There are many elements to consider when choosing the right putter. With so many options on the market, it can be a confusing and overwhelming process to handle on your own. If you are serious about improving your game (and your scores), we strongly suggest setting up an appointment with a PGA professional club fitter/putter fitter and heeding their advice.
When you’re wading through endless considerations to find the right putter for your game, remember that it is an individual process. However, it is always a good idea to understand some of the key components so that you can actively participate in the process with your professional.
The Bottom Line:
- Match the Putter to the Putting Stroke: A mismatch between the stroke and the weight and design of your putter can lead to frustration and, more alarmingly, poor putting.
- Deciding on a Putter Head Style: You want the putter head to fit your putting stroke, but you also want confidence in your instrument.
- The Importance of Putter Shaft Length: While there are standard lengths for both male and female putters, if you have a non-traditional putting stroke, you may require a different putter length.
- Proper Loft: When fitting a putter, the loft and lie angle are the two most important factors in figuring out how much spin your stroke naturally gives the ball.
- Lines or No Lines: There are many options with and without markings.
10 Tips to Help You Pick the Perfect Putter
Whether it’s for playing the course, practicing on an indoor mat at home, or both, buying a new putter is an exciting yet overwhelming experience, given the number of options available. That’s why we’ve compiled our top recommendations and things to consider as you begin your search for the right putter:
1. Match the Putter to the Putting Stroke
This is the first tip for a big reason! The average golfer rarely takes the time to do this step in finding their perfect putter. Using a stroke that’s not compatible with the weight and design of your putter can lead to frustration, inconsistency on the green, and missed shots. The important pieces to factor in here are the face of the putter and the path of the putting stroke. An easy way to view this subjectively is having someone you know take videos of your putting stroke on your customized indoor mat from "down the line" (down the target line of the golf ball towards the hole) and "face-on" (having the videographer kneel at grip height, about three feet in front of you, facing you). Review the videos of a few balls hit in slow motion, if possible, and ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of path, concerning the target line, does your putting stroke take from start to finish? Can it be described as more inside the path-to-outside of the path line? Or is it more straight-back and straight-through?
- Does it look like the putter starts outside the line and then swipes back across the inside during impact?
- Paying attention to what the putter face is doing through the stroke, does it flare open and then close back down? Does it flare open and stay open?
- Can you tell if you are striking the ball on the toe, in the center, or on the heel of the putter face? It is something to consider if this is consistent in one area or the other. You want your natural stroke to produce a roll that is end-over-end (not wobbly or side-to-side).
- Different combinations of the putter face and path can produce a quality putt! This is not a one-size fits all scenario.
- Sometimes, the path of your putting stroke will match the path of your full golf swing.
How to Utilize This Information
- If you noticed that your putting stroke path was more outside to inside, a toe-hang putter is likely the best for you as it encourages a more in-to-out stroke path.
- A face-balanced putter, especially a mallet style, is an excellent option if you notice a significant opening of the putter face (and an inside path) in your stroke. If your arc opens up more than four degrees, it pushes the boundaries of being capable of a solid and repetitive motion. This putter style will aid in creating a more straight-stroke style naturally.
- Center-shafted mallet-style putters are helpful if you notice you consistently have off-center strikes. By using this type of putter, your hands are less likely to twist during the stroke.
- As a general rule, the more arc you notice in your putting stroke style, the more toe-weighted your putter should be.
- If your stroke path is straight-back and straight-through, a face-balanced putter fitting would make more sense.
2. Deciding on a Putter Head Style
There are many different variations of the two main types of putter heads. When picking a putter head during your fitting, you also want to like how it looks when you look down! You want the putter head to fit your putting stroke, but you also want confidence in your instrument.
One of the main types of putter heads is blade putters, which have a more traditional-looking putter head shape that’s long and narrow. Typically, they have more control and accuracy on longer putts and are better if you usually putt on faster greens. If you have a slight arc to your putting stroke path, a blade-style putter is a good fit for you.
A mallet-style putter is better suited for a golfer who needs a forgiving club. This putter will produce a better result if a putt is miss-hit. If you have a straight-back and straight-through putting stroke, this is the style of putter head for you. This type has many variations and sizes, like the TaylorMade Spider, Odyssey White Hot, and Titleist Scotty Cameron Special Select—the list goes on. Yes, some are expensive, but the right putter can be worth the investment for better scores!
3. The Importance of Putter Shaft Length
Men's standard length putters are between 34-35 inches long, and women's standard length is around 33 inches. But if you've watched the LPGA Tour in recent years, you've probably seen Michelle Wie's non-traditional putting stance, and if you've watched the PGA Tour, you've probably seen Bryson DeChambeau's putting change. Clearly, there’s no hard and fast rule about the exact length you need, though here are some factors that could help determine what kind of putter shaft length is appropriate for you:
- A balanced and centered setup creates the "triangle" between your shoulders and your wrists on the putter's grip.
- Proper posture is key. You want your eyes over the ball at setup. The tendency is for the majority of golfers to have them inside that line.
- How tall are you? Where do you hold the putter along the putter grip? Let your arms hang naturally.
