Experiment and buying irons

I conducted the below experiment, pretty unscientifically, but with a launch monitor. Current handicap is 14 trending down. I wanted to see how much difference there was between my game improvers, blades, and refined cavity backs. I usually love hitting 8 irons–so that is what I hit, except in the Hogan because the 7 iron is basically an 8 iron in modern terms. I’m working on my swing (well, who isn’t) but I have some big power leaks I’m curing–but I tried to be making similarly good (or bad) swings. Interesting results:

Hogan blade really old—7 iron 36 degrees. Some kind of Apex shaft–unreadable

Titleist T300 8 iron—33 degrees. Steelfibre 115s standard length stiff

Wilson fg tour V6—39 degrees DG s300 standard standard for Wilson.

Wishon 550 mc forged—38 degrees. Stiff steel shaft—half inch long.

Results—(all normal swings—not trying to swing out of my shoes, or softly.

Longest at 148—T300. I expect I could have gotten more.

Second—tie—Hogan blade and Wilson-- --good swings were all 142—146 with both clubs. Average swing 135-139. More good swings with blade.

Shortest—the Wishon—even really good strikes were only 140.

Best dispersion –Hogan blade and Wilson, tie. Pretty tight—the Hogan tended to miss short, the Wilson a little more side to side.

Worst—t300—big misses.

Middle—the Wishon.

Maybe I should be playing blades, or players cavity backs. I was really getting more out of the blade and the cavity back than the T-300 by a long shot.

I generally steer people away from blades - even low to scratch handicappers, but if they’re producing the best shots and they look and feel good, then it’s hard to say you shouldn’t be playing them.

My suggestion is maybe get with a fitter and hit as many clubs as you can to get a really good picture of what’s going to be best. If you’re fit into blades, then fire away and I bow to you because even at a +1.5 I don’t think I’ve ever hit the club face on a blade.


Thanks BDE–I was really surprised by the results–I wasn’t trying to decide I wanted to play blades–I was actually looking at my sons Wilson cavity backs. I threw the rusty old Hogan in because I…had it in the garage and figured why not. My handicap struggle right now is with my irons. I hit 71% of fairways with decent (not great) distance–and I am always surprised when my driver doesn’t go where I aim it. It’s my approach shots and iron play that kill me. So–I’ve been working on my swing with irons (I rarely practice driver), and this was part of the exploration. One theoru could be the clubface is so small it’s hard to miss the clubface if you hit it.

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I think the blades vs everything else stuff is always an interesting rabbit hole to dive into… I think there is a reason people drink the blade Kool Aid, and it’s not just placebo… whether they focus your attention more, force you to improve by punishing bad shots or simply help harness the spirit of Ben Hogan… I’m not sure what it is… but I have chatted with plenty of people who truly believe blades make them better (and I’m not willing to argue that point with them!).

One of my core beliefs in golf is that confidence is king. Whatever club you have in your hand, you should be confident it’s the right club. Whether it’s a blade or a super game improvement iron, if you believe in it, it’s going to work better.

Honestly, it’s what I’m struggling with right now in terms of buying new clubs… I’m not sure how to determine what’s BEST for me, so I’m worried I won’t be confident in what I buy…

Hey Will–the struggle is real! I wasn’t trying to sell myself on blades–if anything, I was eying the Wilson V6s and their new cavity backs. I had moved to game improvers because I kept hearing they would really help scoring. That has not worked out. I saw a video Crossfield did comparing cavity backs and blades–and showing no difference except GIs maybe slightly longer, but WAAAY more dispersion. Then he did another swinging left handed to prove it wasn’t just that he was a pro. So–I decided to do my own experiment. The Hogan I hit had rust on it, and you couldn’t even see what the shaft was anymore–some Apex. I keep it in the garage for practice swings. I was…very surprised with the performance it gave–tight dispersion, only slightly less distance (2-3 yard), great consistency, increased clubhead speed. If you are ashopping–one good thing is you can buy used blades cheap–and try them before you go new. They really don’t change much over the years. My pro has a clean set of MP -33s he is going to lend me. My guess is ultimately, I will find the pw-7 are fine with blades, and for 6-5 a cavity back will make a difference. But…we will see!

