How to Choose a Putter

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Few clubs have as big an impact on a golfer’s score than the putter. Finding one that feels comfortable in your hands and promotes a smooth, even stroke brings the confidence you need when looking over a tricky putt. While sorting through the newer models with the space-age materials and fancy visual aids is a fun way to spend an afternoon, making sure it actually fits your stroke is more important when making your selection.

Know Your Stroke

  • Two common putting styles are the square-to-square stroke and the arc stroke. In the square-to-square, the putter face is always square to the hole, which makes a face-balanced putter ideal. Arc strokes travel on a curve, which is better suited to a toe balanced putter. Many other elements of putters are geared towards one stroke or another, so go into the buying process with that in mind to avoid winding up with a club that won't suit your game.

Length and Weight

  • Putters come in varying lengths, but should fit naturally with your putting set-up. Try out putters using your standard stroke. If you have to choke up on the shaft more than an inch or two to feel comfortable, look for a shorter putter. If your hands are all the way at the top edge, try one a little longer. The putter should weigh enough to feel balanced -- not so heavy to stop your stroke or so light that you swing too hard or can’t keep it straight.

Choose The Design

  • Many golfers are dedicated to a particular putter head design. Mallet heads and blade heads each have their admirers, so if you’re comfortable with the style you have now, pick a new one that’s got the same feel. This also can be determined by your stroke -- for example, those using an arc stroke tend to benefit from mallet putters. Putters often have visual aids designed to help the golfer aim straight, and if that’s something that’s useful for your game, look for one that helps you focus without being a distraction.

Specialty Putters

  • Belly putters and long putters help some golfers concerned about the "yips” – tough-to-control tremors that cause you to pull your putt at the point of impact. These putters anchor to your stomach or chest and help stabilize your stroke. However, the future of these putters in tournament play is up in the air, with anchored strokes made illegal by the USGA beginning in January 2016. That doesn't make long putters illegal, but since many use the clubs precisely because they can anchor the club, they won't be as useful when playing in tournaments governed by USGA rules.

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