DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF By David Woods, PGA
Be confident. Even high-handicappers are expected to drain these easy four-footers, right? Well, then why are we so fearful of them? Usually, it's a confidence issue, a lack of acceleration and too much head movement in the stroke, meaning you should make a smooth, accelerating stroke and try to hear the ball drop before you lift your head and see where it went. The next time you practice, grab five to six golf balls and keep putting from four feet until you hear all the balls find the cup. It will work wonders for your ability to make a more aggressive stroke, and it will help you stay in the proper putting position and avoid the temptation to look up midway through your forwardstroke.
With some practice, you might want to try the same drill, only roll some putts with your eyes closed. You'll develop a better sense of your stroke length and tempo, which, again, will help you become more confident in your ability to make more short putts.
TRUST IT! Imagine you're in a situation to shoot a low score, but you feel nervous to hit what's usually a very easy putt. If you stay focused on "What if I miss?" you'll lose the proper focus to execute a solid stroke.
Consider embracing the preshot process instead. This involves going through an effective routine that's focused on the speed and line you intend to stroke the putt. Be as specific as possible as you see the ball enter the cup. Take a few extra seconds to visualize the putt going in right before you take the putt back. React to a clear picture of what you want instead of thinking about all the possible outcomes. Then trust your line and roll it in.When it comes to golf equipment, nothing is as personal as the putter. It's as though we have a special bond with our flatsticks. Sometimes, we love them like teddy bears and would sleep with them if we could. Other times, we scorn them like a girlfriend who has cheated on us with our best friend. Yet, despite our love-hate-love-hate relationships we have with our putters, we can't play a round of golf without one (well, you sort of can, but that's not the point).
The best thing you can do is get yourself a putter you're confident with from the get-go. If you have a putter that you aren't comfortable with the moment you first use it, that putter will be out of your bag as soon as your putting hits a snag.
Key Features: Milled of aircraft aluminum and with a stepped cavity design on top, this ain't your mama's Fat Lady. Wow Factor: It's beautiful steel-blue finish and backweight design make this putter a cinch to swing. Really, it almost moves by itself. We were fans of the original Fat Lady, so it's always great to see a classic design come back. Specs: Available in custom lengths, with or without backweighting. bobbygraceputters.com | $27 Bridgestone True Balance
Key Features: With an ultralight grip and shaft, the weight is mainly in the head and hosel. You only feel the putterhead during the stroke and will release the head for a truer roll that finds the target. Wow Factor: We were pleasantly surprised by how different this feels. It's so featherweight up by your hands and incredibly easy to use. Specs: The head weighs 360 grams; its balance point is less than 5 inches from the sole. bridgestonegolf.com | $199 Cleveland Golf Classic Collection HB
Key Features: Four Tour-proven designs that sport a slightly deep CNC-milling pattern on the face that softens impact feel for more control. A new and improved grip offers soft texture and responsive feedback. Wow Factor: They look fantastic with the deep and dark Black Pearl finish, and feel satisfying on the green, thanks to the heel-toe weighting. Distance control is about perfect. Specs: Available in lengths of 33, 34 and 35 inches, with putterhead weights of 340 or 350 grams, depending on the model. clevelandgolf.com | $1,009 Edel Torque Balanced Putters
Key Features: Each model is designed not only to look good, but to help golfers more efficiently square the putterface at impact. Wow Factor: They're gorgeous to look at and swing, and Sir Nick Faldo was involved in designing them. They feel so buttery, you'll actually wish you had more putts to putt. Seriously. Specs: Available in three shapes, three head weights and three weights, with black paddle grip. Standard specs are 35-inch length, 2_¡ loft, 70_¡ lie angle and 365-gram head weight. edelgolf.com | $295 Giannini G5
