SOMEONE ONCE ASKED Craig Stadler why he was using a new putter. “Because the old one didn’t float too well,” he answered. For the pro golfer, there is no club more likely to be hurtled into a pond or snapped over a knee. And for the rest of us, well, let’s just say exasperation often leads us to go shopping for a putter or replace our current putter with one that was formerly sent to the garage for punishment.
Wendy Laub, a GottaGoGolf sponsor, has studied putting and putters because she invented the Gemspot jeweled putter. During a round one morning at Montecito Country Club, Wendy noticed drops of dew sparkling like diamonds on her putter head. The sight inspired her to create a putter that used gemstones for alignment.
Wendy has won 13 club championships and had probably as many putters in her closet at the time. So she studied her Odysseys and Scotty Camerons and Answers to understand the technology and the choices she had to make for Gemspot Putters. Then she studied the research on how the average golfer – who has SIX putters at home in the closet — goes shopping for a putter.
“Some people are analytical and are looking for the next best magic wand for their putting woes,” Laub said. “Other people are emotional and attach sentimental value to their putter – it’s an heirloom or a collectors item or their first putter, and it gives them all the confidence in the world. The segment that’s looking for the magic wand, they have a collection of putters.”
Gemspot’s typical customer is attracted to the elegance and uniqueness of a putter that has diamonds or onyx or turquoise (or any of 28 gemstones) creating the line. And Laub is OK with that. She says it’s good for our confidence to love our putters.
“There’s just a feeling, I think, when people look at something they own that means more to them than just a sports piece of equipment. If it has their children’s birthstone, their name on the putter, their favorite color, something that reminds them of the blue sea or a vacation with loved ones, you’ve really gotta love that.”
SHOPPING FOR A PUTTER: THE TIPS
- What kind of grip do you like? Choices today range from skinny to super fat. “The larger the grip, the more it enhances your shoulder rock, so that instead of trying to hit the putt with your hands you just rock the putter like a pendulum,” Laub said.
- What kind of shaft do you like? Most companies use inexpensive steel, but Laub says if more expensive shafts are good for drivers, they’re good for putters as well. For superior feel, she uses a high-tech shaft that has stainless steel at the bottom, a frequency filter above that and then graphite at the top.
- How heavy is your putter? “Lighter-weight putters are harder to control,” she said. “You don’t want a sledgehammer, but you do want a heavier putter.”
- What kind of putting stroke do you have, the door or the pendulum? If you putt straight back and straight through with a pendulum motion, Laub recommends choosing a putter that is face-balanced. (You can tell by holding the putter up by the shaft so it is perpendicular to the floor. If the toe dips closer to the floor, the putter is toe-weighted. If it stays perpendicular, it is face-balanced.) If your stroke is more like opening and closing a gate or door, you want a toe-weighted putter like the Ultimate Diamond Gemspot putter in the picture.
- How long should your putter be? Generally the guidelines are from 32 inches to 35 inches, depending on your height. That is, unless you’re Michelle Wie and prefer to bend your body into an upside-down L.
The analytical shopper also may want to know how the putter is made (usually, cast or milled), whether the face is milled (minimizing hops), and how the head is finished (painted, dipped, coated, quartz-blasted). And to the extreme, there are the numbers and equations behind moment of inertia (MOI) and lie angle.
At GottaGoGolf, we believe that numbers and equations are not as important as whether you like looking at your putter. Does that make us emotional buyers? To the contrary. Here is the analysis: There is no club in your bag that you’ll be using more often than your putter. Love it and it will love you back.