The Different Meanings of 'Blade' in Golf

A Type of Iron, Putter, or a Mishit Shot

woman golf player in action of end downswing of wood driver, after hit the golf ball away from tee off to the fairway ahead, sunset scenery in background
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In golf, the term "blade" has multiple meetings: It can refer to either of two types of golf clubs or to a type of mishit shot. 

'Blade' As a Type of Mishit Shot

This use of blade is another term for a thin shot. Golfers may refer to a "bladed shot" or "bladed ball," or talk about "blading it" or say "I bladed that one." All mean the golfer hit a thin shot, or "caught the ball thin."

A bladed shot, or thin shot, happens when the golf club strikes the top half of the golf ball. In other words, the impact takes place at or above the equator of the ball. This typically results in the leading edge of the club (usually an iron or wedge) making the first contact with the ball. And that causes the ball to shoot out very low and very fast. A badly bladed wedge shot might fly the target by 100 yards. The blade, as a mishit, is ugly.

'Blade' As a Type of Iron

Blades, plural, always refers to a type of iron. Once upon a time, all irons were blades; today, this usage of blade is used interchangeably with "muscleback."

The original golf irons were very thin clubheads, very thin toplines, sharp leading edges, small striking surfaces. They actually resembled knife blades, some early golfers believed, hence the name blades. (Also, hence a common nickname for blade-style irons: "butter knives.")

Modern blades, or musclebacks, have full backs (as opposed to a cavity back) of the clubhead and still have thinner toplines than irons that fall into the game-improvement category. They typically have more compact clubheads, too. Blade-style irons are almost always forged and marketed to better golfers.

'Blade' as a Type of Putter

A blade putter is one whose face is wide from heel to toe, but very thin from the front of the clubhead to the back of the clubhead. It's the same idea behind the naming of blade irons: A thin, figuratively blade-like clubhead.

Blade putters are rarely seen today, having first been superseded by heel-and-toe-weighted putters and flanged putters, then later by ever-deeper mallet clubheads and geometrical putter heads.

Blade putters and blade irons actually share a lineage. Back before iron sets became numbered (3-iron, 5-iron, etc.), prior to the 1930s, they instead had names. One of those early irons was called a cleek, a low-lofted iron most often compared to a 1-iron. Many putters of that time resembled those cleek blades, and so were often called "putting cleeks."