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Types of Putters Explained

The old mallet putters vs. blade putters debate are actually not nearly complicated enough. If you want to look at the types of putters on the market, you need to understand putter length, head design grooves, loft, and more. Take a look as we break down everything you need to know about the types of putters on the market and which one is best for your game.

Types of Putters

There are three main types of putters the blade style, mallet putter, and modern mallet putter. However, each of these putters will have different elements to consider when it comes to design, shafts, length, face balance, grip size, and more. Therefore the number and types of putters on the market are truly endless.

Years ago, when the number of golf putters on the market was a bit more limited, players simply chose between a mallet or a blade. Today, that decision is a bit more complicated. Here is a brief look at the three types of putters and what to expect from their performance.

Blade Putter

A classic Scotty Cameron Newport bladed putter
A classic Scotty Cameron Newport bladed putter.

The blade putter holds a place in golf history forever. This classic design is likely something almost every golfer has used at one point or another. The blade putters are known for precision and consistency on the greens.

Some of the best blade putters made by Ping and Scotty Cameron will stay in golfer’s bags for ten or more years. This design generally has a short alignment aid (such as the line you see above), but blade putters tend to be longer, from heel to toe, and suit golfers who like to use the face itself to aim putts.

Blade putters are great for players that have an arc style putting stroke. It is easy to rotate the head of the putter to open and then close or square up the putter head as you come through the impact position (see face balanced vs toe weighted section below for more).

With the popularity of mallet putters, many players worry the blade is unforgiving or built specifically for the lower handicap player, but this is not the case. As you can see the putter above has heel-toe weighting, helping the putter face stay stable on off-center hits.

Mallet Putter

Titleist Scotty Cameron Studio Select Kombi-S mallet Putter
A Titleist Scotty Cameron Studio Select Kombi-S mallet putter.

The mallet putter looks like a semi-circle. With mallet putters, you can expect great performance for golfers with a straight back and straight-through club path. In addition, many of these mallet putter designs are also face-balanced putters to add another degree of performance and customization.

Many beginner putters are the classic mallet design, this design shifts the center of mass further back and keeps the putter face more stable with off-center strikes. As a result, mallet putters are known for helping with distance control, the longer alignment aid is also considered beneficial for aiming.

For more on the differences between blade and mallet putters, check out this link.

Modern Mallet Putter

Odyssey Triple Track Ten Putter
The Odyssey Triple Track Ten, an example of a modern mallet putter.

The modern mallet putter head is technically a mallet, so some won’t put these putter heads in their own category. However, suppose you compare an old classic Odyssey Blade to a Scotty Cameron Futura or an Odyssey Ten Triple Track, or the TaylorMade Spider. In that case, you can see these putters barely fit in the same category.

The modern mallet putters are oversized, some of them have adjustability, and they are usually designed to help you keep the putter head stable at impact. Again, the large head and mix of materials allow engineers to really push the center of mass far back in the putter head.

Although it was a bit surprising when it first started happening, many PGA Tour golfers have embraced these large putter heads. We know in golf, any small advantage is worth taking!

Putter head design

In addition to the type of putter head (blade, mallet, or modern mallet), the putter head design aspects will vary from one club to the next. The overall shape of the putter, the coloring, the design process, the manufacturing, the alignment, and more are all factors that will change from one putter to another.

This year we have seen more attention paid to materials in the clubhead that are out of the ordinary. Some companies are using a variety of materials and combining them to achieve the proper weight and feel in their putter heads.

One of the most important features to us in a putter head design is aesthetics. If a putter doesn’t look great, you will have a hard time making more putts.

Insert putters vs. milled putters

A milled putter is made from a single piece of material, often a soft metal and is milled into shape, there are no added components. Whereas, an insert putter has an insert in the putter face that significantly impacts how the putter feels and performs at impact.

Some golfers find that the milled putters have a more high-end feel and that they are very stable and consistent at impact for years to come. The insert putters almost always have a softer feel and are a good option if you want a very soft feel when putting.

Both options are great and a lot does come down to preference. However, if you are buying an insert putter, make sure you’re spending $100+, there are lots of cheap insert putters under this price, they may feel okay, but poor engineering can mean these don’t perform well when you miss the center of the face. We’ve also seen many cheap putter inserts fall out over time.

Shaft designs

For the most part, putter shafts are standard steel shafts. The addition of the Odyssey Stroke Lab shaft has undoubtedly changed the mindset of shopping for a golf shaft when you purchase a new putter.

The Stroke Lab shaft is a combination of graphite and steel that helps players look for a more premium feel as well as consistency in performance. Some players swear by it, while others feel it has no difference in the game. In my experience, the technology is interesting and did help with putts inside 15 feet.

Hosel design

In addition to the material of the shaft, it’s essential to look at the connection of the putter head and the shaft (the hosel). Some putters are center-shafted putters with the shaft going right down the middle of the putter head.

The majority of putters are heel-shafted putters, with the putter shaft connection being in the heel section of the putter head. Some have an off-set hosel, others have a straight neck.

An off-set design might offer slightly more forgiveness for miss-hit putts, but this isn’t essential when looking for a forgiving putter, head size and center of mass within the head will have a far greater effect.

Face-balanced vs. toe-weighted putters

Face-balanced vs. toe-weighted putters refers to where the center of mass is positioned in the putter head. When the putters are rested, face-balanced putters will have their club face pointing towards the sky, whereas toe-weighted putters will see their toe hanging towards the ground. his might seem abstract, but this weighting affects how the putter face rotates during your putting stroke.

