If you've ever been humbled after having your stroke analyzed at one of those high-tech putting studios, you know why the adage "feel is not real" is, well, real. After all, when examined under a microscope, all the flaws of your stroke are magnified. Your path goes left, your clubface is open, you hit everything off the toe–the data doesn't lie and sometimes all that bad news is enough to make you want to impale your flatstick into the monitor. What's important to keep in mind, however, is that our strokes demand specific kinds of putters. Whether it's mallet, blade, movable weights or specific inserts, there's a putter for you.
High MOI Drivers aren't the only clubs incorporating high MOI in their designs. A number of putters, like the Odyssey White Hot XG, place the weight deep and low to promote a truer roll. Also, its unique and light textured-weave insert helps move weight away from the face.
Moving Weights The newest offering from Never Compromise features movable weights in the club's heel and toe, thereby creating a putter adaptable to specific course conditions and putting styles. The GM2 Exchange gives players the opportunity to alter the putter's weight by as much as 50 grams.
Rollgrovin' Some putterfaces feature a one-of-a-kind Honeycomb face, others opt to soften their feel via a polymer insert. Rife Putters, however, include "RollGroove" Technology, in which milled grooves actually grip the ball and lift it from its depression, thus imparting forward spin and a better roll.
Milled, Not Cast PING putters of the '70s and '80s set the standard for all the heel-toe-weighted models that followed. Now they're back with a few of these early classic models (like the Redwood Anser). But there's a twist: They're 100-percent precision-milled from 303 stainless steel.
Putter Shopping 101 Here at Golf Tips, we're a fortunate lot. Over the course of the year, we get to test new putters regularly, rolling putts on the local practice green or, more commonly, down our office's hallway. We know that's not how most golf nuts find their new clubs; they see what's hot on Tour, walk into their local pro shop, pick up a bunch of new sticks and make a couple of strokes. Based on the way it looks, feels or fits them (or all of the above), they decide whether it's worth sticking in their bag. But that's not the only way. When buying a putter, there are a number of technical matters to consider, such as whether your stroke arcs (blades) or is more straight-back/straight-through (mallets). Also, putters with heavy (good for slower greens) and oversized (straight-back/straight-through strokes) grips are coming on the market. The more you know about your game, the better your purchases will be.
Understanding Our Charts Features: The primary design elements that make the putter noteworthy. Advantages: How the primary design elements are meant to elevate the performance of the putter. What We Like: We have our preferences, too. A quick description of what impressed us in our review and testing. Lineup: The other models available from the manufacturer. Putterhead: The primary material from which the body of the club is forged, cast or milled. Putterface: Indicates the material used for the strike area or if it has otherwise been altered to enhance performance. Check for putters with a milled face, as the process, if performed correctly, ensures a flatter contact area, which is key for consistency. Weight: The overall head weight of the model listed in grams. Most putters fall in the 325- to 350-gram range. Designs: Here you'll find a description of the general shape of the club and its hosel structure. We limit the descriptions to either heel-toe blades (Anser style) or mallets. Also, face-balancing is noted as is the hosel/head connection point. If a putter isn't labeled as face-balanced, it's considered toe-down.Adams DiXX Training Putter adamsgolf.com (800) 709-6142 | $1,000
The DiXX marks a technological breakthrough in the putting world. A tiny computer terminal attached to the putterhead offers instant feedback. Features: The DiXX provides immediate information related to swing path, impact position, tempo, face angle and a swing's "speed balance." Advantages: With the DiXX, you have an instructor with you wherever you go. Although it's a little pricey, it's cheaper than taking a lot of lessons at your local high-tech putting studio. What We Like: Gadgets! Not only is it just plain cool, but the DiXX tells us where we need to improve immediately after we make a stroke. Also, it's great for people who don't have access to the latest in computer analysis. One other thing: Did we mention we love gadgets? Lineup: DiXX Training Putter Putterhead: Aluminum Putterface: Same Weight: Std. Designs: Heel-shafted, face-balanced mallet with a detachable computer Cobra Optica Series cobragolf.com (800) 225-8500 | $159
