Putting represents the most individual part of golf.
You can have a narrow or wide stance, and you can even use a putter that is very short or very long.
Putters can quickly be banished to the garage or attic if they misbehave; if they really misbehave, they could end up in many pieces or traded in for a new model.
But putters can also be lovingly cherished and cared for in a way that can make the golfer’s partner a little envious!
So in celebrating all things connected to the flat stick, we’ll give you the complete lowdown on the following:
- When to use your putter
- Putter set up at address
- The different types of putters available
Let’s deep dive into arguably the most important club in your bag!
When to use your putter
To most of us, the answer is simple – we use the putter on the green.
For new golfers or high handicap players, using the putter more effectively on the greens can improve scores quickly.
Working on pace control is crucial for many golfers as they are not always blessed with being able to hit putts at consistent distances.
The average proximity to the hole amateurs hit their approach shots to greens isn’t as close as the professionals, so if we can’t hit it as close, we need to be able to putt it well.
As an example, if we take the average proximity of an approach shot to the flag between 125 -150 yards, what we see is:
- PGA Tour average: 24 feet (approx)
- Mid-handicap amateur: 48 feet (approx)
The chances of 3-putting from 48 feet for a 90-scoring golfer are roughly 41% compared to 18% from 24 feet.
Working on distance control with your putter will help shave shots off your handicap.
Putting from off the green
The putter can also be used if you are just off the green.
This type of shot is sometimes called the “Texas Wedge.”
You may find that your ball has to rest not far from the putting surface, but the ground is bare or hard where the ball is lying.
This scenario makes it difficult to make clean contact if you opt for the wedge.
Your strike would need to be precise to negate the fact there is nothing under the ball so the sole of the wedge can “bounce” off the hard ground leading to a thinned chip shot.
Worse still, the leading edge might dig into the ground before the ball,l with the net result being a complete mishit and the ball only moving a couple of inches.
Using the putter, we don’t have to worry about either scenario.
The putter is always considered safer if you aren’t confident with your chipping.
The old saying backs this up a lousy putt from off the green is still a better result than a bad chip.
I tend to find these situations of a bare lie or the ground under the ball very hard playing links golf.
Putting from off the green is a handy shot to have in your arsenal.
The vital role of the putter
Putting well isn’t just about holing putts for birdies.
It can help maintain momentum in a good round.
So what does that mean, and why is it important?
Let’s take a scenario where you are playing well, but on one hole, you have a nightmare.
You feel like you’ve got no chance of playing the hole to your handicap or making par, and the prospect of racking up a big score looks inevitable.
But then you hole a big putt, and suddenly, what you thought was a guaranteed double bogey or worse becomes a bogey or maybe even a par.
When you walk off the green having holed that putt, the feeling is as good as if you had made a birdie putt – you’ve “got out of jail.”
It also means that your round hasn’t been poorly derailed, and you go to the next tee with your confidence high.
Putter set up at address
Like hitting any shot in golf, our chances of putting well increase when we alleviate tension in our setup.
Maintaining light grip pressure is the starting point.
Your grip pressure should be light enough that somebody could pull the putter out of your hands without effort.
Check occasionally that your pressure isn’t getting tight on the grip.
Approaching the rest of the setup is not too dissimilar to setting up for any golf shot.
We set up with our feet, knees, hips, and shoulders parallel to our target line.
Feet width can be inside shoulder width to give you a solid base – golfers can experiment with narrower and broader stances.
The ball position at address can be ascertained with a straightforward drill.
If you are a right-handed golfer:
- Make your putting stance without the putter
- With a golf ball, place it close to where your left eye is (lead eye)
- Drop the ball from this position
- Where the ball lands will indicate the optimal position
If you are left-handed, it will be your right eye to drop the ball.
For some golfers, the secret to good putting can be found in purchasing the latest offering regardless of cost.
But other golfers will remain loyal to a putter and can have the same model in the bag for years.
Tiger Woods is an excellent example of this.
He has used the same Scotty Cameron model for over 20 years, which helped him to 14 out of his 15 major championship victories.
If you see pictures of his putter, it looks like a putter that would belong to anyone of us.
There are dents on the face, leading edge, and top line, and the paint is chipped and faded on some of the writing.
But even though we have seen him occasionally put other putters in his bag during competition, he always reverts to his trusted old faithful.
Two of the best putters historically on the PGA Tour – Brad Faxon and Steve Stricker also never changed the style of putter they used throughout their careers.
So what do we see on the market today?
- Blade Putters
- Mallet Putters
- High MOI Putters
The Anser putter has recorded over 500 wins in its lifetime, dating back to the 1960s, making it the most successful putter design.
Tiger’s fabled Scotty Cameron putter also is a bladed design.
Blade-style putters tend to come with neck designs attached to the heel or center of the putter.
A cavity in the rear of the putter allows weight to be distributed in the heel and toe of the putter.
Blade designs are similar to their iron counterpart, favoring striking the ball well and can control the putter face well throughout their stroke.
These putters suit a putting stroke with a slight in-to-out arching motion.
The classic mallet putter is almost semi-circular in its design.
Again, like the blade, mallet putters can be offered with various hosel designs, either connecting to the heel or center of the putter head.
Mallet-style putters tend to be more forgiving on off-center hits than blade putters, so if you are a higher handicap golfer or new to the game, one of these designs might be a better option to explore.
But mallet-style putters aren’t just aimed at the new golfer or higher handicap golfer; plenty of tour pros put their faith in mallet-design putters.
Mallet putters also tend to have clear site lines helping us align the putt more easily, adding to their overall friendliness of use.
High MOI Putter
High Moment of Interia (MOI) putters are designed to be the most stable.
Loosely based on the mallet, high MOI putters will feature additional weighting in the rear of the head in the toe and heel.
Depending on the golfer’s requirements, these weights can be heavier or lighter.
The idea of the high MOI putter is similar to that seen in the driver – keeping the head square throughout the stroke to provide consistent contact and resist face twisting through impact.
High MOI putters are used by professionals and amateurs alike.
Whatever shape of putter you adopt, all these putters can feature different face designs and inserts to promote optimal feel and distance control.
Putter Key Takeaways
Putting is one of the few departments of the game where individualism still flourishes.
We can choose different styles of putters with different head shapes, lengths, and grips to suit and improve our strokes.
Good putting still differentiates great rounds from good rounds.
Holing a putt at a crucial time in a round can help build or keep the momentum going in the quest to shoot a good score.
The adage “drive for show, putt for dough” is still as relevant today as ever.