Key Features: This wide mallet has Soft Slotted Face Technology, which the designer says is the key to its effectiveness and consistency. The deep gunmetal/PVD black finish reduces glare off of the top. A platinum finish is also offered. Wow Factor: We're really impressed with its quality look. It's a niceface-balanced putter that feels good. Specs: Available in lengths of 34 or 35 inches in right-handed only, with a 370-gram putterhead. kennygianniniputters.com | $345Nike Method MOD
Key Features: Offered in four shapes, it has "polymetal" grooves for consistent roll off the face. Each putter is weighted to length for proper feel, with a unique toe hang option. Wow Factor: We really like the classic putterhead shapes Nike used here. Each feels properly weighted throughout the stroke, and the unique grooves help mute feel. Specs: Each putter is offered in lengths of 33, 34 and 35 inches. nikegolf.com | $299 Odyssey Metal-X Milled
Key Features: Adjustable weights on the sole, plus a rich, dark PVD finish give a sleek look. Chemically milled face depressions interact with ball dimples to impart a controlled and consistent roll. Wow Factor: We love the ability to adjust weights, to accommodate for the green speed of wherever we're playing. Odyssey makes top-quality putters, and these are no exception. This model costs more, but will do all it can to help you make more putts. Specs: Each putter is offered in lengths of 33, 34 and 35 inches. Head weight can vary from 340 to 360 grams, depending on how you arrange adjustable weights. odysseygolf.com | $300 Orlimar Tad Moore Signature Series
Key Features: Each of the four putters in the series has a traditional shape, game-improvement features and a washboard face milling to help you get consistent and accurate roll, plus distance control. Wow Factor: Tad Moore used to have a very popular, well-made putter line. After a long hiatus, he's back with this selection. Specs: TMO-1 is a heel-shafted blade; TMO-2 has a slightly wider blade with a thinner topline; TMO-3 has a wide sole; and TMO-4 (TadPole) is a center-shafted circle T-shaped mallet. orlimar.com | $199Ping Karsten TR
Key Features: Milled, variable-depth grooves improve ball-speed consistency for distance control. An elastomer back-cavity insert boosts MOI and enhances both feel and sound. An optional adjustable-length shaft lets you self-fit. Color-coded shaft labels indicate if the putter is best for a straight, slight arc or strong arc putting stroke. Wow Factor: We love the adjustable shaft–it's not gimmicky and it truly works easily. Finding the right shaft length can quickly help your game. And, like always, PING putters have a feel and balance that's uniquely their own. In a really good way, of course. Specs: Available in five models, with a choice of a fixed 35-inch shaft or an adjustable, telescoping 31- to 38-inch shaft. Head weight is 360 grams. ping.com | $197.50/adjustable length, $162.50/fixed RIFE Iconic
Key Features: Four models are offered, differing by type of hosel and neck. All have the company's proprietary Lie Align alignment system. Iconic One is a plumber's neck heel/toe putter; Iconic Two has a slant neck and is face-balanced; Iconic Three sports a gooseneck and half-shaft offset; and Iconic Four is a center-shafted blade. Wow Factor: Whatever it is about the putterheads, we've always been impressed by how soft Rife putters feel, how well they're made and how dang accurate they can be. Specs: Available in lengths of 34 and 35 inches, plus customized lengths, in both right- and left-handed models, with sterling or black finish. Head weight is 350 grams. rifegolf.com | $150
Worth The Weight? "Counterbalancing is definitely very hot in the market right now," says Tomo Bystedt, director of product creation for irons, putters and wedges for TaylorMade.
So, what gives? Well, for starters, the club is heavier, both the head and grip–hence, the tag "counterbalancing"–and typically a few inches longer than what a player would use in a "standard" configuration. This makes the putter more stable through the stroke, due both to a higher MOI–a 50% to 60% increase according to TaylorMade–and the enhanced unity of the hands/shoulders/arms.
Explains Ben Alexander, a decorated PGA teaching professional in Monterey, California, "The longer shaft and heavier weight help prevent wrist break. The whole thing we're doing in teaching [putting] is the pendulum stroke, letting shoulders, hands and arms work together. That was the whole idea behind anchoring in the first place, tying the pieces together, solidifying the path."
Will you end up looking like Matt Kuchar? Not likely. Counterbalanced putters are gripped as a person grips his or her traditional putter.
