Friday, June 04, 2010

Golf - New clubs, Blades or Cavity backs?

Play Your Best Golf - Break 90 Vol 1
15th May 2010
From Left (low) to Right (highest) in the pic are my irons from;

2010 – Ben Hogan 1960’s Blade, 2010 Unknown Circa 1980’s cavity back, 2009 Shark XLT Cavity back, 1986 YGF Cavity back

“Come to the Dark Side, Luke”… Use Blades.

In my time of playing golf one phrase has been regularly given to me as a comment and advice. “Don’t use blades!” Being one of those fortunate people who became serious about golf in the 1980’s the club choices available have grown markedly. It’s worth remembering, however, that until Ping made a huge impact on the golf equipment scene ALL irons were “blades”. The greats of yesteryear all improved and perfected their game on thin, small sweet spot irons that offered feel yet little forgiveness.

It’s only in relatively recent years that the industry as a whole has poured money into research and marketing to establish cavity back or improvement irons as “the” clubs for anyone who isn’t approaching a scratch score sheet. Being told; “I cannot….” plants a seed in my mind to one day have a go at something I can’t do. To make a short story long (again!) when I became a casual golfer during the 90’s the playing evolution of my golf stopped. In the build up to this my thoughts were becoming serious about trying blades. This time in the space of less than a year at the minute I have gone back to the future. First step was buying a set of new cavity backs, because the club style I wanted were no longer available. The Shark XLT’s were a bit better than the Dunlop Pro Tour set I used for the first month of playing. No great difference in effect, a little more “forgiving” definitely. This became a problem in the end, all to often I would mishit an approach shot from 130-150 m and out with 7 to 4 irons and the ‘forgiving’ aspect of the club would correct the error to carry the ball the distance but the accuracy was anywhere from 20 to 40 m left or right of the target. In my estimation ten of the holes at my club course with that error margin on long iron approaches end up with lost balls or unplayable lies. Not blaming the tools totally, the fella hitting the ball is the person who caused the mishit to happen.

Having gone from a 32 Hcp to 21 Hcp with the Shark XLT’s the frustration was that some of my developing shot playing skill was affected by the ‘forgiveness’ of the club interfering. It is now a week since the second set of clubs I purchased arrived and I have already broken 90 with them, and played myself into some good touch. Seeing as they are 3 cm shorter and 20 + years older than the Shark clubs that was an impressive result. It has proved that the less forgiving club, which when mishit, jars my hands and shoulders still sends the ball forward but not flying into trouble. Going a step further with the revamping of my clubs, an old set of blades near 40 years old off ebay has now joined the mix in my bag.

Just as some manufacturers, Titelist is one that has produced composite sets where the cavity back long irons have gradual progress to ‘muscle back’ (blades) with the short irons. I am certain that the cavity back iron has taken my game to the level it has reached and been a great benefit. I am just as certain that in the near future I will be playing with 100% of my irons being ‘blades’ or musclebacks as the term is applied. all of the nay saying about blades has been a total furphy, and in some cases been based upon arrogance not real appraisal of my ability. I do not feel as though the Dark side has lured me into the Star War of Golf Technology. yet It has been apparent through personal experience and research that the battle of the iron’s does exist among golfers.

The following is from “Blade Irons Vs Cavity Back Or Improvement Irons” @  Blade-Irons-Vs-Cavity-Back-Irons

“The crux of the debate lies in the following:

Cavity backs offer a large sweet spot which makes contact will the ball easier and as a consequence will “correct” slightly misaligned shots. This is called “forgiveness” and it is what these clubs are famous for and have been marketed as providing. The bottom line is that they make it easier for you to hit the ball straighter and with distance more consistently – they are assistive.

In contrast, blade irons provide a much truer reflection of your actual swing on any one shot. For example, if the club face is slightly misaligned on impact then this misalignment will be apparent in the trajectory, distance and direction of the golf ball after contact.

So – cavity backs are the obvious winner you might say as they will enable me to hit the ball straighter and further more consistently?

This is both true and not true.

While cavity backs are easier to hit and will result in a quicker level of consistency they do encompass two flaws which depending on your own aims for your golf game and your playing habits you may or may not want to have to accomodate.

The first of these is that because they are corrective in nature faults in your swing can be masked (ie hidden from you). Therefore, while you may make faster progress in the short term you are also likely to plateau more quickly as unlike blades they don’t force you to make a rigourous inspection and analysis of your swing. Many players consequently find that when they then decide to switch to blades after using improvement clubs for a lengthy period that there game falls to pieces as swing faults that were once hidden become instantly magnified. The consequence – a loss of confidence and an increase in scores. This experience by golfers is often the source of most negative comments about blades. “It’s the clubs they say”, when in fact it is very much their own swing.

The second and critical flaw if your making real in-roads into the game is that the short cavity back irons which are critical in your approach to the green are lacking in feel and shot-making capabilities. It’s your short game where the nuances of golf really come to life. A little more here, a little less there – that’s what your looking to perfect on your way into the green and the clunky nature of the over-sized improvement iron club heads make such control difficult.”

Thankyou for your time and attention, hit ‘em straight all.

Thankyou for your time and attention, Geoff

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