Unless you intend to master the art of the hole in one right out of the gate, you’re probably going to be spending plenty of time with your putter. For some players, the putter is the most used club in their bag, so it’s vital that you pick the right one the first time. Whether you intend to buy your putter new and custom fitted from the pro shop or decide to go with used golf clubs, it’s important to understand what goes into choosing the right putter.
Like with the other clubs in your bag, there’s not a one-size-fits-all putter, but here are some of the most important features to pay attention to when you’re looking for your next putter:
You have lots of choices of head designs in today’s market, but the most common are either blade or mallet shaped. Blade heads are the traditional shape for a putter, but can be very hard to hit and aren’t forgiving at all if your putts aren’t perfect every time. Mallet heads are heavier, more forgiving, and often come with an option of perimeter weighting, a feature that increases the size of the club’s sweet spot.
Putters come in three length categories: standard putters, belly putters, and long putters. If you can hit a standard length, you’ll gain in precision and control, but not all players can play with a standard length putter. Golfers with a shaky swing or who need added swing stability for other reasons benefit from a belly putter, since they can anchor their club to their stomach when they swing. Long putters are extremely long and can be hard to control with any precision if you’ve never played one before.
Choosing a putter by weight is largely a matter of opinion. Unlike drivers that can help compensate for slower swing speeds with more weight, a heavier putter can be harder to handle if your putts aren’t dialed in yet. A very light putter can be hard to manage on slower greens with thicker grass, so try out a few different weights before you settle — or choose a putter with a middling weight so you can use it in more conditions.
Depending on where you are in your game, there are other putter features you may be considering. Alignment aids are a great option for most players, and the more obvious the better. Face inserts are another feature that can improve your game by giving you more confidence and increasing your feel for the ball. A final feature to consider is the offset hosel. Although they can look a little cumbersome, offset hosels increase the line of sight between you and the ball, making it easier to see where your putts are striking.