Is Your Putter Too Light?
Over the last 10 years, the average putter has gotten heavier (we’re talking about the club, not the person swinging it). 350 grams used to be hefty, but now it’s average. It’s much easier to find a putter head that exceeds 400 grams than one that’s close to 300.
We wanted to know if this change has helped golfers to putt better or not. Should you be seeking out the newest, heaviest putter or searching eBay for the lighter putters of yesteryear? We have the answers and the data here.
Myth #1 – Heavier putters create smoother, more consistent putting strokes
Myth #2 – Heavier putters provide better distance control
Myth #3 – Heavier putters are better on short putts
Myth #4 – Each player has one perfect head weight
How We Tested
For this test, we used eight testers across two separate testing sessions. In both tests we used Edel fitting putters so that the putter shape, length, lie, loft, and grip could be held constant. The only change was the head weight. We used head weights of 325, 340, and 355 grams. Every tester used the head weights in a different, random order.
In the first session, we tested medium and long range putts, 20 and 40 feet. Each player hit 7 putts with each head at each distance, and we charted how far each putt ended up from the cup.
In the second session, we tested short putts – 8 feet – on SAM Puttlab. Each player hit 7 putts with each head weight, and every stroke was recorded on Puttlab.
Testing was done at, and with the help of, Club Champion.
Having evaluated both the SAM Puttlab data and the real world data, we found nothing to indicate that heavier putter heads improved consistency or the quality of the putting stroke.
SAM Puttlab produces a metric called “Overall Consistency,” and it was not universally higher for the heavier putter. We also looked at the individual measures of consistency – face angle, speed, path, rotation, and impact location – and saw the same mixed results.
On our long and mid-distance putts, heavier putters did not produce the smaller dispersions that would indicate superior consistency. Some players were better with the heavier putter, but just as many were better with the lighter putter.
Nothing in our testing indicated the heavier putters provided better distance control. In fact, on mid-range putts, the heaviest putter head performed the worst.
For the mid-length putt, half our testers performed best with the lightest putter and the other half were best with the mid-weight putter. This was true whether we looked at average distance remaining or median distance remaining.
For our long putt, the heavier putter fared better. Based on average distance remaining, half our testers were best with the heavy putter, half with the light putter. Looking at median distance remaining shifted some players from the light putter to the mid-weight.
We also looked at the dispersion of putts for each golfer. Again, there was no consistent pattern. As many golfers were best with the lighter putter as were best with the heavy or mid-weight putters.
Based on the simple (but obviously meaningful) metric of putts made, the heavy putter did perform better on short putts. 75% of our testers made the most putts with the heaviest putter head. The other 25% were best with the mid-weight head.
What makes this particularly interesting is that the SAM Puttlab data could not tell us why. Our testers were not more consistent with their face angle, path, rotation, impact location, or speed with the heavy head. However, the combination of inconsistencies with the heavy putter put the ball in the cup more often.
It should be noted that the difference between most players’ best and second best putter weight was often just one putt out of seven. While that’s not a lot, who wouldn’t want to make one more putt per round?
One of the most interesting things that we found in our testing is that golfers seem to perform best with different head weights at different distances. A golfer who liked a light putter for long putts may be best with a heavy putter on short putts or vice versa.
Within our mid and long range putts, only one golfer was best with the same weight, and he performed almost equally with two different weights at long range.
There are three things that we took away from this test. First, if you’re struggling with short putts, it does seem that a heavier putter is worth trying. Second, and most predictably, there is not one head weight that will make all golfers better. Being fit and testing different head weights is the best way to find what works for you. Finally, it is unlikely that any given putter will be the best for you at all distances. You may need to decide whether you want the ultimate short range putter or the one that lags everything to a foot. Or you may want to bag two putters.