Types of Putters
The type of putter you need depends on the balance you are looking for, with the main choices being between face-balanced or toe-hang. You can tell them apart by balancing a putter on a flat surface. If the face of the club faces upwards, it is a face-balanced putter. If the toe of the club is pointing down at the ground, it is a toe-hang putter.
Face-balanced putters are ideal for golfers who have a putting stroke that is straight back and forth, with the centre of gravity for these putters being directly below the axis of the shaft.
Toe balanced putters are better suited for players who have a putting stroke that has a slight arc to it. The centre of gravity for toe balanced putters is not directly below the shaft axis.
To make sure you are buying the right putter for your stroke type it is best to visit a fitting centre.
Do I Need A Face-Balanced Or Toe Hang Putter?
Here’s a tip on how you can fit yourself for the putter you require.
“You can fit yourself for the correct type of putter by setting up a mirror with four lines an inch apart horizontally. The top line constitutes a face-balanced line, the second is a slight toe hang, the third is a moderate toe hang and the fourth is an advanced toe hang.
Place a golf ball on the top line and stand with your regular address stance. If your eye-line is level with the top line your style of putting is suited to a face-balanced putter. If your eye line is below this closer to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th line you will find much more success using a toe hang putter.”
– IAN HENDERSON, Golf Gear Direct Performance Fitting Centre
Toe-hang or face-balanced?
To make sure that when purchasing a putter that matches your putting style you need to be aware of toe and face balancing.
What this means is where is the weight of the putter head primarily placed. If you take a putter and balance the shaft on your finger and notice that the furthest part of the clubhead is pointing towards the ground – that’s a putter with toe hang. If you do the same test with another putter and find that there is no movement and the face of the club is pointing straight up – face balanced.
Why is this important?
Golfers have three types of putting motion:
- A straight back and forth motion
- A slightly arched motion
- A putting motion that has a lot of arc
For golfers who have a more straight putting motion, they will benefit from playing with a golf club that has much more face balancing. The deeper the arc the bigger the toe hangs.
There are three types of putter head designs for you to choose from when selecting your putter.
Blade – The traditional putter design that has been around for more than 100 years. The blade is suited for players who have a straighter putting stroke and a delicate touch as this putter performs best on hard, fast greens.
Peripheral weighted – This style, often referred to as “heel-toe weighted” is a longer and thinner design when compared to the blade. While still requiring a delicate touch while putting, this style features additional weight in the heel and toe for greater forgiveness.
Mallet – Mallet putters are the largest of the group and provide more forgiveness than the other two options. Because of the size manufacturers are able to have a lower and deeper centre of gravity in these clubs, as well as increasing the MOI which reduces spins and helps to improve performances on shots that are played off centre. Also because of their size, alignment aids are often used to help a player line up their shots better.
Faces and Inserts
Metal faced putters use materials such as steel, bronze, aluminium, brass, copper, zinc and titanium. Using these metals creates an extremely strong and solid feel. Steel is the most commonly used material that has a reputation for providing a hard, yet responsive strike that creates a solid and controlled feel.
One of the added benefits to having a face that is made entirely of metal is the volume of sound it creates when connecting with the ball. Immediately after connecting with the ball you will automatically hear the type of connection you have made, meaning that you will be able to hear and feel where the centre of your putter is.
Insert Face Putter
Putters that feature an insert are basically a metal putter that has had the metal face replaced with a light-weight non-metal insert. Using a light insert means that the weight that has been saved can be redistributed around the head, heel and toe of the club, which increases the MOI and offers increased forgiveness.
A positive of using a putter that uses an insert in the face is that players are able to use a ball with a firmer cover while still having the same level of feel as they would if they were using a softer ball with a metal face.
A new technological advancement that is now being used is the Pureroll insert which has been designed to provide greater stability on putts while increasing the amount of topspin on the golf ball to create a greater relationship with the green for improved roll to minimises the effect of imperfections on the turf.
One of the drawbacks that people associate with an insert putter is that they do not produce the sound of a metal face. Most insert faces are designed to create a softer feel than traditionally designed steel faces, however some modern inserts are also designed to replicate the sound of steel clubs.
Putters that feature grooves on the face have been designed to increase the forward rolling motion of the ball immediately upon making contact with the ball.
When putting the ball there is a level of skidding, sliding, back spinning and sometimes even hopping of the ball before it gains traction on the green and starts to roll. These variables are the main causes of missed putts, even on shots that are struck in the right line.
The grooves in the face of these putters achieves forward rolling motion immediately after striking the ball by the grooves gripping the surface of the ball, lifting the ball out of its original rest position and creating a forward roll. This forward roll allows for immediate traction and a smoother trajectory to the hole.
Shafts and Hosels
Putters almost always have a steel shaft which provides a stronger and more consistent feel on the greens. The area where the shaft meets the putter head is called the hosel. There are three positions that the shaft can be placed on the putter.
Heel-shafted – For heel shafted putters the shaft connects directly with the putter head on the end of the putter that is closest to the player (the heel).
Centre-shafted – This shaft design features a hosel that connects to the head in the centre of the clubhead. This hosel placement is better suited for players who like to keep their eyes directly about the ball, take the club straight back on swings and play straight through the ball.
Hosel-offset – The offset features a hosel that is bent backwards to move the bottom of the shaft ahead in front of the face of the putter. This draws a players hands ahead of the ball during impact of the ball
The length of the shaft you use on your putter has to take into account your height as well as your stroke to make sure that you have the right set up to create quality and consistent putts.
Traditional (32 – 36 inches)
The most common length of putter helps to create a pendulum swinging in your putting stroke. This length of putter acts as an extension of a golfer’s arm, so it is the perfect height to allow your arms to effortlessly hang down and grip the putter. Having this body placement enhances a players ability to create a stroke similar to that of a pendulum to create a putt that has as true a roll as possible.
There are other putters on the market such as the arm-lock grip putters that allow a golfer to place the putter handle up the inside of their forearm to avoid putts for players who tend to tweak their wrists on shots.
There are also much larger putters that were available, such as the Belly putter which ranged between 41 and 46 inches, or the Long putter that ranged from 48 to 52 inches. However both of these types of clubs have since been banned from use in competitions.