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Grouchy Golf Blog

Wednesday, June 30, 2004 at 4:03 PM

Forged Blades Redux

Having recently switched back to forged muscle-back blade (there are no truly pure blades made anymore) irons, I totally agree with Bob Tway's comment: "You have to be more precise with a forged blade," said Tway, who won the 1986 PGA Championship using cast Ping irons but now uses Mizuno's forged MP-33 blades. He explained:
With a [more forgiving] cast club you can get sloppy with your swing. That creeps into other clubs, like the driver. I think my mechanics have gotten better since I went to forged [blades]. If you look at the top of the money list, they're all playing forged [blades].
I'm a self-taught golfer who learned the game using my grandfather's old Hogan Blades. When I had become a decent golfer (14-handicap) with solid ball-striking ability, I decided that I deserved a new set of irons. Through Callaway propaganda, I became brainwashed into thinking that the best irons were designed to maximize distance with the largest cavity-back and the greatest amount of offset. So, naturally, I bought a new set of Big Bertha irons.

I was crushing the ball at first and I thought that I owned the irons of my dreams. The sweet spot felt like it was all over the clubface. The only drawback of these clubs was a tendency to produce a drawing ball flight. I worked at the range to straighten this out and it seemed fine for a while. However, I soon became aware that I was starting to hit the ball with a slight push-fade. Eventually, that worsened into a severe push-slice. I also noticed that my ball-striking wasn't as "crisp" as before and my divots were inconsistent. I had no clue what was going on and I panicked that I was turning into Ian Baker-Finch. It was inconceivable to me that my problems could have stemmed from my irons since I had believed that they were the best that money could buy.

I now realize that those forgiving super "game-improvement" irons were ruining my golf swing. The wide soles and extremely low center of gravity of the Berthas allowed me to get away with a poor swing. As a result, my once consistently solid ball-striking evaporated. The Bertha's excessively thick top-line and drastic offset wreaked havoc on my setup and alignment. This in turn affected my take-away, backswing, etc. Because these irons are designed to straighten a slice swing (the most common swing flaw for amateurs), they tend to produce a hook for a perfectly sound swing. Therefore, to hit these irons straight, you need to have a slice swing. Unbeknownst to me at the time, these irons were teaching me how to slice!

Like a house of cards, my swing collapsed and my handicap ballooned. According to Ernie Vadersen, a former top designer for Spalding and MacGregor, "Oversize cavity-back clubs allow you to play lazily, and lazy habits promote poor play." Oh how I wish I knew that before I bought those friggin' Callaways!

It took me several years to realize the error of my ways, and now I'm back to playing forged blades. With blades, I instantly feel the difference between a good shot and a bad one. The good shots feel super sweet, while the bad ones punish. This feedback has allowed me to fix many of the swing flaws that I had developed under the Callaway years.

Most people don't like blades because they believe (primarily through marketing) that blades feel harsh. Well, they only feel harsh when you put a bad swing on them. Play with blades and they will force you into a good swing.

As Vadersen says:
...golfers want better feel when they hit the ball. When you hit a ball off the heel or toe of a classic forged [blade] iron, you know immediately, without even looking, that the shot is off. That's vital information. In that respect, no cavity-back club can compare with a forged blade iron. In simplest terms, the forged [blade] club gives you more information. The way I look at it, it's like having someone help you. By that I mean, if you find you are hitting the club on the toe, the computer in your brain will actually start adjusting until you start hitting it on the sweet spot. If you're striking it on the heel, you will eventually automatically make the adjustment to make a better shot. We've learned the best teachers tend to use forged [blade] clubs for this reason. They are teaching you how to make shots, and a good forged blade, because of the information it imparts, aids in that process — a game-improvement iron in the end.
Remember, it's easy to hit a target with a shotgun, but it will never help you become a SWAT team sniper. Still, blades aren't for everybody. If you are having too much difficulty hitting them, traditional-styled cavity-back or "player's" irons will still allow you to develop and maintain proper swing mechanics. At the very least, you should have a blade or two to practice at the range to stay sharp. But I must emphasize, avoid the super "game-improvement" irons like the Callaway Big Berthas and the Nike Slingshots if you really want to improve your game.

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Blogger AmbiDextri said...

Blades are for very low handicappers. Period. Anybody who doesn't have a single figure handicap needs the forgiveness.
But not from the horrible Callaway crap.
Cleveland, TA3, TA7. TM RAC. Those are clubs for decent players.
I'm a scratch; I spent 2 years playing with Cleveland's TA1's. Super blades. Sure I played well, and sweet shots were very sweet indeed, but the slightest mistake produced a terrible result. Now I play Ping, 3-5 i+ offset and 6-PW i+ blade. Never been happier.
The pro's play with blades 'cos they have pro swings. The rest of us don't.

ambidextri  

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Blogger Jat said...

Unfortunately, even with my TA4's, I feel the difference between good and bad shots all to often.  

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Blogger ThreeJacker said...

I've recently made the switch to blades (MP-33's) from Ping cast irons (i3). I am a high single digit handicapper, and to me, it doesn't make a difference in my score. (It should be noted that I am often hitting approach shots with a 7 or 9 wood, so I use my irons less often.)

If I mis hit a forged blade vs. a cast iron, it may not go as close to my target, but the bottom line is, I'll probably need to get up and down anyway.

Of course it does make a huge difference in feel, and after reading Maveric's post, I totally agree that it could help you over the long run in developing a better swing. I believe this is true if you are a decent golfer (14 handicap or better), but probably not for a high handicapper.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same if not more so with your putting stroke right?

We all should have Acushnet Bullseye putters at least for practice to groove that stroke. You know when you hit the sweet spot with those old school putters.

MP14 user here.

Rich (eatgolf.com)  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Thanks for the comment Rich. You have a great golf blog, so I added you to my links. Keep up the great work.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW, thanks Maveric, you just made my day!

Hit em straight,

Rich  

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Blogger Bunker said...

