The old adage goes “you drive for show, and you putt for dough”.
It may be a cliché, but there’s a reason it is so enduring: it’s emphatically true! The cruel irony of the craft of the Texas wedge is that a six-inch putt counts the same number of shots as a 300-yard drive on the scorecard, and there are few more infuriating things than playing a hole beautifully, only to undo your good work by three-putting, or missing a short one.
Putting brings a unique element into the picture, with feel and judgment playing a more important role than technique. Central to this is the relationship and groove you develop with your putter, which is why choosing the right one is arguably the most essential equipment selection you can make.
So, which one to go for? Technology and competition among leading brands continue to move the needle, but, for beginners, we believe the below represent the best five of the bunch in the class of 2017…
You may also want to check out our reviews of the Best Putting Aids.
Best Putters Review 2017
Here are our picks of the Best Putters for Beginners:
- Editors Choice: Pinemeadow Golf Men’s PGX Putter
- Best Value: Orlimar Tangent T1 Putter
- Best Seller: Odyssey Hot Pro 2.0 #1 Putter
- Worthy Competitor: Wilson Harmonized M1 Putter
- Worthy Competitor: Ray Cook Golf – Silver Ray SR800 Putter
Editors Choice: Pinemeadow Golf Men’s PGX Putter
With the Pinemeadow PGX, you’re guaranteed a smooth, forward-spinning ball at impact, with minimal skid. The combination of tour weighting with a soft, metallic face makes for excellent feel, and is perfect for quick greens. It also has good alignment aids to help you get the ball on the right path.
The only concern with this putter is that the shaft may feel a little flimsy. Probably best not to leave this one lying around in the boot of your car, or bend it in a fit of frustration!
All things considered though, the Pinemeadow Golf Men’s PGX Putter is a beautiful piece of merchandise, which sits nicely at address, is easy on the eye, and delivers excellent performance. For a price of less than $40, it is ideal for those starting the game – and even those who are beginning to see their handicap improve.
Best Value: Orlimar Tangent T1 Putter
The 35-inch shaft is relatively lightweight, although the head accounts for a fair amount of the 3 lbs this puppy weighs. We’ve outlined all the different features above, but what really cut the mustard for us was the exemplary combination of balance and feel. The big advantage of a heavy head is that, once you get it going, the putter almost swings itself, and you tend to get a consistent stroke. Yet that’s no good if you’re smashing it off the green! That’s where the face insert comes in, and, not only does it provide for a smooth roll which you quickly become accustomed to… it also delivers a very pleasing sound at impact. From address to follow through, this putter gives the feeling of control. Yet it isn’t just distance and feel which get the thumbs up. The high-low sight line is simple but effective, and suits the eye, and I didn’t really miss anything from inside five feet. For lefties, the bad news is that this acclaimed putter is only available in right-hand orientation. That, and the fact that the headcover is a bit fiddly to take on and off are about the only complaints we could muster. Other than that, the Orlimar Tangent T1 is ideal for any game improver, and, at the quoted price of $45, you’re going to struggle to find better value out there.
Best Seller: Odyssey Hot Pro 2.0 #1 Putter
Let’s start with the insert, which has been so widely lauded. It’s comprised of tour-tested material, and, believe it or not, is genuinely an improvement on the already-impressive #1 insert. In the words of Callaway, it has been “engineered for improved sound, feel and performance across the face,” and that is precisely what it delivers. The roll you get is true and reliable, but with a good bout of top-spin, and the feel at impact is unrivalled.
The EyeFit system is another bit of Odyssey genius too. We all stroke the ball differently; some of us straight back, straight through, while others have a definitive arc. It should never be a one-size-fits-all, and that’s why this fitting process will inevitably bear fruit for you, with a head that’s tailored towards your specific needs.
This superb putter is a tad on the expensive side so may possibly be out of your league. But if you are someone whose game is improving, and are prepared to make a solid investment, then this could be the one for you. It doesn’t have a weakness, and gets everything from distance control to balance absolutely spot on.
