Buying a Putter – Loft, Face Inserts and MOI

Good evening everyone and thanks for stopping by. Tonight we've got a bit of a treat for you. Former Golf Magazine senior editor Scott Kramer has offered some of his new e-book for our readers to check out. This excerpt focuses on putters. More information on Scott and his book can be found at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

ImageA lot of golfers wonder about face inserts in their putter. How can you tell if an insert is right for you? First of all, their underlying premise is to make putts feel soft yet roll consistently. Each insert has a distinct feel. You have to be the judge if it works for you, since feel lies subjectively in the ears of the beholder. Inserts have a lower frequency vibration than steel heads, so they sound softer. And people tend to think what they hear is what they feel. Many golfers want to hear a click at impact, as it sounds crisper than the metallic click a steel head makes. But just because a putter feels soft doesn't mean the ball will react softly off the face. Softer faces briefly prolong the length of time that the ball sticks to the clubface, resulting in more topspin and a more immediate roll than a steel head typically produces, with less skid and skip. You may also come across putters bearing grooves on the face. They're designed to prevent the ball from rolling up the putter face at impact, thus minimizing backspin and encouraging topspin – to get the ball on a truer roll more quickly.

In the past few years, putters with unusual geometries have come on strong in the market. Essentially, these have a high Moment of Inertia, which means they're more stable at impact than conventionally shaped models. There has also been a slew of models with interchangeable weights that allow you to fine-tune the putter's feel to your preference or to the green conditions. In other words, you can make it heavier for slower greens or lighter for faster greens. This is a great option to have, as long as the putter fits your stroke properly. No matter what putter you think you want to buy, test it first a few with your favorite ball on a real grass green – and not on an artificial turf green inside a golf shop.

Then there's loft to consider. When a ball's sitting on a green, it's actually resting in a slight depression in the grass. The putter's loft — traditionally four degrees — helps lift the ball from that depression. If it lifts the ball too much, it imparts backspin. Not enough lift and it forces the ball to skim the depression's edge, thus causing it to skip. A solid putting stroke naturally closes the face as it strikes the ball. At impact, the ideal loft is bet, because most putter manufacturers derive the ideal loft in their putters. Dynamic loft – the putter's loft at the point of impact – is the most important loft.

Mind the putter's weight, too. If it's too lightweight, you might overcompensate by adding too much right hand into the stroke, and you'll pull the putt. Getting fitted for lie angle – the angle you rest the putter's sole on the ground — is key to making a center hit on line. If you set the putter up too upright, you may scrape the toe along the green during your stroke, sending the putt to the right. Too flat and you'll graze the heel against the grass, veering the putt left.

ImageVeteran golf equipment writer and former Golf Magazine senior editor Scott Kramer has published a new e-book, How To Buy The Right Golf Equipment. The easy-reading book helps the average golfer by simplifying the process of buying clubs, shafts, balls, bags and shoes — as well as buying equipment for other people, including your spouse and kids. The following excerpt is the chapter on buying putters. For the complete book, visit for the Kindle version or for the instant pdf download.

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