larger than blades and therefore easier to hit for a longer time.
  • Distance technology, such as perimeter weighting. The mishits with cavity back irons are less common than those with blades. If you hit a blade iron poorly, you’ll feel it in your hands and likely end up much shorter than you would with a mishit on a more forgiving iron. 
  • Stronger lofts. Cavity back irons are also longer due to their stronger lofts. CB sets are known for having lofts that are 2-3 degrees stronger, as shown in the Callaway Iron example. Lower loft, means more distance. 

Are all blade irons considered to be muscle backs?

Yes, because the weight is placed in the back of your clubhead (aka the muscle), and not around the perimeter as cavity back irons. All blades are muscle-back irons. These clubs can be played if you have the strength and consistency to hit them well. 

What handicap should you have to use blades?

There really isn’t a “set handicap” for when you should use blades. You might have a single-digit handicap, but you can still play a great game and not get low scores. 

Do most pros use blades? 

I would have answered yes, as the majority of pros used blades in the past. Don’t get me wrong, a large percentage of elite players still use blades in professional golf, not all of them. 

Pros know that, despite being the best ball strikers in the world, they sometimes need a little forgiveness. Utility irons, hybrids, 7-woods, and utility irons are more popular among professional players. 

They tend to have blades in the mid- to short irons. This allows them to achieve maximum shot shaping and precision at a shorter range. They don’t need nearly as much forgiveness inside 175 yards as these shots are much easier for them to hit. 

Are blade irons forged golf club clubs?

Yes, due to the way they’re designed, blades are always forged golf clubs. The manufacturer of the golf club may forge a cavity back-iron, but it is possible.

Do game improvement irons work better?

Game improvement irons are not about shaping shots, but distance and forgiveness. These clubs are for higher handicappers who want to get the ball to the air and have thicker soles to hit the ball consistently.

Final Thoughts about Cavity Backs vs. Muscle Back Irons

Both types of irons offer their advantages, but the majority of amateur golfers should be using cavity back irons, not blade irons. Plus, as technology continues to change, there isn’t nearly as distinct of a line differentiating blades or cavity backs.

While some pros prefer to use pure blades, many of the top players in the world choose muscle backs, especially for longer irons. Golf isn’t about shaping shots like it once was and instead, all about ball speed, more control, and increased forgiveness.  

While highly skilled golfers should consider blades, just don’t feel like you have to play them as a scratch golfer. Even an experienced golfer doesn’t need to hit blades! Also, don’t be afraid to mix blade and cavity backs together in a combo set (or with driving irons).

If you’re an average player though and want to hit your irons better, skip the classic blade or muscle backs and opt for cavity backs. It’ll make your life a lot easier on the golf course thanks to more forgiveness and likely correlate to lower scores… fast!