Guide to Buying a Putter

Putter on the green preparing for his stroke
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There is a greater variety of putters on the market than any other piece of golf equipment. So choosing the right one can be difficult. There's only one foolproof way to do it: Try as many different putters as you can get your hands on. It's all about feel. But there are some things to consider about different putter features that can help narrow the field.

Price and Quality

Are price and quality directly related in putters? In many cases, very much so. You can spend $400 on a putter, just as you can on a driver. And you'll probably be getting a heck of a putter. But you can also spend $15 and get a heck of a putter - if that's the one the feels right, builds confidence, and helps you get the ball into the hole. Don't think that you must spend lavishly on a putter.

Conventional, Belly and Long Putters

The general rule of thumb is that if you can putt with a conventional putter, then you should putt with a conventional putter. But if you have the yips or are too "handsy," a belly putter or long putter (also called a broomstick putter) might be worth checking out. Both reduce wrist action but distance control becomes dicier. Golfers with back woes might want to look at a long putter.

Putter Heads

The traditional heel-weighted blade is best left to expert putters. Traditional blades are simply too hard to control for most recreational players. High-MOI mallets and heal-toe weighted putters are what most recreational players should check out. Both minimize the effects of mishits. If you have a straight-back-and-through putting stroke, then look for face-balanced putters; if your putting stroke is an arc, look for toe-balanced putters.

Face Inserts

Putter face inserts can be made of metal, rubber, ceramic, plastic, glass, wood and more. Do they matter? If they improve your putting, it likely will be because a better feel has increased your confidence. They are designed to provide a softer feel. They also define the area of the sweet spot, and they can help increase heel-toe weighting. They're nice, but you can do just fine without them, too.

Offset Shafts and Hosels

An offset shaft or hosel is generally a good thing for a recreational golfer (and many pros, too). Offset helps the golfer line up with his or her forward eye over the ball, and with a good line of sight. Offset also helps keep the hands ahead of the ball when the putt is struck, which is a putting fundamental. Many putt great without offset, so it's one more thing that comes down to feel.

Other Factors

There are other things that can affect how a putter feels, and therefore how you will perform with it. Grips and weight are factors with major impacts on feel. Many believe that a thicker grip helps prevent wrist bend, but a thicker grip won't be comfortable for all. Weight is entirely a personal preference, and you can find putters that run the gamut from feathery to lead-ish in weight.