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Choosing a Putter

You cannot improve your putting simply by

choosing a putter that you happen upon.


Choosing a Putter requires some thought. There is an over-choice and it is easy to be swayed by marketing hype. Beware the buyer.

  • Putter Shapes – Three basic shapes to consider

  • Putter Types – A choice of standard, belly, or long putter

  • Cost – Cost should not be the most important criterion

  • Shafting – Where the shaft connects to the putter head

  • Alignment Aids – Help to square putterface to aimline

  • Inserts – There are several purposes for an insert

  • MOI – How easily the putterface twists on impact

Certainly it can help if your existing one is well past its use-by-date or ill-suited to your stroke, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that equipment is the full answer to excellence on the greens.

The sound view is that you should first learn the fundamentals of a good setup and repeatable stroke. However, the design of the putter can sometimes help to fix certain stroke errors.

Only then start looking for a putter that matches your body specifications, complements your technique, and has visual appeal.

So what is your best buy, should you decide that you must have a new putter? The variety of makes and models available today is huge, and you will be faced with an over-choice.

The mistake is to rush out on a whim choosing a putter simply on high-tech marketing hype, or the reputation of the maker. Start your search by understanding that there is no one putter that outstrips the competition.

It is true that everything works better with the right putter in your hands as confidence plays a big part in your success on the green.

However, there are a number of features you should first consider before choosing a putter.

(For information on additional putter features click on the relevant link  shown opposite.)

Putter Shapes

In broad terms there are three different shapes to consider – classic blade putters, heel-toe weighted putters, and mallet putters that are usually face-balanced.

Each putter shape has a different distribution of weight. A rough and ready way to check this is to balance the putter on your extended fingers under the shaft near the putter head.

1. Classic blade putters (for example, a Ping Sedona) hang with the toe pointing to the ground.

2. Heel-toe weighted putters (for example, a Ping Anser 2) hang at a 45 degree angle (4 o'clock) to the ground.

3. Mallet putters (for example, Odyssey Two-ball) are usually face-balanced with the putterface pointing to the sky.

The choice of putter head shape and weighting are a matter of preference:

  1. In terms of playability the classic blade putter is the least forgiving on off-centre hits.

  2. Heel-toe weighted putters still dominate the off-the-shelf market and are popular with golfers whose stroke path is inside-square-inside.

    The weight at the heel and the toe is greater than that at the middle of the putter head. This heel-toe weight distribution works to stabilise the putter head on contact with the ball and is more forgiving of mishits.

  3. Mallet putters with their larger and heavier heads favour a stroke path that is more square to square, or inside-square-square.

    In a face-balanced putter (a common feature of mallet putters) the centre of gravity is in the same plane as the shaft. Therefore, during the transition from backstroke to forward stroke there are no dynamic forces to either open or close the putterface.

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Putter Types

Apart from different putter shapes in choosing a putter you also have a choice in different putter types - a standard putter, a belly putter and a long putter.

I have tried all three, but prefer a standard type putter cut down to match my height and arm hang.

The only advice I can give you is to try them and draw your own conclusion. 

(From 2016 anchoring the putter to your body is banned. The putter can still be used, but the grip must be away from your body. This change of rules means that the putter must not be in contact with your upper torso).

Long putters have the added advantage of allowing you to stand more upright at address and so put less pressure on your back.

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The cost of a putter is typically related to the reputation of the maker and the method of production.

However, using cost as the most important criterion in choosing a putter can be a mistake.

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The shaft attachment point helps to balance the putter and gives it a certain look.

There is no one right way to fit the shaft into the putter head as long as the maker abides by the Rules of Golf for conforming putters.

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Alignment Aids

An alignment aid is important when choosing a putter for two reasons.

  • Firstly it helps you to square your putterface to your aimline.
  • Secondly it helps you to line up the sweetspot on your putter with centre of your ball.

Some putters are easier to line up than others are. In my opinion sighting lines are better than circles as their straight edges offer a sharper contrast.

However, there is no alignment aid that will help all players. You need to experiment to see which element helps you to aim better.

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If you look at the face of a putter you will notice that some have a face insert of a different material and other don’t.

There are several reasons for an insert.

  1. To remove metal from the centre of the putterhead to increase perimeter weighting.
  2. To provide a softer feel on the putt at contact enhancing feedback, both auditory and tactile.
  3. To eliminate any possible waviness on a putterface that has not been CNC-milled.

For golfers using a two-piece distance ball to juice up their drives, an insert can compensate for the harder cover material.

I have used putters with and without inserts and I don't think you should factor in too much importance to an insert. There are other more important features to consider when choosing a putter.

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MOI stands for Moment of Inertia and refers to how easily the putterface twists during contact if you mishit the sweetspot. As MOI increases, the importance of centre contact on the putterface goes down.

As an amateur you are likely to have more mishits towards the heel or the toe of your putter than on the sweetspot. When you hit a putt off-centre, you are sacrificing a degree of distance and directional control.

Increasing the putter head size is a common design feature to compensate for any mishit.

There are a number of large-headed putters on the market. The putter head may often appear ugly and the look may not fit the eye of many golfers. Nevertheless, the design increases the MOI and helps you to minimise the effects of a mishit.

If you prefer the more traditional look, it makes more sense for you to putt with a heel-toe weighted putter than a blade putter.

This is because the MOI is about three times greater, even though both head weights are the same. The playability factor is simply better.

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Choosing a putter doesn't have to be complicated if you have a clear idea of your options. Scotty Cameron believes that the most important consideration when choosing a putter is how it looks at address.

The look, the feel, the weighting, and how the ball sounds off the putterface is personal.

Switching to a new softer model of Callaway ball Phil Mickelson recently opted for a harder insert in his putter to preserve the sound that he liked.

The solution in making a choice of putter is to try as many putters as you can before deciding which one fits your stroke and your eye best.

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