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Of all the ways golfers with high handicaps can lower their score, the quickest might well be on the green. With a different approach, a bit of practice, and the right equipment, it’s possible for duffers to quickly knock a few strokes off their score.
The reason is simple to understand. More than 40 percent of the total score of golfers on the PGA Tour comes from putts. To put that in perspective, if you shoot an average round of 100 and putt at the same rate as a PGA Tour professional, you will average about 41 putts per round. Chances are, if you are averaging 100 strokes per round, you are not putting at the same rate as a professional.
No other club in the bag comes anywhere close to being used as often as the putter. You will almost never get the opportunity to use your driver more than 14 times per round. And yet, weekend golfers rarely have time to practice much and when they do, most spend an inordinate amount of that time pounding drivers.
So, if you need a great putter, which are the best for reducing your handicap even further?
Ping Sigma 2 Fetch
Ping has long been an innovator in putter design. Its putters have changed the game. So it is little wonder that Ping has come up with an efficient mallet putter.
This putter has a ball-sized hole in the head of the putter. This allows for greater perimeter weighting and a very high MOI. It also allows the golfer to “fetch” the ball without bending over, which is how the putter got its name.
Fetching the ball may not be important to you, but the high MOI should be. This putter has all the design features you want in a high-end putter, but adds an interesting feature you rarely see.
The Sigma 2 Fetch has a tool you can insert into the top of the grip that allows you to adjust the club’s length. It can vary anywhere from 32-36 inches.
TaylorMade Spider X
You will be hard pressed to find a better putter than this one, as evidenced by its adoption by many of today’s top players.
The Spider X manages to get the majority of the weight in its head to the outer edges, resulting in a very high MOI. It has done this with a carbon insert that allows that weight shift without sacrificing its great alignment aids.
While its striking looks may take some getting used to, this is a putter that would fit well into the bag of golfers of any abilities.
This putter stands alone in its design, literally. This putter is designed with what the manufacturer claims is the lowest balance point in golf. That may well be true, as its low balance point allows the club to stand on its own on the green.
This allows you to place the putter behind the ball and walk behind to get the proper line. You don’t see that every day.
We go from one extreme in price to the other. This is an affordable option for those who may not be devoted enough to spend hundreds of dollars on a single club.
While this putter is not engineered with the same quality as others above, it does have some nice features.
It has very nice alignment aids that contrast sharply with its white club head. And it has plenty of weight added to the bottom of the club, giving the higher MOI we seek.
Odyssey EXO Stroke Lab
No list of best putters would be complete without an entry from Odyssey, an industry leader for quite some time. Odyssey manufactures quality putters and its EXO Stroke Lab fits in nicely.
This putter utilizes multiple materials to get the weight where you want it, resulting in a high MOI.
It has the White Hot insert in the face that Odyssey is known for, providing great feel in a mallet design.
And the Stroke Lab shaft helps you produce smoother strokes.
This putter offers a great mix of control, feel, and consistency.
It has a sleeker look than some other mallet putters.
This company is known for its precision milling on the club face and attention to detail. There is a reason for the relatively high price.
Choosing The Best Putter For You
Here’s the deal: if you can cut down on the number of three-putts per round, you can dramatically lower your score. The key to this is a shift in thinking. Stop thinking about making putts, and start thinking about getting them close. Then, make sure you are able to make those short putts at a high rate.
Assuming you don’t have a lot of time to practice your putting, you can concentrate on just two areas: longer putts and short ones. In your mind, draw an imaginary circle around the cup of three feet. Go back at least 25 feet from the cup and practice trying to get the ball to stop within that circle.
The remainder of your practice time should be spent on the short ones, specifically three-footers. Practice those from all angles, uphill, downhill, breaking to the right, and breaking to the left. If you can consistently get the long putts within three feet of the hole, and consistently make the three-footers you will be left with, you will reduce the number of three-putts and lower your score.
So you may be wondering what that has to do with what putter you use. The answer is, a great deal. There are putters that are designed to help you minimize the damage from off-center hits and be a more consistent putter.
To understand this, we need to go over a term you may have heard around when discussing golf clubs but not truly fathomed its meaning. That is Moment of Inertia, or MOI.
Moment of Inertia
MOI is simply a measurement of a club’s resistance to twisting. You really don’t need to know how it is calculated, just know that the higher the number the better for recreational golfers, especially high handicappers.
It is good to understand why MOI is important and how it affects your putts. MOI is important in all your clubs but we will focus our discussion to how it relates to your putter.
The sweet spot of your putter is the area in the center of the club face that helps produce quality shots. If you hit the ball in the sweet spot, you will have more consistent results, hitting putts that roll down the intended line with the intended speed.
Of course, if you are a high handicapper, you are unlikely to produce strokes that consistently strike the sweet spot. What happens on your off-center hits?
Any putt that is hit on the toe or heel of a putter will cause the putter head to vibrate, affecting both the speed and the direction of the putt. This effect is often more pronounced on shots hit on the toe of the club.
Even the best players in the world cannot hit the ball on the sweet spot every time. Golf club manufacturers combat this by enlarging the sweet spot.
This is more easily done in a particular type of putter.
Mallet putters have a larger surface area than the traditional blade style. While this often comes down to personal preference, many golfers have eschewed these putters due to their blocky appearance. Mallet putters are anything but sleek.
If you harbor such a viewpoint, it is time to get past it.
The larger surface area of a mallet putter means it can move more weight to the bottom and outer areas of the club head, resulting in a higher MOI. This means a larger sweet spot and fewer putts coming up short or wavering off line.
While mallet putters do not offer as much in the way of feel, it is more than offset by their superior consistency. Mallet putters are more forgiving than their blade counterparts.
While this higher MOI makes mallet putters a great choice for high handicappers, more and more professionals are coming to realize the slight loss of feel cannot overcome the greater consistency.
The large surface area of a mallet putter also means more room for alignment aids. These putters do much of the work for you.
While a high MOI is of great importance in putter selection for high handicappers, there are other considerations.
The correct length of your putter depends on your height and wrist-to-floor measurement. The ideal height of a putter allows you to take a normal stance with your eyes directly over the ball.
When you take that normal stance, you want the putter’s toe and heel to both be flat on the ground. If either the toe or the heel are off the ground, you need a putter with a lie that fits you.
If your normal putting stroke has you hitting the ball with an upward stroke, you might need a putter with lower loft. A downward strike might require a higher loft. While your putter has much lower loft than any other club in your bag, it still needs some to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible with top spin.
More and more, golfers are turning to larger grips for their putters. A large grip allows you to use your hands less in the putting stroke. The easiest way to get a repeatable putting stroke is to use your body, swinging your shoulders. Using your hands or wrists to swing the putter is more difficult to repeat.
Now that you know why a mallet putter is best for high handicappers,
Improving your putting as a high handicapper takes a change in approach that may be difficult for some. Many of us are used to the traditional style blade putters that we saw the pros use as we were introduced to the game.
But switching to a mallet putter offers many advantages that even the best players are realizing more and more. Blade putters just cannot match mallets when it comes to the high MOI we need for more forgiving shots. Your consistency will rise as you get used to using a mallet putter.
And a new mindset could be a boon for many high handicappers. It may seem wrong to think about trying to get a long putt close instead of trying to make it. But that more careful approach will lead to fewer 3-putts and a correlated lower score. That is doubly true if you spend time practicing the short putts.
The Best Putters for High Handicappers
All of the above putters could help you lower your putts per round average. Which one is best?
If price is a concern, it’s fine to go with something like the Pinemeadow PGX. Just realize at some point you will want to upgrade if you are serious about becoming better at the game.