Blade vs. Mallet Putter: Which Is Best for Your Golf Game?Published on 06/02/2023 · 9 min readPutter manufacturers make flat sticks (golf putters) in all shapes and sizes, and it can be hard to figure out which one is right for you. Golf Expert James L. is here to help.
Photo by Tyler Hendy
On the PGA Tour, the majority of golfers have a similar-looking swing with a hybrid or a pitching wedge and there isn't always obvious design variance between golf clubs when watching shots at a distance on television. But the one area where viewers will see a lot of variety is on the putting green...different clubface options, shaft options, and some players have a twisting stroke with others have more of a square stroke. Various shapes and different designs of putter and putting stroke can all make the ball go in the hole.
The types of putters on the PGA Tour come in all shapes and sizes, some players are using a claw grip, some have right hand over left hand, and some have it reversed. Some are even using a belly putter! So, you're probably wondering which is the right putter for me? There are many different factors that go into a proper putter fitting: loft, length, lie angle, weight, grip, toe hang, and shape. And what kind of metal should my putter have - stainless steel or carbon steel design?
But the most important question is the focus of this article: should I use a blade vs. mallet putter?
What Is a Mallet Putter?
A mallet is a putter that has a larger club head around the club face. They are a few mallet category putters, including round shape, square shape, or semi-circle shape, sometimes called a “half moon.” The size allows the weight distribution to be spread over a larger area, which creates a larger sweet spot. The perimeter weighting technology in mallet putters can help amateur golfers get more consistent roll-on longer putts.
The size of the mallet style also allows for a more elaborate design for alignment lines, aiming aids, and adjustable weighting. For beginner golfers who might not find the center of the putter face every time, the extra lines for aiming can help make players more confident that their line is right, which helps them put a better, more sure stroke on the ball.
Some putting manufacturers that make mallet putters include Odyssey, Cleveland, Cobra, Titleist, Bettinardi, TaylorMade, and Indi Golf. TaylorMade's Spider is one of the best mallet putters on the market at an affordable price and comes in various shafts and putter head variations to accommodate different arc strokes. If you're willing to spend a bit more for a premium mallet putter, consider the Scotty Cameron Phantom X putter.
What Is a Blade Putter?
A blade putter is the traditional soft feel, pure roll putter that dates back to the beginning of the game of golf. It gets its name because of its straight blade-like appearance. It is a simpler design when compared to the larger head mallet, and it's definitely the putter of choice for golf purists.
The blade putter generally has a lighter feel than a mallet, so manufacturers have placed great attention to the face inserts that they use in the putter. Some blades utilize non-metal insert face technology to create a softer feel for the golf ball off the club face, like the White Hot insert in some Odyssey putters. Not all blades are insert putters though, for example, a groove-faced putter, like the Odyssey Toulon Design putter, has deep grooves designed to control the feel and grip of the ball on contact.
Players who hit their putts hard find this helps with accuracy and distance control. Still, other players preferred a milled face on their putter, which has no insert and is made of one piece of metal from toe to heel. Some players who use blade putters, like the Ping Anser, prefer the precision and consistency that a milled, metal-faced putter offers.
Most blade putters will only have a single line on the back of the putter. So if you prefer more alignment aid, know that you'll find more options with a mallet putter.
The center of gravity of blade putters is generally lower than a mallet putter due to the weight of the club head that's concentrated in the sole. A lower center of gravity can cause the ball to go airborne, which is why lower handicap players will make contact with the putter face in the middle of the ball, not on the bottom third of the ball. Check out a near-perfect stroke with a blade putter by Jordan Spieth in ultra-slow motion and notice how little spin the ball has immediately after contact.
There are a few myths in the quest for answers about blade vs. mallet putters. A study done by Plugged in Golf focused on three claims: that mallets help golfers sink more putts, that they help with aim, and that they are more consistent than blade putters. All of those could not be proven as fact based on the study. The mallet putter making more putts was viewed as plausible, but not conclusive.
Plugged in Golf did a second study on heavier putters. Mallets are more often heavier than blades. The study found that a heavier putter can plausibly help a golfer sink more short putts. If you struggle with short putts a heavier putter may be beneficial. However, it’s important to understand that industry standards have brought the traditional putter weight to push beyond 350 grams in recent years. This would have been considered heavy five to 10 years ago. A golfer can find a putter in a blade and mallet exceeding 350 grams in today’s market.
