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Playing with the right putter can help shave strokes off your score.
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When it comes to selecting the best putter to complement your game, looks and feel are important, but they aren't the most important factors. Putters are designed with weight added to various parts of the clubhead -- toe, heel or equally distributed across the head. If you're considering a toe- or heel-weighted putter, choose the one that best fits your putting style. To do this and help narrow down your search, learn the playing characteristics of each one and match them with the shape of your stroke.
The classic blade putter is an example of a heavily toe-weighted putter, which means more weight is placed in the toe of the club. Weight distributed toward the toe causes the club's face to rotate from an open to a closed position as you swing through the ball. This type of putter is the weapon of choice by many PGA Tour professionals. Famous pros that use or have used blade putters are Phil Mickelson and golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Ben Crenshaw. Blade putters have a traditional look -- long, narrow and a flat clubhead. This style of putter has a small sweet spot and is not very forgiving when you hit the ball off center.
As you might suspect, heel-weighted putters have more weight in the heel of the club, where the shaft goes into the clubhead. With less weight in the toe-end, the clubhead rotates around the axis of the shaft as you swing the club. A heel-weighted putter also has a small sweet spot, and beginner golfers may find this style of putter harder to control and struggle with consistency. If you miss the hole off to the right, a heel-weighted club may help because the club's face will close as you swing through the ball, similar to toe-weighted putters.
The swing path of your clubhead must be considered when choosing a putter. If you have a pendulum, square-to-square swing, straight back and straight through or an inside-square-square swing path, a toe- or heel-weighted putter is not your best choice. Golfers with this type of swing prefer a face-balanced putter. These putters have minimal to no rotation around the axis of the shaft, and the weight is equally distributed between the toe and heel relative to where the shaft connects to the head. If you have an arc swing, where the clubface opens on the backswing, squares at impact and closes during the follow through, choose a toe- or heel-weighted putter. Golfers with an arc swing tend to stand up taller and hold the putter lower to achieve more clubhead rotation.
If you're not sure where the weight is distributed in a putter, lay it across the top of a table with the head hanging off the table's edge. If the face of the putter is horizontal, points toward the ceiling, it's a face-balanced putter. If the toe points diagonally down toward the floor, it's a heel-toe putter with most of the weight in the toe and heel. With a toe- or heel-weighted putter the toe points directly toward the floor.
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