The Driver and Putter are a golfer’s trademark to their overall game. These are the two most called upon clubs in your bag. You either golf poorly or really well by having the right driver and putter. Each one of these two clubs can shave a few strokes off your score. There is little debate that choosing the right putter is essential to improving your game. There is an old golf adage that reads: “You Drive for Show and Putt for Doe”. It is the single club, utilized more than every other during a round of golf. You probably make at least half of your shots with your putter, if you can cut that in half, your game will definitely improve. Basically there are three types of putters; blade, mallet and weighted. Additionally, there are several different types of putter shafts featuring different bend configurations and shaft location.
Prior to deciding on a putter, first determine what style putting stroke you use. Every golf putting stroke is going to fall into one of two
categories: either straight back and through, always keeping the putter face square to the ball, or inside to inside motion, or an abbreviated
adaptation of the full golf swing. These two different putting strokes will determine what type of putter suits you best. Of course, there are also center-shafted and heel-shafted putters. All putters can be customized to a particular style and configuration. NOTE: Belly Putters fall into a different category.
Putter Shaft Types
A center-shafted design is where the club shaft attaches to the putter head at nearly its center point, and the base of the putter will probably be just about flat on the ground. Because the weight of these putters is face-balanced, meaning the weight is equally divided in the heel and toe, this is the right putter for the person who keeps directly over the ball, brings the putter straight back and then swings straight through the ball with a clean steady pendulum stroke. You can tell if a putter is face-balanced if you balance it on your finger about 6 inches from the club head, and the club face remains horizontal.
A heel-shafted design is where the toe for your golf club has contact with the ground greater than the remainder of the bottom. If use an inside to inside golf stroke, then a heel-shafted putter with the shaft attaching to the heel is better for you. At the beginning of the putting stroke, the toe of the putter tends to stay where it is for a moment, which closes the putter. At the top of the backstroke, the tendency for the toe of the putter is to keep moving back, or opening up. When the stroke begins, the toe of the putter is still lagging, and then must close on the ball before contact. This opening and closing of the putter face means that there is quite a lot going on during the duration of the putting stroke. The drawback is that the more variables you can take out of any golf stroke will lead to greater consistency and the heel-shafted putter has more variables.
The elongated putters are split into two categories: belly putters and long putters. Belly Putters serve to remove the wrist action out of golf
putting. With many older golfers, their wrist action is frequently the first thing to fail. Arthritus does play a role in this issue. Belly putters
press against the stomach area and are intended to minimize wrist movement. On the other hand, Long putters are five to 10 inches longer than belly putters and eliminate all wrist movement. The left hand is going to secure the top of the golf club with the chest or under your chin, while the right hand merely leads the club throughout your putting stroke. These clubs are easier on the nerves and force a pendulum swing motion.
If you are having trouble sinking putts with conventional types of putters, you may want to consider belly putters or the long putters. Although both are quite long, the distinction is the top of the belly putter will be stabilized in the stomach area, and the long putter will go under the golfer’s chin. Hardly anyone takes up one of these putters unless they have real issues with the regular heel shaft or center shaft putters. The good thing about using this type of putter is that the arc of the stroke will be much more uniform than the standard putt.
Putter Head Styles
Historically, the traditional blade putter is the oldest of all the types and is the most common. A traditional blade is narrow and shallow. If you have a straight forward stroke, then you should select the blade putter of choice. Traditionally these are basic putters that suit any green, especially hard and fast ones. It is a face balanced club, meaning that it is made from metal and you will feel the hit of the ball. It is flat, straight and has a simple design. People that already have a great putting stroke, generaaly do not need the heavier putter and tend to use a blade. The traditional putting style, is most commonly used by a majority of golfers. The traditional style works best for golfers who don’t have any trouble keeping their wrists together during the putting stroke. Low-handicappers might prefer traditional blades because they offer great feedback, but most golfers are better off staying away from blades as they offer very little forgiveness.
