Looking to buy a new putter? What can you expect?
When you're in the market for a new putter there are some things you should be aware of:
Your Budget- How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
Some putters are not cheap.
Some putters are inexpensive, but not cheap.
Some putters are just cheap.
The "Not Cheap" Putters
There are two mainstays in the "premier" putter lineup: Scotty Cameron and Bettinardi.
The most famous might be the Scotty Cameron Newport 2, or as the cynics call it "the Anser knockoff". To each their own; I have my feelings about this, but that doesn't matter. At least, not right now. Here's a shot of the Newport 2:
Seriously, this specific putter is $399.99 at Edwinn Watts. It's one of the most expensive there. Following closely is the models from Bettinardi:
This is the BB-8. I made a joke about this before (as it pertains to shafts), but I'm going back to the well:
We're talking putters that are more than what some people bring home in a week. And it doesn't stop there: Bradley Putters makes theirs out of wood. Really good-looking putters, and many can tell a story. They aren't cheap; expect to pay no less than $500 (on average).
All of these options are good options- if you can afford them. And there are many, many more. If you can't, save up for one, or keep reading to see more options.
The Inexpensive But Not "Cheap"
This is probably the broadest category of the three we'll discuss here.
A popular option here is something like the Odyssey line-up. I've owned a few, myself! The original White Hot Rossie, the Dual Force #5, and the White Hot XG (#7 and #9). They're very good, and the White Hot line was around $120, though more recent models are roughly $200.
There's the Huntington Beach Collection from Cleveland Golf you could consider. Solid company, solid putter, and less than $100.
Then there are my personal favorites: component brands.
I game an Acer iSight San Miguel:
The catch for most of these is, you have to put them together yourself. Or get someone (like me!) to do it for you... The total cost is dependent on the shaft and grip options you choose, as well. Some good, yet inexpensive, putter shafts are out there- if you know where to look!
The Cheap Putters
I'm not going to spend too much time on this one.
Most of the cheap putters are made from zinc. It's a soft, but brittle, metal. It's inexpensive to use and work with. Unfortunately, it doesn't age well.
Unless you're absolutely hard up, I'd skip these.
How much is your budget, really?
So the first thing to expect is, depending on what you're truly after, is to open your wallet. Wide.
Putters are very personal things, though. Depending on what you like, you might be able to find something in a component brand that's more wallet-friendly. Or, if you want something exotic and extremely customizable, you might have to shell out some big bucks for it.
What Do You Like to "Feel"?
Ever hear of the Rockwell Hardness Scale?
I won't get too deep into it, but as it pertains to golf, Jeff Summit created a scale for golf club head materials:
Notice how close the 304 Stainless (B75) is to the Carbon steels (they're all lumped together to form the range of B60-B70).
Did you know those expensive Scotty putters are made from 303 stainless? Some would mistake them for carbon, but they're not. There are many putters made from 304 stainless, and a few of the lower-cost models (like my iSight) are made from 431 stainless.
But did you know that if you alter the build of your putter, you can make it feel softer? That's what I did with my iSight; I built it with a heavy (130g) shaft, added my own DIY "Sensicore" insert in the butt end, and lead tape to the head.
All those combined, along with my preference for urethane-covered balls, creates a putter that, to me, feels nice and soft.
Maybe you don't want to go through all that trouble? If not, that's OK, because you can find more what you want "out of the box", depending on how much you want to spend.
Remember also that "feel" is the most abused term in golf. What "feels" best to me might not "feel" best to you. But if you find something that doesn't quite feel right, there are workarounds.
What to Expect When You Expect a Putter to Exceed Your Expectations
If you want your putter to go above and beyond, you need to get it fitted.
Yes, some putters have a few length options, usually 33, 34, and 35 inches. But what if you need a 31" putter, or a 37" model?
That's not all! Lofts for putters aren't sold like lofts for drivers. Most models only offer one loft. Model A might be 4 degrees, while Model B might be 2.5. What do you need?
If you're one that has forward shaft lean at impact, you might want to consider no less than 4 degrees loft. But what if that putter you really, really love only has 2 or 3 degrees?
Easy- get it bent. For all intents and purposes, it's like bending an iron for loft change. No biggie for most fitters/builders.
No matter how much you want to spend, there's no reason why your new putter can't work for you. Go the extra proverbial mile and get it fitted (or retrofitted) for the best results.
The Fitting: What to Expect
This is the harder part of the deal, because fitters charge very differently.
Someone in a "golf town" might be able to charge more, while someone far away from a "golf town" might not be able to charge as much.
Some fitters will wave the cost of the fitting if you buy from them. Others won't, no matter what. If you're unsure, don't ever hesitate to ask; for many, waiving the fitting fee for buying from them is a selling tool for the fitter.
But What'll It Cost?!
If you go to a bigger place, expect to pay around $100 for a fitting. Smaller-scale fitters might charge more around $50.
But what happens if you buy the putter then take it to a fitter?
Depending on where you go, the alteration costs might be free. For some, it might not be that bad.
If you were to see me, and all you needed was a loft change, it'd be less than $5. If you wanted your shaft lengthened, it'd be an extra $10.99 (plus the cost of a new grip). Less than $20 to get you the absolute best putter you can get!
On To You
So how about it? What's your limit for a putter? Do you get it altered in any way?
Let me know in the comments!