The Immortal Questions
“Is there a higher power?”
“What’s our purpose in life?”
“Is it time for me to ditch these game improvement irons for some blades?”
For a golfer, those are the big three, though perhaps not in that order. In this lesson, I hope to help you answer at least one.
This Lesson Is For You If:
You want to play blades
You’re wondering what kind of irons are best for your game
The question of who should play blades is fraught with opinion, so let’s start with some the objective facts.
Fact #1: Blades are less forgiving than cavity back irons.
Before we go further, let’s define what that means. The purpose of cavity back irons is to make off-center shots perform more like shots hit on the center of the face. That means shots toward the heel or toe will have more ball speed with a cavity back (CB) than a blade. The club head will also twist less with a CB, so the shot will be straighter. Thus, when you play a blade, your mishits will be shorter and more crooked than with a CB.
Fact #2: Blades have higher centers of gravity than CB irons.
Read the bullet points on any modern game improvement iron, and you’re likely to come across the phrase “Low center of gravity (CG).” What’s so great about a low CG? It enables you to launch the ball high in the air, it lowers spin, and it allows thin shots to get airborne. Blades have higher CGs, so they do the opposite: launch the ball lower, spin it more, and punish thin shots.
No CG is objectively good or bad, but it’s important to make an informed choice. If you’re a high spin player, using a lower spinning club will help you get more distance. On the other hand, if you’re a low spin player, a low spin club could cost you distance and make it hard to keep your shots on the green. It’s also important to recognize that more spin can translate to more curvature – for better or worse.
With those two facts established, let’s run down a list of reasons to play blades
Some players will find more distance with a lower launching iron. Those that play in the wind may find a lower launch to be more accurate and predictable. Some just prefer to see the ball in a lower window.
Higher spin is what some players need to maximize distance and improve the stopping power of their shots. More spin also allows you to curve your shots more and more easily.
Looks & Feel
While both of these things are subjective, many players find the look and feel of blades very appealing.
Blades look awesome in the bag, and they feel sensational. Getting a great result from a club that you know isn’t helping you…that’s joy.
The average golfer misses the center of the club face most of the time. A blade is going to take those mishits and turn them into shots that are shorter and further offline than they would be with a cavity back iron.
Due to a combination of mishits (particularly thin shots), a lack of club head speed, and other swing-related issues, most golfers will get more distance from launching their irons higher, not lower. In addition to distance, most golfers would benefit from higher launch because it will help their balls stop on the green.
While high spin is great for stopping your ball where it lands, it’s a negative for most golfers when it comes to accuracy. If you hit slices or hooks, higher spin will make those unwanted curves even bigger.
So, Who Should Play Blades?
We’re back to the original question: who should play blades? My answer is that you should if one of these two statements is true:
“I was fit into blades.”
There are some players – primarily high end ball strikers with lots of club head speed and shallow angles of attack – who fit into blades. For these players, the lower launch and higher spin give them a measurable benefit (distance, trajectory control, shot shaping), and the absence of forgiveness doesn’t matter because they always hit the center of the club face.
“I’m not playing to shoot the lowest score.”
If you walk onto a basketball court or soccer field to play pickup, you better play to win or you’ll sit on the sidelines. Tennis forces you to compete with the person across the net.
Golf is different: you don’t have to be in competition with yourself or anyone else. You can play to enjoy the outdoors and your company. You can play to enjoy the one shot that you hit perfectly and forget the rest. If you’re not playing to shoot the lowest possible score, and you find enjoyment in having blades in your bag, who can say that’s wrong?