A round of golf isn’t over until the ball is in the hole. You might have had teed off with the best drive of your life, and followed it up with another booming shot from the fairway, putting you smack right in the middle of the green on a par 5 hole. But all that amounts to scratch unless you can roll that ball safely into the hole in one shot with your putter. That in essence is why golfers agonize themselves over their putters more than any other club in their bag. It is the finisher, that special club that deliver a birdie or even an eagle safely into your scorecard. Or, it can send you 2 over or worse, make a meal of a promising 2 on a par 5.
We cannot stress the importance of the putter enough. You may switch and swap your irons and woods and wedges, but you always end up using a putter. It is estimated that golfer use their putter up to 50% of the time on a course. That is how important a putter is.
Just take a look at the sheer diversity in the types of putters out there. No other golf club has this many variations. The sheer diversity in head and hosel designs and technologies is enough to make one’s head swirl. And we are only scratching the surface with those two features. Which is why in our guide to putters for 2017, we will be giving a short overview of some of the major designs, and also take a look at the best golf putters across categories and skill levels for the year 2017. Our shortlist of the best golf putters include:
Golf putters can be distinguished based on the following characteristics:
The choice of putter balance depends entirely on the type of your stroke. Balance of the putter is defined by the position of the Center of Gravity (CG) on the clubhead. There are two main types:
Face-balanced: The CG is oriented more towards the back of the clubface, meaning that when you try to balance this putter on your fingers horizontally, the face will be pointing upwards. They tend to have larger sweet spots. If you like your putters to face square to the target, or your stroke tends to be straighter from the back and through, these are the putters for you. E.g.: mallet type putters.
Toe-balanced: Also called toe-hang, when held parallel to the ground and balanced on a finger, the toe will point downwards in these putters. If you have a slightly curved or swinging shot (arc shot) where the toe is open in the back swing and closes in the forward swing, this is the kind of putter for you. Toe-balanced putters tend to have varying degrees of toe hang. The more arc in your swing, the more toe hang you need. E.g.: Ping Anser putters. Blade or heel shafted putters tend to have maximum toe hang.
To find the right kind of putter for your stroke, it is imperative that you take advice from a golf professional or clubfitter.
We will primarily examine 3 main types:
Blade Putters: One of the oldest designs which has been around since the turn of the last century, blades are still in widespread use today. They have a very simple design, and are face-balanced. Though suitable to all kinds of greens, their strong suit tends to be the harder, faster surfaces. If you have a straighter stroke in your putts, you can use blades.
Peripheral-weighted: When you add extra weight to the toe and heel of a blade putter, you get this design. It is basically an evolved form of the blade, pioneered by Ping. Their Anser design was the first ever peripheral weighted putter over 50 years ago. These putters are also called heel-toe weighted putters. Their increased forgiveness and consistency make them crowd favorites even today.
Mallet Head: these are another kind of face balanced putters that stand out thanks to their massive heads. If you have trouble aligning your putts, these putters may offer better chance of success, since the mass placed behind the head is often embellished with various visual aids to help players align their shots better. Again, these are putters suited for straight strokes.
A successful putt depends a lot on practice. To effectively improve your putts, you need a putter that gives you optimum feel and sound feedback. Different face and insert options provide diverse levels of feel and sound when used with different types of golf balls. You need to experiment to figure out the best combination of putter face and ball for a particular type of green. The different face options include:
Metal Face: the traditional option is predominantly steel, though other metals like titanium, bronze, aluminum have all been used. Metal is the best for louder feedback and a solid feel. Gives you the best estimation of how centered your shots are.
Insert Face: these putters replace the metal in the face with a piece of non metal inserted instead. Usually, lighter and softer substances are used to better redistribute mass elsewhere on the head, at the heel and toe. These putters tend to be more beginner friendly and forgiving. But on the downside, they offer lesser feel and feedback. If used with a firmer ball, they offer better feedback.
Groove Face: a successful putt involves a lot of forward roll from the ball with zero skidding or sliding or back spin. If you use a putter with a groove at the face, the grooves grip the ball better, lift it out of its resting position and send it rolling straight with a lot of forward rolling motion. These putters are now available with both metal as well as insert faces.
The minimum legal length of a putter is 18 inches when measured from the sole to the top of the shaft. Though there is no maximum limit, some longer designs tend to require different techniques of gripping and anchoring (securing the club against a part of the body, like the belly), which have been deemed illegal by both the USGA and R&A. (http://www.pgatour.com/news/2013/05/21/anchoring-rule.html) The rule came into force in 2016. So, to be on the safe side, keep your putter lengths closer or within the traditional limits of 32-36 inches and stay away from belly putters (41-46 inches) and long putters (48-52 inches). These designs do not provide too serious an advantage in your final result anyway.
Our shortlist of 5 putters include some of the latest, most popular and critically acclaimed putters designs available at present. We have put especial focus on including the best of different designs of putters different manufacturers.
This is a blade design from Titleist that actually has a steel insert inside a steel face. That sounds quite strange, but this was done in order to include an additional membrane behind the steel face to improve the feel and response. The membrane is designed to have some kind of vibration dampening technology for a softer feel.
Manufacturers are not exactly averse to giving long and convoluted names to putters and this one Callaway is no exception. Another blade design, but one with a Fusion RX insert with a patterned finish for extra forward roll. This one also has the option of adjustable head-weights that can alter between 365, 375 and 385 grams.
A mid size mallet design that is high on forgiveness and visual aids, the Monte Carlo is a good option for higher handicap players. This mallet head also has an insert for increased MOI and larger sweet spot for consistent results even on off center putts. Available in regular 34, 36 and longish 38 inch shafts.
there is simply a lot of things going on in this chunky mallet head putter from Cleveland Golf. For starters there is a co-polymer face insert on a light aluminum body. There are high density alloy wings for added balance. And the face is copper infused, with a milled finish on top of it to get the ball rolling. At 360g it may not be the lightest putter though that is hardly a major issue. It is available within the traditional 32-36 inch lengths.
This is really an ode to a great putter, since Nike has ceased its golf club business. You may not find more of these as we head into 2017, but if you can find one at a discount, that is a great deal on an excellent mallet putter.
They may not have had much success with their other golf clubs, but Nike did have a good market response to their line of highly regarded putters. A firm favorite of golfers everywhere with a large 370g head, this one had added weight on heel and toe for extra stability. It also had adjustable counterbalances on the head.
It can be incredibly hard to beginners to select the ideal putter. There are far too many designs and features out there to sift through. Your best bet is to take expert advice to get a putter that can do the job efficiently for you. And it is imperative you find one as soon as possible, since your final score on the card will be heavily influenced by the performance of the putter you wield.