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How to Choose the Perfect Putter – It’s a Lifelong Quest
Selecting a putter is a personal thing, there is no correct putter that works best for everyone. Your own preferences matter most. There are some general guidelines to follow so the love affair that begins when you first set eyes on that beauty of a perfect putter in the pro shop, lasts when you take it out on the course for a golf date. I’ll talk about these general guidelines of choosing a putter further below.
Please keep in mind as you read this article of mine about choosing a putter, that I am gladly not a golf professional. I would be very inept at selling hugely marked-up logo shirts and sweaters in a pro shop. I have a solid 10.2 USGA Handicap Index that I’ve earned playing courses in the Pinehurst, North Carolina area. I also have a plentiful collection of perfect putters. I have seen golf professionals on television using their putters. So, as you can see, I am an expert at choosing a perfect putter.
The most important thing to know:
When selecting your perfect putter, the only thing that matters is that it works for you. For a serious golfer, finding the perfect putter is a lifelong quest.
Your putter has to look good when you set up to the ball, and has to feel good during your putting stroke. You must have confidence when you putt. Putting confidence begins when you have a putter you like and trust.
If you are like most golfers, your putting success may rise and fall over the course of a season (or even a round!) Some precious and rare days you’re hot, most days you are probably lukewarm, and sadly, some awful days you are ice-cold on the greens. Hopefully, you have a perfect putter you can trust during all these times.
As golfers, we are always searching for the perfect putter. A golfer naturally knows that somewhere in the world there’s a putter that was ordained to be the perfect putter for him or her.
A perfect putter will work time after time with no uncertainty, and never let the golfer down. Putts of any distance, on any kind of green with any kind of grass, and rolling up and down mounds of buried elephants in the green, will drop in the hole as by divine intervention when you have the perfect putter. Some who do not understand golf, golfers, or putters may say there is no perfect putter, that such a thing is a myth. We know better.
It is a sad fact of life in this fallen world, that your perfect putter does not arrive with you when you are born. You must find your perfect putter. If you have not found that putter yet, then have faith! You must start or continue your perfect putter life quest. That putter is out there somewhere in the world right now, waiting… waiting… waiting, to be found by you.
The perfect putter is love at first sight.
The perfect putter could cost hundreds of dollars from a pro shop, could be custom built, could be so beautiful it is a work of art, or it could be bought out of an old, stinky, filthy, oil drum at a flea market, look like a rusted piece of twisted metal dredged from the depths Lake Erie, and bought for mere pennies. None of this matters as long as it is the perfect putter for you. You know it the moment you see it and first waggle it.
Once you find that perfect putter then you will (and should) protect it with your life. Think of Ben Crenshaw and his putter. Little Ben is a Wilson 8802 classic blade style putter Crenshaw found on a rack at Lions Municipal Golf Course many years ago. It has been rumored that Ben actually uses two identical 8802s, and will choose the one to use based on its feel at the particular time. We all want a relationship with our putter like Ben Crenshaw has with Little Ben. Ben Crenshaw has his perfect putter. Where’s mine? Where’s yours?
I will often refer in my below general guidelines of choosing a perfect putter, to a “competent golf professional or golf club repairman.” I have repeated and stressed this phrase not to be monotonous, but because having such an individual to work on any of your golf clubs is an absolute necessity. Even more so when we’re talking about your perfect putter.
It is often assumed that the skills, knowledge, and ability of golf professionals or golf club repairmen are all of equally high quality. In my opinion, this is not true. As with any endeavor, there are some who are more proficient than others. Get yourself a competent golf professional or golf club repairman. Consider it a form of self-defense.
The length of the putter is important because you must be comfortable when you address the ball. You don’t want a putter that’s too short because then you’ll feel uncomfortable as you hunch over at address. Plus, you’ll help make a chiropractor richer than he or she should be when you get your back straightened out.
