By Justin Johnson - Puetz Fitting Staff
Putters are very personal and there is no one putter that will work best for everyone. Ask yourself some questions to help narrow down your search.
What kind of putting stroke do you have?
Do you have a tendency to push putts to the right or pull them to the left?
Do you use a pendulum stroke or is it "wristy"?
Do you have a smooth stroke or a quick stroke?
The shape you choose is based on your preference. Below are descriptions of each type.
Classic blades are thin, flat putters that resemble a miniature hockey stick. They are most popular among skilled players because they provide the best "feel" for the ball at contact.
Modern blades have a forgiving design where the weight is distributed heel-toe, which provides for a larger sweet spot because the perimeter weighting stabilizes any slight miss-hits. Promote a straight-back-and-straight-through stroke.
Mallets have a large, round head, and their weight is usually balanced throughout the club, providing you with a more consistent putting stroke. Mallets also promote a straight-back-and-straight-through stroke and are the most forgiving design for minimizing the effects of miss-hits.
Modern Oversized Mallet
The modern oversize mallets have more bells and whistles than the original mallets. Moving weight farther back and lower on the face to create higher moments of inertia and more interesting designs.
Sightlines (Alignment Aids)
Putter manufacturers will use many different types of alignment aids. They will vary from single to multiple lines, dots, or large circles. It is highly recommended for beginners and intermediate golfers to get a putter with an alignment aid. They help the player aim well and assist in keeping the putter on line during the stroke. Determining what works best for you is personal preference.
The hosel connects the shaft to the putter head. Not all putters have hosels. Some have shafts that connect directly into the putter head. Hosels can be all different shapes. Most of the differences are cosmetic. But an important thing is whether or not you want a putter with offset. Offset is a bend forward in the hosel to help keep your hands ahead of the putter head, thus promoting a truer roll. Offset is a must for beginning golfers and recommended for most golfers.
Heel Shafted vs. Center Shafted
Heel shafted putters are when the putter connect to the heel of the club head and center shafted putters connect in the center of the club head.
Most putters are built with stainless steel shafts. Since the golfer is hitting the ball with much less force then one would with woods or irons, the material are not critical. Golfers preferring a lighter putter may opt to use a graphite shaft.
Heavy vs. Light
Generally speaking, heavier putters work better if you normall y play on fast greens and lighter putters work better if you normally play on slow greens.
Heel Shafted vs. Face-Balanced
When balancing the putter horizontally, the face of a face-balanced putter points skyward, parallel to the ground; while the toe of a heel shafted putter points downward at an angle. Heel shafted putters work better for people who tend to miss to the left and for people who have more of an arcing swing path. Face-balanced putters work better for people who tend to miss to the right and for people who have a straighter putting stroke.
The length of the putter depends on your posture. Ideally when you are putting, your eyes should be directly over the ball. The length of the putter should be what feels comfortable. Here are three steps to find a good length for you:
Assume your regular putting stance
Let your arms hang down naturally
Measure to the top of your hand for the proper length of putter. The putter should be no more than 2 inches past your top hand. This allows you to grip higher on long putts and lower on short ones. You don't want a putter that interferes with your clothing.
Standard vs. Belly vs. Long Putters
Nearly all teaching pros will advise you, if you can putt with a standard putter, then you should play with a standard putter. If you stroke is plagued by the "yips" (putting nerves, short jerky stroke) or excessive wrist action then you might want to consider a belly or long putter. Belly putters are designed to use the abdomen as a third point of contact along with each hand, to deliver stability and balance throughout the stroke. The benefits to using a belly putter are the reduction of wrist movement and the development of consistency in the putting stroke. The cons are reduction of "feel" due to a thicker putter grip and problems with distance control due to a longer shaft. Long putters are made to rest against the chin or chest. Most players then employ a grip similar to the way you would hold a broom: one hand at the top, the other midway down the shaft. The advantages to using a long putter are the elimination of wrist action and the development of a true pendulum swing in the putting stroke. Long putters are also better for players with a bad back, allowing them to stand more upright. The disadvantages are further reduction of "feel" due an even thicker golf putter grip and more problems with distance control due to an even longer shaft.
Posture and hand position are factors that influence lie angle. First figure out the length you need and then the lie angle can be determined. Golfers with an upright posture or high hand position normally benefit from an upright putter. Conversely, a crouched posture or low hand position usually dictates a flat putter. With the putter resting on the ground, the toe should be no more than three degrees up to level with the ground.
Generally you want a grip that feels comfortable in your hands. If you have a pendulum type stroke a larger grip works better because it prevents wrists from breaking down. Wristy strokes might use a smaller grip to encourage an easy release. Grips are inexpensive. They range from $2 to $8 and can generally be changed in a couple of minutes by our staff.
Many manufacturers are using different face materials to change the "feel" (sound) of the putter. Putter face inserts can be made of metal, rubber, ceramic, plastic, glass, wood, and more. Face materials "have no impact on the roll of the ball" according to John Solhiem, Chairman and CEO of Ping Golf. They are designed to deliver a softer "feel" on the putt at contact. The insert is in the face of the putter, therefore neatly defining each club's sweet spot.
Hand position, putting stroke and types of greens influence loft recommendations. Too little loft can cause the ball to skid, while too much loft can create undesirable spin, especially on long putts. Hand position can also add loft or de-loft the putter. Slower greens may require more loft to lift the ball above the surface of the green to get it rolling smoothly. Conversely, fast, smooth greens may require less loft to start the ball rolling, not bouncing, on the intended target line. The standard putter loft is from 3 to 5 degrees.
Though much of the process in choosing a putter is personal preference, it is a good idea to make sure the putter you pick fits you. By using the information contained in this pamphlet and/or being fit by a our sales staff. You can get a putter that fits your stature as well as your stroke. Please see our sales staff and we can help you with your questions.