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Cavity vs. Blade Testing


BSTRONG1313
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1 hour ago, BSTRONG1313 said:

I don’t post on here very much but I finished some testing a few days ago of my current Z745 irons and Z945 muscleback irons that I recently bought used. I’m a 4 handicap with high swing speed but I’m definitely not what you call a ball striker so I’ve never tried blades. Recently, I’ve been curious and wanted to do my own testing to see what the actual forgiveness losses are from a players cavity to a blade.

 

It’s not a perfect test because the irons have slightly different shafts and grips and there really wasn’t any way for me to make sure there were exactly the same strikes but it was good enough for me and I thought the data was interesting enough to share. Take what you want from it. I hit about 50 balls with each 7 iron, alternating every 5-6 shots, on GCHawk into number 5 at Spyglass Hill. I looked at a lot of data but I really only cared about carry distances and ball speed to measure forgiveness on reasonably decent shots. I took out any shots that I felt were awful swings and anything that registered as being 13mm outside of the middle in any direction. So this is not a test of sever mis-hits but of ok to good shots. There were still plenty of misses for both models. 

 

If you are not a data person feel free to just skip to the end to find my conclusions.

 

As an FYI, I have a background in statistics and analytics so I approached this as I would any other project and tried to even out or at least recognize different variables so it be a

I’ll get down into the data and my conclusions below but here were some semi-anecdotal findings:

-Thin shots were almost a wash between the two irons. As long as I didn’t blade it, thin shots generally ended up ok for both models.

- As expected, toe and fat shots were generally punished more in the blades. For example, I hit two shots that felt similar a few minutes apart and both measured about 7mm high and 8mm in the toe. The 945 shot finished about 25 yards short of average and I would have lost the ball on that hole. The 745 made it to the front right fairway and finished about 15 yards short of average. That was the biggest discrepancy I saw.

- The MB spun about 500 RPM more and the std. deviations were about the same.

- I wasn’t trying or testing for this but I didn’t notice any difference in being able to shape the ball or anything like that.

 

Now down to the data

For context: the pin was at 201 yards but I wasn’t really trying to hit the pin just take normal shots at the middle of the green.

 

 

Ball Speed

 

Z745

Z945

AVG

131.0

129.2

Std Dev.

3.3

3.7

 

 

 

Carry Distance

 

Z745

Z945

AVG

202.4

198.2

Std Dev.

6.3

6.6

 

You can see that the 745 had a smaller standard deviation for both ball speed and carry distance. This was driven by the blade having several shot were the ball speed dropped to under 123 MPH and wound up finishing about 15 yards short of average. The 745 only had 2 shots finish 12 yards or more under the average.

The blade had 4 shots 10 yards over the avg carry and the Z745 only had 3. So not really statistically significant.

However, the difference in standard deviation is just 0.4 in ball speed and 0.3 in carry distance. Looking at my 8 worst shots with each model, the blade was only about 3.5 yards worse compared to the average than with the cavity. So I wouldn't say that is huge punishment but when playing an actual hole, I had a handful more shots finish in the front bunker with the blade than with the cavity so 3 yards can make a difference. 

 

Here is where I think things get interesting. 

 

image.png.cdff15c5984f29569194443351425f9a.pngimage.png.1843ea8734a7732664e8736f6f8eddb8.png

 

Taking you back to high school statistics, these charts show the whole range of shots and the blue box shows the shots that were in the 25% - 75% range. So, I would say the best 50% of my shots are in those blue boxes. And you can see that the Z945 box is about 2 yards smaller. So, my best shots were actually better with the blades than with the cavities.

The number of shots within + or – 5 yards of average with the Z745 was 54% and with the Z945 it was 66%. So out of 50 shots, I hit 6 more balls within 5 yards of my average than with the Z745!

 

After all of that, I think I can say that in this case, my worst shots were just slightly worse with the MB and my best shots were slightly better. You could definitely argue I was more consistent with the blade. I’ve decided I’m going to play them from 7-PW and see how it goes. I’ll update if I have any conclusions one way or the other.

Did you have the lofts checked on both clubs? The standard loft on the 745 is 1* stronger standard. I completely agree with your findings, and have long debated the difference in off center hits with blades vs cavity backs. But I’m sure someone will argue that lofts could attribute to your results.

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Great info, and mirrors a lot of what I found when I tested Callaway TA Protos vs conforming 2009 X Forged way back when. I'm starting to play again after not playing much over the last few years, and find it interesting that not much has changed even though there seems to be significant developments in available technologies. Thanks again for the detailed analysis! 

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, hammergolf said:

Did you have the lofts checked on both clubs? The standard loft on the 745 is 1* stronger standard. I completely agree with your findings, and have long debated the difference in off center hits with blades vs cavity backs. But I’m sure someone will argue that lofts could attribute to your results.

