Golf Equipment Buying Guide: How to buy a putter
There is an old adage that most men have more putters than women have shoes. That may or may not be true, but finding the right putter seems more important than the right shoes (just don't tell my wife.)
There are few things more important to your game than having a putter that you are comfortable, confident and successful with. There may be more putters on the market than any other type of golf equipment. That's good -- variety means it should be easier to find one best for you. Putters come in all shapes, sizes, weights, lengths and lie angles. All of those factors will affect your putting stroke.
So before you buy, consider these factors.
1. Length: This is maybe the most important component to a putter. What you want to do is get into a correct address position. When you tilt from your hips, you want your eyes over the ball, hands under your shoulders, elbows bent but touching your rib cage, and hips over your heels. The putter needs to fit this set-up. If you grip a "standard" length putter and find you're gripping down the shaft, you will need a shorter putter. If you grip beyond the end of the putter, you will need a longer putter. Now with the correct length putter in your hands, the shaft would be in line with your forearms. I have found that most golfers play with too long of a putter.
2. Weight: If you find you need a shorter putter, just cutting your putter shaft will do you no good. The putter is built to be a certain swing weight at a certain length. Cutting it down will also make the swing weight go down and it will feel too light in your hands. So you need to buy a putter that has the proper weight. A 35" putter usually has a head weight of 330 grams. If you need a 34" putter, you need to look at having 350- to 360-gram head weight. If need a putter even shorter of 32" to 33," you need to look at having a 370- to 380-gram head weight.
3. Balance Point: There are basically two types of putter head. One is called face balanced and one is called toe balanced. If you lay the shaft into your hand with the shaft parallel to the ground and the face is facing the sky, you have a face balanced putter. If the toe is hanging toward the ground, you have a toe-balanced putter. Now if you want a square-to-square stroke (which means the putter face is always square to the target and the stroke is straight back and through), you would benefit with a face balanced putter. If you want to be have an arc stroke (which means the putter face will open and closed relative to the target and the stroke travels on a slight curve, you would benefit with a toe balanced putter.
4. Head Design: This is where it becomes a little more player preference. Putter heads come in all different shapes and sizes, but it really boils down to do you prefer a mallet head or more of a blade head? Do you prefer a sight line or none? If you prefer a square putting style with a faced balanced putter, you may benefit from a mallet head with sight line. If you are an arc putter, you may benefit from a blade putter with no sight line.
5. Belly Putters and Long Putters: These have hit the PGA Tour big time. You may benefit with a belly putter or long putter if you have "tremors," sometimes called the yips. It will solve this problem as the putter is anchored to your stomach or chest, and this will stabilize the putter during the stroke. As with all putters, proper length and weight are essential. You want to have the same set-up in finding the correct length for a putter and then add the inches it would need to touch your stomach or chest The type of stroke you would use for a belly putter would be an arc as the putter would travel around your body. For the long putter, it would be closer to a square-to-square putting path as the shaft is more upright.
It is important to consult a PGA Professional when choosing a putter. By using a "fitting through instruction" philosophy, he has the tools and expertise to help you get the right "weapon" in your hands to make the best stroke possible. There really is only one criteria to determine if a putter is right for you. It's not looks, price, manufacturer or who on Tour plays with it.
The only criteria is: Does it help you make more putts? If the answer is yes, you've just found the right putter for you.