Should You Play Blades?

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 Facts

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.

The Pros

With those two facts established, let’s run down a list of reasons to play blades

Low Launch

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

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.

Will blades make you a better ball striker?  Find out HERE

The Cons

No Forgiveness

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.

Low Launch

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.

Higher Spin

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?

Matt Saternus
Latest posts by Matt Saternus (see all)


  1. Matt’s last paragraph sums it up perfectly.

  2. 9 HC here…dabbled w/ blades vs GI irons for years….my HC is lowest when I game my Mizunos….
    Here is my anecdotal take…
    – “misses” w/ GI irons usually end up in the bunker or short-sided= tougher shots for me
    – “misses” w/ blades are usually woefully short of the green= I’m better at that short game shot than the bunker/short-side shot…

    • Matt Saternus


      That’s a very interesting take – “I’d rather miss by more.” Strokes Gained statistics would tell you that closer is always better, but there are exceptions to every rule.

      Thanks for your comment.



  3. Matt,
    Just the vagaries of my game….I can chip from the throats of greens better than into-the-grain, nested lies or from the crummy bunkers at my home course….

  4. I’m 64 and have played golf for 57 years. 48-50 years ago I hovered around 1-3 simply because of repetition, not talent. I stay around 8-9 now with a faulty putter. Driver tech allows me to hit it as far as I hit persimmon but I’ve lost 10-15 yards per iron.

    I tried a few GI irons from Ping and Callaway and picked up 5-7 yards per iron, but I hate the way they look and feel.

    I’m back with Mizuno’s and the reason why is detailed in the last paragraph above: “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?”

  5. Then there’s the oddball like me. Two bad knees and a multi stress fractured L# suffered 16 years ago has left me with a very low SS for a otherwise fairly strong 58 yr old male. I have both a set of Ping G10’s and several sets of good quality old (60 thru 85) forged blades. When my swing (mostly arms) is good I play them dead even outside of about 10 yr per club distance difference. When it’s bad it makes no discernable difference. The blades bring me joy. The high GI CB’s don’t.

  6. Hi Matt,
    You summerize very well the debate around playing blades.
    Your last statement applies to me. I love golf clubs and in particulier, irons.
    I am playing blades because, feel, higher center of gravity in certains models which I prefer and the look at address. I like to see a small head without lot of offset.
    Best regards,

  7. Good Evening Matt,

    I’m 56 and had my first lesson when I was 10. Grew up on blades and persimmon, migrated to game improvement and metal. Have been as low as a 4 and currently a wobbly 9 handicap. Returned to blades and persimmon 2 years ago courtesy of a great conversation with Mike Just of Louisville Golf (God bless his memory). Honestly, don’t miss the cavity backs at all and if anything, hit the blades a touch longer. Love the feel of persimmon, and from the correct tees, don’t miss any of the distance gained from metal. Handicap didn’t move at all either. Your last paragraph says it all. I’m in the game for the sheer pleasure of playing these days. Thanks very much for all the good work, really enjoy the site! All the best in 2018.

  8. Hi Matt & everyone else,

    I also play blades for the same reason all the other commentors play them too. Is there any studies or actual data that can confirm the ‘more crooked’ claims? Short mishits are undeniably, but I haven’t experienced nor do I understand how shots could be more off line with a off center shot with a blade vs cb.

    But I remember reading something from Terry Koehler a few years back, prior the Hogan relaunch, that had data about mishits with blades vs cb. All the data showed mishits with cb had a wider dispersion from the target line than blades. The blades stayed closer to the target line while lost considerable distance.

    Thanks for the article and content, also the stickers you send me a couple months back.

    • Matt Saternus


      You raise an interesting point that should be explained further: the difference between yards offline and % offline. These numbers will be wonky for the sake of making the math simple but please let that go – I’m deep in a post-Christmas sugar coma.

      If I hit a shot some amount toward the heel with a blade iron, it will go 100 yards and 10% offline because the face twisted due to the mishit. That means the ball is 10 yards from the target line.
      If I hit a shot with a CB iron the same amount toward the heel it will go 150 yards and 8% offline. The face twisted less because of the higher MOI, so the shot is more accurate as a percentage, however because it traveled 1.5 times as far, it’s actually further from the center line (12 yards).
      If the target is 160 yards away, I’m further left with the CB iron (2 yards) but much closer (50 yards), which is a big net win.

