The Facts About Putters

Scotty Cameron Putter

There is so much information out there about golf clubs, yet I never seem to see much data relative to putters. I recently had the privilege of spending an afternoon with Mike Shannon, noted putting guru from Sea Island and here are a few of the many interesting things he shared:

  • 60% of all the grass on putting greens today did not exist 30 years ago and as a result the mow height on greens is 50% lower than it was 20 years ago. Greens are much faster than they used to be.
  • Faster greens mean shorter grass and shorter grass means there is no longer the need for 4 degrees of loft (the traditional loft) on putters. Most PGA Tour golfers have an effective loft of somewhere between 1 and 3 degrees. This means that when they add the loft of the putter face to the amount of loft added during the stroke it comes out to somewhere between 1 and 3 degrees. Consequently very little flight time and early roll mean less bounce and skid - a good thing! Zach Johnson actually has -1 degree of loft on his putter face.
  • Speaking of early roll - grooved face putters get the ball rolling 18-24% sooner than smooth faced putters. Not only that, they deter the ball from sliding up or across the face on poorly struck putts too. Sign me up for some of that help.

A Face Balanced Putter

  • Keep in mind that there are essentially two genres of putters - face balanced and toe weighted. If you currently use a face balanced putter and are considering making a switch to a toe weighted version (pictured at the top of the page) keep in mind that your new putter will provide you with an additional 6-8 degrees of club face rotation or "toe float" as Scotty Cameron calls it. Toe float is the amount of rotation in the face from the backswing to the follow through. The top putters on the tour have 6-8 degrees of rotation from 6" back from the ball to 6" beyond impact.
  • Most putters are heel powered - that is, the motion is generated from the heel, which is where the shaft enters the putter head. Unless of course the putter is center shafted. This is pertinent because as the energy/power in a stroke dissipates (decelleration), the toe will have a tendency to continue closing. If there is too much acceleration through impact the toe will have a tendency to remain open and leads to missed putts to the right (speaking as a right hander). If you tend to accelerate (too much!) or decellerate through impact you might want to try a center shafted putter.

A Center Shafted Putter

  • The average weight of store bought putters is a swingweight of D3-D6. The average weight of putters on the tour is E0-E5. Heavy putters are better for faster greens and vice versa for slower greens. If you need to add weight to your putter be careful when adding lead tape - you don't want to change the balance characteristics of the putterhead.  The best idea might be to get a reputable club builder to take care of it for you. Fit your putter weight to the speed of the greens you customarily putt on!
  • Regarding alignment: offset putters will work better for golfers who tend to aim left and non-offset putters will work better for right aimers. This is due to the manner in which a golfer sees the line of a putt. It really does work!

Before you run out and pick out your next weapon on the greens please consider some of the above advice- it really does come straight from the experts mouth!

Related articles and sites:

Interesting Facts About Ping Golf Putters

Rife Putters | Get Your Groove On

Scotty Cameron - Home

Choosing Your Putter - Pt. 1 , Balanced vs. Toe Heavy

Choosing Your Golf Putter - Pt. 2, Offset vs. Non-Offset

Choosing Your Golf Putter - Pt. 3, Putter Weight