When it comes to putters, two styles are real favorites amongst golfers; blade and mallets. They look quite different, but both do the same job.
As a player who switched from a blade to a mallet putter, I’m going to dissect the differences between the two and talk about my experience with switching between head styles.
A blade putter has a traditional and simplistic look. The name “blade” describes the knife-like straight edges of the head. If you’ve ever been to crazy golf chances are you’ve used a blade putter.
Mallet putters have a much larger clubhead, despite having a similarly shaped clubface to a blade. The difference is the area behind the clubface, which is usually a large square or semi-circle shape. You can also get mid mallets which share similar styles but are smaller in size.
Early putters like other historical golf clubs were made from wood, but did you know they had a different name? Putters were originally known as “putting cleeks” and were made entirely from woods such as beech, ash and hazel. The 19th century saw putters evolve and iron heads become more popular.
Both blade and mallet putter designs date back over hundreds of years. Fine examples of these include the Ray Mills aluminum mallet putter from the early 1900s and the Spalding HB blade design from 1919.
What do Pros use?
A while back, Golf WRX took a look into what the tour pros are using. They found that 44% of the world’s top 50 golfers at the time were using mallet putters compared to 56% using bladed putters. It’s interesting that out of the top-rated putters at the time, 56% were using mallet putters. With no real disparity either way, it goes to show that even the top golfers are split between the two styles.
My Putter Fitting Experience
Up until recent years, I had been using an old Scotty Cameron bladed putter. There was nothing wrong with the putter itself, but it always felt a little too small for me. After taking a putting lesson with my club pro, he affirmed my belief that it was wasn’t the right fit. It turned out I was using a putter two inches too short for me, no wonder my back ached!
I explored my options and eventually arranged a fitting session. We started focusing on shaft length, which immediately made my putting feel more comfortable. After we’d established that I needed a 36-inch putter and moved on to the different styles of the head.
With the fitters iPhone attached to the shaft which had an analysis app, I hit some putts with the longer shaft and familiar-looking bladed head. I moved on to use a mid-mallet putter before he told me to hit a few putts with a full mallet head.
My Switch from Blade to Mallet
Immediately it felt strange looking down at the large shaped head and swinging it back and forth felt entirely alien. Up until this point, I wasn’t paying much attention to where the putts went. I’d just been asked to get a feel for the putters and not to focus on the outcome. After a few practice swings with the mallet putter, it was hard to ignore the outcome when I holed three consecutive putts.
As I continued to practice, I began to feel more and more comfortable with a mallet putter. I finished hitting my putts, and the pro checked the data to see how the mallet putter compared against the other heads; it blew them away. Statistically, I swung it best and had my lowest putting handicap. I walked away with a Ping Sigma 2 Valor mallet putter, still one of my favorite clubs in the bag to date.
The transition between a blade putter to a mallet has been easy. With a bit of practice im now really comfortable with a mallet, so much so that when I swing a blade it feels quite strange.
Should You Switch from a Blade to a Mallet?
Even though I made the switch, switching putter style isn’t the answer for everyone. If you buy a new style of putter that isn’t best suited to you, you might get worse. If you can, i’d get fitted for a putter so you’re sure it suits your swing style. After all, golf clubs aren’t cheap. You need to make sure whichever putter you buy, it’s the right one for you.
What about Beginners?
One thing is for sure with amateur and professional golfers alike; the style of your putter head will be down to preference. The best way to know which suits your swing best is to get fitted. This is something I’ve seen the benefits of first hand, but it might not be for everyone.
If you’re new to golf and want a beginner putter, it’s worth asking in your pro shop to try out the two different styles. This will help you get a feel for the two styles before you buy a putter.
I’m a strong believer in getting fitted for a putter and letting the best club find you. If you switch to a new style of putter just because you like the look of it, you risk making your putting worse.
Golf clubs often host club fitting days where you can try clubs out for free. Alternatively, some shops offer the fitting for free providing you buy the club which was the route I went down.