Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF’s managing editor of equipment, Jonathan Wall) fields your hard-hitting gear questions.
Is it just me or have blade putters gotten heavier over the last 10-20 years? Also, is there an average head weight on the tour? — Kyle Loggins
Do you know what I love? When readers start to notice trends within the industry. And this isn’t one you’ll pick up on unless you’re deep in the gear culture, play a lot of golf or both. For decades, Anser-style blade putters have been inching heavier in the head weight department.
We’ve gone from roughly 300-310 grams being the “norm” to somewhere in the range of 340-350 grams — a significant uptick in a head weight for a putter that, quite honestly, hasn’t changed all that much since Ping founder Karsten Solheim first introduced the Anser in 1966.
These days, you’re more likely to find a tour player using a 340- or 350-gram blade than something in the 320-gram weight class. Tiger Woods is without a doubt the highest-profile name using a putter on the lighter side. His Scotty Newport 2 GSS head weighed only 326 grams when it was first produced, and the Ping PP58 grip added just 58 grams to the overall build.
To put those numbers into perspective, a putter head in the 340- to 350-gram range will have a grip that comes in around 75 to 85 grams. Overall, it’s a significantly heavier build than what Woods typically plays.
A lighter putter will allow you to pick up speed and feel, and it’s possible you’ll notice the head moving more during the stroke as well, something putter guru David Orr pointed out during an interview late last year on Fully Equipped.
“If you look at Tiger Woods, he works the putter open-closed, but most players keep it relatively neutral,” Orr said. “How the player gets the face squared at impact is important.”
So if some of the best putters in the history of the game are using something on the lighter side, what would compel manufacturers to bump up the weight? Part of the reason is a change in putter construction. We’re now seeing flatsticks with new materials, inserts, multi-material shafts and larger grips designed to eliminate unwanted wrist movement during the stroke.
Going heavier in the grip, for instance, requires an increase in head weight to improve overall head stability. It’s all about reducing the amount of head twisting at impact for better consistency. Going heavier is one way to deliver mallet-like stability in a traditional blade.
And don’t forget about green speeds. The putting surfaces on the PGA Tour range come in around 12 on the Stimpmeter, which is considered fast for today’s standards. Some golfers believe a heavier putter head is best suited for fast greens, but if you look at the lead tape Tiger Woods added to the cavity and sole of his Scotty Cameron at last year’s Open Championship — where the greens are notoriously slow — you’d believe it’s the opposite.
In other words, there isn’t one increase leading to the rise in putter head weight. It’s a combination of many different factors, some of which could benefit the recreational golfer. And if you’re a traditionalist who doesn’t like the feel of a heavier head, consider trying out a putter with adjustable heel-toe weights or searching for an older model.