I stick with blades myself. I've played Mizuno T-zoids, but recently bought MacGregor irons. I figured as I get older I need some forgiveness in my long irons.

I'm thinking of going right back to a muscleback.  

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Blogger Tom G. said...

Today, you don't have to choose between blades and Ping battle axes. You can get sets that transition from cavity backed to muscle back. I play with Hogan Apex Plus's which don't really transition, but have a smaller cavity...  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the Tway theory and would add that you get better feedback on swings using blades than using perimeter weighted sticks. The feedback tells you shot to shot how you are performing, and has the effect of forcing you to bear down and do it better.

People, presumably those who have little experience playing blades, make it sound like only the worst consequences result from even the most slight miss-hit.

However, more often you can get away with shots that didn't feel quite right. In fact, some of my most memorable birdies and eagles have folloed shots that I'm saying, "Nope" right after feeling imprecise impact. Go figure.

I've played both styles extensively and have great confidence in making this comparison.

Playing a blade set (2i-PW), my handicap has been hanging between a 5 and 6 for the last couple of years.

Previously, I was an 8 or 9, and was playing w/cavity backs.

I haven't really worked at the game any differently during both epochs. My rates of play, practice and lessons has been about the same. I go out a bit less than once per week. I'm playing ~30 rounds or so a year, and make maybe half that many trips to the practice area at the club.

Somehow, I improved with blades....maybe blades should be called 'game improvement' irons.

Imagine that!  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Well said Anonymous. I think anyone who starts the game should play with blades to understand the feel of proper contact.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maveric, I agree with you 100%.
I've read a lot of reviews and the most common comment that I found are low handicappers who got used to cavity backs and then try to transition to blades. Because of the forgiveness of the cavity backs, they have developed a swing where the clubs compensate for their "not-so-good" swing. Then, they conclude that blades are tough. Yes, it is tough, but it depends on what you got used to. I started with blades and I hit with them well. I really like the feedback that it gives me and the way it forces me to swing properly. I believed that it has increased my learning curve and prevents me from getting bad swing habits.
Remember, there are two ways of playing this game:
1) Using equipment to compensate for your deficiencies
2) Using equipment that complements a good technique.  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Well said again, Anonymous. It's nice to know that there are others who feel the same. Is it any wonder why ball-striking seems to be a lost art?  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not very good. I shoot anywhere from high 80's to low 100 but I use Mizuno MP14 anyway. I think hitting forged has helped my iron play. With cavity back I used to lose 10 plus balls per round blasting pushed shots deep into the woods. With forged these shots just dribble so I don't lose as many balls. But my iron shots have gotten better as well as forged does force you to swing better. Most of my problems are off the tee with the big stick and there's not much the irons can do when the driver and 3 metal put me deep in the woods  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those of you that have used both blades and cavity back irons have you experienced a difference in ball flight and or a change in distance? I'm currently a 3.8 and use the original DCI Black black dimond. This will be my 13th season using the DCI irons and I've been very happy. I hit some Titleist 690.MB blades over the weekend indoors at a simulator and loved the feel. I could really tell when I hit them sweet. I also noticed that the ball flight was lower and carry was longer? I'd love to here anyone's thoughts and what you've experienced.  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

The variety of blade designs make it difficult to generalize regarding ball flight and or distance vs. cavity-backs. Some blades are designed to produce low trajectories, while others are designed to produce higher trajectories.

I would say that blades, in general, produce lower trajectories compared to cavity-backs due to the higher center of gravity. Distance is more a factor of lofts, so I don't think blades are shorter than cavity-backs if hit on the sweet spot.

Regardless, I do think that you will develop better ball striking from the feedback of blades. Good luck.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never a truer word was spoken. My lowest round ever (71) was played with muscle back cobra irons. The main thing I feel about blades is the weighting of them. Everyone who picks up the cobras says instantly how nicely weighted they are. They really improved my tempo. I found that the easier I swung, the farther they would go and when I rushed it there was nothing. The only problem that everyone who is not ranked in the world's top ten may find is that you catch the odd fairway equivalent of a flier where you hit one right out of the screws and your seven iron goes 185 instead of 165. You then know for a moment how it feels to be a pro but unfortunately you've got to think about it while searching for your ball in the hazard behind the green.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I started out using cavity backs and currently am a 12 handicap with cleveland ta3 chrome forged irons and just recently purchased Nike forged blades after testing the following blades: Mizuno mp33, titleists, hogan apex, etc. When I really need to work on my ball striking, I use an old set of these unheard blades from the 50's or 60's called Fernquist Johnsonens (SP??). They look like half the size of the present day blades but weigh twice as much! Talk about feedback, you MUST hit down on the ball to get it airborne and a perfectly struck shot is still 10-15 yards shorter than normal.
With all that being said, there are too many variables that equate into irons regardless of whether they are cavity back or forged blades. For instance: Swing weight, loft, lie angles, grips size/composition and ESPECIALLY shafts flex/length/pured/frequency.
Once you have all these customized for your swing, you will fully benefit from the irons according to your level of play.
Yes, certain cavity backs will be more forgiving than blades but you can customize/create blades that can work for you.
Finally, this game requires a lot of frequent practice which most of us working stiffs with a family/kids aren't able to do. Scoring is based around the SHORT GAME, because most of us can advance the ball forward to the green close to regulation regardless of which irons we are using.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

just got to read your blog site. i've actually been thinking of switching to blades. hmmmm...maybe i should give it a shot.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

my first iron set i've purchased are forged blades. some of the comments from this cool blog site has helped me choose. my game is improving and i'm having fun. i am especially enjoy my iron strikes.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

