A Dissection of Putters
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy

Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at

All of you know me as "The Wedge Guy," but what you don't know is that my earlier work in golf club design was focused on putters. My first design, called "Destiny" was done in the mid-80s, and achieved pretty cool success on the PGA Tour in the hands of a number of players, including Robert Wrenn, Ian Baker Finch, Ray Floyd, Bernhard Langer and some other top names. It was one of the first to use the long hosel to achieve face balancing.

And a putter design concept I took to Hogan started my tenure there. The “Sure-In®” line never got the attention I would have liked, but it had some innovative weighting and some nice head models. I did three designs with Ben Crenshaw while I was President of Reid Lockhart. We did three models including one that was a perfect copy of Ben’s favorite 8802. And then I did all the design work for Ray Cook while I was president there. So I have more than just a little experience in putter design.

The reason I tell you this, is because today I'm responding to the question from Aaron, of Austin, TX, who wrote in:
"While I know you're the Wedge Guy, I've been wondering about putter technology. I know about some of the styles (blade, mallet, etc.) but I was more wondering about the different face technologies (insert, etc.) as well as the loft on the putter, the shaft material, and the purpose of the different necks (plumbers neck, etc.)"
Well, Aaron, let’s take these several parts of the putter and let me share with you my observations about the form and function of each.
1. Face Technology. Today that falls into two categories – inserts and texture. Though Odyssey garnered most of the press about inserts, they’ve actually been around for many years. The old Otey Crisman putters were aluminum with a brass insert, and had a hickory shaft. You talk about feel -- they were awesome. In modern putter design, a small company called STX actually pioneered the synthetic insert long before Odyssey. The idea behind this concept is to match the hardness of the insert with the ball you play to achieve optimum “adhesion” of ball to face, so that a superior roll can be achieved. I never much cared for them, personally, and the new urethane covered balls have negated much of the need, in my opinion. You still find all kinds of putters with inserts and various face milling textures, but the only rule is this: If it feels great and puts a good roll on the ball, you should seriously consider it.

2. Loft. Now, this is a more arguable subject in putter design. I’ve seen physical testing that proves that a slight negative loft at impact actually imparts a superior roll to a ball. But that was on an artificial putting surface, where the ball could not “settle down” any. Ping traditionally put 5-7 degrees on their putters, and every user had a pronounced forward press to get some of that out, or you’d loft the ball at impact. My personal belief is that about 1-2* at impact is optimum on most greens, but that is affected by how far in front of the head your hands are through the stroke. Again, it’s a trial-and-error process to find the right loft for your stroke.

3. Putter Shafts. In that old Destiny putter, I pioneered the use of graphite shafts in putters because of the feel. And I still believe graphite is a superior putter shaft material for that reason, though you see practically none out there. Most putters are equipped with a rather cheap and heavy steel shaft . . . even the premium models that cost over $200. Besides the material, I think the putter shaft flex is important. Ben Crenshaw, with his syrupy smooth stroke, liked a shaft that had “movement” in it, and could feel things in a putter that were unbelievable. A golfer with a short and quick stroke would benefit from a firmer shaft so that it would be easier to square the putter face through impact. Unfortunately, you won’t find lots of options on the putter rack, and I can’t think of even one putter on the market today that even talks about the shaft as part of the formula.

4. “Neck”or hosel configuration. Very simply, the purpose of the various bend profiles is to help you set the putter square to the intended line. The trend to custom putter fitting has proven that every golfer has a visual tendency to line up left or right, depending on the hosel configuration. I believe the old Slazenger/Kirk Currie system was the first to identify this and use the hosel to correct for aiming error. On today’s market there are several such systems, with another Austin company – Edel Putters – having the most sophisticated I’ve seen. For this reason, if no other, I think having a custom-fit putter will do more good for more golfers than just about any other equipment investment (other than good wedges of course!)
Today’s post got a little long, but the topic is heavy. Lets’ see what you guys have to say and maybe we’ll keep this dialog open for a while. If there are follow-up putter questions you have . . . just ask away.

* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

photo source
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
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