Among the most important golf clubs, yet most perplexing to shop for, is the putter. With the sheer number of shapes, sizes, and styles available today, choosing the right putter model can be challenging. This comprehensive guide examines the primary putter categories, from traditional blades to modern mallets and counterbalanced options, to determine the optimal putter for your stroke, preferences, and needs and tips on choosing the right putter. The following are the main types of putters:
- Blade Putters
- Mallet Putters
- Counterbalanced Putters
- Arm Lock Putters
- Face Balanced Mallet Putters
- Milled Face Putters
- Inset Face Putters
The classic blade putter features a slim, compact head typically made from carbon steel or stainless steel.
- Narrow profile helps with alignment for straight back-and-through strokes
- Minimal offset and small face area provide responsiveness and feedback on impact
- Little forgiveness on mishits due to low MOI design
- Typically face balanced or near face balanced
- Weights positioned in center or heel/toe areas
Mallet putters have larger, semi-circular heads that add forgiveness.
- Perimeter weighting increases MOI for stability and distance control
- Frequently have multiple alignment aids for easy setup
- Feel softer than blades due to rear weighting
- Tend to have some hangback with face rotation
Counterbalanced putters incorporate extra weight in the grip end to improve stability.
- 20-80g weights in the grip counteract head weight
- Creates pendulum-like motion for smooth, consistent stroke
- Provides superior distance control on putts
- Helps mitigate wrist breakdowns and tension
- Available in blades, mid-mallets and larger mallets
Arm Lock Putters
Arm lock putters allow stabilizing the forearms against the chest during the stroke.
- Specialized grip and shaft angle facilitate arm locking
- Reduces breakdowns, improves reliability under pressure
- Typically mid-mallet or mallet heads with more weight
- Enables more pendulum-like motion utilizing big muscles
Face Balanced Mallet Putters
Face balanced mallets hang perfectly upright when balanced on the face.
- Precisely balanced face reduces twisting and manipulation
- Requires straight back-and-through pendulum motion
- Improves directional control and starting putts on line
- Reliable on short putts requiring precision speed
- Can utilize center shaft or heel-toe shafts
Milled Face Putters
Milled face putters utilize precision milling for enhanced feel, roll and consistency across the face.
- Computerized CNC milling creates complex face patterns
- Tight manufacturing tolerances enhance precision and consistency
- Soft feel and acoustic feedback from milled aluminum or stainless steel
- Roll characteristics can be customized via milling patterns
- Improves ball speeds and reduces skidding
Insert Face Putters
Insert face putters incorporate softer polymer materials in the striking face for improved feel.
- Insert materials like TPU, Surlyn, or copolymers enable soft touch and feedback
- Reduces vibration and provides satisfying acoustics
- Allows for larger sweet spots and perimeter weighting behind insert
- Provides consistency across the face
Top Tips When Choosing a Putter
- Determine your stroke type. Analyze whether you have a straight back-and-through stroke, slight arc, strong arc, or twisting stroke. This will help narrow down putter styles that fit your path.
- Choose the proper length. Ideal putter length correlates closely to your height – use 31-32″ putters if below 5’6″, 32-34″ for heights 5’6″ to 6’0″, and 34-36″ lengths if over 6’0″ tall.
- Consider the head weight. Heavier putter heads provide more stability while lighter heads allow quicker stroke tempo. Test swing various weights to find the right rhythm and steadiness.
- Check the balance. Face balanced, toe balanced, and heel balanced options exist. Choose the balance suited to your stroke path and desired face rotation.
- Prioritize proper alignment. Experiment with different putter shapes and alignment aids to determine which ones inspire confidence and accuracy at setup for your eyes.
With so many putter varieties available, narrowing the selection requires understanding attributes that best suit your stroke, preferences and skill level. Testing out models to experience features firsthand can help determine an ideal putter. Dialing in the proper head shape, balance, and technologies enables superior alignment, touch and results on the greens.