For many, being a newbie to the game of golf can be quite intimidating. When you're wondering where to start, what clubs to use, learning etiquette and the rules of the game, and not wanting to feel out of place, it can all feel overwhelming. Let's be honest: everyone, at some point in their golfing career, whether it be for leisure or highly competitive, has felt out of place.
For those new to the game, one aspect that should not cause concern is the choice of putter to use. This guide will walk you through how to choose the best putter as you embark on your golf journey. It will also help you choose your first putter and answer any questions you might have.
What to Expect When Buying Your First Putter
There is so much information about golf club technology that it is easy to get lost. Fortunately, when it comes to putters, there is significantly less conflicting or confusing information. Selecting a putter becomes a simple process when you possess the right information.
Most beginners start their golf journey with a box set from a major manufacturer or big box store like Costco. While this is a great way to get started, it is best to first understand the importance of knowing how to choose your clubs before purchasing anything.
It's easy to be swayed by all the information out there about golf club technology, the latest and greatest items to come out, etc. While you may find suggestions for certain brands or styles to think about here, there is no specific company or manufacturer being endorsed. The aim is to help you understand what to keep in mind for your own game when shopping for your first putter as a beginner.
Expect to Be Overwhelmed With Information
As brands increase their sales, they tend to expand their marketing efforts. Consequently, you may find yourself inundated with advertisements, information, and every manufacturer under the sun promising that you will make more putts and shoot lower scores if you use their putters or equipment.
As a beginner, the best way to make sure you choose the right putter is to learn how to sort through the information you're given about them. There are several things to consider in order to gain a better understanding, including:
- Putter length
- Putter face inserts
- Toe hang vs. face balance
- Blade vs. mallet head
- Grip size
- Light vs. heavy putters
It's worth noting that brand, although important, was listed last. Especially when it comes to putters, the brand name should arguably have the least impact on your decision. While well-known brands are often recognized for producing superior products, this is often also due to their having larger marketing budgets compared to their competitors.
It is critical to consider factors other than the brand name, such as the putter's design, material, and features. By doing so, you can find a putter that suits your individual needs and preferences, regardless of the brand.
Putter brands to consider when selecting your first flat stick are
- Callaway Odyssey
- Scotty Cameron
- Kirk Currie
- Golden Bear
- Heavy Putter
Of the above list, Scotty Cameron is widely regarded as the gold standard in putting. However, it's not quite the most expensive option available to the general public. That title belongs to Bettinardi, which costs only about $20 more per putter, but a $450 price tag isn't likely to entice most beginners.
It's important to keep in mind that golf is not an inexpensive sport by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the price of clubs can be a significant deterrent for those looking to pick up the hobby. However, by making an educated purchase from the start, beginners can actually save themselves a decent chunk of change in the long run. Many beginners tend to buy a few inexpensive putters before eventually investing in a high-quality option they'll use for an extended period.
Instead, beginners can save their bank account by taking the time to understand their putting stroke style, setup, and overall putter technology. By doing this, they can make a more informed choice when buying their first putter, which could save them money in the long run if they buy a putter they can use for a long time right away instead of going through a few different versions as their game gets better.
Understand Your Putting Stroke Style
There are two distinct styles of putting strokes: the straight back and straight through style and the arc style. The style of your stroke will determine which putter head is best suited for you. Face-balanced putter heads are ideal for the straight back and straight through style, while toe hang putter heads are better suited for the arc-style putter.
As a new golfer, it's important to determine which putting stroke you use to select the right club. Don't worry if you're unsure of your putting stroke style; it will be explored in more detail below.
Arc-Style Putting Stroke
As a beginner golfer, understanding the different putting stroke styles is important and relatively easy to grasp. The name of each putting stroke accurately describes the motion involved. For instance, the arc putting stroke follows an arc path.
The arc-style putting stroke has two variations depending on what the putter face does throughout the stroke. If the clubface remains fairly square to the target throughout the stroke, it is referred to as a slight arc. Conversely, the true arc putting stroke involves the putter face swinging open and closed along the arc path, much like a screen door.
Toe Hang Putter Heads
To clarify, "toe hang" refers to the angle at which the putter head hangs in relation to the shaft when it’s balanced. A putter with more toe hang means there is more weight in the toe of the club, which will cause the face to close more easily throughout the stroke. On the other hand, a putter with less toe hang will be easier to keep the face more square to the target.
