Age, gender, strength – none of these things matter once you’re on the green. When you think about how to choose a golf putter, it doesn’t matter how fast or pretty your swing is, but how well you aim and control distance. Your putter is the club you use the most, and picking the right one is essential to getting your scores down.
When you’re deciding how to choose a golf putter, it comes down to a few things. First and foremost, you’ll need to consider size and head shape. Secondly, factors such as balance, type of neck and grip will all make a major difference on how you putt. Ultimately, it comes down to getting something you’re comfortable with. Basically, whatever helps you make the most putts.
Why Is It Important to Choose the Right Putter?
Picture this, a common course is par-72 with four par-three holes and four par-five holes. To hit 18 greens in regulation, you need to hit 36 shots. To shoot even par, the other 36 shots come on the green.
That is half of your shots – half. Even when you’re not hitting every green, which let’s be honest, none of us are, you still putt on each green.
You use a putter more than any other club in your golf bag. Deciding how to choose a golf putter will turn out to be the most important equipment decision you make.
Here’s the thing about a good putter (the person), they can always rectify some of the less fortunate shots during a round. Even if you knock the ball down off the tee and hack it around the fairway, it’s not over.
Getting to the green in more strokes than regulation is not a death sentence. Making your first putt limits the damage. All things considered, being good at putting helps make up for deficiencies in your overall game.
Putting is the easiest place to chop a few strokes off your score each round. Take the couple three-putts you make on the front and back, then turn them into two-putts – this will yield you an instant and noticeable improvement. Over the years those two-putts will start turning into one-putts – even more reason to invest in a putter that fits you.
The only way to get good at putting – is having the right putter (and practice, a lot of practice).
The Different Types of Putters
Let’s start with the obvious. The two main families of putters are toe-balanced and face-balanced. Choosing a golf putter isn’t the easiest decision to make. Even identifying which type of putter you have isn’t easy.
To test what kind of putter you’re looking at, hold it with one finger, and balance it. If the head tilts towards the toe, it’s toe-balanced. If it stays flat, it’s face-balanced.
Most blade putters are toe-balanced. This type of putter assists players whose putting stroke arcs, rather than going straight back and straight forward.
Having extra weight at the toe helps to realign your stroke as you come through to strike the ball. Without this balance, you will have a higher tendency to push putts away from the hole. The more you “wrap” your putter in the swing, the more of a toe-balance you need to keep putts on target.
Most mallet putters are face-balanced. They are ideal for players with the straightest of putting strokes. Many golfers who already have good aim, but struggle with distance prefer this style.
Face balanced putters will not naturally rotate as you go back and forth, and puts the burden on the golfer to keep it straight. For those with too much rotation, this style will not help you get back on target. In fact, it will probably do the opposite.
Features and Designs
Golf putters come in endless designs, and with many different features to enhance putting. It can be quite hard to navigate the putter jungle, but there are some distinctions you can aim for when browsing.
You can tell a blade putter by its straight head. Back in the day, all putters were some type of blade. A preferential push towards a wider head has expanded, quite literally, what we consider a blade. So the term “blade putter” is broader these days than it was 10 or 20 years ago.
Today’s blade putters have a bit of a back flange (what most of us use to pick a golf ball up). Even if it’s a couple of inches wide, a putter that goes straight across is a blade.
These are putters with wider, sometimes odd-shaped backs. A lot of golfers who use a mallet cite the larger alignment tools as a major positive. Often, it is the sole reason these golfers use this style.
Mallet putters can be square, like the TaylorMade Spider or round, like an Odyssey 2-ball. With a larger club head, weight is more evenly distributed and can even make a putter feel lighter.
Hosel or neck, whatever you call it, this piece of your putter can make your life very easy, or very hard.
A center shaft hosel is when the shaft, without bending, runs straight into the middle of the putter head. This is a common neck for SeeMore putters that are designed to focus on keeping the putter square.
Plumbers neck hosels are one of, if not the most popular design. It features a slight bend and appears as if the shaft and head are two completely different pieces. Essentially, it allows you to hold the putter at an angle and keep the head flush with the ground.
Double bend necks accomplish the same effect as a plumbers neck, but by bending the metal of the shaft. This gives it a cleaner look and connects the shaft directly to the putter head.
Other common designs are short and long hosels, where the only difference is the length. This neck type is more common in face-balanced putters and helps players who want a fuller view of their putter head.
A putter insert is what type of surface is on the clubface. In most cases, you’ll be able to identify this type of putter because the color or pattern is different from the rest of the head. With an insert, a putter will oftentimes feel “softer” and produce a different noise.
Again, picking between a putter with an insert and one without comes down to what feels better. When a putter does not have an insert, which is very common, it has a milled face.