      All that said, perhaps it’s something we should put some data to in a future Golf Myths Unplugged.



      EDIT: We already did the test. Results are here:

  9. Kip/Matt….great point….dispersion-wise I ‘m far more accurate w/ blades….no doubt about it……the misses are online, just a lot shorter than GI irons…

  10. I’m 35 and picked up golf 7 years ago. Doing ok. Play to a 10 to 13. My first irons that u ever bought new were Adams CB2s which were obviously not blades (CB) but on the thinner side of GI. I really think the feedback they have me helped me markedly improve. Something to be said for striking the ball well being better than buying equipment to correct it. As always, love the site and reviews. Thanks!

  11. Currently I’m playing a combo set of irons, Srixon Z765 /965, and I’m very satisfied with them. I love to see my 965 for their brightness, their shape and mostly I love to play them. Even if i’m not a single digit player.

  12. paul hughes

    I go to the golf course and see people with huge cavity backs hit slice after slice. Maybe the greater MOI makes it harder to get the club square, but more likely they’ve never learned to swing or release the club.

    It reminds me of once when I went to a karate school and the instructor told me they were very careful to train so as not to hurt anyone.

    The degree to which bad shots are attributed to mishits as opposed to just plain bad swings seems to me grossly overstated.

  13. Paul- I’ve seen the same. In my opinion, GI irons don’t make you hit the ball much straighter. An open club face is an open club face and the ball will slice with a blade or any other club. GI irons will make mishits go farther, and that’s about it.

  14. Jessica Howells

    I think this is one of the most significant information for me. And I’m glad reading your article. Thank for sharing!

  15. Hi. In terms of forgiveness I find there is really very little in the difference, roughly 5 yards with toe strikes. I played mp5s and then jpx900. Recently purchased mp18s. The look of the smaller blade head is so much more attractive than the only slightly larger jpx. If someone routinely hits centre face why wouldn’t blades be an option?

  16. Hi. 3hcp here. Would you still reccommend a cavity iron for me? Had my eyes on a set of mbs but after reading this I’m torn between heart and head.

    • Matt Saternus


      If you want to play MBs, play MBs. Assuming your ability to pay your rent doesn’t depend on your score, play what you want.



  17. I’m an 8 handicap who strikes the ball well and was just fitted into Titleist MBs at my Club Champion full bag fitting. I just struck them better than any of the cavity backs I tried and had better dispersion. I can’t wait to get them out on the course and see if they perform as well as they did during my fitting.

  18. I often have a sore back (not necessarily because of golf). Due to this I went away from my Mizuno MP33s with 130g steel shafts (when I had hcp 9) and tried „easier“ clubs with bigger heads, such as TM M2 Tour or Mizuno JPX900 with good graphite shafts. However, my hcp only went up (a wobbly 10.5 now) since the switch and my back did not improve – actually it got worse. Each time I „lose“ my swing, I take my 33s to the range again in order to check what I actually (don’t) do. Just turns out that I use a shorter, more controlled backswing, swing in a better rhythm, turn my body properly. With the GIs I tend to just hit hard, not nice. All over the place. I‘m just seconds away from getting MP18s and selling all the CGIs again.
    Being shorter but straighter is one thing. But if you play a good round and start puring irons… that blade-only feeling is the very definition of a golf shot and the closest feeling in golf to ZEN. And worth more than whatever your score card says. See the light ;-)

  19. I recently moved from Minnesota to South Carolina, and the grass down here is very different than up there. In Minnesota I would sweep the ground more with my irons. The ground was usually dryer and rough wasn’t as thick so if I hit the ground a bit before the ball it wasn’t the end of the world. Down in SC though you have to make pure contact with the ball or you’re f’d. If you try and sweep the ground at all you end up chunking it. I felt like blades would help me cut through that type of grass better without stopping the club dead in it’s tracks. Does that sound like a reasonable belief? Does the type of grass you’re playing on impact the type of Irons you should play?

    • Matt Saternus


      Second question first: just like with wedges, the type of turf you play on can certainly have an impact on the type of irons that perform best for you.
      To your first question, yes, I think that’s reasonable. It may be equal parts cold reality and something in one’s head, but a wide or thin sole can definitely have an effect on your confidence and how you strike the ball.