im a weekend golfer with 11 handicap. i rely heavily on my short game. i use TM oversize burners, rescue 5/4/3, and r7. everything in my bag is forgiving. i recently bought the rac cgb because it had less off line hits on all clubs i tested. for people to say im cheating, well, arent we all. tell me how many players here or pro not using titatium and how much FORGIVING are the cubic size? the goal is to post the lowest score. i dont care if you use a hockey stick. i played with someone once putting with a 3 wood. kicked my ass. so, enjoy your blades while cheating on your drivers.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never enjoyed golf as much as I do now.
I spent the first 10 golfing years using various cavity back irons and I didn't see much improvement in my shot making or in my scores for the entire 10 years. This was very frustrating. With the cavity backs I couldn't shape shots like I wanted to and they definitely masked the imperfections in my swing.
Last year, out of curiousity and frustration I picked up some vintage blades(Wilson's from the 70's) to see if I could gain some accuracy and control. I didn't care if I had to give up some distance as long as I could get some control. I found that as I focused and made good swings I could make great shots with these "old" sticks. Since then I've had a couple lessons and tinkered my way through a few sets of forged blades, settling on Ben Hogan APEX forged blades(1999-2001). Got them fitted and couldn't be happier. My goal is to improve for the long haul.
The logic is that the smaller less forgiving heads REQUIRE me to focus and make a good sound swing to make them perform. Of course they aren't as forgiving, but they make up for it in spades when you do what you're supposed to do.
The BONUS is that I finally improved my swing and gained a ton of control and actually gained distance.
Finally, my scores have dropped (from high 90's low 100's to mid 80's low 90's). This is the most improvement I've made(in less than 12 month's) than I have in 10 years.

Granted I don't own a pro's swing but the percentage of my good shots is rapidly increasing and my confidence is improving. I wish I had started with blades and had ingrained sound swing mechanics from the start.  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for the story. It resonates completely with my experiences.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no idea what to buy!

I have just started to get back into golf (played quite often while at school) and am so confused. I learnt to play with my uncles old Wilson blades (and whilst I hated the woods, I was hitting the 2 iron further than my mates were hitting drivers).

The clubs I have at the moment are prosimmon (peter senior model) cavity backs....and I hook the things. Always. Then I go back to the range, hit the old 2-iron wilson dead straight.

And yet EVERYONE in the shops tell me I'd be crazy going for any blades because I dont have a handicap (yet...average score is about +20) and I definately 'need' game improvement irons!!! AHHHHH. Surely the offset will cause more hook right (is offset designed to reduce slicing for regular golfers?)

I was thinking of the New bridgestone clubs....something 33s or something. Sorry about the ignorance - I'm relatively new to the sport.

Cheers
JA  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

JA, I would recommend that you try some traditional-looking cavity-back irons.

In other words, irons that look similar to blades at setup, with some forgiveness from a cavity-back design. Email me if you would like additional recommendations.

Good luck.  

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Blogger tlechaos said...

I am having the same issue as JA. I've been hitting consistantly in the low 90s with my cavity back graphite shaft irons. I am debating to get a set of Mizuno T-Zoid True 2-PW for $120, but not sure if I should switch to these or not. The price is part of the consideration but mainly worried about switching from cavity back to blades. Help anyone?  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

tlechaos,

I would certainly recommend that you practice with blades at first. Maybe obtain a 7 or 5 iron to hit at the range. If you feel comfortable enough, then you may want to switch to them.

While I don't believe that most people should play with blades on the course, I do believe that most people should have blades to practice. Think of it as a training aid for ball-striking.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a follow up to my previous post. I made the transition to blades(Ben Hogan APEX) last summer in the hopes of improving my swing for the long haul and going to forged blades did EXACTLY what I expected. Even after the winter layoff the only issue getting back into the groove with my irons was a few sore muscles. As a matter of fact in my last 3 rounds I have found that I've gained a full club in distance with ZERO loss of accuracy. I only play once a week and golf is my exercise, so I can't attribute the improvment to training or practice. What I can attribute it to is an improved swing. Blades MAKE you improve your swing!
I think the key to making the transition from cavity backs to blades is to make sure you get fitted properly. There's no use in just picking up a set and trying to alter your swing to clubs that don't fit correctly. Although I didn't buy new, I worked my way through several sets to come up with the right head and shaft combo for me. It was the long way around (most cost effective) but I couldn't be happier with the results. It took several months of trials and tribulation. Dropped my handicap from 27.3 to 17.1 in 8 months. If anything I feel the best is yet to come!  

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Anonymous Don said...

I played blades as a kid through high school and many years after that, but once I didn't have the time to practice as often it was frustrating to keep my edge with the blades (pun intended). I've been playing Clevelands for a long time now and I'm currently playing the TA2's and love them. If you can keep up the consistent practice and play then blades are good, but if you don't then a nice cavity back is the way to go.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I played blades and improvements at one time or another for over twenty years during which time I acquired more sets than I had room to store. All the sets,whether blade or improvement,were high end.Mine's a solid game but I kept looking for some magic in the hype.Never found it.
I stopped looking and started believing in myself and in my three sets of Muirfield blades,all that's left of a roomful.No more worries,no more doubts.I just think about the shot.  

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Blogger Craig said...

