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Soft vs Firm putter (feel & sound)


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I was thinking about this today specifically regarding the Ping Sigma 2 line. I love the Valor head and how it looks/feels at setup. It is very soft. Softer than any putter I've used. I hear a lot of comments about people struggling with distance control with too soft putters. I assume that has to do with sound off the face. How does the sound difference help/hurt with distance control? The stroke is basically over at that point. Is it something that happens kind of subconsciously over many reps matching the audible sound with different distances the ball traveled in your brain? Then over time, you're better able to match a certain length of stroke to roughly produce the amount of sound that will give you the distance you need? 

 

It's nerdy I know, but I've never equated the sound of a putter to how well I performed with it. It's only been something I either liked to hear or didn't. I was about to pull the trigger on that Valor, but this has me thinking about getting my hands on something soft, medium, firm to test out a bit while actually paying attention to how it changes performance

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I think sound has a lot more to do with it.   I was putting last night with some bluetooth ear buds in, couldnt hear a thing outside my music....   About 4 putts in I thought somet

I don't think it's ALL sound when it comes to feel off the face and distance control. Or rather, there's more to it than sound.   Some putters are "soft" not because of the metal that the pu

Hmmm, interesting question OP.  Not really sure what you're asking but here is my take. 

 

Sound is indicative of feel, but doesn't control it.  Deeper milling and softer materials and/or inserts have a softer feel and results in a more muted sound; conversely harder materials, finer milling patterns, and features like beaching/sound slots make for firmer feel and a "clickier", louder sound.

 

I think over time you can associate the usual sound with the feel of the putter, but the sound doesn't control feel or distance.  IMO it is just a simultaneous byproduct of the build characteristics that dictate "feel".  

 

I'd be interested to know if different putters with polar opposite build types can be hit with exact same stroke length and club speed and result in drastically different feel but probably not significantly different in ball speed/distance?  Someone with better understanding in physics could probably shed some light on this.

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I think sound has a lot more to do with it.

 

I was putting last night with some bluetooth ear buds in, couldnt hear a thing outside my music....

 

About 4 putts in I thought something was wrong with my putter because it "felt" so soft I couldnt feel impact (almost)......

 

I  have an old carbon head newport but its a tad clicky (when I could hear it) but it felt like I was putting with the headcover on last night

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7 hours ago, smeech8000 said:

Hmmm, interesting question OP.  Not really sure what you're asking but here is my take. 

 

Sound is indicative of feel, but doesn't control it.  Deeper milling and softer materials and/or inserts have a softer feel and results in a more muted sound; conversely harder materials, finer milling patterns, and features like beaching/sound slots make for firmer feel and a "clickier", louder sound.

 

I think over time you can associate the usual sound with the feel of the putter, but the sound doesn't control feel or distance.  IMO it is just a simultaneous byproduct of the build characteristics that dictate "feel".  

 

I'd be interested to know if different putters with polar opposite build types can be hit with exact same stroke length and club speed and result in drastically different feel but probably not significantly different in ball speed/distance?  Someone with better understanding in physics could probably shed some light on this.

 

7 hours ago, PixlPutterman said:

I think sound has a lot more to do with it.

 

I was putting last night with some bluetooth ear buds in, couldnt hear a thing outside my music....

 

About 4 putts in I thought something was wrong with my putter because it "felt" so soft I couldnt feel impact (almost)......

 

I  have an old carbon head newport but its a tad clicky (when I could hear it) but it felt like I was putting with the headcover on last night

I definitely get that sounds equates to feel, but I read so many people talk about not being able to control distance with "soft" putters. Is that just one of those things that people tell themselves because they prefer a certain sound/feel or is there something legit to that is my question? I was long winded about it, but that's the question. Is there any real science or evidence that backs up that claim that people make? I personally think it's akin to people's thoughts on forged vs cast irons. It's probably just another thing in golf where what golfers think is happening isn't actually happening. Feel isn't real type of thing. 

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I don't think it's ALL sound when it comes to feel off the face and distance control. Or rather, there's more to it than sound.

 

Some putters are "soft" not because of the metal that the putter is made out of, but because there's material taken out of the face so that there's less putter hitting the ball. Think Bettinardi's FIT face, Toulon's diamond milled face, or any deep milled putter (Cleveland's HB line comes to mind). In those cases, there's literally less metal hitting the ball. When there's less metal hitting the ball, a bit less energy will be imparted on the ball when making your stroke. Not only will there be less energy, there will be less sound.

 

I have two drastically different feeling/sounding putters: a Bettinardi with a FIT face and a Ping with a flat, non-milled putter face. They definitely sound different, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that, if I made the exact same stroke on the ball with both putters, the ball will come off the face a bit slower with the Bettinardi than the Ping. So in that sense, I have to swing just a tad harder with my Bettinardi than I do with my Ping. Most people would say that the Bettinardi is "soft" and the Ping is "firm."

 

When I first started putting with the Bettinardi, it was very early in the season and our greens were quite slow and shaggy. I felt like I had to hammer the ball to get it to the hole because it came off the face slower. I had the same experience with an Odyssey Stroke Lab putter with the Microhinge face. There's material between the putter face and the ball, so your ball comes off just a tad slower (and "feels" softer).

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13 minutes ago, MaineMariner said:

I don't think it's ALL sound when it comes to feel off the face and distance control. Or rather, there's more to it than sound.