Peripheral Weighted Putter
The peripheral putter (also called weighted putter) is almost like a high performance blade putter. but it is more dynamic in design due to the head being longer. If you putt in to out during your stroke, then a peripheral putter should be considered. It is much like the mallet and blade, but was invented before the mallet putter. This type of putter is probably the second most used among professionals and amateurs. Some models have adjustable weights on the back side.
The mallet golf putter has become the favorite of several pros because of their soft feel when hitting ball. Mallet putters have large clubheads that maximize moment of inertia for the most forgiving putter heads. The head is heavy and some can be adjusted depending on the desired balance and weight. Because of the larger head length, it requires less motion when attempting long distance putts. These large heads make it easier for you to align the putt because most of them have an extended back. These tend to be more forgiving since they have a larger sweet spot on the face. Often these have adjustable weights in the rear. If your are always in a position that needs long putts, the mallet putter would be an excellent choice. If you purchase a model with adjustable weights, there is the option place an insert in them to help with the hit of the ball and to lower back spin. One of the features with a mallet putter is that it is slightly heavier than a blade putter, which means that you can make a smaller stroke to achieve greater distance and this helps keep the ball on the target line. If you do not like hitting hard with the putter, this style can help with accuracy. The extra weight helps keep the putter on line once the stroke is started.
Putter Shaft Design
Some studies suggests that right-handed players with a dominant left eye should use a straight-shafted putter. If the right eye is dominant, however, an offset putter is recommended so that the player’s dominant eye is straight over the ball. But, a few PGA Tour putting coaches feel that players using offset putters tend to aim to the right, regardless of which eye is dominant.
The club head in an offset putter sits farther back from the ball’s position than the shaft. The purpose of an offset putter is either to keep a player’s hands in front of the club head during the putting stroke or to accommodate his dominant eye. There are several ways to offset the club head.In some putters, the hosel (the part of the club head into which the shaft fits) is bent. A straight shaft is then attached to the hosel. In other offset putters it’s the shaft that is bent.
Bended Putter Hosels & Shafts
An offset shaft or hosel is generally a good thing for a recreational golfer. Offset helps the golfer line up with his or her forward eye over the ball, and with a good line of sight. An offset putter also helps keep the hands ahead of the ball when the putt is struck, which is a putting fundamental. Many golfers putt great without an offset, but it’s one more thing that comes down to feel.
Offset putters that contain bent shafts typically have two bends (referred to as a double-bend). The angles of the bends will be shallow, because the shaft is made from fairly light material such as aluminum or a metal composite. The hosel can be bent more aggressively. Offset putters, in which, hosels are bent at right angles are more common. In either case, however, the goal is the same: to offset the club head behind the shaft. Double-bend putters usually have less offset, 1/2 offset. Another bend called a plumber’s neck is normally one full offset. Again, it is a matter of personal preference. Some tour players state that they see more of the ball with the plumber’s neck, and this allows them to put the ball more towards the middle of their stance (one ball left of center) than a typical double bend putter.
Adjustability is the difference between the two. Plumber’s neck putters (depending on the material) are easier to adjust for loft and lie. Double Bend shafts align the shaft of the putter with the center of the face, thus making the putter face balanced, which is ideal for a straight back -straight through stroke. Plumbers Neck hozels do not run through the center of the face, so they are not face balanced and more suitable to an arched or gated stroke. This is where the “finger test” comes into play. Balance the putter on the end your finger, and if the face of the putter points to the sky – it is “face balanced”. If it does not, it has what is called “toe hang”. This is where you hear of the “6 o’clock” or “4 o’clock” reference.
