Having served as a PGA Professional at a golf club for nearly 17 years, it has always surprised me how little golfers know about what they are actually looking for when considering buying a new putter. Quite often when I would ask what they are in the market for and the customer would reply with their preferred length and whether they tended to drift more towards a blade or a mallet style head. The preferred length was normally because “that’s the length I’ve always used”, and likewise with the preferred head shape.
More often than not, the customer has used their current putter for many years, purchased off the rack at a standard 34”/35” length, or may have even been handed down to them by a father or grandfather on occasion.
However, in complete contrast golfers have often come looking for the complete opposite head shape to their current putter. Putting is like that, a fickle lover – that must be changed from time to time to bring back some newness, excitement and confidence.
So, firstly in this edition of the blog I’ll provide some advice – on putter offset, and the how and why some will suit you better than others.
What is Offset?
A putter shaft can be straight or curved as it approaches the putter head. A shaft can be mounted anywhere from the heel to the center of the putter head. A shaft can also be mounted into a hosel, the joint that extends from the putter head. Depending on how the shaft curves or how the hosel is constructed, a putter can have varying degrees of offset.
A putter with no offset, the leading edge of the shaft is in direct line with the leading edge of the putter face when looking down at the putter. In a putter with offset, the leading edge of the shaft is slightly ahead of the putter face when looking down.
The term “full shaft” offset means that the offset is equal to the width of the shaft, while ½-shaft offset signifies that the offset is roughly equal to half of the width of the shaft.
When selecting a new putter, there’s a lot to investigate, but most golfers forget about the hosel. This seemingly innocent design feature often has the most significant effect on how the club actually swings. Knowing the difference between one hosel design and another can provide some insight into your stroke and what type of putter you are. Let’s examine some of the more popular hosel configurations, and try to help you understand why your putters is working or possibly not working for you?
Face-balanced putters often have no hosel, but instead an S-bend shaft that goes directly into the putter head. These putters are designed specifically for golfers who want to take the club straight back and straight through in a piston-like motion. If you typically like to rotate the clubhead during your stroke, these types of putters probably won’t work as well for you, although there are no absolutes in this regard.
The plumber-neck is characterized by a horizontal bend just below where the end of the shaft and the hosel meet. This design, which generally provides a medium amount of offset, does a great job of keeping the hands ahead of the clubhead through impact. This tends to make the putter more forgiving and easier to use, which is the reason it’s so popular. Putters with plumber-neck hosels tend to be somewhat toe-down in their weighting scheme, which encourages a slightly inside-square-inside stroke.
The flare-tip is typically a “shaft-over” hosel, meaning the shaft covers the top of the hosel where the two connect. Putters with flare-tip hosels generally have less offset and are more blade-like in their design. These putters tend to be quite a bit toe-down in their weighting scheme and usually work best for golfers who like to rotate the blade open and shut through the stroke.
The majority of putter models feature shafts that enter the putter head near the heel. Some, however, feature a more centered shaft insert position. This design typically is associated with a flatter lie angle, promoting a low-hands position. Also, the center-shaft position places the swing axis closer to the golf ball, eliciting extra control and a feel many golfers prefer.
These hosels often are plumber-necks that bend back from the shaft line. Usually, this type of putter is used to create a more substantial amount of offset, which promotes more of an upward strike into the golf ball. Another beneficial aspect of the slant-neck design is the position it places the hands in just prior to, and through, impact—just slightly in front of the golf ball.
These designs are usually elongated plumber-necks and are used to create face-balancing. Although they look very similar to the standard plumber-neck design, the extra length definitely creates a different feel, which you should take into consideration before selecting a putter with this type of hosel structure. Be aware that the elongated plumber-neck design doesn’t always result in face-balancing; many, in fact, are toe-balanced.
So, why do you need to know about offset and how does it help you improve your putting?
Offset putters are preferred by golfers who like to have their hands slightly ahead of the ball during the putting stroke. Some also believe that eye dominance plays a role in fitting offset to the golfer.
For a right-handed player who has a dominant left eye, the eye closest to the hole, we would typically fit them with a straight shafted putter because that puts their dominant eye over the ball. For a person who is right eye dominant, the eye furthest from the hole, we would give them an offset shaft. Putting the ball under the dominant eye helps the player line up the putt with more accuracy. Offset putters typically help golfers keep their hands in front of the ball at impact and promotes less break down in the wrists.
In next week’s blog I will be taking you through face-balanced, heel/toe weighted and toe hang putter heads and explaining how and why some will work better for you than others.
See you next week!
Designer – P2 Putter Grips