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Blade experiment to lead to better play???


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#1 bushy007

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 09:44 AM

I think it must come to this. I stumbled across many forums mentioning the benefits and hazards of using bladed irons and how handicaps should and shouldn't justify the uses or lack thereof of such a thing. It seemed across, not just this forum but every other forum Ive checked to seek some answers about the subject that, there is a deeply divided opinion about who should play blades and who should not. Thats where this topic will hope to help. Some background first. I played the game as a late teen junior and off and on into my early-mid twenties. I played up until early 2008 when a job opportunity forced me to give up playing golf as I was working interstate and travelling endlessly. When I left in 2008 my handicap was 12.9 and once I returned to Cairns and golf in early 2010 the new handicap system spat me out a nice even 11 handicap. Since then I went out to 19 in almost 12 months, clawed back to 14 in a further 10 months and now back in to 8.2 where my current handicap is. Ive definitely improved as a whole since last October, breaking 80 for the first time including a +4 (75) at Sea Temple up here at Port Douglas. My irons havent really been the issue, its been the driver and putting that has always let me down along with poor course management. But a shorter shaft in my driver, a new putter and plenty of practice have had me heading in the right direction for a few months. This is where the blade idea came to me. "Am I good enough to benefit from playing blades??" After reading so much about the 'buttery' feel and the laser-like control of blades it got me thinking the above question. I hadnt hit a blade since I whacked around my grandfathers in the give up as a kid and most of the comments I was reading were telling me that even at 8.2 I dont have the game for blades. Yeah there were the guys saying hit what you want or what you feel comfortable with but I still wanted to get better and didnt want to fix something that wasnt broken or sabotage my game as it was cruising... So first off I got on ebay to find the cheapest but also nicest old style single blade that I could find and buy it and practice with on the range before going all out. I picked up an old Titleist 6 iron that has "Tour Model" pressed in the back. Cost me $20pp. Thats when I got excited and found a complete set of Mizuno Pro Super 11's in not bad condition for $80... So I bought them too. Same day. I hit them for the first time tonight and they were absolutely amazing. Far exceeding what I ever expected the 'buttery' feel to feel like. Were they hard to hit??? Absolutely not, in fact I found that I hit them beautifully and that they were laser like instead of wandering around on and off the target line. Did mishits cause my hands to fall off?? No. Only twice did I thin it so bad as to get that feeling..agreed not nice but most mishits felt exactly the same as my Taylormade R9's except they were slightly shorter and went straight at the target. Flight was really good compared to my stratospheric flight with the R9's and I was even able to hit knockdown shots with almost every club, something I struggled with with the high flight of the R9's. I was even able to hit the 3 iron solid, straight and very very long, so all in all it was amazing. I couldnt tell exactly how different the distances were but it seemed to be almost exactly the same as the R9's. Plus I also purchased, on ebay again...when I shouldnt have, a brand new set of 2011 Taylormade TP MB's 3-PW for $450 even before my other ones had arrived... Impulse buy or what? Cant wait til they arrive. As luck would have it I actually tested a set mid last week and loved them from the first time I saw them..hence the impulse buy. This little experiment however will be backed up by stats and obviously by the rise or fall of my handicap. I use Golfshot for iphone to track all of my stats and so far Ive found it really useful in conjunction with Golfplan for mapping out where I need to work more and areas where I need to work less. Heres a shot of my stats for the last 5 rounds As you can see driving is pretty consistent and putting really isnt that bad considering the iron shots Ive been hitting into greens. Recovery performance still needs some work but I think that the switch to blades will put me on more greens in reg, closer and that the GIR figures will be higher over the next few months. Thus resulting in more birdie putts from better positions and the putts per GIR numbers lower. So let me begin by making a prediction. I think that after what I saw and experienced tonight and as long as the rest of my game remains at least static or improves as it has been, then I think 3 to 4 strokes off my handicap by September is quite achievable. Im only really basing this on the ability to hit it close to the pins and to be precise where my R9's weren't. If I dont improve significantly however then there are decisions to be made. Even worse if the blades completely dont work and my iron shots become abysmal. We will see. I hope this can be of some benefit to people who are in the same position as me- that is wanting to play blades or muscle backs but being too afraid that they're "too good for me". I will keep you posted and add stat sheets as well as reviewing the MB's when they arrive. Let the experiment begin...

