More than half of all our shots are putts and the putter is by far the most used club in your bag: A very good reason to choose the right putter. The old adage ‘drive for show putt for dough’ is as true as it ever was today. Your score will improve a lot more with an average of 0.2 improvement in your putting average than 20 yards off the tee.
Golf technology has advanced to help us all. New types of putter are re-inventing many golfers .The following information will help you make a better decision on your next putter.
Face balanced putters are putters that will faces upwards when you balance the shaft on your finger. This will mean that the centre of gravity is directly below the axis of the shaft. Basically meaning it will straighten a putting stroke on the forward motion. This type of balance will suit those who have a straight stroke that goes 'back and through'.
Be sure to view the video on arc vs straight stroke in the video section.
Toe balanced putters are those whose toe was points to the ground when you balance the shaft on your finger. This means the centre of gravity is not directly below the shaft axis. This type of balance will suit a player with an in to out stroke.
Whichever style you prefer, you will find when you are switching putters it is better to stay with the type of face balance you are using as they require different types of strokes. However, with all this technology, if a putter feels good to you then you should use it, because the most important part of putting is confidence.
Basic Types of Putter
There are three main types of putter designs: blade, peripheral weighted and mallet. Each one has its own benefits and each one will differ from the other when studying face balance.
The oldest and most traditional type of putter is the blade. Ben Crenshaw is a great exponent of this type of putter. Using a relatively small head, its classic design is broadly used by players worldwide. The straightforward flat look offers a large degree of confidence to a player and the soft hit produced is likable on many types of greens. The safe choice when it comes to putters, they are traditionally suited to hard, faster greens that require soft control. Blade putters tend to be face-balanced suiting a player with a straighter putting stroke.
'Ping-Anser' was the original peripheral weighted putter and suits players who have an ‘in to out’ stroke. A common choice with professionals and amateurs the peripheral weighted putter has more of head to it than a blade putter but this also means it is not face balanced.
The alternative to the blade putter for many years has been the mallet headed putter. Heavier than a blade putter due to its size, the mallet putter more closely resembles a wood than a conventional putter. The deep design of the putter's head allows manufacturers to have a lower and deeper centre of gravity that is far away from the face, reducing backspin on your putts. Often with an insert on the face, they promote a soft hit from a large head. Most mallet putters are face-balanced and would suit a straight through and back stroke.
Inserts and Putter Faces
The type of face that you want on a putter depends on what ball you use and the speed of greens you are used to putting on. For example, you would not want to use a hard feeling golf ball on fast greens with a hard hitting metal faced putter. You should endeavour to find the right combination of ball and putter face to match the greens to which you most often putt on.
The main goal of inserted putter faces is to increase the 'Moment of Inertia (MOI) which helps to reduce the error rate – not hitting the centre of the club will not be as punitive. The MOI is the term applied to a club head’s resistance to twisting when the ball is struck. For example, your swing is a little off centre and you miss hit the ball on the toe of the club head, a club head with a higher MOI will bend less as a result of the miss hit, offering a better chance that the ball will still go straight. Each insert or face material has its own benefits and the following section describes exactly what they are:
Metal Faced Putters
The traditional putter face material is steel. Other types of metals have been used in the past and many are still used today: bronze, aluminium, brass, copper, zinc and titanium. The extremely strong and heavy nature of metal suits putter faces very well. Steel has a reputation for soft and responsive feedback giving the putters solid, controlled feel. One great benefit on a metal-faced putter is the noise feedback you gain. Immediately you can hear the type of connection you made on the ball and this allows you to feel and hear where the centre of your putter is. One new type of putter design involves grooves in a metal-faced putter – YES! Putters wear the first to come out with this technology. The downward C grooves on the face grip the ball when stuck and produce a smoother over-the-top action.
Insert Faced Putters
Insert putters are basically metal putters with the metal face replaced with a light-weight non-metal insert material. The main advantage of using such a light insert means the weight of the putter can be redistributed elsewhere on the putter face. Therefore the weight is added to the heel and toe of the putter offering a wider hitting area, hence less area. The insert gives putts a much smoother roll, rather than a hop or a skid by the boosted MOI.
