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Blades vs. Game Improvement - Where's the Data?


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Every so often we seem to get into the blades vs. GI irons make you a better player debate, but do we have any data?  What if we did something similar to the Cobra Connect Challenge, fitting with a bu

...  There is no need for any testing because the reasons for playing any given iron are different for almost all golfers. Play the most forgiving irons you can effectively play. We just don't see gol

I have always been a proponent of play what you like and what works best for you and your game. Even though I am a lifetime blade user I flat refuse to tell anyone that blades will make them a better

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5 minutes ago, HardcoreLooper said:

Every so often we seem to get into the blades vs. GI irons make you a better player debate, but do we have any data?  What if we did something similar to the Cobra Connect Challenge, fitting with a bunch of golfers that are currently playing game improvement irons into blades?  And just like the CCC, we'd want them to use Arccos or Shot Scope (or even a strokes gained spreadsheet) to set a baseline with their GI clubs and track their progress with the new equipment.   

Could be an interesting experiment.

I think this would be a very interesting experiment!  Then, how much of the improvement is down to practice? 

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1 hour ago, JohnSmalls said:

I think this would be a very interesting experiment!  Then, how much of the improvement is down to practice? 

I agree.  This would be very interesting.  Also, how much improvement can be placed on a change in mentality when using the blades?  Speaking personally, GI irons (what I use) can promote a thought train of, "It doesn't have to be a well struck ball, the club will make up for it."  

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5 hours ago, JohnSmalls said:

I think this would be a very interesting experiment!  Then, how much of the improvement is down to practice? 

I think practice is the bigger influence in game improvement. I’m not a fan of the club categories for this reason but from a manufacturer standpoint it’s necessary marketing thing to help sell clubs.

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Would be an interesting experiment, but my guess is that the time allocation would be difficult as well as the protocol. 6 months with each set? Turf and weather conditions? Probably want some going blades to GI and GI to blades. Handicap levels?

I would propose the experiment be done on a simulator. Have the player rotate through a series of clubs, similar to most wanted, and evaluate distance and dispersion for the various types of clubs. Clubs would have same shaft, swingweight, grips, etc to isolate the head as the difference. Even when rotating through clubs Players will adapt to each club even with the limited swings before switching; I know I do when doin most wanted testing.

I kind of play around with this when I test for MGS. For my warmup and when I hit clubs after testing I pick a mixture of blades and GI clubs, don’t mess with the SGI, and hit balls. I can hit the blades ok, but the drop off in performance is evident on poor strikes. GI clubs less so. I can hit the blades and given enough practice time working on ball striking I could make them playable.

As said above practice becomes key. I could improve my ball striking with SGI clubs as well. As a lower handicap golfer improvement, in theory, should take less time than a higher handicapper. Throw in some lessons and it would probably let be faster. Given the amount I practice, I’ll stick to a bit of forgiveness but it would be fun to try something like the ping blueprint or Srixon z-forged for a round.

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I don't see this as being practical really. Personally, I wouldn't want to go back to playing blades again. Ever.! Secondly, I wouldn't want to waste my playing time to try and prove or disprove a point. I don't apply for any MGS freebies or give away - tests, etc. Not my thing. So for that reason.... I'm out.

I have a great fitted set of irons that serve me well. Cavity-back, thin face and fairly narrow sole, slight offset. I see far too many guys playing irons that are not suited for their ability. ie... blades or near blades. I also don't understand the fascination with blades. (been there done that back when that was all that were available) For most players even more elite amateurs ... they're too difficult to hit effectively. Hell... not even that many TV golfers play blades anymore.

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Interesting proposal.  I agree with @cnosilthat test protocol would be challenging.  How much of the "debate" is image vs. reality is a question I have.  The common argument is that forged blades provide the highest degree of feel and ball flight workability.  I guess we need only look through the players bags across the various tours to see which is played more.  Perhaps that data exists though I've not seen it. I mean they (and their teams) spend gobs of of time fitting and evaluating irons.  Unless image is skewing their choices, it stands to reason they are gaming the irons that both LM and range hitting say they should. 

While I'm pretty confident that my two fittings have me playing the correct category of irons, I'll openly admit that having a set of small profile clubs in my bag, with "forged" stamped on them, is a desire... and probably not for the right reason (I don't think I'm going out on a limb here in saying that applies to a large number of amateurs). A couple months ago I attended a PING demo for the sole purpose of testing their iron series against my G410's - which PING lists as a GI but others consider a SGI. After warming up with my irons, I hit the i500's, i210's, and Blueprints.  I found the i500's and i210's very comparable in distance to each other and only the i500 yielding a minor amount of additional carry. The BP's were simply to unforgiving and even well struck shots (maybe every third) did not yield more carry.  I attempted draw and fade hits with each and the BP's were better but also very unforgiving.

