Posted May 15, 2023 in Play Better Golf by Trevor Cigich
Putting is one of the most important aspects of golf but also the most frustrating. The smallest adjustment can be the difference between consistently improving your handicap and consistently three-putting your way to double-bogeys while your friends wait to get to the next tee. Everybody experiences the steep learning curve that is the putting green, but choosing the right putter can ensure that your hard work is reflected in your results over time.
There are several measurables in a putting stroke that will answer the question, “What kind of putter should I use?” The easiest way to get everything measured at once, and leave with a perfect putter the same day, is to get fitted at a specialty golf shop. For those looking to make an initial purchasing decision on their own, there are six things you’ll need to consider about a new putter:
Let’s dive into each, and what about your stroke will determine the right option.
Toe hang, put simply, is the x-axis angle at which the toe (the end of the head) is placed relative to the shaft. Putters with more toe hang will have the toe positioned farther back, creating an open face on the backstroke, closed coming through.
Putters with an arc stroke typically benefit from toe hang, with more severe arcs benefitting from more pronounced toe hang. This is because arc strokes can often lead to a more closed face at the point of impact and can lead to frequently missing left. Opening the club face with a bit of toe hang will help correct this so long as the putting stroke stays consistent.
Toe hang is less advantageous if your stroke is straight, as the more open club face will lead to an over-compensation. Thus, you’ll likely struggle with missing right if you have a square-to-square stroke and pick a club off the rack with pronounced toe hang. A putter designed to have less toe hang, and benefit from straighter strokes, is called a “face-balanced” putter.
Before answering the question “What kind of putter should I use?” you must determine your stroke. Beginner golfers often don’t know what stroke they have, making it hard to decide what tool is right for the job. Luckily, it is pretty easy to get a general idea of what your putting stroke shape is.
To do so, set a club or other straight object (alignment rods are often used in an actual fitting) down on the green, pointing directly toward your target. Take some puts alongside it, and note how the path of your stroke looks relative to the straight putting line. Almost everybody has some degree of arc in their stroke, but the severity of this arc will generally inform the rest of the determinations you’ll want to make about your putter.
If your club face opens on your backstroke and closes on your follow-through to create an arc, then you have an arc stroke. If your stroke is relatively straight on both the backstroke and the follow-through, then you have a square-to-square stroke.
Most putters utilize a heel shaft or a shaft that meets the head at or near the edge, with the rest of the head extending out from the hose. Center shaft putters are far more common, and they have a shaft that sits over the middle of the head.
Now, there are more than just heel-shafted and center-shafted putters. Many putters feature differing bend configurations, like a single bend. Single Bends are heel-shafted putters, but the bend sets the shaft position when directly down the shaft, in-between the center of the head and heel. These putters provide a mix of the feedback and stability of a center shaft and the more dynamic rotation control of a heel shaft. This is beneficial for putters who have just a slight arcing stroke.
Lie angle refers to the z-axis angle of the putter head relative to the shaft, affecting how the head will “lie” relative to the ground. When the toe is lifted off the ground, it elevates the center of the club face, making it harder to strike the ball at the center. So, depending on the angle at which you hold your putting shaft, you’ll want to increase or decrease the lie angle to try and get the face more parallel with the green.
There are two broad head shape categories for putters:
Blade putters are smaller and provide more feedback at the point of contact. This means that it will be easier to feel where on the face the ball was struck and at what angle. Although, they aren’t as forgiving to off-center or off-angle strikes. Many putters prefer feedback over forgiveness, making the blade putter right for them.
Mallet putters leverage a physics principle called MOI, or moment-of-inertia. By moving the weight farther back, the MOI is increased, making the putter more forgiving. Most mallet putters are designed to maximize MOI, but moving so much of the weight away from the face can take from the amount of palpable feedback. Therefore, off-center putts are more likely to stay true, but you will have to use your eyes more to determine the quality of your ball strike.
Length and weight are the final dimensions that we will discuss to answer the question, “What kind of putter should I use?” The goal for putter length is to choose one that allows you to stand with your eye line right over the ball or slightly inside without hunching over too much at the address. Your back doesn’t need to be perfectly straight but should be straight enough for your putting stance to be comfortable and stable.
Weight is more of a preference, but increasing head weight does tend to benefit those with slower putting strokes, as they provide more stability. They also help putters that struggle with close-range putts inside ten feet due to both this stability and higher momentum relative to the speed of the stroke. This feature allows putters to utilize a small, controlled stroke while still getting the distance they need on these short putts.
Adding or subtracting weight will affect what is called “swing weight.” Swing weight isn’t the same as total or even head weight but instead refers to the balance point of the entire club. All clubs have a swing weight, and although it isn’t as given as much attention regarding putters, increasing swing weight will make the shaft feel a bit whippier and provide more feel on contact. Lower swing weight will offer a softer feel but provide less tactile feedback. This is largely a matter of preference, but many golfers like higher swing weights for scoring clubs like wedges and putters due to the feedback a heavier swing weight provides.
Putters that struggle more with longer putts outside the ten-foot range may want a more traditional weight in their putter to ensure they get enough feedback, which can be dampened if the putter head is too much heavier than the ball.
At the end of the day, getting a perfect putter for your stroke is near impossible without a professional fitting. At a fitting, an expert will measure all of these different aspects of your stroke. In the process, they will allow you to try out several different putters and configurations of the same one to zero in on exactly what you need.
To see what a high-quality putter fitting looks like, check out the one we did with PING’s Putting Lab:
To ensure that you get your money’s worth out of your purchase, seek out a specialty golf shop that can provide you with the professional fitting service that you need. Luckily, Worldwide Golf Shops has many in-store locations that can provide this service and online assistance in picking one yourself if a fitting is out of the question.
By now, you should have an answer to the question, “What kind of putter should I use?” The next logical step is purchasing a good quality putter. Worldwide Golf Shops provides next-level service to customers of all experience levels, with the best-trained staff in the industry. We pride ourselves on our ability to provide guidance to beginners and to share pro tips with even our most experienced clientele. Check out our online store to see our industry-standard variety of all of the following:
At Worldwide Golf Shops, we take pride in offering brands that we guarantee will provide the highest level of value to our diverse range of golfers. Our knowledgeable staff is ready to assist you in finding the perfect golf gear. Find a store near you today!
Trevor Cigich | Director of Retail Marketing | Worldwide Golf Shops
I’ve been at Worldwide Golf Shops for 6 years, and I’ve been playing golf for 23 years. I have played a few mini tour events but now compete occasionally at the amateur level– currently a +2.1 handicap. I am a bit of a tinkerer when it comes to golf and golf clubs. I enjoy testing all aspects of different products, utilizing various fitting systems and learning about all the different club shafts, club lengths, golf balls, and putter styles. Not just for my game, but to help customers of all calibers.
For more content from me and our team, as well as our vast online store, go to www.worldwidegolfshops.com.