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Understanding your Putter

By on May 1, 2013
putters

Most part of our game is played with the putter. Do you know if your putter suits your game?

Understanding the characteristics of the putters will allow you to pick a putter which suits you most.

Style of putter

There are a vast variety of putters, but they can be categorised into 2 basic styles:

  1. Blade putters – these have a more traditional shape
  2. Mallet putters – these have a wider variety of shapes and styles

The style and shape of the putter can be a personal preference but each style of putter has a certain characteristic.

Alignment

The shape of the head is designed to give visual alignment for the direction of the putt.

The mallet style putter which is deeper from face to back allows for longer alignment marks. Longer alignment lines will allow you to more easily see if the putter is lining up with your target line.

If you prefer the blade putter you can use the blade face as your alignment aid by making sure it is perpendicular (at right angles) to the direction of your putt.

Weight Distribution

A secondary factor of the shape allows for changes in weight distribution to create more stability so it twists less as you swing it back and forward.  The more peripheral weight, as long as it is balanced, the more resistance there is to inadvertent twisting during the stroke. The mallet putter allows weight to be placed further back in the head increasing its stability.  Many blade putters have very heavy materials in their periphery, compensating somewhat for their narrower head.

Mallet putters are usually face balanced, whereby if the shaft of the putter is balanced on your finger, the putter face will be parallel to the ground. This will encourage the putter to swing straight back and forward in a straight line.

Blade putters are usually non-face balanced putters. These will have the toe of the club pointing down when balanced on your finger. This is suitable if you swing your putter in a slight ark, where the additional weight on the toe of the putter helps close the face, brings it square to the putting line, as you swing though your stroke.

Weight of putter

When trying a putter, you might notice that some feel heavier than others.

A putter that has a heavier swing weight will tend to keep swing more on line and less likely to twist. It allows you to maintain a smoother swing.

The lighter putter provides more feel to the putt and usually used by more advanced players for better control and contact of the putt.

Face Alignment

Face alignment is the most noticeable when you first put own a putter at the address position.  Have you put a putter down and need to twist it around to get it to line up?

Ideally when you address the ball with the putter, using your natural grip, the putter should be in alignment with your putting line. When you swing it back and forward with your natural grip it will naturally come back into alignment at impact.  If you have to manipulate the face to get it aligned, you may find it harder to bring it consistently back to alignment during at impact.

The shaft may be straight to the putter or have a bend giving the putter an offset face where the face is behind the level of the shaft. This usually helps you close the face into alignment at impact. This is a personal preference that may allow you to better align the face.

Length of putter

Normal length putters are usually at 45” in length and are designed for the average male typically between 5 feet 10 inches tall and 6 feet tall.  Although you may be shorter it is not your height alone that dictates the length of the putter you should use.

It is how the putter sits at address that is most important, and this is dictated by the style and setup of your putting stroke.

At your normal and comfortable address position, ideally the putter will sit flat on the ground.  If the heel or toe points up the face will not be in alignment with your putting line and you will tend to pull or push your putts.

If the toe of your putter points up this may mean that your putter is too long. If you grip down shorter on the grip of the putter and your putter sits flat on the ground you may need to have it shortened. This can be easily done at your pro shop but before doing this have the pro check out your putting stroke in case it is what should be corrected. If the heel of your putter points up, you may need to have it lengthened.

You may see some professionals using the long putter which they hold anchored to their chin or chest.  It seems that these will soon be banned and are not usually used by amateurs.

Grip Size

Most golfers use the standard grip size but some women may need a larger or oversize grips. The larger grip tends to amplify the feel if you inadvertently twist your putter when playing the stroke. If you increase the feedback you get for your stroke it is easier to correct it. The larger grip also promotes a lighter grip on the putter which may provide a better feel for the putt.

As you can see there are many factors in choosing a putter and there are many more factors when taking your putting stroke into consideration.

Check out your own putter and see if it really suites your putting style.

Try and check out other putters that may suit your putting style for comparison.

Also if you have problems with your putting, your local golf professional will be pleased to review your putting stroke and may suggest improvements.

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