 

Some putters are "soft" not because of the metal that the putter is made out of, but because there's material taken out of the face so that there's less putter hitting the ball. Think Bettinardi's FIT face, Toulon's diamond milled face, or any deep milled putter (Cleveland's HB line comes to mind). In those cases, there's literally less metal hitting the ball. When there's less metal hitting the ball, a bit less energy will be imparted on the ball when making your stroke. Not only will there be less energy, there will be less sound.

 

I have two drastically different feeling/sounding putters: a Bettinardi with a FIT face and a Ping with a flat, non-milled putter face. They definitely sound different, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that, if I made the exact same stroke on the ball with both putters, the ball will come off the face a bit slower with the Bettinardi than the Ping. So in that sense, I have to swing just a tad harder with my Bettinardi than I do with my Ping. Most people would say that the Bettinardi is "soft" and the Ping is "firm."

 

When I first started putting with the Bettinardi, it was very early in the season and our greens were quite slow and shaggy. I felt like I had to hammer the ball to get it to the hole because it came off the face slower. I had the same experience with an Odyssey Stroke Lab putter with the Microhinge face. There's material between the putter face and the ball, so your ball comes off just a tad slower (and "feels" softer).

 

Yep. Ball speed off the putter is a thing, but very few people think about it. 

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On 9/18/2020 at 7:41 AM, MaineMariner said:

I don't think it's ALL sound when it comes to feel off the face and distance control. Or rather, there's more to it than sound.

 

Some putters are "soft" not because of the metal that the putter is made out of, but because there's material taken out of the face so that there's less putter hitting the ball. Think Bettinardi's FIT face, Toulon's diamond milled face, or any deep milled putter (Cleveland's HB line comes to mind). In those cases, there's literally less metal hitting the ball. When there's less metal hitting the ball, a bit less energy will be imparted on the ball when making your stroke. Not only will there be less energy, there will be less sound.

 

I have two drastically different feeling/sounding putters: a Bettinardi with a FIT face and a Ping with a flat, non-milled putter face. They definitely sound different, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that, if I made the exact same stroke on the ball with both putters, the ball will come off the face a bit slower with the Bettinardi than the Ping. So in that sense, I have to swing just a tad harder with my Bettinardi than I do with my Ping. Most people would say that the Bettinardi is "soft" and the Ping is "firm."

 

When I first started putting with the Bettinardi, it was very early in the season and our greens were quite slow and shaggy. I felt like I had to hammer the ball to get it to the hole because it came off the face slower. I had the same experience with an Odyssey Stroke Lab putter with the Microhinge face. There's material between the putter face and the ball, so your ball comes off just a tad slower (and "feels" softer).

I had a similar problem trying out a stroke lab. It almost felt like on longer putts it lost energy/speed. Pace looked good initially and then the ball just hit a wall. 

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There was a period I putted with a SeeMore FGP Giant. It is made of aluminum and is clicky. I couldn't get speed right. 

 

The main issue is once I heard the clicky sound, I automatically translate it into "OMG, I'm hitting it way too hard" and decelerate, led to poor results. 

 

Fast forward to now, I have been sticking with a firm putter with very light mill. I train my brain so that firm/clicky feeling no longer bothers me. For me, it is the right feel. 

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The heavier the putter head, the softer the impact sound-feel.

The lower the ball compression, the softer the impact sound sound-feel.

The softer the rubber-polymer plastic grip material, the softer the impact sound-feel.

The deeper the face milling of a putter head, the softer the impact sound-feel.

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11 hours ago, Fairway14 said:

The heavier the putter head, the softer the impact sound-feel.

The lower the ball compression, the softer the impact sound sound-feel.

The softer the rubber-polymer plastic grip material, the softer the impact sound-feel.

The deeper the face milling of a putter head, the softer the impact sound-feel.

A putter's head weight does not directly equate to softness. Way too many absolutes regarding ONE aspect of a putter head's design are given credit for feel/sound around here. Oh heavy means soft....thick face mean's soft....deep milled faces or deep grooves mean soft....etc, etc.

 

A great example is the original ER5. Even the 385g head (with it's deep face grooves) sounded like a tuning fork from the sweet spot. After hitting that, try hitting an old Ping BeCu Anser 2. Way softer and at least 50-60g's lighter with a thin face and thin flange.

 

Every aspect of a putter's design plays a part. 

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14 hours ago, Scotty1140 said:

Every aspect of a putter's design plays a part. 

This is the truth.  And it's more nuanced than I would have thought.  I've got Scotty blades, stainless, carbon, deep milled, fly milled, gss insert with fly milling, and then some other artisan blade putters.  From model to model, there is no predictable feature that determines the feel.  Going from carbon fly mill to carbon deep mill on an answer head, and the fly mill is softer.  Going from a 360g+ deep milled evnroll to a 330g fly milled laguna, the latter is softer by a mile.  It's a subjective parameter, that's for sure.

 

Hands down best feeling putter I own is a Kenny Giannini Legacy 17/3.  It's perfect, and I have been in the search for years.  I highly suggest buying one of his putters as soon as you can. They are masterfully crafted.

 

To the question at hand regarding distance control, I think it comes down to practicing with the putter and not being able to develop feel.  I can see how the wrong sound for someone could lead to this.  

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