Putter Buying Guide
Putting is a game within a game. Arguably one of the most frustrating parts of golf you will take around 40% of your shots on the green. It would be useful therefore if you knew how to get a putter that will suit your style of play.
- Putter Buying Guide
- What Are Putters Made Of?
- Types Of Putter Head
- Face Of The Putter
- Length Of Putter Shaft
- Putter Loft
- Putter Weight
- Lie Angle
- Putter Grips
- Putter Buying Guide: Conclusion
In this golf putter buying guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know before you spend your hard-earned money on a new flat stick.
What Are Putters Made Of?
A putter is comprised of three components. The putter head, shaft and grip. Head designs vary greatly and some may feature an insert in the face using a softer material. Some premium putters even have adjustable weighting systems. Putter shafts aren’t required to handle the stresses and strains of the golf swing so little focus is placed on them. Putter grips have changed significantly with the general trend moving towards much thicker varieties.
Types Of Putter Head
There are two main types of putter heads, blade or mallet. Within those categories, there is any number of variations that try to offer a better feel or more forgiveness.
The classic putter design is made from a narrow piece of solid metal. Better suited to the purist or those with a consistent putting stroke. A basic blade putter offers nothing in terms of forgiveness and will have little if anything in the way of alignment aids. Ideal for faster greens they will generally be lighter than a mallet putter. A blade-style putter is generally best suited to a golfer with an arc-style putting stroke because they tend to be toe balanced.
A mallet putter can often be deep as it is wide. They are designed for forgiveness. The larger head size allows for weight to be redistributed to the perimeter making mishits almost as good as a solid strike. A mallet will have a much higher MOI figure than a blade. The moment of inertia (MOI) is just a measure of how well the putter will resist twisting when you strike the golf ball away from the sweet spot. The higher the number the less the clubface twists and therefore the ball will travel closer to its intended target.
Putter technology has moved on significantly over recent years with the use of multiple materials in the head and even 3D-printed designs.
Mullets tend to be face balanced and therefore suit a straight back and through type stroke.
A putter will tend to be either face-balanced or toe-balanced. You can check your own putter by balancing the shaft on your finger and looking where the face and toe are pointing.
If the face tends to point towards the sky then you have a face-balanced putter. If the toe tends to point toward the ground then that signifies that you have a toe-balanced putter.
You will probably see improvement in your putting if you match the balance of the putter to the type of stroke. If you tend to use a straight back and through type motion then you will probably find that a mallet will be a better option for you. On the other hand, if you have more of a curving path then a toe-hang putter will be a better choice.
Face Of The Putter
Old blade putters would have a completely flat, plain putter face. Modern putters will tend to have either a face insert or some form of grooves or pattern milled onto the surface in an effort to improve the roll of your putts.
Odyssey is probably most responsible for the increase in the popularity of putter face inserts. Professionals that were playing on super slick greens were always on the lookout for any way to steal a march on their competitors. Soft face inserts quickly became the norm on tour. The take-up was probably hastened at least in part by pros moving from balata-covered golf balls to slightly firmer urethane balls.
Many of today’s premium putters have milled faces. It was originally intended to produce a more consistent finish to the face of cast putter heads.
The hosel of a golf club is where the shaft joins the club head. There are a number of different options which may suit you depending on how you like to set up to the ball.
Not surprisingly, a center-shafted putter has the hosel in the middle of the head. If you like to get your eyes directly over the ball at address then you should try out putters with a center shaft. They tend to work best for players with a straight stroke they are face balanced.
Heel-shafted putters are the most common. Blade putters tend to have the hosel in the heel.
This design will help you keep your hands ahead of the club head. Some people call it an offset hosel. It can also help with your alignment.
Players with a straight back and through action might want to try a putter with a double bend hosel. Double-bend putters tend to be face balanced.
Not the most common type of hosel. It will tend to suit players that prefer an arcing stroke.
Length Of Putter Shaft
Standard putters designed for men would probably be produced with shuffling from 33 inches to 35 inches. Putters designed to be used by female golfers would tend to be around the 33-inch mark.
Interestingly PGA Tour players tend to use putters around 33 inches in length. Maybe you should experiment with a shorter putter shaft. You might get over the ball better.
Besides the traditional length putters, there are a few other options for you to test out.
Long Putter Or Broomhandle
Particularly favored by players who had significant putting issues they are also liked by senior golfers. The ban on anchoring has caused a beat of a move away from longer putters but you still see a few players on tour using them.
Sort of a halfway house between the long putter and the standard length putter. Typically produced with a length of 41″ to 46″. Prior to the anchoring ban, they had started to gain popularity with tour professionals. Probably not as popular now because their main advantage was being able to anchor the putter to your midriff.
In an effort to sidestep the anchoring ban, some manufacturers started seeing producing belly putters with weighted grips. This gave you a similar feel to the belly putter but stayed within the rules.
Not something that many amateurs think about when buying a putter. The majority of putters will have 2°- 4° of loft on the face. Someone that tends to use a lot of forward crash in their stroke might lean towards a more lofted putter. If you tend to play on rather bumpy greens you might also think about a little more loft to get the ball moving forward easier.
Depending on the speed of the greens you normally play on you might want to consider getting a lighter or heavier putter. If your club has pretty slow greens then a heavy putter will make it easier for you to reach the hole without feeling like you are hitting at the ball.
Another aspect of their putter that amateurs are probably going to overlook is the lie angle. Depending on how you address the ball you might find that your putter is sitting with its toe heel in the air. Ideally, you want the putter moving level through the ball to help your consistency of strike. Getting the correct lie angle could make a difference to your putting performance.
There is now a wide range of different putter grips available to suit all tastes. If you don’t like the stock grip that comes on your new putter then for $10 or $20 you can probably find something that you prefer.
A lot of people gravitate towards thick putter grips as they will tend to reduce the amount of hand and wrist action through the stroke.
With premium models now costing from $300-$500, buying a new putter can be a very costly exercise. There is a large market for second-hand putters and since wear and tear is likely to be low this can be a good way to save money without sacrificing performance.
Putter Buying Guide: Conclusion
There is much to consider when buying a putter. If you are looking at the top end of the putter market then make sure to have a fitting.
In fact, before you go spending money on golf equipment it might be worth trying these putting tips or having a lesson to see if that sorts out your putting woes.
Are Expensive Putters Worth The Money?
There’s no doubt that like most other pieces of golf equipment, putters have become very expensive in the last 20 years or so. Compared with the driver you will obviously use your putter much more every round. Does that justify spending up to $500 on just one club?
I’ve seen people putt very well with battered old bullseye-style putters but if you’re a good putter then you can probably work with almost any club. Irrespective of the price you need to find a putter that gives you confidence and allows you to strike the sweet spot on a consistent basis. If that means buying a premium putter then by all means treat yourself.
Before you choose a putter try some cheaper models out before committing to spending big. Wilson, for example, currently makes a very nice line of putters for just over $100.
Blade Or Mallet Putter?
A traditionalist will probably prefer the look of a blade putter and they generally suit players that have a more arcing style putting stroke. If you struggle to find the sweet spot then a mallet might be a better option for you particularly if you have a more straight back and through type stroke.
Finding the right putter is often as much about confidence as technology so take a few different models out onto the putting green and find out which one you like the look and feel of. You should also consider different putter lengths as a shorter shaft might help your mechanics.