Craig
handicap 8
Well I wondered upon this site, very very good insight by all, I had purchased a brand new set of Titleist DCI black oversize irons back in 1997 and played them up until the beginning of last season, I now have almost 2 seasons of use with my Titleist 690.mb blades, I must say I could not be happier with them, what upsets me is all the negative press you get at the pro shop about these clubs, is everyone a robot these days? I mean why would a person want to buy a club that lets you swing lousy and get a well, ok result (not great and will never be great) when you could improve yourself and be on the road to a great swing, all the while not knowing if you hit the ball well or not because feedback is almost non existant on a cavity back, although my old Titleists did give some, unlike a Callaway, heck you feel like everthing you hit was a good shot and they are going all over the place, please people dont be afraid of blades, you need to rememeber this cavity back crap isn't what everyone played not so many years ago, as far as people feeling like they are cheating in some way while using a cavity back, lol you are really cheating yourself because you will never know the feel of heaven when you strike a blade against a ball, I noticed a guy above had said that he thought his trajectory was lower with a cavity back, well initially I had thought that as well but I believe its the offset in those cavity clubs, I think in some people they end up swinging more across (I believe the face closes and opens again just before impact for people that tend to slice or fade) the ball adding a few degree's to the loft without even knowing it ... just in the last year I have went from a 150 yard 5 iron to a 150 yard 8 iron with the blades, there was a transition it wasnt overnight but I did not lose any distance at all even when I switched initially they were pretty close to the same, again if it wasn't for all the commercials and the people at the pro shop always saying oh no! you dont want those or we dont carry those, its all hype if you ask me and I almost fell for it, actually angers me for if I would have just used blades to begin with, I wouldnt have picked up alot of bad habits that I have finally shook or at least I know what is happening, which is a totally new experience once you first switch to blades, you think wow! whats this feeling and that feeling, doesn't take long to look at where the ball went to know before you even look up where that balls is heading or not heading lol ... I liked the quote from a user above: we are all cheating with these titanium drivers, well I must tell you once you are hitting your blades well you dont know what cheating is like with one of those drivers, they do forgive yes but if you put a blade swing on a new driver its a whole different ball game in terms of distance and control, you can finally see what that kind of club can actually do.  

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Anonymous Jo said...

Hi, really enjoyed reading your post and I'll pick up the Nike forged blades soon - they just look too good ;). I wasn't sure what was happening with my swing as I picked up the game just 6 months ago. I mean, I could hit it straight (not far, but pretty straight) after 4 months of much practice, but recently, it started to balloon and go all over the place. And I can't feel what I was doing wrong, every shot felt the same. But from reading your post, it's most probably the laziness caused by playing cavity-backs. Just a question, can forged blades be played with graphite shafts? I'm a female, so I'm worried that steel shafts might be too heavy for me. Thanks!  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Jo, thanks for your comments. However, I want to make it clear that I don't believe that most people should play with blades. For the vast majority of golfers, I would still recommend cavity-back irons.

But if you do play with cavity-back irons, I highly recommend that you avoid the extreme "game-improvement" irons if you want to improve your game.

Please feel free to email me for additional advice. Good luck!  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sept 4 2006

I started playing golf almost three years ago to the day, using buddies cavity back irons hitting in the 130's-150's. I bought a cheap (11 piece) set of dunlop oversized in june 2004, playing well in the 110's-130's of that year. Finally changed irons in august of 2005 to Nike Forged Irons 2-pw. I must say after playing about 120-140 rounds of golf with a book, a shadow, some forged Irons and a decent ball, as i do not take advice from anyone without professional status, I now shoot in high 70's to low 80's best round yet was +4 after 18 holes at a championship course. I will never play a cavity back again after recently trying a Taylormade Rac 7 iron hitting it sweetly from 165 yds, it only carried 155. My 7 iron can carry a comfortable 170 yds. I recently learned to hit high-mid-low draws, high-low straights, high-mid-low fades. Ball striking is very easy with a blade as opposed to a cavity back. It's a nice feeling being 150 out with an closed 9 iron face, stance aiming for the right edge of the green hole cut to the rear left and landing a 4 footer for a birdie putt after taking the water on the front left out of play. Not to mention that i also play tiger woods wedges 56 and 60, and have learned to pitch to tight pins in various lies and hardpan lies, flop with little roll, and chip with these bladed clubs. When I'm playing poorly (from time to time we all do when we are uncomfortable and upset with the girlfriend), most cavity back players tell me that I'm better suited to play cavity back irons for the forgiveness. On the contrary, I rarely tell anyone what they are doing wrong when they hit their garbage. To all you cavity back iron players. please play your own game and stay on your wagon. This is after all a relaxing game and i get my pleasure out of hitting whistling bladed iron shots. Some of my regular playing partners are calling me tiger/monster/tailspin, I have my game improvement irons not the ones with the wrenches either, so i am improving rapidly, so much so, that my cousin who has been playing for 20 years is asking me for lessons, i repeat, I haven't been playing for 20 years unlike you, i have only been playing for 3 years I have nothing to teach you. I don't advise others to play blades or cavity backs.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just recently switched from Lynx parallax cavity back to hogan apex muscleback forged blades. I haven't yet got the increase in distance that I was hoping for and my bad shots now are really bad with the blades, but the difference in the feel of good shots more than make up for these cons. Besides my iron game was not progressing any and it was time for a change after playing with the Lynx irons for 7 years. It will be hard to part with my Lynx irons though since I learned to play with them and have grown attached to them. I suppose that once I hit my blades consistently I will be able to sell the Lynx's. I plan on buying a medicus iron to groove my iron swing much better. My woods swing is much more consistent than my iron swing. If I can keep from reverting back to the pop-up swing I had problems with. But I say blades all the way, even for those who don't think they are good enough for blades. Hit it sweet with a forged 7 blade once and you'll never go back to cavity backs.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Intersting site and comments. On the range at my home course, I met an older gentleman who was hitting with some hickory shafted clubs from the early 1900s. He is a collector and clubmaker. He proved to be very knowledgeable about club history and 'new' technology. I currently use Cleveland TA3 Form Forged irons. Intrigued by our discussion of vintage clubs, I purchased an extremely well preserved set of 1965 Wilson Dyna-Power blades irons on ebay. Hey, for $19.99 what did I have to lose.

Well I eagerly took them to the range the following day and I was shocked at how well I could hit these tiny head clubs. My range buddies were also amazed the anxiously waited to try them out. I will admit that these clubs do require more focus to hit pure shots. My range session quickly revealed two swing flaws that I was able to correct. Now, I had to try these on the course.

Well, to make a long story short, I shot my best score in 14 years. Going from a cast to a forged cavity back gave me the necessary feedback to improve my game. I think going to forged blades was the next step for me.

The older gentleman was correct. Marketing plays such a big role in equipment sales today. They sell you a set of 'game improvement' clubs, with lofts that are 2-4 degrees stronger to make you think that you are really capable of hitting a 7 iron 180 yards. Then they sell you a hybrid because they delofted your 3 iron to make it virtually unplayable. And of course you have to buy a 'gap' wedge because they made your PW into what used to be a 9 iron.