The i500's look like blades and are stamped forged... as of now, they would best fit that image want... but there are many more "blades" to try, so the quest continues. 🙂

 

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48 minutes ago, chisag said:

Play the most forgiving irons you can effectively play.

Most forgiving or most exacting?  Don't most players who can routinely hit center point play MB irons - for enhanced ball flight control?  I'd love to see some statistics on irons used across the tours (not yet found a fairly current, comprehensive site).  I've read a couple of GD articles saying that nearly 75% of tour players have at least one GI category iron in their bag; often a longer iron.  They describe the i500's and a players category iron... some argue its not... which brings up another aspect to this discussion 😜.

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44 minutes ago, fixyurdivot said:

Most forgiving or most exacting?  Don't most players who can routinely hit center point play MB irons - for enhanced ball flight control?  I'd love to see some statistics on irons used across the tours (not yet found a fairly current, comprehensive site).  I've read a couple of GD articles saying that nearly 75% of tour players have at least one GI category iron in their bag; often a longer iron.  They describe the i500's and a players category iron... some argue its not... which brings up another aspect to this discussion 😜.

 

... Most forgiving they can effectively play.  I agree with you that being exact is certainly part of the equation for better golfers, and the better you are the more importent it is in the equation. Someone like Tiger that basically shapes every single shot needs complete control of his ball flight, and since he hits the center almost every single time, the most forgiving iron he can effectively play is an MB. OTOH take Bubba Watson who also curves every single shot but he played more forgiving S55's because he does not hit the center like Tiger. 

... Using myself as another example, I am around the center of the face most of the time so I play my Z Forged MB's on occasion, basically for a change and they are fun. But I have bad days when my back is stiff and my contact suffers with some shots. It may be only a few but those few can mean the difference of hitting my P790's low on the toe and landing a little short and right of my target 200yds away or landing in the water with that same contact using my ZF's which are much more penal in the mid and especially the long irons. I also need complete control of my trajectory as I flight most of my irons shots and my P790's allow me to do that. I will work the ball left or right to get out of trouble and if really swinging well on any given day, I will also work the ball to far left or far right pin placements. The difference between me and Tiger is I will work the ball from the far side of the green and hope to end up in the middle where Tiger will work the ball from the middle and try to end up next to the hole. Since this is rare for me and I tired to copy Tiger, my miss would be a short side and I just can't take that chance. But most off the time I don't work the ball, I just go at my target with a desirable trajectory. Too much of a GI and of course a SGI makes it harder to control my trajectory. Yes, I can do it but since I don't need the extra forgiveness and it is more difficult to work my trajectory with GI/SGI's a Players Iron is the most forgiving I can play effectively

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Irons:    4-Gw Titleist T100-S ... Steelfiber 95 r-flex
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I'd love to see some statistics on irons used across the tours (not yet found a fairly current, comprehensive site). 


Most comprehensive and accurate: http://darrellsurvey.com

Too bad you can’t easily get access
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46 minutes ago, fixyurdivot said:

Most forgiving or most exacting?  Don't most players who can routinely hit center point play MB irons - for enhanced ball flight control?  I'd love to see some statistics on irons used across the tours (not yet found a fairly current, comprehensive site).  I've read a couple of GD articles saying that nearly 75% of tour players have at least one GI category iron in their bag; often a longer iron.  They describe the i500's and a players category iron... some argue its not... which brings up another aspect to this discussion 😜.

A lot of the titleist staff are in Ap2/t100. The TM staff seem to have gravitated to some form of the p730 except for day. I think Callaway has players all over the spectrum from older MB’s or player cavity up to the new x forged and maybe cf19 pro.  Mizuno staff and non seem to be in jpx line. Ping I think blueprints are the choice on Pga and i210 on lpga

edit: the various brands have their staff listed on their site and what they have in the bag. One can “easily” go thru and see what’s being used

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Are we talking strict blade/MB by design? Or are clubs that are almost blades or blade like ok? I would suggest looking at the Maltby ratings and picking some numbers. Say anything in this range is a GI and anything in this range is a blade. 

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8 hours ago, cnosil said:

Would be an interesting experiment, but my guess is that the time allocation would be difficult as well as the protocol. 6 months with each set? Turf and weather conditions? Probably want some going blades to GI and GI to blades. Handicap levels?

