While lightweight clubs can help golfers gain distance, many choose to go the opposite route with their putters. Is heavier better when it comes to the flat putter stick? It depends on your stroke.
Heavy-headed putters offer a distinct advantage for golfers with quick strokes and those who suffer from the dreaded “yips.” The extra weight restricts the small muscles of the hands, promoting a smoother stroke controlled by the arms and shoulders.
For the same reason, a heavier putter is ideal for golfers whose nerves betray them on the greens. The downsides to a heftier putter? You may lose a little feel on long putts, or struggle to control speed on faster greens.
How heavy is heavy? It varies by manufacturer. The head of Thomas Golf's AT-71 traditional putter, for example, tips the scales at 368 grams, and the long putter option weights in at 426 grams.
Thomas Golf Putters
Traditional, Mid-Length/Belly & Long Putters
If you currently own a putter with a standard-weight head (320-340 grams), you can experiment by adding magnets or lead tape to the back or bottom of the blade. You can play this way, too, without violating USGA rules.
Heavy Putter Head Can Smooth Out Your Stroke
Do you want to shoot lower scores? Of course you do – every golfer would love to lower their average score, if only by a few strokes. To do so, you are going to have to make more putts. It really is that simple – there isn't any magic formula or big secret to crack on your way to lower scores. You just have to make more putts. Rolling the ball into the middle of the cup more frequently will lead to better scores almost instantly. It sounds easy, but obviously the act of making more putts is something that has been vexing golfers for many years.
One of the keys to making more putts is having a great feel for the putter head as it swings. When you can feel the position of the putter head throughout the stroke – and you can feel the speed with which it is swinging – you will stand a much better chance to hit a great putt. While spending plenty of time on the practice green is a good way to start developing feel for the putter head, you can also work toward that goal by using a heavier putter head. A heavy putter head is naturally easier to feel than a light club head, meaning you will gain some instant feel as you work on becoming the best putter you can be.
There are many benefits to using a heavy putter head, which is why many manufacturers are now making them available as part of their overall product line. If you decide to go this way with your equipment, you can expect to find that your putting stroke is improved in relatively short order. While making a change to your full swing will take plenty of time and practice, you can actually make big improvements in your putting stroke just by making this kind of equipment swap. Of course, using a heavy putter alone isn't going to make you a great putter – there is still work to be done – but it can help you move in the right direction almost immediately.
Many golfers look to purchase a new driver or a set of irons when they want to improve their scores via better equipment, but that method is overlooking the extreme importance of the short game. Sure, you want to hit the ball well from the tee and from the fairway, but you need to play well on and around the greens if you are going to break through from a scoring perspective. Using a putter that can help you make a smooth and repeatable stroke is a great idea, so be sure to carefully consider a heavier putter head when buying your next flat stick. As you will see in the content below, there is much to be gained by taking this approach.
All of the content below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
A Different Game
The average golfer doesn't quite understand just how different the game becomes when you step onto the putting green. There is a dramatic difference between hitting shots off the tee or from the fairway, and putting the ball from a short distance from the cup. Mainly, the difference comes down to the need for speed. When hitting full shots, you need to generate as much speed as possible in order to send the ball flying toward the target. If you are able to combine speed with proper swing path, you should be able to hit quality shots on a regular basis. However, on the putting green, the need for speed is not present. You shouldn't have any trouble hitting the ball far enough to reach the hole, so it is all going to come down to controlling your distance and hitting the right line.
With regard to both of those points – hitting the right line and controlling your distance – a heavy putter head can lend some assistance. How? Check out the points below for a better understanding of how a heavy putter head can impact your stroke.
- Encourage a pendulum action. One of the best things you can do for your putting stroke is to have the putter move at a steady speed from start to finish. You don't want to have any sudden changes in speed taking place during your stroke, as those accelerations and decelerations can make it difficult to judge your speed. When your putter has a heavier overall weight, it will be easier to keep things smooth all the way through. It will be harder to move the putter suddenly – since it weighs more than a 'traditional' putter – so you will be more likely to employ the pendulum motion needed to control speed successfully. You won't automatically have a smooth pendulum stroke as a result of using a heavier putter, but it will become easier to achieve this goal.
