Many of the categories and points of comparison we use for putters are based on several key physical aspects of how the putter is constructed. We wrote Golf Putter Mechanics 101 to give you a quick run through to of these points to help you better understand their importance.
But before we do, please take note.
A highly skilled golfer would be able to adapt to almost any putter setup we discuss below. Reason being, if you possess an understanding of exactly the putters’ properties and set-up will do at the point of contact you can adapt. And a highly skilled golfer has the control in his stroke to do so.
So, you could learn to use a putter and eventually most likely putt well. But this is not the goal. Instead by understanding how you naturally putt the ball you can find a putter that best matches your style. It is not to say that you won’t need putting lessons or that there is no room for improving your technique. The best golfers practice more not less.
You need to strive arrive to a point where you are consistently making contact square to the ball in your putting stroke. And if you are able to do this without having to make adjustments to adapt to your putter you will find it much easier to achieve better results.
- UNDERSTANDING WHAT TOE HANG IS SERVES NO BENEFIT.
- UNDERSTANDING WHAT TOE HANG ALLOWS YOUR PUTTER STROKE TO BE SQUARE AT IMPACT WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER PUTTER.
Toe hang is the position in which the toe of the putter points if the putter is allowed to hang naturally. When I say that statement to most people, they look back at me with a blank stare so I will try to do a little better.
Grab your putter and place it in your finger and find its balancing equilibrium point. Now look at the putter and take note of where the toe is pointing. If the toe/face point towards the sky, you have a face-balanced putter. If not and it is pointing elsewhere it has some degree of toe hang.
Looking at the below groupings you can get a general idea of what to expect from certain types of putters. These are generalizations since manufacturers are able to deviate from the norms.
Full Toe Hang
Commonly found in heel shafted blades. The toe of the putter points more directly to the ground when allowed to hang naturally.
¾ Toe Hang
Commonly found in blades with short and small hosels. The toe of the putter points down by about 75 degrees.
½ Toe Hang
It occurs with most plumber’s neck blade putters and hangs about 45 degrees.
¼ Toe Hang
This toe hang can be found in both blades and mallets depending on the hosel design. The amount of toe hang is about 25 degrees.
This toe hang can also be found in both blades and mallets. The face of the putter will point directly to the sky when allowed to hang naturally.
So now what??
We have found that there are just as many golfers that do now know the dynamics of their own putting stroke as those not understanding toe hand itself. And if you do not understand how your stroke is this whole matching exercise becomes futile.
There are two common approaches to putting:
Straight back, straight through putting stroke
- This one is easy the easier of the two to pair with a putter since a face balanced putter would be the putter of choice.
An arc like stroke, where the face opens slightly going back and closes slightly going through
- Here additional measurements are required to accurately pair the putter with the golfer. Depending on the degree at which the face is able to come back to square position at the point of contact will determine just how much toe hang is required to have you putting into the hole.
Your putter offset is simply how the shaft is placed in relation to the putter face. The amount of offset can impact both the player’s ability to aim the putter as well as square up the face angle at impact.
Increasing the offset of a putter has the tendency to have a more leftward ball direction.
The tricky part about finding the correct offset is that a lot factors in to how you visualize your alignment standing over the ball. It is less empirical of a measure as looking at the path of your swing for example. So, if you do not have a matching offset, you may believe that you are lined up correctly but in reality, you are not.
There is of course an important relationship between the finding a balance between the toe hang and the offset that best matches your game.
Everyone has their own unique set of preferences. When we like what our senses are telling us it generally puts us in a happier and more confident mood. Don’t believe me? Go put on the ugliest sweater you can find and see how timid you become walking up the street.
You cannot disregard your subconscious. So, looking down over a putter and like its aesthetics will translate into a more confident putting stroke.
More over certain putter shapes will tend also to dictate what their set ups are. For example, mallet putters’ tent to be more face balanced. And remember they key to being a better putter is finding the putter that is moving true and straight at the point of impact.
Also, it is worth mentioning that the larger putter does tend to be heavier but with the incorporation of changeable weights into putters this is less of a rule today. We also all have had our fair share of putts that have gone in with less-than-ideal speed but perfect alignment. The opposite is seldom true.
Many golfers have never even considered that their putter is lofted. And even less could tell you by how much. The fact is, generally the average golfer does not see loft as a point of consideration when talking about putters.
While it is true that the putter is the least lofted club in your bag it still has between 2 to 4 degrees of loft which is crucial to get the ball rolling towards the hole. Depending on where the ball is in your stance or the angle of inclination of the putter the loft of the putter will determine the behavior of the ball at impact.
If the aggregate loft of the putter nears 0 degrees the ball may drag at takeoff. You can think of it as putting the ball into the ground. Instead, if the angle becomes too large the ball can tend to skip ever so slightly making the its path much less predictable.
So even if loft is not the leading factor to consider it should not be completely forgotten.
The length of the putter is important since it factors into the ability of the golfer to have his eyes and thus his line of sight directly over the ball. This is of course important to be able to see and line up the ball into the hole.
Most putters will fall between 32 to 36 inches and the following are the commonly accepted guidance’s:
- 6’3” + 36” putter
- 6’ to 6’2” – 35” putter
- 5’9” to 5’11” – 34” putter
- 5’3” to 5’9” – 33” putter
- 5’ to 5’2” – 32” putter
Remember these are just generalizations. Depending on your posture and where your hands feel comfortable on the grip you may deviate from these ranges.
The measurement of a putters lie angle is the same as all of the other clubs in your bag. It is done by measuring the angle from the heel of the putter and its shaft when the putter is placed at rest in a neutral position. Generally, you can expect a putter to range from 70 to 72 degrees.
If the lie angle does not stay neutral when you address the ball this leads to ball strikes off center. Depending on the if the putter is too flat or two angled your point of contact will be prone to be either towards the toe or heel. This leads to putts being directed right or left of the target.
What is important to keep in mind is that the lie and the length of the putter need to work together so that you will be looking down over the ball. So, changing one variable may lead to needing changes in the other.
The right weight of your putter is all about how it feels in your hands. It’s about finding the equilibrium between the right feel for the ball at contact vs. a comfortable weight to create a smooth pendular stroke.
Generally lighter putters facilitate better feel and heavier putters’ better motion. It’s not hard to imagine why if you think about it in terms as the relationship between the weight of the ball and the putter. Just imagine putting the ball with a sledgehammer. You would most likely not even know you made contact with the ball.
The average weight you might expect is about 350 grams. But many of today’s putters are manufactured with interchangeable weighting so you can swap in something heavier or lighter if it suits you better.
There is not so much to say about grip size and style other that find one that your hands are comfortable with. If your hands are not gripping the club comfortable you are already starting from a bad place.
This generally is broken down between milled and insert faced putters. Historically insert faced putters had a softer feel than milled putters. But this is no longer the rule. Technology and manufacturing techniques have created a much greyer area here.
What is important is that the material that you choose has the effect you are looking for. Some golfers prefer a softer contact as opposed to a crisper one. So here there is not so much an empirical right or wrong as much as are you a soft golfer