The difference between the cavity back irons and blades is that the cavity backs are bulkier and have a hollow section at the bottom of the club. While Cavity backs have a much bigger sweet spot, are a lot more forgiving, and will generate more distance with miss hit strikes.
The best thing about cavity backs is that increased forgiveness. The contact with the ball does not need to be as precise as with blades. A slight miss hit can still result in a hitting the green.
Now that we know the main difference, let’s talk about what each iron is.
Table of Contents
- What Are Blade Irons?
- Advantages of Blade Irons
- Disadvantages of Blade Irons
- Should You Buy Blade Irons?
- What are Cavity Back Irons?
- Pros and Cons of Cavity Back Irons
- Who Would Benefit From Cavity Back Irons?
- Blades vs Cavity Back FAQ’s
- Cavity Back Iron FAQ
What Are Blade Irons?
Blade irons were given their name based on their sleek metal appearance that some would say looks like the blade of a knife.
The blade golf club is typically only used by advanced players because they have a smaller sweet spot on the club face compared to cavity backs and other game improvement irons.
There are two methods that can be used to create blade irons:
Forging – forged irons begin with a large chunk of metal that has already been formed. Special equipment is then used to shape this metal until it has reached the desired specifications.
It’s more difficult to shape solid metal than it is to mold molten metal, and this fact is reflected in the hefty price tag for forged irons.
Casting – cast irons are created by heating metal to extreme temperatures until it melts. Then, the molten metal is carefully poured into the appropriate mold.
After a designated cooling period, the clubhead will have taken its shape.
There is a lot of debate about whether forged blades or cast irons are better. Many advanced players claim that they experience a “softer feel” through impact when using forged irons.
However, it’s difficult to say whether or not this is just a placebo effect.
For example, if a forged and cast iron are built to exactly the same specifications, it’s unlikely that you would be able to notice a difference between the two.
Advantages of Blade Irons
1. Provide Consistent Feedback
If you miss the sweet spot on a blade iron, you’ll know immediately. The vibrations will travel up the club shaft to your fingers within milliseconds.
Have you ever hit a shot thin and felt your fingers go numb from the resulting shock waves?
That’s what it will feel like if you make contact away from the sweet spot on a blade iron.
For advanced players, this increased feedback can be enormously beneficial. It can help point them toward the changes they need to make in their swing to improve their game.
However, keep in mind, advanced players will be making contact with the sweet spot on the majority of their shots.
Beginners and high handicappers may hit the sweet spot fifty percent of the time if they’re lucky.
And unfortunately, they do not yet have the skill or knowledge to implement the feedback from blade iron miss-hits in any meaningful way.
Instead, they’ll probably just get frustrated by hitting countless shots that don’t feel solid and even hurt their hands.
2. Allow You To Shape The Ball
One of the biggest advantages of blade irons is they allow for greater control when shaping the golf ball.
Unlike cavity back irons, where the weight is positioned around the perimeter to reduce sidespin, blade irons have their weight concentrated in the center.
This means that it will be easier to spin the ball from right to left or left to right depending on what the shot calls for.
As you enter the realm of the single-digit handicap, the ability to work the ball in both directions becomes increasingly important.
3. Control Trajectory
Blade irons are also great for controlling the trajectory of your ball. Again, this has to do with the design and how weight is concentrated in the center of the clubface.
As mentioned before, cavity backs have their weight spread out around the perimeter of the club. But they also have a very heavy sole.
Because this weighted sole is underneath the part of the clubface that makes contact with the ball, it helps beginners and high handicappers get the ball into the air quickly.
Blade irons, on the other hand, have a slightly lighter sole and weight is positioned higher on the face (near the center of the sweet spot). This promotes a slightly lower and more penetrating flight.
4. Aesthetic Design
The final advantage of blade irons is their sleek, elegant, and aesthetic design.
Blade irons tend to be sharper or less “clunky” compared to their cavity back counterparts.
Not only does this make them look better, but it can also affect your golf game from a psychological perspective.
Here’s a good analogy – when you look down at a blade, you feel like you’re holding a precise tool, like a scalpel. When you look down at a cavity back, you feel like you’re holding a butcher knife.
Feeling more comfortable with the look of your golf clubs can give you more confidence when it comes to making a swing and executing on each shot.
Disadvantages of Blade Irons
1. Difficult to Hit
Blade irons have a much smaller sweet spot compared to cavity backs or game improvement irons. Also, the clubhead is often slightly smaller.
This means that in order to have any success using this type of club, you need to have an efficient and controlled swing that allows you to make consistent contact with the sweet spot.
2. Not Forgiving
A miss-hit with blade irons will be much worse than a miss-hit with a cavity back.
This is because blade irons are designed for those who make consistent contact with the center of the clubface. Therefore, the majority of the weight is located here.
The farther away from the center you make contact, the worse the end result will be (and the worse it will feel).
Compare this to cavity backs – where the weight is distributed around the perimeter – and you’ll begin to see why blades might not be the right choice for beginners and high-handicappers who struggle to make consistent contact.