Putter Face Lines, Inserts, and Deep Milling
Putter face inserts can be made of metal, rubber, ceramic, plastic, glass, wood and more. It all involves feel and touch which is mostly personal preference and comfort. Golf companies sell “good roll” or “hole-seeking spin”, in other words – overspin. The promote technology that, they say, improves a golfer’s ability to putt a ball and have it hold its line. While there is some merit to the idea that a golf ball that starts rotating sooner will hold its line. However, a golf ball that starts rolling sooner also will go further because it doesn’t lose as much energy turning a skidding motion into rolling. Putter makers who make putters with grooves will have you believe that a grooved putter will help you create this overspin. Just like grooves on an iron create backspin, the theory goes that the upward motion of the putter head at impact will allow the grooves to bite into the ball and cause it to spin forward. However, this is false. A putter is not traveling fast enough in 99.99% of situations for the grooves to actually impact the ball.
In most cases, grooves, like inserts, can change the feel of a putter or make it possible to have a putter that feels a certain way. Both grooves and deep milling alter the contact of the ball and the putter face. Effectively, grooves and deep milling give the ball fewer places to make contact with the face of the putter. Natural frequencies cannot be transmitted as efficiently through the putter head, up the shaft, and into the grip, so the feel changes a bit. Additionally, because the contact is smaller and more localized, there is less of a “ringing” effect, so the amplitude (or strength) of the sound emitting from the putter head is much lower. As a result, there is less vibrations, which makes the putter feel and sound muted. To many players, that is a “soft” feeling that assists them to determine whether or not they made good impact. While this is generally personal preference, it is largely desirable to have a “soft feeling” with a putter face to help understand where the impact was made.
So while grooves, inserts, and deep milling do not affect roll, they do essentially affect putting from an indirect perspective. Your putting confidence level depends at least in part on your making consistent impact, but it is also true that your making consistent impact depends at least in part on your confidence. Grooves, deep milling, and inserts can increase the chances that you will feel that “soft, pure” feeling of a good shot off the face of the putter, providing feedback that you executed the shot correctly. So there is some good there. But to truly improve your roll, grooves, deep milling, and inserts will not actually help.
A golfer does not necessarily have to use an off-the-rack putter. There are many types of design offerings on the market by both the major manufacturers and a whole host of smaller specialty putter companies. Length and design of course are important facets for this critical scoring club. However, putters can be modified in several various ways to have them fit your stroke and body type. Shaft type and weight are one consideration. But, besides a few different putter shaft selections and numerous grip choices, we can customize the putter shaft bend profile, target direction, loft/lie, and face profile as well as configurations of the hosel/shaft combination. We have the tools and equipment that enables us to alter any putter for your needs.
In conclusion, selecting a putter is largely based upon a comfortable appearance and how it sets up eye-wise. Putters are extremely subjective. Furthermore, you should allow the putter head to generate its own speed rather than attempting to push the ball speed with your stroke motion. Where the ball is positioned in the stance, must be exactly the same with every putt to achieve a high level of consistency. If your putter and particularly the ball, is the least bit out of line – the entire putt will be thrown off. With a standard putter, small adjustments can be made during the stroke to compensate for these variations. The standard putting address, is where you bend your body at the hips, which in turn places your eyes directly over the golf ball. Beginning golfers will want putters that are plenty forgiving, meaning they help cover up for mis-hits and poor strikes. The key to using a putter from off the putting surface is a low, smooth cut of turf. The fringe or frog hair that circles a green usually qualifies.
All putters, regardless of size or shape, are designed to start the ball rolling smoothly, with a minimum of backspin to avoid skipping or skidding. Almost all putters have a small amount of loft (typically 3 or 4 degrees), so the ball does come up off the turf when it is first struck, then settles back on the surface of the putting green and begins its forward roll.
Putter lengths are standard and range from around 32 to 36 inches. A junior putter would be 31 inches and below. Standard, or conventional, length is the most popular and is the length that beginners should start with, but it is still a huge advantage to get personally fitted for a putter. If you have a straight-back-and-through putting stroke, then look for face-balanced putter; if your putting stroke is an arc, look for a toe-balanced putter.