BLADE STYLE Golf Putters -- Blade styled golf putters were introduced by putter designer Karsten Solheim back in the early 1960s, and because of its high-tech look during the beginning of the high-tech era, they took the golf market by storm. Soon after the debut of Solheim’s blade putter, every golfer seemed to want one and every golf putter manufacturer accommodated that desire by making knockoffs of Solheim’s new putter design. Pictured in sidebar is Solheim’s “Ping Anser”, the most copied golf putter of all time, yet this golf putter and all its "copy-cats", are extremely asymmetric, As such they all suffer impact twist and stroke wobble, and because of their edgy high tech look, they also suffer dreaded leading edge glide bite, and because of their odd shafting they also suffer -- - .. annoying post-launch vibration. Disspite all its design defects, it remains a very popular kind of putter, even though it belongs in the golf putter trash heap. Details on the Ping Anser Blade golf putter are HERE10 and it can still be found in the retail market HERE11. Many golf putter makers have made knock-offs of this popular Ping product including Callaway, Taylormade, Titleist, PXG, Pinemeadow, and others.
Golf Putter FORM
A Golf Putter is formed by the integration of three components: 1) Grip, 2) Shaft, 3) Head. The integrated form is regulated by the Rules of Golf, as is the form of each component. The Rules of Golf require that the overall form of the Putter be integrated in such a manner as to be fixed for the duration of a round of golf. Adjustable variations for practice/conditions must be sufficiently inconvenient so as to make it impractical to make these adjustments during a round of golf.
Golf Putter GRIP Form -- Golf Putter Grips embody 6 Features, each of which can either help or hinder putting performance: 1) Tactility of grip surface; 2) Imperviousness of grip to moisture; 3) Lateral Symmetry of grip; 4) Lineal Symmetry of Grip; 5) Fitting of grip to user’s hand size; and 6) Color of grip (yes color has been shown to affect putting performance, believe it or not). An easy to understand discussion of all this is HERE18.
Golf Putter SHAFT Form -- Golf Putter Shafts embody 5 Features, each of which can either help or hinder putting performance: 1) Straightness of shaft, 2) Vectoring of shaft into head, 3) Sturdiness of shaft, 4) Fitting of shaft to stature and putting stance of user, and 5) Color of shaft (again believe it or not color of shaft does affect putting performance). An easy to understand discussion of this technical subject is HERE19.
Golf Putter HEAD Form -- Golf Putter Heads embody 6 Features, each of which can either help or hinder putting performance: 1) Massiveness of head, 2) Durability of head, 3) Compactness of head, 4) Symmetry of head, 5) Fitting of head to user’s stature and putting stance, and 6) Color of head. An easy to understand discussion of this technical subject is HERE20.
Golf Putter EVALUATION
The reader of this article is likely to be considering the purchase of a new golf putter, so this guidance on golf putter evaluation is offered. When evaluating the numerous golf putters on the retail and resale market there are three things to consider: 1) Worthiness, 2) Comparison, and 3) Value/Price.
Golf Putter WORTHINESS -- Is a golf putter worthy of your golf bag? First and foremost, it must be CONFORMING with the Rules of Golf, especially if you intend to compete in any tournaments. Golf Putters with Design Patents and especially Utility Patents are usually worthier than those lacking Patents. And golf putters which have been Peer Reviewed, undergone extensive LabpratpryTestomg, and independent Field Tested usually have more worthiness.
Golf Putter COMPARISON -- Predominate on the retail market nowadays are Blade and Mallet kinds of golf putters, and upcoming will be the new technology Symmetrical kind of golf putter. Old-Styles, Flat-Sticks, and Semi-Center Shafted golf putters can still be found in the resale market and are still offered on the retail market by a few boutique manufacturers. The new technology Symmetric Golf Putter eliminates dreaded impact twist and stroke wobble, whereas all other kinds suffer these design deficiencies. So, by objective comparison, the new Symmetric Golf Putter Technology is generally superior to the old technology golf putter technology of Blades, Mallets, and other kinds.
