2012 Buyer's Guide Putters

Will you switch to a long putter this year?

This Article Features Photo Zoom

By Doug Hammer, PGA

It may surprise you that different putter styles yield different stroke paths. Con-sider the three images you see here. In the left photo, I'm putting with a blade putter; in the center image, I'm putting with a mallet; and on the right, I'm using a long putter. Notice how the path differs between the blade and mallets?

To be honest, it's sort of a chicken-and-egg kind of thing. If you use a mallet, you'll be more likely to make a square-to-square stroke because it's a face-balanced putter, meaning that the CG is below the shaft's axis. That said, if you feel more comfortable swinging on a straighter path (every stroke arcs somewhat), and you're currently using a blade putter, I suggest you switch. In fact, I bet it's pretty difficult for you to make a straight-to-straight stroke with your blade because it's heel balanced, meaning that when you balance it, the putter's toe points to the ground.

Of course, the most radical move, and one that few players use, is the long putter, which creates a very straight stroke path. But you have to be comfortable with the added length before you put one of those in play. As a general rule, decide how you feel about the stroke before you choose a model.

IN 2011, PROFESSIONAL GOLFERS gravitated to belly putters in a big way. Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship using one, and Webb Simpson notched two victories (and three runner-ups) using his long putter. So it's no surprise that manufacturers are trying to capitalize on the trend. At this year's PGA Merchandise Show, longer sticks were everywhere. But, of course, they weren't the only new putters filling the Orange County Convention Center. To check out the rest, simply flip through the following pages.

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Golf Tips Legend

Umbra Belly
Key Feature: After having made a big splash with their uniquely shaped putters, Axis1 is back with a new belly length version of the Umbra. The makers say it's the world's first perfectly balanced belly putter. Who could argue with that?
Who It's For: Golfers who like unorthodox-shaped putters and want to try one out in belly length. Players who have trouble squaring up the putter's face.
Specs: Available in 43- and 45-inch lengths. The Umbra also comes in standard-length models, too.
axis1golf.com | $299
Studio Stock 9
Key Feature: The SS9 is a wide-body, heel-toe design with a double-bend shaft that promotes a slight quarter-toe hang. What does that mean? It's super easy to use and swing on an arcing putter path. Better yet, there are a handful more designs in the Studio Stock line that have the same milled-carbon-steel look and feel. Wow, these putters sure are pretty. And we love that lime-green grip.
Who It's For: Fans of Bob Bettinardi's commitment to incredible craftsmanship and outside-the-box thinking.
Specs: There are four SS models, all weighing 350 grams.
bettinardigolf.com | $375
Tour Collection
Key Feature: These premium offerings from the Heavy Putter line feature two models (blade and mallet) that are 100% CNC milled.
Who It's For: Like your putter heavy? They don't get any weightier than these.
Specs: Comes in five different stock lengths (32-36 inches) with head weights approximately 400 grams. An additional 200 grams is placed in the grip end. Two head styles. Want a longer putter? These can be converted to belly and long putter length.
boccierigolf.com | $199


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