Some putters have inserts with different grooves like the Yes! line of putters. It produced more forward spin on the ball and because of this is claimed to keep the ball running more on the intended line.
Gone are the days of putters used by lefties or righties, like the old Bullseye Acushnet putter or the type you buy a child before you know what hand they are. You might still see one or two around your local course but forget those. We’ve moved on, and putters of today feature a variety of tools to help with alignment.
On a blade, it can be as minimal as a line in the middle that helps you center putts. It can also be as extreme as multiple lines and markings. These designs help you keep the club straight and the ball exactly on the sweet spot.
With mallets, brands can get more creative with the larger surfaces. An Odyssey Two-ball putter lets you align your ball with the two that are on the putter itself. Other styles feature extended lines and markings that expand your view, giving you a better chance of setting up correctly.
Several years back TaylorMade launched their Ghost series of putters. Most putters before that were metal or black. With that introduction, Taylormade argued that the white putters would stand more out against the green grass. Thus making the putter easier to align.
Since then it is more and more normal that putters can have different colors – we even see blue ones from Mizuno.
If you want to go to the Scotty Cameron Custom Shop and spend hundreds on a paint job for an already expensive putter, you can do that. Plenty of other brands offer these options, but most are nothing more than aesthetic. Look good, feel good play good though, right?
When you think of the color on putters, it comes down to personal preference and what you like to look at. Buy a putter that won’t drive you crazy looking down at. We both know that your putting skills alone will do that anyway.
The Right Putter Length
Deciding how long your putter should be is not a simple question of how tall you are or how much you hunch over. It goes a lot deeper than that.
If you’re someone who wants decisions made for them, this might not be your favorite section. A lot of deciding the best length is finding where you’re comfortable.
In general, most golfers prefer between 33 and 35 inches.
If you like to choke down, you’re going to want to go a little shorter. If you know that you hold the putter at the very end, and the very end only, a longer putter might be your best fit.
If you’re a new golfer and haven’t settled on a preferred length, going an inch or two longer than you think is a decent option. With a longer putter, you can choke up without altering balance. A newer option that we see spreading are adjustable length putters. Ping has made this famous and shows no signs of slowing down.
But remember that some of the traits that are in your putter grip might be rendered useless. Especially if you use a tapered oversize grip. Then you will not benefit from the oversize fully, as the grip will be thickest at the butt end.
Putter Grip – Does It Matter?
Just as how to choose a golf putter plays a large role in your game, picking the right putter grip is half the battle. There are plenty of factors that come into play, such as length, material, and texture. These all come in behind size, which is what we’ll focus on.
When we talk size, we mean the width of a grip. The two main widths are fat grips and skinny, or normal sized grips.
It’s hard to say that fat grips are new, but at the same time, they’ve only been around a decade or two. Fat putter grips make the putter feel lighter and reduce the effects, good or bad, of what your hands or wrists do.
A fat grip promotes a straighter stroke and reduces arcing by minimizing the role of your hands and wrists. For golfers that struggle with keeping putts on line, especially shorts ones, it could improve accuracy dramatically.
The most traditional style of putter grip, a skinnier grip gives you more leniency to adjust on the fly. With a skinny grip, you are in control. As such, you’re who’s responsible for making – or missing putts. Of the two types we covered, traditional grips are more common among professionals.
If this is the style you prefer and you find yourself searching for more control, don’t be afraid to loosen your hands up and slide your bottom-hand index finger down the shaft. It can increase control if you can get used to the feeling.
Pricing Of Golf Putters
There is not a single piece of equipment in any sport that has a price range quite like putters. Okay, I’m sure that I’m missing something random from an obscure sport, but putters are up there.
You can pay $20 and get something that helps you make putts. You can pay $500 and get something that helps you make putts. What matters the most is that you are accurate and can control your distance – price is secondary.
There are plenty of golfers who use a putter for 20+ years. Find someone who uses a driver that long, I bet you can’t. A putter is an investment, and if done wisely, is a process you’ll only have to go through a few times in your life.
On the other hand, it can become quite a sport for some people to collect putters. There’s even a movement of passionate people within golf, who likes to collect customized and rare putters.
Deciding how to choose a golf putter, and how much you want to spend are related. If you only have the budget for a RAM, Top Flite, or Pinemeadow putter, that’s fine.
If you’re a high roller and can afford a Scotty Cameron, Bettinardi, or Majesty, go for it.
The more expensive the putter, the more resources that have been put into weighting, alignment, and consistency. Regardless of price, you’re the one who has to put the ball in the hole, not the putter.
It can boost your confidence though – to overlook a well-made Scotty Cameron putter. Maybe it’s the confidence you need.
You’ll have to figure that out for yourself 🙂