Worthy Competitor: Wilson Harmonized M1 Putter
The key to unlocking that balance between feel and a solid impact lies in the multiple density areas of the micro-injection polymer face insert, which is a feature of a number of Wilson putters. It conjures up a satisfying thud off the blade at impact, and, despite the lightweight nature of the putter, you get a nice, potent roll off the sweet spot, and the head has good balance. The soft-feel grip also moulds into your palms very nicely, and you get that feeling of your body being in tune with the motion of the putter. Probably one criticism which can be levelled is that there is a big discrepancy with mishits, and you wouldn’t say this is the most forgiving flat-stick in the world. That said, the overwhelming take-away is that this is a quality putter. There are no bells and whistles. In fact, there isn’t even a headcover. But, at a price of little more than a score, the Wilson Harmonized M1 represents superb value.
Worthy Competitor: Ray Cook Golf – Silver Ray SR800 Putter
Ray Cook was one of the pioneers of the original mallet putter head, but the Silver SR800 is a synopsis of just how far things have come. From the second you pull this club out the bag, balance is the overwhelming characteristic. All the weight seems to be in the right places, and the excellent design of the cast aluminium head gives you the stability you need in your stroke from start to finish. At impact, the ball releases off the milled blade serenely (albeit with a bit of a ‘clinky’ sound), with minimal friction off the putting surface. The sweet spot is very wide too, meaning you can develop a consistent roll, even if you’re still learning the ropes. The alignment aid isn’t ground-breaking, but the single line does its job. As for the grip, it’s probably slightly bigger than average, which we always appreciate. Besides, with the soft feel, it will almost certainly fit like a glove. And all of this for just 35 bucks… need we say more?
How to Choose the Best Putter?
We didn’t choose the above putters on a whim. In addition to price (and others!), there are three key technical attributes we look at when assessing the merits of a prospective putter. We suggest you adopt these criteria as part of your approach to putter purchasing too…
Weight – The total weight of the head of a putter you choose is a major influence on the roll you will get, and the resultant speed too. Some days you’ll play on fast greens, other days you’ll play on slow greens, but either way, you’ll need to be in tune with the roll you get so that you can maximise control. Generally speaking, mallet putters will weigh more – usually between 2-3 lbs. However, that is just a guideline, not a hard-and-fast rule! The better blade putters these days usually come in at 1-2 lbs. Heavier putter heads tend to stimulate consistency and a firmer roll off the face, although they tend to be a bit more difficult to manoeuvre. I lean towards lighter putters because the impact is a bit softer, and it feels like you can really accelerate through the ball. Then again, it can be harder to maintain a consistent stroke when the wind is blowing, and slow greens can be a bit of a headache. Putter weight is thus a highly subjective consideration – but a very important one nevertheless!
Length – It isn’t just your height which will dictate the ideal length for your putter – it’s your posture too. Think of someone like Jack Nicklaus, who use to crouch over his putter like a tiger ready to pounce. Then again, someone like Ernie Els uses every bit of his height, and, until a few years ago, used to stroke the ball as smoothly as anyone. It’s all about what sits nicely – you want the putter to fit your natural position, not the other way around. Typical men’s adult putters will usually be in the vicinity of 35 inches, give or take a few either side. Unless of course it’s a long or belly putter you’re after. Don’t worry, we discuss these in greater detail below.
Loft – Last but not least is the loft of the putter. The first time you look at a putter, you may be inclined to think that this number is zero degrees. However, putters have a subtle loft built in to deliver the best possible ‘jump’ off the putter face, and a top-spin roll so that your ball kisses the surface, rather than falling foul to too much friction (which can disrupt both speed and direction). The face inserts of a putter will also determine how the ball will roll on the putting surface. The optimal loft will also be affected by the way you hold your putter, and the angle of the face at the point of impact. However, as a general rule of thumb, you’ll want a putter with a loft of between 2-4 degrees.
Types of Golf Putters
In terms of length, there are three main types of putters available to amateurs. These are a conventional putter, the long putter and the belly putter. Yet within that, there are different categories of putter faces, or sub-categories, if you prefer. We discuss these in greater detail below…
1. Mallet Putter
2. Heel-Toe Weighted Putters
It was Ping who pioneered the first heel-toe (or peripheral-weighted) putters over 50 years ago, and although uptake was initially slow, they are now well established. These putters tend to have a larger sweet spot, but with extra weight in the heel and toe portions of the head in order to enhance consistency and forgiveness. You’ll find that off-centre strikes are less prone to twisting and turning, and with some excellent and stylish designs to boot, it’s no wonder that these are a popular choice of putter.
