Most golfers know that putters come in two distinct head shapes, mallet and blade. But what sets these two apart, and how do you know which one would be best for you? Each style has its own characteristics to match distinct types of putting strokes. Whether you produce an arc stroke or bring the putter straight back and straight through, there is a putter that best suits your game.
The most important thing, whether you are a scratch golfer or a high handicapper, is ensuring your putter is fit for your natural stroke. It is easy to get caught up in the "next best thing" culture of the golf industry and grab a Scotty Cameron for the name or the Taylormade Spider for its uniqueness, especially when you see the best players in the world using the newest technology on the market. Why wouldn't we want to emulate what the best players in the world are doing? The reality is, though, you'd be much better served using equipment that best suits your game. What works for you may not necessarily be what works for your Sunday skins crew or even Tiger Woods himself, for that matter. Matching the wrong putter to the right stroke will never shave strokes off your scoring average. In fact, it's nearly guaranteed to do the opposite.
Golfers with a straight back and straight-through stroke need a face-balanced putter head. Mallet putters tend to consume the market share for face-balanced putters, but a few double-wide blades have stolen a few shares of the face-balanced market.
Golfers with an arc-type stroke benefit most from a putter head with toe-hang. Typically this means using a more traditionally designed blade putter. Like the double-wide blade encroaching on the mallet market, there are also mallet heads that offer toe-hang.
The most significant distinction between these two styles of putters is not whether they offer face-balanced or toe-hang options. The shape of the club head, instead, is what sets them apart. The much larger club heads in either square or half-moon shapes are indicative of mallet putters, and the sleek thin rectangular head shape means you're looking at a blade putter.
What is a Mallet Style Putter?
The best putters for high handicappers are going to be mallet putters. As previously alluded, the mallet head design is easily identifiable by its larger size and variety of shapes. The most recognizable mallet putter head shapes are either square or half-moon. The Taylormade Spider putter is one of the most popular square shape mallet putters, whereas the Scotty Cameron GoLo7 is a well-recognized half-moon mallet putter.
The mallet design typically falls under the face-balanced category, but they are not exclusively so. A mallet putter can still come with a small amount of toe-hang. For those who need a forgiving putter head for off-center hits that matches their arc-style stroke, the toe-hang mallet will be your secret weapon.
What is a Blade Style Putter?
Arguably the most recognized and well-known piece of golf technology, the blade putter is adored by golf purists. Whether it's popular putters like the iconic Scotty Cameron Newport or the historic Ping Anser, golfers of all abilities recognize this putter's head shape. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Jordan Spieth find the sweet spot using a blade putter. It has a much narrower clubhead, often the shape of a skinny rectangle. Blade putters tend to have the most toe-hang but are not the only style of putters that adorn this characteristic.
There are a few blade putters on the market that are, in fact, face-balanced. These are called double-wide blade putters. They look almost identical to the traditional blade putter, aside from the putter head being double the width of the traditional, hence the name.
Which is Better: Traditional Blade or Double Wide Blade?
When it comes to the traditional blade vs. the double-wide blade, the determining factor on which one is better is the natural shape of your putting stroke. If you need a face-balanced putter but hate the look of mallet putters, using a double-wide face-balanced blade could be the best of both worlds. Offering you both the look you want but the technology to match your stroke.
The traditional blade is best for those that need the most toe-hang or like the minimalist look of the club head. Whether you need minimal or maximum toe-hang, you can find a wide array of options amongst the traditional style blade putters.
The biggest thing to remember about blade vs. mallet putters is that in order to be the best putter you can be, you need the one that matches your natural putting stroke and consistent practice with it. If you have a putter that perfectly matches your putting stroke but you never practice, no one is going to listen to your sob story about being a bad putter. Get out on the putting green or get an indoor putting mat to practice on at home and get those reps in.
Advantages of Blade Style Putters vs Mallet Style Putters
The way you stroke your putter will determine which style is more advantageous to you. If you are a devout member of the 80s club and are desperately seeking graduation to the elusive 70s society, consider going through a putter fitting to assess your current putter and putting stroke as well as where there might be some room for improvement via switching putter styles. Maybe it's no wonder you've been having such a hard time with distance control and aren't making enough putts!
After assessing both the current equipment in the bag and your putting stroke, you'll know whether you should lean into an arc-style putter using a face-balanced mallet putter or if the Scotty Cameron Newport blade really will do the trick.
Most golfers think a new putter is just what they need in order to make more putts or become the best putter at the country club. In many cases, they'd be right. But the new putter needs to fit your natural putting stroke. Otherwise, new is not always better.
There is no obvious advantage of one over the other when it comes to the blade vs mallet putter debate. It is all relative to the individual golfer using the flat stick. Mallet putters offer the advantage of being more forgiving for newcomers because they have the least amount of club face manipulation throughout the stroke. For those arc-style putters, it would not be advantageous for them to use a mallet putter as much as a blade. They need the club face to swing open and closed naturally throughout their stroke because the putter moves on more of an arc path rather than straight back and straight through.
The real advantage comes with using a putter that matches your natural putting stroke, regardless of style and how often you practice. Having the right putter to fit your stroke is the first step. After that, it's up to you to get the reps needed to ensure you're cleaning out all your buddies' wallets next Sunday.
What should I consider when shopping online for the perfect putter?
Most important would be whether a toe-hang or face-balanced putter head is what you need to match your putting stroke properly. After that, it's important to like the look of your putter and have the proper length as well. Grip size is a preference and can always be changed after purchase.
What kind of putter do the pros use?
You name a major manufacturer of putters, and it's used on the PGA Tour. The pros use putters that best match their putting strokes needs.
Is a blade or mallet putter more forgiving?
The mallet putter tends to be the more forgiving of the two putter head styles.
Which putter is going to help me make more putts, a mallet or a blade putter?
This is dependent upon which style best suits your putting stroke. The good thing is both putter head styles offer options in the face-balanced and toe-hang category. Once you know the balance needed for your natural putting stroke it's just a matter of finding a putter shape that fits your eye.