Face balanced vs toe weighted putters held to show how weight effects toe hang.

The design of toe-hanging putters means the inertia of your putting stroke causes the face to open during your backswing and rotate closed again during your downswing and follow through. Whereas, face-balanced putters are designed to keep the putter face square throughout your swing.

The general rule of thumb is golfers with arc style putting strokes do best with these toe-weighted putters. Golfers trying to putt more straight back and through should opt for a face-balanced putter.

However, this rule can be broken, at a deeper level, toe-weighted putters are great for golfers who leave their club face open at impact and/or miss putts right. Face-balanced putters can be a great solution for golfers who get the club face closed at impact and/or miss putts left.

Historically, bladed putters were toe-weighted and mallet putters were face-balanced, but now we see a blend of all designs – check the manufacturer’s details before you buy and test putters to see how they work with your putting stroke.

Putter length

Putter length will be both a fitting parameter and a personal preference. Every golfer will have an ideal traditional putter length based on their height, arm length, and general playing style. However, some golfers choose to go with a belly putter or a long putter to change their course experience.

The standard putter length is 34 inches, with golfers that are taller choosing something 35 and shorter players going with the 33-inch putter. Women’s golf putters are typically 34, 33, or 32. With customization and increases in putter fitting options, many players will choose a custom-sized golf putter.

Long putters

Long putters are generally 48 to 52 niches. These putters require a different type of putting stroke and a unique setup.

Belly putters

Belly putters range from 41 to 44 inches, but this number will change again based on the player’s height and the type of stroke the golfer has.

Adapting your putter length

Golfers often think you can cut down a putter easily at home. You can, but just one inch off drastically affects the swing weight and subsequent feel the putter has. Try to get this done by a custom fitter if you are keep on shortening or lengthening your putter.

Grip size

Grip size is such an easy adjustment to make to a putter, but it can have a significant impact on how the putter feels and performs.

The wider/thicker grips help players who want to eliminate some wrist and hand motion in their putting stroke. Some of these grips go beyond the midsize and travel into the jumbo category. Jumbo grips are considerably larger and are great for those with larger hands or golfers who are aiming to eliminate wrist action in their putting.

Smaller grips allow for a more traditional putter grip and a more traditional amount of wrist action in your putting stroke.

Large putter grips are in fashion, but these are not best for all. In fact, I have slightly smaller hands, and the right putter for me has always had a standard grip. If I choose something with midsize or jumbo, it feels like I have no control over the putter head.

Also remember, adding a large grip onto your putter will add mass to the top of the club and make the putter head feel a lot lighter.

Additional details around putter design

As technology changes and we see more attention paid to putter head material, toe balance putters vs. face balanced, putter length, and even graphite shafted putters, this category of additional details around putter design will likely increase and expand.

Grooves on a putter face

Evnroll ER1 Satin TourStroke Putter
Evnroll ER1 Satin TourStroke Putter, an example of a putter with groves on the putter face. 

The grooves on a putter face can impact the roll of the ball. Many players notice that a golf ball jumps off the club face of the putter, and it loses that end-over-end roll before it even has a chance to start.

With grooves on the putter face, there can sometimes be a bit of extra traction and grab that allows for the ball to roll toward the hole right from the start of the putting stroke. The milled putter heads have a variety of groove designs to help lower spin and keep the ball rolling on the proper track.

If you want to see how grooves impact the face of the putter, consider looking at slow-motion videos of different putter styles. This is the best way to see exactly how this affects your putting stroke and the results.

The reality is the golf ball will jump, skid and then roll, even for the best putters in the world. The jury is still out on if these grooves make a difference to the time taken to get the ball rolling in reality.

How much loft does a putter have?

The majority of putters have 2 to 4 degrees of loft. All putters need loft to raise the ball out of the grass and get the ball rolling. This is even the case with the best greens in the world. Your ideal loft will depend on your putting mechanics (dynamic loft and angle of attack) along with the greens and grass type at your home golf course.

Most players will be fine with 3 to 4 degrees of putter loft. Too little loft is a killer, as it will cause you to strike the ball into the ground and the golf ball will often bounce off-line. When going for a putter fitting, you can get a bit more information about where you strike the ball in your putting stroke.

Fitting a putter to my putting stroke

The concept of a putter fitting is finally starting to get more popular. Of all the golf clubs in the bag, the putter is one where the fitting will make the most sense. What other club do you use as often as the flat stick?

Putter fittings allow us to see how the putter grip, the putter face, and the putter shaft all impact the total performance of your short game. Going for a putter fitting is excellent because you can learn about your natural stroke and rhythm and then have details about the type of putter you will need for years to come.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now know more about types of putters, putter heads, hosels, lofts and much more. Sorry, there are no hard and fast rules when searching for the best putter for you, but you now have a good set of information to go explore, and where possible go test them out!

Happy golfing.

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Britt Olizarowicz is a former teaching and Class A PGA professional with more than 25 years spent with a golf club in her hand. Britt is a small business owner, author, and freelance golf expert that knows this game inside and out. She lives in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children.

2 thoughts on “Types of Putters Explained”

  1. What is the general rule for selecting a putter for fast greens, and slower greens? Should I use heavy head putter for fast greens, and lighter putter for the slower greens, or reverse?

    Reply
    • Hi Daniel,

      It is a good question and the general points are that: 1) a lighter putter and shorter shaft length will provide more control (less speed). However the face material and how soft/hard the golf ball you are using also make a sizable difference.

      Try using a softer or harder golf ball as your first choice, these are cheaper than a new putter!

      I hope that helps.

      Will

      Reply

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