Types of Golf Irons
Golf Irons are seperated into two main categories, perimeter weighted and blade style irons. The two styles have differ drastically in their designs and choosing the right one for your game can make a big difference in how well you hit the ball. Lets go over each style and list some of their positives and negatives.
Perimeter Weighted Irons
Perimeter weighted irons may also be known as cavity back irons becuase they usually have a hollowed out cavity in the back of the iron. This empty space allows the majority of weight to be pushed out towards the perimeter of the clubhead. Distributing the weight towards the edges of the clubhead leads to more stability on off center hits which will make the ball fly farther and straighter, even if you don't strike it perfectly in the center. This is the type of iron that is recommended for most beginners and amateurs. They are usually easy to hit and will give you the most forgiveness for off-center hits.
A negative of perimeter weighted irons is that they don't allow as much flexibility in hitting different kinds of shots. If you need to hook or slice a ball around a target it is harder to do with a cavity back style club. The design of the club minimizes the hook and slice spin that is imparted to the ball. It's not impossible to do, it's just a little bit more difficult. For most ametuers the loss of being able to work the ball left or right is more than made up for with the forgivness and playability offered by these clubs.
In the past you were only able to get cavity back clubs in harder steels which also negated a big part of the game, feel and touch. Improvements in technology have allowed clubmakers to make a new style of game improvement irons, the forged cavity back. Forged clubs used to only be available in a blade style but now it's common to have a forged cavity back. This is a blend of the best of both worlds. The forged steel is much softer than a cast cavity back. This increase in feel is a big bonus for a game improvement iron. One word of warning though, forged irons are usually much more expensive as they cost more to manufacture. They may be worth the price though if you want an iron with a lot of playability and a strong feel.
Blade Style Irons
Blade style irons used to be the only style of irons you could purchase. The Ping golf company ushered in a new era with the cavity back iron in the early 1980's. Luckily forged blade style irons did not go away though. Blade style irons are known for their ultimate feel and workability. You can hit any kind of shot you want with a blade style iron. The downside to this is that the clubhead is usually very small when compared to a cast style iron. This leads to a very small sweet spot on the clubhead which requires much more precise ball striking. This is one reason why blades are usually considered a "pros" club. If you are an amateur player don't disregard this style of iron though. If you can make fairly consistent contact with the center of the clubface you may like a blade style iron better. It will also force you into becoming a better ball striker by demanding that you hit on-center and square shots to get your desired results. This requirement can really sharpen your game.
Blade irons are usually made from a softer metal, especially if they are hand forged. This softness leads to the ultimate in feel and you'll know immediately if you've mishit a shot. It is also very easy to tell where you hit the ball on the clubhead. Striking the ball towards the toe of the club has a distinctly differen feel than hitting a ball towards the heel of the club. Dead center impact produces that magical feeling of the ball hardly being there at all.
If you are a beginner or high handicapper you should probably go with a cavity back style iron. It will give the most forgiveness for less than precise shots. Low handicap amateurs may want to consider a blade style if they feel like it could help their game to have more feel and workability. The only way to know for sure which style of iron is right for you is to actually try them out. Go to your local pro shop or range and ask to try some different models. You may just suprise yourself on which style you decide to purchase.