#2 AB_Uncut

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 05:54 PM

Be interested to see how it all goes Bushy. I actually went the "other way". Always been a blade player and this year have switched to player cavities from 5 iron down and game improvement 3 and 4 iron. I have never been happier with my ball striking and the forgiveness of my shots. I agree that I have not noticed any difference between the blades and the "others" on good shots, the difference for me is that on those 1 or 2 (or some days more! lol) that I really miss hit, I still get away with a decent result. I think now that I have made the switch, I don't think I will ever go back to my blade days (even though I love the aesethics of a blade iron). The other big difference, and it is a difference I think everyone should address no matter whether they are playing blades or other is lie angles. I played for a period of time with lie angles that were slightly out, always getting frustrated by misses (and trying to "fix" my swing). Fast forward into good lie angles and the problem shots almost immediately disappeared. I can definitely say it is the most important factor of iron play, we all should get our lie angles checked periodically and make sure that we are playing good fitting clubs. Good luck with the experiment, I look forward to hearing how it goes.

#3 Joe Blake

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 06:24 PM

The stats you are compiling will be meaningless, as a golfer you Are not consistent enough for the change in golf equipment to be able to be measured. Any improvement or decline in your handicap or other measurements could be attributable to any number of factors.

#4 UnplayableLiar

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 08:35 PM

G'day Bushey, I'll be interested to follow your journey. For a bit of fun 18 months ago, I bought a cheap set of 1980's blades. Like you, I actually found them more accurate and easier to hit than the "pro fitted" cavity irons I was using. (which were the same brand as the blades). I stuck them in the bag and dropped 3 shots from 10 to 7 in the first month or so. The big difference being the fact I was hitting more greens. The biggest eye-opener was in the 4, 3, 2 & even the 1iron. Huge improvement result-wise in the longer irons. I'm still playing off 7. My inconsistant driver is holding me back. I've just bought a set of 1990 Hogan Apex. They are definitly harder to hit than my current blades. (I've read that alot of pro's wouldn't use Hogans irons because they were in fact harder to hit) I'm slowly getting the hang of the Hogans and have found that when you're "in the zone" with them, they are absolutely lethal. I've only used them on the range and in a couple of practice rounds where the amount of kick in birdies amazed me. Still a little way to go with these but wont be long before they go in the bag permanently. Are you planning on getting the new blades fitted? Were the R9's fitted? I see what Marktheblake is saying about stats. But hey, you'll know what the difference is. Goodluck and keep us posted.

#5 GPJ_Longdriver

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 09:58 PM

Hi Bushy, I'm in the "Marktheblake camp" as far as relating any improvement in your handicap / scoring, to your use of blades, no matter what existing stat you use. For example, if your driving distance improves, then you might go from hitting a couple of 9 irons a round into the green ........ to a couple of wedges instead, and strictly speaking, they may be of the same matching "blade", yet they will count towards your overall GIR. Not to mention your putting and driving which can have a much greater impact. Perhaps you need to devise a specific stat just for your irons be that 3-PW ... 3-SW, or whatever set you have. In saying, that any existing data has already been "corrupted" by the numerous other factors above. So, rather than taking months to acquire any data gathered in variable circumstances eg different courses conditions etc ......... a simple club vs club assessment will tell you all you need to know. Hit 10 x 3 irons with both a cavity back and a blade to the same target (under the same conditions, same type of ball, same wind etc) alternating your shots between 1 cavity and 1 blade. Then simply measure the distance from the target for the 20 balls to get your 3 iron averages for both blade and cavity. Do the same for all your irons, and then simply collate the results to give you an overall picture of which are statistically better for your game right now .... cavity or blade. It may be all your blades, or all your cavities, or as some suggest, your cavities for the long irons, and blades for the short ones .... or it could just be any random combination of clubs, you won't really know though until you do that sort of a test. A few days later you could do the whole thing again to work out the repeatability factor. It's one thing to be accurate "once" .... it's another entirely again .......... to do it repeatedly. Good luck with it though .........

