Having a consistent putting stroke is what separates 5 handicappers from 15 handicappers. But consistency is every golfer’s greatest challenge – especially in putting.
Becoming a consistent putter starts with finding the right putter. And because there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” club that will magically lower all our scores, I’ve put together this comprehensive guide so you can learn how to find which putter is best for your game.
So let’s get started and take off unnecessary strokes from your scorecard.
Understanding Putter Types
Choosing the right putter isn’t just about feel or preference; it’s about understanding the types of putters and how their unique characteristics can impact your game. Let’s break down the two most common types of putters: blade and mallet.
Blade putters are the classic choice and have been around for ages.
They are characterized by a narrow, flat design and are often favored for their simplicity and direct feedback. This is ideal for players with a straight putting stroke, they offer a great deal of precision and control.
However, they might be less forgiving than their mallet counterparts.
Mallet putters have gained popularity due to their innovative designs and technological advancements.
They typically have a larger head, providing more forgiveness on off-center hits. This makes them an excellent choice for players with an arc in their stroke or those looking for more stability and alignment aids. With various shapes and sizes, mallet putters offer a wide range of options to fit any player’s eye and stroke style.
Blade vs Mallet Putter
When choosing between a blade and mallet putter, it’s important to understand the fundamental differences between them. Here are some key differences:
|Narrow and flat
|Larger and rounder
|Usually face-balanced or rear-weighted
|Less forgiving, requires precision
|More forgiving on mis-hits
|Offers more feedback and feel
|Softer feel, often with larger sweet spot
|Simple, traditional alignment aids
|Often has more elaborate alignment aids
|Suited for straighter strokes
|Suited for strokes with more arc
|Classic and minimalistic design
|Modern and varied designs
Putter Length: Finding Your Fit
Choosing the correct putter length is essential to a comfortable and effective stance, which in turn can significantly impact your putting accuracy and consistency. Here’s how to find the right fit for your putter length based on your height and stance:
Assess Your Height and Posture
Your height is the starting point for determining the ideal putter length. Typically, standard putters come in lengths ranging from 33 to 35 inches.
Taller players may require longer putters, while shorter players might need something shorter. However, it’s not just about height; your posture and how you naturally bend over the ball are also crucial.
Measure from Wrist to Floor
A common method to find the right putter length is to measure from your wrist, where it bends, down to the floor while standing in your natural putting stance.
This measurement gives a more accurate length that suits your stance and reach, ensuring that your eyes are directly over the ball or just inside the ball, which is optimal for most putting strokes.
Consider Your Stroke Style
The length of your putter can also affect your stroke. A longer putter might encourage a slower, more pendulum-like stroke, while a shorter putter might lead to quicker, more wrist-based motions.
Think about your putting style and how the length of the putter complements or hinders your natural movement.
This video offers some great tips on choosing the right putter length.
Consider Head Weight and Balance Types
Selecting a putter also involves understanding the nuances of head weight and balance types. These factors are crucial as they influence the feel and stability of your putts, affecting your overall control and consistency on the green.
The weight of the putter head affects how the putter feels in your hands and during your stroke. A heavier head provides more stability and is generally better for slower greens or players with a smoother stroke.
Conversely, a lighter head might offer more feel and is often preferred on faster greens or by players who like a quicker stroke. The right head weight can make a substantial difference in controlling distance and maintaining a consistent tempo.
There are two primary balance types in putters: face-balanced and toe-hang. The balance of a putter determines how it will open and close during the stroke.
These putters have a face that points upwards when you balance the shaft on your finger. They tend to reduce the opening and closing of the face during the stroke, making them ideal for players with a straight-back-straight-through putting stroke.
These putters have a toe that points downwards when balanced. They’re suitable for players with an arc in their stroke, allowing for a more natural opening and closing of the putter face, which is typical in an arced swing.
Matching to Your Stroke
Understanding your putting stroke is key to choosing the right balance type. Face-balanced putters are typically recommended for golfers with a minimal face rotation, while toe-hang putters are favored by those with more significant rotation or arc in their stroke. Trying out different types and observing how they complement your natural motion can help determine the best fit.
Putter Face Material and Feel
The material and design of the putter face play a significant role in the feel and performance of your putts. Different materials can offer varying degrees of feedback, sound, and interaction with the golf ball, affecting your control and confidence on the green.
Let’s explore the common types of putter face materials and how they can impact your game.
Metal-faced putters are traditional and provide a firm and responsive feel. They are typically made from stainless steel, bronze, or aluminum and offer a consistent roll and sound at impact. Golfers who prefer a sharp, tactile feedback tend to favor metal faces for their precision and control.
Insert-faced putters have a softer material embedded in the face, often made of composite or polymer materials. The insert reduces the impact vibration, providing a softer feel at contact.
This can be particularly beneficial on faster greens or for players who prefer a gentler touch and reduced sound. Inserts can also vary in texture, influencing the roll and skid of the ball.
Grooved-faced putters have a pattern etched directly into the metal or insert material. The grooves can help reduce skid and promote a more immediate and true roll.
