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Blades vs Musclebacks


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I play with MacGregor Split Soles that are textbook Musclebacks (I'm one of the few that like aluminum shafts).  Obviously they are demanding but rewarding.

 

I just bought a set of Palmer The Standard 85 irons and these are textbook pure blades.  The Palmers have a massive clubface compared to the Macgregors so I thought they'd be more forgiving but I definitively do get punished distance wise if it isn't hit in the sweet spot.

 

 

Anybody have comments or experiences with pure blades compared to their experience with musclebacks?

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1 hour ago, pacman16 said:

I play with MacGregor Split Soles that are textbook Musclebacks (I'm one of the few that like aluminum shafts).  Obviously they are demanding but rewarding.

 

I just bought a set of Palmer The Standard 85 irons and these are textbook pure blades.  The Palmers have a massive clubface compared to the Macgregors so I thought they'd be more forgiving but I definitively do get punished distance wise if it isn't hit in the sweet spot.

 

 

Anybody have comments or experiences with pure blades compared to their experience with musclebacks?

Interesting thought, so many people just call any forged club a blade. Guess I never really have thought about the difference. My friends son rescued a set of Palmer Deacons out of the garbage at his driving range.  Noticeably bigger face than your Macs but skinnier. Not exactly but much more like an old hickory iron. Maybe a bit more of a digger but isn’t that what the split soles are known for? Kinda hard to say cuz the Deacon’s have the old stepped Precision 7.0 shafts in them. With that much shaft they flew just like the arc of a rainbow for me. There was an Arnold Palmer signature Standard 1 iron in that set and it is a muscle back piece of Jewelry! About the size of any old school Mac 1 irons. Very few clubs I’ve ever seen that pretty and a set of those is way high up on my want list regardless if I can play em or not. 

Edited by ezgoer
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1 hour ago, pacman16 said:

I play with MacGregor Split Soles that are textbook Musclebacks (I'm one of the few that like aluminum shafts).  Obviously they are demanding but rewarding.

 

I just bought a set of Palmer The Standard 85 irons and these are textbook pure blades.  The Palmers have a massive clubface compared to the Macgregors so I thought they'd be more forgiving but I definitively do get punished distance wise if it isn't hit in the sweet spot.

 

 

Anybody have comments or experiences with pure blades compared to their experience with musclebacks?

IMG_2645.jpeg.1a54cde04c8b7dd3c713cbf834d078e8.jpeg

IMG_2649.jpeg.1e7e8d6eef8f773949ada7dd52ca74c9.jpeg
Guess the closest I have to a straight blade are these 85 YAMAHA’s. Pretty much a golf club Unicorn. Not many out there and hard to get information also. On the range they seem like any old forged club but the 2 times I’ve played them has gone horribly bad. Chalking this way more up to my abilities but I’ve had decent success playing the other 2 iron sets. The Spalding is a blade design I guess but LCG so far ahead of its time (1953) so kinda apples to oranges in comparison. The MT should be similar to yours. I’ve always liked old Mac’s. Look like complete diggers when you hold them in your hands with flat soles and sharp leading edge but I hit them well. I especially like the old Mac CF’s. Think I’ve only had one decent round with my Muirfield 20th’s so would put the YAMAHA’s on par with those for ability needed to successfully play them anyways going back to your original question. 

Edited by ezgoer
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Somewhere, I think it was in an  @Jiggered video...(or someone's)...that originally it was called "musselback" cuz the back was reminiscent of the mollusk. Over time, people misspelled it but the misspelling became the common "muscleback"

 

I have a set of Walter Hagen Ultra 66s...they are musselback/muscleback design and fun to play. I think it's the best of all the Hagen clubs. 
Also have a couple of sets of H&B PowerBilt Scotch Blades.....and they are quite the quintessential blade

Edited by bcstones
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2 hours ago, ezgoer said:

I’ve only had one decent round with my Muirfield 20th’s so would put the YAMAHA’s on par with those for ability needed to successfully play them anyways going back to your original question


Re: ability to hit the Muirfield 20ths.
I sold mine.  Not good enough.  Not even close.
I sold them to a golf pro further up the North Island (NZ).  
He's no Jack, but he was ranked in the top 1400 at one point on the OWGR.

 

3 hours ago, pacman16 said:

I think my terminology is a muscleback is a blade with mass added behind the sweet spot.  A pure blade has the same thinness throughout for the most part


Thanks.  I too had wondered what the difference was.

 

 

 

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51 minutes ago, EvanH said:


Re: ability to hit the Muirfield 20ths.
I sold mine.  Not good enough.  Not even close.
I sold them to a golf pro further up the North Island (NZ).  
He's no Jack, but he was ranked in the top 1400 at one point on the OWGR.

 

Do you mind if I ask you how much you got for them? I'm in NZ too with a 1-SW set of Muirfield 20ths that I've often thought about moving on...

