Rory McIlroy gave Scottie Scheffler this putting tip. Here are 7 things to know

Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy

Scottie Scheffler, left, and Rory McIlroy at last year's U.S. Open.

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Rory McIlroy, at first, nodded and grimaced a bit. Seconds later, he took a deep breath. On Sunday afternoon, after he had finished up his play at the Genesis Invitational, McIlroy had joined announcer Amanda Renner on the CBS broadcast, and they had just watched Scottie Scheffler miss a 10-foot putt for birdie on Riviera Country Club’s 18th hole, when Renner asked McIlroy a question. 

A nod-and-take-a-deep-breath-in-response kinda question. 

“It makes me wonder,” Renner started, “when you watch him struggling with putting, I feel like every player goes through it. Foundationally, it seems like it looks OK. What’s your insight into when someone is struggling with this? Is there a solution, or do you just have to kind of power through?”

To be clear, it was a great question. As has been well documented (including recently by GOLF’s Zephyr Melton here), Scheffler has struggled with his putting, and the woes are all the more confounding considering Scheffler has been other-worldly in most every aspect of the game. Has he made adjustments? Yes, among them enlisting the help last year of putting guru Phil Kenyon, who, notably, has worked with McIlroy. Have the fixes worked? We’ll be fair and say it’s too early to tell. Scheffler did win the Hero World Challenge in December, and he tied for 10th at the Genesis — but he was also 51st out of the 51 players who made the cut in Strokes Gained: Putting, a most-telling metric. 

And at one point, after a missed putt, Scheffler tossed a ball into the Riviera woods. 

But maybe if there’s anyone who gets Scheffler’s predicament best, it’s McIlroy, who’s also been mostly superior from tee to green, and has also had his ups and downs and lefts and rights on the green. He even admitted that in his answer to Renner. All of which makes you then wonder what he thinks of Scheffler’s woes — and whether he could help another pro out.   

McIlroy was willing to answer Renner’s question. Notably, you don’t often hear athletes advise other athletes. 

Here’s his response:

“Yeah, we’ve all been through it,” McIlroy started. “I’ve certainly been through my fair share of putting woes through the years. And I finally feel like I’ve broken through and become a pretty consistent putter. 

“For me, going to a mallet was a big change. I really persisted with the blade putter for a long time. But I just feel like your stroke has to be so perfect to start the ball on line, where the mallet just gives you a little bit more margin for error. That, to me, gave me confidence that I could go forward with that knowing that even if I don’t put a perfect stroke on it, the ball’s not going to go too far off line. 

“So, I’d love to see Scottie try a mallet, but selfishly for me, you know, Scottie does everything else so well that, you know, he’s giving the rest of us a chance.”

In short there, Scheffler should play a mallet putter, instead of a blade, McIlroy thought. The humor at the end was OK, too. 

But let’s try to digest this. To help, we’re going to call on previous GOLF.com articles, because, one, the subjects of Scheffler’s putting, McIlroy’s putting and blades and mallets have been reviewed before, and two, our staff is wonderfully authoritative, in this author’s opinion.      

Let’s start. 

Considering Rory McIlroy’s advice for Scottie Scheffler, what do the stats say? 

To answer this, we’ll use SG: Putting stats from the past five seasons. Here they are:

Rory McIlroy:
2024: 112th (-0.231)
2022-23: 65th (0.164)
2021-22: 16th (.495)
2020-21: 66th (.187)
2019-20: 122nd (-.071)

scottie scheffler marks a putt during the 2024 genesis invitational
What’s wrong with Scottie Scheffler’s putting? It’s complicated
By: Zephyr Melton

Scottie Scheffler:
2024: 128th (-0.407)
2022-23: 162nd (-0.301)
2021-22: 58th (.202)
2020-21: 101 (.023)
2019-20: 117 (-.053)

What pops out there? For one, Scheffler had putted OK in the 2021-22 season, when he won four tournaments, including the Masters. On the McIlroy side, he took a jump after the 2019-20 season, when he finished 122nd. 

Interesting. 

What’s Rory McIlroy’s recent history with mallets and blades?

