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VanTrago

Are blades really better for shot shaping?

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Posted (edited)

When it comes to shot shaping, I keep reading that blades are better than cavity backs.  Yet I have not found a club fitter that can name even one shot that isn't easier or as easy to make with a cavity back.

In fact, it seems to me that the only reason why one should even consider buying a set of blades, is for practice.  Why? Because blades are so much more sensitive to off-center hits. By letting you know immediately every time you miss the sweet spot, they encourage you to pay more attention to hitting on-center.  Off-center hits probably cost us more through-the-green strokes than any other problem.

But then, how easy is it to switch back and forth between your practice blades and your tournament cavity backs?

I've been wrong before. (Just ask my wife!)  If I'm wrong here, I'd like to be informed and convinced.

Edited by VanTrago
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I dont buy that blades are better for shot shaping.  Any time you hit a round object with a square obeject, you are going to impart spin on the round obeject and you get shot shaping.  The design of the square object doesnt really matter.

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Posted (edited)

To start..... you have to know HOW to shape a shot. That leaves 99% of us out (no matter what we say or think). Sure, all of us have a natural shape, but that's just it.... it's natural, not something we do on purpose. Usually when we try to shape a shot on purpose, it ends up bad...lol.

So, I don't know if blades are easier or not, because all I can do is hook and slice if I try on purpose...lol.

 

Edited by silver & black
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The geometry of non-blades is designed to impart backspin as a primary motion on a ball.

Look at any non-blade geared for mid to higher handicap golfers and the weight is around the sole and perimeter. It’s designed for forgiveness and lift / backspin. When the sole focus (no pun intended) is weight beneath the ball, the benefit to that golfer is a shot that will fly high and straight.

So short answer, blades will make it easier to shape shots by their design.


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Last year I tested and reviewed the i210 irons made by PING. I played the i210s for several months before returning to my Mizuno MP-5s. In the review I noted how insanely straight I hit the ball with the PING irons. Even when I tried to work the ball they stayed relatively straight and high.

Can you move a ball left or right with a game improvement design? Yes, but the move may be more subtle than what you desire. In my humble opinion any club that will help you to hit the ball high and straight is a better choice over clubs that may allow you to “work” the ball.

For the overwhelming majority of every day Golfers a bladed iron is not the best choice. The number of times during a round of golf that requires a “worked” shot is marginal. Pick your target, hit it straight, two putt and write down a Par.

If you are a scratch Golfer playing competitive Golf then the ability to get as close to a well placed pin in the right corner of the green is extremely important. A blade for those guys/girls makes sense. The rest of us should really play clubs that are easiest to hit straight.


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So far I like Steddy's reply. I too am a low single digit hcp'r. Do I "work" the ball? Not unless I have to and even then that usually means me hitting a fade/slice or a low running hook to get out of trouble. My natural shot shape is a draw. When the pin is back right for example; I usually don't try to alter my swing for a fade. I hit my natural and comfortable shot - two putt and move on. I play cavity back irons and can shape the ball right or ...left if I have too. I also know exactly where on the face I struck it. I don't need a blade to learn or hone my ball striking. My irons already provide plenty of feedback.

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Regarding blades for practice to improve center hits:

 

I am a big believer in improving awareness (especially non-judgmental awareness) as a key to golf improvement.  Learning the difference between a center hit and ones on the toe or heel is important to improve.  So is learning the difference in fat, thin and solid.  

Nevertheless, practicing with blades is an expensive and not terribly effective way to increase that awareness.  Yes, you become vaguely aware of how the different strikes feel with the blades, but you still have to learn that difference with your gamers.  Instead of spending hundreds of dollars (or thousands) on blades, a $10  can of foot spray powder will do the same thing.  

 

Buy a can of foot spray.  

 

Go to the range and spray a straight line on the range perpendicular to the target.  Hit shots with the ball resting on the line and notice after each shot where the club made contact with the ground and ball. Pay attention to what you are doing for the strikes that are past the line and those where you make ground contact.  Intentionally hit the ball thin.  Intentionally hit the ball fat.  Then hit the ball flush.  Notice--become aware--of how the swings feel different.  

 

Spray the face of the club.  Intentionally hit toe shots.  Check the face after each shot to see where on the face you made contact.  The ball will leave a clear impact print in the foot spray.  Then intentionally hit heel shots.  Then center.  Then vary it, heel, toe, center.  Be aware of what is going on with your movement on the different shots.  Just be aware--don't judge it as good or bad.  Doing this will improve your club face control and swing.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, bens197 said:

The geometry of non-blades is designed to impart backspin as a primary motion on a ball.

Look at any non-blade geared for mid to higher handicap golfers and the weight is around the sole and perimeter. It’s designed for forgiveness and lift / backspin. When the sole focus (no pun intended) is weight beneath the ball, the benefit to that golfer is a shot that will fly high and straight.

So short answer, blades will make it easier to shape shots by their design.


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The purpose of a cavity back is to distribute the mass of the club head further from the sweet spot so as to increase its rotational moment of inertia about its center of gravity.  In essences, that increase the size of the sweet spot.  

Now, in doing that, a club designer may choose to move the center of the gravity down at the same time, and that does create what most manufactures sell as a game improvement iron.  But a cavity back with its center of gravity not shifted, is still a game improvement iron.

Cavity back irons are also made that have their centers of gravity in the same relative positions as blades.  It is those clubs that I believe work as well or better for shot shaping than blades.

To shape a shot requires applying unusual spin to the ball.  To apply side spin, you strike the ball with a slightly glancing blow.  To control the shot height you adjust the dynamic loft angle; you do that by shifting your stance laterally relative to the ball or/and by tailoring your swing for the shot.  But you still want the club to meet the ball at its sweet spot.  