I didn't but it's not an issue since all the findings are based on comparing the devations and averages against the same model. So I compare the mishits of the blade to the averages of the blade and vice versa. 

Edited by BSTRONG1313
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1 minute ago, BSTRONG1313 said:

I didn't but it's not an issue since all the findings are based on comparing the devations and averages against the same model. So I compare the mishits of the blade to the averages of the blade and vice versa. 

Golf digest did a great study and article 10 or so years ago comparing a Wilson Staff blade and Ping Eye2 iron. It proved what most people know is that the cavity outperforms a blade on off center hits. But many wrx’ers here don’t believe it, even when you show the data. I wish I could find the article, but thus far have had no luck.

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27 minutes ago, MtlJeff said:

At the end of the day it's a 4 index hitting a 7 iron. At those levels i would expect to see very little difference in performance between a blade and even an SGI like a Ping G425.

 

Give me a test of a 10 index hitting 4 irons LOL

Given 200 yds at sea level, a very strong 4 as well.

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Nice work. Great data points.

 

I started with a combo set but loved the blades so much I went 4-PW. Yes the CB's helped a little, maybe. But not really enough to impact my scoring.

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As lefthack,..whatever your comfy with.Had mp63 cb and 33s 18 months ago,sold cbs.First day with 33s hit a 6 iron,it wasnt a centre hit,so i hit one more,at same target........as i walked 100m, could only see 1 ball.....oh..both balls dead in line,6 inches apart...so thats why i play what i play.Simple.

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Thanks for the data set - mirrors most of the 'almost independent' data I have seen - CBs give you a touch more forgiveness off centre but will not save a bad swing.

 

What I have never seen (I am sure it exists but no OEM will release it) is taking a statistically significant number of golfers across all abilities and looking at the effect on scores. I suspect it is minimal as most higher handicappers have multiple areas of weakness in their game.

 

A lot  of the sales pitch around cavities is that on a mishit it will still get you closer to the intended target however as a mid capper myself, I know my up and down percentages are pretty similar from 10 yards off target and 5 yards off target.

 

CBs are easier to hit, less punishing on misshits, less hand stingers.
low CG/Jacked lofts get the ball in the air easier with high low spin shots.... all true and backed up by launch monitor data .... but where is the effect on score?

Unless new club tech results in your approach shot being less that 8ft to the hole, you will still 2 putt more often than not and the effect on your score is pretty minimal.

note - I love golf tech and shiny new clubs - but I also look at how I and playing partners play golf  - and its short game and putting that have the biggest effect on lowering scores which is what we are all after.

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6 hours ago, Davethegolfer said:

Whilst many people like to bag Mark Crossfield he posted a video where he took a deep dive into the stats comparing an old school blade with a cavity back. For him the blade was more consistent from memory 

Yes, his constant badgering that blades really aren't really that bad is what led me to do this. I tried to generally base my testing on what what he did but I used a modern blade this time and did a little bit deeper statistical analysis. 

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2 hours ago, jubilee_links said:

Thanks for the data set - mirrors most of the 'almost independent' data I have seen - CBs give you a touch more forgiveness off centre but will not save a bad swing.

 

What I have never seen (I am sure it exists but no OEM will release it) is taking a statistically significant number of golfers across all abilities and looking at the effect on scores. I suspect it is minimal as most higher handicappers have multiple areas of weakness in their game.

 

A lot  of the sales pitch around cavities is that on a mishit it will still get you closer to the intended target however as a mid capper myself, I know my up and down percentages are pretty similar from 10 yards off target and 5 yards off target.

 

CBs are easier to hit, less punishing on misshits, less hand stingers.
low CG/Jacked lofts get the ball in the air easier with high low spin shots.... all true and backed up by launch monitor data .... but where is the effect on score?

Unless new club tech results in your approach shot being less that 8ft to the hole, you will still 2 putt more often than not and the effect on your score is pretty minimal.

note - I love golf tech and shiny new clubs - but I also look at how I and playing partners play golf  - and its short game and putting that have the biggest effect on lowering scores which is what we are all after.

Absolutely! There are so many ways to lose and gain strokes. Because I've gotten stronger and swing it faster over the last year, I have found that I tend to lose strokes from flying it over the green and OB or to a tough up and down spot. My main reason was that I was hoping that a blade would keep my spin more consistent and tone down my ball speed when I turn one over. This was not the case based on this test which was kind of a bummer. 

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3 hours ago, BSTRONG1313 said:

Absolutely! There are so many ways to lose and gain strokes. Because I've gotten stronger and swing it faster over the last year, I have found that I tend to lose strokes from flying it over the green and OB or to a tough up and down spot. My main reason was that I was hoping that a blade would keep my spin more consistent and tone down my ball speed when I turn one over. This was not the case based on this test which was kind of a bummer. 

