How to choose a Putter?
Things that you need to know before you buy a Putter
Buying a putter often intimidates recreational golfers. A wide variety of types and styles exist, making the choice of a putter complicated. Faced with this complexity, many golfers get confused and make the wrong choice. The goal is to buy not the most expensive club on the market or the most popular in your clubhouse, but the putter offering the best value.
Several features to consider when buying a putter are price, quality, style, and club head.
Additional features to consider are insert, loft, alignment system, and hosel. Below is a brief discussion of each of these features.
(1) Price/Quality: The price of putters ranges anywhere from $30 to $300 or more. A general assumption is that the higher the putter’s price the better the quality must be, but Price is not necessarily a good indicator of quality. You don’t have to pay a lot to find a good putter. In fact, a less expensive putter may be better for you than a more expensive one. It’s a matter of feel. If the putter feels right to you, it will build self-confidence, and self-confidence will help you sink more putts – consider putters from all price ranges and quality.
(2) Putter type – conventional, belly, or long: The type of putter you choose depends on which type works best for you and which fits your physical make-up.
Most people prefer a conventional putter, which is a little easier to use and master than belly or long putters. Conventional putters allow for the perfect blend of feel and mechanical precision. The downside of conventional putters is that they require an absolute minimum of wrist action. Unfortunately, some golfers find it hard to keep their wrists “quiet” when putting. Hence, the growing use of the belly and the long putters. Conventional putters are also a challenge for people with back problems.
Golfers with active wrists or back problems often prefer a belly putter or a long putter.
A belly putter provides a third point of contact – the abdomen (along with each hand) – between the putter and the player. The added contact provides stability and balance to the putting stroke. The belly putter enables a golfer to better control his/her wrist action and assume a near perfect putting posture. Since belly putters are longer and generally have a thicker grip than conventional putters, they inhibit feel and feedback. Distance control is also a problem thanks to the longer shaft.
A long putter turns the putting stroke into a true pendulum arc. And since golfers take an almost upright stance, it is ideal for golfers with bad backs. But the length of the putter’s shaft reduces feel and feedback even more than does a belly putter. It also hampers distance control. Some pros refer to the long putter as the “last hope for a bad putter” because it completely eliminates wrist action.
(3) Alignment System: Aligning the putter to the hole is a key to putting well. If the putter isn’t lined up properly, the ball won’t go in. Look for a putter with a visual aid to help line up the club with the hole. There’s no research showing that one alignment system is better than another, so choose one that feels right to you.
(4) Loft: Putters have loft, just like an iron or a wood. Most come with 4 degrees of loft. If the loft is greater or lesser than this, the ball bounces when struck. Most golfers require a putter with standard loft because their hands are vertical to the ball at impact. Loft can be added or taken away depending on whether you hit the ball with your hands in front of or behind the ball at impact.
(5) Putter head: Putter heads come in three styles. Cavity back putters have a hollow area in the middle of the back of the putter, creating a larger sweet spot. Blade style putters have the weight of the club head distributed to the heel or bottom of the putter, leaving a thin top line to look at when addressing the ball. Mallet putters are much bigger than traditional putters. Their shapes vary widely. Traditional blades are harder to control than cavity back or mallet putters. Check out the face-balanced mallets and heel-toe-weighted putters as well. Both promote a straight-back-and-straight-through stroke, minimizing mishits.
(6) Face Inserts: Face inserts are available in a variety of materials including metal, rubber, ceramic, plastic, glass, and wood. Inserts provide more feel and feedback, which is ideal for a putter. They also better define a club’s sweet spot and increase heel-toe weighting. Face inserts are nice, but not necessary.
(7) Offset: A putter with an offset shaft or hosel suits recreational golfers. The offset helps the golfer address the ball with his or her forward eye over the ball and with a good line of sight to the hole. More importantly, the offset keeps the hands ahead of the ball when putting, increasing accuracy.
(8) Grip/Weight: Additional factors are grip and weight. A thicker grip reduces feel and feedback. Weight is entirely a personal preference. Putters run the gamut from light to heavy. Most people prefer something in between. Choose one that feels comfortable to you.
Below is an 8-step approach to buying a new putter. Following this approach won’t guarantee you’ll find the perfect putter, but it will help organize the selection process:
- Decide on price/quality
- Pick a putter type
- Choose loft
- Select an alignment system
- Choose a putter head style
- Decide on face inserts
- Decide on shaft offset
- Decide on grip and weight