There are many types of insert materials, but essentially they all do the same job. Some are there to reduce the MOI, others to promote a softer feel for use with harder longer distance golf ball to get the same feel as a metal faced putter and a softer golf ball.
Groove Faced Putters
A recent development has been the appearance of grooves on the face of a putter. This may seem to be the last thing you want but there is a reason for this.
On any putt, on any green, a putter's impact on the golf ball often results in skidding, sliding, back spinning, and even hopping before the ball can begin rolling on the green. Even when struck on the right line, these effects are the principal causes of missed putts. The key to more accurate putting is to achieve forward rolling motion immediately upon striking the ball.
The grooves on a putter face can help achieve this forward motion and keep the ball online. Upon impact with the golf ball the grooves grip the surface of the ball and simultaneously lift the ball out of its resting position and impart an over-the-top rolling action.
Just to complicate matters grooved putters are usually metal faced, but there are now some insert putters that have grooves too!!
Putter Shafts & Hosels
Putters almost always have steel shafts for maximum feel. Where the shaft meets the putter head is the hosel and there are a few options:
Heel-shafted putters: meaning the shaft connects the putter at the heel (or inside) of the head
Centre-shafted putters: meaning the shaft connects at the centre of the putter head.
This is a personal preference decision. All golfers pay close attention to the hosel of the putter and some like to have the hosel at the centre to lead the ball towards the hole, others prefer heel-shafted putters that let them guide the putt with the putter head.
Another variation in some putters is an offset at the hosel. This is when the hosel is bends backwards to move the bottom of the shaft ahead of the face of the putter to draw a player's hands ahead of the ball through impact.
Finding the right length of putter for your height and stroke is key to producing quality putts. The wrong length of putter can lead to bad posture and inconsistent contact, which is serious trouble when it comes to putting. Recent times have created a debate and divide within golfing circles as to what is the correct or acceptable length of a putter. Putter length is measured from the sole of the putter below the hosel to the top of the shaft. The rules state that a putter must be at least 18 inches long, but other than that there is no maximum limit. Professionals and amateurs alike have tested with everything from small putter, to chest putters, to putters that rest on your chin and to the most common oddly sized one in today's game, the belly putter. The following information suggests the possible advantages of different lengths of putter.
Still the most common length of putter although not as dominant as it has been, the standard 33-36 inch putter helps create a pendulum swing in your putting stroke. Acting as an extension of your arms, it should be the perfect height to allow you arms to simply hang down and grip. This enhances a player's ability to use a pendulum-like stroke to give the putt as true a roll as possible.
Belly Putter (41-46 inches)
The latest fad in the golf world has definitely been the introduction of belly length putters. The belly putters bring stability to the putt by creating a third point of contact. The three points are the two hands and the belly. The putter can be anchored against the body, thereby not changing the posture of the golfer. The wrist action is easier to control as the dynamic of the swinging motion is altered by the length of the putter. The main disadvantages with a belly putter are centred on distance control and feel. It requires the golfer to use more large muscles and fewer small muscles during the putting stroke. This typically requires additional practice to develop the necessary feel for distance control.
Long Putters (48-52 inches)
By far the least common of the three is the long or 'broomstick' putter. Varying between resting above the belly button, the chest, or even the chin these putters differ from even the belly putter. They require a complete change in grip to belly putters and traditional putters which can be used with the normal putting grip. Most players grip the club with their left hand holding the putter into their body (thumb up) and the right hand working as a claw in the middle section of the putter to pull and push through the line of the putt, like a pendulum. This makes the entire stroke of long putter in the power of the right hand. This is a tough skill to master and one that is increasingly hard to perform in the wind.
There many different grip options are available to your putter unlike all other clubs in your bag. The putter is the only grip that, under the rules of the game, can have a flat area. Commonly this flat side is placed facing away from your body, with your thumbs on top. Manufacturers have developed a host of materials available for putters. Different sizes are also offered to improve your ability on the greens. A thicker grip helps keep your hands and wrists out of the stroke, which is what golfers seek to do to improve their putting. A thicker grip offers less feel than a thin grip and if you are a feel putter (more wrist action) you are suited to thinner grip. A thicker grip will make a putter head feel lighter and vice versa.