Does Counterweighting Improve Putting – Golf Myths Unplugged

Golf Myth - Counterweight Putt

Does “Stable” Mean More Made Putts?

Every golfer knows that nervy feeling of standing over a short putt that they need to make…and missing.  That’s why the sales pitch behind counterweighted putters is so appealing.  “More stability!”  “Take the hands out of the stroke!”  “No more yips!”  It all sounds so good, doesn’t it?

Of course, if you wanted sales pitches, you’d read some other golf site.  Here at PluggedInGolf.com, we take the sales pitches and the hype and put them to the test.

Counterweight Putting (4)

The Myths

For this test, we examined three myths regarding counterweighted putters.

Myth #1 – Counterweighted putters make more putts

Myth #2 – Counterweighted putters are more consistent

Myth #3 – Counterweighted putters are more stable

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How We Tested

We brought together five golfers, ranging in ability from scratch players to 20+ handicaps.  Each brought in their own putter and had the grip modified to accept counterweights.

Each player hit a total of 50 putts – 10 each with their putter unweighted and with counterweights of 12, 22, 40, and 60 grams.  The order of the weights was varied for each player.  Each putt was eight feet long, and each stroke was measured by SAM Puttlab.

All testing was conducted at and with the help of Club Champion.

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The Results

Myth #1 Final

The idea that counterweighted putters guarantee more putts made is busted.  We found that some golfers made the most putts with no weight, others with medium weight, and others with a lot of weight.  This is unsurprising given the way that some of our testers reacted to the weight.  Some immediately felt more comfortable with the additional weight, other hated it from the moment they felt it.

Myth #2 Final

“Consistency” is a word of mythic proportion in golf.  Ask 100 golfers what they want, and you’ll hear “more consistency” at least 99 times.  Clearly, those promoting counterweighted putters know their market.

We looked at consistency in terms of face angle, rotational consistency, and consistency of impact location (i.e. did the golfer hit the ball on the same spot on the face every time).  We found that there was no clear correlation between counterweighting and any measure of consistency.  Just as with made putts, some golfers improved with more weight, others got worse.

Myth #3 Final

The biggest problem with this claim is that “stable” is undefined.  Does it mean “more consistent”?  Does it mean “better on mishits”?  Is it a feeling?  Can something feel stable to one person but unstable to another?

Without a clear definition of “stable,” this claim can’t really be proven or busted.  What we did find is that even if “stable” is just a feeling, golfers can’t agree on what that means.  What felt stable to one golfer felt too heavy to another.

Other Findings

The one thing that was consistent in our test group was that players with “smooth” putting strokes disliked the counterweighted putters and players with “quick,” “jabby” strokes wanted as much weight as possible.  While these stroke descriptions are not scientific, they did fit both the players’ descriptions of their own strokes and observers’ descriptions.  The one tester whose stroke was somewhere between smooth and quick preferred a small amount of added weight.

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The Takeaway

As we often find, the marketing around counterweighted putters is just that, marketing.  While some players will benefit from added weight in the grip, other players are hurt by it.

Ultimately, counterweighting is something that I would definitely suggest that players try.  We have seen that it can be very beneficial to some players, so there’s no reason not to explore it.  That said, finding the perfect amount of weight can be difficult, so having the help of a trained fitter is very beneficial.

The Data

Counterweight Putting Data

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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.

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4 Comments

  1. I only recently became aware of counterbalancing. To me it looked like a crutch for those with mild yips.
    It surprises me that “smooth” strokes dislike counterweights but I’ll try for myself next time I’m at the pro shop for a lesson. (I’ve always felt my stroke was smooth…)
    It will be interesting to see what tour pro’s who currently use anchored putters wind up with. That should be good proof of counterbalancing’s value or lack there-of.

  2. I thought that counter balanced putters were also a couple inches longer and then the player is to choke down a few inches? Maybe the findings would’ve been different if everyone used model x putter and then model x putter in the longer cb version.

    • Matt Saternus

      Many of the counterbalanced putters sold at retail are longer, but it’s not a requirement. That would certainly be an interesting follow-up test. Our main concerns with this test were keeping the putter the same and keeping the golfer using a putter that was familiar to them, two things that would be difficult to do with longer shafted counterbalanced putters.

      Best,

      Matt

  3. David Stephens

    Thanks Matt – nice to see some data.

    This data suggests counterbalancing is beneficial. The 12g category is 20% better! Only the 40g category is worse. And most importantly, these test golfers only have 10 putts at 12g, but they have had thousands of putts unweighted. That also supports counterbalancing, as if these test golfers have few hundred putts at 12g counterbalancing the putts-made would be much better again.

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