For golf players around the world, choosing the right set irons is essential for improving your game. If you have ever wondered what the difference is between cavity backs and blades, then you have come to the right place.
Blades and cavity backs are both types of irons that differ in shape, size and forgiveness. Choosing between the two comes down to a variety of factors including the level of control and forgiveness they offer, as well as who the irons are designed for.
In this article, we will explore the difference between cavity backs and blades to help you decide which is the best fit for you. Keep reading to discover examples of products to consider purchasing!
What is a Cavity Back?
A cavity back is a type of golf iron that includes a cavity in the back of the iron head. This makes the back of the iron head appear to be scooped out and semi-hollow.
By including this cavity in the back of the iron, more of the weight and mass of the head is shifted to the outer perimeter. These types of iron heads were designed with a specific purpose in mind – to minimize the amount and severity of miss-hits.
An important distinction of cavity backs is that they are made using a casting method that involves pouring liquid metal into a mold. While this is considered the traditional production method for cavity backs, some manufacturers nowadays choose to use a forging process.
What is a Blade?
A blade – sometimes referred to as a muscleback – is considered to have a more traditional design. This style of golf iron has a full back, rather than having the scooped out back found on cavity backs.
Blade irons have smaller hitting zones, often with smalls and more compact heads. These irons have a smaller “sweet spot,” making it easier for golfers to miss-hit if they do not have a fine-tuned and consistent swing.
Additionally, the muscleback nickname for blades can be confusing as well. Technically, blades and musclebacks were originally different from one another, with the latter having a larger sweet spot and a thicker base compared to traditional blades. As a result, blades labeled as musclebacks tend to be easier to use than those without the muscleback designation.
Blades vs. Cavity Backs
While we have covered the difference shape of blades versus cavity backs, there are many other important differences to consider when picking between the two.
Here are 6 key considerations and distinctions between cavity backs and blades:
1. Which Provides More Forgiveness: Blades or Cavity Backs?
Forgiveness in golfing is a term used to describe how well a golf iron lessens the negative response to a bad swing. When it comes to forgiveness in golfing, cavity backs take the cake.
This is due to the perimeter weighting we mentioned above. As a result, cavity backs have enhanced forgiveness, as the sweet spot for the hitting zone is much larger compared to blades. Additionally, cavity backs have a thicker sole than blades, as well as greater offset.
Cavity backs are even sometimes referred to as “game improvement irons” for their high level of forgiveness. The shift in weight from the back to the perimeter with cavity backs also increases the moment of inertia (MOI), further enhancing the forgiveness in regards to miss-hits.
2. Which Provides More Ball Control: Blades or Cavity Backs?
In terms of control, blades are typically considered the better option compared to cavity backs. This is largely due to blades providing much more feedback following the impact of the swing.
With a blade, a golfer can more easily determine the trajectory of the ball, as well as control whether the shot is a draw (right to left) or a fade (left to right). However, to maintain this control, the golfer must have a very precise swing – or else the ball will not only lose distance but also suffer more from off-center strikes.
3. Which Provides More Distance: Blades or Cavity Backs?
Cavity backs are inherently designed to produce a straight shot, making them much more likely to result in greater distance as well. For professional golfers, the difference in distance may be negligible, as they have perfected their swings over many years.
Yet, for beginning and casual players, a cavity back can make a huge difference when it comes to distance. Many amateur players opt for cavity backs as a result.
4. Who Are Cavity Backs Designed For?
The term handicap refers to a numerical value that indicates a golfer’s ability level based on their scores. A golfer’s handicap is determined via the USGA’s Handicap Index after a golfer has 20 scores in their scoring record.
Cavity backs are designed for high-handicap and mid-handicap golfers.
A high-handicap golfer is defined as anyone with a handicap above 20, with the maximum handicaps allowed by the USGA being 40 for women and 36 for men. As for a mid-handicap, this falls between the range of 11 and 20.
5. Who Are Blades Designed For?
Blades require a much higher level of precision to use effectively, making them ideal only for low-handicap golfers.
A low-handicap golfer will have a USGA handicap index of between 1 to 10, with their scores often kept as close to par as possible. Even with this low handicap index, some experienced and professional golfers still opt for the cavity back irons over the blades due to their higher forgiveness.
6. Which Tends To Be More Expensive?
In general, cavity backs tend to be less expensive than blades – mainly due to manufacturing differences.
As mentioned, most cavity backs are made through a casting process, while most blades are made through a forging process. The casting process is much simpler overall, requiring much less manual labor to complete. To cast a cavity back, a manufacturer only needs to melt the iron and then pour it into a mold and leave it to cool and harden.
Comparatively, the forging process is more complicated and labor-intensive. To forge a blade iron, the metal must be pounded and compressed to give it the iconic blade shape. Rather than heating the metal to its melting point and using a mold, the forging process involves carefully heating the metal just until it is malleable and then manually shaping it from there.
As a result, forged irons are typically more expensive and marketed towards professional, low-handicap players, while cast irons are more accessible to all players regardless of skill level.
Examples of Cavity Backs and Blades
Ready to purchase either a cavity back or a blade?
Here are a few examples of some of the best cavity backs and blades available on the market today:
- TaylorMade P7MC Iron Set with Steel Shafts: This set of irons is crafted using a forging process, with the forged cavity back pattern paying homage to classic TaylorMade iron designs. The TaylorMade P7MC is available for left and right-handed players, as well as having regular, stiff, and extra stiff flex options.
- Callaway 2021 Apex DCB Irons with Steel Shafts: The Apex DCB is considered to be the most forgiving Apex Iron ever made. It has a deep cavity back and enhanced sole width, while also offering players the quality of a forged production process. This forged Apex “game-improvement iron” was designed with A.I. to give it impressive distance and control.
- Mizuno Pro 221 4-PW Iron Set with Steel Shafts: Forged in Hiroshima, Japan, this high-quality muscleback iron offers refined shape and weight placement. It includes a microlayer of copper beneath the Nickel Chrome for a pure and soft feel. With this iron, players can experience controlled shot shaping.
Final Thoughts: Should You Buy Cavity Backs or Blades?
Now that we have covered both the basics and intricacies of cavity backs and blades, it’s time to ask yourself – which one will you choose?
Cavity backs are beginner, amateur, and intermediate friendly. With these irons, you will experience far more distance and forgiveness compared to their blade counterparts.
However, if you are an experienced golfer and looking for an additional ball flight control, the blade golf iron may be the one for you. With blades, you have far greater control over the shape of your shot – and when your swing is precise, you can hit certain shots you wouldn’t otherwise be able to with a cavity back.
As you shop for either a cavity back or blade, don’t forget to keep the production process in mind as well. Not only will you need to choose between a cavity back and blade, but you will also need to decide if you prefer a casting or forging process.