Whether you’re a professional, intermediate, or beginner, we all have one thing in common, every one of us has struggled on the greens at some stage or another.
When you talk to other golfers about this, you’ll hear every reason under the sun, everything from its all in my head to my sunglasses don’t have the correct lens, and the most common reason of all, my putter isn’t working.
Putting is the most frustrating part of the game and the area that requires numerous skill sets to be displayed at a high level. It doesn’t matter if you’re standing over a three-footer or a 60-foot bomb on greens as fast as glass; putting is nerve-racking.
The putter is also the most used club in the bag, so when it comes to choosing one, you need to consider several factors. Most beginners choose their putter by looking for the most popular brands and hoping with blind luck, it’s the right fit for them; unfortunately, more often than not, they luck out.
In a perfect world, every golfer should get professionally fitted, but with time constraints and budgets, sometimes, this just isn’t possible. In this guide, we’ll run through the various factors that need to be considered before you burn a big hole in your wallet.
What Type Of Stroke Do You Have?
- 0.1 What Type Of Stroke Do You Have?
- 0.2 How Long Should The Putter Shaft Be?
- 0.3 The Head Balance On Putters
- 0.4 The Shape And Weight Of The Putter
- 0.5 Grip Type
- 1 Different Types Of Putters
- 2 Different Types Of Neck
Determining what type of putting stroke you have is the first and most critical factor to consider before you can select the correct putter.
When it comes to the putting stroke, you will fall into one of two categories; a perfectly straight stroke or one with a slight arc. A golfer who uses an “arc stroke” takes the putter back inside during the takeback, then aligns the face with the ball at impact before following through with an arc.
On the other hand, the putter using the “straight stroke” endeavors to do just that; During the entire stroke, they attempt to keep the putter face square at all times, in what we call a “back and through action.”
Again, determining your stroke type is a critical part of selecting a putter; if you’re not sure what kind of stroke you have, book a putting lesson with your local golf pro and ask them to help you out.
How Long Should The Putter Shaft Be?
Thankfully there’s a very straightforward test you can perform anywhere and doesn’t cost a dime.
- Simply grab your putter and two golf balls
- Now, place one ball on the floor and address it exactly as you would a regular put.
- Drop the other ball from your dominant eye and attempt to hit the ball you’ve placed on the ground.
If you find the ball you dropped lands directly between the area of your feet and the stationary ball, the length of your putter is probably too long. On the other hand, if you were lucky enough to hit the ball on the ground, then you’re in luck, and you’ve got a putter length that fits you perfectly.
As I mentioned earlier, though, I would highly recommend booking a lesson with a PGA professional to ensure you find a putter that’s suited to your stroke and body height.
The Head Balance On Putters
The balance of the head might be a new term to some beginner golfers, but it’s a term you need to familiarise yourself with.
The balance of the head dovetails back to our section on what type of stroke you have; these two factors are directly correlated. There are two main types of head balance, the “toe hang” and the “face balance.” The balanced face putter is better suited to a golfer who uses the straight type stroke because the balance in the face makes it much easier to stay square.
The toe hang putter allows those golfers using the arc stroke to keep a nice consistent arc on the takeback and follow-through.
You can perform this simple test to check if your current putter is a face or toe-balanced type.
- Simply balance the putter in your hand, let the putter’s head rotate, and find its natural position.
- If you find your putter head points up, you’re the owner of a face-balanced putter; if the putter head swings left or right or hangs down, you own a toe hang.
The Shape And Weight Of The Putter
When selecting the shape and weight of the putter, a lot of it comes down to personal preference, styles you might like, and, more importantly, feel comfortable with.
With so many options on the market, it’s best to head to your local pro shop and ask to take some different putters to the green. Personally, I use a traditional blade putter, which is the most unforgiving putter out there; these putters are generally for professional or low handicappers.
Perhaps, however, you’re someone who struggles to strike the ball consistently; in this case, I would suggest looking at a “mallet putter,” as these putters are pretty sturdy and solid.
The overall weight of the putter comes down to how heavy you prefer it; my putter is quite heavy, but again, it’s a personal preference. Generally, speaking a good rule for any golfer to follow is heavier putters for slower greens and lighter putters for fast greens.
Like the head shape and weight of the putter, choosing a grip is a very selective process, and most people go with a grip that feels comfortable.
Grips come in many sizes and materials and have varying comfort levels, from hard to soft. Your best bet here is to try as many grips as you can before settling on one; the good thing is that if you don’t like the feel of the grip after a while, take it into the pro shop for a very straightforward change.
There are a couple of factors to ponder that will help you when selecting the correct grip; A lighter grip will make the head of the putter feel a bit heavier, while a heavier grip will make the head feel lighter.
If you’re a putter that struggles with excessive wrist hinge, a top tip is to select a slightly thicker grip that helps reduce hinge by separating your hands.