A putter that’s too long will get you out of position at address. At address, you will feel out of place because you’ll be standing too tall or too far away from the ball. You may feel like maybe you need stronger glasses because at an address position with a putter that’s too long in length, the ball looks like a small, fuzzy tennis ball. Maybe too, things are fuzzy because you’ve had too much to drink from the beer cart that’s been following your foursome too closely. Beer cart girls are experts at picking the weakest prey and thinning out the herd. Beware of them.
When you address a putt with your putter, you will probably position yourself in a manner that you naturally judge to be the most efficient for your body to be organized, so you can hit that small white ball sitting down there on the smooth green grass. You want the putter’s length to match where your hands naturally fall to grip a putter while you are in this position. Where your hands are, is where the putter grip should be. You don’t want to adjust yourself to the putter. Pick a putter length that matches you. Don’t adjust yourself to the putter. If you must know, most professionals use a 35-inch length putter. This does not mean your putter has to be 35-inches long.
The putter’s lie is simply how the putter head rests on the green. The sole of the putter head should lie flat, or square, on the green as you take your natural address position. The toe of the putter should not be sticking up in the air, nor should the heel be waving around in the air. Your perfect putter will have a lie that suits you. Your perfect putter’s lie will be true, it will not lie to you.
The lie of the putter is important because every putter has a sweet spot. The sweet spot of a putter should be below the putter’s center of gravity (or the balance point). The sweet spot is only a tiny spot on the putter face, it is where you want to hit the ball for the best results. Every putter has a sweet spot… but I’ve met some putters that seemed to be lacking such. Those putters never became my friends. Any aiming lines or devices on your putter should match up with the sweet spot.
If the lie of the putter is too flat or too upright for your putter address position, then the sweet spot will be in the wrong place (maybe out in LA – Lower Akron). You will have the best chance of making solid and consistent putts when the putter’s lie is correct, with the entirety of the sole of the putter contacting the green. Then you have the sweet spot right where it should be, just as the genius designer designed it.
The lie can be altered by a competent golf professional or golf club repairman. He or she can determine what your putter’s lie should be and then use a machine to bend the putter to the desired lie. Likewise, this person could also correctly add or subtract length to your putter.
Believe it or not, all putters have and need some loft. The putter’s loft is generally something you can trust the putter designer and manufacturer to get right for you. Putter loft can be altered by a competent golf professional or golf club repairman. You may want to consider checking or changing your putter’s loft if you encounter either of two situations:
* If you play greens that are rough and slow, then you may need more putter loft. This will allow the putted ball to get up on the green’s grass faster and roll better, rather than the ball being mashed into the grass blades and then going hoppitty bumppitty all the way home.
* If you play greens that are fast and smooth, then you may need a putter that has less loft. A less lofted putter in these green conditions will get the ball rolling better and faster than a putter with too much loft.
Consult your competent golf professional or golf club repairman about your putter’s loft and the usual or normal greens you play. Perhaps some magic adjustments can be made to your putter’s loft to make your perfect putter even more perfect.
The Putter Grip
If you find the perfect putter for you, but the grip is not what you have in mind, then the grip can be changed. Your competent golf professional or golf club repairman can show you a number of different putter grip selections and install the one that’s just perfect for you on that perfect putter. If you change your mind later on, then try another grip. Your competent golf professional or golf club repairman will happily provide regripping services as many times as needed, or until you run out of money.
The grip you choose for your putter is a personal choice. There is no wrong or right grip selection for everyone. Rubber, leather, some other material, thin, thick, smooth, or grooved, whatever works for you is the type of grip you want on your putter.
When you find the perfect grip for your putter, it might be wise to buy a backup supply of these putter grips to have handy in case you ever need to replace the putter grip. Grips are relatively inexpensive and grip manufacturers do discontinue grip models from time to time. So, if you find the perfect putter grip, buy some extras and store them away in a safe place. Your local golf professional, golf club repairman, or golf store will joyfully sell you as many putter grips as you want and can afford. Extra perfect putter grips are good to have around when you find your next perfect putter and need to install the perfect grip on it. So, get a grip.