The Optica is the world's first putter to employ Fiber Optic Technology (in this case, via Cobra's TruGlo technology) to help golfers get their putts lined up. Features: An efficient weight distribution in the Optica provides forgiveness while the putter's tri-material construction produces soft feel and dampens unwanted vibration. The TruGlo actually looks illuminated. Advantages: Connecting the aluminum clubface to the steel bar is a urethane section that minimizes vibration, perfect for golfers who play by feel. What We Like: The TruGlo alignment aid makes lining up putts a breeze. Lineup: Optica Series, IM Series Putterhead: 6061 forged Aluminum with Forged Steel weight bar Putterface: 6061 forged Aluminum Weight: Std. Designs: SL-01–Heel-shafted, face-balanced mallet; SL-02–Center-shafted, face-balanced mallet (available LH) F2 Hamilton Series f2golf.com (800) 683-2390 | $129
From the company that designed the popular f2 wedge come the Hamilton Series putters. Features: Its MicroDome face insert ensures players will make better contact and hit straighter putts. Its perimeter back weighting increases the putter's sweet spot and keeps mis-hits on-line and rolling the right distance. But no face-forward tech here! Advantages: The Hamilton Series combines all the latest in face and weighting technology to create a putter that's both cutting edge and user-friendly. What We Like: The adjustable heel and toe weights make it easy to adapt to different green speeds. Also, the Hamilton Series comes in two different models. Lineup: Hamilton Series Putterhead: 17-4 Stainless Steel Putterface: Proprietary Polymer Weight: Adj. Designs: HM1–Offset-style hosel blade; HM4–Offset-style hosel mallet, heel-shafted, face-balanced mallet Fisher Talon Tour Series fishergolf.com (800) 465-3473 | $179
A four-way insert and the ability to alter weight by as much as 100 grams? Yes. Features: The TS-1 (pictured) face insert features different contact materials on each of its four sides, from extra-soft to extra-firm. This allows the user to adapt to different green conditions (or dial in feel) without altering the stroke. Advantages: Customized feel is key, but so is the stability provided by the high-MOI design, complete with four different areas to adjust weight using three different metals. What We Like: If this putter was any more trick, it would require batteries. The TS-2 and TS-3 models feature reversible inserts, but are no less prone to twisting on off-center hits. Lineup: Talon Tour Series, Cobalt Series Putterhead: Stainless Steel (milled) Putterface: Kevflex polymer Weight: Adj. Designs: TS-1, TS-2, TS-3–Heel-shafted, face-balanced mallet (available LH) Goolie BGS Series gooliegolf.com (858) 699-4331 | $179
A very sharp-looking and well-conceived design that earns the title "game-improvement putter." Features: Goolie artfully combines an aluminum body with two nickel-chromium sections. The nickel has a specific gravity three times that of aluminum, which creates a high polar MOI. Advantages: The resultant MOI and CG location (positioned directly in line with the strike area) successfully negates twisting during all segments of the stroke for more consistent contact. The CG also promotes more topspin for a truer roll. What We Like: We really like the look and shape of the Goolie. If you need directional control on the greens, the BGS will help (especially the larger BGS-Ex model, pictured). Lineup: BGS Series Putterhead: Aluminum, Nickel Chromium (cast) Putterface: Aluminum (milled) Weight: Std. Designs: BGS-33, BGS-Ex–Heel- or center-shafted, face-balanced mallet Heavy Putter Matte Series heavyputter.com (800) 546-2952 | $199
The "barbell of putters" now comes with a green aluminum plumber's neck hosel and matte finish. Features: Two models (blade and mallet) come with a plumber's neck hosel that's offset by one full shaft. Add to that a hefty 250-gram Winn grip and 475-gram putterhead, and you've got a putter that keeps the larger muscles engaged and the smaller muscles quiet. Advantages: The heavy grip moves the club's balance point 75% higher up the shaft than a conventional putter, making it easier to make a pendulum stroke. What We Like: The weight, of course. It isolates the larger muscles and eliminates the yips. The nifty matte finish and green hosel ain't too shabby, either. Lineup: Matte Series, Original Series Putterhead: Stainless Steel (CNC milled) Putterface: Same Weight: Adj. Designs: A2-M–Plumber's neck, full shaft of offset, face-balanced blade; B2-M–Plumber's neck, full shaft of offset, face-balanced mallet (available LH)
Izzo Black Mamba izzo.com (800) 284-1220 | $199
