When someone is in the market for a new set of irons or a driver, it is common to spend hour after hour scouring YouTube for endless reviews and hitting club after club at the local golf shop to try and find the best choice for you.
As golfers, we obsess over every degree of loft and every change in shaft stiffness, as well as brand and design.
There’s no doubt that all of these factors have a huge impact on which clubs we should choose to game, but why don’t people go to similar lengths when selecting a putter?
It’s definitely not unusual to see someone spend under 10 minutes choosing a brand-new putter – despite it being a club they will use twice as much as any other in the bag.
There seems to be a misconception that putters are made equal, and that something that looks good and feels OK can be settled on in minutes and committed to for the next decade.
However, this is severely flawed thinking.
Choosing the right putter involves experimenting with putter length, weight, loft and grip. It is also crucial to identify whether you have an arced swing to determine which putter head and neck style best suit your stroke. As there are so many factors that influence putter performance, it is important to take the time to be properly fitted for one.
Each of these details are equally important when it comes to choosing a putter that is right for you. This article will take a closer look at each of them.
I’ve also outlined some of our other key putting articles below that I definitely recommend you read if you’re serious about sinking more putts:
- How To Read Greens: 11 Tips For Making More Putts
- 14 Putting Aids To Train A Better Stroke
- How Do Putter Weights Work? When To Go Heavy Or Light
- Plumb Bobbing: Can It Help Your Green Reading?
- How To Align Yourself When Putting
- 7 Putting Grip Styles: But Which One Is Best?
- 13 Best Indoor Putting Greens To Use
But now, let’s dive deeper into the key factors you need to consider when finding the right putter for you.
Table of contents
Putter length: upright or otherwise?
Perfect putter length is largely down to preference, but for the majority of people there is an ideal amount of bend in the body required to make a good stroke.
Now there are always exceptions – such as Jack Nicklaus who leaned well over the ball, and also putted with a glove on – but if you feel as if you are hunched over a super short shaft or overly upright in your stance, you may need to change putter length.
A good rule to go by is this: if you’re 6 foot tall, start with a 35-inch putter. If you’re five foot tall, try a 32-inch putter.
If your height sits somewhere in between, move up or down accordingly.
The main things to look for when determining the correct putter length for you is that your eyes are sitting over the ball when taking a comfortable, natural stance.
A putter that is too long will cause you to stand too far from the ball and you might notice the toe of the putter lifting off of the ground.
Similarly, a putter that is too short could cause you to lean way forward, bringing your eyes too far over the ball and lifting the heel of the putter.
Don’t get too fixated on the heel/toe raising as this can be altered through a fitting and custom-made putter, but it is only recommended if your eyes sit comfortably over the golf ball.
The lie angle of your putter can be changed a few degrees so that, depending on your set up, it sits flat on the ground for you, but if this is used to remedy an incorrect putter length then it won’t fix issues with your stroke.
Putter weight: heavy, light or somewhere in between?
Putters come in a range of different weights, with many having adjustable weight features, too.
First, let’s look at whether a heavy or light putter is a better fit for you before delving into adjustable weight capability.
Using a heavy putter
If you have difficulty keeping your putter on the right path, then an extra heavy flat stick could be a worthwhile purchase.
Extra weight in the head of a putter will help to iron out any twisting or swaying, allowing gravity to do the work and lead to a nice, smooth back and through stroke.
Lighter putters may feel as if they need a larger backswing and more forceful blow, and these movements can just add inaccuracy to your stroke.
A heavier putter can be great for those shorter putts that need to be rammed into the back of the cup, as smaller backswings make it easier to keep your path online.
A putter like the Odyssey Two Ball Ten has a nice, weighty mallet-style head that can provide a stable stroke many players will love.
Using a lighter putter
If you are a little more confident with your putting and have great control over your stroke, a lighter option – a bladed putter – could suit you better than the heavier mallet style.
Bladed putters generally suit those who swing in an arc, more so than straight back and through, as massive amounts of weight can become restrictive to that arcing stroke.
The Cobra King Vintage Bladed Putter has excellent adjustability, meaning that you can decrease the head weight up to 20 grams if a lighter feel is your preference.
Using a putter with adjustability
If you are an indecisive purchaser – or just love value for money like me – then purchasing a putter with weight adjustability in the head is a must.
The Mizuno M Craft range have great weight adjustability, as do offerings from Scotty Cameron and Taylormade.
Not only are adjustable weights perfect for making the head lighter or heavier in general, but they can be manipulated to straighten out a consistently errant stroke.
If you have a consistent miss left or right, play around with different weights in the head to try and straighten out that path.
Putter swing plane: arc or pendulum?
People will putt with one of two general strokes: pendulum (often referred to as straight back and through) or arced.
A pendulum stroke, which can be honed using something like the IXIA Sports True Pendulum Motion training aid, occurs when someone tries to keep the putter face fairly square to target, bringing the putter head back and through on a fairly straight line.
It is impossible to putt with no arc whatsoever, but the arc will be very minimal with this style of putting stroke.
An arced stroke occurs when someone putts more around the body, leaving the target line before squaring up at contact.
This video from Golf Sales Australia gives a clear explanation of the two main types of putting stroke:
If you swing fairly straight back and through, a mallet putter is probably going to best for you.
These are usually face-weighted, meaning the weight is distributed fairly evenly within the putter head in order to keep it square throughout the entire stroke.
The Odyssey Two Ball Ten is a prime example of a face weighted, mallet style putter.