#6 Joe Blake

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 12:08 AM

Don't forget, in your clinical trial you also need to have identical shafts, length, swing weight, grips, Cpm, Moi etc etc. IMHO anyone who picks up an old set of blades and instantly likes them it's is probably because the are shorter and/or have a tendency to hit the ball on the heel.

#7 Tango67

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 12:23 AM

IMO how he hits his 3,4 and even 5 iron will not have any impact on his HCP at all as these are not his scoring clubs and if he is using these clubs to approach greens then clearly his issues are his driving not his iron play. sure on long par 3,s maybe but unless he is a low HCP he is probably looking to par or bogey these anyway, also a rescue or small wood can be used. What will impact is his ability with his 6 - PW as these are the clubs that score, hitting more greens will help although this may put more pressure on his putting, what impacts your HCP is the ability to hit your irons close, make birdies or save pars, doesnt matter if he uses a 7 instead of a 9 if he hits the 7 to 2 feet? anyway good luck and i watch with interest

#8 Talart

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:53 AM

Since returning to the game I have "experimented" with various iron styles several cheaply from ebay in the search to find a set that suits my golf swing etc. I now use a combo set of Bridgetone j36 irons with Regular flex shafts, previously I had a set of j33 irons but S300 shafts were too much for my swing speed. I also have a couple of blade sets which I still take out for a social/practise hit ,most weeks. Favourite is a Wilson 1200 underwave set that have been lengthened to suit my height. Also a set of Kieth Knox blades with nike stiff flex graphite shafts. The distance is not as long but my golf has always benefited from these sessions. I could have purchased a new set as suggested from a professional during early coaching. I am happy not to have done that though and followed my own path. Either way the first set suggested would have needed to be replaced now anyways. After good coaching I have an improved, more efficient swing/stance that is far better served by the combo set. IMO. For me it was a concentration issue, when using the blade sets I had to focus more. This is a consious effort that must be made to enable a decent score. Not using anything but the irons in a round was another practise routine facet. End result is after three seasons I am a reasonable golfer who benefited from the blade experiment. How, besides concentration the feature that is my reliable straight hitting. I make errors yet the result is not to disasterous because I hit the ball forward and straight. With the J36 irons in the bag the older sets will rarely get an outing now. In fact most likely will be put on the 'bay to go on to another golfer who is following a similar path.

#9 epamis

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:56 AM

My Ping i3 Blades (actually perimeter weighted cast clubs) were getting pretty worn out and I wasn't willing to spend a lot of money on new clubs so I bought a set of used Dynacraft forged blades for $75 on eBay. I am in the process of rebuilding my swing so figured a) money is better spent on lessons, and b) blades would provide better feedback on the quality of the strike. Distance is a bit less but I am definitely hitting them straighter. The feel is pretty ordinary to be honest - i3s were better. I have never felt comfortable hitting big, clunky 'game improvement' clubs with big offsets so I actually feel more confident hitting with my blades.

#10 Twopiece

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 04:45 AM

I'm very interested in your experiment. I still play with shovels but recently bought a player's cavity single iron to practice with. And I wholeheartedly concur with your little epiphany of 'whoa, I've been missing out'. I think I might go out and get a true blade now to practice, seeing that I'm upgrading to a player's cavity/mb set (mp53). Very informative and inspirational. Keep us updated.

#11 2Putts

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 06:27 AM

Good luck with it Bushy. I am confident you will continue to enjoy using blades : )