Different Types Of Putters
As we have seen, putters can come in varying sizes, shapes, weight, grip types, and balance points; In this next section, we’ll take a closer look at each type of putter.
Blade Style Putter
The blade putter is the most traditional type and oldest style of putter there is. Very rarely do you see these being used unless it’s by a top amateur or professional golfer.
Basically, a blade putter has a level head, and today, “blades” are slightly wider with a small flange, but still, they are close to a traditional blade.
Blades have a minimal surface area to make clean contact and, as such, are a very unforgiving type of putter. If you’re just starting out in the game, I recommend steering clear of a blade putter.
- GS1 TOUR PUTTER: Putt like the Pros with the classically designed GS1 Blade Putter; Designed for right handed golfers of all abilities
- PREMIUM LOOK AND FEEL: Looks and plays like putters 10x the cost; Features a Stainless Steel Head with a milled face for optimal contact and roll off the face
- FAT GRIP: 1.3” diameter textured Fat Grip for the ultimate feel and accuracy on the greens; Fat grips are increasingly popular as they minimize hand rotation and increase stroke consistency
- PREMIUM COVER: Includes padded cover to protect the putter and other clubs from damage
Mallet Type Putters
Mallet-type putters look just as the name suggests; they are slightly odd-looking, particularly towards the back of the putter; there are some really funky shapes and designs out there.
The most significant advantage of the mallet putters is the alignment lines designed to help golfers correctly align the put; there is much debate amongst amateur and professional golfers about whether the alignment tool actually helps. But without a doubt, these putters are incredibly popular.
The mallet putter is usually round or square, and the weight is evenly distributed, giving it a very balanced and controlled feel.
- The PGX putter features a precise white finish which stands out when the putter is in the address position on the green.
- This contrast of the white color against the green grass really helps maintain focus on the alignment lines that help ensure that your putter is on target at start.
- At 380g the additional 40g weight of the mallet putter is "tour-weighted", suited best for the faster greens that are more and more common around the world.
- Includes custom PGX headcover
- Putter length 34"
Different Types Of Neck
The style and type of your putter’s neck play a critical role in determining not only how your putter performs, but it also directly affects the feel and comfort.
Probably the most recognizable and popular neck design is what we call the “plumbers neck.”
At first glance, the head of the putter and the shaft actually appear to be separated from each other; however, in my opinion, it’s visually very attractive and allows the putter to sit flush on the green, making the chance of clean contact much higher.
The “center neck” or “center shaft” sits directly in the middle of the putter; The neck is straight and has no flange or bend. The primary advantage of the center neck is that it forces the golfer to focus on keeping the putter head square during the stroke and at impact
The double-neck is similar to the plumber’s neck, with the primary difference being the metal has been constructed and crafted to give the look of the putter a sleek design.
What is a putter insert, you might be asking? Basically, it’s the type of material that has been “inserted” into the face of the putter.
Like a tennis racquet, the feel of each putter can vary drastically. Depending on the type of material used, you’ll experience a softer feel and even a different noise than a putter with no insert.
You might also find grooves that have been engineered into the insert; these “grooves” are designed to keep the ball spinning at a high rate after contact. The benefit of spinning faster is the ball is much more likely to “hold its line” and hopefully find the bottom of the cup.
The old putters had no alignment lines marked on them whatsoever, and many of them could be left or right-handed.
If you take a good look at any new putter, more often than not, they have alignment markings clearing engraved on the top and face of the putter. These marking are designed to help golfers line up the putt and keep the putter’s face square.
Many golfers also mark their golf ball with a straight line and then align the putter with the line on the ball. This is an excellent tip for beginner golfers because if contact is not made in the center of the ball, the line on the ball makes it clear for you to see.
Pricing A Putter
There is no way around it; golf is quite an expensive sport or hobby to participate in. Clubs can run into the thousands of dollars, then you’ve got membership and greens fees, and even golf clothing can be pretty expensive.
Then we have the humble little putter; putters can range in price from $50-$1000s if you order a custom-made Scotty Cameron.
With most things in life, you get what you pay for, and putters are no different. Yes, putters can be expensive, but undoubtedly it’s the most important club in the bag, and remember, putters can last a lifetime, so spending a bit of money upfront may seem like a significant outlay, but it pays off in the long run.
All of that being said, I know many top golfers who actually use putters worth no more than $150-$200. That’s why it’s essential to test as many putters as you can because expensive is not always better.
Golf is a “feel sport,” and putting, in particular, is all about feeling comfortable on the greens.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when selecting a putter that’s right for you.
The grip, size, weight, shape, neck, and head are all crucial factors in finding the right putter, and of course, then there’s the question of price.
However, if you follow the steps and advice that I’ve laid out, I’m confident you’ll find a putter that improves your scores and your putting stroke, and if you’re fortunate, you might even find one that lasts a lifetime.