More than almost any golfer on tour, Phil Mickelson is willing to experiment and tinker with his golf equipment. He won the 2006 Masters using two drivers and the 2008 Colonial carrying five wedges. He broke out a 64° wedge at Winged Foot for the U.S. Open in 2006, inspiring other players to carry super-high-lofted wedges.
He's also used a wide variety of putters over the years. Notably, Mickelson was the first player to use a Scotty Cameron Futura in a PGA Tour event. It wasn't pretty, but Mickelson made it work.
While he's also used a variety of mid-size mallets and heel-toe weighted Anser-style putters, these days Mickelson is using a classic blade putter, a White Hot XG Blade, made by Odyssey, the putter-arm of Callaway Golf. Unfortunately for Mickelson fans, his blade is not a part of Odyssey's current line, so it's not available to the public.
There are a few things that make Phil's old-school putter unique.
"[Manufacturers] have never been able to put a line on a blade putter," he said at Colonial in 2008, a week after spending some time at Callaway's testing facility in Carlsbad, Calif. "But with the way they can grind it now, they were able to put a line in it. I can align it so much better."
While his current blade has a darker finish than the one he used that week, Mickelson still has Odyssey grind a line into his putter to assist him with alignment.
There is an insert in the face of the putter, but that's a variable he can change. An Odyseey rep told me that the company has supplied Phil with several identical putters that feature different inserts, some being firmer while others are softer. Based on the ball he's playing and the speed of the greens, Phil changes putters accordingly.
The same thing goes for the lead tape you see in these photos. On slower greens, like those found on the West Coast Swing or in Europe, he often adds weight. On faster greens he uses less or removes the weight entirely. There was no lead tape on Phil's putter at Augusta National.
Another unique thing about Mickelson's blade is the amount of loft he uses. The standard loft on most putters is between 3°-4°. But Mickelson's putter has slightly more because of his stroke. He recently told Golf Digest, "The amount of loft you have on your putter is going to be dependent on your hand position and ball position. My hand position is ahead, so I need more loft. Sometimes I have 5° or 6° on my putters."
So will a blade putter like Mickelson's help you drain more putts like his 20-footer for birdie on the 12th hole Sunday? That all depends on your stroke and how consistently you can hit a solid putt.
A blade putter is ideal for golfers who swing the club on an arc, taking it inside the target line on the backswing and follow-though. If your putting stroke goes straight back and then straight through the ball, a blade-style putter is probably a poor fit.
When you strike the ball in the sweetspot of a blade, it will perform wonderfully. But with almost no perimeter weighting, putts hit near the toe or on the heel will be short and offline. Forgiveness is not a blade putter's strong suit.
If you have your heart set on trying a blade, talk to your PGA professional or club fitter about a Wilson Staff 8882, Cleveland's 1905, Yes! Sophia or a Scotty Cameron Napa.
See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Odyssey and Callaway, and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC.
Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | ClubTest 2010: Putters