Now one question remains; do I get rid of the $600 set of Clevelands?  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

great blog! I plan to build a set of blades using Raven components for Christmas. I presently play with small cavity backs, minimal progressive offset, Rifle 7.0 shafts, and Persimmon Woods-Robert  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This page has helped me enormously, in confirming my suspicions. I started playing when I was 28 ro 29. Many years ago, I made the decision to move from a set of game inprovement irons(I believe they were Tiger Sharks, if memory serves me correctly) to a set of Mizuno blades. My reasoning was that that is what the pros use, and they seem to manage rather well with them. I did struggle with them at first. My friends used to laugh at me when I was on the practice ground, calling me "Shotgun" etc, due to the inconsistency of direction of my shots, but over the next 9 months or so, my handicap dropped from 24-12. I was still getting into trouble, but finding it easy to get out of it again, and even managed to post 2 rounds of 74 and 75 along the way. After some time using these clubs, and thinking it was time to treat myself to something to improve my game, I bought myself a set of Wilson Staff Midsize irons, 1-SW, with stiff shafts, which I have used from the early days on advice from my teaching pro. I have always hit a very high ball, but I noticed with these clubs that the flight was even higher, but my shots were shorter. Worse still, all sorts of mistakes started to creep into my swing, largely due to trying to recover my lost distance, and I have never played to my 12 handicap again to this day. I have recently spent a lot of time on the range, working on my swing, and the improvement has been huge, but I still feel I am losing distance due to the ultra high trajectory of my Wilsons. I can now hit my 7 iron up to about 165 yards again, but that still represents 15 yards plus in lost distance over what I used to do, and it also takes a lot more effort to do it. As I also seem to have lost distance with my driver, I can put this down, at least partially, to getting older (I am now 46) and loss of flexibility, but I can feel the return to a set of forged blades approaching rapidly. I have played my Wilsons now for approximately 10 years, as I recall, and I now feel this was the worst thing I ever did to my golf game. Why must we all try to make the game easier for ourselves, when what we really need to do is work at making our swings better.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

German amateur,
hcp 8

all right, if you are the type of player who never takes lessons and does not show any interest in the game other than to go out and have fun on the weekend: buy shovels and you'll enjoy the game more. but all others (and everyone reading this blog: reading this blog proves you are interested in getting better!)should play blades or serious players cavities like the Mizuno MP-60 or Adams Idea Pro. Great blog! I love this movement away from game improvement that seemed to have started only this year. The clubs are supposedly getting better and better for weak players but comparing to 10-20 years ago the average score for weekend hacks hasn't dropped. go figure...  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

josh from england
hcp 13

iv just turned 16 n iv bin playin for 2 years now, i started playin at a local par-3 course, and the rental clubs they had were all old fashioned blades, so tho i had quite a few shots at some horrible angles off the face i quickly began to groove my swing.

my first set of irons were some RAM 'game improvement' irons, with hybrid clubs replacing the 3+4 irons - big mistake - i quickly began to hate the hybrids, though i have to say, yhe other irons were ok, they werent massive 'big bertha' style irons.

about half a year ago i got my handicap got down to 15 so i decided to get a more precision set of irons, i ended up gettin the wison staff pi5's 2-pw with stiff rifle shafts, and now my striking, accuracy and swing have vastly improved, if it wasn't for having to take a large break from golf during the summer i would probably be into single figures by now.

i was just wondering whether the pi5's are suitabvle for someone who is determined to improve, or whether i should consider trying to get some blades? the pi5's are musclebacks with minimal offset if any

i also just want to say that people need to be getting more 1+2 irons, theres barely a market for them anymore so they have become rare and expensive due to hybrids and high lofted woods. long irons give you more control and feedback. the difference between getting long irons or hybrids is similar to that between bladed and 'improvement' irons, one makes the game easy, one makes you learn to play better.

please add any advice cos i need it very much  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Hi Josh,

Unfortunately, I'm not very familiar with Wilson's new irons. However, from what I can gather, the Wilson Staff Pi5 are a progressive cavity-back design.

As long as the offset and top-line thickness aren't extreme, I think that these irons are fine for "someone who is determined to improve." However, I would suggest picking up a blade or two from the used club bin just to practice on the range.

Good luck and hit 'em straight!  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too was brain washed by the cavity back hype, but after playing for a year and never seeing any improvement in my game i decided to try something different, so I went to a used golf store and was trying out all the clubs. I stuck with the cavity backs and have to admit was impressed with a few models. While conteplating my final choices I decided to hit few forged blades just for fun. First, I tried a set of MacGregor Tourney VIP Blades. I was impressed with the feel and look at address and decided to try out more. After hitting several sets of blades I walked out of the store with a set of Mizuno MP-14s.

Since then my swing has improvement and my game has stepped up a notch. . As a twenty handicapper these clubs are not only improving my scores, they are very satisfying and bring alot of fun back into my once stagnating game.

I think this is what the game was meant to be. Plus the clubs just look better.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am currently a 12 capper playing with Ping G5's. I find them very forgiving on my bad swings, but I also find them very hard to align with the target due to the enormous amount of offset.

I've been playing for about 3 years and have steadily progressed from a 120/110/100/90/low 80's player. But, for the last year - to year and a half, my scores have not dropped any, despite religiously playing 3-4 times per week. I have always played "game improvement" cavity backs probably because of marketing hype.

I recently switched wedges from a Ping Tour 52* gap wedge to a Titleist Vokey Spin Milled 54* and have found that I hit much better shots and have much better ball striking with the smaller club head and MB design. I also love the much softer feel of the vokey!

I find that I have the most trouble in my game on approaches with irons. I struggle to hit greens from 160 and in, so I am always trying to get up and down. I can bomb the driver way out there on a par 5, but can seldom get on in 3 so that I have a decent shot at par. I hit maybe 3-4 GIR per round.

