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Opinion & Analysis

What putter designers focus on… and you should, too



david edel

Most of us have our own ideas about what we do and don’t like about putters. Maybe you’re a blade-style player who would never imagine putting a mallet putter in the bag, or maybe you’re constantly switching putters with no real allegiance to any particular design or brand.

I’ve had my own journey with putters and with no conclusive evidence I wanted to know what the engineers and designers focus on when creating putters. Maybe it would illuminate some new concepts to make that ever so difficult decision of picking a putter a little easier.

I sat down and talked with Austie Rollinson, Principal Designer for Odyssey, and David Edel, founder of Edel Golf, and talked about what they focus on during the design process.

You can listen in below, or read through the top-3 things I learned further down.


The number one focus you’ll hear these world-class designers talk about is alignment.

“Three percent the golfing population can aim their putter correctly, in terms of lateral and vertical aim,” Edel says.

Of all factors, alignment has the biggest impact on where the ball ends up, and even a single degree of misalignment can result in a shot that is far removed from its target. Even more than MOI (we’ll talk about that next), improved alignment when setting up to a putt should be your main focus.

The reason you see so many different styles of putters — with their different lines, hosels, head shapes, lie angles and lofts — is because we all see things differently, and what works for you on the putting green might not work for me. Each of these variables has an impact on if you see a putter as open, closed when setting up to a shot.

“I believe in the basic premise that my job as a fitter or a putter maker is to make what a person sees is real and what they feel to be real.,” Edel says.

For example, by moving attention backward on a putter, it tends to look open. When you do a laser test you can see it’s square to the target, but to the mind it looks wide open. On the other hand, when you move the attention forward, the putter tends to look closed.

Moment of Inertia

A club’s moment of inertia (MOI) basically tells you how forgiving it will be if you fail to hit the ball on the center of the putter’s face. A high MOI means that the head of the putter is less likely to twist around on impact and potentially affect the distance of the shot.

“Where that face is pointing is going to be more important than if you hit it off center a little bit and you lose a little ball speed because of that,” Rollinson says.

Designers focus on building putters with high MOI so that you can maintain a consistent ball speed even when you hit the ball a little off the toe or heel. How do they do it? By moving the weight away from the center of gravity (CG).

The CG on most putters will be the center of the face of the club and slightly lower on the face.

Austie Rollinson

Austie Rollinson, Principal Designer for Odyssey Golf.

“If you have [the CG] low, you tend to hit the ball above the center of gravity,” Rollinson said. “The putter will twist in a way that will help promote forward roll.”

To get the weight as far away as possible from the center of gravity, designers create large mallet putters to maximize MOI and create putters that twist less and maintain ball speeds on off-center hits for better distance control.


What is feel? Most would say feel is how hard or soft the ball feels coming off the putter… which we also learn has a lot to do with sound.

“Feel is the sound of it (the ball) off the face… also the ball speed,” Rollinson says. “Making sure that the sound and speed match up in their mind to what they want to see.”

They way to change feel is often with inserts. Odyssey has most notably done this with its legendary White Hot insert, which was made with a urethane material that was originally used in Callaway golf balls. Not only can you get a soft feel and maintain high ball speeds with a good insert, but it also allows engineers to move weight around in a putter design.

“That’s another aspect of the insert, as it enables us to move weight around and make the putter roll better and more forgiving,” Rollinson says.

Should you focus on MOI when making a putter choice? Rollinson says most golfers are better off finding a putter that looks good to them, and one they can align to their target consistently.

What Works for You

There’s no magic putter that will work for every golfer. We all see things differently, and everything from what’s going on with our eyes to how we set up over the ball has a massive impact on quality of a putt.

Don’t ever settle with a putter. Focus on finding one that helps your alignment and gets you in the best possible place to hit consistent putts.

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Cordie has spent the last four years working with golf instructors, helping inform thousands on business and teaching best practices (if you're a coach or instructor check out Through that he's realized that it's time for the way golf is taught to be changed. When looking at research and talking with coaches and academics, he's launched the Golf Science Golf Science Lab , a website and audio documentary-style podcast focused on documenting what's really going on in learning and playing better golf.



  1. Scientific Golfer

    Jan 7, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    So…. if you can putt the ball off the sweet spot, or within +/- 1/4″ …. you don’t need a putter with MOI, impact ‘feel’ inserts or face treatment, or even alignment marks if you can control your stroke direction. Static putter face alignment does not guarantee dynamic putter direction… and in fact may hinder stroking.

    Think: Bullseye, Cashin, 8802, Ping A1, others of that ilk ……

  2. Deadeye

    Dec 15, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Picking a putter is such an individual thing. Myself I prefer mallet styles. They have room for a long alignment line and that really helps. The grip is critical to me as well. After trying the most popular and expensive styles I have gone back to narrower and lighter grips. That returns the weight to the head and restored the balance and feel it originally had. My favorites are any older Bobby Grace design. Get them off eBay under the old Macgregor name. They are a work of art and marvelous function.

  3. Bob Pegram

    Dec 14, 2016 at 6:18 am

    I have watched numerous Edel putter fittings. It is amazing how adding or removing alignment stripes on a putter will change the direction a golfer aims the putter. It is how a person processes (interprets) the information that matters. A laser shows where the putter is actually aiming. It is often different than at the target the golfer thinks he has aligned the putter to.
    As mentioned in the article, the putter head shape will also affect aim.

