Drive for show, putt for dough. No matter how long and accurate you are from the tee, everyone has to hole putts in order to score low. The putter is arguably the most important club in the bag, and also the most frustrating. Fit and comfort are key when selecting a putter to fit your stroke, and there is no shortage of options when making your choice. A putter that swings well in your hands, feels great, and inspires confidence with its head-shape will lead to better results and less putts per green. Read on to explore the most popular putter types, their distinguishing features, and the advantages they can provide.
More than any other club in the golf bag, putters are all about feel, confidence, and preference. If your putter doesn’t feel solid in your hands and look great to your eye, odds are you won’t putt well or consistently. The first main attribute of your putter that you should consider is clubhead design, or the shape of the clubhead. There are a number of different clubhead types, but the most common are listed below.
Blade-style putters are the most traditional and simplest of all designs. They are a skinny rectangular shape that look clean and simple at address. They are the lightest and also the smallest in depth and work great for beginners or pros.
This type of clubhead is often a semi-circular shape, and is heavier to provide a smoother, pendulum motion on the putting stroke. Mallets can some in many different sizes and configurations, but are generally always larger than their blade counterparts. Many mallets boast extra perimeter weighting around the head of the club, allowing for a more forgiving roll on putts that aren’t struck dead center.
Many golfers struggle with aiming and aligning their putts, and you can’t score low if you don’t start the ball off on the right path. Alignment putters often have a mallet shaped clubhead, but feature any combination of lines, dots or circles on the clubhead to aid golfers in proper aim, to produce a square face angle at impact, and to visualize a straight line to the target. The 2-ball putter is the most popular example of an alignment putter, with two large white circles making up the top of the clubhead as reference against the golf ball. New technologies such as arrow shapes, and club heads with contrasting color have hit the market to further aid alignment on the greens.
A newer development in the putter field, white clubheads have gained a lot of popularity amongst both professionals and amateurs. The main benefit of white putters are that they contrast more starkly against green grass, making the face angle of the putter easier to see and properly square at address. Some golfers also report that the white clubheads produce a soothing mental affect, allowing them to relax before striking the ball.
Putters with inserts have the center of the putter face removed and replaced with a different material which strikes the ball on impact. Generally, the new material is a composite or more lightweight option. The lighter weight of inserts helps club makers by allowing them to reposition wight along the perimeter of the putter, adding forgiveness on off-center strikes. Many inserts also affect the feel of the golf ball at impact, and can have milling or texture added in order to impart certain roll or spin characteristics on the golf ball, providing smoother roll or distance control. The feel and benefits of an insert putter are best left in the subjective hands of the individual golfer. Many golfers prefer inserts while other don’t. It’s best to try out a variety of different inserts and options and finding the putter face that best suits your preferences on feel and performance.
No material or technology will help your putting if the length doesn’t fit your height or putting style. Generally, taller golfers will want to go with a longer length in their putter, but feel and preference should always be the key deciding factor. Standard putter length options are 33”, 34” and 35”. Some golfers prefer longer lengths that allow them to choke down on the grip, while others want the shortest length possible. Length can also affect the headweight of the putter, or how it feels during the stroke. Putter shafts can also be cut down by professional club fitters rather easily, so if you’re unsure what length to go with, it might be best to lean more towards a longer putter, knowing it can be adjusted in the future if you find you prefer a shorter length.
Long, Mid, and Belly Putters
In addition to standard putter lengths, many manufacturers have begun offering models in long, mid, and belly sizes. Long putters can be as long as 50”, and allow golfers to anchor the putter with their top hand, and swing the club with their right. Many long putters also feature special split grips, designed for where the hands are placed. Mid putters are generally between 39” and 47” inches, and can be used in many different ways. Some golfers swing them like long putters or grip them in the standard way, while others will anchor the longer butt of the grip to their sternum or belly for a more rigid swing. Belly putters and mid putters are often interchangeable, with belly putters generally being anchored in the stomach area of the golfer in efforts to produce a more consistent stroke. With all these styles of putters, certain anchoring techniques are a topic of debate in regards to the rules of golf. If you’re an amateur golfer who likes to play under the same guidelines as professionals, you should consult the rule book or a local pro before adopting a putter or style that might not be technically legal.
Heel vs. Center Shaft
These terms refer to where the shaft of the putter meets the head of the putter. Heel shafted putters are the most common design and connect the club’s shaft to the clubhead at the heel, closest to the golfer. Generally, a heel-shafted putter is recommended for those who use the arc method of putting. Different heel-shafted putter models vary in the amount of offset (how far back the clubhead is placed from the shaft position) and shaft bends are present in the club. A center-shafted putterconnects the shaft to the middle of the clubhead, usually right in the center of the face. These putters are perfect for golfers who keep their eyes directly above the ball and take the club straight back and swing straight through the ball when swinging the putter. Center-shafted putters are generally straight in the shaft and feature very minimal to no offset. As with all putter specifications, the benefits of either option are up to your personal preference.
Putter weighting affects the overall feel of a putter. Some golfers prefer a more heavy putter that is harder to deviate from its swing path, while others like a lighter putter that offers a different feel. Many putters not come with interchangeable weights, usually weighing around 5-20 grams, allowing for a more customized weight and feel to the clubhead based on the preference of the golfers.