Another myth is that there is no technology in blade-style putters and they can't have a heavy weight to them. Throughout the years, companies have been able to fit more technology into their blade putters. This gives golfers the ability to game a blade putter with advanced technology in them. For example, Evnroll and MLA have blade-shaped putters that have technology in them and have performed well in MyGolfSpy tests.
A final myth is that blade putters are better if a golfer has an arc putting stroke and mallets are for golfers with a straight back and straight-through clubhead during the stroke. Ping and Odyssey Golf have shared their thought processes on the matter.
Ping suggests that if a golfer has an arc-style stroke, they would benefit from a toe hang putter. An arc just means that on the backswing, the golfer opens up the clubface, causing the toe to point further away. Then, on the follow-through, the toe closes again so that at impact, the clubface is square. According to Ping, if a golfer putts more straight back and straight through, basically keeping the clubface square to the target at all times, then a face-balanced putter would be beneficial.
Odyssey's recommendation is based more on results than theory. Odyssey states that if a righty golfer misses more putts to the right, that's because the club face is open at impact. Since a toe-hang putter has more weight in the toe of the club, this would help the golfer get the putter back to square at impact. Most heel-shafted putters will have some amount of toe hang. But, if the righty golfer misses more putts to the left, a face-balanced putter would be better so that the toe doesn't close so much at impact and the straight putting stroke can be maintained. A center shaft putter will typically be face balanced, and that's because the shaft connects in the middle of the putter head, so there is as much weight in the heel of the putter as there is in the toe.
So if you're wondering if you should get a blade vs. mallet putter based on your arc-style, well, face-balanced and toe-balanced putters come in blades and mallets. To help you determine your putting style, check out this video.
Finding the Perfect Putter
Which putter design is right for your golf game and putting stability? With all the myths dispelled, there is no best choice or one-size-fits-all answer.
In fact, some putter makes, like the Cleveland Huntington Beach Soft, come in both mallet and blade designs, with advertising showing a wide variety of options from Cleveland to help players generate topspin and hit consistent putts.
There are very few absolutes in a putter fitting. Understanding the speed of the greens played on at the golf course and the golfer’s tempo are crucial to figuring out which putter is right for them. Generally, a lighter putter is a good choice for players with a fast putting stroke, and for those who play on faster greens that require a delicate touch. Conversely, a heavier putter will be better for smoother tempos and slower greens.
What's more, there are some shafts, like the Odyssey Stroke Lab shaft, that can reduce the weight of the shaft by using a multi-material shaft. So, if you're an advanced player who likes to tinker and wants to keep the weight of a mallet putter while employing a lighter shaft, that option exists!
Much like drivers, looking for a putter with a high MOI (moment of inertia) is beneficial to save strokes. MOI is essentially the forgiveness of a club on off-centered hits. The ball will lose speed on off-center hits. A higher MOI putter will help a golfer keep a more consistent speed and keep the ball on the line.
As we've established, putting is an art, not an exact science. Just because you're 5'6" doesn't mean you need to play a putter that's 33" because that's what the experts say. If you prefer a long putter, like a 35" putter, then use that. Conversely, if you're 6'1", but you have a wide putting stance and the resting position of your hands is low to the ground, then maybe a shorter putter is right for you, maybe 34" or even 33".
When deciding between a blade vs. mallet putter, much like any other club, it is beneficial to have a fitting expert to guide the golfer along the process. Many fitters have the SAM Puttlab to find a putter to suit any golfer. If you are unable to find an expert, Ping has an app that pairs with a sleeve to your current putter to determine stroke, lie, and loft to give the golfer a better idea of where to start.
Finding a putter that suits your eye and gives you a good feeling is important, but ultimately, a golfer needs to find the putter that gives them the best results. That means more birdies, getting long putts close for a tap-in, and draining those 4-foot knee knockers.
Even the best golfers vary their putter; PGA Tour players will change from a plumber's neck putter to hosel offset to tungsten tank to try to find something that will deliver proper ball speeds on the target line. Personal preference can play a factor, but with the technology and development of putters, it is possible for a golfer to have their cake and eat it too.
For amateur golfers, with all the various putter head shapes, the blade vs. mallet putter debate is solvable, and the best putter for you is out there! If you have any questions about finding the right putter for you and your game, please don't hesitate to reach out to me or another Golf Expert here on Curated.
Good luck in the search for your next new putter!