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I think golf equipment is an interesting beast… what we are trying to do, what we are actually doing, and what we NEED to do seem to always be three different things…

I’m curious to hear how things go with blades. My biggest concern with them would be days when my swing was off they’d be unplayable… I really need to find an excuse to get to Springfield, IL and try some of the Sub70 clubs.

I’ll let you know. You know sub 70 does demos? You should look at New Level as well, they have some really pretty irons.

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Ha, i usually demo them by buying one built to my specs… I like the 639 cb fine, could easily game them if nothing else impresses.

I don’t think it’s a surprise to have the highest dispersion on GI clubs. A lot of them have hot face technology, which yields a bigger difference in distance between center strikes and perimeter strikes.

I don’t know if you’re a fan of Maltby’s playability factor ratings for irons. I find it somewhat useful. It over weights the “C” dimension in irons, which helps someone with an OTT swing (like myself). The Hogan Apex (depending on vintage) is the second highest MPF rated head in your group (easier to hit).

I’ve been fitted for irons a couple times. It’s an exercise in hitting lots of clubs. I chose the one I visually liked (Srixon Z585) from the group that I hit equally well. No regrets.

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I was going to post a question, but instead I just want to express aa personal opinion and preference. I have a set of custom made for me Bird on Ball Spalding Tour Edition Blades ala Greg Norman circa 1985. I played everyday and was playing to a 3. Then family happened and I wasn’t striping it like I used to because I went from 260 rounds a year to 12. I switched in 1989 to the Spalding Red Line Tour Edition cavity back. They are still in my bag. I have reshafted 4x. I now have DG 100s in them. I did grow up into Cleveland CG 12 wedges and Im still very happy with those replacing L,S,G and P. The set in the bag is 4-9. I have not lost distance or accuracy with them in 32 years. I just reshafted to match my swing. I’ve tried so many NEW sets, I’ve demoed them on course, Ping, Titleist. Callaway, TM. Nothing compares to the feeling I have with my original irons. Now understand they are customed and the grind is set for me…am I nutz. I still hit the 9i 135-140, 4i:185-190 with ease and usually on a rope. So Y would I change. I just changed putters 2 years ago to a KiaMa Daytona from a 1974 Ping Anser because I fell in love with the agsi insert. Metals I do switch out every 4-5 years , but again now I can just ez switch out shafts. And move weights. All said, does anyone really think new irons are going to do anything. BTW I’m now at a 9, if I played more it would be alot lower, probably 4. I’m not chasing anything except metal difference yardage which I have increased from 216 at years beginning to 248 as of last week, I just enjoy the walk now…lol

Yeah–I’m continuing the experiment, we’ll see where I end up, but I think the big game improvers are…not.

Does this look like your set?


I’ll try and take a better pic, but they do have about 600 rounds on them …l Mine were the exact spec of Greg Norman’s. Down to 2* strong, D4 swing weight, double taped grips and DG 400 stiff shaft. They are still a very nice club. The wedges could use a groove sharpening…lol

So–more on my experiment. I do notice differences between blades and cavity backs, but I see little difference between various forms of cavity backs. I recently found the wonderful world of Ebay and used golf clubs. I mean, I always knew it was there, but not how useful, and inexpensive things could be (comparatively). And I also found Tom Wishons book–“The search for the perfect club”. And I have been using MGS “Most wanted” and reviews for clubs for a while. But in terms of new stuff. So–Wishon says if you have a cavity back–it’s a cavity back–that’s about as much (depending on depth of cavity) forgiveness/help as you can get. His quote is something like–"if forgiveness is an 8 ounce glass, then any cavity back gives you 7.5 ounces, and the last half ounce is where “improvements” are made. And greater distance is mostly/materially down to stronger lofts.

I was scouting new used clubs, and using MGS reviews among others to evaluate what I might want.