Killing two birds with one stone, the Black Mamba putter from Izzo doubles as a training aid. Three pieces attached to its head cover easily affix to the putterhead. The head cover actually looks like a snake getting ready to attack. Plus, it conforms to USGA rules. Features: The aluminum CNC-milled Black Mamba mallet features an offset shaft and, not surprisingly, is black in color. Advantages: If your stroke is out of sync, you can get it back in line after using the training aid that comes attached to its head cover. If it's working fine, then just let the snake roll. What We Like: Outside of the bonus training aid, the name. The black mamba is considered to be the world's deadliest snake. With a little practice, you could become the world's deadliest putter. Lineup: Black Mamba Putterhead: Aluminum (CNC milled) Putterface: Same Weight: Std. Designs: Center-shafted, face-balanced mallet (available LH) Louisville Earthwood Series louisvillegolf.com (800) 456-1631 | $159
Handmade with over 100 precise hand operations, each beautiful Earthwood putter incorporates three perfectly matched exotic species of wood in its design. When finished, the putters are as specific as a fingerprint. Features: The EW-FM1 (shown) uses a persimmon center with blood and cherry woods to create an unparalleled feel. Comes with name engraving. Advantages: Its soft persimmon putterface provides a soft feel most insert putters would die for. What We Like: In a world filled with synthetic materials and high-tech gadgetry, it's nice to know a golf company is "keeping it real." Did you know that persimmon has a modulus of elasticity that's not too soft or firm? That makes for perfect feel on the greens, a quality we love in Louisville's lineup. Lineup: Earthwoods, 2601, Tomahawk 3, True Center, Louie3, AAW Mallets Putterhead: Three-wood variety Putterface: Persimmon center Weight: Std. Designs: Heel-shafted, face-balanced mallet MacGregor Response macgregorgolf.com (800) 841-4358 | $199
Manufacturers have long tried to increase their other clubs' sweet spots, and MacGregor is applying that philosophy to putting. Features: MacGregor's Distance Corrective Technology (DCT) places energy in the putterface's heel and toe so mis-hits don't equal loss of distance and accuracy. Advantages: Straightens (and lengthens) mis-hits, so hitting the sweet spot isn't always necessary. The dual-insert system affords golfers a chance to adapt their putter for different green speeds. What We Like: Most club companies have put the golfer in control of their drivers. MacGregor is doing the same for putters. Lineup: Response, The Fat Lady Swings, GT Series, GT Mini, M-Series Putterhead: 303 Stainless Steel Putterface: Polymer and Milled metal Weight: Adj. Designs: Heel-shafted, face-balanced mallet MacGregor FLS macgregorgolf.com (800) 841-4358 | $179
One of the most popular names in putting in the mid-1990s returns with major technological upgrades and a greater potential to help you make more than your fair share of putts. Features: Bobby Grace's original Fat Lady Swings and its renegade shape paved the way for most modern mallets. Add to that classic profile some MacGregor ingenuity, including three-way weighting for a high polar MOI and user-adjustable heel-toe weighting, and you have one of the top flatsticks for 2007. Advantages: Excellent feel, controlled stability and ease of alignment. The FLS flat out works! What We Like: MacGregor and Grace made magic with the GT line, and this is even better. Lineup: The Fat Lady Swings, GT Series, GT Mini, M-Series Putterhead: Aluminum (milled) Putterface: Beryllium Copper (milled) Weight: Adj. Designs: Heel-shafted mallet (available LH) Macro Golf Square Stroke Mallet macrogolf.com (877) 270-9402 | $159
First it was Heavy Putter that shook things up by placing a lot of weight in the grip end of the shaft, now Macro Golf hopes to make golfers reconsider how big their grips should be. Hey, anything to drain more putts, right? Features: The dominant feature on these putters is a 14-inch BlackVelvet forward onset MACRO_¨ Grip that's long, wide and flat. Despite asking you to alter your normal putting grip, we think players will gravitate to the unique design. Advantages: The internal cavity weighting system keeps the putter square at impact. The flat grip promotes a square stroke. What We Like: The MACRO grip, of course. It was specifically engineered to balance the putterhead. Lineup: Square-Stroke Mallet, MACRO Blade Putterhead: Stainless Steel Putterface: Aluminum Weight: Std. Designs: Center-shafted, face-balanced mallet (available LH); Center-shafted, face-balanced blade (available LH) Mizuno Bettinardi A Series mizunousa.com (800) 966-1211 | $179
Another modern classic from the mind of renowned putter creator Bob Bettinardi. Features: Mizuno is one of the top forgers in irons, so it makes sense it teamed with one of the great putter millers in Bob Bettinardi to create two face-balanced mallets with high-MOI properties (as well as heel-toe models in the B Series). Advantages: Purchase either the A-01 or A-02 (pictured) and you receive an artfully milled, high-performance putter with Bettinardi's classic Honeycomb face for consistent contact. How much quality can you expect? Every putter receives 20 checks against exacting tolerances. What We Like: The modern shape without all of the distractions–a clean, pure mallet. Lineup: Bettinardi A Series, B Series, C series Putterhead: Aluminum Steel (milled) Putterface: Same Weight: Std. Designs: A-01, A-02–Heel-shafted, face-balanced mallet;(A-02 available LH)
