Choosing the right putter isn’t always so simple
By Brad Skupaka
Your putter is likely the club that you use the most but few golfers have been properly fit for one. Most golfer’s putter selection process involves grabbing one off of the rack and rolling a few putts from random distances or borrowing their friend’s putter during their weekend round. If this sounds like the way you chose your putter, there is a good chance a putter exists that better fits your stroke. Let’s go over some of the different design features in putters and how they can affect the way you roll it.
Putter Design Features
Just like with drivers off the rack, most putters are also too long for 90 percent of golfers. The stock length of many putters is 35” because this is the length that allows the putter to stick out the end of a standard-sized cart bag. I never believed this rationale, but it was recently confirmed by a major OEM. The length of your putter will play a key role in your eye line relative to the ball. If your putter is too long, many times your eyes will be positioned too far inside of the ball, and this can affect both your stroke and your aim. You want to find a putter length that allows you to position your eyes over or just slightly inside of the ball. But it’s not as simple as just cutting an inch off of the shaft. Taking length off can negatively affect swing-weight. Typically shorter putters are built with heavier heads. The use of lead tape is a common fix for many tour pros.
There’s two types of putters on the market: Putters that are face balance, and putters with toe hang. Toe hang is a measurement of what angle the face sits at when suspended. Toe hang can be near 90 degrees with a blade style 8802 putter or 0 degrees (face balanced) with many modern mallet-style heads. The toe hang is one variable that will play a role in how the face opens and closes throughout the stroke. When going through a putter fitting, it’s important to try putters with different amounts of toe hang and have a way to measure how the face is opening and closing throughout the stroke to best determine what you need.
Just like irons, putters have different amounts of offset. Offset, like toe hang, can influence how the face opens and shuts throughout the stroke. When selecting a putter, you typically have three amounts of offset to choose from; no offset, half shaft offset, or full-shaft offset. As you add more offset to a putter the tendency to close the face increases. Using this logic, golfers who tend to miss right should consider testing a putter with more offset.
High moment of inertia, MOI, putters have become more popular recently in mallet designs. MOI on putters range from the low 2000s g/cm2 to over 6000 g/cm2 (a measurement which would make a driver non-conforming). MOI is going to affect a golfer’s distance control by having more consistent ball speeds across the putter face on off-center strikes. Ball speed may not seem like an important measurement when it comes to putters, but it will be a great predictor of distance. Ball speed consistency will help a golfer to have more predictable distance control on the green, especially important on long lag putts. Any golfer who struggles with distance control should consider testing a high MOI mallet putter and see if it helps their putting.
Just finding a putter that looks good to your eye, while can be important, is an oversimplified way of selecting the one club you use the most. Also, while taking your friend’s putter for a test run is a better option than just eyeballing it, it doesn’t let you objectively measure how different style putters could help or hurt your stroke. Ask yourself “Am I a good putter?” if the answer is “yes” then keep doing what you’re doing. If you hesitated or had to think about the answer, then you should get fit for a putter, even if it means measuring your stroke with what you are currently using.