#12 bushy007

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 07:58 AM

Thanks guys keep them coming thats what its all about.. GPJ I did think of that kind of trial but wanted to conduct it under playing conditions. Yes your right it would be the best way to work out which club was more accurate but thats not what its all about. Its about wether I'll be playing better golf or NOT playing better golf as well as how Im feeling out there. Marktheblake- I understand that the stats are hardly clinical information but they will be just one of three things I'll be judging myself on over the course of the next however many months. Shaft length, grips, lie angles will all be the same. Shafts for the blades are DG S300's whereas the KBS 90stiff's are in the R9's. The lofts are almost completely different. Here are the specs of the MB's And below the R9 specs, bought off the rack. Club Length (in) Loft (°) Lie (°) Offset (mm) 3 39.00 20.0 61.00 5.5 4 38.50 22.0 61.50 5.0 5 38.00 25.0 62.00 4.5 6 37.50 28.0 62.50 4.0 7 36.00 32.0 63.00 3.5 8 36.50 36.0 63.50 3.0 8 36.50 36.0 63.50 3.0 9 36.00 41.0 64.00 2.5 PW 35.75 46.0 64.50 2.0 In addition to that your comment that I'm "probably shorter and/or have a tendency to hit the ball on the heel." is exactly the generalisation I have read and heard everywhere. Fair enough you did prefix it with IMHO which is what I want but I'm not short and I dont normally make contact on the heel. Your other points are however very valid and as long as this little jaunt is seen as hopefully informative and a personal experiment rather than some high tech NASA sponsored scientific research project then I'll be happy. "Are you planning on getting the new blades fitted? Were the R9’s fitted?" Yes and no, the R9's were off the rack for a steal the week before the R11's came out so no they were not fitted. However lie angle is probably the only thing that may change slightly only through the lessons Ive had. I was thinking about fitting the MBs but for experiments sake I also thought about keeping them standard also except for the same grips I have on the R9's. Off the rack vs off the rack!! Ab-uncut, one of my playing partners jokingly said something similar the other day. His next set are going to be frying pans with 'swing themselves' graphite shafts in them. He's off 2. So here are the first of the photos of the new set. They look so much better to me than in the photos, some people hate the weight whereas I kind of like it. It's different. I do love the classic look of the Mizunos but these MB's look great. Havent really hit them yet except for my swing net in the yard. They do feel very soft on contact, as soft as the Mizunos but it is a different feeling soft, cant quite explain it yet. Will be heading out for a hit hopefully tomorrow arvo so will advise more then. They came with red Taylormade neoprene iron covers that i'll use for now to keep them a little protected or until I've lost a few or get sick of taking them on and off. I love them. If I can make at least one person more comfortable about the switch to blades then I think thats what Id like to happen. Thats it for tonight. I'm going to ogle my new clubs...

#13 Zenstb

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 11:54 AM

Bushy, On your R9's if the lie angles weren't adjust to suit you, there is a major issues there.If your lie angle is 2 degrees out for your wedge you will miss the target by 22 yards with a square face at 100 yards out. So if you close the face 1 degree as an example you will miss the green by 33 yards. the average golfer is from 1 to 2 degrees open or shut at impact with a wedge. Also shaft flex is very important to soft your spray them, to stiff create swing faults like over acceleration of your arms, you'll start spraying the ball and mess up your swing patterns. Being to stiff you lose power, the ball doesn't spin and get weird ball flight and ball control. It's very important you get fitted right to get the best out of your swing and clubs. Maybe what you like about the old gear is the loft, you can get the ball airborne easier. You can have the R9's loft weaken 2 degrees. With my irons new irons I just brought AP2'a I have my lofts weaken 2 degrees to get higher launch at the start and got a mid kick shaft. (I hit my irons pretty low comparison to most people). The reason I got fitted this way is because to keep my ball flight the same as my old blades I had. The ball flight I want is a mid flight, then I can hit high or low without to much effort all day long. I can now work the ball either way with three different flights. To be honest my old gear were pigs to these new irons, The ball is easier to work, control ball flight and easier to hit, go further (same loft). Your not working hard all day long with them like the old gear. Mate my suggestion is find a great fitter either way you go. If you like I can refer you to a good fitter in your area.

#14 GPJ_Longdriver

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 05:06 PM

Thanks guys keep them coming thats what its all about.. GPJ I did think of that kind of trial but wanted to conduct it under playing conditions. Yes your right it would be the best way to work out which club was more accurate but thats not what its all about. Its about wether I’ll be playing better golf or NOT playing better golf as well as how Im feeling out there.

Bushy, all the best with it buddy. No doubt you'll have a great time hitting your blades (even if they aren't Mizuno's) ...... and when you put that first long iron blade so close that you think it's gone in the hole ........ you'll have a smile from ear to ear.

#15 Joe Blake

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 06:42 PM

Bushy, I suggested the clubs are shorter not you. Taylor made and the like make the irons with longer shafts now




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