 

 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, SteveNZ said:

Do you mind if I ask you how much you got for them? I'm in NZ too with a 1-SW set of Muirfield 20ths that I've often thought about moving on...


Mine were 3 - SW with matching serial # on the 3 - PW.
DG S300 shafts. Faces and heads all in vgc (especially considering their age).

Original (knackered) grips on all except the 6i and 7i, which both had new grips.

$NZD 300 ($USD 185) - which I think is too cheap considering they're basically the Limited Ed forging that was (afaik) $USD 1000 a set back in the day.

But it's a limited market for 40 year old blades with old shafts - and I don't particularly like having stuff lying about.

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I make a distinction between musclebacks and scotchblades,, with scotchblades being closer to what I think @pacman16 means by a "pure blade". 

Examples of the latter would be the various iterations of the Powerbilt scotchblades, Mac's RMT2 DX irons (is the "2" just the shaft flex designation?), and possibly even the Mizuno MS-1 irons.

With the MS-1s, there's a groove running across the back, but there is no distinct muscle. to speak of. I don't have mine anymore, but here's a photo I still have left.

MizunoMS-1longironbacksbW.jpg.44d03ba1976fa4334d1051314d066fd5.jpg

 

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6 hours ago, No_Catchy_Nickname said:

I make a distinction between musclebacks and scotchblades,, with scotchblades being closer to what I think @pacman16 means by a "pure blade". 

Examples of the latter would be the various iterations of the Powerbilt scotchblades, Mac's RMT2 DX irons (is the "2" just the shaft flex designation?), and possibly even the Mizuno MS-1 irons.

With the MS-1s, there's a groove running across the back, but there is no distinct muscle. to speak of. I don't have mine anymore, but here's a photo I still have left.

MizunoMS-1longironbacksbW.jpg.44d03ba1976fa4334d1051314d066fd5.jpg

 

Lookers! Are they as small as it looks?

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Musclebacks, the original Game Improvement iron

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Full Bag / Short set                                                         

- Taylormade Sim

5W (17.5), 7W (20.5), 9W (23.5) - Ping G425 Max

5H - Ping G425

6i-UW / 7i, 9i, UW - Ping i210

SW - Ping Glide 3.0 SS 54.12

LW - Ping Glide 3.0 TS 60.06

P - SC Pro Platinum Laguna
Bag - Ping Hoofer Lite / Ping Moonlite (old one with vertical strap)

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I happen to really, really dislike the term "blade" as applied to golf clubs. As colloquially used today, the term is amorphous and denotes nothing related to iron design in contemporary contexts.

 

This thread has merely served to support that opinion. 

 

From what I can tell - "Musclebacks" were a design evolution from "Blades." I think the term "Muscleback" needs more recognition. When people refer to "blades" today - they are referring to "Musclebacks" most of the time. 

 

And if we could just all agree that the vast, vast, vast majority of clubs played today are not "blades" and should never be referred to as such, my life would be incrementally improved.  

Edited by jholz
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Cleveland Launcher HB 10.5* - Stock Miyazaki C. Kua 50 Stiff
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Mizuno F-50 18* - Stock Stiff
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Callaway Diablo Edge Tour Hybrid 21* - Aldila NV 85 Stiff
Callaway RAZR Tour Hybrid 24* - Stock XStiff
5 - PW Cleveland CG7 Tour Black Pearl - DGSL S300
Cleveland 588 RTX Rotex 2.0 50* DG Wedge
Cleveland 588 RTX Rotex 2.0 54* DG Wedge
Callaway X-Series JAWS Slate CC 58* Stock Wedge
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My perception on this is that almost any single piece forged iron that doesn't have perimeter weighting can be considered a blade.  Muscle back is one style of blade, wingback is another etc...  Here is an advertisement for MacGregor's custom club program that shows a few different models, muscle, wing, diamond and 985, which is the old MacGregor Tommy Armour style where there was a step out that made the club thicker at the topline.  I downloaded this a few years ago, so thanks to whoever the original uploader was.  There would be more styles than this, for example, Hogan's blade on blade, the Wilson "swoop back"....  These could all be considered blades.  

 

Macgregor Custom Irons.jpg

Edited by Joe S
Typo, 981 should be 985
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88 Goosenecks = muscle backs

Woods: TaylorMade RBZ Tour Spoon, TaylorMade RBZ 5 Wood

Long Irons: Ping Zings 2 Iron, 3 Iron 

Iron Sets Cleveland Blacks 2012 5 To 9 , Wilson Staff Goosenecks 1988 4 to PW , Wilson X31's 1970 2 to PW , Hogan Redline's 1988  4 to E (no 7)

Wedges: Mizuno T22 (45/05) ,1969 Fluid Feel PW (52 degrees)  ,  Wilson BeCu (54 degrees),  Wilson Sandy Andy (57 degrees)

Putter: Ping Pal or Odyssey White Hot XG Marxman Blade. 