 

Mark says the main help is launch and that I do believe is the case. This season I've been playing an Apex MB combo. I started the season with 5-PW in the MB and an X forged UT 24 bent to 22.5 (it was going a bit too high). I have 5 and 6iron Apex Pro 19 heads as well, and I put the 5iron in play instead of the MB about 2 months ago. I do believe that it is more forgiving and offers more consistent launch. I have no issue with distance, my ball speed with 6i is ~137mph. When I had a Titleist fitting day at my club recently, I hit the 620 CB vs my blade and found the Cb more forgiving than both the Apex Mb and 620 MB. It wasn't a stark difference - ball speed was very close as was spin I just found the CB to launch in the same window every single time even if you caught one a little clean. I have since picked up a set of 718 CB heads on the cheap which I'll build and test out. If they prove to be a bit more forgiving overall I will keep playing them. Basically I just want my slightly clean shots to retain a bit more but I want to keep the workability and spin consistency of the blades. I do not like the long left shot. If you're a good/fast player, I don't think you get much more benefit from something "hotter" like Apex or Apex Pro over the TCB for example, but I do believe the TCB gives you that ounce of forgiveness that can make the difference between being in the water or bunker vs making the front edge and having a putt. That's why so many tour players choose small CBs over blades, even at their speeds.

 

Notice Morikawa absolutely rinsed everyone this week in iron play? He is by far the best ball striker, but even he uses a 4i with a touch more launch, has switched into a small CB from 5-9 in the P7MC and then has a bladed PW. 

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@MtlJeff is right.  A 4 index smacking any 7 iron should not show much in the way of difference.  Where the difference shows up is under pressure using 5 iron to 3 iron. 

 

All I get from 620 CB is more forgiveness on off center strikes.  In other words, I get lazy knowing there isn't a need to pay as much attention to details, the ball will go generally straight and get there.  Not my style. 

 

Besides, I can't see my way to be like Morikawa and other tour pros, and use making cuts, making a living, maybe winning, and let's not forget meeting sponsor contract stipulations as reason for choosing CBs. 

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57 minutes ago, Pepperturbo said:

@MtlJeff is right.  A 4 index smacking any 7 iron should not show much in the way of difference.  Where the difference shows up is under pressure using 5 iron to 3 iron. 

 

All I get from 620 CB is more forgiveness on off center strikes.  In other words, I get lazy knowing there isn't a need to pay as much attention to details, the ball will go generally straight and get there.  Not my style. 

 

Besides, I can't see my way to be like Morikawa and other tour pros, and use making cuts, making a living, maybe winning, and let's not forget meeting sponsor contract stipulations as reason for choosing CBs. 

I'm not sure I agree with the 4 handicap comment. I think one thing that is being mostly ignored here (probably my fault for how I wrote it) is that even as a 4 index (I probably strike my irons closer to a 10 anyway) there were genuine benefits to playing a CB. Especially if you tend to make contact in the toe since those were punished the most. Those few yards probably would have saved some strokes on the hole I was playing since a lot of the time it was the difference of being in the front sand or the rough. 

 

I didn't come out of this thinking it was a home run for the blades by any means. I was just surprised that the std. variation was smaller than I expected and there are actual consistency benefits of playing the MB. 

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1 hour ago, Pepperturbo said:

@MtlJeff is right.  A 4 index smacking any 7 iron should not show much in the way of difference.  Where the difference shows up is under pressure using 5 iron to 3 iron. 

 

All I get from 620 CB is more forgiveness on off center strikes.  In other words, I get lazy knowing there isn't a need to pay as much attention to details, the ball will go generally straight and get there.  Not my style. 

 

Besides, I can't see my way to be like Morikawa and other tour pros, and use making cuts, making a living, maybe winning, and let's not forget meeting sponsor contract stipulations as reason for choosing CBs. 

 

The "lazy" argument is just so lame. I use an XF UT 4i because it helps gap to my less than 3w club. I can hit a bladed 4 iron with zero issue at all, I just enjoy the ease of launch offered by my 4i. Our greens are rock hard (I rip wedges off greens at munis and they just stop at best on ours) so the extra height is appreciated when trying to get close on 220-230 par 3s. Do you think I focus less on hitting that club because I know it has a bit of help? Not on your life. 

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33 minutes ago, TigerInTheWoods said:

 

The "lazy" argument is just so lame. I use an XF UT 4i because it helps gap to my less than 3w club. I can hit a bladed 4 iron with zero issue at all, I just enjoy the ease of launch offered by my 4i. Our greens are rock hard (I rip wedges off greens at munis and they just stop at best on ours) so the extra height is appreciated when trying to get close on 220-230 par 3s. Do you think I focus less on hitting that club because I know it has a bit of help? Not on your life. 

Lame... Did I direct my comment at you???  NO.  I don't know what you do.  I cope with minor case of ADD, and was speaking about me.  Do you have ANY idea what ADD is like during golf?  I won't go into details, just say I cope with far more mental extremes than others, including YOU.  Mentally lazy is just one, that's the reason when I took up golf after months with Ping I switched to Mizuno MB, and been playing them ever since. 

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3 hours ago, Pepperturbo said:

Lame... Did I direct my comment at you???  NO.  I don't know what you do.  I cope with minor case of ADD, and was speaking about me.  Do you have ANY idea what ADD is like during golf?  I won't go into details, just say I cope with far more mental extremes than others, including YOU.  Mentally lazy is just one, that's the reason when I took up golf after months with Ping I switched to Mizuno MB, and been playing them ever since. 

Also have ADHD. Symptom wise maybe a bit different. I'm just saying, so many higher HCs on here claim to use blades because "they make them focus". Everyone should play what they want to play, but it's generally an ego thing - "I have blades in the bag". I've been there. They look good. Launch monitor doesn't lie though. Just about every single player no matter what speed starts to get helped at the long end of the bag with a CB of sorts. 

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23 minutes ago, TigerInTheWoods said:

Also have ADHD. Symptom wise maybe a bit different. I'm just saying, so many higher HCs on here claim to use blades because "they make them focus". Everyone should play what they want to play, but it's generally an ego thing - "I have blades in the bag". I've been there. They look good. Launch monitor doesn't lie though. Just about every single player no matter what speed starts to get helped at the long end of the bag with a CB of sorts. 

Not me... I am 70 and play to 3-4 now.  I don't play them for ego’s sake and don't live and die off LM data.  It's all about down range result for me.  I play blades for two reasons, a relative played on the PGA Tour during AP and JNs early years, when I was a squirt.  He heard I was taking up the game, so he contacted me and offered equipment advice.  The other reason is to hit 620 MBs and 670 MBs well they demand more attention to detail, than 620 CBs (I have that set as well.) 

 

Yep, they look good, but I don't have them in the bag cause they feed ego or are pretty.  My life accomplishments speak for me.  When I hit MB long irons, I get a surprising number of complements.  Like yesterday on a short 295yd Par 4, I was first up and hit a beautiful 3 iron down the middle right with baby draw that ended in the middle, and 85 yard leave.  A big 290yd+ hitter who hadn't said much during the round complemented my shot.  I was the only one in the middle.  He and I were the only two to par the hole.  Later on 18, long Par 4, after my shortish comparable drive, ball setting on a mound, above my fee, I used 3 iron and hit a beauty, 195yds over a big pond, to front edge of green.  This time he looked at me, smiled, and said he wished he could do that. 

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8 hours ago, TigerInTheWoods said:

Notice Morikawa absolutely rinsed everyone this week in iron play? He is by far the best ball striker, but even he uses a 4i with a touch more launch, has switched into a small CB from 5-9 in the P7MC and then has a bladed PW. 

 

Which he did based on sole grind reasons, per the story here on WRX.

 

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3 hours ago, TigerInTheWoods said:

Also have ADHD. Symptom wise maybe a bit different. I'm just saying, so many higher HCs on here claim to use blades because "they make them focus". Everyone should play what they want to play, but it's generally an ego thing - "I have blades in the bag". I've been there. They look good. Launch monitor doesn't lie though. Just about every single player no matter what speed starts to get helped at the long end of the bag with a CB of sorts. 

 

Perhaps it doesn't work that way for you, but why do you assume that what's true for you is true for everyone?  Maybe it really *does* work that way for them?  

 

FWIW, focus isn't something that is the basis of why I play what I play; I'm not making a personal defense here.  <shrug>

 

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15 hours ago, jubilee_links said:



note - I love golf tech and shiny new clubs - but I also look at how I and playing partners play golf  - and its short game and putting that have the biggest effect on lowering scores which is what we are all after.

 

Not just you and your playing partners. Tour players have reached their status mostly because they all are able to consistently get the ball up and down when they miss a green. Nobody has great ball striking rounds every time they play, so every player does miss greens. On the poor ball striking days a Tour player is able to get the missed greens up and down to shoot 70 or  71. A pretender Tour player does not have the consistently great short game so on his poor ball striking days he shoots 73 or 74.

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5 minutes ago, Fairway14 said:

 

Not just you and your playing partners. Tour players have reached their status mostly because they all are able to consistently get the ball up and down when they miss a green. Nobody has great ball striking rounds every time they play, so every player does miss greens. On the poor ball striking days a Tour player is able to get the missed greens up and down to shoot 70 or  71. A pretender Tour player does not have the consistently great short game so on his poor ball striking days he shoots 73 or 74.

I’d love to be a pretend Tour player then! 😂😂

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