THE PROS AND CONS OF CAVITY-BACK IRONS
By Jack Moorehouse, author of a wide variety of golf instruction materials
Whenever I talk about irons in my golf lessons, students invariably ask
which style is best—cavity back or blade. The cavity back has its
advantages and its disadvantages. It also has its fans.
Golfers, however, shouldn’t choose an iron style because it’s popular in
the clubhouse, since the style may not fit their game. The key to iron
styles, as I’ve said in my golf tips, is finding what’s right for you.
Cavity backs are popular these days—and for good reason. A cavity back
has a small amount of metal removed from the back of its clubface,
producing a small hole. Removing the metal re-distributes the clubhead’s
weight around the edges of the clubface, father away from the center of
Re-positioning the COG creates a much more forgiving iron, with a larger
sweet spot along the blade. Thus, a mis-hit with a cavity back is more
likely to stay on target than a similar shot with a blade. Why? Because the
cavity back twists less in a player’s hand when the ball is mis-hit. A mis-
hit with a cavity back is also more likely to travel farther than with a blade.
Cavity backs are “game improvement’’ clubs, offering special features that
help golfers play better, like an oversize head. I’ve talked about these
clubs in my golf tips. Players with high and mid golf handicaps prefer
cavity backs, although some low handicappers and touring pros use them.
Blade irons are not as popular as cavity backs. A blade iron features a
solid clubface back, distributing the weight more evenly across the
clubface, closer to the clubhead’s COG. Thus, a blade has a much
smaller sweet spot than a cavity back. A blade is also much less forgiving
than a cavity back because it twists more in a player’s hands on mis-hits.
Distributing the weight evenly across the clubface, however, creates an
iron with better control and more feel. These irons need to be hit nearly
perfectly, though, to avoid a bad shot. Thus, it takes a lot of practice and
experience to hit these irons well, something I work on in my golf lessons
with low handicappers.
The blade iron is known as a more traditional iron because it lacks the
cavity back’s special game improvement features Players with low golf
handicaps and touring pros prefer the blade style iron because the added
control and feel enables them to shape their shots better—a necessity
when playing on challenging courses.
Manufacturers make cavity backs and blades in cast and forged versions.
The terms “cast” and “forged” refer to the manufacturing process used to
form the iron head’s shape.
Casting turns the metal from which the iron head is made into a molten
liquid, which is then poured into a mold to form the iron head. It’s then left
Forging involves pounding or compressing the metal in it’s solid form,
from which the iron head is made into the desired shape. Other
machining and drilling steps complete production.
The manufacturing process has no impact on the iron’s capabilities, as
I’ve explained in previous golf tips. If you have two irons, one forged and
one cast, of exactly the same shape, with the same center of gravity, same
loft, same grip, hitting the same ball, and so on, the shots will travel the
same distances 99 percent of the time. And the players won’t know which
iron head is cast and which forged.
You need to find the iron style that best fits your game, as I point out in my
golf instruction. If you’re a less experienced golfer, the cavity back is
probably a wiser choice, since you’re more likely to mis-hit a ball. If you’re
a more experienced player, then a blade is probably your best choice,
since it provides more control and better feel for shaping shots.
The best way of choosing a style that fits your needs is to test it out. Hit a
few balls with each style. If one style feels better than another does, and
you have confidence in it, that’s the style that’s right for you.
Tom's Golf Tips