Golf Putter VALUE -- Price is what you pay, but value is what you get for the money.
Price -- There are five components in Price: 1) Cost of Manufacturing, 2) Cost of Marketing, 3) Cost of Research & Development, 4) Cost of Distribution, and 5) Business Expenses including Profit. The cost of manufacturing is surprisingly low, especially when the number of units made becomes large, so major manufactures have a distinct advantage over boutique manufactures in this cost component. The sky is the limit when it comes to cost of marketing; media advertising and tour player sponsorships are extremely costly, and so this is the greatest differentiating factor between major and boutique manufactures; it is also why major brands generally cost more. The cost of R&D is a significant cost factor in innovative golf putters, and no factor at all in clones and copycats; this is why clones and copycats generally cost less. The cost of distribution is high when a manufacture chooses to sell product through traditional brick & mortar outlets (usually about 50% of the retail price), but low when product is sold via the internet (usually about 10% of retail price). Business Expenses and Profit can range widely depending upon how well the business is organized and managed. All in all, retail prices for golf putters can range from less than US$100 to more than US$400.
Golf Putter PRICE -- The price paid for a golf putter has little to do with its performance. The true value of a golf putter has to do with how well it facilitates putting the ball into the hole on the golf green. So, Value (V) is a function of Performance (P) over your Cost (C), your Cost being the Price you paid. The higher the performance and the lower the cost the greater the value. Price is easy to quantify, but performance, especially for those who are willing to accept impact twist and stroke wobble, is a little more challenging. If unwilling to accept Impact Twist and Stroke Wobble, then there is only one kind of golf putter for you – the Symmetric Golf Putter, because Its design eliminates twist and wobble. However, if willing to accept twist and wobble that opens the door to Blades and Mallets and all the other kinds of old technology golf putters, and that makes your comparison job much more challenging.
Golf Putter REVIEWS -- When a golfer receives no pay and no other compensation for reviewing a Golf Putter, then one can probably believe the review. But when compensation of any kind is involved, it would be wise to be suspicious of the review. Golf Pundits are notorious for reviewing equipment in consideration for free equipment, and do not hesitate to ask for whatever compensation they think they can demand. Staff Writers for golf interest publications are no better, because they typically take their commentary direction from the advertising department of their publication, abiding the publication’s need to give favorable reviews to those who advertise. We do not mean to be overly cynical; instead we just want to warn you to be cautious.
SYMMERTIC Golf Putter -- In 2004, mathematician/physicist and master putter designer, Duane Engdahl, invented the Quantum Symmetric Putter. This is the first golf putter to embody perfect polar symmetry, a principle of physics that eliminates stroke wobble and impact twist in any impacting tool. So, this technology advancement makes a quantum improvement in golf putting performance. The Quantum Symmetric Putter and it is pictured in sidebar along with its inventor. During R&D of this new kind of golf putter, Engdahl also studied every aspect of golf putter form and function and embodied a number of beneficial features to Grip Shaft and Head, Form, and also to Setup, Stroke, Glide, Impact, and Launch Function. Engdahl’s Symmetric Putter is a quantum improvement over Knight’s “To-Good to be Conforming” golf putter. Details on the Quantum Symmetric golf putter are HERE16 and it can be purchased in the direct retail market HERE17.
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MALLET STYLE Golf Putters -- After the huge success of the Blade Putter with its eye-catching radical design, other putter manufactures thought, why not make an even more eye-catching and even more radically designed putter. So, the Mallet putter came into existence in the early 2000s. A small putter maker named Odyssey was first with what they called their 2-Ball Putter, and they were soon bought-out by the major club-maker Callaway. Callaway gives no credit to the designer of the first mallet putter which they named the Callaway Odyssey 2-Ball pictured in sidebar. After that, unbridled design creativity which totally ignored principles of good form and function resulted in countless variations of this original Mallet Putter; with all the putter makers jumping on the bandwagon including Ping, Taylormade, Titleist, PXG, Pinemeadow, and others. Soon the market was flooded with Mallet Designs that looked more like the patrons of the Star Wars Tavern than putters appropriate for use on the golf green. All the mallet makers touted "High Moment of Inertia" as the remedy for the Impact Twist suffered by Blade Putters, and this convinced many golfers that that made mallets "more forgiving" -- this was marketing misinformation in the extreme! because the only way to actually correct impact twist is Polar Symmetry. Details on the Odyssey 2-Ball golf putter are HERE12 and it can still be found in the retail market HERE13.
The Golf Club Putter is a tool that is commonly referred to as simply the putter. It is intended for specialized use on the Golf Green. A special form of putter is the Chipper which is like a putter except it has a lofting impact surface; as such it it is intended for use on the Golf Green Apron or for exceptionally long putts on the Green. Putters and Chippers are in contrast to other golf clubs which are intended for use elsewhere on the Golf Course, such as: Drivers (Woods) which are intended for use off the Tee, and Field Clubs (Irons) which are intended for use out on the Fairway. The USGA (United States Golf Association) and the R&A (Royal and Ancient) Rules of Golf specify design requirements for the form/function/usage of Golf Clubs including Putters; and their specification is HERE1.
The game of golf is typically played on a course of 18 holes, each hole being either a “Par 3 Hole”, or a “Par 4 Hole”, or a “Par 5 Hole”. Par is the expectation of strokes needed to hole out the golf ball. Par-3-Holes typically require the usage of a Driver once, and the Putter twice. Par-4-Holes typically require usage of a Driver once, an Iron once, and a Putter twice. Par-5-Holes typically requires usage of a Driver once, an Iron twice, and a Putter twice. A golfer is limited by the rules of the game to no more than 14 golf clubs in his bag, including the Putter. So, when playing a typical 72-Par 18-Hole Golf Course, a golfer will typically use his Putter about 36 times and all the rest of the clubs in the bag a total of 36 times. Clearly, this makes the Golf Putter the most used and therefore the most important tool in a golfer’s bag.
Golf Putters more than any other golf club in the bag vary in design. As a result five kinds of golf putters have evolved over time: Old-Style, Flat-Stick, Blade, Mallet, and Symmetric. The latest development in golf putter design is the Symmetric Putter.The Rules of Golf are silent on regulating either symmetric or asymmetric putter form, but the natural laws of physics have much to say about the requirement for polar symmetry in any impacting tool. Since a golf putter is an impacting tool these principles of physics apply to golf putters as well as they do to any other impacting tool. In principle, symmetric form requires a polar symmetric grip on a polar symmetric shaft that vectors precisely into the center of mass of a compact polar symmetric head.
For those with mathematical expertise, HERE2 is a technical description of Polar Symmetry; for those educated in the discipline of physics, HERE3 is a technical description of Polar Symmetry; and for the rest of us, HERE4 is an easy to read description of this very technical subject that almost anybody can understand.
Asymmetric Golf Putters dominate the putter market, even though their physics makes them unsuitable for precision putting. Why? Some think that it is probably because they are more eye-catching in appearance, but it is more likely that it is because they are promoted by Professional Tournament Players. But why would a professional tour player use equipment that is detrimental to performance? HERE5 is why.
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FLAT-STICK Golf Putters -- So called Flat-Stick was an improvement on the Old-Style golf putters in that they were more symmetrical, and also ambidextrous. They suffered less stroke wobble, and less impact twist, and they launched the ball without bounce or backspin. Because they were also ambidextrous they could be used either by left or right-handed golfers in either a forehanded or backhanded putting stroke. An example of a Flat-Stick is the “Bulls Eye” pictured in sidebar. It was designed by John Reuter Jr, and he sold his technology to Acushnet which eventually became Titleist. It was a big improvement but it was not symmetric, so it was and still is a golf putter that hinders putting performance -- as such it too belongs in the trash heap of defective design. Details on the Bulls Eye Flat-Stick golf putter are HERE8, and it can still be found in the retail market HERE9.