I would propose the experiment be done on a simulator. Have the player rotate through a series of clubs, similar to most wanted, and evaluate distance and dispersion for the various types of clubs. Clubs would have same shaft, swingweight, grips, etc to isolate the head as the difference. Even when rotating through clubs Players will adapt to each club even with the limited swings before switching; I know I do when doin most wanted testing.

Now that you mention it, the MGS team could probably do this analysis with the Most Wanted testing data if they have enough testers hitting both blade and GI irons.

 

4 hours ago, chisag said:

Play the most forgiving irons you can effectively play.

I happen to believe you, but there are plenty of people around saying that hitting blades makes you a better ball striker.  MGS loves to play the role of mythbuster; this is another opportunity to do it.  Whether they do a forum test or use Most Wanted testing data, I'd love to hear something based on data. 

And I know that there are going to be people whose games are outliers and don't fit the model, but there are outliers in every situation.  

 

 

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Driver - :cobra-small: F8 - Aldila NV Blue 60 ( S )
3 Wood (16*) - :cobra-small: F8 - Aldila NV Blue 60 ( S )
4 Wood (17*) - :callaway-logo-1: Big Bertha S2H2 - RCH 90 "Firm"
4i - GW - :wilson_staff_small: D7 Forged - Recoil 760 ( S )
SW - LW - :cobra-small: F8 - N.S. Pro Modus3 Tour105 ( S )
Putter - :ping-small: Craz-e
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On 2/19/2020 at 4:06 PM, HardcoreLooper said:

... but there are plenty of people around saying that hitting blades makes you a better ball striker.  

 

... I found these and couldn't resist! 🤣


 

Screen-Shot-2017-03-21-at-14.26.42.png

 

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I'll throw this in the mix. My ex brother in law could only play with blades. He was/is maybe a 12 handicap. He could not hit a cb iron to save his life. Give him a blade iron and he could get around a golf course just fine.

So...............?

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6 minutes ago, silver & black said:

I'll throw this in the mix. My ex brother in law could only play with blades. He was/is maybe a 12 handicap. He could not hit a cb iron to save his life. Give him a blade iron and he could get around a golf course just fine.

So...............?

Too many get caught up in handicap and what club a certain handicap range should play. Everyone gets to their handicap differently. Some can’t hit driver but can hit irons well and maybe so so or ok at short game and putting.

 

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Driver: Titleist 917D3 9.5 with Graphite Design MAD Pro 65g S

Wood: Titleist 917F2 with UST Mamiya Helium 5F4

Hybrid: Titleist 816H1 21 with Atmos Blue 85 S

Irons: Titleist 718 AP3 4i, 718 CB 5-6, MB 7-9 with KBS $ Taper 125

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4 hours ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

Too many get caught up in handicap and what club a certain handicap range should play. Everyone gets to their handicap differently. Some can’t hit driver but can hit irons well and maybe so so or ok at short game and putting.

 

That's why the best way to do this test would be comparing the change in strokes gained approach for each individual. 

What's in the bag:
Driver - :cobra-small: F8 - Aldila NV Blue 60 ( S )
3 Wood (16*) - :cobra-small: F8 - Aldila NV Blue 60 ( S )
4 Wood (17*) - :callaway-logo-1: Big Bertha S2H2 - RCH 90 "Firm"
4i - GW - :wilson_staff_small: D7 Forged - Recoil 760 ( S )
SW - LW - :cobra-small: F8 - N.S. Pro Modus3 Tour105 ( S )
Putter - :ping-small: Craz-e
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13 hours ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

Too many get caught up in handicap and what club a certain handicap range should play. Everyone gets to their handicap differently. Some can’t hit driver but can hit irons well and maybe so so or ok at short game and putting.

 

Agree 100%

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I think we have to take the ego part out of clubs.  Egotistically, when we have blades, we are saying to the golfing community (whoever is on the tee box) that I am a great golfer...maybe so maybe no.  I am gaming the JPX900 forged irons, I tested the PING G410's.  In my mind I am having a hard time egotistically as well.  In my opinion, the Mizuno's are a better club, for a better player (which I WANT TO think I am) but when playing the PING's I had really good results.  So I should be happy to just play the Ping's, but I'm not.  I go back and forth every couple of rounds with the PING's and the Mizuno's to see if one can start to stand out but they don't.  They are both pretty similar.  So it's obviously the person swinging and not the equipment.  Do I want to play blades or a blade look (Miznuo MP20 HMB or the TM760) sure, but simply for the ego side of things.  Do I want the forgiveness of a GI iron absolutely!!!  So really I guess it all boils down to what do you want more, a lower score or someone saying to you, "nice sticks".  

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                         9-A Apex Pro 19 w/ Modus 120 X

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