Mizuno Bettinardi C Series mizunousa.com (800) 966-1211 | $229
Design guru Bob Bettinardi mills both the putter's head and hosel from one block of low-carbon steel, and it shows in the C series' subtle craftsmanship. Features: Bettinardi's patented Honeycomb face encourages consistent ball-striking. Each model comes with four degrees of loft and a 71-degree lie angle. A sublime-plated satin pearl finish makes the C Series that much more impressive. Advantages: The traditional head shape places the emphasis on putting, not on unorthodox looks–a distinct advantage for purists. What We Like: It's hard to beat Bettinardi's handiwork. It's so well made, we can't decide if we want to play with it or frame it. Lineup: Bettinardi A Series, Bettinardi B Series, Bettinardi C Series Putterhead: 11L17 Carbon Steel (milled) Putterface: Same Weight: Std. Designs: C-01, C-02, C-03, C-04–Heel-shafted, heel-toe-weighted blade (C-03 available LH) Never Compromise Milled Series nevercompromise.com (800) 999-6263 | $255
These premium putters are 100% milled from a single piece of high-grade Japanese carbon steel, which is among the softest and most consistent in the world. That alone is worth the purchase. Features: A tungsten sole weight for not only an increased MOI, but a precisely centered sweet spot directly in front of the sight line. Each of the six heel-toe models has a different neck structure and design for varying putter preferences (#3 pictured). Advantages: The Milled Series offers proven, high-MOI performance, plus the feel of a pure carbon-steel putter–a highly sought-after combination. What We Like: A lot of options and a lot of feel make for a classic flatstick. Lineup: Gray Matter 2 Series, Milled Series, Speed Control Series, GM2 Exchange Putterhead: Carbon steel (milled) Putterface: Same Weight: Adj. Designs: Milled Series 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7–Heel-shafted heel-toe blade; Milled Series 4–Heel-shafted half-mallet (available LH) Never Compromise GM2 Exchange exchangeputters.com (800) 999-6263 | $229
Never Compromise didn't leave anything out when they thought up the new GM2 Exchange Series. Features: The GM2 Exchange is made of strong, lightweight aluminum and gives golfers the option to alter the headweight by up to 50 grams, a significant advantage, especially when playing on a variety of green speeds. Advantages: Being able to significantly manipulate the weight in the toe and heel helps players adapt to different green speeds. What We Like: The clean lines, butter-soft aluminum-infused weave face insert and, of course, the adjustable weights. Lineup: Gray Matter 2 Series, Milled Series, Speed Control Series, GM2 Exchange Putterhead: Aluminum (milled) Putterface: Same Weight: Adj. Designs: Exchange 1–Heel-shafted mallet; Ex. 2–Center-shafted mallet (available LH); Ex. 3–Center-shafted mallet/blade fusion; Ex. 4–Heel-shafted blade; Ex. 5–Heel-shafted blade (available LH) Nickent PIPE Series nickentgolf.com (888) NICKENT | $199
Nickent's breakthrough cylindrical design is now offered on two new blade-style heads. Features: The PIPE (PP/005 pictured) features a white cylindrical pipe that extends behind the face to facilitate a square setup by helping golfers better determine face alignment at address. Advantages: A rear tungsten weight plug increases MOI, while the polymer face insert helps distribute weight toward the heel and toe. The polymer face also is designed to reduce backspin and excessive skidding. What We Like: The two new blades elicit a better feel and are as easy to align as the originals. Lineup: PIPE Series Putterhead: Stainless Steel (cast) Putterface: Polymer (milled) Weight: Std. Designs: PP/001–Heel-shafted, face-balanced mallet; PP/002–Center-shafted, face-balanced mallet; PP/003–Heel-shafted mallet; PP/004, PP/005–Heel-shafted heel-toe blade (PP/001 available LH)
Nike Golf Unitized nikegolf.com (888) 799-NIKE | $249
Nike Golf's new Unitized putters feature a shaft and milled head that are laser-welded together, resulting in resounding feel and performance. Features: A distinctly clean visual look that's brought about by the melding of the head and shaft. Its uniform black nickel plating of the head/shaft unit and WINN Advanced Integration Pistol Grips come on all models. Advantages: Putting is all about feel, and the Unitized is the epitome of a great-feeling club. What We Like: It's the only putter whose head and shaft are designed and engineered as one piece, resulting in less vibration and better feel, all of which results in improved d