Professionals overpower golf courses with the distances they hit the ball these days.
But what separates the regular winners from the rest of the field are those players who are consistently the best putters.
The golf putter is still the most important club in the bag for a variety of reasons which we’ll look at in this article.
But it's often overlooked in the amateur game in favour of improving swing mechanics and gaining more power.
This could be problematic as for most amateurs, nearly half the shots they play in a round of golf are on the greens.
From a numbers perspective, the contrast between amateur and professional is stark.
- PGA Tour average number of putts for the 2021/22 season - 29.06 putts per round
- Average number of putts for amateurs with handicaps between 16 and 20 - 35.8 putts per round
Imagine what would happen to your handicap if you started to putt like the average tour professional!
Putting is crucial to our overall success in a round of golf.
Apart from the obvious reasons like sinking a putt for a birdie, holing a putt can keep the momentum of a good round going.
It’s just as vital holing a good 10-footer that turns a double bogey into a bogey or better, a bogey into an unexpected par.
In matchplay, an opponent might be averaging 30 yards past you off the tee but if you are the better putter it can keep you in the match.
So, to help you with your putting we’ll look at the following areas:
- Types of golf putters
- Factors to consider when choosing a putter
- Customisation options
- Finding your perfect putter
Types of Golf Putters
In the modern game, golf putter styles generally fall into three different camps:
- Blade putter
- Mallet putter
- High MOI putter
One of the most recognised putter designs and still the trusted choice of many professionals and amateurs alike. The blade-style putter came into existence when in 1966 an engineer by the name of Karsten Solheim created a design that featured:
- A hollowed-out cavity in the rear of the putter
- Offset hosel allowing the golfer to see all of the face at address
- Lines running parallel to the face to help golfers square up the head at address
Solheim had created the Ping Anser putter. The blade style he created in 1966 has been copied many times but the principle of the putter is still exactly the same in its design regardless of the manufacturer
Mallet putters offer a bigger footprint compared to their blade counterparts. The semi-elliptical design of the putter head pushes weight to the furthest extremities reducing twisting of the putter head and giving a bigger sweet spot. This style of putter can be beneficial to new golfers or higher-handicap golfers who can’t consistently find the centre of the putter face with their stroke.
High MOI Putter
Following on from the mallet design and offering the least amount of twisting in the club face are the high Moment of Inertia (MOI) putters. High MOI putters will offer strategic weighting to allow the putter face to remain as square as possible throughout the stroke. Designs like the Odyssey White Hot No7, Scotty Cameron Phantom and TaylorMade’s Spider putter series are highly popular designs.
What’s interesting is that whilst the mallet and high MOI putters on paper are geared to help amateur golfers these designs are also favoured by more professionals now as well. To that last point, if you look at the putters used by 3 of the 4 major winners of 2023 they have used either a mallet or high MOI style putter.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Putter
Understanding the different types of putter heads is one aspect of putter design but there are more facets that need to be considered when choosing a putter, such as:
- Length and fit
- Inserts v milled faces
- Alignment aids
- Stroke type
Length and fit
Putters can come in many different sizes. The standard for most putters falls between 33 and 35 inches but players have experimented with putters as short as 29 inches and as long as 60 inches. As with any golf club, if you are exceptionally tall you may need a longer, more upright putter and likewise, if you are short or a junior, a shorter putter might work best for you. You should never make adjustments to your set-up if the putter isn’t the right length for you.
Inserts v milled faces
Inserts are placed in putter faces to offer the golfer the softest feel possible. Odyssey pioneered the idea when they used a balata insert on their Rosie putters to match the balata balls that were still being used by professionals. Since then, Odyssey through its White Hot insert has enhanced its original design and placed it into different models.
Some golfers aren’t keen on an insert as they feel it is almost too soft and they don’t get the right feeling off the putter at impact.
The alternative is looking for a milled putter face. The entire head is milled out of a billet of steel to create a consistent feel and weighting throughout the putter. The rough surface of the face on milled putters can negate the ball initially “skidding” off the putter face.
An alignment aid can be something as simple as a small dot placed on the leading edge of the putter or a line that runs from the face to the back of the putter. Manufacturers have experimented over the years with different alignment aids on putters with varying degrees of success. An alignment spot or line can work well with many golf balls which also now feature alignment aids to help golfers line up putts correctly. The alignment aid comes down to visually what works best for you.
Golfers will generally have a stroke that has a slight arc to it or will take the putter straight back and straight through. Putters can match each type of stroke.
- A “toe hang” putter works better for an arc stroke as the additional weight in the toe area will help square the club face up at impact. Toe hang can mainly be seen in blade-style putters.
- A face-balanced putter works better for the “straight back, straight through” stroke and is most likely found in high MOI putters.
How Do You Know Which Putter Is Which?
Resting the shaft of the putter on your fingers if the putter's face points skywards it’s a face-balanced putter. If the face of the putter points down, it’s a toe-hang putter.
Customisation Options For Your Putter
Putters also offer golfers additional customised options to make their putter right for their game.
Starting with the grip, golfers can choose between thin grips and ultra-thick grips. There are two reasons golfers might opt for a thicker grip:
- The thicker grip negates a “handsy” putting stroke
- Golfers employ different types of grip on the putter such as the claw grip
Counterbalancing is the process of adding more weight to the grip end of the putter. The benefits of counterbalancing can help increase the putter’s MOI but this can also be achieved by altering the weight set up on putters like the TaylorMade Spyder series.
Finding Your Perfect Putter
Now we understand more about the different types of putters available, how would you go about finding the perfect putter for you? There are different ways you can do this:
- Ask a friend
- Online reviews
- The retail experience
- The custom fitting experience
Ask a Friend
Professionals are always curious to try other players’ clubs, especially putters and especially if a player has a good couple of weeks on the greens. Amateurs can do something similar.
Asking for a shot of a friend’s putter on the practice putting green is one way to get some feedback on whether that putter could be a good choice for you.
Doing a bit of research online or on social media can start to provide some feedback on the latest putter releases. The one thing to be wary of is that in most instances, reviews are personal insights based on the individual’s time with the putter.
The Retail Experience
A lot of golfers will also seek out their club professional shop or major golf retailer to try putters. This is helpful because at the very least you get a good feel for what the putter is like, how it sounds off impact and if you can hole putts if there is a practice putting green available.
The Custom Experience
If you are really serious about improving your putting being custom-fit for your next golf putter would be a sensible move. Custom-fitting will not only give you some insight as to how your putting stroke works but it will then marry you up to the correct putter for your stroke. The putter will be tailored exactly to your requirements for length, weight, shaft and grip. Taking time to choose the correct putter for your game can pay big dividends on the golf course.
Find out more about our custom golf club fitting service at Golf Tech UK.
Putters at GolfTech UK
Understanding the different types of putter heads and the customisation options available means you have every opportunity to have a putter that will help improve your golf game. The quickest way to reduce your handicap lies in your ability to hole more putts. Having improved consistency of strike and better speed control on the greens will increase your confidence.
As we demonstrated at the start of this article, the difference between the average number of putts per round for a PGA Tour professional and a 16-20 handicap golfer is nearly 6 shots. Whilst we might not be able to get close to how far professionals hit the ball, amateurs can certainly shorten the gap on performance on the greens.
Here at Golf Tech UK, we offer a variety of putter types each with customisable options available. Get in contact with us or browse our putter collection to see what’s available and how you can build your perfect putter.