When shopping for a putter, it’s hard to avoid the word “milled,” and you will notice that the term is most often associated with higher prices. So what, exactly, is milling—and why is it important to your putting game?
Putter Jargon Workshop: Milled Putters
Most putters are produced by one of two processes: casting or milling. Milling is considered to be a superior method to casting.
Casting is the process of pouring molten metal into molds, after which the metal cools and the molds are removed. Milling, on the other hand, is a machining process that essentially cuts and sculpts the putter out of a block of metal (typically carbon steel or stainless steel) with remarkable precision and reliability. Most milled putters today are created by computer numerical control (CNC) milling, by which a computerized controller drives the milling process. Naturally, milling is more costly than casting, hence the heftier price tags on milled putters.
For a fully milled putter, you will want to look for the term “100 percent milled.” In some instances, just the putter face itself is milled to ensure optimal face flatness while maintaining a more competitive price point.
In an earlier interview with PutterZone.com, Never Compromise’s Adam Sheldon elaborated on the company’s Milled Series putters, which are 100-percent milled from Japanese carbon steel. According to Sheldon: “The milling process itself ensures outstanding part-to-part accuracy, repeatability and consistency. This really allows us to control head weight and other critical dimensions such as loft, lie, sole draft and face flatness—all the real important aspects of a putter.”
Milling can also be employed to create a technological effect, as with the new F.I.T. face milling process found in the new Mizuno Bettinardi Black Carbon series putters. As Mizuno’s
Chuck Couch said in an earlier interview on PutterZone.com: “F.I.T. face technology dramatically reduces the surface area of where the ball makes contact with the face, offering the soft feel of a polymer insert, but in the solid and consistent package of a one-piece 100-percent milled carbon steel putter.”
None of this is to say that there’s something wrong with cast putters. There are, in fact, plenty of them on the PGA Tour. Whether you’re talking about cast or milled, quality control in the putter industry is magnificent these days.
That said, there’s a reason that both Odyssey and PING recently entered the premium milled market this year with, respectively, their Black (pictured here) and Redwood series putters—joining Never Compromise and Mizuno among the heavyweights offering 100-percent milled putters, not to mention a host of boutique putter designers such as T.P. Mills, 350 Milled and others.
The reason is that the market for such putters is growing as the average golfer becomes more sophisticated and discriminating when it comes to putting, seeking an extra edge in terms of feel and confidence on the greens.
Think of it as the difference between a Volkswagen and a Mercedes. Both are solid vehicles, and both will get you to the grocery store just fine. But if you want, and can afford, a little more “oomph” and luxury along the way, the choice becomes pretty clear.
P.S. Stay tuned here at PutterZone.com for an upcoming review of the Never Compromise Milled Series putter.