And I noticed something. Going back to like 2012 or so, when reviewing club tests etc., I don’t think there are material differences between clubs in terms of either distance (except as attributable to delofting) or dispersion (“forgiveness”). There are between types of clubs (blade v cavity back e.g.) but not between different “ages” of clubs–at least in the relatively modern area. I did not do an actual calculation–but looking at say 7 irons–carry is usually 155-to 165 (except for really strong lofts) and dispersion among the leaders remains pretty similar.

Am I right? Or delusional?

Because if I am right, there is no reason to buy new clubs (unless you just want to) AND every reason to simply pick what looks good to your eye and play that. For like the last 10 years at least. And none of the technology means anything really. Ohh, and decide whether you want stronger lofts or not–which can be a curse, because if you hit lower balls, a more lofted club might actually get you more carry, thus more usable distance, though less total distance.



I’d love to hear others weigh in on this too! I shared in a different thread that I went with my dad to get fit for and try out new irons. He’s playing Callaway Diablo cavities that are probably 8-10 years old. He hit Srixon zx4, zx5, zx7, Big Bertha, and a Taylormade. None of them had as good of dispersion results as his currents (understandably so, since he is most comfortable with them already)…and each of them was slightly longer when he really hit it well (especially the Srixons…but checking the loft, they were 1-2 degrees stronger).
He’s convinced (and rightly so) to just stick with what he has, then spend money on new wedges and a putter (if he can find one he likes)…and the fitter totally agreed.

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I’ve been Wishon fan forever and I tend to agree with him concerning irons. They are relatively small and there is only so much forgiveness you can fit even as new materials and technology become available.

I do think you need the right lofts and sole/bounce for your swing, but after that it probably comes down to what looks and feels best to you. Shafts and grips make a difference too of course.

I’m not even sure you can go totally by handicap. I’m not a good golfer (15 index) and yet I hit smaller irons better than larger ones. I don’t do well with super wide soles and tons of offset. I’ve played blades and shot the same score as with cavity backs…I just don’t like the sting of a toe hit off a blade lol.


Agreed–but lofts, lies, length and swing weight can all be changed. Even shafts. I much prefer and hit better the “blade” look as well. But, a small cavity back works. My philosophy is with the smaller head there are fewer places to miss!

Also–this is not to bash equipment companies or insist older is better–not so at all! It’s actually more freeing in a way. Instead of having to pick clubs you are “supposed” to play–you can pick what suits your eye and feel, and the real differentiator to a regular golfer is cavity back or not? You like big heads? Play em. You like slim top lines? Play em.

In addition–I do believe the technology and the advances are real–they are just the last half ounce. So–I’m a very good experienced driver of cars, but I am not a car aficionado, or a professional driver. Can I drive say a race ready Maserati? Sure. Can I get out of it what it is made to do? No, I can’t. But–I might want to drive it anyway (like a lot of folks) just because it’s beautiful, and I want to, and I can afford it. And as long as I don’t wrap it and myself around a tree–well, good for me.

Equally–it won’t hurt my driving ability or results to drive the 12 year old Maserati that is still beautiful–just older and now less expensive.

Because I am just not good enough to take advantage of the last half ounce. And very few people are. But that doesn’t mean the difference isn’t real, and if you want to drive the new one…you should!

Never been to a Maltby, though I have met the man in passing, many years ago. (Is Roger Maltbie the same guy as who sells these clubs?)

Anyway, I too have an OTT tendency, and the first set of clubs I bought was a set of used Apexes. Jeez, about 30 or so years ago. Saw them in a classified ad in the paper—if that doesn’t tell you how long ago it was—and drove out to buy them. They worked great with my upright swing, albeit with really high ball flight and dispersion I’d probably freak out about today. Blades, but with a mongo looking sole. They worked though.

Further irony, the guy I bought them from was considerably away from where I lived—on the opposite end of the newspaper’s territory, so about 40 miles or so from my mother’s house, where I lived while going to college—yet ended up being only about 200 yds or so from my (eventual ex-)wife’s and her parents’ home. I had no idea I’d meet her a few weeks later in class.

Small world…

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