Key Features: This high-MOI head sports two squares extending back from the face center that frame the ball at address for fast, reliable alignment. Its face insert enhances impact feel and sound, and promotes consistent roll. Wow Factor: We're blown away by how easy this helps you find your target line. Square lines seem like such a simple thing, but it works fantastic, particularly from putts within a few feet. Specs: Heel- and center-shafted versions available in a 35-inch length. There's also a 39-inch Almost Belly, with a 40-gram heavier putterhead and heavier grip. clevelandgolf.com | $180/Almost Belly, $140/standard Dead Aim 3D Mallet
Key Features: An optically engineered, raised, three-hole topline that makes it a cinch to know when your eyes are aligned over the golf ball. Wow Factor: It comes with a detachable laser for precision practice. How cool is that? There's also a face attachment to help you hone in on the sweet spot, which feels huge, by the way. This putter is a breeze to swing and drain putts with. Specs: Two models available in black or silver/white finishes. Laser and face clip are optional (but you'll want them, for sure). deadaimputters.com | $150-$220Odyssey Versa Jailbird
Key Features: A high-MOI mallet with black-white contrast that accentuates the face angle for solid alignment. It sports a White Hot face insert that's engineered for consistent sound, feel and performance across the entire face. Wow Factor: Boy, those stripes are thick, but they do the job, and they do it well. Alignment is a snap. And when all is said and done, the lines don't distract at all. Specs: Available in lengths of 33, 34 and 35 inches, with a 355-gram head. odysseygolf.com | $200/SuperStroke 3.0 grip, $170/standardWilson Staff Vizor Level 2
Key Features: Four models make up the line, with alignment technology that locks golfers into proper putting positioning for a consistent, repeatable stroke. Its tiered structure includes a windowed top alignment bridge and a striped bottom level to help align a golfer's eyes directly over the ball. Wow Factor: The alignment system is a bit like SeeMore's, but with a longer alignment line. Either way, it's quite effective and should really help you straighten your putts. Specs: Available in 34 and 35 inches, with 3_¡ loft and 71_¡ lie angle. wilsonstaff.com | $130 YES! GOLF True Alignment Series
Key Features: The two putters in this series–Milly and Donna–have a yellow/black alignment feature on top, plus a "True Alignment" bump on the sole that together aim to improve control and face alignment to the target at address. The "floating face" C-Groove insert improves forward roll by increasing dwell time on the face. Tungsten heel-toe weighting contrasts the light polymer center for stability and feel. Wow Factor: We love the bright yellow alignment system on top–it serves as a stark contrast to any green and is a cinch to use. Specs: Available in 33 to 37 inches, with 2.5_¡ loft and 70_¡ lie angle. The Milly putterhead weighs 365 grams, the Donna, 360 grams. yesgolf.com | $179 Cutting-Edge Axis1 Umbra
Key Features: A CG in the center of the putterface (as opposed to near the hosel) for a higher MOI, zero torque and straighter, better-rolling putts. Wow Factor: Obviously, the hosel stands out and so do the weird looks. But one try and you'll quickly see that the Axis1 putters are quite fascinating. For some reason, they're incredibly easy to align and square up at impact. What's weird about that? Nothing! We couldn't put it down, it's that awesome. Specs: Comes in 34- and 35-inch models, as well as belly. axis1golf.com | $299 Bettinardi Kuchar Series
Key Features: This two-putter series is oriented around PGA Tour pro Matt Kuchar's arm-lock putting grip style, in which the butt end of the putter rests against your left forearm. Both putterheads are milled from soft carbon steel, sport Feel Impact Technology for soft impact, and are heel/toe-weighted and face-balanced. Wow Factor: Both the Anser-style Model 1 and mallet Model 2 are gorgeous. Buy into the arm-lock style and it may well help your putting game. Specs: Offered in a 35-inch length with a 350-gram head and a 42-inch length with a 400-gram putterhead. bettinardi.com | $375 Clearview Clearview
Key Features: The transparent design functions as an alignment aid to get your ball rolling on the right track. Wow Factor: Considering it's made mostly of clear plastic, it actually has a very soft, pleasing feel and balance. Oh, yeah, it's clear! As the company claims, these putters are easy to align, which is where most golfers make mistakes when putting. It's a great putter for concentrating on the ball. Specs: Available in four models in a variety of length options. putterrevolution.com | $170 Odyssey Havok
Key Features: Part of the White Hot Pro family, this forgiving model sports a new version of the White Hot insert that yields more consistent sound, feel and performance across the face. Its low-deep CG creates forward roll for distance control and accuracy. The putter's high MOI helps increase stability through your stroke to get a true roll. Its Gun Metal PVD finish reduces glare. Wow Factor: We love the face insert–it simply feels right. And that luxe deep putterhead finish looks like a piece of jewelry. Specs: Available in lengths of 33, 34 and 35 inches, with a 360-gram head. odysseygolf.com | $200/SuperStroke 3.0 grip, $160/standard Pearl ProSports Pearl
Key Features: The lie angle can be adjusted on this symmetrically balanced aluminum mallet from 80_¡ to 60_¡, depending on your stance. The center-shaft design increases stability on off-center hits, and the custom hosel design creates an unobstructed view of the putterhead. Wow Factor: Adjustable lie is a brilliant idea, mainly since lie angles are too often overlooked. Our pic doesn't do this putter's offering of colors and decals justice. Specs: One model in four standard or 12 bright colors. Clubhead weight is 360 grams. pearlprosports.com | $249-$349 SG