When it comes to choosing a set of irons to play golf with, the first and most obvious selection criteria is whether to opt for a traditional blade or a more modern cavity back iron.
I say modern, however, the cavity back has been around for over half a century. And these days you can even consider some blade irons to be modern too.
While blades irons have always been considered to be for the better player, modern blades offer far more performance and forgiveness in certain aspects that make them more appealing to a wider group of golfers.
But one cannot argue against the benefits of a cavity back iron and with the advancement in materials and manufacturing it is now possible to find a version of a cavity back iron that will suit any golfer regardless of skill level.
The only real reason to opt for a blade today is to be able to manipulate or shape your ball more effectively.
Blades vs Cavity Back Irons
Blade Golf Clubs
The obvious difference between a blade and a cavity back iron, apart from the name, is the design.
A traditional blade is a solid clubhead with a large muscle pad behind the bottom of the face and above the sole.
The topline of the clubhead and the sole is narrower in a blade design to allow for most of the weight to be placed in the muscle pad.
Before the invention of cavity back irons blades were the only option, as it was easier to hand forge these clubheads to suit the exact needs of a golfer.
As the game grew in popularity and Wilson began to produce irons in mass the blade design became more standard and cast versions were able to be manufactured.
More recently, blades are still being designed and produced by most of the major golf club manufacturers, however, the modern blade offers more performance due to advancements in materials and aerodynamics.
There are now hollow blade irons available, such as the TaylorMade P-790 and Titleist 718 TMB irons that very closely resemble a blade iron design, but with the added distance and forgiveness through increased perimeter weighting, which results in a much higher MOI.
Examples of a more traditional blade design on the market today are the TaylorMade P-730, Mizuno MP-18, Titleist 718 MB, Callaway Apex MB, Srixon Z965 and Wilson FG Tour 100 to name a few.
Some of these blades have unique muscle pad designs that offer improved feel and performance especially on mishits.
Cavity Back Golf Clubs
Cavity back irons have a much wider scope when it comes to design and who they would best suit.
Since PING designed the first cavity back iron in the 1960’s the concept has advanced tremendously and is now the basis of iron design, despite the odd blade still being produced.
The most basic cavity back design sees a large chunk of the mass in the rear of the clubhead removed with just the face and a basic perimeter weighting system that provides reinforcement to the clubhead.
This is supposed to make the sweet-spot much bigger on the face as there is not much weight behind it. The PING Eye 2 irons were some of the most popular cavity backs irons that featured this design.
As cavity back irons progressed in design you now get undercut cavities where the use of a muscle pad above the sole has returned but most of the mass has been removed leaving just the outside of the muscle pad.
This pushes weight further away from the face of the clubhead to lower the centre of gravity and move it away from the face too.
The result is a more stable clubhead that is more forgiving. Most golf brands produce cavity back irons with this design element and many add a vibration dampening badge behind the face to produce a better feel.
While most cavity back irons were previously cast due to this method producing a stronger steel and the ability to produce irons at mass, you are now able to buy forged sets of cavity back irons.
The advancement in materials and design have allowed brands to use multiple materials including forged elements to produce softer feeling cavity back irons.
Titleist 718 AP2, TaylorMade P-770 and P-750 as well as Mizuno JPX 900 Forged and Tour irons are great examples. Some of these irons even look like blades at address, but are far more forgiving thanks to the cavity back design and are immensely popular on tour.
As you can now establish it has become increasingly difficult to select a set of irons just based on forged or cast, or blade or cavity back and it takes some research to determine what would work best for you.
It’s no longer a case of blades only being for the best players and the rest settling for cavity back irons.