You can make a strong case there is no more important club in your bag than your putter. The reason why is obvious: You use the putter more than any other club. Somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of your shots are putts.
Considering that, you should spend time when buying the right putter. There is a lot to consider, even if you are a beginner. Let’s take a look at the possible decisions you will need to make. Following that, you will be shown a clear winner in the question of which type putter is best for beginners.
Some putters are toe-balanced and some are face-balanced. There is a relatively straightforward method for determining which category a putter falls into.
Balance the club in one hand. If the face is pointing up, this is a face-balanced putter. If the toe is pointing down, that means it is a toe-balanced putter. So what is the practical difference?
Face-balanced putters are designed to go straight down the line when putting, meaning the face of the club stays square (mostly) with the direction of the putt. These putters mitigate the damage done on putts that are not hit in the center of the club.
Toe-balanced putters offer greater feel. The toe carries more weight, thus the club’s face opens and closes slightly throughout the swing. On poor putts struck on the heel, this is not so bad. Putts struck on the toe can vary wildly off target.
Professionals sometimes strike the ball on the toe purposely on very speedy putts. This tactic takes a great deal of precision and ability and is not recommended for beginners.
If you look at a putter, it appears that its face is flat. Not so, as the putter does have some loft, albeit much less than any other club.
The reason a putter has loft is to get the ball rolling as soon as possible after impact. A putter with too much loft will make the ball airborne. A ball that bounces before rolling means you have lost control of the putt.
A putt with too little loft will dig into the ground at impact, causing a similar problem. More advanced players might deliberately choose putters with higher or lower than normal loft. Beginners should stick with the average of 3 to 4 degrees of loft.
Some putters have additional weight in the head of the club. This is designed to create the perfect feel for the golfer wielding the club. Using a putter with the incorrect amount of weight for you may not cause as many problems with distance as it does with direction.
While you want to get the correct amount of weight in the head, it is more likely that you have too little club-head weight than too much. A weighted head on a putter helps facilitate the pendulum action you look for in a putting stroke. Beginners should err on the side a heavier club face for their putters.
When you place a putter on the ground behind your ball, its lie angle should fit your stroke. The lie angle could have the toe sticking up in the air, or it could have the heel higher than the toe. For most golfers, and beginners especially, neither of those are ideal. The toe and the heel should be aligned properly.
Getting the correct length of your putter is perhaps the most overlooked decision to make. Getting a club that is too tall or too short can cause you to compensate in your stance or your swing, reducing your accuracy.
You should stand with your knees and waist slightly bent when making a putt. Your eyes should be directly over the ball. Right-handed golfers are left-eye dominant, meaning their dominant eye will be closest to the hole and can see the intended line perfectly.
Certainly, there have been great golfers who deviated from the stance described above. Jack Nicklaus may be the best golfer of all time, and he stands hunched over the ball with a slightly open stance. Phil Mickelson plays golf left-handed even though he is a natural right-hander. Keep in mind these are golfers who have spent almost their entire lives mastering their games.
As a beginner, you are much better off with a square stance and your eyes directly over the ball. If you are looking for an all-time great, consider the putting stance of Tiger Woods. It’s a great one to emulate.
So how do you know what is the right length for your putter? Take your stance and let your arms hang out in front of you. Wherever your hands are is where the putter grip should be when it is lying flat.
Getting this correct will improve your putting consistency. Putters are typically 34 or 35 inches in length. That may or may not be right for you.
Mallet or Blade?
While this is the final variable listed here, it is hardly the most inconsequential. Putter heads come in two distinct styles: mallet or blade.
A blade putter has a flat and narrow head. These offer greater feel but sacrifice a bit in terms of consistency.
Mallet putters have a larger head, either round or square, with significant material behind the face of the club. These putters are more consistent but have less feel, than blade putters.
Both style putters could have the shaft enter the face in the middle or at the end.
Since mallet-style putters are more forgiving, these are the best choice for beginners. These putters have a larger sweet spot than do blade style putters. Since beginners are far more likely to hit their putts off-center, mallets are the better choice.
