Would you like to take 6 strokes or more off of your game? The easiest way to achieve that is to learn how to use your putter! Learning how to master your putting game will reduce your level of stress on the course more than anything else. In my opinion, hitting your drive like a gorilla will make you look good, but mastering your game on the green will make you a winner. There is nothing more frustrating that hitting the green in regulation, and then 3 or 4 putting your way to anger!
Before we go into specifics on putters, I want to share a brief story that still makes me laugh. My little golfing crew invited another friend to play with us around a year ago. To keep him from getting embarrassed, we’ll call him “Tim”. So we got to the first green and Tim managed a four putt. We got to the second one and he did the same, even though his chip landed him some ten feet from the hole. On the third hole we couldn’t hold back the laugher. Seriously, he looked like a caveman hacking away with his blade. It turns out that Tim is a hell of a pool player, so after his first putt on the third hole went about 15 feet long, Tim said to us, “I’ll bet you $20 that I will sink this one!” Greg was the first one to pull out $20 and take him up on the offer, but we all wanted a piece of it because we knew that Tim would need at least another 3 shots to sink it. I’ll never forget what Tim did next. He laid down on the ground, flipped his club over so that he was aiming at the ball like a pool stick, and he pulled his club back and forth to aim in his shot. We were all roaring with laughter at this point. Apparently he was getting a lot of attention to because another foursome that was nearby stopped to watch the spectacle. So Tim spent what felt like 5 minutes sighting in, then he drew back and hit the golf ball with a firm shot. Greg almost pissed in his pants as the ball travelled the 15 feet, breaking about a foot to the left, and landed dead in the middle of the cup. Before the round was over, all of us were laying on the ground like a snake trying to replicate Tim’s putter style!
Sorry about the long story, but there is a point to it: when it comes to all golf clubs (including the putter), there is more than one way to use it, and use it well. There is a generally defined way to use each of them. We are all taught certain practices that usually work the best, but just because one way of putting works for Greg, that doesn’t mean that Tim can’t swing a different way and get the same (or better) results.
Now that the storytelling is out the way, let’s talk about putting the ball in the hole with the club that we use to do it- the putter. We’ll explain what it is, how it’s used, some different types, and some general pricing guidelines.
Putters are the clubs that we use when on the green, or at least on the fringe of the green. We use them for the last shot (or few shots) to place the ball into the hole. With other clubs your swing requires you to reach way back and then strike through the ball with a lot of might, but with this special club we barely pull back and basically just tap the ball to cause it to go forward. While other clubs such as fairway woods are designed to hit it 450 feet or better, this club is designed to only move it 1 to 100 feet at the most. While other clubs have a slanted face that creates loft to propel the ball forward and into the air, putters are designed with no slant at all, and they are meant to keep the ball on the ground instead of pushing it into the air.
This is the general rule anyways. We use them to hit the ball that’s near the green to put it into the cup. But as Tim showed me, there’s more than one way to play the game of golf. There are actually quite a few people that can play an entire game with just their putter, and they can beat me while I’m using every club in my bag! They can literally drive, chip and putt the ball in with this one club. I’ve never seen a person do this in person, but at the end of this article we’ll share a YouTube video of a golfer doing it.
There are several different types of putters. Everybody has a favorite type, and a lot of us don’t even know which one would work best for us because we haven’t even tried them all! Here’s a brief summary of the different kinds that are available:
- Anser Style- This was the first style that had a cavity that was hollowed out in its back. That creates a great “sweet spot”. This makes it highly forgiving, and it won’t twist when you it the ball slightly off of the center. This is the one that I currently use, but I may be switching soon.
- Blade Putters- This is the one that Jack Nicklaus used to win all of his championships. They are heavily toe weighted, so you have to play them with a very particular type of stroke.
- Center Shafted- The shaft is literally placed in the middle of the head. If your stroke is straight back, and straight forward, this may be your match.
- Futuristic- This is where technology goes haywire. Any putter that is not traditional goes into this category. They are often very large, and sometimes the shaft is attached to the head in strange ways. They are all designed to be very forgiving.
- Mallet- They look like a mallet that you use to play croquet. The head almost looks like a flattened driver. Almost all of them are face balanced.
- Offset Putter- This one has the shaft set closer to the hole that you are aiming for than the head itself. The shaft is “offset”.
- Onset- The opposite of offset, these are designed so that the face of the head is closer to the whole than the shaft.
- Insert Putters- These have an insert placed into the head. The insert is made out of a different material that can be soft or hard. They claim that the inserts give you a better feel of the ball.
- Milled- These are made from a single block of metal. They are highly labor intensive (compared to cast putters) and are the most expensive types.
There are hundreds of brands and manufacturers to choose from. We will discuss many of them in another article. There are also many different price ranges. You can buy a cheap, used one for $10 or less. On the other end of the extreme, you can actually buy a putter with a gold head and precious jewels for over $100,000! We will cover the costs for many different brands in another article.
As promised, here is a great video for you to check out where a group of golfer plays an entire round of golf with just their putter: