There’s a good reason why golf equipment brands spend a fortune on getting tour pros to use their gear. It all helps drive revenue. Who doesn’t want to drive like Rory? Surely, using the same TaylorMade driver is a sure-fire way to get another 20 yards down the fairway. No brainer.
£50 per foot
But what about the flat stick? We tend to see a lot more putting than driving on all those highlights reels on YouTube. You would imagine that putter endorsement contracts must be equally as vital for putter sales revenue, considering the price of hitting it 10 feet is getting close to the price of driving it 250 yards further.
Last month, amongst media speculation about Rory McIlroy and his lucrative Team TaylorMade’s equipment contract, he switched from a TaylorMade Spider X mallet to a Scotty Cameron Newport blade. A change made even more surprising, considering that Scotty Cameron is a competitive Acushnet brand.
Why change gear?
Rory didn’t tell me directly why he changed, but I imagine it’s because he feels he might sink more putts and start winning majors again if he goes back to the trusty putter that helped him achieve his phenomenal success. He used a Scotty Cameron blade when he won his first two majors.
Putters can be very personal bits of kit. It’s the club we spend the most time using on the course unless you’re 5 off the tee every time. It’s no wonder we get attached to a putter, particularly if it has the nostalgic value of past glories. It’s the change of putter head style that gets my attention.
To change from a mallet to blade feels like he’s going against the status quo. He’s been playing really well this year. On the other hand, it could be setting a new trend if Rory starts rising up the putter stats rankings and wins more tournaments this season.
What’s in their bags?
Just for fun, I took a quick roll call of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Rankings for men and the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. I wanted to know what type of putter the pros use. And just because that wasn’t fun enough, I did a quick survey of the main UK online golf retailers to see what they were selling in response to demand.
I wasn’t too scientific about categorisation, but bear with me. If all putters were in an identity parade, I’d say that any putter that looks inspired by the classic Anser design is a blade, and anything that has square, semi-circular or X-shaped protrusions, or has fangs hanging out the back like the warp engines on the star ship Enterprise, then they’re all mallets.
The results are in
At the time of writing this blog, sixty percent of the Top 10 ranking men use mallets, although 5 out of the top 6 use blades. On the LPGA tour, 70% of women are currently using mallet designs. Across the online retailers, 69% of putters on offer were mallets as categorised by the retailer. Based on that data, you’d think that mallets have won the day as the putter of choice. Not so fast.
The pre-loved putter market
What was interesting was the current stock at Golfbidder. They buy used and trade-in stock from golfers and golf shops and resell it online. Only 18% of their putters on offer were blades. Does that indicate they don’t think it’s worth buying up used blade putters, OR does a whopping 82% of stock as mallets mean that there is a mallet sell-off under way and used blades are selling like hot cakes?
One thing is for sure. Now that Rory has gone back to a blade, he just might influence a buying trend back to classic putter designs. Unfortunately, he had a difficult time in Augusta with his new putter, but it’s very early days in the season and change takes time.
What’s in my bag?
I’m hedging my bets. I have a Taylormade Spider X, a Tour Edge fang mallet prototype (I sprayed it green) and an Odyssey White Hot blade in my bag. There’s a 66% chance that Golfbidder will be getting more stock soon.
Putt well this season
Paul Hart is a co-inventor of the PuttBANDIT ball marker and enthusiastic golf improver with three putters in the bag, for now.
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