How many times have you entered your local golf store and whilst perusing the iron-section you catch a brief glimpse of a set of shiny new Titleist or Mizuno blades? Before the thought of wielding such clubs even springs to mind, your heart sinks, as you think to yourself “she’s out of my league”.
YouTubers such as Rick Shiels and Mark Crossfield review these clubs regularly, never failing to stress that they are reserved for only the ‘very best ball-strikers’. There is a slight taboo in the golfing industry that players above scratch shouldn’t be gaming bladed irons, for fear that it might inflict irreparable damage to scorecards. But is this really the case? Do you really need Rory McIlroy’s golf swing to play such a set?
— TaylorMade Golf (@TaylorMadeGolf) August 22, 2017
Although it may sound counter-intuitive, in certain ways bladed clubs can actually help enhance the amateur golfer. A thin, compact club-head with zero offset is hardly confidence inspiring. Blades are most definitely unforgiving when miss-hit, but this should not always be taken as a negative; the softness from a forged head gives the player an immediate and unparalleled level of feedback, indicating which part of the clubface made contact with the ball.
Contrastingly, the more commonly used cavity back irons tend to disguise a miss-hit by dampening the responsiveness. This may save you a few strokes in the weekend medal, but whether it will transform your ball-striking consistency in the long-run remains doubtful; concealing a poor iron-game is not the same as improving one, club-manufacturers are reluctant to draw such a distinction.
That said, many people are simply searching for a playable set of cavity irons, to inspire confidence during every round, regardless of conditions or form. With a set of blades, you forgo this particular luxury whilst accepting a challenge of sorts; if combined with enough practice sessions and perseverance on the range, there is very real chance that bladed irons will serve to improve your golf game, forcing you to hit the center of the clubface on a regular basis.
In recent years, major manufacturers have begun incorporating technology from their cavity models into their ‘players’ clubs. Mizuno’s 2015 release, the MP-5, was renowned not only for its stunning looks but also for its surprising level of forgiveness, offering amateurs ‘a little more margin for error’. Clubmakers now produce ‘split-set irons’, accommodating for the more ambitious players; these consist of bladed short irons (7 – P wedge), muscle cavity mid irons (5 – 6) and cavity back long irons (3 – 4). This progression offers the feel of a blade in the shorter irons, whilst allowing for a bit more help where needed in the longer clubs. Either way, it seems as though amateur golfers now have more variety to select from when deciding which style of club suits their game aspirations.
Ultimately, I would suggest any golfer get a custom fit before purchasing a set as this will have the most significant bearing on your scorecard. However, if you are an aspiring amateur player who is willing to invest the time in your game, do not be put off by a set of blades. They will give you the feedback that a chunkier cavity is simply incapable of doing, and let you know exactly what is happening at impact. For the extortionate amounts manufacturers are now charging, a set of blades may actually be the best value for money out there.