Blade or Mallet? It's one of golf's quintessential questions, and no doubt the source of plenty of debate.
While some believe there's no substitute for the forgiveness of the modern high MOI mallet, others believe the classic Anser's popularity persists for a singular reason; it works.
But is one really better than the other? Is there some universal truth to be understood? To find out we look to the data from our recent Most Wanted Putter tests.
How We Tested
Testers were asked to play a series of holes with each putter. 18 holes total are played from three distances; 5, 10, and 20 feet (each) by each tester with each putter in the test. The total number of putts required to finish each hole is recorded. At the completion of the test, a Strokes Gained 18 (SG18) value is calculated for each putter.
Here are the complete parameters of this year's test:
- Number of Testers: 20
- Handicap Range: +3-20
- Test Location: MyGolfSpy Testing Facility
- Balls Used: Bridgestone B330-RX
- Distances Assessed: Five, Ten, and Twenty Feet
- Holes Completed at Each Distance: 6 (per tester/per putter)
- Total Putts in Test: 18000
It should be noted that each test took place independently (mallets and blades were never in the same group), however; the same testers were used and there was overlap between the two tests. Rankings and SG18 values were recalculated for the full field after the data from the two tests was aggregated.
The final rankings are based on our Strokes Gained 18 (SG18 metric) The SG18 value reflects the number of strokes (plus or minus) a given putter would be expected to contribute to your score over an 18 hole span, relative to the average for the field. For example, a putter with a SG value of .50, would be expected to save you half a stroke per 18 holes relative to the average putter in this field.
With data from blade and mallet tests aggregated, recalculated, and sorted, here are the Top 5 putters of 2016.
- Two of the Top 5, and 6 of the Top 10 putters in this year's test are blades.
- Of the Top 5 Blades only the Odyssey Toe-Up #1 finished outside the top 15 from 5 feet.
- At 10' (statistically the greatest differentiator in putting performance), blades showed their most significant advantage over mallets.
- The average ranking of the Top 5 Blades from 5 and 10 feet was 8.9 (6 places ahead of the average mallet).
- Conversely the average ranking of the Top 5 Blades drops to 22.4 from 20 feet.
- Three of the Top 5, and 4 of the Top 10 putters in this year's test were mallets
- Of the Top 5 Mallets, all finished inside the Top 10 from 20 feet.
- At 20' mallets showed their most significant advantage over blades.
- At 20' the average ranking of the Top 5 Mallets is 5.2 (17 places ahead of the average blade).
- Conversely the average ranking for the Top 5 Mallets from 5 and 10 feet is 14.8.
Once again, we find that the best mallets outperformed the best blades. While we think our highest ranked putters offer you the greatest chance for success on the greens, we also know that mallets won't be right for everyone.
The data suggests that although we find mallets at the top of the overall rankings, blades actually performed better at distances of 5 and 10 feet. For those seeking to specific improvement at short and moderate distances, your best option is likely found among our top performing blades.
Golfers who struggle with long/lag putting, or whose approach shots frequently leave a first putt distance of 20 feet or more, should consider one of our top mallets. Our data shows that, on average, mallets offer significantly better performance at longer distances.
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