The idea is that the grooves grip the ball’s surface to impart a forward spin, helping the ball stay on the intended line. Players looking for more consistency and roll might opt for grooved faces.
Finding Your Feel
The choice of face material should align with your personal preference for feedback, sound, and roll characteristics. Some golfers might prefer the crisp, metallic click of a metal face, while others might opt for the muted, soft feel of an insert.
The best way to determine what works for you is to try various types and observe how they influence your perception of distance and control.
Grip Styles and Sizes
The grip on your putter plays a pivotal role in how you connect with the club. It can significantly impact your stroke’s feel, stability, and overall success on the greens. Let’s explore the different grip styles and sizes and understand how they can affect your putting.
Traditional grips are what most golfers start with. They are usually slimmer and allow for substantial wrist action, which can be great for players who rely heavily on feel and feedback from their hands. These grips come in various textures and firmness levels, offering a range of tactile feedback to suit personal preference.
Oversized grips have become increasingly popular on the professional circuits and among amateurs. Their larger diameter minimizes wrist movement, which can lead to a more stable and consistent stroke. This grip style is particularly beneficial for players who tend to get too “wristy” or those looking to smooth out their putting stroke.
Pistol grips taper down less dramatically than traditional grips and often feature a flat front. This design provides a comfortable, ergonomic fit for the hand, leading to improved control and a consistent stroke. The pronounced curve at the top helps in hand alignment and can be particularly beneficial for players with an arc in their stroke.
Jumbo or Non-Tapered Grips
Jumbo or non-tapered grips maintain a consistent thickness from top to bottom, reducing pressure on the lower hand and promoting a more even grip. This can help distribute the force more evenly through both hands and encourage a smoother, more controlled putting stroke.
Grip Size and Your Stroke
The size of the grip can influence the mechanics of your stroke. A larger grip can help stabilize your hands and reduce excessive wrist hinge, leading to a more pendulum-like motion. Conversely, a smaller grip might provide more feedback and control for those who prefer a finesse approach.
Experimenting is Key
Ultimately, the best way to find the right grip style and size is through experimentation. Consider your stroke style, comfort, and the feel you prefer. Many golf shops offer fitting services where you can try different grips and even have them installed to test on the practice green. Pay attention to how each variation affects your stroke and confidence.
Choosing the right grip is a personal decision that can have a profound impact on your putting performance. Take your time, try various options, and trust your feel to find the grip that brings out the best in your putting game.
Trying and Testing Putters Before Buying
When it comes to choosing the right putter, there’s nothing better than trying and comparing different putters. The three most common ways to try and test putters are on Demo Days and Fitting Sessions and in-store testing.
Demo Days and Fitting Sessions
Demo Days and Fitting Sessions are a great way to try out different putters and get a feel for what works best for you. At Demo Days, you can test out the latest models from different brands and get a sense of the different styles and features available. Fitting Sessions are more personalized, and a professional fitter will help you find the right putter based on your swing and stroke.
During a fitting session, the fitter will take measurements and analyze your stroke to determine the best length, lie angle, and weight for your putter. They will also recommend different putter styles and features based on your preferences and needs. Fitting Sessions can be expensive, but they are worth the investment if you are serious about improving your game.
On-Course Testing is another way to try out different putters and see how they perform in real-life situations. During a round of golf, you can switch between different putters and compare how they feel and perform on different greens and distances. This method can be time-consuming and may require you to purchase or borrow multiple putters, but it can give you a better sense of which putter works best for your game.
When testing putters on the course, pay attention to how the putter feels in your hands, how it aligns with the target, and how it performs on different types of greens. Keep track of your results and compare them to your usual performance to see if the putter is making a difference.
When it comes to grips, nothing beats the hands-on experience of in-store testing. Visiting a local golf shop allows you to feel different grip styles and sizes in your hands and even test them on a putting green. Pay attention to how each grip affects your wrist movement, comfort, and overall stroke.
This is also where you can pay attention to the subtle differences in texture, firmness, and weight distribution. By trying out various options, you can make a more informed decision and choose a putter that truly enhances your putting game. Remember, what feels right often putts right, so trust your instincts during in-store testing.
From understanding the subtle differences between blade and mallet putters to finding the right length and feel, choosing the best putter for you is a journey of personalization and precision. It’s about aligning your equipment with your unique stroke style, comfort, and performance goals. Whether you’re drawn to the tactile feedback of metal faces or the stability of an oversized grip, the right putter can transform your game, lowering your scores and enhancing your enjoyment on the green.
Remember, putting is both an art and a science. It requires a blend of the right tools and a keen understanding of your technique. Don’t rush the process. Take time to experiment with different putters, feel their weight and balance in your hands, and test them in various conditions. Consult with professionals, engage in fitting sessions, and most importantly, trust your instincts.
As you continue to refine your choice, consider how each putter impacts your consistency, confidence, and comfort. The difference between a good putt and a great one often lies in the details. So, pay attention, adjust accordingly, and look forward to the satisfying sound of the ball dropping into the hole, stroke after stroke. With the right putter in hand, you’re not just playing the game; you’re mastering it.