Is an expensive putter worth it?

The question:

Will an expensive putter make a difference to your game?

The method:

Take a package set putter (approx. £40) and an expensive putter (approx. £400), in this case, a Scotty Cameron Studio Style, and let them go head-to-head in a series of challenges.

The putters:

Wilson X31 Package Set putter

The cheap one: The 'David' in this experiment is the putter from a Wilson X31 package set. It's a straightforward Anser style blade with a Plumber's Neck and single dot alignment aid.

If you were to show someone who knew nothing about golf a putter, it would be this one.

The expensive one: To ensure a fair test as possible, we picked the putter from the Golfbider warehouse matching the Wilson as closely as possible. It was the Scotty Cameron Newport that we thought matched best. The same traditional blade styling and, importantly, the same Plumbers Neck.

The Challenges:

The Clock (or Compass) Challenge

You'll all be familiar with this challenge, using it yourself or having seen your favourite pro using this as a warm-up drill.

The set-up is simple, spread a series of balls around a single hole and putt from each one. The different angles will test your short putting - without taking up too much space.

Missing from this distance will typically result in a three-putt or not getting up and down for par.

For this video, Donal took 8-balls and set up a series of 4-foot putts.

The Lag Putting Challenge

If you want to avoid three-putts, this is the challenge to use - something we can all get better at!

Again, the set-up is pretty simple (and you don't even need a hole!). Just pop a couple of tees in the ground at the other end of the putting green to act as your target.

Then you can take a couple of balls to each target, scoring a point if you're within a putter length - about 3 feet, a distance you should be able to convert the two-putt.

Jordan Spieth always says, aim small, miss small.

The Pressure Putt Challenge

This one focuses on birdie conversation. Can you hole a one-off putt from a reasonable distance when the pressure is on?

The Results:

Scotty Cameron Studio Style Wilson X31 Package Set
Clock Challenge 7/8 5/8
Lag Challenge 5/6 4/6
Pressure Putt 2/3 1/3
TOTAL 14/17 10/17

The Verdict:

Starting with the package set putter, Donal found himself concentrating far more on his stroke than the job at hand. This thought process is not ideal when putting as you want to focus on hitting the ball on the intended target line and at the right speed.

It would be best to be comfortable enough with the putter in your hands that the stroke is repeatable consistently.

The simple alignment aid (dot) creates a clean appearance, but it does not appear to be directly behind/above the sweet spot. More detail on this is below when discussing the same area on the Scotty Cameron.

Finally, Donal found it harder to control the longer putts. This lack of control could be due to several reasons or more minor influences - face, balance, confidence, etc.

With the Scotty Cameron putter in his hands, Donal (who describes himself as not a great putter) felt instantly more comfortable. The balance of the putter allowed for a much more fluid stroke. This putter has more toe-hang than the package set version, which allows the face to close more easily at impact - something which Donal might prefer in a putter.

When striking the putt, this putter felt far better too. It is milled out of a single piece of carbon steel to which the superior feel can be attributed.

These two factors allowed Donal to concentrate on executing the putt itself rather than the stroke, unlike the package set putter.

The alignment aide was positioned more toward the heel, which leads us to believe the package set putter (where it was perfectly centred) was not a true reflection. Knowing this is where the sweet spot is will help you hit more putts out of the centre, resulting in better accuracy and distance control, which played out in the experiment.

The Outcome:

The winner: Scotty Cameron Studio Style putter

So what did we learn, not necessarily about these two putters, but putters and putting in general?

Firstly, it's clear confidence is critical. Whether it's £40, £400, or £4,000 whatever you're putting with, you need to feel like you're going to hole the putt you're standing over.

Secondly, there is no arguing with the quality of engineering. With respect, the package set putter has had minimal research and development put into it. It's just a putter for the sake of a putter, and what people buying a package set will expect.

However, with the Scotty, there has been 100s if not 1000s of hours of painstaking engineering and research into its design. Every element has been over-engineered - the balance for a repeatable stroke, the milling pattern to ensure a perfect roll, and the alignment aid pulled towards the heel, so you address the ball correctly.

So does an expensive putter make a difference? Yes, we think it's evident that you get what you pay for when it comes to putters.

Yes, both the putters in our experiment are responsible for getting the ball in the hole, but one will do the job far better than the other.

When you hire a car on holiday, a little runaround will get you from A to B, just not as well as your bigger, better car at home - it's the same for putters.

If you play once a week (50+ times a year), we firmly believe a premium putter will make a difference to your game. And with Golfbidder, premium does not have to mean expensive. We have a great range of used and second-hand Scotty Cameron putters, so you can get all the benefits without the hefty price tag.

For more information or to speak to one of our PGA qualified customer services team call 0208 4016 901. Lines and emails are open and managed from 9:00am - 5:00pm , Monday – Friday and 9:00am - 1:00pm Saturday.