Re: Choosing a New Putter
Originally Posted by Golfman91
As you stated, choosing a putter is a personal preference and he best thing you can do is just try as many different models and configurations as possible. However, some things to think about:
Insert vs. no insert - this has become a big personal choice thing for many golfers. Most inserts are a little softer than the metal used in the rest of the putters and will create a different sounds and feel than non-insert putters. Some people believe that distance control is easier with insert putters, but others will dispute that. Personally, I have found insert putters easier to control distance with. They might even cause forward spin a little sooner than non-insert putters, but that depends on several factors. This might be a good place to start with your selection process - decide if you prefer the insert or not. Of course not all inserts are the same so you need to try different models.
As for the question about 'milled', this is often an misunderstood term. This comes from a process post production where the face is machine milled to give it a perfectly flat surface. This is not in regards to the process of making the putter, which is...
Forged vs. cast - This is how the putter is made. Cast is a process where hot steel is poured into a 'cast' to create a shape. This process is often cheaper and most putters on the market are created in this way. Forged is a process of starting with a single piece of metal and shaping that to create the putter. Many people claim that forged putters are superior in feel, sound and quality while others will dispute it. Scotty Cameron putters are forged while Odyssey putters are cast. Most of the difference in sound and feel is more about the material used than the process itself (cast materials are often 'harder' than forged because a softer material is easier to shape in the forging process). Again, try both and see what you prefer.
Face weigting - For the most part their are 2 designs for weighting in the face of putters - heel-toe weighted, heel weighted and face balanced. The biggest difference in these is with your putting stroke. A h-t weighted putter has majority of weight in face in the heel and toe (with different percentage distributions of this weight across different models) as opposed to face balanced which evens the weight across the face. Most believe a heel-toe weighted putter is better for strokes that are inside-square-inside as it helps square the face for this stroke. If your stroke is more square-to-square it's believed that a face-balanced model works best as this helps keep the face square through the stroke. This is another important factor to consider based on you stroke and what feels right to you.
Hosel/shaft configuration - How the hosel connects to the head is a huge factor and one often overlooked. There are so many different designs from the plumbers neck to various shaft bends and offsets. Mostly the important thing is to find one that you like the looks of. For most inside-square-inside strokes a heel shafted model of some variety seems to better fit this stroke, while a center-shafted model often seems a better fit for square-to-square strokes, but it's such a personal thing that no rule really applies. It all comes down to your stroke and what gives you the best results.
Blade vs. Mallet - another big difference and again something that really seperates putters. Mallet putters are usually more forgiving on off-center hits (higher MOI) and may be easier to align because of their design, but many players find they get better 'feel' with blades (partially because of the MOI) and for those with inside-square-inside strokes they often think a blade is easier for this stroke (although lots of people with this stroke use mallets as well). Square-to-square stroke playes sometimes prefer mallets (which are often face balanced).
Other thing to also be aware of, although I will not bore you with too many details:
Length - do not overlook this, make sure you get right length for your stroke and do not adjust to fit putter.
Loft - putter lofts differ by a few degrees and based on your stroke (and the types of greens you play) it can help with smoother roll.
Overall weight - personal choice, but some find heavier putter easier to control while some feel lighter gives better feel.
Grip - larger grips help take hands and wrists out of putt while smaller can give better feel.
Try a lot of different putters with different configurations until you find what you prefer. After years of playing with lots of putters, I have settled (at least for now) on a 35 inch, center-shafted, face-balanced, insert mallet because it fits me best and gives me the most confidence.