Does the shape of a putter make a difference?

Thomas Tanner
Jul 27, 2020
5 minutes
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Does the shape of the putter head make a difference? It must do with so many different options available. But how does it interact with your stroke, and which one is right for you? The spectrum is vast, at one end oy have the classic blade, and the other, big and bulky mallets.

Blade Putters

A blade style is regarded as a classic putter head shape, but it didn't evolve to be this shape by accident, it's this way because it works for the majority of golfers. A blade putter is lighter and gives higher levels of feel and feedback to the golfer. Your hands on the grip and the head have a natural connection. You'll often hear said that a player with a great 'touch' uses a blade. Tiger Woods, for instance, has used a blade his entire career.

The other very important thing to know about a blade is the way it's balanced. When you balance a blade putter shaft on your finger, you'll notice the toe of the putter will generally (there are exceptions) be heavier and want to hang down towards the ground. This balance is called toe hang and is very much intentional.

Whether holding a baseball bat or a putter, the natural swing flow around the body is in the shape of an arc. Some people compare it to a door opening and closing. Having the heavy toe is very important because its job is to bring the putter head back square at the point of impact, and send the ball off on the right line to the hole.

Hold up a blade putter and do a little tap test on the toe. You'll see how it wobbles very quickly. Blades for all their excellent qualities with touch and feel, do have smaller 'sweet spot'. If you hit a blade off the heel or the toe it will rotate at impact and often will not travel the same distance.

Mallet Putters

At the other end of the spectrum, there are mallet putters. Mallets tend to be big and blocky, and you'll see more and more Tour players using them. Rory McIlroy, for instance, has moved from a blade to a mallet and it certainly seems to be working for him.

The most significant difference between a mallet and blade (and there are many) is that a mallet putter does not want to travel in an arc during the stroke, it wants to go straight back and straight through (again 'in general' because there are exceptions).

Balancing the mallet putter on your finger, you'll see the face points straight up, with total face balance, the toe is not hanging towards the ground.

The same tap test on the toe with the mallet results in much less rotation at the toe - bringing us to the second difference between the two head styles.

While the blade has a small sweet spot, the mallet has a much bigger one. Mishit your mallet putter off the heel or toe and chances are it will travel pretty much the same distance as if you struck it dead square. They say it has a high moment of inertia or resistance to twisting.

Mallets also, due to their bigger heads, tend to have a lot more room for alignment lines, and you'll see hundreds of styles of lines, patterns, shapes on mallets - all to help you line up better.

So, what's the difference?

So, the differences between a blade and mallet? The blade is the classic, lighter, touch and feel putter, generally suiting a natural arcing stroke. The mallet is bigger, very forgiving, easy to align putter which wants to go straight back and straight through.

Of course, like everything, there are exceptions, and in this case, it's possible to get blades putters that are face balanced and mallets with toe hang. We have another video dedicated to the very subject of 'toe hang'.

There are other considerations too to watch out for when choosing a putter - grip thickness, shaft length, neck style and where the shaft enters the head so be sure to consider these when buying your next putter!

Further reading

A regulation course with a par of 72 allows for half of those shots to be putts. Yet for some unknown reason, we don't give putting the attention it deserves - spending hours on the driving range and then five minutes on the putting green.

‘Drive for show, putt for dough.’ The adage is as true today as it ever was. If a good golfer posts a score close to par, almost half of the shots taken will be with a putter.