Do you guys feel that buying blades can help me hit better approach shots over the next 1-2 years?  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Anonymous,

I recommend that you consider cavity-back "player's irons." They will help your alignment problem because they are similar in appearance and offset to a blade but still retain some forgiveness. Here are some models to consider: Taylormade R7 TP, Mizuno MP-60, Titleist 755, Ping S58, and Cleveland CG4 Tour. Good luck and let us know how it works out.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

My home course has a slope of 135 off the mens tees. The champ tees are 142! I am a shade over 2 trending to a 3 and can tell you w/o a dobut my cavity backed irons are not holding me back from playing better golf. I played Hogan blades for years and went to an old used set of Ping Eye 2's in 2000 b/c they were cheap on eBay. The difference is real, but small. Chances are if you are shanking a blade you will shank a cavity back. I picked up a bit tighter dispersion, but that is it. As is the case with 99% of golfers the real gains to be made are in the short game. I spend 75% of my practice time on the short game and most of that is putting. How is it that a guy in his late 40's can play to a 2 when I don't carry a driver and hit less than a couple of hundred balls a week? Up and down b/c I can assure you I miss a ton of fairways and greens. Can't control a driver so I don't own one! Become and up and down machine and you won't become so obsessed with your equipment....I can get up and down with a canoe paddle. Not gifted, just hard work.

If I played golf 6 days a week and had a coach I might be able to play blades, but why fight city hall? Golf is about fun, but if you are into punishing yourself that's entirely up to you;)  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

I'm kinda confused now, some say buy blades others say don't.

My story is that I used to play golf 10+ years back and have just recently (1-2months ago) started to play again. I feel that I have a half decent swing and with my new Nike Sumo driver can hit balls 300+ (3 out of 5 times straight). I've recently being going round in low 90's - though do feel that I am improving each time I play.

I currently own a set of McGregor cavity back irons from when I was a kid.

I'm now looking to buy a new set - and am quite happy to shell out and buy the new Nike Forged blades. The way I see it - if I learn with blades, It will force me to learn and keep a good swing, rather than just relying on cavity backed clubs to bail me out - thus possibly teaching me a poor swing.

What do you think? Help??

Thanks!  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there to the 10+ year, new golfer. Here is what I would recommend. I wrote the above post, 2 handicap, solid short game.

The best advice I have ever received was from an old coot my dad used to play with who couldn't hit a ball over 220 off the tee on a good day, but rarely shot over 80. "Son, you can't buy a golf swing". He pummeled me when I was younger b/c he was an automatic up and down from anywhere green high.

Get your short game razor sharp and you won't feel the need to obsess over blades, cavity backs, degrees of loft, shaft flex etc... It's fun to learn how all those things can affect a golf shot, but for the amateur it returns the smallest gains for the $, time and effort you put into it.

I promise, promise promise....if you get wickedly good around the greens and solid over 5 footers your game will improve dramatically. If you are truly bombing it 300+ off the tee and not breaking 90 easily then I can tell you one thing for sure....your short game is atrocious.

Saturday I hit 9 fairways and 11 GIR: shot 77 and didn't do anything special. Incidentally, I don't even carry a driver and hit my 3-wood around 235-250 depending on the day. My 22 year old Ping Eye 2's are better than I will ever be...  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Anonymous,

I would recommend that you consider a traditional-looking cavity-back design, also called "player's irons".

In other words, irons that look similar to blades at setup, with some forgiveness from a cavity-back design.

Good luck.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the guy here bombing 300 yard drives:

In my opinion it all depends on what your goals are. Do you want to score as low as possible? If so I would take a real hard look at your short game. If you are sitting 300 in the fairway and not posting half your scores at sub 80 then you have the answer. As the above post suggests you need to hone your short game. At 300+ with your club head speed then you should have no more than a wedge/gap wedge to every par 4 and mid irons to the par 5's. Have you tried taking a half swing with an 7 iron? Seriously, with your lenght that's all you need to get putting most of the time and then it's 2 putts for par and off to the next tee. Play for bogey and you will make a ton of pars. Stop aiming at flags and just try and get on the dance floor. How many 3 putts do you have a round?  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firstly - just like to thank everyone for all your help...

Thinking about it.. You are all correct - I do agree in that my short game is not up to standards. 3 putts: yeah quite a few, maybe half the holes.

The reason why I'm thinking about buying new irons is that the ones I have at the moment require new grips badly. Sometimes I feel the club slipping in my hand when taking shots. Sure I could easily get them re-gripped though do feel it would be a waste of money - as the clubs really do need replacing as since I was a kid.

Sure I want the best score possible - and yes, I'm certainly going to look at my short game, but in the mean time I'm still going to buy some new irons. I'm still indecisive on which clubs to buy. I'm sure cavity clubs might be easier to hit but surely after (a lot) of practice wouldn't you get used to playing with blades? Plus there must be a difference in the blades themselves. Does anyone know if Nike blades are easier than other blades?

Thanks again.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there I thought I would chime in. In my opinion, blades are not going to make you a better ball striker. They can certainly allow a pure ball striker to work it easier both ways, but for 99.9% of the amateurs it will only make life more difficult both in fixing swing flaws and enjoyment of the game. A blade still won't fix a problem, but it will make it apparent much quicker.

Let me put it to you this way. I worked at the U.S. Amateur Qualifying at Avila in Tampa during '05. I met tons of the guys, walked the course all day and chatted w/them between shots. We talked equipment shop a ton as well. The vast majority of them used cavity backs and for that matter were old school. Had the same irons for years and stuck with them....tons and tons of Ping's, but did see some Nike cavity backs. Can't recall seeing any blades....one college guy had Hogans, but don't know if there were true blades.

Just a point of reference for you...these guys had to have an idex of 2 to get into the tournament.

