What Is Perimeter Weighting in Golf Clubs?

In golf clubs, "perimeter weighting" refers to the distribution of the weight in a clubhead more evenly around the periphery of a club, as opposed to weight being more concentrated behind the clubface's center. The term can apply to any type of golf club, but is most commonly used when discussing irons.

Perimeter-weighted irons (and other clubs) lead to performance properties that assist in gaining higher launch angles and higher trajectories on golf shots. Since many recreational golfers and high-handicappers, in particular, struggle with getting the golf ball up into the air on a good trajectory, perimeter-weighting golf clubs is viewed as being most beneficial to those golfers.

In a perimeter-weighted iron, for example, weight is redistributed to outer areas of the clubhead — around the perimeter, in other words. This is accomplished by removing weight from the central areas of the back of the clubhead. You can picture it as "scooping" out a portion of the construction materials from the rear of the clubhead, which is why perimeter-weighted irons are called "cavity backs." There is, literally, a cavity created by removing weight from central areas and repositioning it around the periphery of the clubhead, including to the sole of the club.

Why change the weighting properties of a golf club head? Perimeter weighting causes changes to a club's center of gravity location, its moment of inertia (resistance to twisting on off-center strikes), the amount of flex in the clubface, its feel and even sound at impact.

Add it all up, and perimeter-weighted irons offer significantly more forgiveness (basically, they are easier to hit) than irons that are not perimeter weighted. Perimeter-weighted irons were the first golf clubs in what we now call the game-improvement category of clubs.

Karsten Solheim, the founder of Ping Golf, is credited with introducing perimeter weighting to golf clubs, his first clubs designed with perimeter weighting going on the market in the late 1960s. Prior to that, virtually all irons were musclebacks, which do not have cavities behind the clubface, are less forgiving and more difficult to hit well.

Today, perimeter-weighted irons are by far the most popular choice among most golfers of all skill levels. Very low handicappers and pros might still prefer all or some of their irons to be muscleback (not perimeter-weighted) for reasons having to do with feel.

Perimeter-weighted clubs are sometimes called "periphery weighted," but "perimeter-weighted" is by far the more common term.

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