Here are some of the things you should think about when looking at purchasing the right putter for you.
How To Choose A Putter: Are You Using The Right Flat-stick?
Let’s be honest, our heads can be easily swayed when it comes to a new wand. Be it watching the tour boys or a string of three-putts or, quite often, your playing partner can’t miss and your interest is piqued in what they have got in the bag.
There are lots of ways that you can help yourself to hole more putts and the following should open up your mind to a process that needn’t be too daunting. If you haven’t already we also recommend taking a look at our comprehensive buying guide on the best putters currently on the market because there will be a model for everyone in there.
How To Choose A Putter
Toe hang or face balanced?
This is a lot more straightforward than you might think. Simply place the shaft of you putter on your index finger closer to the head and adjust your finger until it is perfectly balanced.
Now, where does the toe (the part of the putter head where it’s not attached to the shaft) sit? If the toe is hanging then you have a toe-hang putter and if it points to the sky then it is face balanced.
So what does that mean? Well, your stroke will likely be suited to one or the other so you’re giving yourself the best chance of holing some putts if you get this right.
Think of Tiger Woods, he opens and closes the face which is why we always see him with the Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter which is a toe-hang putter.
In general mallets are more suited to face-balanced putters – so someone who has more of a straight back and straight through stroke – although if you do have more of an arced stroke there are some mallets that might suit your putting path.
If the toe of your putter significantly hangs then this will suit a stroke which really rotates through the stroke and most manufactures will offer minimum and moderate toe-hang options to fit in with your stroke.
Also, consider that the neck design and shaft bend will affect the amount of toe hang.
It goes without saying that getting your putter right is essential so make sure you get this fitted and get some expert advice on what exactly your putter is doing as what you might think you do might not be the same thing.
What alignment aids work best?
While we all like a bit of help when looking down at the ball some of us will barely notice what is going on while others will be seeing something different altogether.
If you were to go through Odyssey’s Triple Track putter range you’ll notice that some of the more traditional blade putters have a clean top rail as the thinking would be that that type of putter likes to keep things simple. If you think of Tiger Woods’ iconic Newport 2 then you’ll see a very small dot on the top rail and that’s it; the rest is all down to his interpretation of the putt.
If you think of Odyssey’s 2-ball putter, unquestionably one of the best mallet putters out there, then this is perfect for framing the ball and lining up the putt. If you throw in using Callaway’s Triple Track ball then you’re leaving very little to chance – Callaway say that 88 per cent of golfers showed an improvement when using this ball. Otherwise there might not be a line but a different colour eg TaylorMade Spider X Copper to help you sit the club down.
The Ping Ketsch putter, for example, has a sightline that runs from the back of the putter all the way to the ball, often it would stop at the top rail. Their research showed that that they don’t have many options in this type of putter so the Ketsch was born.
What length should my putter be?
There are so many more options these days when it comes to putter length when, in years gone by, we’d all be putting with a 35-incher and then gripping down on it or performing some sort of DIY job in shortening it.
Theses days, thankfully, there are all manner of options and, when fitted for the first time, you might find that you’re suited to a putter that’s shorter than you imagined.
This is what Scotty Cameron says: ‘If your putter is too long your set-up posture will be too upright with your eyes set too far inside the target line. If your putter is too short your set-up posture will be too hunched over with your eyes set too far outside the target line.
‘The ideal putter length sets your eyes 1-2” inside of the target line to allow you to execute the proper arcing putting stroke while maintaining good posture and balance.’
What grip shape and size should I use?
Again, things have moved on and whether you putt cack-handed, claw, pencil or whatever there is a grip that will give you the best chance to do the business.
In 2009 SuperStroke launched a radically different line of putter grips and they now have 13 different shapes to get your hands in the ideal position – we’re all different shapes and sizes and therefore we all need different things to play our best.
Take their Traxion Claw Putter grip – there are different ways to use the claw and this incorporates a pistol-style top section that helps lock in the upper hand while its three flat sides increase the surface area to accommodate the different lower hand positions.
Likewise the WristLock Putter Grip that was introduced earlier this year. This is said to prevent any unwanted motion leading to greater accuracy in starting the ball on line and at a better pace. Since the anchor ban came in manufacturers have modified the length and loft of putters so golfers could still use an Armlock method where the putter sits up in the inside of the lead forearm, think Matt Kuchar.
Now this grip does this for you; it’s 13.75” in length, is approved and stops any flicking.
SuperStroke believe in No Taper and Spyne Technology; the former helps golfers minimise grip pressure with a parallel design while the latter uses an embossed ridge along the underside of the grip to encourage repeatable hand movement.
If this interests you then we recommend checking out our guide on the best putter grips too.
What sort of feel are you looking for?
Like most things to do with putting there is a lot of personal preference here and that starts with what ball you might be using.
Most of us would probably start with the ball and how that works around the green and off the driver before then considering how that ball sounds coming off the putter. But it’s worth noting that a softer insert can make a firmer ball feel softer at impact but its lighter weight also allows for more forgiveness and stability.
In layman’s terms an insert putter will have a quieter sound than a milled putter but these days a milled putter can have a soft feel and deeper sound and vice versa. Other factors like the weight, grip, hosel location and groove depth and position also play a factor.
Some golfers say they’ll never use an insert and vice versa while others won’t even know what they’re using as they’ll purely go by the look. In Scotty Cameron’s Studio Select range, which features heavily in our best Scotty Cameron putters post, the previous one had inserts while the latest one is milled so be open-minded before you take the plunge.
One thing definitely worth saying is that a putter will feel and sound very different when out on the course. How often have you picked something off the shelf or read about a certain putter and convinced yourself that this is ‘the one’ only to be disappointed when getting it out on the course?
Feel is subjective and you know what works for you so keep experimenting.