 

Ball:  high number Pro V1's

 

 

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8 hours ago, bcstones said:

isn't the "muscle" the build-up at the bottom of the back???

 

There is a slight build up, as there is in the Mac RMT2 DX irons and Powerbilt Scotchblades, but no pronounced or protruding muscle to speak of.  I'm not sure how best to describe it, but starting from the thin topline, the club gets gradually thicker as it descends to the sole. A cross section cut would look like a scalene triangle.

 

 

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IMO Blades are thin, topline to sole like TM P7TW, while my 670 MBs and 620 MBs are classic muscle backs.  Many old style blades or butter knives are far less forgiving than muscle backs of the same time period. 

 

Where the confusion surfaces, people transpose labels because they don't know the actual difference. 

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3 hours ago, No_Catchy_Nickname said:

 

There is a slight build up, as there is in the Mac RMT2 DX irons and Powerbilt Scotchblades, but no pronounced or protruding muscle to speak of.  I'm not sure how best to describe it, but starting from the thin topline, the club gets gradually thicker as it descends to the sole. A cross section cut would look like a scalene triangle.

 

 

The MS-1 and the MS-3 (which I have) have a "reverse-muscle" shape - the weight is positioned at the top of the blade rather than the bottom. Much like the 985 shape from days of yore.

Edited by SteveNZ
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6 hours ago, bcstones said:

 i agree with you up to a point - "When people refer to 'blades' today - they are referring to 'Musclebacks' most of the time "....as I mentioned above, the original term was "musselback", it was meant to simply describe what the back of the club looked like. Then along comes the "business of golf", the people who push "distance is king" scat, they twisted "musselback" into "muscleback" in order to sell (the musselback is too "weak" sounding, gotta 'strengthen' the term to stroke the ego of the golfer to be a "strong" golfer - pure sheep dung pr), and to keep promoting the distance baloney to make more $$$. 

 

The other thing , about "This thread has merely served to support that opinion" - of course it does... this is the "Classic" section of the site..(for some reason, I put the cut off at 1993 for no real reason...others have a cutoff different & that's ok). So whatever today's clubs & what people talk about them or call them - that's another forum on this site and I couldn't care less what people are saying about modern clubs.


Perhaps Karsten issued in a new era w/his toe/heel balanced putters that led to the perimeter weighted irons....as far as I'm concerned, even those pre '93 clubs are Classics- the irons ARE NOT blades. Neither are my '91 Hogan Magnum Plus', or '88 Hogan Edge Forged or the Tommy Armour 845s' or '89 TA 855s' or '90s H&B PowerBilt TPS...but the'74 (?) Walter Hagen Ultra 66's, '57 H&B PowerBilt, '74 Hogan Sabre, '40s - '50 era MacGregor ParSaver's, '50s era H&B Atlas retail clubs, & even the Browning 440's - they are all blades.

I'm not even going to get into putters....that's a whole nother morass of a sinkhole 🤣

100% correct in detail and sentiment.

 

It's not just my say so, I cite TomWishon in WRX Club Techs Nov 2014, and in print the cornerstone Olman brothers reference work The Encyclopaedia of Golf Collectibles. And that's just the American references I've come across.

Edited by The Aspidistra in the Hall
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10 hours ago, SteveNZ said:

The MS-1 and the MS-3 (which I have) have a "reverse-muscle" shape - the weight is positioned at the top of the blade rather than the bottom. Much like the 985 shape from days of yore.

 

I don't recall the MS-1s having a reverse muscle, at least not throughout the set. Whilst I don't have them anymore, my recollection of them is that they had a flat back, albeit with a small groove running across the middle.

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To me a blade has no perimeter weighting.

 

A mussel back has central weighting which delivers great shots when hit out the sweet spot but makes them less forgiving than a "pure" blade when not.

 

Then there are all the variations of top and bottom weighting, which to me are still blades as long as weight isn't moved to the perimeters.

 

The murky area is toe weighting, this moves the sweet spot away from the hosel but does it make the club more forgiving?

I'd say not but that's just my opinion.

 

I'd also say that any hollow bodied or multi material club is not a blade.

 

Perimeter weighting needs to be in at least two separate areas, eg both heel and toe.

 

 

@bcstones I did a short section about "mussel" and "muscle" in this video, at around 3.30

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jiggered
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It's not all about the score.

https://www.youtube.com/c/ClassicGolfClubs

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2 hours ago, Jiggered said:

I did a short section about "mussel" and "muscle" in this video, at around 3.30

I knew I'd seen it somewhere on your site 😂 and I just went back to rewatch it....I'll return to your site ("Classic Golf Clubs", in case some readers here are unaware)...tho, I do have to take a wee bit of issue - in the first minute or so, you say that the 1st hickory shaft club was not really old...however, that was made in the early 20th century - some 130 to 110 years past....that would fit my definition of "old" (except to a Hobbit, whose middle age begins at 111 🤣)

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