Blade putters are almost extinct from professional golf's winner's circle

Robert MacIntyre with his TaylorMade Spider Tour putter during the RBC Canadian Open
Robert MacIntyre with his TaylorMade Spider Tour putter during the RBC Canadian Open / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

When Robert MacIntyre tapped in the final putt with his TaylorMade Spider Tour putter to win the RBC Canadian Open, he continued a streak of dominance on the PGA Tour. MacIntyre’s win was the 16th in a row on the PGA Tour (including majors) by a player using a mallet putter.

The topic of mallet versus blade putters has been a prominent topic on my mind ever since Scottie Scheffler won the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this year on his first try with a mallet. Before that win, putting was Scheffler’s biggest weakness.

In 2023, the World No. 1 was 162nd in strokes gained putting, losing strokes to the field. In came Rory McIlroy, who suggested Scheffler switch from a blade to a mallet putter.

At the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Scheffler finished 5th in putting, his best performance in over a year.

Scheffler’s improved putting led to a dominant stretch of four wins in five starts. He has vaulted to 75th in strokes gained putting. All this started with the switch to a mallet.

So why use a mallet over a blade? Scheffler said he switched because it's easier to line up, but each putter has advantages and disadvantages. Style-wise, blades have a more traditional look. The sweet spot on blades is smaller, meaning golfers with consistent strokes will have greater control. However, that small sweet spot is a double-edged sword. If a golfer has an inconsistent stroke and misses the sweet spot, they likely won’t have a fun day on the greens. Mallets have larger sweet spots and are therefore more forgiving.

Players using mallet putters have dominated professional golf this year.

After the RBC Canadian Open, there have been 25 PGA Tour events played this season (including majors). Players who used mallet putters won 22 of them (88%). Out of the 22 different winners on the tour, only three used blades: Grayson Murray, Hideki Matsuyama, and Austin Eckroat.

Mallet putters also dominate LIV Golf’s winner’s circle.

In LIV’s seven events this season, five were won by mallet putters (71%). Only Joaquin Niemann, who won LIV Golf Mayakoba and Jeddah, used a blade.

While blade putters have been almost extinct from the winner’s circle on the men’s side, the LPGA's story is a bit different. After Yuka Saso won the U.S. Women’s Open with an Odyssey mallet putter, there have been 13 LPGA events. A blade putter has won seven of them (54%).

So why do blades win more on the women’s side than the men’s side? The answer is simple: Nelly Korda uses a blade. Korda has won six events this season, nearly half of the events played. In her wins, she has alternated between the Scotty Cameron Special Select Squareback 2 and the Logan Olson Prototype, both blades.

If we remove the events Korda won, mallet putters gain the advantage. In those seven events, a mallet putter won six times (86%). Besides Korda, the only other champion who used a blade was Rose Zhang at the Cognizant Founders Cup.

In total, there have been 45 PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and LPGA events. A mallet putter won 33 of them (73%).

So that poses the question: Are players who use mallets actually better at putting? On the PGA Tour, the top five putters by strokes gained are: Taylor Montgomery, Denny McCarthy, Aaron Baddeley, Peter Malnati, and Alexander Björk. Only Baddeley uses a blade.

On LIV Golf, the top putter by average putts is Cam Smith. Smith uses a blade. On the LPGA, the top putter by strokes gained (minimum 30% rounds played) is Angel Yin. Yin uses a mallet and is over two strokes better than second place.

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There are a lot of ways to win a golf tournament. There's also a lot more complexity to putting than just mallet versus blade. What grip do they use? What kind of mallet do they use?

Still, mallet putters have clearly dominated professional golf this year. I expect this trend to continue. Maybe more players will follow Scheffler and make the switch from a blade to a mallet.