Blades vs. Cavity Back Irons: Which is Right for Your Golf Game?

Wondering about the difference between blades and cavity back irons? Golf expert Luke Henry is here to help you find the best set of irons for your golf game.

Photo by Andre Tan
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I spent about 10 years doing custom fittings for golf clubs at a local club just outside of Seattle, WA, and some of the things that I was asked most often during that time were things like, What is the difference between a blade and a cavity back iron? I have heard blade irons will help me hit it longer – is that true? Why are cavity backs so bulky and blade irons so skinny? Do cavity back irons really help me hit it better? What is the best set of irons for my game?

The short answer to all of those is…it depends on your current golf game.

Before we jump into an in-depth analysis on why it depends, let’s look at the physical characteristics of a blade iron vs. a cavity back iron.

Blade or Muscle Back Irons

A blade iron

Considered a classic golf iron, blades have been around since the beginning of golf. Before the introduction of cavity backs in the 1980’s, this was the only type of golf iron that was available. This type of blade (sometimes you will hear them referred to as a muscle-back) iron has small, compact club heads with a small amount of offset at the hosel. They have an exceptionally clean, traditional design and a thinner top line and sole, with far less weighting behind the head than a cavity back iron has.

A blade iron

All of this means that you can work the ball easier to hit a fade or draw on command. In today’s golf world, these are traditionally designed with a better, low handicapper in mind. Players that shoot close to par or even under par on a routine basis, have the capability to easily manipulate the ball, and demand ultimate performance and less forgiveness because their skill level is higher will do well with this iron.

  • Pros: Great for manipulating the ball to hit draws and fades. Better feel and feedback.
  • Cons: Not forgiving on miss hits. Smaller sweet spot. Must have a repeatable finely tuned golf swing.

Cavity Back or Game Improvement Irons

A TaylorMade cavity back iron

Cavity back irons, on the other hand, are designed more with forgiveness in mind for higher handicappers who do not get out to play golf as frequently or are just learning the game and developing their swing. These irons have a thicker sole, more offset, and a much larger club face. As a result, cavity back irons have a much larger sweet spot and perimeter weighting which will help hit the ball not only straighter, but higher as well. Higher, a larger sweet spot, and easier to hit means more distance!

A Callaway cavity back iron

Now, I know you’re thinking that this sounds perfect. The downside to perimeter weighted cavity back clubs is that having the weight on the outside of the club-face makes it harder to work the golf ball. Meaning you will have a harder time trying to hit a fade or a draw on command. Generally, lower handicappers will gravitate away from cavity backs and more towards a player's iron, so they have the flexibility to get the shot shape they desire. But if you are like me and enjoy the ball straight high and consistent, these are great irons for you.

  • Pros: Forgiving, easy to hit, more distance and flies straighter.
  • Cons: Not easy for workability, less feedback on mishits, feel may be dampened by the perimeter weighting.

Better Player or High Handicapper – Are Blades or Cavity Backs Better for Me?

If you are just getting into the game, or perhaps you play infrequently and are looking for a golf club that will help you make the game of golf easier, I would recommend looking at cavity back irons. Golf is a difficult game - don’t make it harder on yourself by using blades that are going to penalize you for a missed swing. Unless your swing is so dialed in that you are hitting the center of the club face on 99 out of 100 shots then why not take advantage of clubs that are designed to make you a better golfer?

If you are a great ball striker, and play frequently and competitively for sport, then I would recommend looking at a blade for your new setup! If you are one of those people who feels that they make a consistent impact on and have center hits with a great majority of your swings, then you will reap the rewards of playing muscle-back irons – such as better distance control, workability and enhanced feel.

A woman in an orange shirt plays golf
Photo by Andrew Lomas

The Most Important Element When Considering a New Set of Irons

Beyond just looking at the club head and whether it is a blade or cavity back, you need to make sure that you are getting a custom fit for your static measurements. The length, lie angle, and grip size are some of the most overlooked aspects of irons. Addressing these different aspects when ordering a new set of irons has the potential to have a huge impact on improving your golf game.

Use the link below to be instantly connected with me, and we can discuss a variety of different options for your next set of irons. I will be happy to discuss all aspects of getting you the perfect set. We will look at running through a custom fitting based on your static measurements, as well as compare several different sets including both blades and cavity back irons.

I look forward to chatting with you about your next set of golf clubs soon!

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Written By
I worked as an assistant golf professional for 10 years in Washington State. Primarly running and coordinating golf tournaments, as well as assisting in sales, merchandising and custom golf club fitting. The last 10 years I have worked in sales in the energy space and really refined how to take care...

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