GOLF’s Jonathan Wall wrote in September of 2021 that McIlroy had recently switched to a mallet putter. The story also details McIlroy’s putting history, and you can read it here

Said McIlroy in Wall’s story: “I think the thing with the blade is the good days are really good but the bad days are pretty bad, as well. There’s quite a lot of inconsistency in it for me. It’s almost like I need to practice with the blade at home because you have to get your stroke spot-on to hit good putts with that style of putter.”

Notably, according to this story here found on pgatour.com written by GolfWRX, McIlroy went back to a blade last March. He has returned to a mallet, though. 

Has Scottie Scheffler used a mallet putter before?

Yes. 

This story here, written by Wall in November of 2023, details Scheffler’s journey to finding a putter amidst his struggles — and it has included the use of a mallet. 

What are the types of putters Scottie Scheffler has used?

scottie scheffler olson putter
Scottie Scheffler is the only pro in the Hero field using this club
By: Jonathan Wall

Scheffler’s tinkered. 

Wall also noted this in his November of 2023 story:

“But when things started to go off the rails on the greens after he slipped on the green jacket, Scheffler started searching for answers.”

What about other pros? Do pros prefer blades or mallets?

Over the years, mallet play has increased among pros. In an August of 2020 story that you can find here, Wall wrote this:

“For decades, the putter debate resembled Tiger Woods at the 2000 U.S. Open: It wasn’t even close to a fair fight. Wilson’s 8802, Titleist’s Bullseye and Ping’s Anser — one of the most important club designs in the history of the industry — dominated the putter landscape on pro circuits and in the recreational ranks. Golfers had to search hard for something that didn’t resemble one of the most popular head shapes — and even then, it wasn’t a guarantee you’d hit pay dirt.

“It wasn’t until the late 1980s when Ram’s Zebra mallet wound up in the hands of three-time major winner Nick Price that golfers truly started to consider the idea of using something markedly different on the greens. Fast-forward four decades and mallets are no longer an afterthought in the marketplace. In fact, it could be debated that mallets are as popular, if not more popular, than their blade counterparts.”

In March of 2020, GOLF’s Andrew Tursky also looked into the style of putter used by the top 50 players in SG: Putting, and you can read that story here

Which style of putter wins major championships?

Good question. 

In March of 2023, GOLF’s Ryan Barath examined that, and you can read that story here

Two of Barath’s last paragraphs are very interesting. 

tiger woods putter
Blade vs. mallet: Can you predict a major winner based on their putter style?
By: Ryan Barath

“If we break down putter style into two main categories, blade and mallet, there is an overriding trend that the majority of major tournaments are won using blade putters compared with mallets. For this, I have referred to a blade as being any blade putter with a plumbers neck, flow neck, center shaft or heel-shafted head shape.

“It’s difficult to put an exact reason for blades being such an overwhelming favorite compared with mallets, considering the extra forgiveness packed into a larger head, but if I have a hypothesis, it’s that more confident and statistically better putters prefer a blade style over a mallet, and in major championship golf a single putt can mean all the difference.”

What are the benefits of a mallet putter?

GOLF has written extensively about this subject. 

This story here, written by Ryan Noll in June of 2023, answered the question: Should you switch to a mallet putter. 

This story here, written by Wall in August of 2022, revealed that “the benefits of using a mallet putter can be found in what they don’t do.” 

That story went in conjunction with a Fully Equipped podcast entitled: “Why you really need to test a mallet putter” — and you can listen to that here

This was also extremely interesting, in the story written by Wall in September of 2021:

“As Kris McCormack, True Spec’s vice president of tour and education, noted recently on GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast, not all golfers are going to reap the forgiveness and stability benefits a mallet provides.

“‘There’s a lot more variables to take into consideration during a putter fitting than irons,” McCormack said. ‘You can get away with a blade putter a hell of a lot easier than irons. Based upon a player’s stroke type, visual perception of different shapes, how they perceive optics, hosel configuration with offset — sometimes a blade just works better. Everybody is going to be a little bit different. Is a mallet going to be more forgiving and have higher MOI? Sure. But I’ve had those players where we’ve worked a bunch of mallets and nothing seems to fit.’

“In other words, just because you can’t get anything going with a blade putter, don’t automatically assume you need a mallet in your life. In some cases, a simple lie angle adjustment or lesson can get you back on track.”

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.