What is the Right Weight for Your Putter?

A golfer’s choice of one putter weight over another comes down to which one feels and performs the best, so here are the most important factors to help you make that decision

Putter weight - primary image

Any athlete who plays a sport that involves using an implement of some kind (e.g., a bat, a racquet, a club) can attest to the fact that their performance can be greatly impacted by the weight of that implement.

If you’ve played baseball, for example, you know that your ability to swing the bat is, in large part, dependent upon its weight. A bat that weighs 32 ounces, for example, presents a much different feel for the player than one that is 36 ounces. While the difference is only a seemingly inconsequential 4 ounces, how that small differential translates to feel is night and day for the player. Some stronger players will prefer the feel of the heavier bat, while others will favor a lighter one to generate speed in their swing.

The bottom line is that, by and large, the weight of the implement is a matter of personal preference for the individual athlete, with that preference usually determined by how it feels and performs for them. Yes, there is science that proves that a heavier implement can transfer more energy into the ball when compared to a lighter one - which should, theoretically, generate more speed or distance - but that benefit is offset if the player is unable to manage the heavier weight to make optimal contact.

This is True for Putters, Too #

In the same way that personal preference dictates a baseball player’s selection of bat weight, a golfer’s choice of one putter weight over another comes down to which one feels and performs the best. Simply put, one golfer may prefer the feel of a little heavier head weight, while another golfer may like one with a lighter weight profile. How do you figure out which one is best for you? By comparison testing. Without testing one versus the other when you shop for a new putter, you will essentially be foregoing this important evaluation factor.

In other articles we’ve posted on this site, we’ve talked about the different characteristics that should be evaluated when selecting the right putter. We’ve discussed the importance of factoring in the correct putter length, the correct loft and lie, and selecting the optimal putter head shape (blade or mallet) for your specific stroke type. Well, you should add putter weight to the list of factors that need to be considered as part of your evaluation.

A Little History About Putter Weighting #

Today, the average weight of a putter head is in the range of 350-400 grams. In historical terms, that is relatively heavy. The average weight of a putter head in the 60’s and 70’s, for example, was closer to 300 grams (when announced in 1966, for example, the original Ping Anser putter weighed 290 grams). Why has there been this gradual increase in average putter weight over time? Basically, it comes down to how agronomy has changed.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s, for instance, the green speeds on golf courses were much slower than they are today. Typically, they measured well under 10 on the Stimpmeter. Putter manufacturers of the day recognized that and defaulted to designing putters that were lighter so that golfers could make the longer swings necessary to putt on those sluggish surfaces.

But as agronomy improved over the years, putting surfaces got faster and faster. Today, green speeds are routinely measured at higher than 10, and on championship venues, it’s not uncommon to see them as high as 12-14! With green speeds becoming so much faster, the long strokes that golfers used to take were no longer necessary, or advisable. Shorter, more manageable strokes became the norm, and a corresponding evolution to heavier head weights began.

Static Weight vs. Swing Weight #

In measuring the weight of a putter, you should understand that there is a difference between “static weight” and “swing weight.” Static weight represents the entire weight of the putter, including all its components. There are three components that contribute:

When you hear people discussing putter weight, you’ll often find that they are referring only to the weight of the head itself. In actuality, though, it’s the combination of those three components that determines the overall static weight of the putter.

But, just as important as the overall static weight of the putter, is its “swing weight.” Swing weight is a concept entirely different than static weight. Swing weight is a representation of the relationship between the weight in the bottom of the club compared to the weight in the top of the club. So, in essence it’s all about the balance of the club and how weight is distributed through the club. Essentially, swing weight expresses how heavy a club “feels” when you swing it.

An explanation of swing weight

Most golfers are familiar with the concept of swing weight as it applies to their driver, their irons, and their fairway woods. Not as many think about swing weight with respect to their putter. But they should. How the weight of the head feels in relation to the rest of the putter (its overall balance and weight distribution) is a critical factor in determining how well that putter will perform for you.

There is a range of acceptable swing weights for putters. Generally speaking, putters should be between a C8 and a D6 on the swing weight scale. Why this range? Anything lighter than a C8 would make it difficult to “feel” the weight of the head which would result in a struggle to control distance consistently. Similarly, a putter that has a swing weight heavier than D6 would present comparable consistency issues.

Counter-Balancing in Putters #

About 10 years ago, a new concept in putter weighting started to become popular. It is referred to as counter-balancing. In counter-balancing, the distribution of weight in the putter is altered so that there is extra weight placed in the butt (grip) end, which results in a shift of the balance point quite a bit higher up on the club.

Typically, counterbalanced putter heads are quite a bit heavier than conventional putter heads (occasionally by as much as 50 grams or more). So, to compensate for all that added weight in the head, the designers placed even more weight above the golfers hands, which necessitated extending the length of the shaft (that’s why the original counter-balanced putters looked a bit like the old belly putters).

The theory is that, through counter-balancing the putter, this higher balance point provides the golfer with a bit more feel at impact. Also, because of the added weight in the putter head, counter-balanced putters usually have a higher MOI. The extra weight adds stability to the head, and certainly many golfers can benefit from better performance on off-center strikes.

With these apparent benefits, should counter-balancing be the answer for everyone? The short answer is that it may work well for some, and not so well for others. On one hand, the heavier head weight may provide stability and MOI, but it may present feel problems for some when hitting softer putts on faster greens.

As with any selection process, if you think a counter-balanced putter may provide you with some performance improvements, you should do some comparison testing when you shop for a new putter.

A Final Thought on Putter Head Weighting #

There’s been a lot of discussion in the golf world about the various styles of putter heads and which head shape is optimal based on an individual golfer’s stroke path. In fact, we’ve provided information here on this site in which we’ve discussed the differences between blade putters and mallet putters, and how their respective weight profiles may favor one golfer over another. You can refer to those articles here and here.

Those articles explained how these different head shapes effect whether a putter tends to swing on an arc path (to the inside on the backswing, and to the inside on the through-swing) or whether it allows the putter to move more on a “straight-back-straight-through” path. Putters that move on an arc path are usually described as having “toe-hang” (and are usually blade putters), while putters that move more on a straight line are described as “face-balanced” (and are usually mallet putters).

The reason we are re-stating that information here in this article on putter weight is because, at its core, the difference between toe-hang and face balanced putter comes down to how the weight of the putter head was distributed by its designers and how that distribution of weight effects its path.

By definition, toe-hang putters have more of their head weight allotted at the toe end of the club, which is the reason blade putters often tend to close gradually in the through-swing. By contrast, the weight on face-balanced putters (mallets) has been distributed around the head in a way that encourages less of an arc in the swing path.

Final Thoughts

It’s probably a safe assumption that most amateurs do not take weight into account when they shop for a putter. Hopefully we’ve shown that this is a mistake.

The weight of the putter overall, and the way that the weight is distributed (both in the head itself and throughout the overall length of the club), has a tangible effect on how it feels and how it performs. With a better understanding of these issues, you’ll now be better prepared to make smarter putter choices when you shop.

No professional golfer would ever select a putter without knowing exactly how its weight profile effects its performance. This is an area in which you definitely want to emulate the pros - and for a look at some of the best putters actually in use by pros, check out these putters by Scotty Cameron.

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