Offset vs. Double Bend Putter

Because the Rules of Golf are far more liberal with putter construction than with other clubs, you’ll find a very wide variety of putters on the walls of your local golf shop, as well as in the hands of players at a professional tournament. Selecting the correct putter is a personal choice. Golf writer Steve Newell suggests golfers “try out as many putters as you can, and choose one that feels right to you.” Among your putter choices are offset and double bend putters.

Putter Rules

Appendix II of the U.S. Golf Association’s Rules of Golf covers golf club specifications. Section 2, which focuses on shafts, states that all shafts must be straight until they reach a point 5 inches above the bottom of the club head, at which point they may bend. Although Section 2's guidance technically covers all clubs -- except for the provision that the shaft may be fixed “at any point” on a putter head -- the rules regarding shaft bending typically only affect putters.

Offset Putters

The club head in an offset putter sits farther back from the ball’s position than the shaft.

The purpose of an offset putter is either to keep a player’s hands in front of the club head during the putting stroke or to accommodate his dominant eye. There are several ways to offset the club head. In some putters, the hosel (the part of the club head into which the shaft fits) is bent. A straight shaft is then attached to the hosel.

In other offset putters it’s the shaft that is bent. The resulting club must be in compliance with Appendix II, Section 2 of the Rules of Golf.

Double Bend Putters

Offset putters that contain bent shafts typically bend twice. The angles of the bends will necessarily be shallow, because the shaft is made from fairly light material. The hosel, on the other hand, can be bent more aggressively.

Offset putters in which hosels are bent at right angles are common. In either case, however, the goal is the same: to offset the club head behind the shaft.

Dominant Eye

Some club fitters suggest that right-handed players with a dominant left eye should use a straight-shafted putter.

If the right eye is dominant, however, they may recommend an offset putter so the player’s dominant eye is straight over the ball. But PGA Tour putting coach Pat O’Brien feels that players using offset putters tend to aim to the right, regardless of which eye is dominant.