What about center shafted putters? Putter shafts are almost always
steel, but golfers can choose from three different shaft locations:
center shafted, heel shafted putters and rear shafted putters (the
Odyssey Backstryke series, for example). Each shaft location has its
own advantages, and the decision of which type of putter to use is a
matter of personal preference. But it also depends on the type of
putting stroke you have.
Many golfers find center shafted putters to be the easiest to align, because the shaft enters the head at its center, directly behind the optimal point of impact with the ball. Heel shafted putters, in contrast, have shafts which connect to the putter head at the heel (the portion of the head closest to your feet at address), and rear shafted putters have shafts which enter the head at the back.
Ease of alignment aside, these putters are said to work best for golfers with putting strokes that move straight back and straight through the ball. Many heel shafted and rear shafted putters are better for putters with the more traditional arcing ("gated") putting stroke. I'm not sure I understand the physics behind all of this, but it seems to be true. This type of putters just seem to be better balanced for the straight back and through putting stroke.
You might think that center shafted putters are a fairly recent innovation. After all, you don't see them as often as the much-more-common heel shafted putters. In truth, though, they have been around a long time. One of history's all-time classic putters - the Acushnet/Titleist Bulls Eye putter - was center-shafted. It was so effective that Johnny Miller used it to put on a putting display during his final-round 63 to capture the 1973 U.S. Open title at Oakmont. Ben Crenshaw, one of the world's best putters, also used this center-shafted putter during his career.
Several well-known putter manufacturers make center shafted putters, and some of them make quite a few different models. Odyssey, for example, makes a large number of them. The center-shafted Odyssey 2-Ball putter is just one well-known example that golfers throughout the world have used with great success. Guerin Rife, another quality putter manufacturer, makes the fine Barbados center-shafted putter, among others. Naturally, PING, TaylorMade and Nike also make these putters. Even Scotty Cameron and Bettinardi get into the act. Many center shafted putters are mallets, but several traditional blade styles are available too.
Most of my personal experience with these putters has involved the center-shafted Odyssey 2-Ball putter, simply because that was the first and only putter I used when I began playing golf. I did well enough with it to encourage me to continue playing. My husband has a straight back and through putting stroke and loves this putter, but he has several others so he allowed me to use his Odyssey putter while I was figuring out how to play. I never took any lessons (things are different now, but at the time I couldn't afford them) so I tried to copy my husband's full swing and putting stroke. As a result, I had a straight back and through stroke too, and the Odyssey got me around the greens pretty well.
Now, about eight years later, I've bought my own putter and I'm not using the center-shafted 2-Ball anymore. I seem to be developing a slightly arcing, "gated" putting stroke. I'm not sure why, but it's creeping in. So, I decided to get a heel-shafted putter. But, now I have rounds where I put so erratically, I'm not sure I made the right decision. My current problem with putting might be the fact that although a gated stroke is sneaking its way in, it's still very slight. In other words, even though I now have that very slight arc, it's so minimal that I still might be better off with a center shafted putter. I've been playing around with my husband's new PING Scottsdale® Wolverine® putter for quite a while now, and I really like its smooth stroke and feel. I plan on trying out several center shafted putters (and I'll review them here, of course), but I might end up getting my own Wolverine®.
Center shafted putters are known to be best for golfers with straight forward and back putting strokes. If that describes you, consider giving some a tryout.