  20. Trey Smith

    Thanks so much for this article. I’m 23 and have played for much of my life, although took a few years of in high school. I’m married now, and am falling back in love with the game. According to most media outlets, I should hit cavity back irons.. BUT I love the classic look of the blades. I’ve hit my fair share recently and still don’t see much of a difference with my swing. I like what you said, do what brings you joy.

  21. i’ll never concede that using game improvement irons for typical 20 handicap will help that player improve their score. EVER! i play with my buddies who are likely 20 or worse as they rarely break 90! no way will their score will change using a blade or game improvement–they don’t practice enough!!!!!

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  23. I’ve had a really interesting experience lately: I’m outright dissatisfied with my Cobra f7 set (GI irons). The only club I really enjoy from the whole set is the gap wedge which is a forged blade anyways. I stumbled across a Cobra fitting day at a local club and tried the latest range F9, forged TEC and the muscleback/cavity back combo set (pw-7 forged blade, 6-4 forged cavity back). The f9 was more of the same as my f7, the forged TEC felt outright uncomfortable but the mb was SUBLIME. I thought, this is ridiculous, I’m an honest 18 hcp, I have no business playing blades. But they stuck in my head… So I went to a local golf shop and hit them again in the simulator, and also hit my f7s as well as a few other irons (both gi and blade) back to back. My dispersion in the high irons was almost identical. But 7-5 iron was way tighter in the forged MB/CB irons.

    It may not be logical but I’ve been saving up ever since. Going to get fit properly for shaft but those are going in my bag.

  24. Hi , i ve been using my very old John Letters master model blades from 1980 s as i sold my cavity back TM s & Mizuno’s , i am a 2 handicap golfer who struggles with irons .I can’t believe how easy i’m finding the JL s , i ve lost 10 yrds but dispersion is a lot tighter and don’t get any of the stupid long ones that come often with the cavity’s . I’m going to carry on over next month or 2 with them and see what i go for atcturn of year .(if i change again !!)

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  26. Hi read your article, I played for years with Cleveland blades my last set is a set of 588 MB’s, to a 3 handicap. Then had a major accident, broke legs, ankles ribs shoulders and arms, bad yeah, but save my life, found a brain anyurism when the did a scan to see of I broke my neck , would definitely have killed me. Told me I would never play again, but it took 5 years to get back to golf and all my golf mates said I needed something easier to hit your too old now 58, your body wont let you hit blades, so I bought Ping I210’s, and I hate them, do not like the look, I can not get them to go, they were great at driving range but not on course. Playing on a 11 now, reading your article has helped me make up my mind, My 588 MB Forged blades are coming out of the box , and the pings are going cheap, so to any one out there do not let people tell you what you should hit, you hit what you like. Good golfing, from this little country at the bottom of the world NZ.

  27. Varun sharma

    Thanks so much for this article.

  28. Varun sharma

    I like what you said, do what brings you joy.

  29. Great article and comments! I play to around an 8 and have gone full circle with irons. Old 1960s blades are my favorite so I currently bounce between ping eye 2s and ping karsten 1 from 1969. Absolutely love them. I found that all the GI irons I have tried make no difference other than they are a club longer than old ones…..mainly due to jacked up lofts. Not a fan of them. But I have an odd love affair with vintage blades. Way more accurate. This was a great article and great comments as well! Play whats comfortable and what we enjoy makes golf soooooo much better and found that I score lower with old 1960s blades than I do with new stuff…..go figure. Haha

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  31. I bought a set of Titleist 690 MB’s online for real cheap … 3 – PW for $200. They are in really great shape although I think they were first manufactured around 2002-2003 or so. Anyhow, I wanted to see how I would hit them. I’m a mid-handicapper in my late 50’s and realized that these look a lot like the clubs I originally learned to play with (an old set of Wilsons). Have now played 4 rounds (3 were practice rounds getting a feel for them), I’m really starting to enjoy them.

    First of all, they’re gorgeous to look at and swing beautifully. Very balanced feel. That smaller head takes a bit of getting used to but now my previous clubs (Taylor Made Speedblades) feel heavy and clunky by comparison. Interestingly enough, they’re not as long as my Speedblades were for me (that may change as I get more confident), and I “lost” about a club. No big deal … instead of hitting a 7, I hit a six instead. As others have said, nothing beats that “buttery” feel when you flush it using a blade iron. Off-centre hits just go shorter left or shorter right. Bad mishits are embarrassing however (shanks, hooks). But using them forces me to put my best swing on every shot, and it’s starting to pay off. Shots seem to check-up better on the green. Important to just let the club do the work (I know … easier said than done).

