Standing over a golf shot with a bladed iron in hand – especially a long iron – is one of the most intimidating shots in golf. If these are so hard to hit who should actually use them? I learnt to play with an old, used set of Slazenger blades and this is why it might not be a bad idea for you to try them too.
So, are bladed golf irons that hard to hit? They are definitely the hardest type of irons to use when compared to cavity back, game improvement or super game improvement irons. They are less forgiving and suffer from a greater drop off in power and direction on off center strikes.
Does this mean that most golfers should steer clear of blades? Absolutely not! There are specific circumstances where it can be incredibly beneficial to use a more bladed club.
What Is a Golf Bladed Iron?
Golf irons traditionally fall into one of several categories:
- Super Game Improvement (SGI) Irons – like the Callaway Big Bertha’s
- Game Improvement (GI) Irons – like the Taylormade Sim Irons
- Player Irons – like the Titleist T200
- Tour Pros – like the Ping iBlade
The differences between them come down to the size of the head (it’s larger in in the Super Game Improvement category and gets smaller as you move down), loft (irons aimed at better players often have more loft on them) and feel (you’ve probably heard some players describe blades as feeling “like butter” when hit well).
Comparing a Big Bertha to an iBlade you would be able to see the size of the head on the iBlade is significantly smaller. There’s no cavity cut out of the back either which means the club face will twist more on off-centre hits. This is a key difference. In order to successfully use blades you need to be able to consistently strike the ball out of the centre of the clubface.
Lofts are another key difference, take a look at the table below for the difference between traditionally lofted blades and super game improvement irons
|Club||SGI Iron||Traditional Blades|
You can see that there’s around a 2 club difference – meaning that the 7 iron in the SGI clubs is around about the same as a 5 iron in the blades! This means you’re likely to be able to hit SGI and GI irons much further than the equivalent bladed clubs but may also find it a bit more difficult to stop the ball as quickly.
Are Blades Easier To Hit?
The short answer is absolutely not. The head of each club is smaller which means your margin of error on off center strikes is significantly reduced. In fact Callaway reckons the difference is size is as much as a 25% reduction in sweet spot between SGI irons and blades. That might not sound like much but remember, golf is often a game of millimeters – missing the center of the clubface by a tiny amount can cost you significant distance!
There’s also a difference in the manufacturing process. Cavity backed irons tend to be forged – this means that molten metal is poured into a mold in order to give them their shape. This leads to a consistent manufacturing process (which isn’t a bad thing!) Blades tend to be forged – this means they’re manufactured from a single, solid block of metal. It’s more expensive but gives a much better feel – that’s why you often hear golfers say that blades feel “buttery”.
So you’re left with a choice – do you want clubs that feel amazing to hit and give a lot of feedback on the strike or would you prefer something more forgiving that perhaps feels a little more dead? Ultimately the choice is yours to make but choosing clubs that you’re not capable of hitting can make golf a truly miserable experience!
What Are The Pros & Cons Of Using Blades?
Of course, there are pros and cons to each type of club – otherwise we’d all be rocking the same golf sets on the course and where’s the fun in that? One of my favorite things in golf is seeing what’s in my buddies bag and having a couple of shots with his clubs…makes me want to go and buy some more and we can all relate to that!
The cons of using blades are pretty well documented above – a smaller head means a smaller sweet spot. Off center strikes tend to lose power at a greater rate meaning if you’re hitting the ball from different parts of the clubface on each strike then you’re going to find it really hard to control distance – good strikes will fly further than poor strikes and you’ll find it hard to pick which club to use for your approach to the green.
The weight distribution on a bladed club is against you as well. The cavity on a cavity back iron is designed to shift the weight lower down on the clubface (to help lauch the ball higher) and out to the perimeter towards the heel and toe of the club. This prevents the club face twisting as much on off center strikes. On a blade neither of these things happen so the ball will not launch as high and the clubface will twist more on bad strikes.
The higher launch of the cavity back irons is what allows manufacturers to take loft off the clubface (that’s why SGI clubs often have up to 6 degrees less loft than the bladed equivalent). The translates into more distance for the SGI irons when comparing, for example, 7 irons to 7 irons.
So far, so much for blades right? I mean why would you use them? In fact why do pros use them at all??
The major advantage that blades give, aside from feedback, is control. It is MUCH easier to shape your golf shofts and hit high fades, low running draws, punch shots under the wind, landing and stopping a ball dead etc with the extra loft and feel that blades give you. This is often far more important to a tour pro than the extra yards they’d get with SGI clubs. In fact, SGI clubs would simply smash the ball way too far, it’s not as if tour pros have a problem with reaching longer holes after all!
Should A Beginner Golfer Use Blades?
Given the above you’d think my answer would be absolutely not, right?! And it is…sort of.
Look, if you’re just trying golf for the first time and you’ve got an old set of vintage blades that were your grandfathers lying around the house then definitely use them. That’s how I got into the game….well it was my Dad’s Cousins Uncle but close enough!
If you start to take the game more seriously though and you want to be competitve with (and beat) your friends then you want equipment that helps you, not makes life harder!
This is where SGI and GI irons come in. They’ll help you enjoy your time on the golf course and let you start shooting some decent scores early on so you’re not getting too frustrated. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a bladed club for practice…
What I’d advocate is getting on eBay and searching for an old 7 iron blade. You should be able to pick one up for less than $20. Take it to the range (or wherever you practice) and spend time hitting shots with it. I guarantee the consistency of your strike will improve dramatically within a few sessions. You’ll be hitting the ball more solidly out of the center of the clubface. It’s one of the best ways to improve quickly.
Who knows, pretty soon you’ll be wanting the control blades give you on the course and looking to upgrade!
What Is The Best Brand For Blades?
Pretty much all the major brands have a good set of irons aimed at the better player in their line ups. You’ll see a lot of players using certain brands and might think that must be the best but remember, most of them are paid to put clubs in the bag. You’re not!
There’s a stat that the most popular brand of irons for players without an equipment contract is Mizuno. After all, their slogan of “Nothing Feels Like a Mizuno” was chosen for a reason!
The Mizuno JPX900 and JPX919 Tour models were both used to win majors (Brooks Koepka won back to back US Opens with them). The new JPX921 Tour irons are stunning looking forged1025E Pure Select Mild Carbon steel.
Definitely something to aspire to!