Frank  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Anonymous,

I don't think that you can go wrong with cavity-back "player's irons." Whatever you do, I strongly suggest considering a lightly used set because of the dramatic depreciation. IMHO, most muscle-back blades are very similar in performance. I have been playing with the Nike Blades for almost 3 years now and I don't think that they are materially easier than other muscle-back blades. Good luck.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you can find an argument for any piece of equipment. Basically, if it works for you then great. Consider this while we are on the topic of Bob Tway. He is ranked 375th in the world with $419,566...and he uses blades.

Now let us look at Mark Calcavecchia who is ranked 39th in the world with $2,925,332....and he uses 15 year old Ping Eye 2's.

This pokes serious holes in the 'blades make you a better player' theory. Bottom line is if it helps you card a 4 instead of a 5 then go with it!!!  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all - Thanks for all your comments. I took your advice and resisted the blades.

I visited my local driving range and tried a number of clubs. I could hit the blades okay, though soon realised how correct you all were.

I tried others and finally went for the Nike CCI forged (cavity backed) clubs. They felt the best for me. I had them custom fitted and are now awaiting on delivery from Nike. I can't wait - there's only so many reviews you can read. :-)

Also - took your advice on working on my short game. I practiced and practiced and then went round in a 81 (up to my usual 90's). Golf is so great when it's going good. ha ha

Just wanted to say thanks again for everyones help and thanks to Grouchy Golf!

Cheers  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

game improvement irons are a scam within the golf industry. the only way to improve ones game is to practice. infact if i were to use the so called game improvement irons my technique, in the long run, would worsen.  

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Anonymous Hogan'sUncle said...

Hi Grouchy,

Great Blog! I ran into this post per chance googling random golf thoughts. Interesting discussion. I've been playing this game for a few years now and the more I learn and the better I get, the more I realize how little I know, how much there's still to learned, and how much I need to unlearn. I definetely agree that if you want to improve your game then you should play blades. And your advise is sensible in that you don't need to get true blades, but don't go for the hyped up game improvement models with big fat heads.

The way I see it, there are three types of golfers. The weekend hacker, who's just happy to be out with their buddies and getting some excercise. Go ahead play the big fat cavity backs and "hit" the ball. The amateur golfer, that's trying to really improve the game and "swing" the club. These players are much better off with blade-like clubs/muscle backs, because that's what's going to get you away from the bad habits you have learned. And then the professionals...

I recently switched from x-18 tours to Cleveland CG1 black pearls. I'm about a 7 handicap, and not a great ball striker -- at least not as good as I want to be. I'm at a leavel in my game now, where it's not just about hitting a straight shot. I want to be good enough to really work the ball. Once you can hit shots on demand, you start playing a different game. It's not just about hitting it straight. You want to hit it straight and long and high, get the big berthas, and it'll do it. But if you really want to swing the low cut, high draw, or any number of shots it's only possible with a players iron. The game just isn't fun if you can't work the ball.

I say get the muscle backs and hit 'em straight. But once you got that figured out learn to work the ball and the game becomes much more enjoyable.  

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Blogger Parshutr said...

I agree wholly, as does Bobby Clampett in his book, The Impact Zone. One caveat, though: since I saw pix of young Tiger Woods playing Ping Irons, I switch my grandson to a set of Frank Thomas irons, just to build his confidence.
I conducted my own experiment of one, kept stats for several years, and found that my highest, and lowest, scores were with blades. I haven't played anything else for years. Now using Hogan PCs 2-SW.
Also using Persimmon Citation 1 and 3 woods, for similar reasons.  

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Anonymous Ian said...

Interesting article.

I'm thinking of getting a couple of practice clubs to try and improve my swing (I'm a high handicapper).

I've got an old set of Tommy Armour 855s in reasonable condition which I don't use.

Would these be considered 'players irons'?  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Ian,

The Tommy Armour 855s would probably not be considered "player's" irons. However, they aren't super "game-improvement" irons either. They might help you improve your swing if your gamer clubs are super "game-improvement" irons. Good luck!  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off...great blog! Ok...here is my story...

I have been playing the same set of cavity back "game improvement" irons for the past 10 years. I kept telling my wife that I want to buy a new set. Well 3 weeks ago, I did something I have never done...I lost a club on my local course...my PW! I was walking 18 with my son and somewhere along the line, I lost it.

Perfect excuse to use to buy a new set of clubs (to the wife of course!).

Onto my story...I hit the R7s, Pings, and all the oversize clubs that Dick's has to offer. I really didn't see much of a difference in the $300 irons compared to the $1200 irons.

So I decided that if I really wanted to take my game to the next level, then I need to invest in some blades. So I purchased the Nike Forged Irons with the Nike SV Tour 56 and 60 Wedges. (Ok call me a wanna-be Tiger, but hell, if the best golfer in the world plays them, then so be it (and yes I know he has his modified 1 degree per club, but whatever)).

Fortunately, I have been off the past 3 weeks from work. So basically I try to play everyday.

Well with hitting the range daily and playing roughly 5 times a week, I have been able to shave 6 strokes from my HDP!

I am not 100% sure if it's a mental thing or not, but I find myself thinking about each shot more. Again, not sure if I am more worried about miss-hitting a shot, but I am most certainly playing much better. I agree the bad shots are horrendous, but the good shots are phenomenal! And honesty, I find myself hitting less of those “so-called” bad shots.

If I am able to shave 6 strokes from my HDP in 3 weeks by switching to blades, I cannot wait to see what I will be doing in a year!

Daniel  

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Blogger KT said...

Love this blog!

I've been playing for 5 years now. Started with a set of Forged Titleist 704.CB under recommendation from my playing partner/coach. The forgiveness was better than blades and I learned playability from them quickly. I now have a combo set of Snake Eyes 675B/C's I built. The blades 6-PW are deadly accurate and easily manipulated with a nice low trajectory. The Cavity backs 3-5 are more suited for center of green shots, but effectively keep me from over playing cut shots which can cause greater offline problems with their increased distances. I have been a scratch golfer for 2 years, and owe it all to great lessons, forged club accuracy and limited forgiveness. Concentration is a must and carries over to all the clubs in the bag. Plus, they feel so damn good. I hit some cast clubs at the local shop and hated them all.

