In golf, mallets and blades both don’t mean what they mean to outsiders. While you might use a blade more often than a mallet in real life, you won’t use one as often on the course. In the golf landscape today, mallets outrank putters in adoption. And there are several reasons for that. Mallet vs. blade putter:
The main difference between a mallet and blade putter is that blades can be great for feedback and medium-distance putts, while mallets can be perfect for lowering a putting score. Blade putters are better looking than mallets, but mallets are the more forgiving of the two. Mallets are easier to control, while blades are easier to carry.
Before we compare blades and mallets aspect-to-aspect, here is the complete comparison at a glance, to help you decide on the best putter for golf:
|For putting with minimal score
|For putting with minimal aid
|Legal for official event use
|Legal for official event use
|70%+ pros use it
70%+ casuals use it
|100% pros use it
Under 30% casuals use it
|Relatively more forgiving
|Relatively less forgiving
|Offers less feedback
|Offers more feedback
|Provides more control
|Provides more coverage
|Is more precise
|Requires skill for precise putting
|Is better balanced
|Can be balanced
Both mallets and blades have the same goal: to get the ball in the hole with as few putting strokes as possible. However, mallets are better at getting the job done for more golfers.
Trying out a few mallets can help you improve your short game if you make off-center hits or struggle with distance control.
Blades are great if you have already been putting with them and your stroke is trained on less weight. But if you struggle with putting with a classic putter, switching to a mallet can help you.
Some people have found blades better for their putting strokes (about 20%). Still, the consensus is that mallets are far more forgiving.
You should bet on the mallet when you are limited to only one putter.
That said, you can survive a round with a set of blade putters, too, but having more than one is redundant. Mallets are designed to be more forgiving, while putters are designed to make shorter distance up-and-forward shots easier. But ultimately, both are meant to be used on the putting greens.
The most important aspect you can cover in any club comparison is its legality. Mallets and blades are both equally legal in professional golf. While mallets have a reputation for being more “helpful,” this doesn’t make mallet-style putters illegal. In fact, they are adopted by many tour players.
While blade and mallet putters are allowed on the Tour, you cannot use all mallet or blade putters in official games. Your putter will not be rejected for being a mallet or a putter. But it will be rejected if it doesn’t adhere to the rules and regulations for golf clubs set by the body governing a specific tournament.
Some clubs have the term “tour” in them. Do not take this to mean that those are the only clubs one can use on the Tour. Those are just the clubs that are designed for a player on the tour and are later reproduced for the broader market. Both mallets and blades are used on the tour.
While blade-style putters are considered the “standard” putters, they should be considered the “traditional” ones. That’s because more golfers have mallets compared to blades. If you include casual golfers and serious amateurs, then mallets outperform blades in adoption. Among professionals, the story is slightly different.
Pros carry multiple putters, and even the 70%+ who have a mallet or two also have a blade. One might shift from a blade to a mallet depending on the game conditions and the ball’s position. If a player is feeling cocky, he might use a blade exclusively. And if he’s unsure and wants a putter with more forgiveness, he might pick up the ever-reliable mallet.
Most casual golfers use only one putter. Getting more than one mallet can be redundant as it gets more than one blade. That’s because putter lofts do not vary too much, and the greatest contrast you can have in your putters is the type.
So, if you can have two putters, get a blade and a mallet-like most pros. And if you can survive a round with one putter only, then you should bet on the one with the most forgiveness.
A mallet has more in-built forgiveness than a blade because of its added weight and thickness. Blades are sleek and good-looking, but they translate your stroke with far less padding, which can lead to exaggeration of consequences. If you hit the ball off-center, it will deviate far more with a mallet than with a putter.
Forgiveness is the opposite of feedback, though, in golf. One of the reasons behind all pros not switching from mallets to blades completely is that the blade has no training wheels. It is not as forgiving, so when your swing is poor, or your stroke is too forceful, you can see the consequences.
Many professionals need that to give their best performance. Some use blades more often in low-stakes rounds to improve their game and switch to mallets in higher-stakes situations.
If you’re looking for a putter that will not ruin your short game because of your lining, swing, and impact force mistakes, then a mallet will solve all those problems. But if you want to fix your linking, putting stroke, and short-range impact, then you should get a putter with more feedback.
Mallets are very bad at giving feedback because of their high-forgiveness factor. Blades are far better at revealing the flaws of one’s contact point, stroke angle, and swing force. That’s why beginners who want to go pro in the future never use mallets as their only putting blades.
You cannot train your swing on a high-forgiveness blade and expect to become a PGA Tour player unless you want to be the first one who uses mallets exclusively during PGA events.
People trained on blades can move on to putters more easily than people trained on putters moving to blades. That’s why you should start out with a blade putter so you are not as dependent on a mallet. But if even mini-tours aren’t in the cards for you, then by all means, pick a mallet as your first and only putter and train your swing on it.
Weekend golfers don’t need to bend over backward for feedback, though. There is no point in fixing anything that a more forgiving club can fix. If you’re a casual golfer, you should go for the mallet. You don’t even need to worry about the stigma of carrying a visibly forgiving putter because most pros also carry it. If there’s anything worth worrying about mallets, it’s how they look.
