Evolution of Blades: Golf Blades Have Changed Over 20 Years

By Bradley W. Smith
April 29, 2016


The golf equipment industry is a lot like the cellphone industry in some ways.  What seemed new and revolutionary just a few years ago, is now woefully inadequate and very outdated.  A year or two can seemingly equal ten in golf terms.

Club design and improvements keep evolving from year-to-year and the differences can be fun to track.  The clubs Tiger Woods used to overpower Augusta National in 1997 would be considered pre-historic by today’s younger pros. No doubt the clubs Jordan Spieth used to win last year will be rendered obsolete in another 20 years.

Back when you and I were learning to play the game, the choices in equipment were limited.  Persimmon drivers, blade irons and probably a discarded putter from your father after yet another round with too many 3-putts.  Those blade irons could be very unforgiving.  With a sweet spot about the size of a dime, any shot just slightly off-target would make your right arm go numb for a few seconds and cause your handicap and blood pressure to rise.

For the low handicappers, though, blades weren’t all that bad. 

They could shape and control their shots better and the irons provided better feedback, as well.  Still, technology evolved and the blade irons soon gave way to cavity-back design irons.  These were revolutionary. Cheaper to produce and easier for the average golfer to hit, cavity-backs moved the weight of the club to the edges of the head meaning much more forgiveness and easier to get the ball airborne.  Finally, a club for the masses.  But blades never fully went away and now are starting to come back in style

Recently, PGA professional Mark Crossfield compared two Mizuno wedges built 20 years apart but with a similar shaft and weight.  Although he only hit a handful of balls with each club, the results were quite interesting. 

The newer model performed noticeably better over its older version. Club head speed was quicker, ball speed was quicker too, the ball spun less which translated to nearly ten extra yards of distance.  Although the newer model did have some advantages, golf club manufacturers have been working to minimize the difference between blades and cavity-back.  Blades are being made with shallow cavities to help improve accuracy for the average player.  Cavity-backs now look similar to blades in design. 

The difference at quick glance can be hard to see and that’s the goal.  It’s no longer blade irons vs. cavity-back, it’s more of a hybrid of the two.  The best of what both clubs have to offer.

Technology has certainly come a long way, but the club alone can’t hit the ball. 

This was just one person and one test.  You need to find the right clubs for your swing and your size.  Golf clubs never have and never will be “one size fits all.” 

Find the perfect fit for you and go the links!

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