How to Choose a Putter
A golf swing is a tricky thing. You have probably heard an instructor say, “If it feels good, you’re probably doing it wrong.” That may be sound advice, but if there’s one place on the golf course where it is critical that your stroke feels natural and comfortable, that’s on the putting green.
Standing upright, bending over, using a conventional grip, using a claw grip, favoring a short putter, loving a long putter – there is no one way to putt. Finding comfort is the key. However, before you decide to putt it is important to understand the relationship between your stroke and the equipment you choose.
Many golfers don’t associate putting with swinging a club, but don’t forget the putting stroke is a miniature swing. Knowing what type of swing you are using on the greens can go a long way in choosing a putter that best fits your game.
Find Your Stroke
There are two basic types of putting stroke: straight and arced. The straight stroke is simple enough; the club head is brought straight back and straight through the ball. An arced stroke is a tiny replica of the full golf swing with the club path traveling away from the ball to the inside and returning to square and finishing back to the inside of the line. Players using an arc style putting stroke will employ varying degrees of arc on their putting stroke, depending on personal preference.
You do not have to guess what type of putting stroke you use. Alignment rods, which are useful in so many aspects of practice, are a great way to evaluate your putting stroke. Lay two down, a putter head’s width apart and make strokes along a path that does not strike the rods. You will see if you are using a straight or arced stroke.
What Kind of Putter Should I Use?
Knowing your stroke path can be used in determining how to pick a putter that is best for your game. The key here is putter balance. Place your putter in your palm or index finger with the shaft parallel to the ground. If the face points straight up, you are holding a face-balanced putter. If it dips towards the ground, the flat stick is said to have “toe hang.” Some manufacturers are taking the guesswork out of this exercise and indicating how many degrees of toe hang their putters have. As a rule of thumb, heavier mallet-style putters will be face-balanced while blades and Anser-styled putters will have toe hang.
Players who use a straight stroke will be best served with face-balanced putters. Players who employ a wide arc in the putting stroke should look for clubs with more toe hang since these clubs will create drag that slows the rotation down through the stroke. The high-tech MOI (moment of inertia) putters are generally face-balanced or mid-balanced. The goal of these putters is to reduce twisting on inconsistent strikes.
My Putting Woes Are Solved, Right?
Will knowing your putter stroke path and different putter heads best suited for that stroke cure all the ills in your putting game? Of course not. The ultimate goal is to find a putter that looks good to your eye, makes it easy to start your putts rolling on the proper line, and gives you the confidence to make that putt. Beyond that, picking a putter head to match your stroke allows you to know that your putter is trying to work with you on the greens, not against you.