    The biggest surprise so far for me has been the PW which has been deadly closer-in. It seems like I hit a least one pin every round with it. So, as a mid-handicapper, “yes” have fun with a set of blades if you want to try something new or simply want to enjoy more “feel” with good hits.

  32. I am 40 years old. I picked up the game at 8, so blades were the thing right then. Not the best ball striker, playaed lots of cavity backs.
    Couple months ago, I bought for a ridiculous amount a set 3-pw of muirfield blades. Anyone knows who jack spicklaus is?? JAJA There is the answer, I was destined to play blades again

  33. I guess all the guys who enjoy playing blades and don’t care what they score are probably using old persimmon wood drivers also. And if you could find hickory shafts it would even be more appealing !

  34. Just came across this article… I like the comments with the exception of the undertone that only the best players play blades well. I’m a 62-year-old former 4 handicapper, now playing to a 9 who grew up on blades. I switched from blades a little over 4 years ago because I thought I was losing a little distance in my iron game, and besides all my golfing buddies were switching to player distance irons and game improvers. So I jumped on the bandwagon and got myself a fitted new set of JPX 900 Forged irons.

    I feel that I have given the Mizunos a true test. Yes, they are at least one club length different in distance from my old MB but I don’t think they have truly ever been the club I wanted to play. They have always just felt a little off with their cranked loft and lower CG and slightly larger look. So, this fall I pulled out the MBs and went to the practice range. Within minutes of using the MBs, I felt at home, a sweet memory. The very first round I played with them I found myself shooting 3 over with clubs that I had given up on. While the Mizunos felt soft and I hit them well, the blades felt even softer and I had more confidence that they were going where I wanted them to than I ever had with the larger heads. I’m actually thinking of purchasing a newer set of blades this spring. Funny how we go full circle in life sometimes.

  35. Steve Madigan

    Wow! Your last paragraph makes this blog more satisfying and perfect. I always played with blades.

  36. Blades feel great when struck well but you do suffer significantly more than a GI club.

  37. Bladz McGee

    I don’t play golf .. but when I do.. I usually play blades

  38. It’s pretty simple isn’t it? Can you hit a golf ball or not? If you can’t hit it in the sweet spot over and over again (who of us can?) Don’t we keep trying? Get your blades, why settle for mediocrity when you can have a go at being good at something.

  39. I think you should definitely play blades! They are a great way to improve your game and have a lot of fun doing it.

  40. I was gifted Ping G-5’s and may have played once a year since then. This year I decided to play far more often. Recently, I decided I wanted to try blades. I have not noticed a discernible difference between my G-5’s and my Mizuno MP-5’s other than a couple weeks before buying my blades I started hitting the gi irons about 30 yards further than what I had been since I started playing this year. I’m hitting the blades the same distance as the gi’s prior to hitting them further, but they seem more consistent and predictable. I would add that my average is in the 90’s, but I can feel that I’m about to make a pretty big leap.

    Finally, I feel like the blades are better suited to me because I am more of a sweeper than a digger. Is there any data that supports that a sweeper that hits shallow divots may be better suited to us blades? I’ve been playing just as well as before with these clubs and have also picked up on shot-shaping. Thanks!

    • Matt Saternus


      I don’t have any data on diggers vs. sweepers, but blades generally have thinner soles and less resistance to digging, so there’s certainly an intuitive appeal to that idea.



  41. mike smith

    I am not a great golfer, 12 handicap. My friends and i share a bunch of clubs so i’ve played about everything and my best scores have come with blades. They fly straighter, and oddly, i can hit higher with them. Some cavity backs are more forgiving, but we’re not talking by much. A bad hit is a bad hit. And this may be just my blades (old wilsons) but the centroid is smack in the center of the face. The GI’s I’ve used the centroid is toward the shaft. Never hit a shank with the wilsons but can shank a GI in a minute. But I love history and love the blade era when all was more civilized. Nothing more beautiful then a worn bag with blades and persimmons on a quiet wonderful course.

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