- Quiet your hands. While your hands are essential to hitting good shots throughout the rest of the course, they are basically in the way when it comes to putting. You don't want your hands to do anything during the putting stroke other than hold on to the club and remain stationary. Movement within your hands is only going to serve to change the path of the club as it swings – and that movement is going to cause your putt to miss on one side or the other. When you use a light putter head, it will be difficult to hold the club head steady without any kind of 'twitch' from your hands. That is not the case with a heavier club. Your hands will have a harder time influencing the swing of the putter, meaning you can keep the club on path more consistently from putt to putt. If you have had trouble in the past with keeping your hands out of the putting stroke, using a heavier putter head is a viable option to solve that problem.
- Calm your nerves. Have you ever noticed that you tend to putter better on the practice green than you do on the golf course? That is a common problem for many golfers, and it is usually related to nerves. Even if you aren't playing for anything in particular, you still want to do your best when you get out onto the course. With that in mind, you may find yourself getting away from the putting stroke that you have built on the practice green as the nerves of a round of golf set in. By choosing a heavy putter head, you can go a long way toward limiting – or eliminating – the effect of those nerves on your game. Nerves usually show up on the greens in the form of extra hand action, and as was mentioned above, a heavy putter head is great at taking your hands out of the stroke. You may still feel nervous while rolling your putts, but the stroke you are making will have a better chance of holding together thanks to the added weight on the end of your club.
As every golfer has their own set of mechanics that they use to move the ball toward the hole, the benefits of a heavier putter will vary slightly from player to player. However, most golfers will enjoy at least one or two of the benefits listed above, if not all three. Even if you don't feel like you are struggling with your putter at the moment, all players can stand to make more putts, and a heavier flat stick might be just the trick to make that happen.
The Mechanics to Match
If you are going to get the best possible performance out of a heavy putter head, you need to be using the correct fundamentals to match up with the characteristics of the putter itself. Making a stroke that doesn't match with your choice of putter is only asking for trouble, so make sure you bring everything together nicely in a cohesive package. It is only when you use the right techniques along with the heavy putter head that you will start to see results.
To make sure you are using this type of putter to the best of its ability, put the following tips into action.
- Shoulder-driven stroke. This point was mentioned previously, but it needs to be highlighted again due to its extreme importance. When using a heavy putter head, you need to put the control of the stroke into your shoulders, rather than in your hands or wrists. To move the putter, you are simply going to rock your shoulders back and forth with a smooth, even tempo. This is how most of the best players in the world move the putter, and you should be doing the same. To start the stroke, move your left shoulder down toward the ground. When the backstroke is finished, reverse the action and move your right shoulder down toward the ground to propel the club forward. It is an amazingly simple motion, and it can be remarkably effective when executed correctly.
- Flexed knees throughout. Since you are using a rocking motion in your shoulders to move the putter, you need to have a stable base beneath you while you putt. That stability is going to come from placing plenty of flex in your knees at address – and then keeping that flex in place throughout the stroke. It is tempting to come up out of your stance during the forward stroke in order to see where the ball is going, but that would be a mistake. Pay careful attention to the flex in your knees from start to finish and you will be amazed at how solid your stroke can feel.
- Chin up, eyes down. Many golfers think that they need to keep their head down during the putting stroke, so they force their chin down into their chest at address. These players mean well, but they are making a mistake that can get in the way of a proper stroke. Instead, you will want to keep your chin up at address while keeping your eyes down on the ball. With your chin up and out of the way, your shoulders will be free to swing through the stroke without any problem. As long as your eyes stay down on the ball during this process, you should be able to make a smooth stroke that results in a clean hit at impact time after time.
Although putting will always remain a tremendous challenge because of the variables that you have to deal with in terms of green slopes and speeds, the putting stroke itself is very simple – or, at least, it should be. You want to take as many moving parts out of your stroke as possible in order to make it repeatable, reliable, and productive. Use the tips included in the list above to get your stroke on the right track when you start using a heavier putter head. In fact, you can use those tips no matter what kind of putter head you choose to use, but they are specifically important with a heavier club.