Blade irons tend to be more expensive than cavity backs because they cost more to make. Also, it’s usually advanced golfers who will play this type of club.
These players are more willing to pay a premium for their equipment. And when someone’s willing to pay more, you can bet the manufacturers are going to charge more!
Should You Buy Blade Irons?
Blade irons are ideal for those who have a consistent golf swing and regularly make contact with the center of the clubface on each shot.
With blades, advanced players will enjoy superior command over the shape, trajectory, and overall flight of each shot.
But they’re not for everyone…
Beginner golfers should not use blade irons because they do not yet have enough control over their swing to use them effectively. Even if you miss the sweet spot by a very small distance, your shot will be severely affected.
What are Cavity Back Irons?
Cavity back or “game improvement” irons feature a design where the back of the clubhead is essentially hollowed out. This allows weight to be distributed evenly around the perimeter of the club rather than the center, making these clubs much more forgiving than blade irons on off-center strikes.
Many beginner golfers and mid-high handicappers enjoy using cavity back irons because they have a wide, weighted sole (see above) that allows them to achieve a higher ball flight, resulting in more carry and greater distance overall.
Pros and Cons of Cavity Back Irons
Due to how the weight is distributed throughout the clubhead, cavity back irons are often more forgiving when contact is made away from the center of the clubface.
This is helpful for two reasons:
A) You do not lose as much distance on miss-hits as you would with blade irons.
B) The perimeter weighted clubhead helps the ball fly straighter on off-center strikes.
Easier To Hit
Most cavity back irons will have a significant portion of their weight loaded in the sole of the clubface. This makes it much easier to get the ball into the air. This feature is extremely beneficial for beginners and ladies who often struggle to get enough height on their approach shots and longer irons.
Also, when using cavity back irons, you’ll experience less vibration through the hands. This means when you thin or blade an iron shot, you’re less likely to feel that uncomfortable numb or stinging feeling in your fingers that so many of us are familiar with.
Higher Ball Flight
As mentioned earlier, the heavy sole of cavity back irons helps get the ball into the air. As a result, you’ll experience more carry and greater distance. This “trajectory boost” can help your game in two main situations.
For one, many amateurs struggle to get their long irons into the air. This significantly reduces distance and becomes a problem when you need to fly the ball over an obstacle like a bunker or water hazard (think Tiger Woods’ famous 6 iron over the water at the RBC Canadian Open in 2000).
Cavity back technology provides a solution for these challenging shots, helping amateurs play shots that were previously physically impossible for them when using other clubs.
Second, if you have a low ball flight, it can be very difficult to get your ball to land and stop on the green.
Picture this – you absolutely pure an iron shot. It lands on the front of the green and starts rolling to the flagstick. But it keeps rolling….and rolling…and rolling. Before you know it, instead of a makeable birdie putt, you need to get up and down just to save par.
The extra height provided by cavity back irons can be a godsend for those who struggle with this. They’ll help you hit high and soft approach shots that stop on a dime.
Can Provide More Distance
Cavity back irons can help add some much-needed distance to the average player’s golf game. This effect can be attributed to the added height on each shot that results in more carry.
However, it’s also worth noting that distance will be preserved on miss-hits as well. This is because the weight is distributed around the perimeter of the clubhead.
If you catch a shot with the toe of the club, there will be more weight making contact with the ball compared to blade irons where the majority of the weight is found near the sweet-spot.
You can usually find a decent set of new cavity back irons for under $1,000. Blades, on the other hand, tend to be more expensive and will range anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 or more.
The difference in price is largely due to supply and demand. There are fewer people who have the skill-set to use blade irons, therefore fewer sets are created. When there are fewer sets available to buy, the price tends to rise.
Cons of Cavity Back Irons
Can Have A Bulky Design
Cavity back irons have a much larger clubhead when compared to blade irons:
Many golfers prefer the sleek look of the blade irons (see above). However, the larger design found with cavity backs serves a purpose – it makes them much easier to hit.
It’s also much less intimidating when you’re standing over the ball. If all you see is a tiny clubhead, you might not be confident in your ability to make solid contact with the ball.
Cavity backs have a longer clubface and a thicker sole to help alleviate this concern.
Difficult to Control Trajectory/Shot Shape
One of the best features of cavity back irons is that they’re designed to help golfers hit beautiful high, arching shots.
However, there are certain situations where this might be a problem. For example, if you find yourself playing in windy conditions, you’ll want to keep the ball low.
Unfortunately, it might be difficult to do this with cavity backs because the heavy sole of the club promotes a high launch. That said, it’s definitely possible to hit low shots with cavity back irons, you’ll just need to make sure you’re making the appropriate adjustments in your setup/swing.
Less Consistency With Yardages
You might notice that it’s slightly more difficult to control distance with cavity back irons compared to blades. This is because cavity backs are designed to launch the ball while increasing distance and forgiveness on miss-hits.
For example, let’s say you hit two shots with your 7 iron. They both feel the same, yet one travels 160 yards, and the other travels 168 yards.
Because the weight is distributed around the perimeter of the clubface, shots that feel the same might travel different distances.
Compare this to a blade, where in order for shots to feel solid, you need to make contact with the center of the clubface. If you hit two solid shots with a blade iron, you know the result will be two shots that travel nearly identical distances.
However, keep in mind, a miss-hit with a blade iron will travel a much shorter distance compared to a miss-hit with a cavity back iron.
Who Would Benefit From Cavity Back Irons?
If you’re trying to decide if you should buy cavity back irons, it’s important to consider the type of player you are. Here’s a look at a few of the players who stand to benefit the most from using cavity back irons.
Ask any beginner and they’ll tell you they want one thing out of their golf game – more distance.
When it comes to irons, the reason beginners lack distance is that they do not get the ball off the ground and carrying through the air. The weighted sole of cavity back irons helps elevate the golf ball and eliminate this issue.
High-handicappers will often struggle to make consistent contact with the center of the clubface. This is due to a number of reasons including injuries, swing faults and many others.
This makes high-handicappers great candidates for cavity back irons. The perimeter weighted club head will reduce the negative consequences of contacting the ball away from the sweet spot of the club.
With this type of iron, you can get away with the occasional toe/heel hit without it ruining your entire round.
Ladies will often struggle to generate the swing speed required to get the ball into the air with their irons.
The fact that cavity backs have their weight centered at the bottom of the clubface makes it much easier for ladies to elevate the ball and get it started on the right trajectory. Enabling the typical slower swing speed to hit the ball squarely.
Blades vs Cavity Back FAQ’s
Why Do Pro Golfers Play Blades?
Many professional golfers elect to use blades because they find them easier to control trajectory and shape shots.
They also provide superior feel coming off the clubface when hit solid. Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, and many other notable players use blades.
Are Pure Blades Harder to Hit?
Yes, blade irons are much more difficult to hit compared to cavity backs and other game improvement irons. This is due to both their small size and where their weight is concentrated.
Unlike cavity backs, where the weight is strategically distributed around the perimeter of the golf club, blade irons have the majority of their weight located near the sweet spot.
This means that in order to achieve a consistent shot with blade irons, you’ll need to regularly make contact with the center of the clubface.
The consequences of any off-center strikes with blade irons will appear much more exaggerated compared to cavity back irons.
Will Playing Blades Make You Better?
Some people assume that their game will improve over time if they play with blade irons because they’re harder to hit. Is this true?
Well, yes…and no.
In the short term, playing blades will have a negative effect on your scores. That’s because there’s a much smaller margin for error when using blades.
Even if you miss the sweet spot by just a quarter of an inch, the result can be catastrophic. This takes time to get used to.
However, as your game improves, you’ll begin to see some advantages of using blade irons that will actually help you play better golf.
For example, blades make it easier for advanced golfers to control trajectory and shot shape, two key elements of scoring.
So, if you decide to switch to blades as a way to improve your game, just know you’ll get worse before you get better. But once you figure them out, you’ll have the potential to shoot lower scores.
However, for average golfers and high handicappers, there is no benefit whatsoever to using blade irons. Doing so will just lead to frustration and prevent you from making any measurable improvements.
If you’re looking to make the switch to blades, I would recommend only doing so if you can maintain a low-mid handicap with the clubs you’re using now.
Do Traditional Blade Irons Go Further?
No, blade golf clubs do not go further. In some cases, they will actually provide less distance.
Here’s where the confusion lies – some golfers think that blade irons provide more distance because they see several top tour pros using them.
They see people like Dustin Johnson hit a 7 Iron 200+ yards and then head to the golf store to buy the same clubs.
But it’s more likely that the ball is traveling 200+ yards because it’s Dustin Johnson with high ball speed, not because he’s playing a blade iron.
By no means do blades travel further than cavity backs. For the average golfer and high-handicappers, the opposite will actually be true.
High handicappers struggle to make contact with the center of the clubface or the “sweet spot.” If they’re using blade irons, this is a problem because the weight is located in the center of the clubface with these clubs.
This means the farther away from the center that the strike is, the less power the shot will have.
Tour pros know that ninety-five percent of the time they will make contact with the sweet spot. That’s why they can get away with using blade irons.
The average golfer will be lucky if sixty percent of their iron shots hit the sweet spot, meaning they’re probably better off using cavity back irons.
Cavity Back Iron FAQ
Do pros use cavity back irons?
Many pros use blade irons because they’ve developed a consistent swing that allows them to make contact with the center of the clubface. Many of them also enjoy how blades allow them to control trajectory and spin. However, about 30-40% of tour pros reportedly use cavity backs in at least some capacity.
A lot of players will use a combination of both blades and cavity backs. They’ll have cavity back long irons that help them achieve a higher launch angle and blade short irons to maintain precision and feel.
Are cavity back irons easier to hit?
Yes, for the majority of beginner golfers and high handicappers, the cavity back golf iron is easier to hit. This is due to their forgiving design and a weighted sole that helps elevate the ball into the air.
Do cavity back irons really help?
If you’re a beginner or high handicapper, cavity back irons can significantly improve your iron game. Not only are they more forgiving on off center hits, but they also provide a higher launch and more distance.