The Two Faces of Putting
Putters have been at the top of the golf equipment news lately with the buzz about long putters and belly putters, and I sounded off on that recently. But I received an email from a reader asking my opinion regarding the face of the putter – milled vs. insert. I love it when you guys send me a new topic to dive into, so here goes.
It’s pretty universally accepted that the ball has to be given a pure and solid roll in order to run true to the intended line, but the “purity” of the roll the ball takes off the putter face is affected by several variables.
The effective loft of the putter face at impact is very important, as you do not want the ball lofted into the air at impact, but you do not want it compressed into the turf either. The roll is also influenced by the angle of approach to the ball – is it steep or shallow/level to the ground? Many putting experts claim that the best roll is imparted to the ball when the putter is moving very slightly upward at impact, with only 1-2 degrees of “effective loft” at that point. I can’t argue that at all.
Which . . . finally . . . brings us to the subject of the treatment of the face of the putter, and this area of putter design and manufacturing technology has evolved over the past few decades. Early putter faces were polished on a sand belt running over a flat metal plate. This produced reasonably flat faces that certainly won many PGA tour events. In the 1990s, a trend to give the face more attention and precision by CNC-milling the face surface gained traction. There’s no question that the process delivers much more precision than the old sanding method.
Then along came the “new” idea of softer face inserts in putters to affect feel, sound and the time the ball adheres to the face, with claims by the brands who did this that this adhesion imparted a truer roll to the ball. Odyssey® and others rocketed to the forefront of putter category with this single feature, and supported their claims of a truer roll with high-speed video to prove their claims.
The CNC-milled believers countered that by applying a variety of milling textures to the face, claiming that the ball takes on a better roll because of this treatment, and all also had some kind of slow motion video to prove it.
So, which is better? I think the answer is simple. YOU have to decide for yourself what works better. I can tell you that the treatment of the face cannot convert you from a bad putter to a good one. Every day on the professional tours and every local course, guys are heating it up on the greens with all kinds of putters – milled, insert, no special treatment at all. And I don’t think there is one golfer out there who was transformed from a bad putter to a good one because they changed the kind of face their putter had on it.
The secret is that whatever gives you confidence, go for it. As that . . . in my opinion . . . is the single most important putting fundamental. Golfers who putt well come in all shapes and sizes, all kinds of putting styles and stroke paths. You know them. They look like hell but can putt the eyes out of the ball. And they carry a wide variety of putters, with all kinds of faces. Some are so beat up there’s not a flat place on them . . . but don’t bet against that guy with the old Ray Cook, Bullseye or Ping.
The problem is that confidence only comes through success. Success only comes through solid fundamentals and practice. And that takes time and commitment.
But then, whoever said this was gonna be easy?
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[ comments ]
Putting is all about comfort and confidence. If you're comfortable standing over the ball with the flat stick in your had, and confident in your stroke, you're probably going to make the putt.
I've got a Cameron Newport Mid Slant thats been in my bag for about 9 years now, I loved that putter since the day I got it. It has a smooth face, no insert, just a putter. But I have still tried to replace it, somehow thinking I was missing something by not having an insert or heel shafted, milled, etc. Eventually I always come back to it though because I'm just more comfortable with it
putting is about getting the ball on your intended line with the correct speed for that line. whatever putter you can do that with is the right one. I play with a guy that tilts the toe way up on every putt and I always think that the loft of his putter is going to jerk the ball way left but he nows this and he always aims right of the target (from my perspective anyway) He thinks he's lining it up straight. But he's consistent and he makes a lot of putts, while I struggle.
My security blanket for nearly 20 years has been my Ping Anser A-blade. I'm always willing to try different styles, but that old Ping just feels right every time.
Good stuff Wedgeguy. We all know that a good quality roll is crucial, but that has to be more down to technique than face material. High speed video is a godsend to the golf industry, as it allows manufacturers and instructors to ply the public with that much more BS.
Over the weekend, I was reading up on putters, getting fit for a putter, and an interview with David Mills, son of T.P. Mills. In support of what everyone is saying, putting has a lot to do with feel and confidence. David explained that feel has an aural component. That's why certain metals and inserts are used to help develop that feel and touch. As for a milled face, he believes that it's more for looks than it is to help roll the ball. What's important is to have a flat putter face (loft and lie notwithstanding) and a sound technique. I used to have an Odyssey but now, I tend to stay away from inserts, especially non-metallic.
Bah, putting is easy. Just aim for a 3' radius circle around the hole. Some of them drop, the rest are easy short putts.
I think weight position (toe, heel, centered) is much more important to putting the ball straight than whether the face has an insert or is milled, as long as it's flat. I'll be trying out that new Ping app on Thursday which supposedly will tell me for sure if my stroke is as straight back and straight through as I think it is. Been using an Odyssey Rossie mallet last couple years. But, think I'm ready to go back to a blade style, and Ping has 3 different weighting options depending on your typical stroke.
I have three putters. One is my late father's putter from 30+ years ago. One is a square backed one with the softer face. One is a newer blade-style putter with a crisscross milled face. I've tried them all out, and it doesn't make one difference which one I use .. I putt exactly the same. So, I carry the blade style one because it looks great and doesn't take up much room in my bag :)
joe jones says:
I made my own long putter in 1970. The head is made from the bottom of a brass lamp. There were no long shafts available at that time so I uses a ski pole with 2 split grips I had in my garage. I call it my big ugly and it not only solved the worst case of the yips known to mankind but allowed me to be a good putter again. Oh! By the way. I putt side saddle with it. Every time I see a golfer using a high price Bettenardi or Scotty Cameron I laugh my fanny off.
Its not the bow or arrow that wins the war it's the Indian that uses the weapon.
@Joe jones, Rule 16-1e.... hope you never play in my nassau!
@Joe jones, you also may wanna just double check the ol' Appendix II 4b,c as well
joe jones says:
tcjonny. Sorry I am late in responding.
Big ugly conforms to all USGA specs and has been approved for tournament play.
Rule 16-1e addresses straddling the line of putt as is the case in croquet style putting which IS illegal. I putt side saddle which is a conforming stroke and which I have used while playing in pro ams with Micky Wright, Sam Snead (who also putted side saddle) and Julie Inkster.
As to playing in your nassau. I would love it if for no other reason to enlighten you further.
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