For golfers who swing more on an arc, a toe weighted, bladed style putter will be more up your alley.
Toe weighted putters, as you’d expect, carry their weight in the toe of the club, leading to far less resistance when trying to turn the club around your body.
If you aren’t 100 percent sure which of the two putting swings you use, or want to develop a putting stroke like the pros, the Momentus Inside Down the Line Putting Track is another great little aid that will help you putt with a stroke similar to that of professional golfers.
Consider it almost a hybrid of the pendulum and arc swing, moving around the body in the backswing, before following through the ball straight at the target.
Putter neck design: which one is best?
There are four main neck designs seen in putters, each lending themselves to a particular feel, stroke or set of conditions.
It’s important you mix and match neck design and different putter heads, weights and face styles in order to land on the perfect combination for you.
A double bend neck will usually come on a face-balanced putter and be ideal for those who like to take the putter straight back and through.
More likely to feature in putters with toe hang and suited to golfers who swing with an arc moderately around the body.
The plumber neck is a bit of an allrounder, usually found in putters that have a medium level of toe hang, suited to players who swing with an arc or straight back and through.
A plumber necked putter can be a great option for someone unsure about their swing or in the process of experimentation before settling on a long-term stroke option.
Usually found in face-balanced putters, designed for the golfer who likes to take the putter straight back and through.
Putting grip: which shape or size is best?
Not all putter grips are made equal and flat sticks will usually come with a grip in one of six grip shapes: circle, oval, flat oval, pistol, flat wide and mod pistol.
Different shaped putter grips could suit people with different sized hands, but are mainly going to be more or less effective for different methods of holding the actual putter itself.
A standard circle grip can be flexible and suit everything from a regular grip to a pencil style grip, whereas pistol or flat oval grips are going to be best for people that like their thumbs pointing along the shaft.
Personally, I play with a Mizuno M Craft IV putter with a pistol grip, which is ideal for my interlocked, standard putting grip.
If you want to really channel your inner Bryson DeChambeau, then you’d need to go with a super long, flat wide putter grip in order to arm lock effectively along the flat edge like he does.
If you love the thicker grip feel but aren’t so big on the flat edge, then a circle shaped super stroke putter grip, popular with many amateur golfers to reduce tension in their stroke, could be a go-to option.
In addition to grip shape, the feel or composition of the grip is another factor worth considering.
I use a cord putter grip, which is generally considered a ‘standard’ type of grip.
Sone putters will have leather grip options too, which can feel a bit stickier or tacky in the hands.
I really dislike this feel – it just sticks to my hands too much – but others swear by it, so it’s well worth exploring before making a purchase.
Putter loft: does it really matter?
If you asked a number of weekend golfers what the loft is on their putter, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if they responded with “zero”.
A common misconception in golf is that putters – funnily enough nicknamed the ‘flat stick’ – have zero loft as the ball doesn’t need to get airborne.
This actually isn’t true, as most putters will sit somewhere between two and four degrees of loft.
This loft helps the ball roll end over end, rather than with backspin that could cause it to jump up in the air off the face and bobble.
Given the loft on putters is so low and in such a fine range for standard versions, if you have a unique strike, then giving thought to higher loft could make sense.
Phil Mickelson is a great example of a forward press putting style, and if you roll the ball with a similar technique, you could need five or six degrees of loft to ensure you don’t deloft the putter too much at impact causing that unwanted bobbling roll.
If you putt in the opposite fashion, keeping the hands square or slightly back at contact, less loft will be your friend so you avoid hitting too far ‘up’ on the ball.
The only other reason putter loft could be an issue for you is if you have an exceptionally long putter, such as an arm lock or broomstick version.
Players who game long putters sometimes risk hitting the ball on the up, so a lower lofted putter will keep the dynamic loft delivered in a more acceptable range.
Putter head style: mallet or blade?
When talking about putter heads, the two main styles you’ll hear about are mallet and blade.
As discussed earlier, blade style putter heads usually have some toe hang and are more suited to those who putt with an arc.
Mallet style putters are chunkier, such as the Cobra King 3D Printed putter, and face balanced, optimised for golfers who swing straight back and through.
Like many things in life, not everything fits neatly into categories though, and there are mallet style putters that look more like blades and vice versa.
Appearance in putters is extremely important (you’ll look at yours more than any other club) so choosing a putter based upon style is an important factor to complement performance and suitability to your swing.
Something like the Odyssey Red Ball Putter falls under the mallet category, put delivers a curved design, less blocky than other mallet style putters.
The Mizuno M Craft V putter also has a mallet look to it, but actually boasts moderate toe hang, suited to a slight arc, not the traditional straight back and through stroke often targeted in the mallet design.
As a general rule, it is important to determine your putting stroke – arced or straight back and through – prior to shopping for a putter.
Then, decide upon the style you like, and if you can find a putter that matches head style and configuration with your technique, you should have a perfect combination.
Should I get fitted for a putter?
You should definitely get fitted for a putter, given there is so much variation in style and technology between different brands and designs. Everything from putter length, weight, loft and style should be optimised to suit your height and stroke, so it’s vital to do your research and seek professional assistance before purchasing.
Too often the amateur golfer rushes into the purchase of a putter, an absolute crime given it is the most used club in your bag.
Before forking over hundreds of dollars for a Scotty Cameron or Evnroll, you must have an idea of your stroke type so this can be matched with weight, style and neck configuration.
Getting fitted for a putter is an absolute must, and taking the extra time and effort to find the putter that will last you years, perhaps even decades, will do more for your game than any driver ever could.