The putter has been perceived as equipment's technological holdout. For years, golfers were reluctant to embrace innovation in the club they used most. That has changed. Physics give mallets an advantage over blade-style putters in forgiveness, stability and alignment, and tour pros have made them cool. More than half of the top 50 players in the world use mallets, including three of the past five No. 1s.
The move to mallets is more than just peer pressure, says Sean Toulon, general manager for top-selling Odyssey Golf and longtime putter designer. "We're starting to look at construction in putters through the same lens that we looked at construction in drivers," he says. "So you're going to start to see some products that can perform at a different level given their size."
For example, some of the latest compact mallets offer multiple materials and internal weighting that make them as stable as larger mallets. Heel-shafted hosels also make it easier to swing some mallets in an open-close arc (like you would with a blade) without sacrificing stability and forgiveness. Plus, a putter fitting with high-tech monitors provides proof that strokes improve with mallet putters.
For all the technological upgrades, the appeal of the mallet putter might be about emotion. As Toulon says, "When golfers start seeing people making putts with funny-looking putters, they assume it's the putter, not the person." Here are six that might make you rethink how you roll.
EYE ALIGN SERIES
Recognizing that not everyone's eyes see the line the same way, this half-moon-shape putter includes three interchangeable alignment guides. Adjustable sole weights let you dial in your preferred heaviness, too.
SIGMA G CRAZ-E
The iconic perimeter-weighted shape gets its stability and alignment from the centered backweight. The big update here is upfront, where spiraling, milled grooves of various depth and width on the aluminum face-insert provide consistent distance.
O-WORKS BLACK 7S
The company's latest mallets, including this slant-necked No. 7 option, have a more straightforward look (solid black or red). The face has tiny hinges that impart immediate topspin for a smooth roll.
With most of the clubhead's mass along the center of the head, it's easier to keep the clubhead on plane during the stroke. Meanwhile, variable-width grooves on the face work on two levels: consistent distance and accuracy on mis-hits.
This putter is about 10-percent heavier than typical mallets and works best with straight-back-and-through strokes. Scallops on the heel and toe help it glide through the air, and grooves on the face improve roll.
The off-center-hit forgiveness goes beyond the high-stability shapes. The depths on the face's milling marks vary with each head design (Elevado shown here). That matches up the energy transfer with each head's given forgiveness for consistent distance.