Putters may be classified in several different ways. For every expert who says there are X number of different types of putters grouped by one method, there is another who counters that there are Y number of putter types according to a different classification. The particular label that matters most to an individual golfer may depend on the golfer’s putting style or personal taste.
PING manufactures a full line of men’s and women’s golf clubs, as well as golf apparel, golf bags and on-course accessories. But the company began by selling putters designed and built by Karsten Solheim. Indeed, the company’s name comes from the distinctive sound of one of Solheim’s putters striking a golf ball. The company also has a repair department, so if you want to reshaft your PING putter, the company can likely do the job.
Scotty Cameron's putters have been the choice of many PGA Tour members since the early 1990s. Tiger Woods, Mark O’Meara, Sergio Garcia, Peter Jacobsen, Jason Dufner and Rory McIlroy are among the leading pro golfers who have used Cameron’s creations. You might say, then, that some of the best golfers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries have helped to make Cameron's putters great. At the same time, Cameron's putters have played no small role in making quite a few golfers great.
A golfer walking into a shop in search of a new putter faces many choices regarding shaft length, club head shape, offset, loft and other considerations. With respect to the point at which the shaft attaches to the head, however, there are two main options: center-shafted putters and heel-shafted putters.
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Golfers who own Scotty Cameron putters can send them to the company’s custom shop to receive a variety of services. For example, weight can be added to or removed from the club head of most of the company’s putters. Unlike most adjustable clubs, however, Scotty Cameron putters are not designed to allow players to change the weights themselves.
Because the Rules of Golf are far more liberal with putter construction than with other clubs, you’ll find a very wide variety of putters on the walls of your local golf shop, as well as in the hands of players at a professional tournament. Selecting the correct putter is a personal choice. Golf writer Steve Newell suggests golfers “try out as many putters as you can, and choose one that feels right to you.” Among your putter choices are offset and double bend putters.
Many people know Natalie Gulbis from her work off the golf course. She has been a regular on the Golf Channel, had a TV reality show, posed for glamorous calendars and modeled for the “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue while “wearing” a painted suit. But Gulbis also has been a successful LPGA Tour player since 2002 who has an unusual putting stroke.
The idea of adjusting a golf club’s head weight is nothing new. Some players used to apply lead tape to their clubs to adjust the weight. Today, however, some clubs -- mainly drivers and fairway woods -- are built with slots, cylinders or holes into which the golfer may place small weights. The golfer’s goal occasionally is to swing a heavier or lighter club, but more typically he’s trying to correct a swing flaw. If a golfer slices, for example, he’ll place more weight toward the shaft and less toward the club head’s toe, making it easier to square the club face. Shortly after adjustable drivers appeared, the Florida-based putter manufacturer Rife began selling putters containing adjustable weights.
Technically, a golfer may use a putter anywhere on the course. You’re welcome to use it on every shot, if you like, but unless you’re playing miniature golf you won’t score very well with that strategy. While putters are designed for use on the green, they may occasionally come in handy from other locations near the green but not on it.
A chipper putter, more commonly known as just a “chipper,” is a legal club, according to the standard Rules of Golf published by the U.S. Golf Association. The USGA defines a chipper as “an iron club designed primarily for use off the putting green.” The key difference between a chipper and a putter is the chipper’s loft of about 37 degrees. When the ball is struck by a chipper, its lofted club head will pop the ball into the air briefly, typically enough to send the ball past the fringe and onto the green. Once on the green, the ball rolls toward the hole like a normal putt.
The SeeMore Putter Company manufactures several distinctive lines of putters. Among the standout features of SeeMore putters are the markings on top of the club heads: two parallel white lines and a red dot. When a player takes the address position, he aligns the bottom of the putter's shaft between the white lines, and makes sure the red dot is covered from view by the shaft. This, says the company, helps golfers set up square to the target each time. Some professional golfers, including PGA Tour pro Zach Johnson, use SeeMore putters.
Technological advances have changed all golf clubs over the years, including putters. With putters, however, the changes have come almost exclusively within the club head. Since golfers will never need to generate maximum club head speed for a putt, golf shaft innovations have minimal impact on putting success. But focusing on the club head still leaves plenty of room for tinkering, as evidenced by the variety of shapes and sizes you’ll find among 21st century putter club heads.
Unless you hit a hole in one or sink a chip shot from off the green, you’ll use a putter on every hole of golf you play. Indeed, a typical player will putt twice (but hopefully not more often) on each green. The United States Golf Association sets the standards for all golf equipment, including putters, in the United States. The standards are found in Appendix II of the Rules of Golf.