Are Heavier Putters Better? – Golf Myths Unplugged

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.

The Myths

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.

The Results

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

16 Comments

  1. I went to heavier mallet and it drastically improved my putting inside 8′. Way more stable for my. YMMV

  2. Alistair Downes

    It makes sense to me that in general a heavier putter would hole out better on short putts even with no variation in the SAM data. Everything else being equal a heavier putter will have a higher MOI and so twist less on off center impacts, so with the same impact dispersion pattern the impacts that were most of center would be more likely to miss with the lighter putter even though everything about the stroke was the same.

  3. Charles Weimer

    I just recently purchased a see more mallet putter and it definetly helps me get the putt started on line much better. I don’t make all my putts but my misses finish much closer to the hole.

  4. Interesting – thanks, Matt. Although his distribution of product is extremely limited…..and I suppose people can take his opinions or leave them, but Dave Edel was commenting about putter weight in a recent You Tube on putter fitting. Let’s just say he was quite skeptical about the trend toward heavier putters.

  5. Excellent article, as always

  6. Carl Hirst

    I have a twitch with my hand and finger muscles. I have had this forever and shows up in other activities beyond golf ( would not make it as a surgeon or dentist). I have overcome this condition by back weighting my putter with a piece of rebar in the shaft under the grip. This my allows me to use my shoulder muscles to putt and takes my twitchy muscles out of the stroke I also putt left hand low and am naturally left handed, but play golf right handed.

  7. Rick Talley

    The results of this test were surprising to me. But, I don’t consider 355 grams a heavy putter. My sweet spot is 380 to 400 gram; and I’ve found I’m much improved over the lightest putters. The thing I’ve noticed most is quieter hands with a heavy putter: I tend to have my left wrist break down with lighter putters. There is another variable with my putters, though; that being the fact that I significantly counterbalance my putters. At any rate, im curious as to why a heavier putter than the 355 wasn’t used in the test. It would seem that could have yielded quite different results.

  8. Richard Bronson

    While your sample size was very small, it was still very interesting to me.
    It all comes down to the golfer more than the equipment

    Thanks

  9. Bob Pegram

    There is also the issue of backweighting. I hit the ball too hard on shorter putts with a heavy putter, but my distance control on long putts is terrible with a lighter putter. I solved it by adding an 80 gram backweight in a light face balanced putter. Now both lag putting distance control and short putting are good.

  10. I believe it’s possible to get the advantages of a heavy putter and a light head feel by using a heavy counter balanced grip such as the well over 200 gram grips made by Arm-Lock Golf.

  11. george pasino

    Thanks. Surprising results!

  12. I went to a heavy putter in about 1981. (Zebra putter with broken carbide end mills used for weight.)
    Really helped me on faster greens but back then 9-10 was very fast. I do not think anyone else ever like that putter but I went that way for same reason drivers went lighter… Replaced it a couple of years ago with an original Kesch that was very close in weight.

  13. chris saternus

    This old golfer remembers that some pros played a heavy putter on fast surfaces and lighter putters on slow surfaces. I guess that I read that some 35 years ago. I would guess that even if that were true, it would not matter now because I expect that the putting surfaces on the tour are all pretty fast (12 or more on the stint?).

  14. I recently changed from a heavy putter to a light putter at first I didn’t like it now I’m comfortable with the change and I personally like the lighter putter, #SecretGiveaway

  15. Todd Williams

    I prefer a heavier putter because I can feel the weight of the clubhead better. #SecretGiveaway

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