Mallet putters are almost always bottom-heavy compared to blades. This improves the moment of inertia, a fancy term that refers to how much the club twists on off-center struck putts. That is a good trait in putters for beginners.
Before moving on to some select putters that could be good for beginning golfers, let’s take a look at a couple of other styles.
Until being banned by professional golf associations, belly putters were preferred by a decent percentage of golfers. You can still find these types of extra-long putters, but by rule you cannot rest the butt of the club against your body when putting. These putters are popular for people who have struggled with a conventional stroke, or have some physical ailment that prevents them from making a regular stroke. Beginners should avoid these.
Many putters have soft inserts on the club face where the club strikes the ball. This is a matter of preference but many golfers will prefer these inserts. More experienced golfers may prefer the feel or sound of metal striking ball.
Another feature that is very common in putters are directional lines atop the club face. These help with the alignment of your putts. Unless the putter is covered in these lines and causes you discomfort when looking at them, they are a plus.
You may also see an inexpensive two-way putter. These blade-style putters are the kind you typically rent for miniature golf. The only advantage to these putters, aside from the price, is that they can be used for lefties and righties. There is no advantage in putting in being ambidextrous. Pick a side to putt from and avoid these two-way putters.
Here then are some quality choices for putters for beginners.
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This mallet-style putter has a lot going for it, starting with the price. It has all the features a beginner should want, but without the extravagant price. This putter features a white club head that is intended to cut down on glare. Some might find that off-putting.
Alignment guides on top of the head and a soft insert help make this a great choice for beginners. It also has more weight in the head than standard putters.
The first thing you notice about this putter is its distinctive look. A normal steel shaft turns to black before entering the club head near its center.
Another aspect of this putter is its RifleScope Technology alignment system. This system is designed to both get the club head square and get the ball rolling on the intended lie.
The club naturally sits squarely on the ground, further improving the chances of a solid strike. Because this club has no offset in the face, it is designed with a slightly lower than average 2.5 degrees of loft.
For those of you who may not be fully committed to a mallet putter, this could be a good choice for you. It is what is called a “mid-mallet,” which is to say the head is smaller than most mallet putters.
The matte black finish contrasts well with the white alignment lines atop the face. A surlyn insert, the same material of the cover of many golf balls, provides a soft impact. This club offers a bit more feel than full mallets.
It is counterbalanced, meaning it has weight added to both the grip and the head.
If you are willing to go all out to improve your game, this could be the choice for you. It’s got a big price tag, with big features to match.
It is truly interactive, with a free app to identify where you are going wrong (or right), and tips and drills to help you master the greens.
This putter has a distinctive look that is impossible to miss.
Another mid-mallet and another pricey option. This is a terrific putter, imparting just the right mix of control, feel, and consistency.
It has a sleek look with the requisite guidelines atop the head to help with alignment.
This company is known for its precision milling on the club face. That attention to detail is evident throughout this putter’s design. There’s a reason for the hefty price tag.
Another entry from one of the best-known names in putters. There is no mistaking this bold design. Aside from its look, this putter is known for its insert, which gives a unique sound and feel.
Cleveland is another trusted name in golf. This putter, which you can also get in blade style, is known for its diamond-pattern grooves perfected by machine milling.
This is a gorgeous and effective putter.
As you can see, even if you restrict yourself to mallet-style putters that are a better fit for beginners, you have a wide range of options.
Don’t discount how you feel holding the putter. It is worth a visit to a local golf outlet to hold several options and see how comfortable you are.
Comfort leads to confidence. And confidence leads to more made putts. Once you’ve tried them out in the shop, come back here and shop online for great deals.
This list is hardly intended to be all inclusive, although you cannot go wrong with any of these. For the best combination of price and performance, beginners might find the Pinemeadow PGX to be a great choice. Yes, it is not as well-known as some of the other manufacturers here, but that should not stop you from giving it a shot.