3. Blade Putters
The blade putter is the more traditional looking among flat-sticks, and is a favourite among professionals. As the name suggests, the design of a blade putter is more streamlined, and doesn’t feature the elaborate designs consistent with mallet putters. It has a straight clubhead, and typically a narrow body to boot. Yet they still flaunt cutting-edge technology, with a variety of inserts, weight, loft and designs which ensure that they pack a mean punch. The sweet spot is towards the heel of the putter (as the shaft meets the clubhead at the heel), while the weight is biased towards the toe. As such, this type of putter tends to favour those with an arc-style stroke, or a pendulum action if you will.
4. Center-Shafted Putters
The majority of putters you see on the market are heel-shafted or hosel-offset blades; both of which see the shaft connect with the head in the vicinity of the heel. However, an increasingly-popular variation is the center-shaft putter, which, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, pits this connection in the middle of the blade, usually just above the sweetspot. For those with a straight-back, straight-through putting stroke, and/or those who stand with their eye directly over the ball at address, this delivers definite advantages in terms of alignment, and getting the ball to roll on your intended course. Center-shafted putters are face balanced, and although it is rare that beginners opt for this type of putter, it all comes down to personal choice. So if you think your technique fits the bill we’ve just described, it may be worth giving one of these a whirl to see if it holds the golden ticket to more holed putts.
Putters can also be categorized into belly putters, conventional putters and long putters.
A belly putter is longer than the conventional putter (usually about 40-44 inches long), and, unlike any other type of putter, was formerly anchored in the stomach region. The theory behind this is that an anchored shaft reduces the involvement of the wrists, hands and elbows during the stroke, and therefore encourages a mere swing of the shoulders to induce a more consistent stroke. Although this doesn’t necessarily help with feel or length, many believe it provided a clear advantage with respect to alignment. In fact, so controversial have belly putters become that, as of January 2016, it is now illegal to anchor a putter in any part of the body. Belly putters as such remain legal, but unfortunately they can no longer be propped in their rightful place – your belly.
Experts would say that if you are using a conventional putter without any significant issues, then you should stick to it. First things first is to get your eye as close to being directly above the ball at address as possible. Next, you’ll want to maintain a posture such that your arms hang loosely down, and, after that, bring your palms together. That, my friends, should deliver the perfect putting stance. Of course, there is no perfect putting stance, and there are many ways to skin a cat. But as long as you’re able to limit the involvement of your wrists, and make a smooth, rhythmical putting stroke, then you should be on track with your conventional putter.
The long putter – also known as the “broomstick” – came before the belly putter, although the principles behind its origin are somewhat similar. The idea is to turn the putting stroke into an oscillating movement; akin to the earlier-mentioned pendulum. Long putters are usually between 48-52 inches long, with two grip sections, and facilitate a more upright stance. As per the rule change we alluded to above, the top of the putter cannot be anchored against any part of the body, so a right-hander would normally put their left hand at the top of the club (on the upper grip section) to maintain stability, with the right hand placed 12 inches or so below that (on the lower-grip section) to ensure control over the putter head (vice versa for left handers). As with the belly putter, it almost entirely negates wrist hinge, and is thus ideal for someone with the yips, or who gets nervous with short puts. The downside is that feedback is reduced, and controlling distance is therefore more difficult. In truth, a long putter is more of a last resort, rather than being a preference. So unless you can feel the jitters creeping into your stroke, there shouldn’t be any need to go down this route.
The above reviews have combined the weighty cocktail of our own experiences and customer reviews set against the criteria we’ve outlined above. In a world of advancing technology, up-and-down pricing and oodles of fantastic putters, it isn’t easy to narrow it down to only five. However, we’ve tailored this knowing that you are most likely new to golf, and/or a high handicapper, so our objective is to equip you with a flatblade that will help your game; without breaking the bank. And if you choose to look further afield for the putter of your choice, that’s okay. Just remember to factor in the key categories for your decision: price, type of putter, the putter head, alignment system, loft and the face insert. Ultimately putting is one aspect of golf which is less technical, and more contingent upon feel. But if you find something which ticks the right boxes, and makes you feel more confident over the ball, you’re all set to master the most important part of the game of golf.