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How do I know which type of putter I should be using?

How do I know which type of putter I should be using?

We are lucky to have two of the most knowledgable golf gearheads in our Golf Digest family. And they are sharing their knowledge with you. Golf Digest's equipment editors, Mike Stachura and E. Michael Johnson, have covered the golf equipment business for decades, and there are few who know the equipment industry better. We've asked them to answer your questions in a regular equipment round-up.

What are some things to look for when picking out a new putter? —@Derek04524325

I’m reminded of what legendary golf retailer Leigh Bader likes to say about the process of buying a putter: “The only performance metric that tends to matter to the average golfer is ‘Does the ball go in the hole?’” He then quickly explains how that is likely not the most useful means of knowing that the putter is the right fit for your stroke or your setup. Whether it’s enhancing your skills or mitigating your flaws. Whether, in short, it’s brought consistency to the part of the game that involves the finest motor skills.

The good news is there are lots of tools at a fitter’s disposal to understand whether a putter improves the stroke, in terms of bringing more consistency to your rhythm, your face angle at impact, even the way you aim the putter. We’re talking about putting analysers like Quintic or SAM Putt Lab, even launch monitors like TrackMan, GC Quad or FlightScope. Software like Odyssey Fits helps narrow your options, and a putter fitting is probably the easiest, most productive fitting you can go through since your putting stroke is a lot more consistent than your driver swing. Indeed, it might even only require an adjustment to the putter you already have.

All of this is to say that rather than looking for certain things, it might be more fun to be open to where the search might take you. Our belief generally though is that mallet putters will help the vast majority of golfers. If you’re like most golfers, you’re more concerned with avoiding three-putts than holing every birdie putt you see. The forgiveness of a mallet goes a long way towards more consistent distance control, and that’s the best way to avoid the kind of putts you have to apologise for.

We also think alignment is fundamental. The putter that gets you on target more consistently and more automatically than another is going to leave you free to focus on speed and break. Don’t overlook the role the grip plays either. Grip size can help moderate or enhance the role your hands play in the putting stroke, depending on what’s best for your game.

So resist the temptation to focus on the putter you just made three five-footers with. I wouldn’t even aim at a hole. Instead, the right putter is the one that rolls all those 20-footers on the same line and at the same speed. That shows you’ve got a putter that you stroke consistently with the face square to the target at impact. The hole-outs will come when it matters.