Benefits of Centre-Shafted Golf Putters – Everything You Need to Know
If you watch tour golf on TV or online, you will have noticed that the options a player has in terms of putter has never been so varied. Back in the day you had bladed putters, then you also had heel-toe weighted and mallet putters, now there’s a whole smorgasbord to choose from.
It’s not just in the head shape that you have options. There are a host of weird and wonderful grips out there and that’s not all. The putter shaft has become an area of development in more recent years with multi-material offerings as well as varying shapes. Today we will be looking into the centre-shafted putter and what benefits that can bring to your game.
The putter is the club you will use more than any other during a round of golf. Therefore it is one that you should be ensuring works best for you. Many people spend a fortune on a driver and give little thought to their putter.
So where does the positioning of the shaft come into play. Should it be on the side or in the middle and can a centre-shafted putter could help you shave off some strokes from your round and help you gain more confidence on the greens? Read on to find out.
The white hot days
Not long after my addiction to golf really took hold, around the age of twelve, Odyssey brought out their “White Hot” range of putters. These clubs took the market by storm and everyone I played with in those days seemed to have one. I’ll never forget the day my friend showed up with a centre-shafted version of the one I had, model “#5”.
I had never seen anything like it and it looked so different compared to mine with its “s” bend shaft and no hosel. From then on I kept seeing centre-shafted putters on the golf course and here I am now writing about them.
What is a centre-shafted putter?
Most putters feature a shaft that enters the putter head toward the heel of the club. A centre-shafted putter fits straight into the middle of the head near the sweet spot.
Pros of centre-shafted putters
Feel is a big benefit of this kind of putter and is one of the main reasons that many golfers prefer this atypical set-up. The golfer will get more feedback on putts which is a huge benefit. It can also promote a lower hand position through the putting action which some prefer.
Another plus of using this hosel-type is that is can give added control to the golfer. Many of these pros come down to personal preference and putting style. Give one a shot and see if it suits your style on the green.
Cons of centre-shafted putters
Believe it or not, putters have a slight loft to them and this is especially important when we talk about centre-shafted putters. They tend to sit with slightly less loft and during the putting stroke they have markedly less dynamic loft. This can produce a poor roll in these players.
Another issue will arise for players who have a strong arc to their putting stroke. The fact that this is a face-balanced set-up (if you balance the shaft on your finger the face points up to the sky) means that it doesn’t work so well for this stroke. Finally, the shaft placement can obscure aiming markers on your golf ball which will annoy some.
Centre-shafted vs. Heel-shafted putters
Back in the sixties and seventies, some of the most iconic putters on the market were centre-shafted. I’m thinking of models like the “Bulls-Eye”. When PING revolutionised the putting world with their revolutionary “Anser” model, the heel-shafted putters took off in a big way. For many the preference lies with look and feel, two things that are very important on the greens.
Depending on your set-up and stroke one will feel better than the other. Low hands and a straight stroke will suit the centre-shaft whereas the arcing stroke with higher hands will be better with a heel-shaft.
What is a pendulum putting stroke?
Think of a grandfather clock and the big pendulum swinging in the belly of the timepiece. That object just oscillates side to side with no visible deviation in a steady and smooth manner. In that very fashion, the pendulum putting stroke goes back and through in a very straight line with little deviation.
Many believe a true pendulum stroke has the same length of backswing and follow-through. This may not be the most effective action on the green, one study by SAM PuttLab suggested taking the putter back about 35% and following through 65% of the total stroke was more common on tour.
What is an arc putting stroke?
This is a more natural putting action that curves through the stroke. One of the most beautiful examples of this style of stroke would be that of Rickie Fowler. For this you will need a putter with some toe-hang and a heel-shafted putter may be better suited.
The toe-hang will allow the weight in the putter to aid in getting the putter face square at impact and through the ball for greater accuracy.
Which of those styles best suits centre-shafted putters?
If you think that your putting stroke falls more into the first category of the pendulum-style then the centre-shafted putter could be useful to you. You should give one a try next time you are in a golf shop and see how you like the look and feel of this model.
Many never get custom fit for putters and this section of this blog article is exactly why they should get this done. Having an expert measure up your stroke can really help you select a style of putter that will suit your action. Get an appointment booked and let the science help you out a little more.
What pros use centre-shafted putters?
In recent years, Zach Johnson has been one of the most successful players with this set-up. He has won two majors in the last decade using his SeeMore putter and now uses a PXG version. Johnson’s 2007 Masters and 2015 Open Championship victories both came using a centre-shafted putter.