If you have a more unconventional method like the pros listed above, make sure that in altering the putter's length, the weight of the putter isn't compromised.
The Weight of the Putter
Finding the right putter has a lot to do with the weight of the putter. A heavier putter can have either of the putter head styles (blade or mallet) and is typically better for shortening the length of the putting stroke and helping to stabilize the wrists during the stroke. A lighter putter can give you a better overall feel and more control over longer putts. If you get a bespoke putter, the club fitter can expertly match the head weight with the proper length for you. You can have a lighter putter with a long shaft or a heavier putter with a shorter shaft; it is all about finding the right mix for you and your putting stroke!
4. Proper Loft
The average putter has between 2 and 4 degrees of loft. To get a closer look at loft and spin, check out this super slow-motion video of a ball coming off the putter's face. In the recording, Jordan Spieth hits a putt, and the ball has no roll for about 3 inches before it begins to roll forward. It is incredible to realize how much spin is put on the ball on such a short putting stroke! A difference you would see in a typical higher handicap golfer with a slow-motion video like that is that after the hit, the ball would have about a foot of backspin before "landing" on the green and then spinning forward.
When fitting a putter, the loft and lie angle are the two most important factors in figuring out how much spin your stroke naturally gives the ball. If you have the putter shaft leaning forward at the address, this also affects the loft of the putter. With your new flat stick, you want to give yourself the best piece of equipment that can produce a forward roll off the face of the putter as soon as possible and reduce the amount of backspin that many golfers impart on their putts.
5. Lines or No Lines
Should you get a putter with an aiming line or dots across the top? Many club options have markings, and plenty of others don’t. You need to know if you see better with your left or right eye in order to line up your putter on the line you want. When we stand behind the ball and look straight down the target line, our eyes make a triangle with the target. If we have a strong eye dominance, when we come to the side of the putt and turn our heads to line up the putter with the target, this line can visually change. It is invaluable to practice this with an instructor or a friend who can double-check your aim for you!
Another critical factor is determining if you are a linear or non-linear putter. A linear putter sees straight lines when reading the putt. For example, they see a straight line 4 inches outside the right side of the hole if the putt breaks significantly from right to left. They can focus on that point and put the ball on the line. A non-linear putter sees curved lines. So with that same putt, the golfer sees the putt enter the hole in a specific spot on the right side of the hole, arcing on a curved line. A linear putter will benefit from a line on the putter and a line drawn on the ball. If fewer lines were on a non-linear putter, it might be easier to see how the putt would curve.
We are all unique, and great putters can look very different from one another! The goal is to find an instrument that works with you and for you, not against you, in applying your putting stroke to the best of its ability.
6. Consider the Putter's Material
Traditional metal-faced putters are normally made of stainless steel, but some use brass, aluminum, titanium, or another metal. If you want a lightweight putter, aluminum or titanium are the better options, whereas metals like brass have a heavier weight. Stainless steel is the most common because of its durability and solid feel, but each material will have pros and cons depending on your preferences.
In addition to weight, you should pay attention to the sound when the putter makes contact with the ball. Each material will have a different sound, so consider how each feels and responds to your stroke. And if you want a softer feel, try out precision-milled faced putters.
7. Choose a Putter with a Comfortable Grip
Grips come in various sizes, including standard, midsize, and oversize. Smaller grips allow for more wrist action, while larger grips can add more leverage to your stroke. You want a grip that fits how you hold your putter, so try a few sizes and see how they feel.
Also, consider what kind of grip material feels best in your hands, whether rubber, cord, or synthetic. Rubber is usually the easiest to grip, but cord and synthetic may be better options if you have sweaty hands. After experimenting with a few different grips, consider which feels the most comfortable based on your stroke and typical playing conditions.
8. Consider Brand Reputation
If you want a durable and long-lasting putter, prioritize a brand with a strong reputation, such as Scotty Cameron, TaylorMade, or Odyssey. The best brands use high-quality materials with excellent craftsmanship standards, ensuring their putters are ready to play and free of defects.
You can talk to other golfers about their experiences and consult with specialists to determine a brand’s credibility, or you can research third-party reviews online. You may also ask a friend to try out their putter or rent one for a trial run. A good putter can be a long-term investment you want to be happy with for years to come, so don’t hesitate to try out several brands to find the perfect putter.
9. Consult a Professional
Professional club fitters, golf instructors, and reputable specialists often have the most relevant knowledge when it comes to helping you choose the right putter. They have the experience to recommend the best fit based on your swing and preferences, giving you an extra set of eyes to help you decide. You can also ask questions and learn more about your putting style, which is a great opportunity to understand what you should prioritize in your clubs. While professional availability may depend on where you live, you can ask your local golf course or pro shop for recommendations.
10. Consider Your Budget
Putters range in price, so you want to pick one that aligns with your budget and expectations. If you want to save some money but still get a high-quality putter, look for used models in good condition from reputable sellers. You can also compare prices and find sales or discounts, whether online or at your local shop.
Ultimately, you want a putter that meets your expectations, but it’s not a guarantee that expensive putters will improve your game. Focus on finding a model that feels comfortable in your hands, matches your stroke, and gives the best value based on what you’re willing to spend.