Because putting is such a crucial part of the game, your putter is the most important weapon you have. Club makers seem to have noticed: They’ve brought out a dizzying array of options.
Don’t be confused by all the high-tech (and high-priced) putters on the market. Although they appear as colorful and as different as new cars, most offer only one or two features that may even make them worth the price.
The new MOI (moment of inertia) putters have a lot of science behind them, but you don’t have to bother with that. All you need to know is that MOI putters resist twisting on off-center hits. That means that your bad putts turn out better than they would otherwise.
Many modern putters feature alignment aids, such as a pair of white circles, or bold lines or arrows. Another new wrinkle is adding an insert to the face of the putter — often a panel of urethane, the same stuff golf balls are made of — for a softer feel when the putter strikes the ball.
Still, the best feature of all is sound fundamentals. Without them, all the tech support in the world won’t do you much good.
Long putters and belly putters
Some golfers swear by extra-long putters. Others swear at them, saying the long putter is bizarre and ought to be illegal. There is even talk of banning long putters. But if you’re struggling to make putts, you may want give one of them a try.
The terminology can be confusing: What’s the difference between a long putter and a belly putter? But it’s simple if you know the crucial difference: Both are longer than a standard model, but a long putter is lo-o-onnnger. Its handle goes under the golfer’s chin, while the handle of a belly putter is anchored to the belly. Both are used almost exclusively by players who’ve struggled to make putts the usual way:
Long putters: Long putters range from 46 inches in length to 50 and up. They remove all wrist action from your putting stroke because your left hand anchors the club to your chest. Your left hand holds the club at the end of the shaft, and your fingers wrap around the grip so that the back of that hand faces the ball. The grip is the fulcrum around which the club swings. Your right hand is basically along for the ride. In fact, your right hand should barely touch the club. Its only role is to pull the club back and follow the club through.
Belly putters: A variation on the long putter is the midlength belly putter. You anchor it to your midsection, so that it looks like the club is stabbing you in the navel. Belly putters are 40 to 45 inches long. Like long putters, they’re designed to minimize wrist action in the stroke.
Both the long putter and the belly putter are generally seen as a last resort. If you can make putts with a standard-length putter, that’s what you should use.