4 Factors in Choosing a Putter
Some guys I know have used the same putter for 10 years or more, but there are a couple of members of our Saturday touring group who seem to show up with a different putter every month.
One week a guy will be on the practice green with a new flat stick that has a grip as wide as a beer can, the next time I see him his putter has an aiming line of four golf balls stacked behind the sweet spot.
I have the same putter each week because I’m cheap, and because I don’t even know what to look for when it comes to finding a new blade that can reliably sink the six-footer, and occasionally the 40-foot bomb.
Enter Golf Guru Mark Crossfield, a USGolfTV.com contributor you can find at www.markcrossfieldgolf.com or on his YouTube channel, Ask Golf Guru. One of Crossfield’s videos addresses the very question of what elements go into choosing the right putter.
Short answer, he says in a clipped British accent, get fitted. “It’s a mine field, this one. So many people ask me about choosing a putter…” And I gather that’s why he decided to make a video about it.
“We say getting fitted is important with the driver or with the irons, but you’ve got to do the same thing with the putter. You’ve got the length, you’ve got the lie, how much loft that’s on the face that’s subject to how much you deliver to get your best roll on the ball.”
In other words, it’s complicated.
“It’s a mine field, this one. So many people ask me about choosing a putter…”
“All these things are variables,” Crossfield adds, “like putting weights on different places” (behind the sweet spot, on the blade perimeter, or in the grip). “And get your fitter to check out your stroke. He’ll look at that and give you some ideas on how you can improve your stroke and how a putter will help you improve your stroke, or not.”
But of course most of won’t go and get fitted for a new putter. If we don’t find one in the pro shop, or a garage sale, we’ll go by ourselves or with a buddy to one of the golf super-stores and noodle around, hitting different models on the faded green carpet green.
In that case, Crossfield has some advice.
Factor #1: The Look
“I think the place to start is the shape, the general look of the putter. Some players will have a general preconception of what they want the putter to do, I have a preconception of what it should look like. That comes from growing up watching golf, having certain idols in the game of golf. I remember watching Ben Crenshaw using a blade putter…and Phil holing a lot of putts, Phil Mickelson, with a bladed putter as well.”
Of course it’s not as simple as that. “They come in all different shapes putters do, and they offer different kinds of benefits and weaknesses, but shape is a great starting point.”
Factor #2: The Color
It turns out there are almost as many different putter designs as there are chair designs. “I’m looking at color,” Crossfield explains as he holds up different putters to the camera, “I’m looking at shape, the cut-away half-moon, the little kink in the neck…as soon as I picked this one up, I felt like I could aim it up.”
The color plays an important role in contrast and the games the eyes can play on a golfer. A company called Mantis released a putter with an all green head, as a way for the eye and brain to associate a “natural” look with it. Many companies have adopted white heads in their cosmetics.
Color plays a factor.
Factor #3: The Shaft/Clubhead Relationship
Crossfield also says players have to make a choice where they want the shaft to meet the club head, at the heel or in the center.
“In my years playing,” he says, “I have tried both and I prefer the heel shaft. I do like seeing the middle of the club head hit the ball. I’m not so keen seeing the shaft going into the ball, but for me it’s very much a personal preference.”
Have you ever seen a gooseneck shape to a putter shaft? How about a center-shaft? How about a heel-shafted putter?
There are so many factors in addressing the face, that
Factor #4: Sizes and Weights
A proper putter fitting, Crossfield says, will include trying different size and shape heads, shafts and grips, putters with different balance points and a variety of different weights. And since many putters today have changeable weights as an option, finding the ideal weight for your putter is important.
In the video (below), Crossfield demonstrates stroking the ball with a heavy putter.
“This very heavy putter, when I pick it up it does feel very solid when I move it back and forward, it won’t twist too much when I feel that heavy weight, but that also makes me feel that distance control might not be as easy as I want it to be. It’s a question of finding the weight you like, and that’s as important as finding one with the shape or look you like.”
That’s why Crossfield stresses the importance of putting time and effort into making the proper choice.
“None of these putters are going to make you hole more putts by themselves, but,” he says it’s important “that you get one that suits your stroke and that you’re comfortable with.”
Here’s a link to watch the entertaining, educational, and interesting 9-minute video: