Someone much better than me once said "putting is between your ears, you can putt with anything". While you CAN putt with anything, it's difficult to putt consistently WELL with anything. It's no secret that i'm probably the worst putter on oobgolf. 3 putts like crazy - terrible directionality, speed and more than likely the most missed 1 footers this year. Been searching for the magic wand for sometime now. I've gone from the newport style, to a mallet 2-ball style, back to newport. All with no luck. Fat grip, midsize, standard, split, claw, cross handed. You name it, i did it. I recently went putter shopping and using some impact tape and a mirror found out what's been wrong. For you tech heads this is old news, but for anyone who doesn't really follow why their clubs work and don't work this may be interesting.
For years i did what seemed like a good idea - i went to the store, tried everything, and got something that i felt comfortable looking at and could hole some putts. Seems like a sound theory right? And it is- for a while. What i found is that while things worked at a certain time for a certain amount of time, i still had the same glaring misses and try as i might, i couldn't fix them with any amount of practice. This is because my putter was not a good fit for my stroke. I could use it and tweak my stroke to work but as soon as those tweaks wore off or were forgotten, i was my round and not the ball that sunk. So i did more digging and here's what came about.
There are, without being too specific, 3 different balance points for putters, 2 different shafting types, and 3 different offsets for off-the-rack putters. Math buffs will tell you that's 18 different variables to fit your putter just off the shelf which may explain why if you've ever felt like you hit the putter really well when your buddy had it, but went to the store and got one it wasn't the same. Odds are one of these variables was different. If it looks the same, look closer.
Heel-Toe-weighted: the overwhelming majority on tour. Newport-style putters used by the likes of Tiger, Rory, and more or less 70% of the golfing public. If you balance the putter by the shaft on your hand, the face will hang at a 45 degree angle, give or take a few degrees due to weighting.
Toe-Balanced: Phil Mickelson's putter of choice. Sergio. Old time Arnie. Usually heel shafted, if you hold them open palmed, the toe points straight to the ground. Most of the weight is in the toe.
Face-Balanced: These tend to be your mallet putters. 2 balls are most notably face balanced for the most part. Hold them in your hand and the face faces toward the sky, parallel with the ground.
For each of these faces, there are 2 shafting styles with either No, 1/2 shaft, or full shaft offset:
Center shafted: The shaft bores in line with the center of the club face. Hence center shafted. Most putters are center shafted. "Chris, you don't know anything, my putter has a bend in it and connects at the heel, so do all my friends'." To you, i say place a strait edge in line with the shaft and connect it with a point on the head. Most of you will connect with the dead center of the club face depending on if you've had any lie angle corrections or not. This is because to keep the MOI (moment of inertia) consistent and keep the club head from twisting, the heel-toe and face-balanced putters need to have the balance of force applied in the center or basically, they won't be face balanced. It's a distribution of weight.
Heel shafted: WYSIWYG, the shaft goes straight down into the heel without passing toward the center first.
Now- there are variations between these where the shaft continuation is more towards the heel after the bend, instead of the center but we're not getting that specific.
So what does all this mean? It means i've been trying to be something i'm not. I'm a natural arc putter. It's the most consistently repeatable and easily controlled method for my type of swing. It's just natural to me, i don't have to struggle to keep things on line. THat being said, i need a more toe balanced putter. Heel shafted. I tested this with an old PGA tline IX. It was nice, but so old that i did struggle because it's so small and tough to line up. Enter the Odyssey #9. Identical in weighting, but has their polymer insert and wonderful aiming lines. Perfect. While i still struggled because it's unfamiliar, my first round had 28 putts, no 3 putts and what's better - no pulls as i was apt to have with the center shafted and face balanced putters i own.
If you're having putting woes, it really might be something to look at. The fix may be as simple as putting a little lead tape or changing a weight or bend on your current putter. It's a $5 fix that could have you consistently winning more $5 nassau's with your buddies.