Matt Kuchar is another lover of the centre-shafted putter. The PGA Tour veteran and nine time champion has used this style of putter for many years and his low hands style of putting suits it nicely. Bettinardi have even created a bespoke putter for the American.
Are centre-shafted putters good for beginners?
If you have ever played crazy golf then you have probably used a centre-shafted putter. The old bulls-eye style rubber putters seem to be in every crazy golf course in the world. For this reason, beginners may have only ever used this type of putter when they take up the game.
I think that they are perfectly fine using this kind of putter to get started. If anything beginners will have more control over the putter face, you just need to make sure they use the right technique to get the most out of this style.
Are centre-shafted putters face-balanced?
Yes, they are and this is very helpful for those with a straight back and through putting stroke. As I’ve said earlier, face-balanced means that if you balance the putter on your finger, the face of the blade will face up to the sky.
The opposite of this is a putter with toe-hang and that tends to be the case of heel-shafted putters. This allows the putter face to more easily get to square on an arcing putting stroke.
What are the benefits of a face-balanced putter?
The weight of a face balanced putter is evenly spread across the whole putter head, this means that it is more stable through the stroke. This is a huge benefit to golfers with a straight back and through stroke but not those with an arcing stroke.
It is important you check what kind of putting stroke you naturally use before you chose what type of putter you want to play. Having an expert take a look at your technique will help you choose the right putter for your game.
How do you know what putter is right for you?
If a putter feels good in your hands and makes you feel confident then it is the right putter for you. This is a very non-scientific way of looking at it but confidence is huge when you are on the greens. Other than that, as I said in the last section, you want to have a pro or custom fitting technician have a look at your technique.
They will be able to suggest what style of putter is best for your game and from there it goes on look and feel. Try a few different styles and see which feels best in your hands. If something has you making more six foot putts than usual then this could be the one for you.
Straight shaft putter vs. offset shaft putter
This is a factor that affects aim and alignment, it is so important and it is very much worth getting this checked. Your eyes have a really important role in aiming, obviously, but in this case it happens unconsciously.
If you find that you are missing too many putts on one side, this is a factor you should really get checked out. The shaft can also have an effect on how the putt rolls as it can change the dynamic loft of the putter head through impact.
What does adding weight to a putter do?
You can add weight to different parts of a putter for different effects. The weight of the head can make a difference depending on what greens you play on, faster greens suit lighter heads and vice versa. This isn’t so easy to change though as we aren’t tour golfers so you can also look at grip weight and counterweights.
Grip weight can make the head feel a different weight which some golfers like. Counterweight has the effect of making the putter more stable and can help players who struggle with their stroke stability.
Best centre-shafted putters
Overall winner The Silver Ray SR500
One of the most important things about trying a new style is actually getting it into your hands for a few rounds and seeing how you get on with it. The Silver Ray (SR500) putter from Ray Cook Putters is the perfect place to start.
This is unbeatable value for money, high quality and one to really test if centre-shafted putters are right for you. It also looks like the Tour-favourite TaylorMade Spider putter.
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Best premium putter – The Odyssey Stroke Lab
The Odyssey Stroke Lab Versa putter is incredible, this is a brand that know how to make putters. The revolutionary face-insert on the Stroke Lab range helps to get the ball rolling much faster which means that your putts will be more consistent.
Add the centre-shafted design and you have an incredibly stable and consistent wand for the dance floor. If your stroke merits it, this putter could be what you need to take your putting game to the next level.
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Best value putter – Wilson Infinite Putter
Names after various areas and landmarks of Chicago, the Wilson Infinite Putter South Side is the centre-shafted offering from Wilson Staff. This is a great looking putter that performs incredibly well, especially when you consider the price tag.
The matt black finish is great for taking away any glare and giving you a perfect view of any sight-lines you like to mark your ball with. This is definitely one for anyone who is interested in a centre-shafted putter to try.
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Good putting is about consistency, feel and confidence. When you find a putter that feels good in your hands and makes you feel like every putt will threaten the hole, hold on to it for dear life! When you are unsure, data can be your friend too and it is absolutely worth having someone review your technique.
I have tried two heel-toe putters of different brands, they looked fairly identical yet one worked for me significantly better than the other one. It is worth checking various models to find your perfect match.
The centre-shafted putter is a wildly underrated style and definitely one that more club golfers should be playing. It may not look like other putters that your friends play but you need to consider this style next time you are buying.
Get yourself an appointment with a custom fitter and try various putter styles. Even go to a golf shop and just try a few that are different to what you currently play. You will be amazed how quickly you will start holing putts when you find the right model for your stroke.