If golf is just a fun exercise, buy forgiving clubs. If you are competitive, they'll never bring you complete satisfaction.

In general, thanks for this great blog. I'm sure I'll be back many times!  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, so i am a 14 year old who is struggling to break 100. I am desperate to get better. I just recentely bought new muscleback irons. I know that i might struggle in the beginning, but i am hoping in the long run that it will help me improve. Was is a smart move to buy the new harder to hit irons?  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Anonymous,

If you are serious about golf and intend to play if for a lifetime, then I feel that you will develop a better golf swing with blades in the long run due to the improved feedback.

Just remember, Tiger started golf playing with blades and he has developed a pretty darn good swing!

Good luck and feel free to email me directly if you want. Good luck!

GG  

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Blogger Sean said...

I agree with a lot of the comments above. I build my own clubs and play blades for 5-SW and modified cavity backs in my 3 and 4 irons. The big difference for me is ball control, trajectory and shot shaping. Cavity backs just cannot compete with blades when it comes to control the ball with the scoring clubs. However, if you are not a low single digit player stick with the cavity backs and the game will be much more enjoyable and playable.  

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Blogger Kan said...

Hola Sir,

You blog rocks. It is an inspiration to making my own bladesforged blog and I would like to link to you blog.

I love vintage blades. However I havent played any of the newer blades, but it is on my To Do list.

Thanks for you and your blog.  

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Blogger Roosevelt said...

I feel like this blog is about myself. I learned to play golf by myself about 4 years ago. I bought a crappy set of Orlimar and dedicated myself to learning the game. I constantly went to the driving range and hit 300 balls a day. Thanks GOD for the internet and the lessons that I was able to find.
Anyways, few month later after correcting my swing and understanding the techniques of golf swing, I was shooting in the mid90's to low 100's. Nothing to be proud of, but I was able to keep up with others on the field. About one year later my handicap was high teens. I was hitting the ball well and had solid contact... my issue back then was the approach and putting.
So, I decided to get myself new clubs that would improve my mid to short game. Obviously like the story that began this blog, "Callaways are the best irons out there", went to the store and got myself a new set of callaway x-20 with uniflex shaft. They are oversized, low center of gravity... They are good clubs, very forgiving, played well with 6-PW. My 5-iron and 4-iron were a nightmare. No matter how much I practiced and corrected the swing and ball flight at the driving range, on the course, I would slice pretty bad, and the ball would still be on the fairway. The problem is that is was the next hole or the previous hole fairway, never on the one I was playing. Decided to not use the 4 and 5-iron and I would choke on my hybrid if I need anything more than 160 yards.
About 6 month ago, I noticed that my 6 and 7 iron was starting to slice or hook, but never straight. I was about "THIS" close to throw them and retire from golf. It is suppose to be a relaxing game not frustrating.
One day I went to play with a buddy of mine and tried his Mizuno mx-950. His set consistented of 3-4 hybrid and 5-9 were standard size club head, similar to the looks of blades, but with muscles on the back for forgiveness. I noticed the clubs were lighter than my callaways and since they were forged, the sound and feel was like no other. I fell in love with his irons that I went the next day and got myself a set of mizuno MX-300 4-PW and GW with Dynamic gold s300 shaft regular steel flex.
went to the driving range a couple of times and all I got to say is WOW!!!! I can hit every single irons so friggin straight and the best thing is that it is consistent on distance to. Did I mention that I gained about 6-7 yards on each iron shot?
I can instantly feel if the shot is bad or good before looking at the ball flight. And it is at most 5 yards right or left of my target.
Maybe it is just a psychological thing, but the look and feel has def improved my game. According to my last 5-6 rounds, I shooting in the low teens. Maybe I will be a single in a few more month.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone said if you're playing golf for fun, play cavity back clubs and have fun. What? I play for fun which is why I prefer blades. When you "pure" a blade shot, the ball flies perfectly and yet you don't even feel like you made contact with it. I play for fun, not for money. Most of us won't make a nickel playing golf, ever. So why are we so worried that playing shovels (cavity backs) will allow us to pick up 3 strokes a round? I'd rather shoot a 92 with blades than an 89 with cavity backs. Because I know I earned the 92. I also know that if I keep playing them I will get better. A couple of years ago I was playing with both cavity back clubs and forged. I owned both. I decided to start playing the forged. They golfsmith pro forged. Really nice clubs. I used them for about 2 months straight. I shot my low round with them. A 76. I can still remember the guy I was playing with - a total stranger I got hooked up with - he said "wow, it's like watching someone on TV - you are moving the ball left to right and right to left at will." He enjoyed the heck out of watching it, and I enjoyed it even more. For some dumb reason I moved back to the cavity backs. Yeah, yeah, I know. I haven't gotten close to that score since. I'm up around mid-90's now. Talk about disgusting. So why did this happen. Simple. The forged irons make you a better golfer. I'm totally convinced of it. They're also a heck of a lot more fun. A 'pured' golf shot is worth 5 good shots with CB clubs. But that's just my opinion. I play the game for fun.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find the distances that some of the contributers give are incredulous, come on guys be honest, carry distance is the figure to give for irons and be honest with yourself or you will always end up in the front Bunker.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

this whole thing is nuts  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an incredibly good ball striker, I have a swing speed of 116-119 but my short game is pretty horrible. Consequently, my scores are in the mid to high 80s. I want to play blades but people often tell me I can't due to my scores. If I can pure a 6 iron blade most of the time, will I be able to hit the long irons too?( 3, 4)  

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Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Anonymous,

I'm not sure if you can hit long irons, but blades will truly validate whether you are indeed a good ball striker. Ignore people telling you you that can't play with blades due to your scores. Remember, there was a time where blades were the only irons made and people of all skill levels played with them.

Good luck!  

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