As with all factors in choosing your perfect putter, the overall weight of the putter is a personal choice. In general, a heavier putter might do better if you usually putt on slow greens. A lighter putter might be better if you usually putt on fast greens. However, maybe you have the touch to adjust for whatever speed of greens you encounter and can always use the same putter. It all depends on what you prefer… are you seeing a continuing theme here? For professionals, most putters weigh somewhere in the 16 to 17 ounce range. Your putter should weigh the perfect weight for you.
One idea, if you have the perfect putter and wind up putting on greens that are slower than you are used to (of course, this will be the green superintendent’s fault that your perfect putts come up short all day long on his too slow greens) and think the putter could use a bit more weight, then there is a quick and easy solution.
Ask that competent golf professional or golf club repairman if he or she has any lead tape for sale. Apply the lead tape to your putter head to add the weight needed to achieve the feel you need for the greens superintendent’s too slow greens. After the slow greens superintendent is replaced and a speedier greens superintendent is hired, you can easily remove the lead tape and then things will be grand again. So, there is no need to go shopping for another perfect putter that’s heavier than your current perfect putter. Extra weight on a putter can easily be shed if it was added using lead tape.
If your putter is too heavy and you need it to be lighter, then you must start playing golf on the moon. That’s what Alan Shepard did. Okay, instead of moving to the moon talk to your competent golf professional or golf club repairman about needing to make your putter lighter. He or she may be able to help… “I have some nice new putter models over here Mr. Perfectputterman, I’m sure I have one that’s just the weight you’re looking for…”
There is a myriad of putter styles. There are mallets, center-shafters, offsets, blades, blades with flanges, heel-toe weighted, and every other combination or permutation than Carter has oats. There are all kinds of alignment aids and devices used on putter heads. Guess what? Whatever you prefer is the best style for you!
What You Must Do
What you must do if you have not yet found the perfect putter is to keep looking. Remember, it’s out there somewhere. Finding your perfect putter is a life-long quest. Always try out that perfect putter before you fork over any of your hard-earned lettuce. Just as with women, putter looks can be deceiving. Many a perfect putter on the pro shop rack can turn into a rattlesnake when you use it on a real putting green. Don’t get bit.
A competent golf professional or golf club merchant will allow you to test a putter before you buy it. If not, then run, don’t walk, away from that putter… unless of course, you are absolutely positive that the putter is the perfect one for you.
If you have to make your test putts on an indoor astro-turf or carpet putting green, then that will probably be okay. Just make sure your competent golf professional or golf club merchant hasn’t rigged that fake green like a shooting gallery at a traveling carnival. “Gee! I can’t miss with this baby!” you’ll exclaim, as the person behind the counter knowingly smiles, and asks if you want to pay with cash or credit.
Summary, Some Final Thoughts, and Comments
* Your perfect putter is your choice, it has to be perfect only for you.
* Follow the general guidelines presented here regarding length, lie, loft, weight, and grip when searching for your perfect putter.
* Do some test putting with a prospective perfect putter before you buy it.
* If your perfect putter is off in some of its technical aspects, then a competent golf professional or golf club repairman can make the needed changes to make your perfect putter even more perfect. A golf professional or golf club repairman will happily change the grip, shaft, and/or head of a putter to make it perfect for you, and will repeat these adjustments as often as needed.
* Before you turn any putter or golf club over to be changed or otherwise worked on, please make sure the professional or golf club repairman knows what he or she is doing. You want to find a competent golf professional or golf club repairman. I learned this lesson the hard way when I had a perfect putter altered incorrectly and beyond recovery. One day it was perfect, but in need of a simple lie tweak. The next day it was only good as a stake for tomato plants, with the same lie it had before I had it more perfectly perfected by an ogre of a golf club repairman. But I’m over it, it doesn’t bother me anymore. Yeah, I’m over it.
* Golf is easy, you just keep hitting the ball until it goes in the hole. The hard part is counting up all the strokes.
So, after all this you might be wondering what my perfect putter is. My current perfect putter is a PING Sedona i model. This putter is probably 5 or 6 years old and I bought it new. The grip is original and I have added no lead tape to it. It seems to be the one putter I feel most comfortable with. I have my good days and my bad days with it, but the third putt always goes in.
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