Drive for show, putt for dough. That's how the saying goes at least. Do you believe it? If you don't then it may be costing you precious strokes.
Think about it -- let's say you just missed a 3 foot putt, leaving the ball inches from the cup. You walk up and disgustedly backhand the ball into the cup for a bogey. Do you realize that 1 inch "putt" counts as a full stroke on your scorecard? That one inch tap-in counts just as much as the 300 yard drive you pounded off the tee to start the hole (well, maybe in your dreams, at least). Do you see the point? A big drive can certainly help set up a good scoring hole, but it is nothing more than show -- at least as far as the scorecard is concerned -- if you can't make the putts.
The fact is, the putter is the most utilized club in your bag. Unless you hole out from the fairway or chip in, the putter is used on every hole, often for more than one stroke. In an average round for a pro, the putter is used 30 times while the driver is used 14 times or less. The frequency of use of the rest of the clubs vary, but average around 3-4 times per round. SO... having a good putter is one of the most important things you can do.
Putting is part technique and part equipment. There are many different styles of putters and likely you have found a type of putter that feels right to you. Part of it depends if you are more of a mechanical putter or a feel putter. Neither is "right" or" wrong." But whichever is your style will often dictate the type of putter you should use.
There have been great putters throughout the years who have been primarily "feel" putters. A guy like Ben Crenshaw comes to mind. Feel putters tend to prefer more of the blade or mallet style putter. The swing path of a feel putter generally is more of a inside to square to inside path, so alignment aids on the putter itself are only really helpful on the initial setup.
The mechanical putting technique is more of the pendulum-type stroke with a swing path that tries to go straight back along the target path and then straight through toward the target. Aaron Baddely is an excellent example of a mechanical type of putter and he does it well -- he led the PGA tour in putting in 2007. If you are a more mechanical style of putter, some of the offset putters and especially those putters that have heavy alignment aids (like the Odyssey White Hot putters with 2 or 3 ball alignment aids) Here is a review of an Odyssey Sabertooth Putter Clone that is perfect for a pendulum stroke. You may also be interseted in the brand-name used Odyssey putters.
No matter what your style is, a new putter that fits your style can reduce your score. Remember that scenario we began with? What if you could consistently knock in those 3, 4 and 5 footers? How many strokes could you save per round? How about if you made most of your 6, 7 or 8 footers? Do you see what I'm saying? If you can reduce the number of those 1 inch tap-ins (especially when it is after a putt inside 8 feet), you will lower your scores.
As long as you find the putter that is right for you and your game, you can well be on your way to shooting lower scores.
It is true that more research has gone in to other clubs like the driver. The golf equipment manufacturers also understand the, "drive for show" thing, and their marketers do a great job of making you feel inadequate if you aren't hammering 300 yard drives off the tee. So yes, they do spend more time developing drivers (and make a ton of money as some people tend to buy a new driver every year). But believe it or not, there have also been some significant technological advances in putter technology too. Some of those advances have to do with things like frequency and harmonics and other such esoteric things. But the two that stand out most are material composition and design.
The material composition of a putter is important. A softer material will hold the ball on the face longer which can be especially important to feel putters who might make contact with the ball slightly off target but who can then in a microsecond of feel put the ball back online. Even for mechanical style putters, having the club contacting the ball for that extra instance will result in a more stable rolling pattern that is less likely to deviate from its intended path.
The design factors are the most significant, though. Putting is highly psychological and if the putter design can convince the mind that the alignment is good, a more confident stroke will be the result.
Did you watch Rocco Mediate take on Tiger in the 2008 U.S. Open? If you didn't, you missed an epic battle. I've watched Rocco for years and have never seen him play better than he did for those 5 days at Torrey Pines. But something stood out as very unusual about Rocco's game. It was the fact that he was putting with a conventional length putter instead of the long putter he had been using for years. If you got a close look at the putter he was using it was an Odyssey Saber-tooth putter. Rocco said it was the best putter he ever used and he even gave it some of the credit for his stellar play during the open. Just think - a new putter rejuvenated his career!
Will a new putter rejuvenate your game?. The only way you will know is if you give one a try. Sometimes switching to a new putter can give you new confidence on the greens. Sometimes a new putter will allow you to see the line like you've never seen it before.
My suggestion is to go to a local golf store or Pro Shop that has an indoor putting area. They will let you test some of the latest models. Find one that fits your style and your eye. Don't worry about the price. Because once you find what you like, come back here and find a putter from one of the many clone sources we list, and you are sure to find a clone putter that will fairly closely match what you found in the store, but will likely be a fraction of the price.
A new knockoff putter may not impress your golfing buddies like a driver might, but after you start sinking all those putts inside 8 feet, your scores will go down and I can assure you they will be impressed with that. But don't worry about what your friends think - be true to yourself and your own game. Treat yourself today with a new clone golf putter. It just might lower your score. And most important, you'll have a lot more fun playing golf!
If you absolutely must have a brand name putter (the good ones ARE really nice!) - please don't pay the huge price of new putters. Buy a certified used putter instead. Putters don't get the wear and tear of irons, woods and drivers, so buying used will usually get you a really nice putter at a great price.
Joel Thomas is an avid golfer, gardener and fisherman who lives in S. Arizona with his lovely wife and children.
The ring mallet 2-Ball Putter is an Odyssey White Hot 2 ball putter clone. This conventional-sized mallet design putter has a Saturn stabilization bar to prevent twisting on off center hits. The 2-Ball scored alignment system makes short putts hard to miss. This putter is a great choice for players who have a smooth pendulum stroke. Click for more info...($29.50)
The Pulse Series 5 putter is an Odyssey White Hot XG clone. This mallet style putter has a dual wing design that helps to keep the putter on the intended line. The dual struts also provide a terrific visual cue which will help you line up your putts with ease. The red polymer insert gives a softer touch to your putts with medium range feedback. Click for more info. ($29.95)
This mallet putter is a Nike Oz mallet clone.
The high MOI design means less twisting on off-center hits
for truer putts that always make it to the hole. A combination
of three circular alignment aids will help you setup square
to the target for greater accuracy. An alloy milled insert
provides for solid feel at impact.
here for more info. ($29.95)
The Centercut Mod 14 putter is a Ping DOC clone. The mod 14 is 50% wider than a standard putter for more confidence and stability. The Mod 14 also has an enormous MOI for superior accuracy. The inner struts work in tandem with the unique alignment system to ensure a proper take away. The result? Straighter and more accurate putts, time after time. Click for more info. ($29.95)
Other Clone Golf Drivers: