The putter. The most personal club a golfer carries in their bag. Selecting one comes down to personal preference and choosing the one that feels right and looks best to your eye. A lot of different shapes, weights, alignments and other variables exist on the putter market today and it all comes down to the golfer’s subjective decision. When it comes to choosing a short stick, this guide is here to help when considering your preferred alignment, head shape, length, face, and shafts and hosels.
Better putting starts with proper alignment. It’s important to select a putter that you can comfortably and easily line up to the target. Incorrect alignment leads to misses left or right of the hole, which adds strokes to your score. Best-selling author Dave Pelz says that if everything goes right with the putting stroke, but the ball is struck just ¼ inch from the sweet spot, the putt will miss 95% of the time from 8 feet. Some putter designs place more emphasis on alignment than others. You should choose one that inspires confidence when looking down at address.
PUTTER HEAD SHAPES: BLADE VS. MALLET
There are two basic head shapes to putters: blades and mallets. Blades are traditional looking heads, long and narrow, and tend to be lighter weight which makes them ideal for faster putting greens. Mallets are larger heads, nearly as wide from the face to the back as they are from heel to toe, with a wide variety of designs. Some golfers prefer the added weight of a mallet because it reduces wrist action and allows for the arms to use a pendulum swing which increases accuracy. Mallets are recommended on slower greens so you don’t have to putt as hard, helping with precision and control.
Blades – traditional look – long and narrow
Mallets – nearly as wide from face to back as from toe to heel
Putter lengths don’t vary as much as they used to due to the USGA’s adoption of Rule 14-1b, also known as the anchoring ban. With the ban taking effect on January 1, 2016, long putters and belly putters are no longer an option. This is leading to an increase in counterbalance putters. Counterbalance putters utilize extra weight in the grip and heavier heads to promote full arm motion instead of breaking the wrists. There are putters now that offer adjustable weights in the grip so golfers can get the exact feel they’re looking for. Putters generally come in lengths from 32 inches through 36 inches. This makes it even more important to select a putter that feels right and helps create a pendulum stroke while minimizing wrist action. Make sure you feel confident and comfortable with your putter.
Traditional: 32-36″ length putters work with the natural flow of your putting stroke
Counterbalance: 36-38″ putters are longer, allowing golfers to grib down and keep the added weight above the hands for a more stable stroke
PUTTER FACES: INSERT VS. METAL
The two basic choices of putter face are inserts or metal. Golfers who prefer metal faces like the audible feedback they get in addition to the feel. You can immediately hear contact so you can both feel and hear where the center of the putter is. Inserts are made of composites and are used by golfers who prefer softer feeling putts. The inserts also redistribute weight to the heel and toe of the putter for more forgiveness. Inserts don’t provide the sound feedback that metal putters do, so knowing how you prefer your putts to sound and feel is important.
Putter Insert – promotes a softer feel and sound
Metal – promotes firm, crisp feel and sound feedback
SHAFTS & HOSELS
Knowing your putting stroke is a big piece of the puzzle when choosing the right shaft. If your preference is to rotate the head open and closed through the stroke, then a heel-shafted putter works best. Center-shafted putters work better with a flat, pendulum stroke instead of hinged swing. An offset hosel provides a better sight line away from the golf ball and helps keep your hands ahead of the club head through impact. This gets the ball rolling end over end faster with less skid off the face.
Heel Shafted – allows the face to open and close during the stroke
Center Shafted – typically face-balanced, promotes pendulum stroke
Offset Putter – helps players create a consistent setup and allows positioning of the eye directly over the ball