"TO GOOD TO BE CONFORMING" Golf Putter -- The forerunner of Symmetrical Golf Putters was the Schenectady Putter by master designer A. J. Knight. It was major technology improvement over previous golf putters. This revolutionary new putter was used by Walter Travis, the Golfer who in 1904, who was the first American to win the British Open. Back then it was unthinkable that any American could win the British game of golf in Britain. So, the Royal & Ancients of Golf decided that his win was not so much as a result of player skill, but instead caused by the odd putter he was using. They promptly banned the putter as non-conforming to the Rules of Golf, a ban that wasn't lifted until 1951. That ban for being too good to be conforming was the death the Schenectady Putter and the premature end of golf putter technology advancement for the next century. Sadly, this also relegated a great golf equipment innovator to oblivion. Knight's putter design was not perfectly symmetrical, but it was a giant step in that right direction. Details on the Schenectady golf putter are HERE14 and it can still be found in the resale market HERE15.
OLD-STYLE Golf Putters -- Old-Style golf putters were in use over a hundred years ago. They were similar in design to Fairway Irons in that they were shaped like a hockey stick but with a loft angle of zero or nearly zero. These putters were made in a shop near the Old Course (St Andrews) by James Anderson and his sons. Because Old Style golf putters were asymmetric, they suffered Stroke Wobble and Impact Twist, and because they were not massive, they suffered Stroke Waver; so they have been relegated to the trash heap of defective design. An example of an Old-Style golf putter is the “Calamity Jane” pictured in sidebar. Details on this old-style golf putter are HERE6 and it can still be found in the resale market HERE7.
Symmetric Golf Putters by Quantum make Ping Style Blade and Odyssey Style Mallet Golf Putters Obsolete.
Golf Putter FUNCTION
The function of a Golf Putter is simply to roll the golf ball into the hole after it lands on the green. How well it does at this is a measure of how good it is. There are five aspects to the function of a golf putter and they are: 1) Setup, 2) Stroke, 3) Glide, 4) Impact, and 5) Launch. Each aspect can either help or hinder golf putting performance.
Golf Putter SETUP Function -- Golf Putter Setup Function includes three aspects to consider: 1) Alignment, 2) Ambidexterity, and 3) Fitting to the user. A golf putter can either have intuitive Alignment or not, be Ambidextrous or not, and/or be Fitted or not. All are important for good putting setup. Good putting setup is the first step in good putting performance. An easy to understand technical discussion of this subject is HERE21.
Golf Putter STROKE Function -- Golf Putter Stroke is the movement of the Golf Putter from back-stroke, through power-stroke, and ending with follow-through. There are three aspects of this movement that either help or hinder golf putting performance: 1) Momentum, 2) Wobble, and 3) Waver. An easy to understand technical discussion of this subject is HERE22.
Golf Putter GLIDE Function -- Golf Putter Glide is the movement of the Golf Putter over the surface of the green during the power-stroke. There are three aspects of this movement that help/hinder golf putting performance: 1) Elimination of glide BITE, 2) Elimination of glide BOUNCE, 3) Minimaming of glide Drag, and 4) Preservation of intended Line, and 5) Preservation of intended Touch. An easy to understand technical discussion of this subject is HERE23.
Golf Putter IMPACT Function -- Golf Putter Impact is the transfer of momentum from the putter to the ball so as to cause the ball to move toward the hole. There are four aspects of this movement that either help or hinder golf putting performance: 1) Impact Twist, 2) Momentum Dampening Pads, 3) Directional Deflecting Groves, and 4) Annoying Impact Vibration. An easy to understand technical discussion of this subject is HERE24.
Golf Putter LAUNCH Function -- Golf Putter Launch is the way the golf ball comes off the impact face of the putter and there are three aspects of this movement that either help or hinder golf putting performance: 1) Ball Bounce, 2) Ball Loft, and 3) Ball Backspin. An easy to understand technical discussion of this subject is HERE25.