  4. Ran

    Dec 13, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    My money is on the putter you Want to putt with as being the best one for you…same with irons and woods…best part of golf (besides making the tee time) is using the equipment you want to use…for a lot of us older guys getting to a point in life we can buy the clubs and balls we really want to use is Golfs biggest reward.

  5. Grizz01

    Dec 12, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Everytime you say MOI in an article it should be followed with, (all hail Ralph Maltby).

  6. Jo Mil

    Dec 12, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Keep in mind there are 3 rotation axes in a putter and therefore 3 measurements of MOI to consider. Companies only talk about one of those (the vertical axis) because that is the only one that is regulated by the USGA. Greater the MOI on the vertical, greater the reluctance of an object to change its rotation due to a force applied.

    What is often over looked is the rotation axis of the shaft and that measurement of MOI. This is what causes putters to have toe hang or “face balanced”. What is overlooked and quite frankly not discussed by the majority of putter companies( with the exception of 2 of them, one of which was featured in this article) is the deleterious effect of a high vertical axes moi has on the ability to square the putter face at impact. And since upwards of 83% of a putts direction will be dictated by face angle at impact, I would think that increasing the potential to square the face at impact is more important than improving the impact ratio.

  7. Daniel

    Dec 12, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    So, get a mallet?

  8. Tom

    Dec 12, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    The Ping ANSER was introduced 50 years ago and is still the benchmark design. Why hasn’t anything come along in 50 years to replace the ANSER in terms of design impact in the putter market?

  9. Ron

    Dec 12, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    I recently found the putter I used in high school. I couldn’t believe I used something like that. But, I can still put with it. I originally bought it from Sears for $5.00. I won’t say how long ago. It’s the putter, not the putter.

  10. Eddy

    Dec 12, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Struggling with all types of putters big,small mallet blade just gets in your head.

  11. SV

    Dec 12, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Mallet putters, I love them. Blade putters, I love them. It’s the actual putting I hate.

  12. TexasSnowman

    Dec 12, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Alignment is definitely number one, just as it in the full swing. I’d like to see more designs without alignment lines… I prefer to aim the face.

  13. Gary

    Dec 12, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    No one ever talks about counterweighting the putter. I found that using either a 60 gram counterweight for lighter putter heads (340 grams to 350 grams) or an 80 gram counterweight on heavier heads (360 + grams) produces a smoother putting stroke especially for those players who lack the muscle skills in the hands and forearms when using a shorter / slower back and thru putting motion.

  14. Dave R

    Dec 12, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Yes agree with Roger best putter ever made . I have tried every putter out there all kinds of scottys all the rest always go back to my 30 year old Anser 2 still squares up the best . Kirsten had it right the first time .

    • Stavros

      Dec 12, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      She was great in Bring It On, wasn’t she?

    • Bert

      Dec 12, 2016 at 7:56 pm

      Nothing compares to my nickel Anser 2. The feel is incredible, no where near the same as the stainless Anser 2. Sad they only made them one year.

  15. Tom

    Dec 12, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    What about how putter feels in the stroke? Some putters I have tried fought my stroke and others are too easy to rotate both cases made it hard to get club square at impact. Sure MOI can be a factor there but it’s not the only one. Also add in putter weight as a big factor.

  16. Darrin

    Dec 12, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    In my opinion, the farther you are from the hole the more MOI matters and the less alignment matters.

    I putt best on short putts with a bullseye style putter and a dot on the top. Long putters were always my issue with this putter. I finally went to a Odyssey Anser style with a line on the top rail, seems to work well on all putts for me. Big MOI putters with lots of lines and circles just screw me up.

    The greatest putters in history, Jack, Tiger, Crenshaw, Faxon etc. all used pretty simple putters. The guys that struggle with putting always seem to gravitate to but fugly designs.

  17. Roger

    Dec 12, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    All these guys try to complicate it for you ! Buy an Anser 2 !One of the simplest designs that has truly stood the test of time.
    Karsten didn’t have any Laser, MOI tester…..

  18. LaBraeGolfer

    Dec 12, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    I just went back to a mallet from playing flow neck blades. My instructor commented on my setup that I set up with the face closed and he wanted me to work on that. Since I switched to the Spider OS I have regained confidence on the greens, I wonder if the alignment being so large forces me to think the putter is more open like the article says, however I am looking at the ball when I putt. Anyway I am making more putts so I don’t care what my putter looks like I enjoy the sound of the putter as well.

  19. Double Mocha Man

    Dec 12, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    The best putter is the person swinging the club. I used some putters in my youth on my high school and college teams that were literally clunky pieces of ugly metal… and I was a wizard at putting. Now, several years later, I can afford the most expensive putters and I can barely keep it under 36 putts per round.

  20. Will Skeat

    Dec 12, 2016 at 11:35 am

    The forces involved in putting are so low (due to the low club head speed) that all the talk of “high-MOI to prevent club head twisting” is nonsense.

    • Double Mocha Man

      Dec 12, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      Obviously you’ve never rolled in a 50 footer…

    • kevin

      Dec 12, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      That is so very true!!! Torque, Twist… it is just marketing. The player controls the club face of the putter at 1 mph. Good putting is pretty simple , unless allowed to be overcomplicated.

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