The face, the front of a golf club is called the clubface. It typically has grooves on it, and this is commonly believed to impart additional backspin onto the golf ball when struck by the clubface. Recent studies with smooth clubfaces seem to indicate that the grooves do not significantly add to the backspin of the ball, contradicting this notion. My bet is that grooves don't help impart backspin on the full swing, but probably impart much of the spin on a greenside pitch.
Modern-day clubfaces are designed with either workability or playability in mind. If you're a newbie to golf, you probably want to buy irons with game improvement features in mind. So-called cavity-back irons seem to impart a larger sweetspot to the clubface. They do this at the expense of not feeling a poor shot, however, and reduce the workability (ability to create different shot types with the same club) of the club. Blade irons are favored by better players. They won't improve a poorly struck shot, but will feedback to the good player the quality of the shot, and allow the better player to create shots at will.

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