Practicing Your New Stroke
If you do switch to a heavier putter, you are going to need to spend some practice time on the putting green before you test it out on the course. The adjustments that you need to make aren't going to be dramatic, but the ball does feel different when coming off of the face of a heavier putter head. It will take some time to teach yourself how to swing this kind of putter properly, and it will take even more time to learn how to control your distance successfully. To get to a point where you can trust this heavier putter during an important round of golf, you will need to build some confidence through quality practice.
To get started, it is a great idea to begin with some short putts from within a few feet of the hole. You always want to do everything you can do to protect your confidence on the putting green, which is why it is nice to start with short putts. Drop a few golf balls on the practice green at around three or four feet from the hole, and hit a few in a row into the back of the cup (hopefully). You will notice right away that you don't have the option of rushing your stroke when using a heavier putter. There will likely be a nice natural rhythm to your strokes with this new putter, and that is a good thing. Allow the putter to 'swing itself', and allow your hands to just go along for the ride. Even if you have a little trouble at first, you should quickly get to a point where you can make putt after putt from short range.
Once the short putts feel comfortable, go ahead and back up to hit some putts from between 10' – 15' from the hole. These putts are obviously going to require a longer stroke, but you should work hard to maintain the same tempo that you used on your three footers. There should still be no rush in the stroke, and you shouldn't be using your hands or wrists to push the ball toward the hole. Swing the putter back and forth using your shoulders while thinking about how much swing it is taking to get the ball to the hole. It is at this point that you will start to develop your sense of speed control with this heavier putter head.
Finally, once the short and medium length putts are out of the way, it will be time to putt from long range. These putts should come from at least 30', if not farther away from the cup. Try to pick out a long putt that is relatively flat to make things as easy on yourself as possible at first. If you are used to using a relatively light putter, there is a good chance you are going to struggle for a while from long range with the heavy putter head. Most players use quite a bit of hand action from this distance with a normal putter, but that really isn't going to work with your new, heavier club. Instead, you are going to have to rely on your shoulders to continue doing the work, just as they did from closer. Give yourself some time to adjust, and try not to get frustrated if you struggle to make the adjustment right away. Over time, you will get more and more comfortable with how you need to swing the putter in order to roll the ball just the right speed.
There is nothing quite like practice when it comes to improving your putting stroke. Do your best to build regular putting practice into your golf routine and you will soon find yourself rolling the ball with more and more confidence as the rounds go by. Through a combination of a new heavy putter head and plenty of practice, you can look forward to the best putting of your life.
A Yip Killer?
If you have the yips on the putting green, you probably don't want to talk about it – and that is understandable. There might not be anything in the game of golf as frustrating as the yips, as missing short putt after short putt can quickly take a toll on your confidence out on the course. In fact, if the yips aren't corrected relatively quickly, you might find yourself losing interest in playing golf at all. Fortunately, using a heavier putter head is an adjustment you can make that just might help you take the yips out of your game once and for all.
It is overactive hands that tend to be at the heart of the yips. As the putter is swinging down toward the ball, a player with the yips may involuntarily use their hands and wrists in an attempt to steer the ball into the hole. When the player doesn't trust their stroke to do the job of making the putt naturally, this extra action may take over right at the last second – and the results are ugly, to say the least. A putt that has an element of the yips may not even hit the hole, and it is very unlikely that it will actually fall in. To get rid of the yips, you have to stop your hands from taking over the stroke right before impact.
Of course, a heavier putter head may be able to do just that. Since it will be harder to move the putter head with just your hands alone, the stroke will be more likely to carry on cleanly through the ball and on to the finish. In fact, even if you try to yip your putt with a heavy putter head, you might not be able to do so. You can't assume that a heavy putter head is going to be completely 'yip proof', but it certainly will make it far easier for you to avoid this dreaded condition.
So, should you head out and buy a heavier putter head at the first possible opportunity? Maybe, maybe not. You need to think about the status of your current putting stroke before you decide if this is going to be the right direction for you. Obviously, you want to be able to improve your performance when you switch clubs, as there is no point in switching to just stay the same – or to get worse. Think about what happens in your stroke when you do miss putts, and compare that to what the heavier putter head is going to offer your game. Is a heavier putter likely to make you a better player? If so, then you should absolutely look into adding this type of club to your bag. Good luck and play well!