Actually, I see no reason why you couldn't do that at least as well with any cavity back as with any blade.

Blades can be made with their centers of gravity just as low as can game improvement clubs. In fact, many of today's blades are designed that way.

Edited by VanTrago
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Interesting topic/question. Simply based on watching how many tour players play with non-forged and cavity back irons, and seeing them create various draw, fade, stinger, etc. ball flights on demand, suggests to me the answer is not much.  

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They are good for shaving, chopping vegetables, things of glory...

I suck at science so I’ll let The Scientists tell you. My personal experiences point to yes. Could be all in my head though.

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Not at all.  

It's a myth more than anything.  Shaping shots is about controlling the face and the path.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Crossfield has a video on it if you want more information

 

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It’s about face to path control. The lower doing GI clubs will make one have to work harder to move a ball as both clubs and balls these days are designed to go straight.

im still baffled by the blades are the best for practice theory. Is feedback better to know if a shot was missed off the center? Yes. If one doesn’t know how to fix the swing go get center contact they aren’t going to improve. Foot spray does the same thing on any club. 

 

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I worked hard last spring and early summer and taught myself how to move the ball around with my old Eye 2's.   While not a blade, they were very workable.  I made the mistake of going to 716 AP1's as they are too forgiving and I can't work the ball unless it is a big cut or draw which I can do with any club. 

I will be updating to something that I can move a little or a lot when needed.

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I think to boil it down to blades or cavity backs is a generalization that should be clarified because a "players" cavity-back isn't going to be substantially more difficult to shape than a blade. However, GI, SGI, and perhaps even some players distance irons will be more difficult to shape - at least to the same extent. This is all by design as @bens197 described. The one part he left out that also makes a huge difference is offset. When you introduce significant amounts of offset, you make it harder to move the ball right.

I saw @jlukes posted Crossfield's video on the subject and while I do like Crossfield and generally agree with him, I think he lacks self-awareness in the fact that his abilities with a a golf club far exceed that of most golfers. So while I agree that design can be overridden by the player, it's not a very likely scenario for most of us - unless of course it's by mistake.

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19 minutes ago, TR1PTIK said:

I think to boil it down to blades or cavity backs is a generalization that should be clarified because a "players" cavity-back isn't going to be substantially more difficult to shape than a blade. However, GI, SGI, and perhaps even some players distance irons will be more difficult to shape - at least to the same extent. This is all by design as @bens197 described. The one part he left out that also makes a huge difference is offset. When you introduce significant amounts of offset, you make it harder to move the ball right.

I saw @jlukes posted Crossfield's video on the subject and while I do like Crossfield and generally agree with him, I think he lacks self-awareness in the fact that his abilities with a a golf club far exceed that of most golfers. So while I agree that design can be overridden by the player, it's not a very likely scenario for most of us - unless of course it's by mistake.

The heart of the point is, a shot hit in the center center of the face with the same club path and same face angle will shape the same, regardless if it is a blade or cavity back 

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The heart of the point is, a shot hit in the center center of the face with the same club path and same face angle will shape the same, regardless if it is a blade or cavity back 

 

Sorry bud but I disagree.

 

If you take two samples from each extreme and attempt the same hook/draw, it will be easier (as the OP inquires) to obtain the desired shot with the blade.

 

It’s physics. The shape and design of the head will restrict or promote certain behaviors from that object struck. If that a majority of that weight and mass is in the sole, the club will promote or restrict certain movement.

 

Good topic.

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6 minutes ago, bens197 said:

 

Sorry bud but I disagree.

 

If you take two samples from each extreme and attempt the same hook/draw, it will be easier (as the OP inquires) to obtain the desired shot with the blade.

 

It’s physics. The shape and design of the head will restrict or promote certain behaviors from that object struck. If that a majority of that weight and mass is in the sole, the club will promote or restrict certain movement.

 

Good topic.

I could be wrong - I watched Crossfield's video when it originally dropped not recently - but I thought Mark even hinted at this a little in the video because he had to feel like he was exaggerating certain movements more. You can watch other videos on YouTube where they come to the same conclusion. It's not that you can't shape it, but it is more difficult to shape. Conversely, I'm sure I could hook an SGI club a lot easier though.

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I could be wrong - I watched Crossfield's video when it originally dropped not recently - but I thought Mark even hinted at this a little in the video because he had to feel like he was exaggerating certain movements more. You can watch other videos on YouTube where they come to the same conclusion. It's not that you can't shape it, but it is more difficult to shape. Conversely, I'm sure I could hook an SGI club a lot easier though.


Yup. It’s not to say it’s impossible. It’s just easier with the blades.


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I’m just going to throw this out there. I don’t disagree with anyone here. Just adding to the conversation.

Isn’t a more forgiving club suppose to “hit the ball straighter”? That’s what the extra MOI is for?

I can draw and fade my irons that are in the GI category, but sometimes it just doesn’t work (probably me 100%). Could with the i200’s too.

So if we are all trying to shape our shots we should all play a less forgiving iron?

Yeah?

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5 minutes ago, Shankster said:

I’m just going to throw this out there. I don’t disagree with anyone here. Just adding to the conversation.

Isn’t a more forgiving club suppose to “hit the ball straighter”? That’s what the extra MOI is for?

I can draw and fade my irons that are in the GI category, but sometimes it just doesn’t work (probably me 100%). Could with the i200’s too.

So if we are all trying to shape our shots we should all play a less forgiving iron?

Yeah?

The only shot shape I ever hit with true intention is a low hook to get me out of trouble. The rest of the time I might have something in my mind of what I want the ball to do, but it's anyone's guess where it will actually go 😂

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