So, for players with an arc-style putting stroke, a putter with more toe hang will allow the face to close naturally during the stroke, helping to keep the ball on line. It's also important to note that the amount of toe hang that's right for you will depend on the amount of arc in your putting stroke. As a general rule, match the amount of toe hang in your putter to the amount of arc in your stroke. If you have a lot of arc, you'll want a putter with significant toe hang, and vice versa.
Straight Back and Straight Through Putting Stroke
The straight back and straight through putting stroke is exactly what it sounds like. As you rock your shoulders to create your putting stroke, the putter head moves on a relatively straight path, back and through. Unlike the arc-style putting stroke, there is little to no manipulation of the putter face, open or closed, throughout the putting stroke.
Face-Balanced Putter Heads
Straight-path strokes pair best with face-balanced putter heads. Unlike toe hang putter heads, face-balanced ones will not move throughout the putting stroke. This ensures the putter head stays still throughout the stroke, allowing the user to keep a consistently square club face throughout their stroke.
If a player with a straight back and straight through stroke used a putter with toe hang, they would have a very difficult time becoming a consistent putter. This is because the putter face would want to swing open and closed as it is moved due to the face being unbalanced from the heel to the toe of the club.
Face-balanced putter heads are intended to stay balanced throughout the putting stroke, ensuring that they won’t swing open or closed during a putt. This eliminates the need for players with a straight back and straight through putting stroke to worry about club face manipulation throughout their putting stroke. They can count on their putter to stay stable because of the way the face is balanced.
Mallet vs. Blade Putter Heads
There are two distinct types of putter heads: mallet and blade. Which one you should use is completely up to personal preference. Each style of putter head comes with different face balance options.
Even though both styles of putter heads are offered in different face balance options, each holds a larger market in a certain category.
Mallet Putter Heads
Mallet putters are widely known to take up most of the market share for face-balanced putter heads. This doesn’t mean all mallet putters are exclusively face-balanced, but a large majority of them are. There are some smaller half-moon-sized mallet putters available that offer mild toe hang putter heads. One thing you won’t see in mallet putters is a prominent amount of toe hang.
Blade Putter Heads
Blade putters take up the most market share for toe hang putter heads. Similar to mallet putter heads, blade putters are not solely made with toe hang. There are a few blade putter heads offered in face-balanced options.
Selecting Your Putter
To make things easier for beginner golfers when selecting a putter, it is recommended to stick with the putter head style that is best known in its category. For example, if you have a straight back and through putting stroke, stick with face-balanced, mallet-style putter heads. This style has a wider range of availability, making it much easier to find something that fits you.
Similarly, if you have an arc-style putting stroke, it is best to stick with a blade putter with toe hang. As long as you stick with the style that offers the most options to choose from, you will have a much easier time testing out different options and finding ones you like the feel and look of most.
Aside from making sure your putter head matches the style of stroke you have, the most important thing to remember when selecting a putter as a beginner is that you should like what you are looking at. If you don't like the putter when you look down at it, you won't putt well with it, regardless of how well it is supposed to match the putting stroke style you have.
No matter which putter you end up choosing, however, you won’t know if it’s right until you put it to the test.
Start Practicing like the Pros with PrimePutt
Now that you have a better idea of how to select a putter that matches your putting stroke, the next step is to practice consistently. Even if you have the perfect putter for your stroke and eye, without practice, you won't improve.
If you're a newcomer to the game and don't feel comfortable going to a practice facility or golf course just yet, don't worry. There are other great ways to practice. Indoor putting mats are an excellent option for beginners to practice their putting in a less intimidating environment.This way, you can improve your skills and gain confidence before heading out to the actual golf course to practice.
Is there a perfect putter for beginner golfers?
No. However, there is a perfect putter for your individual putting style. Determining your putting style will give you a better idea of which putter you should be looking for.
Which is better, mallet or blade putters?
One is not better than the other, but each fits a specific style of putting stroke. So one may be better for you than the other based on the way you stroke your putter.
Is it important to try out putters before you buy them?
Yes, it's very important! Seeing and trying out a putter is imperative to your success as a golfer. Making sure you like what you are looking at and enjoy the feel of the putter is key. The only way to do this is to try it out.