So, I ended up doing a fitting with Bo at Golf Tech in Plano, TX today. It was very helpful in seeing the numbers and my tendencies with my stroke.
I went in fully intending to want to add a mallet to the couple of putters I have at this point, which are both Anser style - Cleveland Classic I and an old Ping Ally. I hit several with the Cleveland since that's the one I play. They all rolled on line, slight in to out path, face averaged about +0.4 degrees open at impact, average of about 1.46 efficiency, all of the putts were in the putter's sweet spot, and I was hitting the ball basically straight through (I.e. I wasn't hitting at an upward trajectory or at a downward trajectory). The biggest area for improvement was the skid/distance before the ball actually started rolling.
He said that the arc in my stroke and the rate of closure lends itself to a putter with slight toe hang (I pretty much knew this ahead of time after dabbling with the iPing app, but it was nice to get confirmation). Then we talked about what I was looking for and told him I was interested in testing some mallet style options so we grabbed an Odyssey SL Black 7S and 10S.
I started with the 10, and pulled every single putt to the left of the cup. He said that it was likely due to not being used to the added weight of the 10 vs the Cleveland, but my closure rate increased so the face went from the 0.4 degrees open to over 1 degree closed at impact.
Then we tried the 7, and even though I was trying to compensate and not close it as fast, I was still pulling most of them to the left. The numbers were better than the 10, but still not as good as the Cleveland.
So we went and he grabbed a Scotty Phantom 5.5 and also adjusted my putter from 3 degrees down to about 2.25 degrees of loft to try to reduce the skid distance.
I hit several with the Scotty followed by a few more with the Cleveland after the loft adjustment. The Scotty was definitely better than the Odysseys in terms of the numbers, but still wasn't quite as good as the Cleveland, especially after the loft got decreased, which reduced the skid distance to where he said you generally wanted to see it.
At that point he said that I really would be best served by sticking with a blade style putter. He said that I could get a mallet and work on adjusting my stroke to work well with the mallet and get the numbers where they needed to be, but is that really what I wanted to do with a new putter? Or did I want to get something that would maximize my overall stroke?
This made perfect sense to me, and was interesting given that I was all geared up to find a higher MOI mallet, but the numbers simply showed that wasn't the best bet (at least at the moment).
He then asked if I wanted to try a few blades or just have him throw a new grip on my Cleveland (I had told him that I wanted to get one of the more midsized grips since the Cleveland had a pretty thin stock grip on it) and play around with some blades if I still wanted to get a new one in the future?
Told him I'd like to hit a couple of blades and see what that looked like. So, we pulled a SL Black 1 and a Scotty Newport. I hit the SL first, and sank all but one of the putts, the numbers were pretty similar to the Cleveland with the exception that the skid distance had actually decreased a little more from the Cleveland, even post adjustment. Efficiency, closure rate, and everything else was fairly similar.
Then I hit the Newport. I won't lie - it felt really, really nice. The efficiency jumped up to about 1.53, but all of the other numbers were basically the same.
At that point, he said that if I was going to go with a new one, he'd suggest the Odyssey since the Cleveland is milled already. He said that Scotty's efficiency was higher, but that wasn't that big of a deal in terms of overall performance and it mainly meant that the ball came off the face a bit hotter from the Scotty than the Cleveland or the Odyssey. He said that in terms of cost, unless I just really wanted a Scotty Cameron, he didn't feel like the price difference would be justified since the numbers were so similar.
I told him that for today, I thought I'd just get a new grip on the Cleveland and he said he thought that would be a good approach and that would give me an optimized gamer to use while I played around with blades for a while if I decided I did want to get a new one.
So, overall, it was an enjoyable experience and pretty interesting since I'd gone in with my mind set on getting some sort of mallet style. But numbers don't lie.
I also appreciated his candor and honesty when it came to not trying to push me into the more expensive Scotty or even pressuring me to buy from him while I was in the store.
I'll keep working on trying to find a new blade style, because while I don't dislike the Cleveland, I'm not married to it, and I don't see any downside to checking out other options.