Blade or mallet? Or perhaps mid-mallet? These are the basic choices for golfers in choosing a putter.
There is no hard-core evidence to verify one style is better than another. While it is true that large mallets provide a higher Moment of Inertia (a formula that denotes stability on off-center hits), the MOI for all putters has been increased through technological advancements.
|Ping i-Series Anser putter|
Essentially, the choice comes down to personal preference: Which style feels best, which style are you most comfortable with, which style do you feel gets the ball rolling best and which type provides a consistency at impact.
We haven't conducted any scientific studies, but in various test sessions on putting greens and on-course, we've recently noted a number of golfers who've been playing with large mallets going back to a blade-style or mid-mallet.
"Regular size putters just feel and look better, and are easier to control," said one tester at a recent putting session conducted by CBSSports.com. "I get a better feel for the putt with a regular size putter. I'm just not comfortable putting with a frying pan anymore."
This is not to denigrate large mallets -- they have positive performance characteristics and devoted advocates. But players are still making the switch back.
You can spend up to $360 for a premium blade-style putter, but you can also find high-performance flatsticks for under $100. The number and variety of choices are near mind-boggling.
Here's a selected look at the latest in blade and mid-mallet putters, all of which achieved "very satisfactory" ratings in test sessions conducted by CBSSports.com.
Ping i-Series: As golf historians will note, Karsten Manufacturing -- which makes Ping equipment -- is the company that 50 years pioneered significant advancements by adding strategic weighting to putters. In the years since, its Anser, B60 rounded mid-mallet, Zing and other models have been widely copied.
Ping's new i-Series boasts eight models, including Anser, Anser 4, B60 and Zing. The putters are heel-toe balanced, with investment cast stainless steel bodies and a urethane face insert including a soft, central portion. Ping, which rates relative firmness for face response, lists the i-Series as "medium." Shaft lengths available run 30-37 inches. Suggested retail prices range from $140 to $170.
Ping iWi series: Interchangeable steel and tungsten weights in the heel and toe allow customizing the six models in this series, including the Anser and Zing blades and B60 mid-mallet. A stainless steel body harbors a stainless steel face insert with elastomer back for enhanced feel. Face response is rated "medium-firm." Putters include Optigraphic alignment aid. List prices range $169 to $199.
Slotline SL-784: Anser-like blade putter with head milled from "aircraft grade" aluminum, coated in anodized black finish to reduce glare; heel/toe tungsten weighting to enhance MOI; tri-milled face for "crisp" feel at impact; "Slot" and "Line" alignment aid; L-neck hosel; available lengths 33-35 inches; list price $199.95.
|Boccieri Golf Mid-Weight K4 model|
Scratch Golf putters: Noted for its wedges, Scratch also makes very satisfactory blade and mid-mallet putters. Heads milled from stainless steel, putters are hand-finished and individually numbered. List price $249.
Nancy Lopez Fame series: Signature putter series includes LPFame201 heel/toe blade. Stainless steel head includes aluminum face insert to enhance feel. 33-inch length. List price $89.95.
Wilson Staff 88 series: 8861 putter is heel/toe model, 8862 is classic, old-style blade. Choice of firm or soft face insert to match preference for feel at impact. Winn wrap grip; length 34 inches. List price $129.99.
Odyssey White Hot Tour: Nos. 1 and 2 are heel/toe blade design, Nos. 5 and 9 are mid-mallets with rounded rear flange. Hosels vary per putter. Tour-quality elastomer face insert has outer urethane surface for sound and feel, and inner perimeter weighting for enhanced stability; 33-34 inch shafts come with 355-gram head; 35-inch shafts with 340g head for consistent balance. List price $149.99
SeeMore FGP2: Milled stainless steel head with mid-mallet rear flange. SeeMore "rifle scope" technology to help square putter at address and through impact. Bottom portion of shaft painted black to conceal red dot on top of head behind shaft. Whistle shaft allows golfers with forward press to use red-dot system. List price $185.
Titleist Scotty Cameron Studio Select: Craftsman Cameron has added four tour quality models to Studio Select lineup, including Newport 2.6 and Newport 2.7 heel/toe blade styles. Studio Select series features noticeable three red dots in rear and in heel of face, along with precision milled circular weights in heel and toe of sole. The Newport 2.6 features a straight-in (no hosel) shaft near the center of the head with no offset. Top edge of shaft aligns with sight line on back flange. Sight dot on heel of topline. Newport 2.7 features double bend shaft and full shaft offset. Lengths 33-35 inches. List price $325.
Cleveland Classic: Series includes two heel/toe blade designs and one mid-mallet; hosel styles vary. Cast stainless steel head, milled face. White line to aid alignment. Lengths 33-35 inches. List price $99.
Nike Oz: Face balanced putter featuring wide, lightweight polymer face insert. Discretionary weight moved to perimeter for enhanced stability. Two blades, one mid-mallet in series. Lengths 33-35 inches. List price $119.
Odyssey White Hot XG 330: Updated XG line boasts enhanced heel/toe weighting for greater stability on off-center hits, Marksman alignment lines. Textured two-piece face insert. XG 330 is mid-mallet, face balanced, plumber's neck hosel. List price $119.
TaylorMade TP by Kia Ma: Signature line designed by craftsman Kia Ma includes five initial models. Strategic weights in sole to deepen center of gravity. Milled from soft carbon steel, finished in Midnight Black. Rossa signature Anti-Skid groove face insert. Lengths 34-35 inches. List price $300.
Yes! Golf: Niche putter company has three new blades this year, called Robin, Jennie and Dawn. All feature proprietary semicircular C-Groove face insert technology, lofts of 2.5 degrees. Robin model is toe-heavy stainless steel blade with chromium-plated sole, goose-neck alignment, alignment line in back cavity. Lengths 32-37 inches. List price $190. Jennie features sight alignment similar to a mallet. Toe-down putter with plumber's neck hosel. List price $190. Dawn is premium milled, forged stainless steel blade in classic shape with toe-down style, plumber's neck hosel and three alignment options: dot on topline, sight line in cavity or no line. List price $360.
Tour Edge Exotics: New signature line with three models is called David Glod Tour Proto putters. DGV1.1 and DGV2.1 are traditional heel/toe style; DGV3.1 is mid-mallet with rounded rear flange. Heads milled from solid block of soft stainless steel. Face features multi-level X-grip pattern for smooth, initial roll. List price $299.
Never Compromise NCX-Ray series: Never Compromise's X-Ray series has four models. Two are larger mallets, while Tau is a blade with plumber's neck and Beta is a small mallet. Key feature to the putters is Suspended Face Technology, which represents a dual-density insert with isolated ribs embedded in a softer composite. The result is both dampening and feedback enhancement. With the ultralightweight face material, design shifts 80 grams of headweight to the extremities for a higher MOI. Putters have a gray and red alignment feature. More than a dozen tour players already have an X-RAY putter in the bag, including Vijay Singh, Stephen Marino, Joe Durant, Skip Kendall and J.B. Holmes. List price $149.99.