Mal­lets now out­num­ber blades on tour. Is it time you made the switch?

Golf World (UK) - - CONTENTS -

The sto­ries and in­sight that will set you up for the month ahead – Grim Reaper in­cluded.

There are more mal­let put­ters on tour now than ever be­fore – and the best put­ters on the planet are us­ing them. 55 of the top 100 golfers in the world now favour a mal­let, the top end of the ‘strokes gained: putting’ statis­tic on the PGA and Euro­pean Tour is dom­i­nated by play­ers who use them, and mal­lets have recorded more wins than blade put­ters on the two main tours this sea­son. We are past the tip­ping point and mal­let put­ters are only go­ing to be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar. Even Tiger Woods, a blade devo­tee through­out his ca­reer, is now us­ing a mal­let. For some, that’s like see­ing

Evel Knievel rid­ing a bike with sta­bilis­ers, but the best play­ers (and put­ters) in the game are find­ing the ben­e­fits of mal­lets too hard to ig­nore.

So, what’s so good about mal­lets, and do you need one in your bag? We spoke to some of the game’s best put­ters and putting ex­perts to find out.

Why mal­lets all of a sud­den?

For decades, golfers have wanted the lat­est and great­est driv­ers, irons and wedges, but been con­tent to use an old faith­ful put­ter they’ve had for a long time. The rea­son? Data, or the lack of it.

For a long time it’s been pos­si­ble to mea­sure that a new driver goes fur­ther or a new wedge stops quicker. But the lack of putting data has per­pet­u­ated the no­tion that putting is more art than sci­ence. Now, the ad­vent of de­tailed putting data makes it pos­si­ble to mea­sure ex­actly what is go­ing on through the putting stroke, at im­pact and dur­ing the ball’s roll. Golfers are be­gin­ning to ac­knowl­edge the per­for­mance ben­e­fits that can be gained from tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments in put­ters. And mal­lets, as a rule, can pack in more of these ben­e­fi­cial tech­nolo­gies than the hum­ble blade.

Once you see the num­bers, the ad­van­tages of mal­lets for many golfers be­come ob­vi­ous. When the dif­fer­ence between holing or miss­ing can be as lit­tle as a tenth of a de­gree at im­pact or an inch of roll over 60 feet, any­thing that helps you align bet­ter, swing more ac­cu­rately, roll it bet­ter and pro­duce more con­sis­tent speed is likely to help you hole more putts.

“The mal­let has a lit­tle more swing to it,” says Tiger Woods, one of the great­est put­ters the game has ever seen, hav­ing re­cently switched to a TaylorMade TP Black Cop­per Ard­more 3. “I’m start­ing the ball on my lines again, and I’ve got the speed. Ev­ery putt I hit has that ‘go in’ look to it. I re­ally like that this put­ter has grooves in it, so it rolls a lit­tle bit faster and a lit­tle bit more true.”

Golfers are renowned for not want­ing to miss out on some­thing one of their fel­low com­peti­tors has got, par­tic­u­larly if it brings suc­cess. If a player won a ma­jor with a par­rot bal­anced on his shoul­der, the lo­cal aviary would be over­run with tour pros the fol­low­ing morn­ing. So when Ja­son Day de­liv­ered the best putting per­for­mance in PGA Tour his­tory in 2016, hav­ing switched to the TaylorMade Spi­der Tour mal­let, other play­ers took no­tice. Dustin John­son has since as­cended to the top of the world rank­ings us­ing a put­ter from the same fam­ily. You can bet the Ard­more 3 will have sim­i­lar com­mer­cial and tour suc­cess to the Spi­der Tour if Woods wins with it.

Should we all be us­ing them?

De­spite the clear ad­van­tages and in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of mal­lets, it’s not as sim­ple as say­ing a larger head is bet­ter than a blade and ev­ery­one should be us­ing mal­lets. Some golfers will pre­fer the look and feel of a blade, and its ten­dency to have more toe hang and ro­ta­tion dur­ing the stroke will suit some play­ers bet­ter than the squarer stroke that most mal­lets

‘When Ja­son Day de­liv­ered the best putting per­for­mance in PGA Tour his­tory, other play­ers took no­tice’

pro­mote. As with any club, the over­all per­for­mance of a put­ter is also about how the golfer in­ter­acts with it and the spe­cific char­ac­ter­is­tics they place the most value on.

Guerin Rife, a put­ter de­sign pi­o­neer and co-founder of Evn­roll, be­lieves that for these rea­sons and more, it’s im­pos­si­ble to defini­tively say mal­lets per­form bet­ter than blades “There are too many vari­ables that af­fect per­for­mance that would af­fect the test­ing of a blade ver­sus a mal­let,” he ar­gues. “Put­ter face tech­nol­ogy, shaft­ing, off­set, length, lie, swing weight, over­all weight, grip size, loft and launch an­gle, head ma­te­rial, align­ment fea­tures, and even colour and sound. There’s also the in­di­vid­ual golfer’s vi­sion and phys­i­cal make-up. All of these el­e­ments are im­por­tant to op­ti­mis­ing an in­di­vid­ual’s putting per­for­mance.”

The best way to find your op­ti­mum put­ter is by get­ting cus­tom fit­ted. It’s as im­por­tant with the flat­stick as it is with a new driver or irons – ar­guably more so, given how of­ten you use it and the im­pact mak­ing or miss­ing that four-footer will have on your round. Find a fit­ter that has SAM Put­tLab, Quin­tic or Track­man 4 (the equiv­a­lent of launch mon­i­tors for putting) and a wide choice of put­ters from across the ma­jor brands and they will help you iden­tify the ex­act put­ter that en­ables you to align the head and get the ball rolling as ac­cu­rately and con­sis­tently as pos­si­ble. Then ac­cept the fact you can only blame your­self for missed putts from now on.


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