Putters come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, with a dizzying array of designs that can leave golfers flummoxed. How to know which one is best?
Today we are going to try to help you answer that question with a focus on a particular area of the putter: the face. There are two types of putter faces, inserts and milled. While personal preference will be the deciding factor on which one is best for you, it is good to know the differences between the two.
Inserts on a putter come in a wide variety of materials. Some are soft materials made of polymers, or even rubber in the case of cheaper putters, that are intended to deaden the sound upon impact. Others are metals, often lightweight metals such as aluminum, that often have grooves similar to those you see on other clubs.
Consider an excellent putter from an industry leader, the Odyssey EXO White Hot. The name is derived in part from its White Hot Insert, a technology that Odyssey has used for several years now. Recently on other putters, such as the Stroke Lab line, Odyssey has combined its inserts with what it calls Microhinge technology. This is designed to produce an immediate top-spin roll conducive to better putts.
All of this can get very technical as golf club manufacturers battle for its share of a competitive market. Odyssey is among the leaders in putters, but it is hardly the only big name. Other have gone in a different direction with its putter faces.
Envroll putters are designed by Geurin Rife, who is an innovator in putter technology. It isn’t inserts that his putters use, but a milled face with grooves. For example, look to the ER3 Wing Blade putter.
This putter, aside from its unique blend of mallet and blade design, features the grooves that Evnroll is known for. Its grooves change once you get beyond the center of the face. This is intended to help off-center putts roll true.
Is it effective? It may not be possible to say for certain, but the fact other manufacturers have copied the design should tell you something.
Some milled putters have intricate and complex geometric designs. Consider the Scotty Cameron Select Newport putter, a milled putter with a face of such intricacy it defies description.
Regardless of the design, both insert and milled putters are both intended to mute or dull the sound made when striking the ball. They do so in different ways.
Inserts are made of softer materials, some of which produce almost no sound whatsoever upon impact. Odyssey is among the manufacturers that have realized golfers need some kind of auditory input, so its inserts produce a bit more sound, although still considerably less than what pure metal faces produce.
Milled putters also dampen the sound, but does so due to its face design. The grooves on Evnroll’s putters mean the ball will make contact with less surface area, dampening the sound. The geometric designs from other manufacturers do the same.
You may be wondering what difference sound makes during putts. The answer is a great deal, which may be surprising to some.
A light sound from your putter gives the impression of greater feel for the golfer. When putting, we get a great deal of sensory information that we use to adjust our stroke. While visual clues are important, sound helps us, especially when it comes to distance.
How hard or soft we need to hit the ball is, in part, a function of sound. This is crucial as golfers are always trying to marry direction and distance when putting.
Whether the dampened sound from these putters actually helps us with feel, it sure seems as if it does. That is also important for confidence. Being more confident over putts means we will have a stroke that is more consistent.
The design of the high-end putters we mentioned above, and others like them, also help us with consistency.
If you are serious about improving your game, you should not skimp on a putter. Cheap putters are often cheap for a reason. They simply do not have the same technological advances that the better-made putters do.
How the ball rolls off the face of a putter is another factor in making more putts.
Sometimes, especially on longer putts, the ball will skid for a bit before beginning its topspin journey to the hole. It may even begin with backspin. This is bad.
Hitting the ball with topspin immediately, or as soon as possible, is a key to consistent putting. Any kind of skidding or bouncing can shoot the ball off its intended track. It can also affect the speed of the putt.
Makers of putters sometimes claim that the face design will help impart this desired topspin. This is true of milled putters more than inserts.
This is likely a dubious claim. While the putter face can definitely help with both sound and feel, the roll is determined more by the loft of the putter and the putting style of each golfer.
A putter with higher loft combined with a golfer who hits putts with the ball in the front of his stance could easily get the ball airborne before beginning its roll.
Conversely, putting the ball from the back of your stance with low loft can make the ball skid.
Putting styles vary greatly among golfers, with those that struggle on the green being willing to try almost anything. So whether you use an insert or milled putter will be a matter of personal preference.
There is no question that today’s high-end putters are engineered to perform as intended. Choosing one will mean trying them out for yourself.
Many golf shops have a practice putting area where you can try different putters. And a pro shop at your local club might well lend you one to try on the practice green. Also, ask your playing partners to test out their putters next time you play.
While testing putters in real life is a good way to choose your putter, when you are ready to buy, you will often find better deals on Amazon.