Ready for the Course: How to Buy the Right Golf Putter
Looking to improve your short game? Find a putter to match the unique mechanics of your stroke.
When it comes to your putt, it’s personal.
On the green, your putter helps you feel the ball. Sense pace and depth. Detect the shot line. It is the most used club in your bag, after all. So, it’s critical that you find one that matches the unique mechanics of your stroke.
And that’s no easy proposition—today’s putters come in a variety of lengths, weight placements, clubhead shapes, and alignments. Use this guide to find the right putter, and putter components, for your short game.
The length of your putter has a huge impact on your stroke. Pick the wrong size and you’ll throw off your putting line. Most putters range from about 32 to 52 inches, and they’re designed to keep your eyes over the ball. The shaft of your putter should fall neatly in line with your forearm when you’re in the address position.
It’s common for golfers to choose a putters too long for their game. And if you’re clutching your standard-size putter below its grip, you should probably opt for a shorter-length shaft. Likewise, if you’re experiencing lower-back pain during your stroke, it may be time to try a longer putter. Here’s how you choose the correct length:
1. Get into your address position, or putting stance.
2. Let your arms hang naturally.
3. Have someone measure from the ground to just above the top of your hands. This is the length of your putter shaft.
Face Vs. Toe Balance
- Face-balanced putters are best for a “straight back, straight through putting stroke,” because they keep the clubface square through impact. When the shaft is balanced, the putter face points directly up.
- Toe-balanced putters complement an arced putting stroke by squaring up the clubface at impact. When the shaft is balanced, the toe will drop and angle toward the ground.
- Blade putters are narrow, flat and offer excellent feel for the ball. They’re popular among low-handicappers. Keep in mind, blades can differ in hosel offset, which is designed to keep the golfer’s hands ahead of the ball through impact for quicker forward roll.
- Mallet putters have a large, rounded clubhead, and the weight is typically balanced throughout the clubhead. This helps golfers achieve more consistent performance. Keep in mind, mallets differ in where the shaft enters the clubhead—it can enter either at the heel or in the center.
Putter Clubhead Features
- Insert putters are engineered with composite inserts, made of a softer material than the clubhead in general. These inserts promote better feel and smoother roll. The insert is located on the face of the putter, clearly defining its sweet spot for the golfer.
- Perimeter-weighted putters are exceptionally forgiving with a design that distributes weight around the edges. These putters provide a larger sweet spot, because the perimeter weighting helps stabilize against mis-hits.
- Alignment putters come with larger clubheads painted with geometric alignment aids. As the name would suggest, these putters make it easier to start the ball at the target line.
The Counterbalance Putter
Long putters, or “belly putters,” are elongated clubs anchored to the chest or stomach as you putt. Golfers turned to these lengthy clubs to stabilize their hands during stroke.
Long putters have been banned for official use by the United States Golf Association. In their place, the PGA recommends counterbalance putters.
Counterbalance putters have extra weight in both the grip and clubhead. This weighting technique prevents golfers from rotating their hands as they putt for better stability, smoothness and accuracy. If your hands are shaky on the putt or your find yourself swinging too quickly, it might be time to try a counterbalance putter.