Another reason to adopt a blade putter is that it looks better than a mallet. Depending on how heavily your mallet is weighted, it will look like a gimmick. Uniformly thick mallet putters are still relatively good-looking. But cavity back mallets can really look like beginner aids on the course.
You might be wondering why appearance even matters. Well, the mental game of golf depends a lot on how you feel about yourself. Many golfers switch caddies simply because they need someone that can make them feel like all that and a bag of chips. And you cannot feel as great when your putter head looks like a half-eaten skittle.
Mallet-style putters have been steadily improving in looks, though. It isn’t inconceivable that, soon, mallets will be just as aesthetically pleasing as blades. But for now, blades are better than mallets in appearance and in making longer putts.
Blades hit further than mallets, making them better for medium-distance putts. Mallets are better at short-range distance control, allowing you to hit the ball with more precision. So, while blades outperform mallets in distance coverage, that’s not always good.
If you launch putts over your intended target, then practicing with a mallet will help your short game. But if you undershoot with a mallet, then you should use a blade until you’re close enough to the hole. That said, you need to ensure precision alongside accurate distance coverage.
In golf, high distance is not always desirable, though. So it is not possible to judge a golf club solely by how far it hits the ball. This is especially true when it comes to putters because shorter putts are often better. In this context, mallets and blades are tied. In some situations, a blade putter’s expected distance is better. And in others, a mallet is ideal.
On the putting greens, the precision of your shot is more important than the distance it covers.
One reason why most people prefer mallets over blades is that they are more precise than blades. They have more forgiveness built into them which lowers the scores racked up by high-handicappers on the putting greens.
But golfers who have been putting with blades and find them sufficient for their game might lose precision when working with a mallet.
“Forgiveness” is simply an in-built offset for a common error in swing angle, force, and direction. Mallets can correct many common problems in casual golfers’ putting strokes but can also overcorrect those with a perfect stroke. Since over 70% of PGA golfers have at least one mallet in their bags, one can assume that around 20% are so good with their blades that they cannot afford any deviation.
If you don’t want to compromise, you can always carry two putters like most pros do. It is legal, and there are no problems with it except the cost of getting an additional putter alongside its weight. The latter, however, is your caddy’s concern unless you walk the course with a Sunday bag.
Weekend golfers who play with less than nine clubs usually carry their own golf bag and walk the course. For them, the weight of each club is a serious concern. It can even be a deal-breaker in some cases. If you carry your own bag, then you might want to pick a blade over a mallet.
Mallets, on average, have a higher weight than blade putters, but blades can also be weighted. So, not every mallet outweighs every putter. With all things equal, though, the mallet outweighs the blade.
This has two distinct implications. The first is regarding putting accuracy. Many golfers find putters with more weight to be easier to control. In that regard, the mallet is ahead.
That’s not necessarily bad for blades, though, because weight doesn’t always translate to better putts. In fact, some golfers prefer to stick to blades because they don’t lose distance with medium-distance shots. Some use weighted blades instead of mallets. Still, most golfers prefer heavier mallets over lighter blades. But most people also don’t carry their golf clubs and walk the course, bringing us to the second implication.
If you walk the course or carry your own bag, a heavier club is a liability that will wear you out on the course. In that aspect, a putter is better than a mallet. Weight might be a feature of the mallet as far as swing control is concerned, but it is a drawback for golfers who walk the course.
Blades and mallets can both be face-balanced or heel-balanced. Back-balanced clubs in both varieties aren’t uncommon either. This is different from the balance during the moment of inertia, which refers to how stable and well-distributed the energy behind a stroke is.
That’s closer to swing balance, which depends not just on the club but also on the golfer’s stroke.
While some golfers might have trained their swing balance with a blade, most golfers find them hard to balance at the moment of inertia. Mallets outperform blades in balance for the average golfer. Given that the balance of a stroke matters far more than almost any other aspect of putting, a mallet is to be considered the new standard in putters.
Still, many club sets include the classic blade-style putter instead of a mallet. If your set didn’t come with a mallet-style putter, you’d have to get an individual mallet like almost every casual golfer. In five years or so, you’ll find mallets in all club sets. Then, you would need a blade if you want to show off your stroke control.
Blade vs. Mallet Putter – Which Putter Do YOU Need?
You can use a mallet-style putter when putting at a short distance and a blade for medium-distance puts. If you have to choose between the two, using just the mallet will significantly improve your game. Both types of putters have their own benefits and drawbacks, but the mallets’ pros seriously outweigh the cons for most golfers.
You should pick a mallet if:
- You’re a beginner with no intention of going pro
- You’re struggling with putting
- You don’t care about appearances
You should pick a blade if:
- You walk the course
- You want to show off your putting skills
- You’re a beginner who intends to play professionally
Mallet vs. Blade Putter: It’s Decision Time, Pick One (or Both 🙂 )
Mallets have taken over the classic blade-style putters, with over 70% of golfers using them, including most of the top 50 pros. However, these extremely forgiving putters can raise a beginner’s putting handicap (with a blade), rendering them unable to use the less forgiving putters.
Since pros use blades AND mallets, anyone who intends to play in official tournaments should aim to be great with blades alongside mallets.
Any casual golfer who struggles with putting should get a mallet, though. There’s no point in getting a putter that is harder to use if you don’t plan to play professionally.